Buffy 3×09: The Wish

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Marti Noxon | Director: David Greenwalt | Aired: 12/08/1998]

When deciding what score to give an episode I factor in a lot of different things. An episode gets a perfect score because there are no critical flaws in it and it’s just so good that I don’t need to justify why it’s perfect, it simply is. This episode is the exception to what I just said. Because the dreaded “reset button” is used I considered giving this a lower score. After all, none of the characters remember anything that happened afterwards thereby making that entire portion of the episode essentially irrelevant. At least that’s what happens most of the time when the “reset button” is used. It happened more times than I can count (or that I’d like to admit I sat through) on Star Trek: Voyager.

There are several things that make this episode different though. The first is that under three quarters of the episode takes place in the alternate reality; the first quarter is important and is remembered by all the characters. The second is that although none of the characters remember anything from the experience, the viewers do, and this is important because we learn vital tidbits about the main characters in the process. The third is that the series doesn’t ever do this again. And finally, the fourth, is that this world, where Buffy never came to Sunnydale, is extremely interesting, entertaining, dark, and well done.

This episode has two distinct ‘sections’ which are connected through Cordelia. Both of these ‘sections’ are, well, perfect. In the beginning we get some ultra light fun where Buffy slays a corny demon and the group continues their picnic like nothing happened; business as usual. It’s here when Xander asks Buffy how she deals with the pain of lost love (and I think he also means life in general). She responds, “I have you guys.” The slow dissolution of the Scoobies in the following seasons is why everything will eventually break apart. They don’t feel like they “have each other” anymore which is why they keep secrets and grow increasingly separated. This happens to a lot of people when they go to college and out into the work world.

I liked seeing Oz’s rejection of Willow’s plea for talk. Oz knows that Willow wants to talk with him about what she did so she can feel better about herself. He suitably replies to this by saying “that’s not my problem.” The scene at the Bronze picks up on all these points while Buffy, Willow, and Xander are moping around and chatting with each other. Xander’s trying to move on as soon as possible, Willow feels horrible and wants to make it right with Oz, and Buffy is just kind of confused about everything.

Cordelia attempts to slide back into her old persona again with ease. Happily, and a testament to her character’s growth, this doesn’t succeed. When unhappy and covered in trash Cordelia comes to the realization that all of her problems stem from Buffy. Anyanka is attempting to get Cordelia to wish something bad upon Xander, but instead ends up granting a different kind of wish. Cordelia wishes that Buffy had never come to Sunnydale in the first place in the hopes that she’d never get tangled up in the supernatural and end up getting together with Xander. She’s obviously angry at both Willow and Xander, but by her reaction at the news that they’re both dead we can see that she didn’t really hate them. It becomes increasingly obvious to her that Buffy is not the cause of her pain.

It’s interesting that in the Buffy-less Sunnydale Willow and Xander are vampires. One might argue that Willow got bit during the events of “Welcome to the Hellmouth” [1×01] , but remember that it was Buffy who told her to “seize the day” which was the reason she went out into the crowd in the first place. Nevertheless, it still makes sense that eventually one of these two would have been bit and then would have immediately went to change the other. Willow as a vampire is actually pretty terrifying. At first she comes off as a joke but we see her true colors when torturing Angel. Xander rubs off as very much like his human personality. He follows others’ leads and works as an underling. Willow takes change and is a powerful minion under the Master. This fits with what we know of Willow’s continually growing self confidence.

What’s truly the most shocking, though, is how different Buffy is. She is very battle worn, tired, humorless, and has that “death wish” that Spike says all slayers have in “Fool for Love” [5×07] . She partially lets the Master snap her neck because she’s so tired of fighting. The look on her face leading up to her death says everything. It shows that she is already dead on the inside. Buffy is not a ‘special’ Slayer in this reality. She fights alone and dies just like all the girls before her. The only thing that makes her unique is that she has to live in a world where the hellmouth is open. When I first saw this episode I found myself wanting to see more of this Buffy’s life and how she got to the point she was at. There’s a reason why we’re seeing Buffy’s story in the real world though: she’s a unique Slayer there and that is part of what makes her so interesting. What we need to see in an episode like this is a glimpse at how all the main characters would have turned out had Buffy not arrived, and the episode does just that. We never knew pre-Sunnydale Buffy in the first place, so seeing more of her story in this alternate reality wouldn’t be terribly interesting.

The episode wraps up with a very chilling battle where Xander kills Angel (how ironic is that), Buffy kills Xander, Oz kills Willow, and the Master kills Buffy, all with beautifully haunting music running over top. Giles destroys Anyanka’s power center in the middle of all this and reality is restored back to normal where we see Buffy, Willow, and Xander together and, more or less, happy. To sum this up, I got everything I needed to get from an episode like this. There was time spent dealing with the aftermath of the previous episode, a dark look into an alternate reality Sunnydale, lots of subtle character foreshadowing, and a beautifully chilling ending. Perfect, but I think you already knew that.


Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)

+ Xander claims to have left 60 or 70 calls on Cordelia’s answering machine and actually did.
+ A mention of Amy, which sets up her appearance in the next episode.
+ Xander fake-laughing at Buffy and Willow to make it appear to Cordelia that he’s moved on.
+ The Bronze being infested by vampires and the place where they all hang out. It’s also fun seeing the Master back, above ground, and basically running Sunnydale. I wonder where the Mayor is.
+ Willow and Xander killing Cordelia together in an odd sensual vampiric embrace.
+ The Master making use of modern technology. There’s a reason why this guy’s lived so long.


* Anyanka wishes to help bring vengeance onto Xander because of what he did to Cordelia. It’s interesting that she’s trying to do the same thing over three years later (“Entropy” [6×18] ) because Xander leaves her at the altar (“Hell’s Bells” [6×16] ).
* The general atmosphere and the characters are in a very similar place to that of the later seasons (S5-S7). Willow’s evil, Angel is out of the picture, Buffy’s a complete loner and dies. These are all things that, more or less, happen over the course of the series.




123 thoughts on “Buffy 3×09: The Wish”

  1. [Note: Daniel Hathaway posted this comment on August 1, 2006.]

    While I agree that this is one of the best (if not THE best) episodes of season three, it has two things, both involving the Master, that bug the shit outta me. The first, is that the Master clearly stated in Prophecy Girl that “if you (Buffy) hadn’t come, I couldn’t go”. So he wouldn’t have even been free in the first place. But lets say he got free somehow. Where are the demons?! They made such a huge deal out of “if the Master gets free, the world ends because demons as big as dinosaurs are going to pour out of the Hellmouth and overrun the world.” Much like the beginning of season six, with all those monsters having poured out of the hole created by the Key (that Hellraiser/Aliens-looking building and that dragon) and the creators making no attempt to document the remaining Scoobies efforts to eliminate them sans Buffy. Maybe I’m splitting hairs, but to me those are major plot holes.


  2. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on August 1, 2006.]

    If Buffy had never come to Sunnydale, the Master’s attempt at getting free in “The Harvest” would have succeeded. His comment to Buffy in “Prophecy Girl” refers to that particular event and prophecy, because Buffy was destined to be there. With reality altered by Anya, everything gets whacked out and the prophecies surrounding Buffy all become invalid (hence why Angel’s in being tortured in Sunnydale saying that it was his destiny to help Buffy, but she never showed).

    The demon issue isn’t directly addressed, but it’s likely that the bigger demons that came out of the hellmouth headed off for major metro areas to do maximum carnage. I don’t think the lack of explanation here hurts the episode though.

    As for the events of “The Gift,” I always kind of assumed that when the portal was closed, all the demons got sucked back into their normal realities. But who knows, maybe that dragon at the end of “Not Fade Away” (AtS 5×22) is actually the one that came out of Glory’s portal in “The Gift.” 😉


  3. [Note: Grounded posted this comment on August 8, 2006.]

    “The demon issue isn’t directly addressed, but it’s likely that the bigger demons that came out of the hellmouth headed off for major metro areas to do maximum carnage.”

    I don’t think that satisfactorily explains it. Daniel has a point – it’s a flub.


  4. [Note: Professor Falken posted this comment on August 20, 2006.]

    Daniel has a point – it’s a flub

    It’s not the only one. In the first episode it’s implied that Giles came to Sunnydale because Buffy was coming. Ditto Angel. Neither of them should be here either. Further, it doesn’t make much sense for Giles to be using the library as his base of operations in this world since vampires are free to enter. Everyone else in Sunnydale goes home at sundown for safety – why shouldn’t the White Hats operate out of a non-public building? There are many more vampires in this world, and they know Giles et al as a nuissance. It doesn’t seem plausible that he would have survived to this point hanging out at night in the school library.

    The episode is very cool in lots of ways, though. I especially like the fact that Willow is pushed onto a stake – in some ways recreating the way that Cordelia got hurt after seeing the Xander/Willow kiss.

    I also like Cordelia’s line about Xander and Willow still being together even in “bizarro world.” Lots of complaints are made on this site about the Xander/Willow “illicit smoochies” not being in character. I can see that and agree to a certain extent (it bothers me how quickly it happened and how little effort they both put into fighting it off), but I actually think it makes sense overall. They’ve known each other forever, and the attraction is real. Xander doesn’t seize on it for a while because dating for him is about proving himself. Once he gets Cordelia, though, and is convinced she really likes him (seeing his picture in her locker seems to cinch that for him), admitting feelings for Willow isn’t such an admission of defeat. For Willow’s part – it makes sense for Willow to be the one with the explicit and long(er)-term crush on Xander because Willow doesn’t actually want to go out in the world and get dates. There’s a side of Willow (which we see again when Tara comes along) that wants easy, comforting, homey relationships. The dominatrix-wear on her vampire version is really appropriate here: there’s a side of Willow that wants a relationship where she’s completely in control of the other and has him/her all to herself. She says as much when she tells Tara that she didn’t introduce her to her friends because she wants something that’s “mine.” Xander fits this profile perfectly. He’s a childhood friend she’s known all her life, and he’s ultimately a follower. Definite “comfort zone” material. Willow misses the days when it was just her and Xander against the world (note comment on his membership in the “We Hate Cordelia” club when that secret first surfaces). You could say that Xander’s “coming” and Willow’s “going” (having met Oz and having had that work out, she’s probably just about ready to give up on her attraction to Xander – but old habits and desires die hard, and when he starts subtly requiting…well, you know) – and they just kind of meet in the brief period the window’s open on it.

    Point being: Willow and Xander have a definite bond, and Cordelia knows that during her time with Xander she wasn’t really ever able to get him to look at her the same way he looks at Buffy and Willow. The Xander/Cordelia relationship never had much substance.

    The Willow/Oz relationship had substance, but ultimately not enough, as we learn. Oz isn’t actually what Willow’s looking for.

    So I found it fitting that Cordelia makes a wish and still doesn’t get what she wants: Xander’s with Willow anyway. Be careful what you wish for indeed.


  5. [Note: Hale_Goodfellow posted this comment on October 6, 2006.]

    Great episode. Loved the character insights and the exploration of destiny vs. free will. It was great seeing the Master again…and the Mayor was there. He was being tortured in a scene at the Bronze.


  6. [Note: AeC posted this comment on January 28, 2007.]

    My favorite thing about this episode was the structural nod to Psycho. In Psycho, we have the first act of the movie shown from Janet Leigh’s perspective, setting us up to believe she’s the main character, the heroine, only to have her killed off a third of the way through the film. Similarly, we have the first few acts of “The Wish” told almost entirely from Cordelia’s perspective, only to have her murdered on camera midway through the proceedings. In addition to throwing things off kilter narrative-wise, it also ups the “jeopardy” angle, since Cordelia is the only one who even knows things are not how they should be and would seem to be the only one who would know to take action. Plus, traditionally in these sorts of stories (cf. any number of “mirror universe” stories in the Star Trek franchise), the ones who realize something has gone wrong are the ones who end up fixing it in the end, and maybe even gaining some sort of insight in the process. Noxon beautifully subverted both of these conventions by having Cordelia die (and, in a sense, kept things completely in character for her; if there’s anyone on this show who wouldn’t learn something at the end of the hour, wouldn’t it be Cordelia?)

    Also, I believe Hale_Goodfellow is correct; that looks like Harry Groener tied to the pool table when Xander and Willow first enter The Bronze.


  7. [Note: MrB posted this comment on February 23, 2007.]

    The show does do one more “reset” button – Normal Again in Season 6.

    You might want to make reference to that in that review.

    They are very different in tone, but it is the same button.


  8. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on February 23, 2007.]

    There is no reset button in “Normal Again.” In fact, NA is the opposite of the reset button in the fact that what Buffy gains (and remembers) from the experience finally brings her out of depression. The reset button is when the characters don’t remember anything that happened in the episode. This is completely untrue of “Normal Again,” unless you’re one of those people who thinks the end of the episode is telling us that Sunnydale isn’t real. If that’s the case, then I can only say I’m sorry you feel that way. The evidence presented in the episode clearly shows that is not the case. When I review NA I’ll explain why in great detail.


  9. [Note: Austin posted this comment on August 23, 2007.]

    About Giles and Angel being in sunnydale, Cordy’s wish wasn’t specific about how buffy “never moved to sunnydale” so it could be that alternate events caused a change in plans so drasic and unexpectedly that Giles and Angel were already in sunnydale, waiting for Buffy to arrive when she ended up going to…(Cleveland?)


  10. [Note: Christine posted this comment on September 17, 2007.]

    definately up there as one of the top 3 episodes for me. And also, that end battle makes me cry, even though we know it isn’t “real”. But the way it was done is just so powerful.


  11. [Note: Tamora posted this comment on September 21, 2007.]

    Consider me significantly blushing, but I must add another pro: Willow and leather. At all. In any way, shape or form.

    I can go die now. *is ded… and yet continues blushing*


  12. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on October 23, 2007.]

    This is one episode that I just love beyond reason, it´s so perfect, so dark, so absolutely amazing. This gets better with each viewing. And not only the part of the wish, the first part with all the Scoobies, trying to deal with all that happenned is very good too. I love this so much that I can´t justify it enough, I just know this is perfect.


  13. [Note: Carolyn posted this comment on November 15, 2007.]

    I also really love this episode – but the thing I don’t get is why the Master and all the other vamps are so excited about their new blood production line – it looks a lot more hassle and a lot less efficient than just biting people to me!!


  14. [Note: Woohoo1729 posted this comment on December 10, 2007.]

    This is one of my favorites too, for sure–prolly one of my top 3.

    I didn’t realize til after repeated viewings that even Anya didn’t remember the alternate dimension. I think it could’ve been nice if she did. Although it’s also nice that we’re the only ones who’ve seen more than just a few glimpses of that dimension (as Anya and Willow did during the spell in Doppelgangland, if I remember correctly). It provides us with dramatic irony for the rest of the series–where we know something that none of the other main characters know. I don’t have anything more profound to say, I just really gush over this episode.


  15. [Note: Schattenkind posted this comment on February 23, 2008.]

    This is definately one of my top ten episodes.

    One thing I espescially love about it is that it shows just how dark the series can be, and will be in later series. It shows that the series can do dark, and can do it well. In my mind it opens the doors for what happens in later seasons. Plus, it is just plain cool.


  16. [Note: Jaden posted this comment on June 11, 2008.]

    joss should be the screenwriter for the next saw movie cause the blood machine was AWESOME. P.S. he should stop killing all the asians though, someones bound to complain.


  17. [Note: Nix posted this comment on June 11, 2008.]

    Oh, that’s just the Sunnydale Appearance Preference Filter at work. Everyone not an uncommonly attractive Caucasian dies, always, whether a major character or not. Sometimes it takes a while (e.g. Jonathan) but it always works. Mr. Trick spotted this but unaccountably failed to flee.

    I suspect the Mayor insisted on it. Maybe he disliked ugly people or something, and just overdid it a bit (and of course since he had 19th century attitudes this would tend to off anyone non-Caucasian).

    This has been your free daily wild-assed guess.


  18. [Note: Tony posted this comment on June 15, 2008.]

    Also one of my favourite episodes. The ending where everyone dies is so great. Also introduced Anya, my favourite character of the series for sure.


  19. [Note: Jvamp posted this comment on August 23, 2008.]

    Noticed something on my second viewing…When we first get to the bronze, I’m pretty sure that we see a Vampire feeding on Faith! The camera glides right past as its going on and I’m fairly sure that it’s her…Anyone else think this or am I crazy?


  20. [Note: Jaden posted this comment on August 27, 2008.]

    Jvamp: in an interview or commentary or something i remember the writer saying that it actually want faith who was getting bit though that would have been a great way of using that character in the alternate world.

    oh and its marti who should be the screenwriter for saw not joss.


  21. [Note: Paula posted this comment on December 11, 2008.]

    Just saw this for the second time last night. This is such a dark and intriguing episode. In particular, both Xander and Willow make chillingly cool (is that “freezing”? :-)) vampires.

    Regarding the complaint that it makes no sense for Giles and/or Angel to be in town if Buffy never came, the way I take Anyanka’s wish-granting powers is that they are great but still limited. So she didn’t grant Cordelia’s wish by changing everything so that it would have made sense for Buffy to be elsewhere, and everyone else would have acted accordingly; she simply had Buffy not come to Sunnydale, but didn’t change the fact that she was fully expected to come. Thus the presence of Giles and Angel (who no doubt both had their hands full as soon as they arrived).

    My own complaint would be the pretty astonishing use of the school library by the white hats as their base of action, what with this being a public space which vampires may and do enter as they please. It doesn’t make all that much sense in the regular BtVS reality, and it makes even less here. Why didn’t they just meet at Giles’s house?!

    Also, now that I’m viewing the whole show the second time I realize that Anya as a character (particularly as a vengeance demon) was modified in many ways after this – what’s with her having Cordelia wear the pendant, for example? Since they probably didn’t originally intend to bring her back again, as a regular anyway, this is pretty understandable though.

    One more thought – I suppose Oz and Larry had ended up becoming Giles’s little helpers (sort of alternative-reality Scoobies) because they were both a little different from the other schoolkids (werewolf, gay). I wonder what Nancy’s story was?


  22. [Note: Tara posted this comment on April 19, 2009.]

    I only have one slight issue with this episode, Mike, and it’s one of the things you listed on your ‘Pros’: that is the Master’s use of modern technology. Nothing from what we’ve seen of the Master – especially from his appearence in Angel’s ‘Darla’ – suggests that this would be something he’d be up for. The impression I get of the centuries-old Master, part of the Order of Aurelius is that he’s a great follower of antiquated ritual and tradition. I really can’t see him being a great innovator of technological advancements, especially one that completely eradicates the premise of vampires being predators and set apart from humans in the first place.

    However, the rest of this episode is just so damn good that it doesn’t bother me too much. Particularly the picture we get of a jaded, hardened and ruthless Buffy; a pointer of just how much the stabilising influence of her family and friends have prevented such a chilling outcome, and we see the cause of much of Faith’s cynicism that hides a profound loneliness, that will explode into the open in future episodes.


  23. [Note: Christian posted this comment on June 9, 2009.]

    This was a great ep. It’s always fun to see a “What If” kind of reality. The fact that Anya is introduced in this ep just makes it so much better.


  24. [Note: Baron posted this comment on September 22, 2009.]

    I’m surprised nobody has pointed this out yet, when Willow makes reference to the fact that Vampire Willow seemed gay it indicates what lies ahead for her. I love the fact that this was something that was picked up later on in the series although it was only a small throw away comment contained in this episode.

    It’s clear that the writers had intended that Willow would eventually end up in a same sex relationship and used this episode to tell the viewers how her character would progress.


  25. [Note: Katie J posted this comment on December 1, 2009.]

    “Hey, watch it with those things. You almost got my hair.” Gets me every time. I was always curious where the term “white hats” came from.


  26. [Note: Shannon posted this comment on December 3, 2009.]

    @KatieJ – I believe it’s a reference to the fact that in Westerns the good guys typically wear white cowboy hats, while the bad guys always wear black ones.


  27. [Note: zdravko posted this comment on December 13, 2009.]

    One of my complaints with the episode was, despite the fact it was one of the series’ best with its unique disturbing and dark feel, it was such a missed opportunity not to include the character of Jenny Calendar in the ep, as one of the possible bad side-effects of “buffyized” Sunnydale, being alive and fighting alongside Giles, just to slighly further the moral grayness the series already tried to implement in season 3.

    Otherwise, pleasantly surprised. There are some plotholes (still not convinced what is Giles actually doing in Sunnydale), but this is one of the creepiest hours the show had to offer (especially the first minutes of Cordelia seeing what she had done, mentions of curfew, introduction to the “improved” Xander and Willow, and the classic Bronze scene. Kudos to the one stating Cordelia’s Psycho moment – nicely put.


  28. [Note: Shannon posted this comment on February 10, 2010.]

    After rewatching this I think I agree with whoever said that this episode would be better if someone remembered the alternate Sunnydale (maybe that was in the forum, I can’t find it here). It’s really cool and disturbing to see what happens without Buffy (and to Buffy wherever she ended up), and that last fight scene is phenomenal, but it does feel kind of empty in the sense that nobody, particularly Cordelia, realize how much Buffy has changed Sunnydale, and vice versa. I think Doppelgangland may be better in this sense – that the gang realizes there is some alternate universe out there where Willow was vamped, and that it wouldn’t be hard to infer that Buffy prevented that outcome.


  29. [Note: G1000 posted this comment on May 18, 2010.]

    Don’t really get the perfect score for this one. It was a less cheesy clone of “Nightmares”. It was good, but compared to “Revelations” and “Lover’s Walk” it was weak.


  30. [Note: Smallprint84 posted this comment on May 20, 2010.]


    and it is also funny that Buffy wears a black cowboyhat in “Pangs”. So here wears the good guy (well good girl) a bad guy hat.

    Also so hilarious when Buffy says: “imaginary Xander is quite the machine.”


  31. [Note: Emily posted this comment on May 20, 2010.]

    I agree with G1000. This episode, though it is fairly entertaining, certainly has no lasting impact on the series.


  32. [Note: fray-adjacent posted this comment on May 24, 2010.]

    What a fantastic episode — totally agree with your review, MikeJer.

    “The Wish” contains the only scene in BtVS that I’ve only seen once: the part where the Master demonstrates the blood production machine on that poor girl. The mechanization of it, the knowledge that she’s still alive and paralyzed — it’s just so disturbing and gross that I leave the room for a minute when I re-watch that episode.


  33. [Note: Lizzie posted this comment on June 30, 2010.]

    Also, you know what i love? That the first time I saw this episode, I had no clue what Anya was up to. Wow, watching it in retrospect really makes things funny, somehow. Knowing how Anya Ends up is AMAZING when watching her here. I also gotta say that almost 90% of the time I think of Anya as my favorite character in the entire buffyverse…


  34. [Note: Ida posted this comment on July 5, 2010.]

    I REALLY love this episode, but it’s fra from perfect. Too many holes in the story. But still one of my favorite episodes cause it’s so entertaining. And I really like vampire Willow!


  35. [Note: nathan.taurus posted this comment on August 20, 2010.]

    Perhaps the reason Giles in Sunnydale is because he trained the Slayer three years earlier and she was killed by the Master so he could escape. He said he was a Watcher so maybe once his Slayer died he stuck around because he felt responsible.

    The Good:

    The fifty or sixty-odd messages that Xander left Cordelia.

    Buffy, Willow and Xander at the Bronze.

    Cordelia still looks sexy with trash in her hair.

    Vampire Xander and Willow in the leather. They should hang out with Dru and Spike.

    The fantastic library scene with Vamp Willow and Xand draining Cordy with no sound, until they have the noise of the key dropping.

    Giles calls upon Anyanka. “Do you have any idea what I do to a man who uses that spell to summon me?”

    The perfect fight where everybody dies and Giles fights with Anyanka. The slo-mo is the best with the haunting instrumental music.

    The Bad:

    Why would they think the demon would dissolve?

    The asian Harmony-ette. She doesn’t fit. Not because she’s asian, because she’s annoying.

    People still live in Sunnydale with so much more death.


  36. [Note: yippers6 posted this comment on August 28, 2010.]

    it would be cool if when buffy walked up to giles spike was with and giles would be all like what the hell! that would be awesome just to see the look on his face seeing spike working with buffy. plus that would suprise you if you were watching that episode for the fist time and had seen season two. it would just be so funny.


  37. [Note: Robbie posted this comment on August 29, 2010.]

    Another foreshadowing that you should have mentioned here is when vampire Willow shows up she says “Bored now”, same phrase Dark Willow says just before flaying Warren.


  38. [Note: Alice posted this comment on November 5, 2010.]

    I always had the impression that Anya remembered the events in this episode. In Dopplegangland, Anya knew where her necklace was and recognised that vamp Willow belonged to the alternate reality.

    If her magic didn’t affect Cordelia’s memory when the alternate reality was created, surely it wouldn’t affect her’s either?


  39. [Note: fray-adjacent posted this comment on November 13, 2010.]

    I think it’s safe to assume Anya doesn’t remember. How would she ever have started hanging out in the same social circle as Giles if she knew he’d been the one to rob her of her powers? I don’t think a little crush on Xander would’ve been enough to overcome that.

    One thing that always bugs me is how “Selfless” is inconsistent with this. You’d think that, once the Scoobies learned that Anya’d become a vengeance demon again, they’d try to find out how to stop her, and they’d come across the same text that Giles finds here, instructing them to destroy her power center. But the writers seem to have completely forgotten this and instead have Buffy try to kill Anya.

    (Also, they state that all of her wishes are undone, but the demon in “Hell’s Bells” is unchanged.)


  40. [Note: Matt posted this comment on March 6, 2011.]

    Personally, I hate these kind of “what if” episodes. Everybody watching the show knows that everything will be hunky dory by the end, so it seems to me that it’s just a way for the writers to flex their muscles. It was cool to see Giles and Oz as white hats, though.


  41. [Note: Andrea posted this comment on April 23, 2011.]

    Angel’s presence is explained here when Buffy finds him in the cage at The Bronze. That’s how he knows her name – Whistler has already told him about her and brought him to see her at the high school in LA. Angel came up to Sunnydale to wait for Buffy to arrive, but (presto change-o!) she never does. I don’t think this explains Giles’s presence, though, because he had no clue until Cordelia said something that Buffy was supposed to be his slayer.

    Here’s the relevant dialogue (from buffyworld.com):

    Angel: Buffy Summers.

    She turns to face Angel and gives him an inquiring look. Angel gets

    another look at her, and now he’s sure.

    Angel: (weakly) It’s you. I mean… you don’t remember. How could you?

    Buffy: How did you know my name?

    Angel: I waited. I waited here for you. But you never… I was supposed

    to help you.

    Buffy: (huffs) You were gonna help me.

    Angel: (weakly) The Master rose. He let me live… to punish me. I kept

    hoping maybe you’d come. My destiny.


  42. [Note: fray-adjacent posted this comment on April 24, 2011.]

    Andrea, I agree about Angel, but I believe Giles knew that Buffy was the slayer. In the alternate reality she went to Cleveland instead of Sunnydale, but he was still stationed there, presumably to deal with the demonic activity there despite the Watchers’ Council insistence that there was no Hellmouth there. (Remember that Fate brought Buffy to Sunnydale, not the WC; presumably in this world Fate sent her to Cleveland.)

    I interpreted Giles’ reaction to Cordelia as shock that *she* knew about Buffy and about slayers, and specifically that he was a Watcher.

    Interestingly, while double-checking the dialogue related to my comment, I noticed that when Giles calls the council, this is what he says:

    “Yes, I understand, but it’s imperative that I see her. Here. (listens) Well… when will you? (listens) Yeah, well, you are her Watcher. I’d expect her to at least check in to… (listens) Yes, I’m aware that there’s a great deal of demonic activity in Cleveland. (listens) It… Well, it happens, you know, that, that Sunnydale is on a Hellmouth. (listens) It, it is so! (listens) Well… Just… Just give her the message, if you ever see her again. (hangs up)”

    It sounds like alternate-reality Buffy is just as rebellious against her Watcher as Sunnydale Buffy. What makes her different is that lack of connection to people and to the world that Spike talks about in “Fool for Love.” The writers seem to be implying that, while Buffy’s “think outside the box” method is important, it’s not enough. She needs her relationships in order to sustain her so that she keeps up the will to win.


  43. [Note: deadlego posted this comment on April 25, 2011.]

    yes, anya remembers the events of this episode and the events of this episode effect a lot of people in ‘doppelgangland’, and also anyone who is effected by anya losing her powers; if you think of the butterfly effect then theoretically this could be millions of people.


  44. [Note: ShinyNorman posted this comment on August 6, 2011.]

    Isn’t this episode primarily about inversion and desires, rather than mirrors? Dark desires, forbidden desires, unfulfilled desires, starting/departing from forbidden desires gone awry (Cordie-Xander-Wlllow triangle) and Buffy disconnected from everyone. Instead of being an episode about character development, it’s more an episode about our development as the audience who knows everything. We’re asked to look inside ourselves.

    Also, there’s not a lot of emotion here. It’s just an emotionally “dead” and matter-of-fact environment, which makes it dark but not eerie. Maybe how we see ourselves stripped of power, and dominated by overwhelming domination? Fate or destiny are stripped of their goodness, which is pretty much how the Greeks thought of the Fates and Destiny. It isn’t romanticized.

    Riding ponies, the evil coldness of mass production, the inverted population (absence instead of presence) where everyone goes about life repressed by fear and living under siege where altWillow+altXander are Lust fully released and Buffy seeks battle cynically and as a Spartan. (The scar on her lip is fabulous. I didn’t care much for the military fatigues, though; I thought that was trite. Is there no other opposite to fashion we can think of?)

    In a mirror, you’re flipped but not inverted. Left is still left, right is still right. In this alt universe, everything is flipped and inverted upside down; double whammy. In this universe, there are no weapons gathered from Buffy’s battles, so we’re defenseless and primitive; the vamps are tech sophisticated here. The Scoobies don’t have magic, either. Larry is a football player, and a tough warrior; Oz wouldn’t be a wolf in this ‘verse. Cordy gets to taunt altWillow in the cage, but is still dumb as a post and can’t tune in to altWillow’s attitude because Cordie is so self-centered, but she is also representing here (as always) pure absence of guile.

    We viewers get a view of our own inverted desires and what-ifs; what if Cordie got her just deserves for being a guileless ambitious bitch? what if Buffy isn’t caring underneath?. Her mom is in Cleveland, but obviously doesn’t have the stability factor going there, so no middle class life with middle class goodness values exist there. Buffy is Faith.

    Oz, Giles, and Larry are shown as what it is to be in the ‘Now’ and simply coping (normal human existence), with no introspection, and the bad guys (domination) win all around. We’re confronted with defeat. By this point, the season we kind of needed to see for ourselves “what would happen ifs” of a different kind. It’s a real turning point in the entire story arc; random adventures like death masks and undead cats, or hyenas, become focused on the the Mayor’s ascension project. (I will speculate that by this point SMG had gained a much deeper influence in the character development.)

    I think Anya may not know about the alternate ‘verse when the change-back happens; she knows how to get her amulet back, but not exactly where from. Willow didn’t need to see much at all to sense this was a hell dimension, and takes back her chicken feet — Willow is deals very well with setting boundaries here, something Xander can’t quite get straight, and Buffy has real deep issues about. Boundary keeping is really disturbed by forbidden things.


  45. [Note: Hollee posted this comment on August 16, 2011.]

    Great episode, makes me squeal of sadness every single time Oz stakes Willow, but I had to add a continuity error my sister and I were dying from. In the scene in the library with Giles and Buffy, the book in Giles hand is magically opening and closing on its own. Editor flaw!


  46. [Note: smallprint84 posted this comment on October 14, 2011.]

    Also I find it amazing that they pulled a “Hitchcock-moment” here, with Cordelia as the leading herione trying to save the day and then kill her in the middle of the episode.


  47. [Note: Allie posted this comment on November 3, 2011.]

    I recently just started watching Buffy again for the first time since they quit playing it on TV. Netflix FTW! There are very few moments that stick in my memory from way back when. The look on Buffy’s face when the Master snaps her neck has always been one of those moments. Not sure why, but I agree with what Mikejer said; that it seems like she gave up and let it happen. That scene gives me chills.

    I wish there was more parallel universe Buffy in this episode. More background on her. But still one of my favorite episodes.


  48. [Note: Gemma posted this comment on January 2, 2012.]

    This is my all time favourite Buffy episode simply because it is so memorable; the two concepts that flow throughout this episode produce a number of insightful moments. I love it!

    My reason for loving this episode so much is the plot which takes place after Cordelia has made her wish. I agree with you Mike regarding the comment you made about the audience remembering the alternate reality, this is conducive to the insights we get from this episode. I admire the writers meddle with the shows foundation, making it a dystopia. Buffy’s life in the alternative reality is intriguing and seems quintessential of Kendra’s. I too would have like to have spent time exploring this Buffy’s life Mike and i would love to know how she came about that scare on her lip? Especially as slayers have heightened healing powers!

    My favourite moment or perhaps message that this episode makes poignant is that Buffy wouldn’t Buffy without the Scoobies and her other earthly ties. Another favourite scene of mine is the slow fight scene with Angel, Xander, WIllow and Buffy all dying. Kudos to the writers on making this episode a perfect mate to season one don’t you think? The prophecy that the Master will rise and the Slayer will die is fulfilled and seeing the Sunnydale subverted to vampiric rule is great! I love the Master in this ep, his whimsical nature and penchant for the modern age is cool!

    Ultimately the best!


  49. [Note: Brock posted this comment on January 16, 2012.]

    Its actually really not that good, its fairly poorly written and directed episode with multiple plot holes. Once you see past the gimmick of the episode, its not that good.


  50. [Note: Gemma posted this comment on January 17, 2012.]

    I disagree with Brook, i won’t repeat the points i made but for me the episode let us into the lives of Buffy, Willow, Xander and Giles with a what if principal. It answered the what if sentiment of the season one final if Xander hadn’t performed CPR on our Buffy.

    The fact that the characters don’t remember ‘The Wish’ even lets us see Buffy with the it was all a dream and as Mike the reset button used on Lost and so many other shows.

    I truly love this episode but everyone is entitled to an opinion and i’m sure that you may love an episode i dislike.


  51. [Note: Brock posted this comment on January 17, 2012.]

    But it wasn’t that good beyond its premise. The writing wasn’t particularly good and neither was the acting by Charisma in this episode. Concept can only take an episode so far, it also needs great writing, but “The Wish” had too many plot holes and implausibilities. Anya handing Cordelia her necklace (which is basically her power source) at the beginning was one of the biggest contrivances I’ve ever seen.


  52. [Note: fray-adjacent posted this comment on January 17, 2012.]

    Brock, can you explain more what your criticisms are of the writing, directing, and acting? I recall being rather impressed with the former two and perfectly satisfied with the third, so I’m curious to hear what you dislike in more detail.


  53. [Note: Brock posted this comment on January 17, 2012.]

    After Cordelia is killed, the episode kind of goes downhill the most.

    But before that we have the contrivance of Anya actually tying her necklace around Cordelia (??) just so that Giles can take it off her body and identify it (how convenient that he saw it and randomly decided to rob her of it).

    Then of course once he takes it off Anya, she just stands there and doesn’t even try to stop him until he crushes it. The dialogue was really cheesy throughout especially once Buffy came onto the scene, and the stuff with Angel seemed totally unnecessarily stuffed in just so the episode would feature him.

    And why were Giles and his vampire fighters in the library exactly? It was awfully stupid considering any Vampire could just walk in, and they did on two occassions was it?

    We also got very little sense of what society was really like and what the reaction was to the whole vampire things. A couple of cool things like garlic on the lockers and a curfew, but it would been more interesting to get a wider view about what was going on. The factory scene at the end was kind of silly, and how did those humans stand up to the vampires so well?

    It just wasn’t a tight episode. The writing didn’t live up to the concept.


  54. [Note: Miss Edith posted this comment on March 13, 2012.]

    Great review!

    Something no-one else seems to have mentioned yet is, given all the Buffy/Angel drama of S1-S4, how jarring it is to see Angel staked in front of Buffy, and for her not to bat an eyelid. It got me thinking back to the dream at the start of Surprise in particular, and of all the flashbacks to Buffy stabbing Angel during the start of S3.


  55. [Note: Antoinette posted this comment on May 19, 2012.]

    am i the only one that really wants to know who the hell that girl was in the library with oz giles, and larry. soooo random!!! I’m leaning towards that she has had to appear somewhere else in the series and I’m completely missing something!!!! anybody know???


  56. [Note: Gemma posted this comment on July 5, 2012.]

    Nancy, the girl member of Giles’ vampire fighting team didn’t have a last name or at least it wasn’t made palpable to the viewing audience and her original main time counter part was never met,


  57. [Note: Kyle posted this comment on July 5, 2012.]

    Contrary to what a lot of people seem to think, I think you gave this episode the score it deserves. I just can’t see why some people can’t see that! People seem so caught up in the extremely minor continuity problems, that don’t matter (yeah, yeah… contradict me… tell me I’m wrong all you want), that they forget the importance of this episode.


  58. [Note: Summer posted this comment on December 21, 2012.]

    Cordelia looked super hot in this episode. Her boobs were outta control. I enjoyed the erotic threesome that occurred when Willow and Xander killed her. Yes, this was definitely a sexy episode between all that and Willow straddling Xander. Buffy was not sexy tho. She had Kendra hair.I felt like crosses were more powerful than they usually are.I thought it was interesting how Giles basically had to have faith that the other world would be better. Faith (the concept) and Faith (the person)… an interesting theme.


  59. [Note: Caleb Kim posted this comment on January 31, 2013.]

    Another huge issue I have a problem with is with Anya. If all her wishes are undone, and granted that she granted wishes previously, that means that the normal world would be different from the Buffy one.


  60. [Note: Sam L posted this comment on February 17, 2013.]

    I just completed a Season 3 re-watch, and this episode is still a knockout. Although I also wish Cordelia remembered the alterna-verse so that she could get more character growth, that doesn’t detract from the tremendous fun (and sadness) of the Buffy-less Sunnydale. I would give this episode an A-minus on a bad day. Definitely a solid A on a good one.


  61. [Note: Arachnea posted this comment on February 23, 2013.]

    It’s funny to see the comments on this particular review. Usually, the sci-fi fans are very hard-core and prone to nitpick every little detail too much, be they about science, plot or characters. What I enjoy about this site is the sight about the whole show and you can truly see the love for the series in the comments. So I found very interesting to read some hard comments about the plot holes. Also the infamous “reset button” in overused in sci-fi, but I think that having it once in a fantasy show is great.

    In a “what if” situation – mirror or alternate universe – you will automatically have plot holes. If there weren’t, you couldn’t have all the cast in it. And when you have an interesting episode, who’s interested in little plot holes or continuity: it is after all, an episode with no real consequences because of the reset button ! What is interesting is the changes in characters, how they act and react and the fun factor – in a creepy kind of way. Actually, it shows how our lives could be radically different if we had made different choices: here, the changes are over the top because we’re talking about the slayer. But what if Cordelia had wished to erase Willow ? Would Buffy be the same without her best friend ? That’s the what if in our own lives: what if you hadn’t met your boy/girlfriend or you best friend. We are who and what we are because of the environment that surrounds us and the poeple we meet.

    Example: I was born in Asia but was adopted in Europe. My life would be totally different if I had been raised in Asia. I probably wouldn’t know BtVS and wouldn’t be writing useless comments :p. But most of all, I wouldn’t have met my husband and wouldn’t have the children I have –> so I, however insignificant I am, just by being here and interacted, have brought consequences (not bad consequences, my kids are the best 😀 !!!) in a country in which I wasn’t supposed to live in in the first place. These are big questions, even with the reset button and that’s one of the reasons why this episode is so loved: it resonates with our own lives.

    To conclude, Jaden said: “he should stop killing all the asians though, someones bound to complain.” That’s the only thing that’s always bugged me in the Whedon shows, the lack of cultural diversity, or used only to depict villains or victims. Well, you can’t have it all, Trek had it but handled badly everything about homosexuality. BtVS did the opposite ;).


  62. [Note: Gon posted this comment on February 25, 2013.]

    I love your comments, Arachnea!

    I also think Buffy lacks of diversity, which is a pity, because it makes sense having minorities represented in a show with a message of empowerment. I remember thinking, during the 3 first seasons, that blonde-red-brunette was the maximum of diversity they had.

    Kendra was meant to attenuate that, I think, but was quickly killed. And in S7, the Potentials (at least in that way they useful…) and Wood served that purpose.


  63. [Note: luvthebuff posted this comment on June 20, 2013.]

    Love the review Mike, well all of them in fact, but there is one thing about this episode that confuses me.

    Why does destroying Anyanka’s power center undo the wish. Or to be more accurate, Why ONLY this one wish.
    If it undid all wishes then the world we returned to would have been very different from the regular world.
    Anyanka was 1100 years old. All the wishes she’d granted, lives she’s ruined, would be undone which would have caused a staggering butterfly effect.
    For those thinking that it wouldnt, How many people (men) still have been alive through the centuries without her power. What about all the children they could have had. The ripple effect and importance of one person is a powerful one. (The idea of how much difference one person can make is one of the guiding focal points of Buffy and Angel).

    You could argue that only the last wish granted would be undone, but the question has to be asked, WHY??? Its never explicitly explained in the episode.
    I know sum may think I’m nitpicking, and maybe I am, but in a show so wonderful in its continuity this seems to be a glaring lapse.

    I love the episode, and totally agree with a perfect score, but if anyone has any thoughts on this topic that I’ve not mentioned I look forward to reading them 🙂


  64. [Note: luvthebuff posted this comment on June 20, 2013.]

    Oh and I was just wondering if you were going to be doind reviews on any other series, Charmed or Star Trek for eg. Would be interesting to see your views on them 🙂


  65. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on June 20, 2013.]

    Thanks for the comments! If I do review another show, it would likely be one that wasn’t too big and/or hasn’t gotten much attention online. As of now, the two shows I’d be most tempted to review are Firefly (only 14 episodes) and Joan of Arcadia (almost never talked about). Once I’m done polishing my Buffy reviews, we’ll see where I’m at. 🙂


  66. [Note: Charley posted this comment on June 30, 2013.]

    I did not see it mentioned in the review Mike (forgive me if i missed it somewhere above), and although a minor point, its dear enough to me to add here: In continuing a running aspect of Buffy continuity, the Alt Buffy is stationed in Cleveland, where it is later revealed there is also a hellmouth (revealed comically by Giles at the end of Season 7, overlooking the ruins of Sunnydale). This minor point of continuity was always enjoyable to me, and on my original viewing of the series provided a certain benign open-endness to its conclusion (being personally inclined to finish the series without considering comic book additions personal canon). The thought that there was more work to be done, in Cleveland of all places, was comforting.


  67. [Note: lovinthebuff posted this comment on July 1, 2013.]

    I agree Charley, nice little touch. But it brings up a few more questions.

    Why, when Giles is on the phone to Buff’s watcher is the Cleveland Hellmouth not mentioned? Why was Giles sent to Sunnydale to wait for Buffy when she was going to Clevelend? (I get alt reality, but shouldnt the council have known she was going to Cleveland as they originally knew she was going to SD? Further to that, shouldnt Angel have known too?) I could buy that Giles was mistakenly sent there but wouldn’t the council have just sent him to Cleveland after her, or at least re-called him to back to England? She’s obviously been trained by a watcher so why wasn’t it Giles? After all he was the one chosen to act as Watcher.

    Also, where the hell ARE the council?
    An ancient vampire has risen and declared open War on humanity. Maybe only Sunnydale for now but the whole town now openly acknowledges the existence of vampires. The council cant believe that this vampire will limit himself to only SD. So wouldn’t they have sent Buffy there before know? Has Giles quit the council in this reality and not told them about The Master? Why are there still people living in SD, if you found out ur town was a vampire town wouldn’t you be gone like a shot, especially if you had children?

    Again this is a fantastic episode, but like all Alt reality episodes, there are too many questions raised but never answered about it.


  68. [Note: Josh Man posted this comment on August 25, 2013.]

    I think if when the curse was snapped, both Cordelia and Anya had remembered the alternate reality, this would have been a perfect episode. The fact that literally no character growth can take place since it essentially didn’t happen knocks the score down for me


  69. [Note: Sarah M posted this comment on October 21, 2013.]

    I view this episode as one of the writer’s experiments the show did so well in more ambitious outings like “Hush” and “Once More With Feeling.” Even if the degree of difficulty isn’t as high, it’s a break from the format that feels interesting and worthwhile. Very much enjoy all the little details of Alt Sunnydale and the return of The Master.


  70. [Note: Cheeseandwhine posted this comment on January 28, 2014.]

    The one thing that has always bothered me about this episode is that everyone in the school seems to know about Xander and Willow kissing (leading to the break up of Xander and Cordelia). But in the previous episode only Buffy, Oz, and Cordelia see them, so how would anyone else find out? I can’t imagine that Oz or Cordelia were going around telling everyone at school.


  71. [Note: T.G. posted this comment on February 17, 2014.]

    I do not think this episode deserves the A+. Love the review, like always, but I think it should be graded B+. Sure Cordelia got a lot of focus but there was never any real conclusion to her development within the confines of this episode. While the vampire world Is certainly intriguing, I can’t help but be kind of annoyed that they didn’t remember anything, which made half of that episode a large waste of time. my other issue is if willow and xander had such an attraction to each other, then why the heck are they so suddenly out of lust or love or whatever (I don’t know what to say about their relationship). Not disagreeing with the review too much, because I did like this episode, but I think a P score is stretching it just a little bit.


  72. [Note: Other Scott posted this comment on February 17, 2014.]

    (Sad face) – I like The Wish a lot, and thematically it’s probably one of the most important episodes Buffy ever does. I know you don’t like reset buttons, but…

    I have a feeling that after the polishing, Season 3 will be the only season of television on this site without an A+ grade except for Buffy Season 1 and Angel Season 4. This isn’t really a season that belongs on that list.


  73. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on February 17, 2014.]

    I think that feeling is probably right. I’d be surprised if any S3 episode can hold up as an A+ now. “Helpless” is an outside candidate though, and I have quite a bit of good will towards “Consequences” and “Doppelgangland”, so I won’t know for sure until I get there.

    As for “The Wish”, I’d get prepped for something around a B+.


  74. [Note: Monica posted this comment on February 17, 2014.]

    That’s disappointing. This episode deserves one, in my opinion. There’s a lot I love about this episode, but Wishverse!Buffy is easily my favorite. Seeing how she would turned out without friends, like any other slayer before her, is truly eye-opening. It’s so inventive, so dark, and is actually my favorite episode of the entire series (although I don’t consider it the best).

    And what about Graduation Day P2?


  75. [Note: Kyle posted this comment on February 17, 2014.]

    Don’t take this the wrong way Mike, but I’m getting prepped to disagree with you… That is unless you convince me…


  76. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on February 17, 2014.]

    I don’t think GD2 is A+ worthy either. Again, this is subject to change once I get there, but it’s just lacking certain qualities that are needed for me to put it over the top. But it probably won’t be coming down as much as “The Wish” — likely still an A.

    Kyle: I’m used to people disagreeing with me, so no worries. I do, of course, hope my arguments justify that evaluation, as with all of these updated reviews.


  77. [Note: Monica posted this comment on February 17, 2014.]

    Eek! Will this be the only Buffy-related website in existence where I can call Buffy season 3 underrated ? Haha


  78. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on February 17, 2014.]

    Don’t mistake the possible lack of A+ episodes as a slam on the season. It’s a flaw, but it doesn’t crush the season or anything — I still see it as likely A- material overall. Considering how the majority of the fandom sees Season 3 as flawless — the pinnacle of the show — I can see how some people might think I’m underrating it though.

    It’s admittedly odd feeling Season 3 is overrated considering how much I actually like it, but that’s the situation nonetheless. 🙂


  79. [Note: FaithFanatic posted this comment on February 18, 2014.]

    Personally, I think if any episodes this season deserve an A+ they would be Doppelgangland, Earshot and Helpless.


  80. [Note: Other Scott posted this comment on February 18, 2014.]

    I really hate Helpless.

    Anyways, I would probably have three A+ episodes in S3, The Wish, The Zeppo and probably Doppelgangland. I just don’t see the emotional void Mike does, as the stuff that goes on with Faith hurts as much as anything for me in any season barring perhaps the second half of Season 2. There’s less emotional stakes for Buffy herself, because Faith isn’t as important to Buffy as Dawn, or her Mom, or Angel, Spike, etc., but to the viewer Faith is probably just as important as all those people, as we can see her try to fit in and be a hero and be “rejected” for it.

    (Unrelated note: It is really difficult to tell the difference between 5’s and S’s on the security code. It gets me every time.)


  81. [Note: Jeremy G. posted this comment on February 18, 2014.]

    I pretty much agree with Mike’s assessment of Season Three (though I still think “Graduation Day: Part 2” is satisfying enough for a perfect score). I think it’s a very consistent season of television, but it’s lacking the dramatic weight needed to be considered truly excellent, and that it’s often overrated by many fans.

    Then again, I feel the exact same way about Season One of The West Wing, and there are still two episodes in that season I think are worth an A+.


  82. [Note: Alex C. posted this comment on February 18, 2014.]

    I’d actually be happy to see this episode keep its A+ rating. Since we seem to be playing the game of “pick your top three eps from S3”, then “The Wish” would be the first of mine, along with “Helpless” and “Earshot”. The “Graduation Day” two-parter perfectly encapsulates the season as a whole, in my opinion. Utterly solid, hits every note just right, but that darn snake is the perfect metaphor for what’s lacking in the season as a whole – the emotional payoff just doesn’t quite live up to the highs of other parts of the show.


  83. [Note: Alex C. posted this comment on February 18, 2014.]

    Here’s the thing – what happens to Faith is certainly *compelling* viewing, but it doesn’t *hurt* in the way that parts of the 2nd, 5th, and 6th seasons do, because at the end of the day she’s largely responsible for her own predicament. Despite what she deludes herself into thinking, she never tried to fit in, she never understood what a hero really is, and she was never rejected by the Scoobies – she rejected them. Faith might be important to the viewer because she’s interesting, but I don’t think that she’s sympathetic, and so what happens to her just isn’t as powerful from an emotional standpoint – I would never weep tears for her (in this season) in the way that I would for the other characters.

    On a different note, I understand why some might not like “Helpless”, but I love the bejesus out of it. Personally I’d be inclined to give “The Zeppo” a 90, or perhaps even a 95, but I just don’t think that it deserves a perfect score, though I might give that edge to “Doppelgangland”.


  84. [Note: FaithFanatic posted this comment on February 18, 2014.]

    I think that Faith’s responsibility for her own downfall is what makes it hurt all the more. Character failing because of external factors is in my opinion a boring and shallow way to develop them. Perhaps this is why Faith resonates with me so strongly. Her breakdown in “Five by Five” and her combo with Wes in AtS “Salvage” and “Release” are some of the best moments in the Buffyverse, in my opinion. “Who Are You?” also comes to mind.

    The best episode of the season for me is unquestionably “Doppelgangland.” In fact, I must say I’m rather surprised that Mike didn’t give it a perfect (A+) score the first time round. It’s got everything he looks for in an episode, is chock-full of foreshadowing and also works as one of the best comedy episodes in the series. That episode is an absolute joy to watch and definitely in my Top 10 of the series.

    Coming close at its heels would be “Earshot.” I don’t think it’s as great as “Doppelgangland” because it’s less important in the framework of the entire series, but the characterization is both flawless and hilarious and I love the scene with Jonathan in the tower. Captivating viewing.

    The only other episodes I would consider awarding the coveted A+ score are “Helpless” and “Consequences” although I would be more hesitant in giving them out – although I certainly feel they are better than some episodes given A+ scores here (I’m looking at you, “Hush” and “Lies My Parents Told Me.”)

    All in all, I completely and totally disagree that the third season is lacking in emotion or dramatic weight. You just have to look for it in different places to usual.


  85. [Note: Other Scott posted this comment on February 18, 2014.]

    I think that Faith’s responsibility for her own downfall is what makes it hurt all the more. Character failing because of external factors is in my opinion a boring and shallow way to develop them. Perhaps this is why Faith resonates with me so strongly. Her breakdown in “Five by Five” and her combo with Wes in AtS “Salvage” and “Release” are some of the best moments in the Buffyverse, in my opinion. “Who Are You?” also comes to mind.

    Right. The downfall of Wesley in Season 3 of Angel is mostly his responsibility as well, but I’ve never seen anyone complain about that not being emotionally affecting.

    The emotional stakes for Buffy herself are less in Season 3, there’s no doubt about it. But for me as a viewer, I care far more about Faith’s arc than almost any character in any other season, because that could have been Buffy so easily.

    To tie it back to this episode, that’s why The Wish is so good and how it ties into the Season. The Wish and Faith both provide types of bizarro Buffys, how Buffy would have turned out if not for the grounding of the Scoobies and her watcher. She either lets her calling turn her into a ruthless machine like in this episode, or she finds the burden so tough that she ditches it all. The season is all about the importance of Buffy having the gang, and that the people who she cares about and depend on her are fighting for good. Compared to Faith, where the person who cared about her was on the other side, and how she didn’t feel she had any other support to deal with the burdens of being a slayer.


  86. [Note: guttersnipe posted this comment on February 26, 2014.]

    A splendid review (as is often the case), MikeJer.
    This is easily my favourite episode of the show, and fittingly it’s the first one in which I have read all the comments, partly so I can address some of them, partly to make my first post significant (if only to me) and partly so I can nab the hundredth comment! 🙂

    My own complaint would be the pretty astonishing use of the school library by the white hats as their base of action, what with this being a public space which vampires may and do enter as they please. It doesn’t make all that much sense in the regular BtVS reality, and it makes even less here. Why didn’t they just meet at Giles’s house?!

    My guess here is that if The Master was well-aware of the prophecies and rituals that would free him from the sunken church, it wouldn’t be inconceivable that he may also be aware of a prophecy and appropriate rituals that would break the residential barriers across the town (if we can accept the Gem of Amara this doesn’t seem like much of a stretch). If such a thing occurred, vamps could freely enter any property, which would no doubt cause most of the town’s inhabitants to barricade their doors and surround themselves with crosses, garlic and weapons each night. Even without this idea I think Giles would prefer the white hats to convene at the school so the rest wouldn’t need to cross town and they would have a relatively open space with a cage, books and weapons (admittedly the cage proves Cordelia’s undoing and the open space of the school doesn’t help Jenny in the real world). Giles doesn’t find out that the Hellmouth is directly beneath the library until Prophecy Girl, so he would probably never realise this in the Wishverse. This ritual idea wouldn’t even need to be covered by an expository line of dialogue as Giles isn’t keeping up with his research (“I’d say my watcher muscles are not completely atrophied after all”); the white hats would just realise the problem is rapidly escalating.

    Regarding the complaint that it makes no sense for Giles and/or Angel to be in town if Buffy never came, the way I take Anyanka’s wish-granting powers is that they are great but still limited. So she didn’t grant Cordelia’s wish by changing everything so that it would have made sense for Buffy to be elsewhere, and everyone else would have acted accordingly; she simply had Buffy not come to Sunnydale, but didn’t change the fact that she was fully expected to come. Thus the presence of Giles and Angel (who no doubt both had their hands full as soon as they arrived).

    Angel’s presence is explained here when Buffy finds him in the cage at The Bronze. That’s how he knows her name – Whistler has already told him about her and brought him to see her at the high school in LA. Angel came up to Sunnydale to wait for Buffy to arrive, but (presto change-o!) she never does.

    Indeed, these work just fine for me. I read the wishes as being quite direct, so the circumstance of Buffy’s non-arrival would be the only real variable, perhaps her ‘decision’ to move to Cleveland is applied maybe a day before she actually leaves LA so there is a (relatively) minor ripple effect on the rest of the world. So Angel and Giles would have headed to Sunnydale in expectation of her and of course the timeline branches off so that they arrive but she doesn’t. I’m not sure exactly when “Welcome to the Hellmouth” takes place, but presumably it’s more-or-less the start of a new school year as Willow exclaims “the new librarian’s really cool” and “he just started”. So I think the window between their expectation of Buffy and their arrival must be pretty small. Angel is working out his new sense of purpose (“all those people you tried to save…”) and Giles isn’t hitting the occult books because he’s just a school librarian before they both get caught up in the vamp tidal wave.

    You could argue that only the last wish granted would be undone, but the question has to be asked, WHY??? Its never explicitly explained in the episode.

    Presumably because the necklace was broken in that specific Wishverse; it nullifies that scenario and strands Anya in that place and time (our Sunnydale, 1998). Giles does indeed state that “this should reverse all the wishes she has granted”, but remember that the writers only later decided to reintroduce Anya so previous wishes covered in later episodes such as the Russian Revolution and the demonification of Stewart Burns are byproducts of a retcon, not the fault of “The Wish” itself. At the time of writing “The Wish”, we can presume that all of Anya’s previous deeds were relatively small (she herself claims “I had no idea her wish would be so exciting”), certainly nothing to significantly alter the course of reality, so the undoing of them doesn’t really alter Sunnydale 1998. This is of course doesn’t really hold up if you’re an advocate of the butterfly effect though, heh.

    An ancient vampire has risen and declared open War on humanity. Maybe only Sunnydale for now but the whole town now openly acknowledges the existence of vampires. The council cant believe that this vampire will limit himself to only SD. So wouldn’t they have sent Buffy there before know? Has Giles quit the council in this reality and not told them about The Master? Why are there still people living in SD, if you found out ur town was a vampire town wouldn’t you be gone like a shot, especially if you had children?

    Maybe the problem isn’t just limited to Sunnydale, perhaps what we are witnessing is the emergence of a vampire expansion. Most wouldn’t leave, as the ‘dale is still a hotbed of demonic activity, but it see no reason why the vampires wouldn’t gravitate beyond the town’s borders (indeed, in Season 9 it’s become an epidemic) with sufficient sirings, perhaps through Doug Sanders’ Selective Slaughter 🙂
    As for people fleeing town, I had to chuckle here because at the time of writing the domestic news (I like in England) is going on about floodings across the country and is perhaps now in its eighth week, usually focusing on people who experience floods at their river-adjacent homes every year. To quote George Carlin on the same matter, “there’s no learning curve with these people”. Seriously though, isn’t it fair to say that most people in town simply wouldn’t try to comprehend the issue, even as the fatality rate increases? I feel Joyce covers this in “Gingerbread”: “How many of us have lost someone who just disappeared, or got skinned, or suffered ‘neck rupture’? And how many of us have been too afraid to speak out? I was supposed to lead us in a moment of silence. But silence is this town’s disease”. So I think that knowledge wouldn’t prepare the populace, it’d either create a vigilante group (who would get killed) or people would cover in their perceived sanctuaries (until they get killed). The town would (and does) seem delightful until the Harvest took effect, so from what we actually see in “The Wish”, people just seem to obey the makeshift rules such as the curfew, avoid the bad parts of town and hope that this will all blow over or the police will stop the bad guys. You may call that burying your head in the sand, but I don’t feel it’s uncommon in this world.

    The one thing that has always bothered me about this episode is that everyone in the school seems to know about Xander and Willow kissing (leading to the break up of Xander and Cordelia). But in the previous episode only Buffy, Oz, and Cordelia see them, so how would anyone else find out? I can’t imagine that Oz or Cordelia were going around telling everyone at school.

    That’s true. But I think it only needs one Sunnydale High student to visit Cordelia in the hospital (or merely to witness a shamefaced Xander leaving) to fill in the blanks here. As I recall, MikeJer took similar umbrage with the randomer taunting “dude, way to get dumped” in “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered”. I feel it’s just high school: kids gossip.

    I suppose Oz and Larry had ended up becoming Giles’s little helpers (sort of alternative-reality Scoobies) because they were both a little different from the other schoolkids (werewolf, gay).

    I like that idea as well. Maybe if Jonathan had taken an interest in the occult sooner he’d have made white hat too.

    Instead of being an episode about character development, it’s more an episode about our development as the audience who knows everything. We’re asked to look inside ourselves.

    Exactly. I’ve long been a fan of alternate realities and “roads not chosen”, perhaps attributable to my first love, comics (I did in fact watch this episode not longer after immersing myself in the X-Men’s Age of Apocalypse storyline). I feel it’s not only a brave move for writers to have such confidence in the ongoing story that they could deliberately (if temporarily) present the causality of their fiction had it diverged on another course, but it’s also a gift to us. Other posters have covered this quite nicely, so I’ll just add that I think this episode’s nightmare vision mirrors our knowledge to Angel’s perfect day in “I Will Remember You” – we know, but we cannot tell.

    And finally…

    FYI: “The Wish” will no longer have an A+ when I get the chance to update the review.

    Hmm, I find this both sad and a little befuddling. I have no doubt you’ll make your reasons clear on the re-review, but I really don’t know why you would cap off your original write-up with “Perfect, but I think you already knew that”, perhaps in defiance of expected opposition, and then doubt your own feelings on the matter. I myself wouldn’t hesitate to call it perfect, and would argue it’s the second-best episode of television ever made, right after Twin Peaks’ “Zen, or the Skill to Catch a Killer” (incidentally, I feel that the heartbreaking slow-motion Scooby death-chain is also the second-best scene of television ever made, right after Cooper’s dream).


  87. [Note: Freudian Vampire posted this comment on February 26, 2014.]

    I can understand perfectly why upon re-review “The Wish” would score lower than it does here – personally, I’d sit it at around an 85 or 90 out of 100. The main issue with the episode is that the alternate universe honestly doesn’t make a lot of sense. Some matters, like the use of the public Sunnydale High, can be explained away by what is known as ‘fanwanking’, but it is still disappointing. Others are more glaring and cannot be addressed.

    Firstly, I’m fairly sure that opening the Hellmouth was meant to trigger an apocalypse. Isn’t that what we were told as early as “Welcome to the Hellmouth / The Harvest” and again in “Prophecy Girl”? Isn’t it supposed to be filled by hundreds of thousands of vast, ancient demons that would overrun the globe? How about the one that we saw in “The Zeppo”? Quite frankly, the fact that the world is as good as it is in “The Wish” does not make sense.

    Secondly, the fact that the Council did not force Buffy to come to Sunnydale after the Master rose makes no sense either. In fact, it appears they just left the town to fend for itself. This may seem consistent with their coldness as seen in “Helpless” and “Checkpoint”, but I do not find it believable in the slightest that they would have turned a blind eye to a city being overrun with creatures of the night.

    I also take issue with the argument that we learn more about the characters by their alternate version we see here. What exactly do we learn about Giles or Oz here? How about Angel – what new insights do we glean about him? The vampire versions of Xander and Willow also fail to tell us anything interesting, despite the fact that a vampire’s personality is supposed to be similar to how they were in real life. All we get is foreshadowing that Willow is going to come out as a lesbian, and the episode can’t even get that quite right – she’s depicted as more bisexual than gay here, which runs contrary to her insistence that she’s ‘gay now’ in the subsequent seasons.

    Finally, do we even learn anything about Buffy from her appearance here? The show tells us that she would have turned out cynical, bitter and jaded had it not been for the presence of her Scoobies to help ground her – but this season has been developing that theme quite nicely already with the character of Faith. Why is it that people find this revelation to be so exciting? I thought it would have been common knowledge by this point in the show. If not, it certainly will be come “Fool for Love.”

    Finally, here I think I have highlighted some flaws in the episode – but now I would like to know why you consider it to be so great. An episode that is perfectly solid and does everything right would get an 85 out of 100 from me, because it’s lacking that character insight, development or unique twist that elevates an episode higher than ‘good enough’. So what makes this episode so special? The fact that it is an alternate universe, to my eyes, is not enough. What does this episode do that makes it merit the title ‘best episode of the Buffyverse?’

    As far as I can see, this is a solid episode with some plot and mythology issues, a nice idea, dark tone and not much more than that. If you feel otherwise, I invite you to tell me exactly what it is I am missing.


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