June 11, 2022

Buffy 3.9, The Wish: It’s a Horrible Life

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , at 1:12 pm by Jenn

Vamp Xander is kind of hot (when he’s not vamped out)

Summary: It’s a beautiful day in Sunnydale, and Buffy is being strangled in a park by a monster that looks like an alien crossed with a swamp creature. Xander’s on the ground, having already been knocked out of this fight, and Willow’s trying to interpret Buffy’s requests for a “nerf.” She finally realizes that that means “knife,” and she gives Buffy one so she can stab the creature. They decide to go back to their picnic before they bury its body.

Xander asks why Faith hasn’t been around to help with slaying. Buffy says she couldn’t reach her, and they haven’t been hanging out much. Buffy’s worried, since it’s not healthy for a Slayer to be alone a lot. Xander laments that he hasn’t been able to get in touch with Cordelia, either. He tries to put the blame on Cordelia and Oz for catching him and Willow together. It was the last time they were going to kiss! Oz and Cordelia should have knocked! “Your logic does not resemble our Earth logic,” Buffy tells him.

Willow’s looking forward to school the next day, when she can beg Oz for forgiveness. She’s trying to be strong, but the thought of losing Oz forever saddens her. Buffy can relate. Xander asks how she’s able to keep going, knowing she and Angel are done. Buffy says being friends with them helps. Cordelia wants to go the opposite route – she’s home from the hospital, listening to Xander’s messages and burning pictures of him.

At school the next day, Willow waits for Oz near his locker, but he hasn’t been by. Buffy asks if Xander has seen Cordelia yet (no, but Amy saw her at the mall the night before, so they’re sure she’ll be at school). Cordelia shows up looking like she didn’t just get out of the hospital or have her heart broken. Harmony introduces her to a new classmate, Anya, who impresses Cordelia by recognizing the designer of her purse. Cordelia’s friends are pleased that Cordelia is moving on from Xander and seem supportive. Then Harmony ruins Cordelia’s grand return by teasing that she should date Jonathan.

Willow finally encounters Oz, but he doesn’t want to talk to her. She wants to make everything up to him, but right now he just wants her to leave him alone. Since he already told her what he needs, he feels like she just wants to talk so she can make herself feel better. That’s not his problem.

Cordelia gets revenge on Xander by pretending to make out with a guy named John Lee. He tells her they can’t get involved publicly because he’d be ridiculed for dating “Xander Harris’ castoff.” Cordelia runs into Anya, who makes it clear that she would rather be friends with Cordelia than with Harmony. Cordelia admires her necklace, which Anya says is kind of a good-luck charm. They bond over disliking men, and Anya invites Cordelia to say what she wishes would happen to Xander. Cordelia has decided to move on by showing him how over him she is.

At the Bronze that night, Cordelia and Anya chat with some guys while Xander tries to pretend that he, Buffy, and Willow are having an awesome time. Buffy doesn’t like that they’re supposed to turn on Cordelia after what she’s gone through. Willow thinks Cordelia’s justified in hating them; she should make them pay. A lot. But Xander wants them to move on and live in the moment. Buffy and Willow try to get on board “the joy train,” but they’re not sure how, so they opt to eat chocolate.

Xander puts his hand on Willow’s while he’s watching Cordelia, and when Willow tells him to stop, he says they have nothing to be ashamed of. They’ve always touched each other in friendly ways. Willow says it’s different now that they’ve had their fling. She wants to reserve all her body parts for Oz.

Buffy spots Cordelia leaving with a hand on her stomach, where her wound from the rebar is. She follows Cordelia out to an alley and asks how she’s doing. She knows what it’s like to be hurt as much as Cordelia was, and it helped to talk to her friends. Suddenly a vampire ambushes them, and as Buffy’s fighting him, she accidentally knocks him into Cordelia, who winds up in a pile of garbage. Of course, that’s right when a bunch of Cordelia’s friends walk by.

Cordelia tells Buffy that she’s been asking herself a lot lately why she’s the one who gets impaled and bitten by a snake and hurt by a loser. She’s finally figured it out. At school the next day, she tells Anya that Buffy is the problem. Cordelia’s life started falling apart when Buffy came to Sunnydale. Her friends come by, mocking her. Anya loans Cordelia her necklace so she can get some good luck. She thinks Xander is the real problem, and she again tries to get Cordelia to wish something bad for him.

Cordelia says she wouldn’t have given Xander a second thought if he hadn’t become “marginally cooler” by hanging out with Buffy. “I wish Buffy Summers had never come to Sunnydale,” Cordelia declares. Anya turns around, her face suddenly demonic. “Done,” she replies.

The world around Cordelia changes and Anya disappears. Cordelia realizes that Anya was a kind of “scary, veiny good fairy” who made her wish come true. She heads out of the nearly empty, not-quite-so-clean-and-pretty courtyard and into the school. It looks mostly the same, but the hallways aren’t as clean and some people have hung crosses and garlic on their lockers. Cordelia’s friends’ clothes have changed, too; they’re all wearing muted colors. They admire Cordelia for wearing bright blue.

John Lee invites Cordelia to a winter brunch with him and is excited just to get a maybe as an answer. Cordelia doesn’t know what brunch he’s talking about, though. At the end of the school day, the students and teachers rush to leave. There won’t be classes the next day because of a monthly memorial. Cordelia doesn’t get why everyone wants to get home and no one wants to go out. Her friends remind her that curfew starts in an hour. Also, they can’t go to the Bronze. Cordelia thinks it’s just not cool in this alternate reality.

When Harmony asks what’s up with her, she pretends that she bumped her head and is having trouble remembering things. She asks if Xander and Willow are as loser-ish as she hopes they are. Harmony informs her that they’re both dead. Cordelia starts to realize that she may have screwed something up. She goes to find her car, but a maintenance worker tells her students aren’t allowed to drive to school. He reminds her to get home before the sun goes down.

Instead, Cordelia walks downtown, past closed or closing businesses. It’s as if every part of Sunnydale is now the bad part of town. She’s surprised to run into Xander, who looks like he raided Angel’s closet for a white tank top and leather jacket. She asks if someone’s playing a bad joke on her; Harmony said he was dead. She tells him they need to find Buffy – Cordelia’s realized that things were better with her around.

“Bored now,” Willow declares as she joins the two of them. She’s also raided someone else’s closet, maybe Faith’s. I can’t think of anyone else who would own a leather bustier. She asks Xander if it’s time to play now, and he reminds her that it’s his turn. “No way! I wish us into Bizarro Land and you guys are still together?” Cordelia exclaims. “I cannot win!” Xander agrees, vamping out. “But I’ll give you a head start,” he tells her. He and Willow kiss, then chase after Cordelia.

Just as they knock her out, they get interrupted by some people in a van. Xander calls them White Hats. They’re this reality’s version of the Scoobies: Giles, Oz, Larry, and a girl named Nancy. They hold off Xander and Willow, then pull Cordelia into the van and take her to the library. Nancy can’t believe Cordelia wore a bright color, which would draw attention from vampires. Larry knows Cordelia well enough to know she cares more about appearance than safety.

The Bronze is now a vampire hangout, where they’re free to feed on humans or just keep them in cages for their amusement. The place is also under new management in the form of the Master. Xander and Willow are two of his minions. Xander tells him that they ran into Cordelia, but the White Hats rescued her before they could kill her. He says Cordelia mentioned Buffy, which the vampires recognize as the name of the Slayer. Xander and Willow aren’t worried, but the Master is. His plant is started operations in less than 24 hours, and they can’t risk the Slayer showing up. Xander and Willow need to find and kill Cordelia before she can contact Buffy.

Cordelia regains consciousness and tells Giles that all of this is her fault. She tells him to get Buffy so she can change everything. When she was around, things were better and people were happy. Cordelia wonders why Giles is in Sunnydale when Buffy isn’t – why have a Watcher where there’s no Slayer? Giles is surprised that she knows he used to be a Watcher.

He goes to the book cage to get some weapons, but Willow locks him in before he can come back out. Xander grabs Cordelia and gives the Watcher something to watch: him and Willow feeding on Cordelia until she dies.

Giles busts his way out of the cage as Oz and Larry come in and reveal that Xander and Willow also killed Nancy. Giles asks the guys to take Cordelia’s body to the incinerator. He spots her necklace and takes it off of her as they go. Back at the Bronze, the Master serves himself blood out of a cappuccino maker as Willow and Xander return with the good news that Cordelia is dead. As a reward, Willow gets to “play with the puppy.”

Giles makes a call to whoever Buffy’s Watcher is in this reality. They’re in Cleveland, and they don’t believe Giles’ insistence that Sunnydale is on a Hellmouth. The next morning, Willow complains about being stuck inside while the sun is out. She’ll have to entertain herself with the puppy. That “puppy” is actually one of a bunch of prisoners locked up in cages under the Bronze. Some may be human, but this one is a vampire – it’s Angel. Willow tells him the plant will open today, and all the people he tried to save will die quickly. Angel, however, will die a slow death: “Willow’s gonna make you bark.” Xander helps by providing some matches.

At the library, Giles finds Cordelia’s necklace in a book. It’s the symbol of Anyanka, a “patron saint of scorned women” who grants wishes. “Cordelia wished for something? Well, if it was a long, healthy life, she should get her money back,” Oz quips. Giles remembers her saying that the world is different and isn’t supposed to be like this. “The entire world sucks because some dead ditz made a wish?” Larry asks. “I just want it clear.”

Giles continues that Cordelia said Buffy was supposed to be there. He wants to do some further research. He heads home, driving by a group of vampires who are rounding up some victims. He helps the humans escape, then finds himself on the ground (but not knocked out, for once). Someone else has taken over handling the vampires. It’s Buffy, and she doesn’t seem pleased to be in Sunnydale.

Giles takes her to his place while he does more research. He learns that destroying Anyanka’s power center will take away her wish-granting abilities and make her human. Then everything will reset. Buffy – scarred, jaded, and impatient – asks what that power center is. You’d think Giles would be able to figure that out pretty quickly, but I guess in this reality, he’s not as smart. Buffy suggests just staking Anyanka, even though she’s not a vampire. Stakes work on a lot of creatures. Giles would prefer making her reverse what she’s done instead of killing her.

Buffy notes that she’s pretty much humoring him right now. She doesn’t think there’s another reality out there better than this: “World is what it is. We fight, we die. Wishing doesn’t change that.” Giles disagrees, saying he has to believe in a better world. Buffy replies that she has to live in this one.

Giles thinks the fact that Cordelia knew about Buffy means something. The Master wouldn’t have sent his most vicious minions to kill her if her knowledge wasn’t important. Buffy can’t believe that Giles knows where the Master operates but hasn’t tried to kill him. Giles says they have tried, but without a Slayer, it’s not that easy. She offers to take care of that problem for him. When he says she should take backup, she replies, “I don’t play well with others.”

She goes to the Bronze alone, but it’s mostly empty. The only people left are the prisoners downstairs. Angel recognizes Buffy when she comes down, because in this reality, he still went to L.A. to see her. He tells her he waited for her to come to Sunnydale but she never showed up. He was supposed to help her. Buffy finds that ridiculous. Angel says that the Master let him live as punishment. Angel kept clinging to the hope that his “destiny” would join him. “Is this a get-in-my-pants thing?” Buffy asks.

She’d like to get down to business. Angel tells her everyone’s at the factory and offers to take her there. Buffy’s wary about working with him, even more so when she realizes he’s a vampire. He promises he wants to help. He shows her the scars he’s received from being the Master’s prisoner and declares that he wants the Master dead.

At the factory, where a bunch of humans and vampires are gathered, the Master announces that he’s created technology that will let the vampires remain the “superior race” through the wonders of the human concept of mass production. At home, Giles does a spell to summon Anyanka. She’s not pleased to be called by a man.

The Master uses one of Cordelia’s friends for a demonstration of his new technology. It pierces her and sucks out her blood so vampires can have it on demand, like turning on a faucet to drink water. Buffy and Angel arrive and he asks what the plan is. “Don’t fall on this,” she replies, holding up a stake. They hide in the crowd as the Master raises a glass of blood and toasts to the future.

Buffy fires a crossbow at him but the Master uses Xander as a shield. Everyone starts running as Buffy fights vampires and Angel frees the humans. Oz and Larry stay behind to help with the slaying. Giles asks Anyanka what Cordelia wished for. “Brave new world,” Anyanka replies. “I hope she likes it.” He orders her to change it back, but she’s not about to listen to him.

Buffy fights Willow and Xander but doesn’t kill them. Xander winds up staking Angel, and Buffy barely blinks as he dies. Anyanka tells Giles that this is the real world now. It’s the one they made. Things go slow-motion as Buffy fights Xander again, staking him this time. Oz and Larry grab Willow and use a piece of broken wood from the humans’ cages to stake her. The Master and Buffy spot each other at the same time and head toward each other.

Giles finally figures out that Anyanka’s necklace is her power center. When it glows, he rips it off of her. Buffy and the Master fight as Anyanka tells Giles he’s an idiot – how does he know the other world is better than this one? “Because it has to be,” he replies. As he raises a paperweight to smash the necklace, the Master breaks Buffy’s neck. Ignoring Anyanka’s protests, Giles crushes the necklace.

“I wish Buffy Summers had never come to Sunnydale,” Cordelia says. This time, Anya’s face doesn’t change and the wish isn’t granted. Cordelia changes her mind – she wishes Buffy had never been born. Then she wishes Xander were celibate forever and Willow woke up covered in monkey hair. Anya’s distressed not to be able to grant any of her wishes. All is right with the world, and no one has a clue about the way things might have been.

Thoughts: One of Cordelia’s friends (the one who gets to be the guinea pig for the blood technology) is played by Nicole Bilderback.

I like the twist of killing off Cordelia halfway through the episode. It makes it more real that this reality is one that no one would knowingly wish for.

Xander and Willow are basically Spike and Drusilla here, and while I don’t think he pulls it off, she does.

No wonder Buffy’s so serious in the alternate reality. She would hate Cleveland.

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