Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | October 29, 2011

Cordia’s Review: S3, E9 – The Wish

The Wish
Season 3, Episode 9
Original airing: 12/8/1998

My Rating: 88

The Good: This is a brilliant “What If?” episode. Sunnydale without Buffy is just as despondent and depressing as Buffy without Sunnydale. The episode perfectly hits on why Buffy is such a successful Slayer and why the show is so great in general. It’s all about the people. Seeing beloved characters morphed into shadows of themselves is heartbreaking. Willow and Xander are soul-less vampires, Giles never became a Watcher, and Buffy is disenchanted with life in general. The relief I feel at the end of the episode when everything is back to normal is almost palpable.

The setup for the story is so well done, it’s almost effortless. A demon who grants wishes to scorned women takes advantage of Cordelia’s anger to twist the world into this horrible shadow of itself. Cordelia blaming everything on Buffy makes altogether too much sense. We’ve seen her constantly frustrated by Buffy’s presence and how her life has changed completely since she fell in with the Scoobies. Last episode, she even declared with a huge grin how great Buffy’s SAT scores were because it meant Buffy could leave Sunnydale and never come back. This long-seated jealousy and frustration with Buffy has come back time and again in many forms; their battle for Homecoming Queen, Xander’s latent and continuous crush on Buffy, and even Cordelia’s jealousy over Angel from the first season. I love when the show ties realistic motivations to the story line and they do that brilliantly here.

The creation of the alternate reality is just as fully realized as the characters. No one wears bright colors, everyone is terrified of the night (even the teachers running home directly after class), and it looks as if a tornado has hit parts of the town. The Bronze has naturally become a vampire hang out, while the library is still a place of relative safety. The little touches are the best, though. Cordelia is invited to a brunch, instead of a dance. Her clothing is a source of discussion because of its bright blue color as opposed to the cut or material. The teacher mentions a monthly memorial which means everyone has the day off school. It’s these things that pile up to the point where Cordelia finally realizes life with Buffy is better than no life at all.

It’s also a fantastic move to have Cordelia killed off first. Her sudden death in the middle of the episode by both Xander and Willow is extremely abrupt and piercing. It makes the alternate universe feel more real and dangerous when one of the main characters is offed like it’s no big deal. I love the little moment where Xander clutches Willow’s head as they feed. In death, they finally get to have a real relationship.

It was wonderful to see the person Buffy would have been if she hadn’t come to Sunnydale. She’s lost her quippy nature and is purely interested in killing as many vampires and demons as possible before they kill her. There’s no mention of who her Watcher is, but she berates Giles when he dares to dream of a better world. It’s a very depressing look at the other extreme which goes beyond even the wild and uncaring nature we’ve seen in Faith.

I also liked that Giles is relatively unchanged. He’s fighting vampires with a dedicated group of students and trying to make the world a better place. And, of course, he saves the day. Even in an alternate reality, he’s basically the most bad ass.

The Bad: The main question I had, was why anyone stayed in that town. I should think most of the citizens would flee during the day. The show failed to mention if just Sunnydale was overrun with vampires, or if the rise of the Master had altered the world at large. We know Buffy is fighting demon activity in Cleveland, but it doesn’t explain if that’s run of the mill stuff or the symptom of a bigger problem.

Favorite Moment: The slow-motion fight scene at the end of the episode is just brutal. We see almost all of our beloved characters murdering each other. The worst part to me is Buffy’s complete dispassion throughout. She walks right through Angel’s ashes and doesn’t even look at Xander when she stakes him. Every time I see this scene, I end up in tears.

The Bottom Line: This was a very fun episode that saved itself from being depressing by righting all the wrongs in the end. I loved it.

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