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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"
next
"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 in the series. It was written by Marti Noxon and directed by David Greenwalt. It was originally broadcast on December 8, 1998.

Cordelia wishes for a Buffy-free Sunnydale, which transports her to a world where vampires rule the town.

Synopsis

The Scooby Gang are out slaying, and, after unsuccessfully killing a vampire, they discuss the fallout of Xander and Willow's kiss. Xander says he's left many voicemails on Cordelia's phone, but she has yet to return his calls. 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's also feeling heartbroken after severing ties with Angel, how she's coping. She responds that she finds comfort in her friends. 

With the wound from her impaling still fresh, Cordelia goes through pictures of Xander, cutting up and burning them, as she listens to his countless messages.

At school the next morning, Willow hangs around near Oz's locker, hoping to catch him. She tells Buffy that Amy saw Cordelia at the mall, looking "scary."

CordyTheWish

Cordy returns to school and is quickly embarrassed by her friends

Outside school, Cordelia pulls up in a shiny 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. 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. Harmony tells Cordelia that she needs to get back into the dating game, and tells her about a "stallion", who turns out to be Jonathan. The group laughs at the cruel joke. Cordelia realizes that she's not accepted back at all as the girls walk away, still laughing, with Anya close behind.

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 their relationship stands, and it's not his problem that she's feeling guilty nor is it his responsibility to make her feel better. He walks away, leaving Willow feeling worse than before.

Cordelia spots Xander walking towards her and asks a random jock named John Lee to come near her. She actually asks if she has anything in her teeth, but she makes it appear that, from Xander's point of view, the two are kissing. As Xander sadly walks away, John Lee tells Cordelia that he can't risk being caught speaking to "Xander Harris' cast-off" and quickly leaves. She tries 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. She admits that she doesn't like Harmony, dismissing her tendency to say whatever she thinks is "cool" at the moment. 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 people while Xander, sitting with Willow and Buffy, pretends to laugh to make Cordelia jealous. He begs his two friends to help. Buffy tells Xander that, although she supports him, she won't takes sides against Cordelia. Willow is still upset about Oz, moping the whole time. Xander declares that he's sick of feeling guilty and is ready to pick himself up. Buffy and Willow whole-heartedly agree, but their enthusiasm quickly fades.

As she's at the bar grabbing drinks, she sees Cordelia moving toward the door and decides to follow. Outside, Cordy initially isn't willing to listen to Buffy, thinking Xander sent her, but Buffy explains that it was her own choice to come. She tells Cordelia that she understands how much Cordelia is hurting, and how she felt better after talking with friends. 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. Harmony and her friends come out of the Bronze and spot Cordelia, covered in garbage. They laugh at Cordy's misfortune, and that seems to be the last straw. Cordelia declares to Buffy all of her bad luck over the last couple of years is her fault.

She tells Anya about the Bronze incident, revealing that her fall into the garbage popped some of the stitches on her torso. Anya gives Cordelia her necklace, which she calls a "good luck charm", and agrees with Cordelia's complaints. As Buffy, Willow and Xander sit nearby, Cordelia tells Anya truthfully, "I wish Buffy Summers had never come to Sunnydale."

Anya suddenly turns around in full demon visage and says "Done" with a sudden flash of bright light. When it clears, Anya is gone, and so are the majority of the students--Buffy, Xander, and Willow included. Cordelia, now injury-free, realizes that Anya, a "good fairy", granted her wish. She couldn't be happier, though, and runs off. In the hallway, Cordelia bumps into Harmony and company, who are her friends again as they gossip about the other students. One of the girls comments on Cordelia's "daring" outfit, as the rest are wearing dark, conservative clothing. Just then, John Lee approaches Cordelia and asks if she'll go with him to the upcoming "Winter Brunch." Cordelia doesn't know what the event is, but delights in coolly telling John that she'll call him anyway.

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 announces that there will be no classes the next day due to the monthly memorial. He bolts for the door, anxious to leave. 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 about the early curfew, and suggests going to The Bronze, which the girls think is a sick joke. Harmony then asks Cordelia if everything is okay, because she's acting strange. Cordelia claims that she's having trouble remembering things, and asks if Xander and Willow are still considered losers. Harmony tells Cordelia that they're both dead, leaving Cordelia shocked. 

Heading to the student parking lot at dusk, Cordelia finds that it's empty. She asks the janitor what's going on, and he explains that students aren't allowed to drive, suggesting that she get home before sunset. Walking through Sunnydale, she finds all the businesses are closed and the place is almost deserted. She suddenly runs into Xander and Willow, who are seemingly alive. Their personalities and dress are different, though; they're more confident than normal and wearing dark leather clothing. Cordelia is relieved to see them and admits that Sunnydale was much better with Buffy around. Willow, wrapping her arms around Xander, softly says that she's bored and ready to feed. They kiss passionately, much to Cordelia's surprise. She gets even more of a shock when she realizes the two are vampires. She runs away when she realizes Xander plans to hunt her, but doesn't get far before he knocks her out. However, before he can feed, Giles, Oz and Larry turn up armed with crosses and weapons. They keep the two vampires at bay as they gather Cordelia and leave in Oz's van.

In the library, which now doubles as the group's command center, the three, along with another member named Nancy, notice Cordelia's bright clothing, something 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, complete with humans for them to torture. Heading to the back area, the two speak to their ruler, The Master, who is alive as Buffy was never able to kill him. He picks up a girl he had just tried to feed on, telling them he couldn't because she kept looking at him. He tosses her to Willow, who gleefully picks up where he left off. The Master asks for a report, and Xander tells him of their near-kill before Giles' group, referred to as the "White Hats", stopped them. The Master promises that Giles will soon be dealt with. Xander then mentions that Cordelia mentioned "the slayer." The Master is angry that they let her get away, because she spoke of summoning a Slayer to Sunnydale. He mentions that it's especially important to keep Slayers out 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 as Cordy babbles about Buffy. However, Cordelia then asks him why he is in Sunnydale when Buffy isn't, given that he was her Watcher. Giles is confused because he's never revealed his Watcher status to anyone. A noise outside catches his attention, and he enters the cage to grab weapons as he asks Cordelia to start over. However, the cage shuts behind him, as Xander and Willow arrive, hiding in the library the whole time. After locking Giles in, the two drain Cordelia of her blood. Giles can do nothing but watch helplessly. 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. Nancy is 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 before they take her away.

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 tells The Master that she's been good, and asks if she can play with the "puppy". He says yes, much to her delight.

Giles makes a call to Buffy's Watcher and explains he needs to meet with her. However, he learns that Buffy doesn't check in with her Watcher often because she's so busy, 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, and 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 it'll be quick, which is more than can be said for Angel. Xander tosses Willow some matches and tells her 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. He sends Oz and Larry home as he prepares to look through more research materials.

Driving back to his apartment, Giles spots vampires herding several people into a truck. Unable to simply pass by, he attacks and frees the citizens but cannot fight off the vampires. 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 'power center' and if it is 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 emotionless and apathetic, doesn't care whether Anya lives or dies. Giles tells her that The Master is the supreme vampire in the town and is planning something for that evening. The Slayer immediately sets out to kill him. Giles tells her she'll need a plan, but she isn't interested in either of those and demands to know where The Master lives.

Buffy goes to the Bronze to find it completely deserted. Heading into the basement, she finds Angel cowering in the cage. He recognizes her from when he watched her at Hemery, and tells her that he waited for her but she never came. When The Master rose from the Hellmouth, Angel was imprisoned. He asks to be released so he can help her, and Buffy, tired of being regarded as Sunnydale's savior, moves to free him. However, when Angel recoils from her cross pendant, Buffy realizes he's a vampire. She's immediately suspicious, 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 at his side. In a nearby holding area, human prisoners, including the newly captured Larry and Oz, listen as The Master explains his plans: he is pushing aside the anarchic tradition of hunting and killing, and introducing mass production. He orders one of the prisoners, a member of Harmony's gang, placed on the machine in front of him. She struggles, and the vampires stun her into paralysis. For freshness, she is left alive. She is moved along the conveyor as several metal arms are forced into her body, draining her blood.

At his apartment, Giles is in the middle of summoning Anyanka. His ritual is successful, and Anyanka appears, upset that a man summoned 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. They all scatter, except for a few, including Larry and Oz, that stay to fight the vampires.

Giles asks what Cordelia wished for, and 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 and lifts him off the ground, telling him that she is the wishing.

As Buffy fights the numerous vampires, Xander attempts to attack from behind. Angel spots this and saves her, though he 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 prompts The Master to fight Buffy personally.

Giles spots Anyanka's necklace, identical to the one Cordelia was wearing, glowing. Realizing this is her power center, he rips it off her neck.

Buffy fights The Master, but she is overtaken and he is able to snap 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 the exact moment Cordelia wishes that Buffy hadn't moved there, though the former doesn't remember anything. 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, talking and laughing.

Continuity

  • This episode marks Anya's first appearance. 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".
  • 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, which is the first time the power appears in the series.
  • 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 the two so far apart.
  • Even in the alternate reality, the prophecy of the Pergamum Codex still comes to pass as The Master kills Buffy in both realities. However, Buffy could not have been revived in this episode, as neck snapping is irreversible.
  • 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 'Doppelgängland' where Vampire Willow finds it full of happy people. Although she never witnesses it this one shot encapsulates 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.
  • Xander Harris in the Wishverse is very intrigued by The Slayer, demonstrating a possible attraction for her like his mainstream counterpart. However, this version of Xander had also a comportment similar to Spike when he learnt the existence of the Slayer in "Fool for Love", foreshadowing his future attraction to Buffy.
  • Buffy's talk with Cordelia outside the Bronze mirrors the talk they had in the episode When She Was Bad, only in reverse roles.
  • This is the second time Cordelia would be caught outside the Bronze in garbage, the first being in Some Assembly Required.
  • This episode's premise, along with that of Birthday, are very similar: a dissatisfied and disillusioned Cordelia makes a pact with a higher power (Anyanka and The Powers That Be, respectively) to have history rewritten (in "The Wish", Cordelia wished Buffy had never came to Sunnydale, while in "Birthday", Cordelia wishes that she had never met up with Angel at a party in L.A., instead running into a talent agent who makes her into a celebrity), resulting in a future which Cordelia initially appreciates, but soon regrets do to the tragedies that resulted from her decision. In both episodes, the future is returned to normal, the only difference being that in "Birthday" Cordelia is the one to change time back to normal, while in "The Wish" it is Giles.
  • Amy is mentioned in this episode, but does not appear.
  • This marks the first episode in which an evil form of Willow says her catchphrase: "Bored now." She later repeats this as Vamp Willow in Doppelgangland and as Dark Willow in Villains.

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 Vengeance Demons, Anyanka and Halfrek. 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?"
  • In "Prophecy Girl" The Master tells Buffy that he wouldn't have been able to leave his imprisonment if she hadn't faced him, and yet in this episode he is seen at the Bronze. It should be noted that The Harvest could have taken place as planned and released The Master without the presence of the Slayer.

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

Cordy & Anya

The only episode in which the outspoken Cordelia and Anya interact

  • 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

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 monstrous 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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