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Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Wish

Giles: "Yes, I am aware that there's a great deal of demonic activity in Cleveland."

I was not thrilled when I saw the teaser for this episode last week because I absolutely hate takeoffs of It's a Wonderful Life and I thought that was what we were getting – but I shouldn't have jumped to conclusions. What we got was a truly cool parallel universe "Mirror, Mirror" type episode that had me going right until the end. Of course, we knew we'd return to the "real" Buffyverse, but this episode still took me places that surprised me.

The beginning was rather cool, and (going with the mirror metaphor) reflected back to the first year of the show, when Cordelia was too cool to have anything to do with the Slayerettes, and Buffy hung out with just Xander and Willow all the time. But there was a strong difference from the way they were two years ago; they have all three lost at love in a big way. At least Xander and Willow have realized what a mistake they made, three weeks later than the rest of us have. I actually felt some pangs during that Oz/Willow scene by the lockers.

Cordelia certainly has the motivation to wish ill of her former friends; she has gotten impaled, has lost her boyfriend and her popularity, and has literally and figuratively landed on the garbage heap. But I was impressed that the plot didn't go that way at all; that scene with Cordelia burning photos of the gang at the beginning was a great fake-out. It made us think that Cordelia would be vicious and vengeful enough to invoke spirits against them, when in fact all she did is make a perfectly natural comment to someone she thought was a friend.

Loved Buffy in grungies, literally spit polishing her boots. Loved Xander and Willow basically doing Spike and Dru. But what made my toes curl was Willow, in that outfit, licking Angel's cheek. Wow. And Willow and Xander feeding on Cordy, while caressing each other. Wow again. Pretty sexy. Or am I twisted? What a turn on.

The bloodsucking assembly line bothered me (I don't know why; grue doesn't usually, not on this show). But what bothered me more was watching Angel being tortured. And dying. And even worse – Oz killing Willow! By the end, I wasn't at all surprised at having the Master kill Buffy. It was inevitable.

I really thought that this episode would leave me cold, but instead it hit all of my buttons and showed us a totally black version of Sunnydale. As if Sunnydale isn't black enough. This season of Buffy has been terrific. Does a good show always hit its stride during its third year? Maybe not, but Buffy certainly has.


— Note from much later and slightly spoilery: This episode introduces Anya, the now defanged vengeance demon, whom I had no idea would turn out to be a recurring character. I don't think she was initially supposed to be. Who knew?


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."

Cordelia: "But Harmony..."
Anya: "Oh, she follows me around. If that girl had an original thought, her head would explode."

Cordelia: "She was, like, a good fairy. A scary, veiny good fairy."

Oz: "So Cordelia wished for something? Well, if it was a long, healthy life, she should get her money back."

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."
Giles: "I don't want to kill her, Miss Summers. I want to reverse whatever affect she's had on this world."
Buffy: "You're taking an awful lot on faith here, Jeeves."
Giles: "Giles."

Let's give this one a four out of four just for Alyson Hannigan's evil Willow. Wow again.

Billie Doux reviewed all of Buffy and Angel, so she knows the plural of apocalypse.


  1. Hello Billie - can I firstly say that I have just discovered this site and I am loving your Buffy reviews!
    I watched Buffy when it first aired on UK television and I have to say that this episode always stuck in my mind as being fantastic! I love the "fun" episodes the best. So when I recently purchased the whole Buffy DVD set I was excited about seeing this one again.
    Anya was one of my favourite characters in Buffy so it was great to see her introduction here.
    One of many fantastic episodes!
    Thanks Billie!

  2. You're welcome, Tommi! And feel free to comment as you re-watch. The Buffy reviews get more hits than anything else on the site, but I originally put them up in a format where no one could comment. They feel a bit naked. :)

  3. Evil universe stories are always fun and 'The Wish' is one of the best. The Master was actually more fun in this one episode than he was throughout season 1.

  4. The Master rose, and the Slayer died

    Prophecies are wacky

  5. This is probably one of my favorites. I've always really loved this episode and I remember being floored by it when I first saw it. Willow and Xander as evil, sexy vampires! Hell yeah. Evil willow in particular was a treat to watch. That final scene really shows how different Sunnydale woud have been had Buffy not came around to stop the master in season one, who by the way was delightful this episode also. I enjoyed having him back.

    My only complaint is I remember the first time watching this, I wish they had included Jenny has part of Giles vampire slaying group. It would have been nice to see them together in the alternate universe, but I guess then that would have made a small part of that universe better than this one, at least for Giles.

    I forgot how good season 3 is! I keep expecting to hit a bad episode, but the writers really found their grove this season. So far, there have been no duds.

  6. This journey into the "dark timeline" was a lot of fun. I agree with Mark that the Master was more fun here than in the 1st season. I also thought it was another great way to show just how strong Buffy is BECAUSE of her friends. She was more like Faith (tough, independent, cynical) in the alternative universe and it got her killed. Willow was great as a Dru-like vampiress but that also led to her death. With all of the great parts of this episode, one of the funniest moments was the end where Cordy was wishing again and Anya was so surprised that it didn't come true. I laughed a lot at that simple little change as Cordy walked away wishing and wishing and wishing, which is one of the great things about this series.

  7. A creepily fun episode. I agree that Willow did an awesome job of being sexily evil but she also made me uncomfortable. I love good Willow! I also enjoyed the appearance of Anya. She brings something quirky to the show that I look forward to. What's interesting for me is realizing how much I have forgotten about Buffy. Although I've rewatched several times, I haven't for a while and so I keep getting surprised, which is great. I keep going, oh so that's when that happened. Thanks again for coming up with the Buffy rewatch. I am thoroughly enjoying myself.

  8. This is such a great episode. It's got many, many great elements, but the ones that always stay with me the most are Evil Willow's costume, Evil Willow torturing the "puppy," Giles still fighting the good fight and taking the chance to fix things ("How do you know the other world is any better than this?" "Because it has to be"), and the Master killing Buffy. Him snapping her neck and then walking away as her body slowly drops out of frame really sticks in the brain.

    I also found myself genuinely moved by Cordy's pain when she's burning the pictures and ignoring the phone messages. Been there. I never really liked Xander and Cordy together, but she didn't deserve to get hurt like that.

  9. I wish (oops!) I could pinpoint exactly why I love this episode, since the “it was all a dream” fakeouts usually drive me crazy.

    But something about this works—even though we know it’s not real, it packs a huge cathartic punch. I think the score and the slo-mo fighting towards the end really helps. Especially since we know each character’s “real” relationship to the people they’re killing, so that makes it all the more bittersweet.

    Other things I love about this episode:

    --Willow going wild on Angel. That’s such a weird pairing to begin with; it’s even weirder with evil Willow.

    --Oz’s speech to Willow about her offer to talk things out really being about her. I’ve actually kept that speech in mind over the years, through breakups and whatnot, and I think it’s a really good perspective to have. To burden someone else with your own desire for forgiveness is a pretty selfish thing.

  10. I love this episode, especially the gorgeous sequence where they all die at the end, which is kind of beautifully done. And there's something weirdly powerful about the way Giles says he knows the other world will be better 'because it has to be.'

    Also yay for Vampire Willow! :)

  11. Love this episode. I'm happy they didn't try to do too much with bizarro Sunnydale. It might've been fun to see Ms. Calendar again or Spike and Dru or Darla, but the focus would've gone off our little group.

  12. Loved it. I'm usually with Josie on this type of episode. They often seem like a cheap way of having your cake and eating it too storywise. You can do what you want to the characters, but there's no harm in the end. Not sure why it works here, but I did enjoy the catharsis too much to care. Also I'd put up with a lot to see Willow the "bored now" vampire. Alyson Hannigan is quickly becoming my favorite reason to watch.

  13. When I watch this episode, I am always blown away by it. Vamp Willow is compelling to watch because she is so different from our Willow. She is one of the most frightening vampires they have shown. In many ways she is more like Angelus than Dru. I am glad that she had her own style as Vamp Willow and wasn't just a copy of one of the others.

    This episode is dark and very adult. It is much different from the Buffy of Season 1 and even many episodes of Season 2. I agree with all the comments about liking the Master a lot here and about the way that the story of Giles, Oz, and Larry was very touching. I especially liked Giles wanting to believe there had to be better than this, too. I also loved the slow mo ending to the fight scene. It was poignant seeing how it could have all turned out if the Scoobies hadn't joined forces like they did.

    Josie, I loved your comment about Oz's speech. I always admire it, too, when I see it. He is such a mature character, and I appreciate that the show allows a teenaged boy to be this way since some are like this although they are never shown on TV.

  14. Another Brilliant episode, I pretty much agree with everyone's comments above. I particularly like that Giles has teamed up with an alternative scooby gang to fight vampires and that while the alternative reality sunnydale is so dark. The real day it slots in to is very relaxed and pedestrian with no one knowing what happened at all, but it did all happen.

  15. Like the rest of you, this is an episode I love. I'm a fan of "what-if" episodes because they give the writers and the viewers a fun opportunity to explore story lines that otherwise would be impossible. This one works in a myriad of ways, all of which have been discussed above.

    The final slo-mo scene gets me every time. All the deaths are inevitable, yet sad simply because of the people we have come to know in the alternate world. Giles, as always, is my favorite.

  16. Hello all, I'm a first time poster here who's trying to catch up with the re-watch. I've been watching multiple episodes a day and I'm so glad that you've gotten so many, including me, to watch/re-watch my favorite show. Nicely done Billie.

    I hardly ever comment on things online due to shyness but these last two episodes combined with the perfect amount of alcohol have inspired me to chime in.

    I forgot how awesome this episode is. Like many of you, I usually hate episodes of TV like this where nothing really matters and all events get erased at the end but I agree with everything in Josie's comment. Apparently, when Joss & company do it, I end up loving it. That's weird...

    Everything else that has been said is spot on. There's just so much character development combined with amazing writing and weird things that you get to see that you never thought you possibly could. Mainly I'm referring to the deepening of Cordelia's character and weird things like Evil Willow and the awesomeness that Alyson brings to this alternate universe character.

    Thanks again for doing this and hopefully I can/will join in the discussion occasionally.

  17. I forgot to mention that I was slightly surprised to not see any mention of the obligatory dog references in Billie's review of this episode. Not only did vampire Willow call Angel a puppy on more than one occasion but Cordelia also referred to Buffy as, "Buffy the dog-faced girl." Not quite as hilarious as Willow referring to herself as Cletus, the slack-jawed yokel in the previous episode, but it was pretty funny, nonetheless. Thanks again for everything.

  18. Hi, Brian, and congratulations on posting your first comment! Yeah, I sort of forgot to continue with the dog thing. I had started doing it when I went back and reviewed the first two seasons. Bad Billie. :)

  19. Another terrific episode. Usually after watching an episode I rewatch the scenes I liked the most. I had a hard time doing that with “The Wish” because the entire show is amazing. AlternaSunnydale is so riveting. I particularly liked AlternaBuffy on this rewatch.

    Great job by Sarah Michelle Gellar, Nicholas Brendon and Alyson Hannigan on their different personas. That scene where nearly all of the main characters died was amazing, and I was glad to see SMG doing some of the stunts.

  20. All hail Anyanka!! What a great character and addition to the Buffyverse. Emma Caulfield is amazing as Anya. This episode stands out in dialog and atmosphere. Great performances from all involved. Even Xander, who is usually my least favorite character was entertaining.

  21. I'm always so surprised that people seem to universally love this episode. This is one of my least favorite episodes. I find it incredibly upsetting and hard to watch. Yes, it is exceptionally well done, which is why I find it so upsetting, but I don't enjoy it. I hate seeing all the characters I love so much die, and it is especially sad when Oz kills Willow. Although nothing is more upsetting than Buffy dying. It is a great episode, for sure. Just not at all one of my favorites. I always dread watching it when I do my annual re-watch.

  22. I never knew Vamp Willow used the line "Bored Now" and that the Roaring Rampage of Revenge Willow's use of it was a callback. How many shows have that kind of continuity?


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