Sunday, 13 March 2011
Buffy: 3.9 ‘The Wish’
Short trailer for the episode.
Writer: Marti Noxon
Director: David Greenwalt
What's the sitch?
Cordelia is back at school post-injury and is blanking Xander while looking to get back in with her previous crowd of Harmony and co. However this doesn’t work out as the bitchy girls are intent on making fun of and humiliating Cordy for her relationship with Xander whenever possible. Cordy’s only silver lining is new girl Anya who strikes up a friendship with her but seems oddly obsessed with trying to get Cordy to make a wish that will harm Xander. Inadvertently Cordy does just that…by wishing that Buffy Summers never came to Sunnydale. And seeing as how Anya is really Anyanka, a vengeance demon who grants wishes to romantically wronged women, Cordy is instantly transported in to an alternate reality where Buffy never did come to town and so the Master did rise and the vampires now pretty much run things. And in this reality Xander and Willow are both vampires, Angel is a prisoner who is regularly tortured by Willow for fun (the ‘puppy’) and Giles leads a small band of ever dwindling resistance. Cordy tries to explain to Giles what has happened but before she can tell the full story she falls victim to evil Willow. It is left to Giles to try and work things out and to try and contact the elusive Buffy Summers and convince her to come to Sunnydale and help put things right.
What's the sitch beneath the sitch?
Be careful what you wish for. No great metaphor or allegory here but the theme is a classic one of being mindful of what you have as the alternative could always be much, much worse. It’s basically ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ Buffy style.
Who's giving us the wiggins this week?
Anyanka, The Master, vampires Willow and Xander.
Why it rocks
A new world. Yay! It’s alternate reality time. Almost all of the great genre shows get to do at least one of these with possibly Star Trek being the most famous with the Mirror Universe tales. Alternate realities allow writers to let rip and have fun by pretty much doing anything with the characters they can dream of. So here, in Buffy, we get a beaten down and emasculated Angel, gloriously evil and sexually provocative vampires Xander and Willow, and a cynical and battle scarred (literally) Buffy who is almost exactly the same as Faith is in ‘real’ reality.
The script. Writer Marti Noxon does a great job with the script and even pulls a Psycho on us leading us to believe that Cordy will be the central character of the piece. She isn’t. Twenty minutes in and its curtains for Cordy. Essentially Giles is the hero here. He puts things together and ultimately saves the day.
The plan. The Master’s diabolical plot of mass production of blood by factory farming humans is horrible and when the first victim is electronically stunned like a cow to slaughter then placed on the machine and automatically bled to death you can’t help but get a chill. Nasty stuff.
Battle scarred Buffy. SMG is great. She doesn’t say much but when she does it sounds very Faith-like. She just wants to kick ass and has no time for teamwork or plans. It’s also great seeing how she barely even notices when Angel gets staked or when Willow and Xander do as well. It’s quite a jarring moment…as is what happens to her at the hands of The Master.
Anya/Anyanka. Emma Caulfield makes a creepy/fun first impression as vengeance demon Anyanka. She doesn’t have that much to do here but luckily the producers saw in her much potential and kept her on in a recurring guest role where she soon blossomed and became one of the very best and funniest characters in the entire seven year run of the series.
Vampire Willow. Not to be confused with Dark Willow (black eyed, raging magic girl from season 6), Vampire Willow became an instantly iconic character. Alyson Hannigan is simply brilliant and is clearly having way too much fun playing the deliciously cruel, slinky, S&M wearing deviant vampire version of Willow. Her line of “Bored Now” first delivered in this episode became the much-loved catch phrase for Willow whenever she was in evil (Vamp or Dark) mode. Oh, and her creepy, sexy torturing of Angel is a twisted highlight of this episode and of the whole season. And things only got better further in to this season when Joss brought the character back for his utterly brilliant and wondrously classic episode ‘Doppelgangland’.
Why it sucks
As with most stories of this type everything gets resolved happily at the end with nobody knowing what happened and everything back to how it should be. This kinda negates the weight of what came before. But that’s just how these things work and isn’t a major issue.
In the alternate reality I’d have liked to have known why Buffy never went to Sunnydale and why she seemed to end up in Cleveland instead. And also how come she’s so Faith-like. Surely it can’t just be because she never met Giles, Willow and Xander. Is her mom still around? It doesn’t seem like it.
The great fight scene shot from ground level as Giles lays on the ground while a mysterious saviour kills a bunch of nasty vamps he’s been trying to fend off. We only see legs and people flying to the ground and off-camera sound effects of fighting and dusting. Of course it is eventually revealed to be Buffy having arrived in the nick of time to save this watcher she doesn’t know.
Dialogue to die for
Willow: “Isn't he gonna poof?”
Buffy: “I guess these guys don't. We'll have to bury him or something. Ohh, makes you appreciate vamps, though. No fuss, no muss.”
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.”
Buffy: “I don't play well with others. Now, I'm gonna ask you this once, and then I'm gonna get testy.”
Vampire Willow: “Bored now.”
And another thing
We see Cordelia's bedroom for the first time in this episode.
This is Emma (Anya) Caulfield’s first appearance on Buffy. She will stay on as a recurring guest star and eventually become a regular cast member with her name in the opening credits from season 5.
How many stakes?
There is no alternative. 4 (out of 5)