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BuffyGuide.com — The Complete Buffy Episode Guide
The Wish
December 08, 1998
3ABB09

 
Credits

Writer:
Marti Noxon


Director:
David Greenwalt


Regulars:
Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers
Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris
Alyson Hannigan as Willow Rosenberg
Charisma Carpenter as Cordelia Chase
David Boreanaz as Angel
Seth Green as Oz
Anthony Stewart Head as Rupert Giles
Guest Star:
Mark Metcalf as The Master
Cast:
Emma Caulfield as Anya/Anyanka
Larry Bagby III as Larry
Mercedes McNab as Harmony
Danny Strong as Jonathan
Nicole Bilderback as Cordette #1
Nathan Anderson as John Lee
Mariah O'Brien as Nancy
Gary Imhoff as Teacher
Robert Covarrubias as Caretaker

 
Synopsis

Cordelia's pain over Xander's betrayal summons Anyanka, a demon who grants wishes to women scorned. Blaming Buffy for everything that has gone wrong in her life, Cordelia wishes that the Slayer had never come to Sunnydale. This wish allows Anyanka to create an alternate reality where the Master rose, Willow and Xander are vampires, Angel is their slave, and Giles, Oz, and Larry work alone to fight evil. When Cordelia informs Giles that Buffy should have been in Sunnydale, he summons her and she battles the Master, but, without the help of her friends, Buffy is killed. Luckily, Giles is able to restore the correct reality by destroying Anyanka's powercenter. — Short synopsis by Fluff.

For the full, detailed synopsis, click here.

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Monstervision

This episode is mainly inspired by the Frank Capra's 1946 Christmas classic It's a Wonderful Life, in which George Bailey (played by Jimmy Stewart) wishes he had never been born, and is then shown by an angel how much worse his loved ones' lives would have been without him. In this permutation, the angel is replaced by a demon called Anyanka, who Giles describes as "a sort of patron saint of scorned women" who grants wishes.

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Dialogue to Die For

The Master holds up a young girl: "Hungry? I've lost my appetite for this one. She keeps looking at me. I'm trying to eat and she looks at me!"

More quotes from this episode...

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References

  • "Most people can't tell Prada from... Payless."  Prada is an Italian company run by Miuccia Prada, whose clothes and accessories have been pretty trendy since she first pushed "geek chic" back in 1995. Payless Shoe Source is an American chain of discount footwear dealers. (Many thanks to Katie Vieceli for the Prada information!)

  • "Tears of a clown, baby."  "Tears of a Clown" was a 1966 song which, in 1970, became Smokey Robinson and the Miracles' only #1 hit.

  • "I had no idea her wish would be so exciting. Brave new world."  Brave New World is a classic science fiction novel written in 1932 by Aldous Huxley. It satirically describes a 26th-century in which human society has become "idealized," people made in test tubes rather than born and with unhappiness and pain bred out of them altogether. Huxley uses the story of an outcast named Bernard and a "Savage" named John to point out how this conformist utopia isn't as wonderful as we might think. The origin of the phrase "Brave New World," however, comes from the The Tempest, Act 5, Scene 1, by William Shakespeare: (A big thanks to William Young for this Shakespeare reference.)
    MIRANDA: O, wonder!
    How many goodly creatures are there here!
    How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,
    That has such people in't!

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Notes

  • Mark Metcalf makes his return as the Master, last seen dying in "Prophecy Girl" (it wasn't him in "When She Was Bad"), and Larry Bagby III makes his fourth appearance as Larry, the first since his cameo in "Anne."

  • We see Cordelia's bedroom for the first time in this episode.

  • Nicole Bilderback, who plays "Cordette #1" in this episode, appeared with Seth Green in the 1998 film Can't Hardly Wait as a girl with whom Seth's character nearly has sex.

  • Nancy notes that vampires are attracted by bright colors. Although this hasn't been mentioned before, it probably holds true in the "real" world as well.

  • As Vamp Xander and Vamp Willow walk toward the Bronze to meet the Master, they pass a girl being bitten by a vampire. Some people have wondered if that girl is Eliza Dushku, who plays Faith. A frame-by-frame of the DVD reveals that it doesn't look as much like Eliza as one might at first think, and though we can't now find it, we could swear we once saw a writer (or possibly Joss) confirm that it wasn't her. At any rate, we're pretty sure it's not her.

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Music

  • The Spies - "Tired of Being Alone" (From Toy Surprise Inside, Fig Records, 1998)
      Plays while Xander, Buffy and Willow watch Cordelia ostentatiously enjoying herself at the Bronze.

  • Plastic - "Dedicated to Pain" (Unreleased)
      This song plays as Vamp Willow and Vamp Xander walk into the Bronze to visit the Master.
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Comments

Brian:
One of Buffy's main strengths is the flexibility and versatility inherent in the concept created by Joss Whedon. Unlike other sci-fi and fantasy series, which often become bogged down and hemmed in by their formats, Buffy continues to find new ground and interesting twists to explore within the very mutable limits of its concept. That was proven by "The Wish," which played an It's a Wonderful Life pastiche into a dark and at times downright terrifying exercise into "What if?" The show's usual high spirits were there, but in a delightfully twisted form — the evil vampire Willow was amazing, and Larry as one of Giles' band of would-be Slayers was pure inspiration. But even so, this was about as dark as the series has ever gotten. The return of the Master in a fully functional and even lively state in which we never got to see him during the first season; the on-screen death of Cordelia; a Willow and Xander wholly without remorse or even the spark of goodness we've come to take for granted in them; a jaded and nearly heartless Buffy who can barely be bothered to care about the world-saving work she's doing; the excellently executed and heartbreaking slow-motion sequence during the climax which gave us the gruesome and hard-to-watch ends of Buffy, Willow and Xander. All these elements contributed to a daring episode which ultimately worked better than I thought it would. My only complaint was that the "plant" setting, and the plotline that went with it, came off rather like a weirdly cheesy James Bond movie which sort of stuck out in the otherwise dark atmosphere of the episode. However, that was a rather minor flaw in an otherwise terrific episode. Buffy the Vampire Slayer once again proves (as if any more proof was needed) that it is one of the liveliest, most creative, and all-around best series on television today. (9/10)
Will:
I went into this episode fully expecting to be disappointed. I was wrong. This week's offering was definitely not at the level of "Lovers Walk," but it was wonderful. I have said it before and I will say it again: the writers and actors on BtVS have a knack for creating and performing quality entertainment. Whether they give us drama or comedy, it is always good. This week we experience life in Sunnydale if Buffy wasn't there. I liked it... especially Xander and Willow as vamps, the return of the Master, Angel the puppy, and Larry the Vampire Slayer. I must say that a town full of vampires was a very cool idea, and it is probably quite the party town (at night anyway). I found this week's offering to be just completely entertaining and fun. It added very little to the running storylines, but that is what I liked about the episode. Buffy is like pizza... even when it is not perfect, it is still very very good. (8/10)
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Nielsens
Air Date Rating Ranking
December 08, 1998 4.2 88 of 128 (tie)
May 17, 1999 2.8 88 of 114

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