Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Buffy The Vampire Slayer, "The Wish" Review (3x09)

Brief Synopsis: "Wanting to be rid of Xander for good, Cordelia comes to the conclusion that Buffy is the cause of all her problems and makes a wish that Buffy had never come to Sunnydale. A Vengeance Demon called ‘Anyanka’ grants the wish.”

"Lovers Walk" (3x08) quick link here                                                                                                                                  "Amends" (3x10) quick link here

Two quick notes before we get started...

1)    I will be reviewing the episodes in bullet point form. This is because it makes the reviews simple to read, and helps break up the text.
2)    If you are watching the show for the first time along with these reviews, please be warned that there may be a few spoilers for things that haven’t happened yet.

With that being said, let’s get started, shall we?

 •    What can I say about this episode other than ‘stunning’, ‘near-perfect’, and ‘captivating’? I think “Lovers Walk”, “The Wish”, and “Amends” is one of the best three-episode runs of any television show ever. Why ‘near-perfect’, you ask? Because everyone forgets the events of this episode entirely except for Anya! All that growth, all that excitement, and it’s like it never happened! I know that later in the season vampire Willow emerges and some details get explained, but I feel like it’s not enough. With that being said, we, the audience, remember everything. This episode gives us a different perspective on every character from the show and we learn a lot about every character.
•    You can tell that the budget for “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” increased for season three. Each scene is lit far brighter than they were during the first two seasons. It certainly makes the show look a higher quality, but sometimes I miss the darker mood-lighting.

This episode is split into two halves....

1. Before The Wish

•    Xander:  “And they burst in, rescuing us, without even knocking? I mean, this is really all their fault.”
Buffy:  “Your logic does not resemble our Earth logic.”
Xander:  “Mine is much more advanced.”

 Xander, I love you, but please take some responsibility for your actions. Xander has always had this ability to never take responsibility for anything. I think it stems from Xander just being emotionally less mature than the other Scoobies. I don’t feel the slightest bit sorry for Xander or Willow in this episode. All my sympathy is saved for Oz and Cordelia. However, it is nice to see Buffy side with her friends, even though they’re in the wrong, but also not at the expense of Oz or Cordelia. Buffy is still trying to be friends with Cordelia and offer her support. Let’s not forget that when push came to shove in “Bewitched, Bothered And Bewildered”, Cordelia chose Xander over her friends. Not only has she lost Xander now, but she’s lost the social standing that she once had at Sunnydale High.

•    The first half of this episode revolves squarely around Cordelia. After Cordelia is finally comfortable in a relationship with Xander and deems him locker-door material, he breaks her heart. Ouch. To counteract this heartbreak, Cordelia over-corrects. She reverts instantly back to the person that she was before dating Xander. Glancing over the fact that the leather and burgundy looked pretty damn good, all the growth that Cordelia had made during the relationship disappears.

Cordelia comes to the conclusion that it’s Buffy’s fault that Xander cheated on her because if Xander wasn’t friends with Buffy, Cordelia wouldn’t have entered into a relationship with Xander in the first place. It is in no way Buffy’s fault that Cordelia’s life sucks. It is Xander (primarily) and Willow’s fault. Cordelia choosing to blame Buffy for everything going wrong in her life is completely unjustified.

•    Anya! Welcome to the show! That Vengeance Demon make-up is pretty scary! Anya eventually becomes one of the best characters in the Buffyverse. The Anya that we meet in season three is a much different creature to the Anya that dies at the end of season seven. By the end of the show, Anya has grown to love and appreciate human beings. It’s also not lost upon me that Anya’s first appearance in the Buffyverse is trying to convince Cordelia to wish something bad about Xander so that she can curse him. If that isn’t a warning sign of what is to come, I don’t know what is.
•    Harmony is a bitch. Firstly, she’s an absolute cow to Cordelia in this episode. She’s supposed to be her best friend! I knew that “You’re a sheep” speech that Cordelia gave Harmony in season two’s “Bewitched, Bothered And Bewildered” would come back to bite her in the ass. Secondly, why wouldn’t Jonathan make a good boyfriend? Because he’s short? Oz proves that short men can be awesome. Is it because he has no friends? What difference would that make! Cordelia went on a date with Jonathan at the end of “Reptile Boy”. Could you imagine how much different the rest of this season would be for Jonathan if Cordelia asked him out?! Maybe he wouldn’t have been in the clocktower with a rifle in “Earshot”...or perhaps with Cordelia as a girlfriend he’d have been up there faster. Also, Jonathan has a moped! I need to see this visual, and I need it now.
•    Oz: “Look, I’m sorry this is hard for you. But I told you what I need, so I can’t help feeling like the reason you want to talk is so you can feel better about yourself. That’s not my problem.”

It sucks to see Willow upset, but I was really happy with Oz’s actions in this scene. He didn’t go out of his way to be mean like Cordelia does, but he also didn’t let Willow off the hook instantly. He’s entitled to need some space.

It’s also interesting to note just how differently Willow and Xander are reacting to their respective break-ups. Willow wants nothing more than to make it right with Oz. She’s desperate for his forgiveness and to get him back. Xander, on the other hand, after getting nowhere with Cordelia for a week, gives up. He wants nothing more than to move on from the whole situation.

2. After The Wish

•    How much does Sunnydale suck without Buffy? Everyone is miserable!
•    Xander and Willow have been murdered and turned into vampires. While on the subject, how hot are both Willow and Xander as vampires?! They’re so much sexier than they are as humans! Only two things are different though: their clothes and the fact they’re confident. That just goes to show that confidence is sexy...leather doesn’t hurt either. Cordelia is visibly upset at the realisation that Willow and Xander are dead. I think this proves that underneath all the hurt, she didn’t really hate them.
•    Willow: “Bored now.”

Dark Willow later goes on to use this exact phrase before killing Warren at the end of season six. This gives further proof to the theory that a vampire keeps a certain amount of their personality once they’re sired. The concept of what happens to a person after they’re sired is complex because it feels like Joss and the rest of the writing staff tweaked the rules after the first season of the show. Giles tells Willow and Xander in “The Harvest” that Jesse is dead. Everything about Jesse is gone and all that remains is the demon that killed him. This certainly doesn’t reign true with Spike after you discover what William was like before being sired. Even after he was turned into a vampire he wanted his mother to go along with himself and Drusilla! Look at Harmony after she’s turned into a vampire! She’s soulless and yet is as annoying as ever and still loves shopping and gossip.

•    If Buffy Summers had never come to Sunnydale, Xander and Willow would have died at the hands of The Master (it was presumably The Master that killed them). I’m assuming it would have taken place somewhere around “Welcome To The Hellmouth” or “The Harvest” time. You could argue that without Buffy, Willow would never have found the confidence to talk to Thomas in “Welcome To The Hellmouth”, and would therefore have not gotten into trouble in that episode. If that’s the case, I can see Willow and Xander getting sired soon after. Perhaps straight after “The Harvest” when The Master rose. Jesse would have been taken by Darla either way, so he’s still dead in this episode.
•    Something that I adore about this episode is the continuity. This episode is so well thought out! Without Buffy arriving in Sunnydale, her Watcher, Giles, still feels the need to help people, so he created a group of vampire hunters known as the “White Hats”, who try to protect the public from the vampire threat. I also love the little details that are added into this episode, such as a monthly memorial service (because the body count would be a lot higher without Buffy in Sunnydale), not wearing bright colours, etc. It really makes this episode feel realistic, which is hard to do in just 42 minutes. It’s also wonderful to see so many secondary characters like Harmony and Larry used effectively.
•    The Bronze is some form of gimp club in this bizarro world, huh?
•    I never realised just how much I loved The Master until seeing him return in this episode. I wish (see what I did there?) season one was a full season so that we had more screen time with The Master. He was such an interesting villain.
•    At this point in the episode, I was under the impression that it would revolve around Cordelia realising that Sunnydale is much better with Buffy in it and she’d somehow get the spell reversed, bringing the unicorns, daisies, and rainbows back to Sunnydale (because it’s practically Disneyland with Buffy there). Then, XANDER AND WILLOW KILL CORDELIA! WHAT THE HELL JUST HAPPENED! THIS ISN’T HOW TV SHOWS WORK!

Cordelia dies and the episode takes yet another twist. How is the wish ever going to get reversed if Cordelia, the only person who knows about it except the demon herself, is dead?! How fitting that it was the two people who broke her heart in the real world that killed her in the bizarro world. What a beautifully twisted parallel.

•    I was just wondering where Angel was in bizarro world, and then the disturbing torture scene with Willow happened. It’s so very disturbing. Willow licks Angel; Xander throws a lit match on Angel’s chest. Look at Angel’s chest! OUCH! Give that man some E45 cream! It appears that Angel still saw Buffy get called in Los Angeles through the help of Whistler. Whistler tells Angel to go to Sunnydale, as Buffy is expected to be there soon, but Buffy never arrives, so Angel starts trying to save people by himself and gets caught by The Master (or some of his minions). Since then, he’s been tortured on a regular basis and has become a shell of his former self...he should have stayed on the streets with those yummy rats.

It’s also interesting to see the differences between vampire Xander and vampire Willow, as I feel it reflects their personalities. Xander is a lacky to The Master. He does what he’s told and he does it well. Just like he does with Buffy. Willow, on the other hand, shows a sadistic streak that she later shows as a human during season six. Willow tortures Angel with a sadistic happiness not seen since Angelus watched Buffy and Willow find out that Jenny was dead in “Passion”. This shows that Willow, deep down, is capable of very dark things when pushed to her limits. Things like trying to kill Buffy, like skinning Warren alive, and trying to destroy the entire world. So, ya know, just a few minor things.

•    Giles: “She grants wishes”.
Oz: “So, Cordelia wished for something? Well, if it was for a long healthy life she should get her money back.”

Even in bizarro world Oz has the funniest lines.

•    Buffy! Thank God you’re here!...even with your facial scars. Everything’s gotten so messed up without you! The Master is free, and Xander and Willow are vampires, and Cordelia is dead, and “I don’t like this place, and I don’t like you, and I just wanna go home!” (Give yourself 10 points if you can name the Buffy episode that quote is from).
•    It’s interesting to see just how emotionless, humourless, and cold that Buffy is if she’d never arrived in Sunnydale. The Scoobies and Angel have clearly kept her more human and grounded over the past three years that she’s been in Sunnydale. It plays into the theory that gets explored in season five that Buffy has only survived so long because of her friends. The First Slayer tells Buffy that she is supposed to fight alone and have no ties to the world. The Buffy we see in this episode is the Buffy that would exist if she did her job like the Slayers before her had. She fights alone and dies alone.

It’s also interesting to note that Buffy’s clothes are very similar to Kendra’s from “Becoming Part One”. I’ve never noticed that before. Kendra was always like what I’d imagined Buffy would have been like without her family and friends. Less emotional, more methodical, etc. So it’s interesting that if you take the Scoobies away, she dresses like Kendra.

Buffy: “The world is what it is. We fight, we die. Wishing doesn’t change that.”

•    The bizarro-world-Sunnydale raises a whole load of new questions, however. The thing that I always think of is Buffy season six’s “Normal Again”. Was the Buffy in the asylum from another dimension where Buffy wasn’t the Slayer and just had delusions that she was? They leave the ending of “Normal Again” intentionally vague, so it’s certainly a possibility.
•    Buffy: “Is this a get-in-my-pants thing?”

Interesting to note that in this reality, Angel never did get into Buffy’s pants. Does this mean that Jenny is alive somewhere in this reality?!  Is she still the Sunnydale High computing teacher? Angel was still in Sunnydale and she was sent there to keep an eye on him, so surely she is? So. Many. Questions.

•    Angel: “You don’t believe I want to help you?! *opens shirt to reveal a huge array of bruises, cuts and burns* I believe I want him dead.”

That line has always stuck with me. It’s just so memorable! Angel is in almost entire shadow with cuts all over his chest. I love the symmetry that Angel is in shadow, which matches his emotional state. Great stuff. I love dissecting just how different all the characters are without Buffy to influence their lives.

•    Then we get to the scene which really makes this episode a masterpiece! Giles is trying to convince Anyanka to reverse the spell, while the episode keeps flitting back to the factory, where the Scoobies are all dying one by one. Then Anyanka is talking over the slow-motion fighting at the factory. It’s genuinely one of the most beautiful scenes I’ve seen thus far into the reviews. There’s so much emotional weight behind it! I can’t say enough good things about it.

It’s also interesting to note that even in bizarro world, the prophecy that “Buffy will face The Master and she will die” still comes true. Also, Xander’s line to Angelus in “Killed By Death” (“you’re gonna die and I’m gonna be there”) also comes true in this universe.

Cordelia is dead, Angel is dead, Xander is dead, Willow is dead, and Buffy is dead. Just Giles and Oz remain out of the main cast...can we please go back to the real reality now? Please?! Even after the spell gets reversed, it’s still traumatising to have seen the characters that you’ve grown to love be killed so brutally by each other. 

•    To sum up, this episode is as close to perfect as you can get. For that reason I’m awarding it a 10/10. Sure, I dislike that nobody remembers it, but it’s not enough to downgrade such a masterpiece. It deals with the ending of the last episode before the wish takes place and we get an entire new reality that explores Sunnydale without Buffy Summers. Both parts work.

Quote Of The Episode

Anyanka: “You trusting fool, how do you know the other world is any better than this?”

Giles: “Because it has to be.”

That line is so powerful. Anthony delivers it perfectly. The desperation in his voice is bone-chilling.


So what are your thoughts on "The Wish"? Did you enjoy this episode? Dislike it? Let me know all your thoughts in the comments section below!

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  1. I absolutely loved this episode!
    Was great seeing how the Scoobies lives would have turned out if Buffy had not arrived in Sunnydale. They were all clearly miserable and cold (Buffy especially!) which highlights just how much they need one other. Shangel I agree Willlow and Xander are sexy as vampires ;)

    What was great On tbis episode is that it showed whilst Cordelia was still hurt by Willow and Xander's betrayal she still cared about them. And this episode highlights the old saying "Be careful what you wish for, it might come true!"

    I rate this 8.5/10 :)

  2. I LOVE this episode and always have. Can't believe that anyone forgot it. Really?!?! It's perfect. I'm temped to give it an 11 out of ten! :) the idea of alternate reality has always appealed to me, even if it is an alternate reality of an already fictional alternate reality. Joss Whedon.....you rule.

  3. I have to say it's one of my favourite episodes of Buffy. The best of season 3. It's a 10/10 for me!

  4. Cordelia's also lost her brain in a fog of conceit.She doesn't notice the trash and elaves in the courtyard, the garlic and crosses evrywhere, the hcnages in her friends, and to top it off, she wlaks up to a guy she knows is dead and starts tlakign to him about finding the Slayer!

    Soem fans and fanwriters assume that Nancy is Potential and Giles was sent thier as *her* Watcher, often like that's the only possible explanation. Personally, I think the Council also ahs Watchers monitoring trouble spots.

    In fact, would Bizarro Oz and Larry make it out of that factory alive? The Maayor, darla, Luke, all rpobbaly dead too.. And Anya might not remmeber allt he details. She doesn't realize she's now pwoerless when Cordy keep makign wishes Side point- If Cor had made one of thsoe wishes first- ionteresting possible AUs?

    BizarroBuffy is often comapred to Faith, but sorry, nope. Faith never lsot the joy ofliving. as a street kid to begin with, she already ahd defense mechanisms that let her cope with the dark side as well.Buffy,t eh pampered Valley Girl, didn't so she turned ahrd and only hard. (Like in Robert E Howard stories:barbarians, both hero or villain, still live by their own codes. The civilized bad guys have abandoned all rela mroals and ethics.) (Also, very not necessary but good possibility, maybe vmaps killed Joyce and Hank.)

    When reruns started on cbale, S-6 was on first broadcast, so I was delaing with that and also a bunch of real-life issues. that amde reruns of "the Wish" very hard to take. (in those days, i c ried at evrey episode of the show actually) D'C'A'

    1. Also, BizarroHarmony is more decent, moral, and sensible than the real one. Is that supposed to show soem potential wiped out when she was sired and became supernaturally stuck in her "Beta Bitch" personality devleoped as the Grand Duchess in Queen C,'s Court? Or *was* it wiped out?..?..?..? D'C'A'

  5. I love this episode, it's creepy, dark and sad. Buffy in Kendra style, Angel being staked by Vamp Xander (the irony!) in front of Buffy, and she gives a fuck! Vamp Willow (foreshadowing S6!), Giles, Larry, Oz( killing Willow). And the Master!!! The scene where the he snapped Buffy's neck....chilly..and of course, Anya!!

  6. This has been one of my favorite episodes for years. At times, when BtVS has been all over the TV, I have recorded and watched this episode time and time again. I love this episode. I love it for lots of reasons: the introduction of Anya- who is one of my favorite characters (her comedy, her honesty- LOVE her); for vampire Willow and Zander- who are very attractive and great together, which blows my mind because I HATE the storyline of Willow and Zander cheating; there is the whole alternate reality thing, which I love because I'm a sci-fi geek at my core; all the continuity pieces which you pointed out so well; I also love seeing the Master again as well as, quite honestly the script itself- so well written. Anyway, this is a 10 for me too. Peace and be well.

  7. Angela Aranghelovici20 January 2014 at 15:24

    This is in my top 5 episodes of season 3. Such a brilliant one, so dark, so engaging, so DISTURBING!

    I don't really believe that all of Cordelia's growth disappears. She makes a conscious decision to try to be the way she was before Xander, because she's hurting. Plus, by the end of season three, she reverts back to the way she was during their relationship more or less and becomes an important part of the Scoobies once again, without being in a relationship with Xander.

    I think this is the first episode where they make it obvious that Cordelia actually really respected Buffy. She compliments Buffy (in her twisted way of course)! This is what I mean: "I never would have looked twice at Xander if Buffy hadn't made him marginally cooler by hanging with him." Yes, I agree that it is in no way Buffy's fault that Cordy is suffering right now, but I think that line actually counts as a compliment because what she's actually saying is that in her past period of selfishness and shallowness, she actually thought Buffy was cool enough to hang out with.

    Oz: “Look, I’m sorry this is hard for you. But I told you what I need, so I can’t help feeling like the reason you want to talk is so you can feel better about yourself. That’s not my problem.” This is so so true. Spot on, Oz. I do understand Willow though. It's hard not to be the tiniest bit selfish in this kind of situation. It's not the right thing to do, but it's very hard to avoid doing. I know that when I've upset someone, when I realise it, it upsets me too, so I try to do everything I can to speed up the forgiving process, partly because I don't want them to be in pain, but also partly because I want to feel better about myself. So I think Oz's line was very realistic, and hit close to home.

    I think it's really sad that Xander gives up so easy and afterwards just doesn't really care anymore. I really thought they had something special, but I guess they didn't. I do believe that in the end Cordy was much more involved in their relationship, whereas Xander...well, he hasn't really grown at all by this point.

    I was so surprised that Xander and Willow actually kill Cordelia...and the way they do it...the whole thing is very sexual and very very disturbing, This is the first disturbing moment of the episode for me. It's one thing to know that beloved main characters have died and are now vampires and a whole different thing to actually see a main character die!

    "Was the Buffy in the asylum from another dimension where Buffy wasn’t the Slayer and just had delusions that she was?" I never thought of it like that. I mean, I never thought if could have been another-dimension-Buffy. I just thought of the two scenarios most people probably thought of: her life as a slayer so the entire show is indeed a hallucination imagined by asylum-Buffy, or the asylum thing is just a delusion caused by that demon.

    You didn't mention this scene, but I have to mention it because it's one of the most visually disturbing things in the Buffyverse....that poor girl getting drained of blood. I feel I'm gonna vomit or pass out everytime I see that scene. They don't even cut to something else, they just show the entire thing, the arms of the machine thingy entering her body, the blood flowing through the straw-like things...I can't go on.

    The Giles-Anya scene juxtaposed with moments from the fight is indeed the highlight of the episode. Masterpiece.

    I love how Angel calls Buffy's name as he dies. And his tone of voice as he pronounces her name is the same as in the non-wishverse reality...I believe Angel was in love with Buffy in the wishverse too.

    The moment when The Master snaps Buffy's head....a part of me died.

    Cordelia's other wishes at the end of the episode are quite funny, but I'm just so grateful she didn't say one of those first!!!

    Oops, wrote loads. Hopefully someone will read this. I'm gonna stop writing now. See ya laterrr.

    1. Angela, you are right. We do try and make things better to feel better about ourselves. Oh god, that scene with that god-awful machines makes me feel ill! Why did you mention it Angela!!! Eek – it’s horrible! :(

  8. I really don’t know why I love Xander so much. He really is an asshat. Ok, so he’s an asshat with his heart mostly in the right place (mostly because of instances like this) but he isn’t good at taking responsibility for his actions (the non-wedding anyone). I think I love him because he is the class clown.

    Damn Cordy, you look, wow. Just wow. But then wow you are a stupid smart person. Really. Her intelligence established, they remind us of her no commonsense as she blames Buffy.

    Curse you Shangel for mentioning Anya’s death. I hate that part. 

    I couldn’t hate Oz in that scene when he reminded Willow about what he said. He has a point and this seems to be a flaw in Willow’s personality.

    Vampire Xander. Oh hot dang. He’s cold shower material.

    I was gutted when Cordy was killed. I thought, well, now what they hell is going to happen??

    Haha, Orangutan surprised face!

    Aww, poor puppy Angel. I find it interesting how he is the one getting tortured now.

    Yep, just a few minor things that Willow is capable of.

    Haha Oz, you are just epically awesome in any world. Hmm, is Oz still a werewolf in bizarro world?

    Well, there is no chance it could be any worse of a world right?