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Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Season 3, Episode 9
Buffy06
Air date December 8, 1998
Written by Marti Noxon
Directed by David Greenwalt
Episode Guide
previous
"Lovers Walk"
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"Amends"
Cast
Starring
Sarah Michelle Gellar Buffy
Nicholas Brendon Xander
Alyson Hannigan Willow
Charisma Carpenter Cordelia
David Boreanaz Angel
Seth Green Oz
Anthony Stewart Head Giles
Guest Starring
Mark Metcalf The Master
Emma Caulfield Anya
Larry Bagby III Larry
Mercedes McNab Harmony
Co Starring
Danny Strong Jonathan
Nicole Bilderback Cordette #1
Nathan Anderson John Lee
Mariah O'Brien Nancy
Gary Imhoff Teacher
Robert Covarrubias Caretaker
Uncredited
Devin Reeve Vampire
Louis E. Rosas Vampire

"The Wish" is the ninth episode of the third season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and is the forty-third episode altogether.

Cordelia Chase makes a wish that Buffy Summers never came to Sunnydale, causing an alternate reality to be created.

Synopsis

It's just another Sunday in Sunnydale, as Buffy fights against a slimy demon which starts strangling her. However Willow retrieves a knife from Buffy's bag and she stabs it dead. Unfortunately, this one doesn't disintegrate leaving Buffy, Willow and Xander to bury it. Xander asks where Faith was, and Buffy explains she's had trouble getting in touch with her fellow slayer recently who apparently prefers to be alone these days. Talk then drifts to the fallout of Xander and Willow's kiss, as Xander explains he's left a load of answering machine messages with Cordelia asking her to get in touch, to no avail. Willow admits that she feels terrible about what happened, and that the idea of Oz not speaking to her again upsets her more. Xander asks Buffy, who is also feeling down having decided to sever all ties with Angel, how she deals with the feeling they're all sharing. Buffy tells them that she has her friends. 

Cordelia, on the other hand, is very much alone in her room. With the wound from her impaling still fresh, she goes through the ceremonial 'cutting up and burning pictures of ex-boyfriend' ritual as she listens to his countless messages.

At school the next morning, Willow hangs around near Oz's locker hoping to catch him. Buffy talks to her, and asks after Cordelia who is returning to school that day. Willow tells her that Amy saw Cordy at the mall, and that she looked 'scary'...

CordyTheWish

Cordy returns to school and is quickly embarrassed by her friends

Outside school, Cordelia pulls up in a brand spanking new car. Dressed to impress, and trying to appear as confident as possible, she strides through school until she runs into Harmony and her clique. Initially worried, Cordelia is surprised when Harmony seemingly welcomes her back into the group with open arms. She is then introduced to Anya, a new girl at school who seemingly knows a lot about what's in. Harmony then tells Cordy that she needs to get back into the dating game, and introduces her to a 'stallion'... and it's Jonathan. Cordelia realizes that she's not accepted back at all, as Harmony cruelly revels in dishing out the humiliation. The girls then walk off laughing (except Anya, who follows anyway).

As Oz gets books from his locker, Willow runs up and starts apologizing for everything. Oz tells her she's already said it all, and Willow asks if there's anything she can do. Oz simply tells her to leave him alone as he needs time to figure out where there relationship stands, and it's not his problem that she's feeling guilty nor is it his responsibility to make her feel better. He leaves, making Willow feel worse than ever.

Cordelia spots Xander walking towards her, and asks a jock named John Lee to come near her so that, from Xander's vantage point, it looks like the two are kissing. As Xander sadly walks away, John Lee tells Cordy that he can't risk been caught speaking to 'Xander Harris's cast-off' and quickly leaves. Cordy attempts to come to terms with the fact that her standing in the school is at rock bottom.

She then runs into Anya, who is actually supportive of Cordelia and admits her disdain of Harmony and the fact she'll seemingly follow anything that's remotely cool. The two quickly befriend each other, united in their general disdain for men.

At The Bronze that evening, Cordelia and Anya hang out with a group of other people as Xander fakes laughs to try and make it seem like he's moving on and asks Buffy and Willow to help. Unfortunately for him, Buffy tells Xander that, although she's supporting him, she won't takes sides against Cordelia. Willow is still upset about her current status with Oz and isn't up to doing much else but mope. Xander declares that he's sick of feeling guilty and is ready to pick himself up, and Buffy and Willow decide that's a good idea and declare that they're going to start feeling happy... but that quickly fades from all three and Buffy leaves to get drinks.

As she's at the bar, she sees Cordelia starting to leave (and still in pain from her wound) and decides to follow. Outside, Cordy initially isn't willing to listen to Buffy when she thinks Xander sent her but Buffy explains that she's there on her own behalf. She tells Cordelia that she's been through the same kind of thing and knows how much it hurts and how talking to her friends helped her feel better. However, just as it looks like Cordelia is going to open up, a vampire attacks. Buffy makes quick work of it, but in the scuffle Cordelia is pushed into a pile of garbage. After staking the vamp, Harmony and her friends come out of the Bronze too and spot Cordelia emerging from the garbage filthy and don't even try to hide how funny they find it. Cordelia has now had enough, and makes a declaration... all of her bad luck over the last couple of years is Buffy's fault.

She tells Anya this the next morning, as she endures her recent humilation along with the pain she's suffered after her fall into the garbage popped some of her stitches. Anya gives Cordelia her necklace, which she calls a 'good luck charm' and agrees with every word she says. As Buffy, Willow and Xander sit nearby, Cordelia states...

"I wish Buffy Summers had never come to Sunnydale."


At that point, Anya suddenly turns around in full demon visage and says "Done" with a sudden flash to bright light. When it clears, Anya is gone... and so are the majority of the students including Buffy, Xander and Willow. Cordelia (who is now without a wound) realizes that Anya was a demon who granted her wish, but couldn't be happier and runs off. She bumps into Harmony and company, who are her friends again as they gossip about the other students (with one of the group, who are all wearing dark clothing, commenting on how 'daring' Cordy's dress is). Just then John Lee approaches and asks Cordelia if she'll go with him to the upcoming 'Winter Brunch'. Cordelia doesn't know what that is, but nevertheless delights in telling John Lee that she'll call him. 

AnyaWish1

Anya grants Cordy's wish.

In a class which is populated by less than a half of the normal amount of students, the teacher explains as the bell rings that they'll be no classes the next day due to the monthly memorial as he bolts for the door. Cordelia asks Harmony, who is also rushing out, what the hurry is. Harmony explains that her mother worries when she's late home, and she wants to get back before curfew starts in an hour. Cordelia is confused why a curfew would be so early and suggests going to The Bronze... only for Harmony and the others to look at her like she's made a sick joke. Harmony then asks Cordy if everything is ok, since she's wearing an outfit that is considered dangerous and is now making jokes about The Bronze. Cordelia claims that she's having trouble remembering things, then asks if Xander and Willow are considered losers. Harmony tells Cordelia that the they're both dead, leaving Cordelia shocked. 

Heading to the parking lot at dusk, Cordelia finds that her car isn't there... nor is anyone's actually. She asks the janitor what's going on, and he explains that students aren't allowed to drive and suggests she gets home before sunset. Walking through Sunnydale, she finds all the businesses are closed and the place is almost deserted, Cordy suddenly runs into Xander and Willow, seemingly very much alive. The two however act much different to normal, much more confident and are also dressed in leather, which is also unlike them. Cordelia thinks that Harmony was just playing a joke, but is relieved to see them and admits that Sunnydale was much better with Buffy around. The mention of the slayers name doesn't go unnoticed by Xander, but Willow tells Xander she's bored and asks if she can feed before the two kiss passionately. Cordelia can't believe the two are a couple here, but gets even more of a shock when she realizes the two are now vampires and tries to run for it when Xander hunts her. She doesn't get far before Xander knocks her out, but before he can feed suddenly Giles, Oz and Larry turn up armed with crosses, stakes and crossbows. They keep the two vampires at bay as they gather Cordelia and leave.

In the library, which now doubles as the group's command center, the three (along with another member named Nancy) discuss the fact that Cordelia was wearing bright clothing which is known to attract vampires. He then sends them out to watch the perimeter.

Xander and Willow head to The Bronze, which is now a vampire hangout as well as their feeding ground. Heading to the back area, the two speak to their ruler... The Master, very much alive in this reality. He picks up a girl he had just tried to feed on, telling them that he couldn't as she was looking for him. He then tosses her to Willow, who vamps out and enjoys her. The Master gets wistful, remembering the lust for the kill which has faded since his takeover before asking for a report. Xander tells him of their near-kill and the fact that Giles's group (which is referred to as 'White Hats') stopped them. The Master promises that Giles will soon be dealt with. Xander then mentions that Cordelia referred to 'the slayer'. The Master is angry that they let someone who spoke to summoning a slayer to Sunnydale, especially with the opening of 'the plant' less than a day away, and orders the two to kill Cordelia or else.

In the library, Cordelia wakes up hysterical and tells Giles it was all because she made a stupid wish. Giles assumes she's hysterical at first as Cordy babbles about Buffy. However Cordelia then asks Giles why he is in Sunnydale when Buffy isn't, given that he was her Watcher. Giles is confused, as the fact that he was a Watcher is something he's never revealed to anyone. A noise outside alerts him, and he enters the cage to grab weapons as he asks Cordelia to start from the beginning... however the cage shuts behind him, as Xander and Willow (having overheard everything) arrive and, after locking Giles in, drain Cordelia of her blood, killing her. Giles can do nothing but watch helpless. The two vampires smugly depart, leaving Cordelia's body behind.

Finally kicking his way out of the cage, Giles meets up with a battered Oz and Larry who tell him the vampires surprised them, and Nancy's dead. With nothing else he can do for her, Giles has the two take Cordelia's body to the incinerator. However, he notices Cordelia's necklace and removes it beforehand.

MasterXanderWillTheWish

Willow and Xander with the Master.

As the Master pours himself some blood from an espresso machine, Xander and Willow arrive and report their success. Willow asks if she can play with the 'puppy', and the Master agrees.

Giles makes a call to Buffy's Watcher and explains he needs to meet with her. However it turns out that Buffy doesn't check in with her Watcher often (due to their being a lot of demonic activity in Cleveland), so all Giles can do is leave a message before going back to research.

Willow heads into an area where a figure is lying in a cage. Willow talks to the prisoner about how much she hates daylight, but now she's allowed to play. The man in the cage doesn't answer, so Willow enters determined to have her fun as she yanks his head back, revealing the prisoner to be Angel. She opens his shirt to reveal several large open sores, the result of continuous and brutal torture. Willow boasts that the people Angel tried to save will die that evening, but at least it'll be quick which is more than can be said for Angel. Xander tosses Willow some matches, and tells his lover that he's more than happy to watch. Willow lights a match, and prepares to have fun...

Giles finds references to a demon named Anyanka, the patron saint of scorned women. Larry asks what she does, and Giles explains that Anyanka grants wishes. He then remembers Cordelia saying that the world was meant to be different and better. He sends Oz and Larry home as he prepares to do the same and look through more research materials.

Driving back, Giles spots vampires herding several people into a truck. Unable to simply pass by, he attacks and gets the people free, but is too much for the vamps. However, as he lies on the ground, he suddenly hears a scuffle and the vampires are slain. Looking up, he sees a battle-hardened girl who confirms that she is Buffy Summers, and asks what she's doing there.

Taking Buffy to his house, Giles explains that Anyanka's power lies in her 'powercenter' and if it's destroyed all the wishes she's ever granted will be reversed. Buffy is uninterested and simply asks how to kill her, but Giles explains that it isn't necessary. Buffy, who is totally shut down emotionally, doesn't care either way. Giles then tells her that  the Master is the supreme vampire in the town and is planning something for that evening, and Buffy immediately sets out to kill him. Giles tells her she'll need a plan and back-up, but Buffy isn't interested in either of those and demands to know where the Master lives.

Buffy goes to the Bronze to find it almost completely deserted. Heading back, she finds Angel cowering in the cage. He recognises her from when he watched her in LA, and tells her that he waited for her but she never came and when the Master rose from his prison he was imprisoned. He asks to be released so he can help her, and Buffy (who is tired of being regarded as a savior to Sunnydale) moves to release him. However, when Angel recoils from her cross pendant, Buffy realizes he's a vampire and balks at the idea of releasing him, thinking he's leading her into a trap. Angel shows her his scars, explaining that if nothing else is true, he wants the Master dead.

At the plant, the Master gives a speech in front of an assembled throng of vampires as Willow and Xander stand nearby. In a nearby holding area, several prisoners (including the now-captured Larry and Oz) listen as the Master explains that he is pushing aside the anarchic tradition of hunting and killing and is introducing mass production. He orders one of the prisoners (a member of Harmony's gang) placed on the machine in front of him. She is stunned as she struggles and is laid down, unable to move but still alive (which the Master explains is 'for the freshness'). She is moved along the conveyor, as several tubials are forced into her body which drain her blood.

At his house, Giles has researched the ritual for summoning Anyanka and is in the middle of it. The ritual is successful, and Anyanka appears upset that it was a man who called for her.

As the Master finishes his speech, Buffy and Angel arrive. She points a crossbow at the Master and fires, but he spots her and uses Xander as a shield, the arrow hitting him in the shoulder. All hell then breaks loose, as Angel releases the prisoners and, while most of them scatter, a few of them including Oz and Larry grab pieces of the wooden cage and join the huge fight that's taking place.

Giles asks what Cordelia wished for, but Anyanka just gloats that she had no idea the wish would create such an exciting world. She advances on him, but Giles isn't afraid as Anyanka's power lies solely in the wishing. Anyanka grabs him by the neck using her demon strength and tells him that she is the wishing.

As Buffy fights the numerous vampires, Xander attempts to attack from behind. Angel spots this and saves Buffy, but is staked in the process. He says Buffy's name just as he turns to dust. Unmoved, Buffy continues the assault

Anyanka tells Giles that the world they live in now is the only world there is and there's no going back.

In the plant, the fight continues. Buffy stakes Xander, as Oz pushes Willow back onto the wooden cage killing her. Seeing his closest disciples killed causes the Master to fight Buffy personally.

Giles spots Anyanka's necklace, which is identical to the one Cordelia was wearing, glowing. Realizing this is her powercenter, he grabs it off her.

Buffy does poorly against the Master, and he eventually grabs her and snaps her neck.

Giles grabs a blunt object from his desk and prepares to destroy the necklace. Anyanka tells Giles he has no way of knowing if the other world is truly better. Giles, knowing the other world couldn't be any worse than this one, doesn't hesitate and smashes it.

Buffy's body drops to the floor as the wish reverses...

Everything reverses to Sunnydale High, when Cordelia (who doesn't remember anything) wishes that Buffy hadn't moved there. Anya attempts to grant the wish, but nothing happens. Cordelia, enjoying the idea of wishing for stuff, starts to wish horrible things on her former friends and men in general. Anya follows, unsuccessful in granting any wishes as Buffy, Willow and Xander sit nearby, life going on as usual.

Continuity

  • This episode marks the first appearance of Anya. At the start of the episode after Buffy slays the demon, Willow asks "is anyone else waiting for it to go poof?" she would say the same line on Xander and Anya's wedding day in "Hell's Bells" as a tribute to her first episode.
  • In this episode, Anya has a deepened voice in her demon form. Since she never uses this in seasons six and seven, it's likely she has the power of Voice Manipulation, marking its first appearance.
  • There is no mention of Jenny Calendar, who would have never been killed by Angelus. Her main duty was to watch over Angel and keep him from the Slayer, which is presumably unnecessary with them so far apart and Angel imprisoned and tortured by the Order of Aurelius.
  • Even in the alternate reality, the prophecy of the Pergamum Codex still comes to pass as the Master kills Buffy in both realities (although, unlike the Buffy of our reality who was drowned then revived, this Buffy has her neck snapped by the Master, meaning reviving her would be impossible).
  • The Buffy from the alternate reality has a scar above her lip, like Melaka Fray.
  • This is the first mention of Cleveland, Ohio as another Hellmouth and center of demon activity.
  • Anya's first arrival happens to serve revenge on Xander, whom she later ends up falling in love with. Although Cordelia ironically wishes Xander will never feel the touch of a woman he eventually will from Anya. 
  • It is mentioned in this episode that vampires are attracted to bright colors. This is only explicitly mentioned in the Wishverse, but Spike later admits to wanting to bite Willow while she was in her "pink frilly number," and it is logical that people wearing bright colors would be caught more easily.
  • Angel does not appear in the scenes taking place in the main reality, as he is keeping his distance from Buffy after the events of "Lovers Walk".
  • Along with "Doppelgängland", "The Prom" and "Graduation Day, Part One", this is the first of only four episodes in which both Cordelia and Anya appear and the only one in which they have an exchange of dialogue.
  • The scene where Cordelia walks through Sunnydale's main street finding it a deserted wasteland with the populace too frightened to venture out at night is repeated shot by shot in 'Dopplegangland' where Vampire Willow finds it full of happy people. Although she never witnesses it this one shot encapulates the difference Buffy coming to Sunnydale makes, that things would be infinitely worse without her. This is especially relevant to 'Gingerbread' where Joyce questions whether Buffy really does any good by being the Slayer.
  • This is the only time we see Cordelia's room.

Body Count

  • Unidentified Demon, killed with a knife by Buffy
  • A vampire, dusted by Buffy Summers
  • Unidentified girl, drained by a vampire in front of The Bronze (alternate reality)
  • Unidentified girl, drained by Willow (alternate reality)
  • Cordelia Chase, drained by Willow and Xander (alternate reality)
  • Nancy, killed by vampire (only mentioned in alternate reality)
  • Three vampires, dusted by Buffy (alternate reality)
  • Unidentified Cordette, drained with a machine by The Master (alternate reality)
  • Angel, dusted by Xander (alternate reality)
  • Xander, dusted by Buffy (alternate reality)
  • Willow, dusted by Oz and Larry (alternate reality)
  • Buffy, neck snapped by The Master (alternate reality)

Behind the Scenes

Production

  • Giles's exposition was changed:
Giles: "Anyanka raised a demon to ruin her unfaithful lover. The demon did her bidding - but then cursed her and turned her into a sort of patron saint for scorned women. Apparently the cry of a wronged woman is like a siren's call to Anyanka."
  • Because of this alteration to Giles' dialogue, the first direct mention of Anya having been human before she was a vengeance demon comes in "Something Blue". However, the aired "The Wish" does still have Giles say that destroying Anyanka's power center will make her an ordinary woman "again", implying that she had been one before.
  • This version of events is different from what would eventually be established in "Something Blue", "Triangle" and "Selfless" (though the tome Giles is reading from might not be 100% accurate): Anya cursed her unfaithful lover Olaf herself, attracting the attention of the demon D'Hoffryn, and accepted D'Hoffryn's offer to "elevate" her to demon status.
  • Many have commented on the father/daughter-like relationship we later witness between D'Hoffryn and his female Vengence Demons, Anyanka and Halfyrek. In the scene where Cordelia remarks on Anya's magical necklace, given to her by D'Hoffryn, Anya states it was a gift from her father.    
  • From this episode on, the vampire dusting effect now features the vampire's skeleton as they turn to dust.

Deleted Scenes

  • Two lines were cut from Giles' conversation with Anyanka:
(Giles: "Cordelia Chase, what did she wish for?")
(Anyanka: "I had no idea her wish would be so exciting. Brave new world. I hope she likes it.")
Giles: "She's dead."
Anyanka: "It happens."

Pop Culture References

  • When the Master sits down at the Bronze and asks for news from Xander, he says: "Now, what news on the Rialto?" This is a quote from Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, at least the third time this play has been mentioned on Buffy.

Goofs, Bloopers & Continuity Errors

  • Giles claims that destroying Anyanka's power center would reverse all of the wishes she fulfilled. However, later episodes clearly contradict this, including "Selfless", where we learn that she was partly responsible for the Russian Revolution, and "Hell's Bells", where one of her former victims returns to ruin her wedding.
  • After Cordelia obliviously asks the Cordettes if they want to go to the Bronze, you can clearly see a microphone above Harmony as she exclaims, "is that a joke?"

International Titles

  • French: Meilleurs voeux de Cordelia (Best Wishes from Cordelia)
  • German: Was wäre wenn... (What if...)

Music

  • The Spies - "Tired of Being Alone" (Plays at The Bronze when Xander and Cordelia are trying to make each other jealous.)
  • Music House - "Get Out of My Way" (Plays as Buffy follows Cordelia out of The Bronze.)
  • Plastic - "Dedicated to Pain" (Plays as vampires Xander and Willow enter The Bronze in Cordelia's wish.)
  • Gingersol - "Never Noticed" (Plays at the end of the episode, after reality returns and Cordelia's wish is revoked.)
  • Christophe Beck - "Bizzaro Sunnydale"
  • Christophe Beck - "Blood Machine"
  • Christophe Beck - "Slayer's Elegy" (Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Score)

Other

  • This is the first appearance of The Master since "When She Was Bad", and the first appearance of Mark Metcalf since "Prophecy Girl".
  • Joss Whedon ranked this episode as his sixth favourite of the entire series in The Last Sundown featurette of the Buffy Season 7 DVD, and is notable for being the only episode on the list that was not at least partially written by him (although he was uncredited for his writing contribution for 'Conversations with Dead People' which ranked ninth on the list)
  • Some viewers have claimed that Faith is visible in the background, being bitten by a vampire in the Wishverse. In actuality, the woman is simply a background extra with a similar hairstyle to Eliza Dushku.
  • This is the only episode where Cordelia and Anya having direct interaction. Although they both play primary love interests to Xander. The two outspoken women only speak to one another in this episode. As Charisma Carpenter moved to Angel, leaving Emma Caulfield to fill the "Blunt Void" on Buffy The Vampire Slayer.
  • This is a Cordelia-centric episode.

Gallery

Cordy & Anya

The only episode in which the outspoken Cordelia and Anya interact.

Quotes

Cordelia - "It's all my fault! I wasn't... I made this stupid wish..."
Cordelia - "I wish Buffy Summers had never come to Sunnydale."
Anya - (Turns into a monstorous demon) "Done."
Larry - "Okay, the entire world sucks because some dead ditz made a wish? I just want to be clear."
Xander - "But you know what really bugs me? Okay, we kissed. It was a mistake, but I know that was positively the last time we were ever gonna kiss."
Willow - "Darn tootin'."
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 - "Why don't I just put a stake through her heart?"
Giles - "She's not a vampire."
Buffy - "Yeah, well, you'd be surprised how many things that'll kill."
Anya - "You trusting fool! How do you know the other world is any better than this?!"
Giles - "Because it has to be."
Cordelia - "I wish Buffy Summers had never come to Sunnydale."
Anya - "Done."
Cordelia - "That would be cool. No wait, I wish Buffy Summers had never been born."
Anya - "Done."
Cordelia - "And I wish that Xander Harris never again knows the touch of a woman. And that Willow wakes up tomorrow covered in monkey hair."
Anya - "Done."
Cordelia - "In fact, I wish all men, except maybe the dumb and the really agreeable kind, disappear off the face of the Earth. That would be so cool."
Buffy - "World is what it is. We fight, we die. Wishing doesn't change that."
Giles - "I have to believe in a better world."
Buffy - "Go ahead. I have to live in this one."
Harmony - "Ted Chervin just totally went for third with Ginger in front of everybody."

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