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Recap / Buffy the Vampire Slayer S3E9 "The Wish"

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The We Hate Cordelia Club goes all fangy.

Giles: I have to believe in a better world.
Buffy: Go ahead. I have to live in this one.

Directed by David Greenwalt.

Written by Marti Noxon, Jane Espenson, & Douglas Petrie.

Cordelia recovers from her life-threatening injury and tries to resume her old life as Alpha Bitch, but being "Xander Harris's cast-off" has her devalued social standing to an all-time low. Cordelia however, managed to make friends with a new girl and fellow fashionista, Anya, who gives Cordelia a pendant for luck. Deciding that all her trouble started when Buffy came to town, Cordelia tells Anya that she wishes that Buffy had never come to Sunnydale...and Anya reveals herself as a demon and grants it.

Cordelia is initially very happy with this new reality where she is again on top, only to discover that something is very wrong—there's now a curfew, everybody wears drab colors and acts very nervous, going to the Bronze is, for whatever reason, not an option, and teenagers aren't allowed to drive. After sundown, Cordelia discovers that Xander and Willow are still lovers ("I can't win!!")—and vampires.

Thanks to Buffy never arriving in Sunnydale, the Master has gained dominion over the town, ruling from the Bronze after creating a civilization where humans live in constant terror and are freely toyed with and murdered by the vampire populace. The Master also makes enigmatic allusions to a Plant that will soon open.

Giles runs a ragtag band of human rebels and rescues Cordelia from Xander and Willow and takes her back to the library, but Willow and Xander infiltrate the building and kill her before his eyes. Giles notices Cordelia's pendant and holds onto it.

After some cursory research, Giles discovers that the pendant belongs to Anyanka, a vengeance demon and a patron saint of sorts for scorned women. On his way home to do more detailed research, he is saved from a group of vampires by the newly-arrived Buffy Summers.

Buffy infiltrates the Bronze and finds Angel, who has been kept captive to be freely tortured by Willow; he offers to lead Buffy to the Plant, which turns out to be a factory with the purpose of draining humans completely dry of blood. Buffy and Angel ambush the vampires; the resulting battle ends with Angel, Xander, Willow and Buffy all dead.

Meanwhile, Giles summons Anyanka in an attempt to reverse the wish, but she is less than happy about being invoked by a man. He manages to subdue her and smash the pendant, restoring the original universe to the moment in time when Cordelia made her wish. An oblivious Cordelia makes a string of malicious wishes but Anya finds she no longer has the power to grant them. Meanwhile, the gang are all fine again.


  • Action Fashionista: Averted; the Wishverse version of Buffy wears combat boots, cargo pants and a grey tank top. As bright clothes are said to attract vampires, clearly she no longer bothers with The Bait as a tactic, presumably because the situation is so dire she doesn't have to lure them out.
  • Actor Allusion: When Xander throws a match at Angel, Willow remarks that the match almost lit her hair. In Dead Man on Campus, Alyson Hannigan's character got her hair lit on fire.
  • Aesop Amnesia: Cordelia makes a wish that Buffy had never come to Sunnydale. She experiences a Be Careful What You Wish For moment...and is promptly killed off. When the wish is reversed and Cordelia is revived, Cordelia remembers nothing, and therefore learns nothing (and neither does anyone else). Joss Whedon actually loved the fact that nobody learned anything from this episode.
  • The All-Solving Hammer:
    • Wishverse Buffy has precious little patience for Giles's strategizing.
      Buffy: Why don't I just put a stake through [Anyanka's] heart?
      Giles: She's not a vampire.
      Buffy: Yeah, well, you'd be surprised how many things that'll kill.note 
    • Averted in the opening scene when, having grown used to slaying vamps, Willow's at a loss over how to deal with a swamp monster which is throttling Buffy against a tree. Buffy manages to shout, "Nerf!" Willow frantically searches through Buffy's bag. Realizing that "Nerf!" is I'm Being Choked, You Idiot for "knife," she tosses the knife to Buffy, who grabs it in mid-air and stabs the monster in the chest.
  • Alternate Reality Episode: Played terrifyingly. Cordelia, bitter over her failed relationship with Xander, makes an idle wish that Buffy had never come to Sunnydale, believing that her popular status would still be intact if she had never gotten involved in the Scoobies' affairs; unfortunately, she speaks in front of a disguised vengeance demon who grants her wish to the letter. Cordelia is tossed into a crapsack alternate universe where the Sunnydale population is a tenth of what it was, due to unchecked vampire attacks, due in turn to the Master having ascended during the Harvest without Buffy there to stop him. Cordelia is killed by evil vampire versions of Willow and Xander, Giles and Oz are trapped in thankless work as desperately outnumbered vigilantes attempting to do what they can to restore some semblance of safety to the community, Angel is kept in a cage with the Master's minions allowed to torture him for fun, and Buffy eventually makes an appearance as a hardened, pitiless rogue Slayer who has gone cynical without her friends' humanizing influence. The episode ends with a vicious Final Battle in which the entire main cast kills each other; Giles's last-minute actions save the day and propel everyone back into their proper reality, but it's still incredibly frightening.
  • And I Must Scream: One of the Cordettes is stunned with cattle prods and placed on the Conveyor Belt o' Doom, fully conscious as the blood is siphoned from her.
    Master: She's still alive, you see, for the freshness.
  • Amulet of Concentrated Awesome: Unfortunately for Anyanka it's an Amulet of Dependency as well.
  • Artifact of Doom: Anya's amulet. Unlike in later episodes, she is shown needing to place the necklace on Cordelia's neck for the wish to take effect.
  • Ask a Stupid Question...:
    • Cordelia, oblivious to the fact that Xander's a vampire, tells him that they need to find Buffy, because she'll figure out a way to save them. "...Buffy. The Slayer?", Xander asks warily. "No!" Cordy snaps, "Buffy the dog-faced girl!"
    • Buffy and Angel are present at the factory's unveiling, observing from the back. "What's the plan?", Angel asks. Without looking at him, Buffy holds up a stake: "Don't fall on this."
  • Asshole Victim: Cordette #1 ends up as the test subject for the Master's blood draining machine in the alternate timeline.
  • Bad Guy Bar: The Bronze acts as one for the vampires.
  • Bad Guys Play Pool: Not really; they just strap their human victims to the Bronze pool table. Thankfully, we never get to see what the vampire actually does with his pool cue.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: In the alternate universe, Buffy dies, as does most everyone else, and the Master remains to continue preying on the populace.
  • Bait-and-Switch Comment:
    • Willow rips open Angel's shirt to reveal some nasty-looking wounds, then muses that maybe she went too hard on him "last time." Behind her, Xander strikes a match and tosses it onto Angel's bare chest. Willow admonishes him to be he almost got her hair.
    • The Master is giving a New Era Speech to his vampire underlings.
      "Behold the technical wonder which is about to alter the very fabric of our society. Some have argued that such an advancement goes against our nature. They claim that death is our art. I say to them... well, I don't say anything to them because I kill them."
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Cordelia wished that "Buffy Summers had never come to Sunnydale." In the Bizarro World which resulted, without Buffy to stop him, the Master and his vampires succeeded in taking over Sunnydale completely, turning Willow and Xander into vampires with Cordelia herself getting killed.
    Larry: The entire world sucks because some dead ditz made a wish?
    [Giles nods]
    Larry: I just want to be clear.
    • It's also a subversion of this common plot. Most often the wisher experiences their wished-for Crapsack World first-hand and then undoes the wish, vowing to never carelessly wish for anything again. Here, the wisher is killed halfway through and once the Reset Button is pushed, remains completely oblivious to what happened.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Despite extended torture at the hands of Vampire Willow and Vampire Xander, Wishverse Angel is, apart from a bruise and a few lesions on his chest, just a little smudgy.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Giles, Larry, Oz, and a never before seen girl named Nancy show up at the last second to save Cordy from Vamp Xander and Vamp Willow.
  • Big "NO!": Giles grabs a marble paperweight and prepares to smash the amulet. Anyanka taunts that he has no way of knowing if the Cordelia's world is better than this one. Ignoring her, Giles raises the paperweight up high. Anyanka screams,"NO!"
  • Bland-Name Product: When Harmony uses Jonathan to humiliate Cordelia, he's drinking from a "Huge Glug", as opposed to a 7-11 Big Gulp.
  • Boots of Toughness: Wishverse Buffy wears cargo pants and combat boots, in contrast to the Action Fashionista we're used to.
  • Boring Insult:
    Wishverse Willow: "Bored now."
  • Braids of Action: Wishverse Buffy has a single braided ponytail.
  • Breakup Bonfire: Cordelia cuts up Xander's stuff and burns his picture.
  • Brick Joke: Giles phones up Buffy's Watcher and asks to see her, the response to which is a little snooty. The Watcher complains that Buffy is very busy, what with Cleveland being a hotbed of demonic activity and all, and Giles hangs up in frustration. In the series finale, Buffy and friends rejoice over having closed the Hellmouth in Sunnydale, to which Giles dourly replies there's another one in Cleveland.
    • In the Season Eight comics, Faith is shown using Cleveland as her base of operations, along with Robin Wood and his own squad of Slayers. It is also in "No Future for You" that Giles calls Cleveland a "second-rate hellmouth." Poor Cleveland! They're not the first in anything.
    • This carries over into the Angel: After the Fall comics, in which the Senior Partners note that Cleveland is a "hot property" in the wake of Sunnydale's destruction.
  • Buffy Speak: Xander pontificating that he's officially over Cordelia, and is henceforth a new man. "Starting this minute, I'm gonna grab ahold of that crazy little thing called life and let it do its magical little heal-y thing."
  • Burn Baby Burn: Cordelia sitting on her bed with the lights very low, taking a pair of scissors to a photo of herself, Xander, and the Scoobies wth a pair of scissors. In the background, her answering machine plays back about a hundred calls from Xander. Cordy shreds the photo, but saves Xander's face for last. Uh oh. She strikes a match and sets Xander's image on fire.
  • The Bus Came Back: Mark Metcalf returns to give a command performance as a gloriously un-undeaded Master in the Wishverse.
  • Busman's Holiday: A swamp monster interrupting Buffy's picnic.
  • Call-Back: To "When She Was Bad" where Cordelia tries to connect with Buffy in the alley behind the Bronze, only to be interrupted by a vampire.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In the factory melee, Oz breaks a piece off of one of the wooden cage bars, leaving a sharp piece sticking out (which will be important in a minute).
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • Anyanka turns into an ordinary schoolgirl at the end of the episode. She'll become a recurring character by the end of the season, and eventually will be a series regular, member of the Scooby Gang and ironically Xander's Love Interest.
    • Despite being killed here, in "Doppelgangland," the Vampire Willow returns when a Magic Misfire brings her over to the normal universe from the second before her death.
  • Co-Dragons: Giles describes Xander and Willow as "the Master's most vicious disciples." They have somehow replaced Luke and Darla in that role in this timeline, although their dynamic is more reminiscent of Spike and Drusilla, with Xander as the snarky, direct one and Willow as the psychopathic Manic Pixie Dream Girl.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: As a treat for obeying orders, the Master allows Willow to go 'play' with Angel (nicknamed "puppy" by Willow), who is kept locked up in a cage and suffers regular torture at her hands.
  • Combat Stilettos: Averted as Wishverse Buffy wears totally unfashionable combat boots.
  • Comically Missing the Point: When Cordelia first sees Xander and Willow in the Wishverse after being told they were dead, and is given quite a few hints that the two of them are now vampires, gives us:
    Cordelia: I wish us into bizarro world and you guys are still together? I cannot win!
  • Continuity Nod: Even in the alternate reality, the prophecy contained in the Pergamum Codex comes to pass: "The Master will rise and the Slayer will die." Only, with a twisted neck and without her friends to revive her, Wishverse Buffy will presumably stay dead.
  • Conversation Cut: Cordelia is ranting at Buffy after her garbage embarrassment.
    Cordelia: You know what I've been asking myself a lot this last week? Why me? Why do I get impaled? Why do I get bitten by snakes? Why do I fall for incredible losers? And you know, I think I've finally figured it out, what my problem is? It's—
    (Smash Cut to the quad at school the next day. Cordelia and Anya walk together.)
    Cordelia: —Buffy Summers. That's when all my troubles started, when she moved here.
  • Crapsack World: Cordelia gets transported to an alternate reality where Buffy never came to Sunnydale. The normal Sunnydale is no picnic either, but it was preferable to this.
  • Creepy Crows: The shift to the Wishverse is heralded by the ominous cawing of crows.
  • Cthul Humanoid: Buffy kills a squid-guy in the cold open.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Buffy's fight against Xander (despite being the Master's right hand man, he doesn't even land a punch on Buffy before getting staked) and, in the other direction, against the Master (he backhands her once, hard enough to stun her, then immediately snaps her neck).
  • A Day in the Limelight: Cordelia, then Giles after she is killed.
  • Deadly Hug: Xander and Willow give Cordy a deadly Group Hug as they feed on her.
  • Death Montage: Angel gets staked by Xander, Buffy stakes Xander, Oz stakes Willow, and then the Master kills Buffy. Then the wish is reversed and the audience suffers Mood Whiplash.
  • Death Seeker: In the Season 5 episode "Fool for Love", Spike will declare that every Slayer has an innate deathwish, and that it is only Buffy's friends and family that prevent her falling victim to it. The Wishverse version of Buffy is this trope to a T — deprived of anything to fight for or live for, she is just an emotionless killing machine waiting for the moment when it all ends.
    Buffy: World is what it is. We fight, we die. Wishing doesn't change that.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Cordelia is set up as being the protagonist of the reality she accidentally set into being, with Wishverse versions of Giles, Oz, Angel, and Buffy being The Cavalry to her, while Willow and Xander are vampires and unambiguously villains. Cordy then dies to Xander and Willow, and Giles becomes the protagonist for the rest of the episode as he puzzles over the oddity of how a now-dead student knew about Slayers and Watchers, eventually figuring it out and beating Anyanka in a short fight to restore the world.
  • Den of Iniquity: The Bronze has been converted to this in the Wishverse, which makes sense, since Buffy wasn't there to stop the Harvest. Aggressive rock plays inside as vamps feed off people. Humans are hanging in cages, and one victim is tied spread-eagle to the pool table.
  • Devoured by the Horde: Cordelia wished that Buffy had never come to Sunnydale, so it becomes overrun with vampires. Cordelia is bitten, drained, and killed by vampire versions of Xander and Willow.
  • Dominatrix: The Vampire Willow, in a nutshell. A really dark and disturbing one that throws Rule of Sexy, shrooom, right out the window.
  • Dramatic Necklace Removal: Giles realizes that Anyanka's amulet contains her powers and tears it from her neck.
  • The Dreaded: Upon hearing that Cordelia mentioned Buffy's name, the Master is alarmed enough to send his assassins to the school to kill her.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: One of the White Hats, Nancy, is killed off screen.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Giles's apartment is littered with liquor bottles, hinting at his desperation.
  • Due to the Dead: Averted; the White Hats take Cordelia's body to the incinerator, so she won't rise as a vampire. When Angel is staked, Buffy coldly walks through his dust.
  • Dwindling Party: The White Hats. Poor Nancy doesn't even merit an on-screen death.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • Anya easily fits in as a schoolgirl in Cordelia and Harmony's clique; in later seasons her awkwardness with human social niceties will become a Running Gag. Justified because here she is on a job and actually trying to fit in, which she usually doesn't bother with.
    • The Vampire Willow who will later be practically the poster girl for Depraved Bisexual (and in her second and last appearance foreshadows regular Willow's sexuality) here displays zero interest in women other than as a meal, even immediately draining dry an attractive young woman the Master throws her way rather than bothering to play with her food. In contrast she is in a relationship with the Vampire Xander, gets a sadistic sexual thrill from torturing Angel and even paws a random soon-to-be victim as he is locked up in a cage.
  • Easy Amnesia: When Cordelia's Girl Posse claim she's acting weird after her wish, she claims that she's just been forgetting things after a Tap on the Head the day before.
  • Enemy Mine: In the Bronze basement, Buffy finds Angel whimpering in his cell. She asks where the Master is, and he responds that he's at the factory, and offers to take her there. When she leans over to free him from his bonds, however, her cross dangles close to his face, and he recoils. "Oh you gotta be kidding me!", she scoffs, and starts to stomp off. Standing up, Angel opens his shirt, revealing his scars. "You don't believe I want to help you? Believe I want him dead." At this, Buffy sets aside her misgivings.
  • Evil Doppelgänger: Xander and Willow.
  • Exact Words: Giles, detecting a suspicious noise, rushes into his book cage for a cross and stake. "Now," he calls over to Cordelia, "I want you to start again and explain everything very carefully." The door slams shut in his face, and Willow peeks through the screen: "You're in a big cage!"
  • Excessive Evil Eyeshadow: Even Wishverse Buffy has it, to bring out her Dull Eyes of Unhappiness.
  • Face-Revealing Turn: Cordelia gets a big shock when the new friend she's been commiserating with turns on her in demonic Game Face and growls, "Done."
  • Fake Better Alternate Timeline: After losing her popularity for being a Scooby, dating Xander and subsequently getting cheated on, Cordelia wishes that Buffy had never come to Sunnydale. Her wish is granted, and at first seems to be as she wanted; she's still popular and never dated Xander. However, because Buffy never came to Sunnydale, Willow and Xander were turned into vampires, Angel is Vamp-Willow's torture slave and Sunnydale is ruled by vampires—The Big Bad of season 1, the Master, having fully taken over with Buffy not there to stop him. Partway through the episode, Cordelia herself is killed, and the wish is ultimately reversed by the alternate-timeline-Giles, who reasons that whatever the original timeline was like, it had to have been better than theirs.
  • Fascists' Bed Time: In the Wishverse, most of the student body are either dead or vampires (hence the conspicuously empty classrooms), there is now a monthly memorial at the school, dances are held during the day and there is a nighttime curfew. Students wear dull colors in order to make them less conspicuous to the vampires who have overrun Sunnydale, and are not allowed to drive since pedestrians are easier to ambush.
  • Faux Affably Evil: It seems that even becoming a soulless monster will not deter Xander from being one of the biggest examples of Deadpan Snarker ever.
  • Feet-First Introduction: Done for a Rule of Threes;
    • Cordelia showing off her legs as she exits her hotrod convertible. Back to basics! — or so she thinks.
    • As Cordelia is cluelessly yapping at Xander, the first utterance of one of the series' most famous lines cuts in: "Bored now." We see a pair of leather-clad legs, and the camera pans up to show a very pale Willow, sporting a sinister-looking catsuit.
    • Giles looks up to see the face of his savior. The camera pans up to Buffy wearing dark green cargo pants, a black jacket, and a gray tank top.
  • Fetishized Abuser: Willow. As a vampire. Dressed in BDSM leather. Here the trope is outright played for horror, with the scene with her prisoner - or puppy - terrifying, sexually-charged and full of Squick.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: Or rather Buffy the Terrible in this case.
    Xander: Weird thing: girl kept talking about Buffy. 'Gotta get Buffy here.' Isn't that what they called the Slayer?
    Willow: (strokes his chest) Hmm. Buffy. Ooo. Scary.
    Xander: Someone has to talk to her people. That name is striking fear in nobody's hearts.
  • Foe-Tossing Charge: Buffy and the Master moving towards each other, shoving aside or staking anyone in the way.
  • Forced to Watch: "So you're a Watcher, huh? Watch this."
  • For Want Of A Nail: Without Buffy in Sunnydale, the Master ascended, Xander and Willow became vampires, Giles is leading La Résistance, Buffy is a grim, nihilistic Knight Templar that makes Faith look sweet and innocent and Kendra free-spirited, and Angel is Willow's torture pet.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Xander wonders why Faith isn't there, but Buffy says she couldn't reach her, and that she's a little concerned. "Slaying's a rough gig. Too much alone time is unhealthy."
    • Buffy counting herself lucky that Willow and Xander were there when the swamp monster attacked, since it had her by the throat.
    • Also with Anya's amulet:
    Cordelia: Is that Gucci?
    Anya: No. It's an actual old thing, sort of a good luck charm my dad gave me.
    • Buffy remarks to Giles "You'd be surprised how many things [a stake through the heart]'ll kill." Come "Bad Girls", in which Finch dies from a stake to the heart after Faith mistakes him for a vampire.
    • Willow mentions talking to Amy (from "Witch" and "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered"), who will appear two episodes from now in "Gingerbread".
    • Averted for Willow later being offered the role of vengeance demon in "Something Blue" in Season 4. Alt-Giles's exposition was shortened, removing mention that Anya was a human who cursed her unfaithful lover before she was a vengeance demon, a fact that doesn't come to light directly until she tells the gang about it in "Something Blue". However, the final version still has Giles say that destroying Anyanka's power center will make her an ordinary woman "again", implying that she had been one before.
  • A Glass of Chianti: The Master has an example with a wine glass full of blood harvested at the Plant.
  • Go Mad from the Isolation: Wishverse Buffy is an even more by-the-book Slayer than Kendra - except that while Kendra was an Extreme Doormat to her Watcher, Buffy is a grim nihilist and has more rebellious relationship with him.
  • Godzilla Threshold: Even without knowing what the original reality is like, Giles is willing to risk confronting Anyanka and smashing her amulet to rewrite reality because he believes the other reality can't be any worse than the one he's living in.
  • Good is Not Nice: Wishverse Buffy certainly isn't nice (or even helpful for anything except killing for that matter) instead expecting people to point her in the direction of who she needs to slay. That said, though, she does declare that she at least can do "some good while I'm in this town" by killing The Master, so she's not completely a lost cause in terms of morality.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Doppel Buffy has a classic evil scar, extending from above her mouth, through both her lips, and down to her chin. This serves to remind us that without The Power of Friendship, the Slayer is no fun at all.
  • Gratuitous Spanish: Students aren't allowed to drive in the Wishverse. In the abandoned parking lot, Cordelia accosts a janitor, demanding to know where her car is. His blank stare is regarded as a lack of fluency in English. "My auto! El convertablo?"
  • Hellbent For Leather: Cordelia's man-eater outfit. The Vampires Xander and Willow naturally, as Vampires Are Sex Gods. Cordelia even lampshades it: "What's with you two and the leather?"
  • Hero Ball: Xander and Willow duping Giles with a distracting noise, prompting him to scurry into his book cage looking for weapons. The door locks behind him, revealing Willow holding a key. Looking for this?
    Wishverse Xander: Not too bright, Book Guy.
  • Hero Killer: Wishverse Xander kills Wishverse Angel.
  • Holding Hands: On the couch at the Bronze, Xander touches Willow's hand in that old familiar way, for which she chastises him. He asks why that's a problem, as they used to engage in platonic touching all the time. Willow points out things are are different now, and if she hopes to get Oz back, "my hands...all my stuff has to be for him only!"
  • Hollywood Healing: Averted. Cordelia grips her stomach wound a few times, revealing a crack in her confident facade. The morning after Buffy sends her flying into some trash bags, Cordy complains that she pulled some stitches.
  • Homage: The episode has extremely strong similarities to the Doctor Who story "Inferno", in which the Third Doctor accidentally travels to a Mirror Universe:
    • Xander and Willow go from relatively innocent, cute characters to sadistically villainous torturers and actual monsters, like Mirror!Benton.
    • Buffy turns up as a facially-scarred, cold, and much more pessimistic version of herself, like Mirror!Brigadier.
    • Giles is a hopeless character who finally finds hope and acts to restore the situation, despite his own imminent death, like Mirror!Liz.
    • Both stories end with all the mirror characters dying horribly, thanks to something that was or will be averted in the main universe.
  • Human Shield: The Master raises his glass of blood and toasts the future. As everyone echoes the toast, Buffy raises her crossbow with one hand and fires at him. Instantly, the Master yanks Xander in front of him, and the bolt hits Xander's shoulder.
  • Humiliation Conga: To add insult to injury, Harmony and the Harmoniettes exit the Bronze just as Cordelia is bowled over into some trash bags. Cue much cackling.
  • I Work Alone: Wishverse Buffy isn't big on the teamwork, her Watcher at Cleveland has little control over her, and she doesn't want to wait till Giles assembles the White Hats (as it happens, they've already been captured). She only takes Angel with her because he knows where the factory is.
  • Identical Stranger: Two extras in the evil version of the Bronze. There's a guy who looks like Mayor Wilkins tied to the pool table, and a girl who looks like Faith getting bitten outside.
  • Idiot Ball: The heroes come across our Cordelia and manage to hold off the vampires with big crosses long enough to get her into the van and take her back to their base. Rather than take her to a location that's protected against vampires such as Giles' house, they take her to the school library. Vampires immediately show up and kill Cordelia before she can explain anything to Giles.
  • Industrialized Evil: The Master's plan to reform vampire society is to replace hunting with rounding up people and using industrial machinery to drain them.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Oz and Larry drag Willow over to the protruding wood from the cage, then shove her into it.
    • Zigged-zagged in "Doppelgangland", in which Willow's botched spell ends up summoning Wishverse Willow to the real world split seconds before she's dusted... and then transports her right back, where she's pushed right onto the stake.
  • Institutional Apparel: Wishverse Angel.
  • Ironic Echo: "So, you're a Watcher, huh?" Xander taunts Giles. "Well, watch this." He bites Cordy, and Willow joins in. Giles can only stand helplessly as Cordelia falls lifeless to the floor.
  • It's a Wonderful Plot: Inverted, as Cordelia gets killed about halfway through the episode, leaving Giles to find a way to undo her damage.
  • Jackass Genie: Despite claims of being a righteous avenger of Women Scorned, Anyanka openly delights in the more terrible alternate reality she's created.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Wishverse!Buffy is this with a very, very deeply buried shred of morality still in her. She doesn't play well with others, refuses to listen to Giles, and is generally icy at her most friendly, but she does realize that Wish!Sunnydale is a hellhole and that she can do some good for people by killing The Master.
  • Killed Off for Real: Wishverse's version of Buffy gets killed by the Master, leading to questions on a Wishverse's Kendra, or *shudder* Wishverse's Faith.
  • Kill It with Fire: Shortly after Cordelia is bitten, Giles unceremoniously directs Oz and Larry to dump her body in the school's incinerator, just in case Xander or Willow sired her.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Wishverse Buffy, a grim and pessimistic warrior.
  • La Résistance: The "White Hats" is the derogatory term used by Xander to refer to a Scooby-esque band of vampire hunters — a reference to cowboy movies in which heroes wear white hats and villains wear black hats. Their members consist of ex-Watcher Giles, Oz, Larry, and a minor character named Nancy whose prime reality counterpart is never seen.
  • Literal Genie: Cordelia wishes that Buffy had never come to Sunnydale; in the Alternate Universe that results, with no Slayer to keep them in check, the vampires rule the town.
  • Loophole Abuse: Cordy's wish was that Buffy never had come to Sunnydale; it doesn't prevent her from being called to town after the wish is made. Unfortunately, it doesn't end up helping much.
  • Lotus Position: Buffy is sitting on the picnic table this way, causing Xander to jokingly call her "Wise One."
  • Loves the Sound of Screaming: Upon Willow's arrival on the scene, she mopes aloud, "This is the part that's less fun. The part where there isn't any screaming."
  • Love Transcends Spacetime: Averted with the Scoobies — split between vampire and human vigilante "White Hats" — brutally slaughtering each other without remorse. Most notably the Wishverse's version of Buffy meets her Star Crossed Lover Angel and is unimpressed, not even reacting when he gives his life to save her from the Vampire Xander. Later, Oz slays the Vampire Willow while Buffy stakes Xander.
  • Malicious Misnaming: Giles gets annoyed when the Wishverse's version of Buffy calls him Jeeves.
  • Master Race: Or should that be The Master's Race?
    The Master: Undoubtedly, we are the superior race, but we've been too parochial, to bound by the mindless routine of the predator.
  • Mercy Lead: Vamp Xander and Willow snuggle a bit, prompting Cordy to screech that she can't win, since even in "Bizarroland," Xander and Willow are an item. Xander agrees with the "can't win" sentiment and vamps out. "But I'll give you a head start." Cordy realizes she's in deep shit and bolts, leaving her bag behind. Xander, in no hurry, macks with Willow.
    Wishverse Willow: I love this part.
    [they tongue kiss]
    Wishverse Xander: You love all the parts.
  • Mood Whiplash: The alternate Sunnydale is ruled by vampires, the Master's still alive and kicking and about to factory-process humans, and just about every main character dies. And then Giles undoes the wish and we're back to Cordelia, who'd died around the halfway point and was the one who made the wish, gleefully rattling off a series of wishes of what horrible fate should fall on Buffy, Xander, and Willow, and eventually all men while Buffy, Xander, and Willow cheerfully chat in the sunlight.
  • Must Have Caffeine: The Master pouring blood from his espresso machine into a dainty cup.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Once Cordy realizes the terrible shitstorm of a world, she accidentally had a hand in creating, she immediately goes to Giles and tells him to get Buffy to Sunnydale. He's skeptical until she (being the only person from the "real" world) reveals that she knows he's a Watcher and has those connections available to him.
  • Near-Villain Victory: The near-ending almost makes Anyanka the most dangerous villain the Scoobies ever faced — not only does the wish cause the Master to take over Sunnydale and succeed in his newest plan, but by the end Buffy, Angel, Willow, Xander and Cordelia are all dead, and only Giles breaking her amulet undoes it.
  • Neck Lift: The swamp demon to Buffy, and Anyanka to Giles.
  • Neck Snap: At long last, Buffy takes on the Master. Just like last time, however, the fight doesn't last very long and she is killed when the Master breaks her neck.
  • Never My Fault: Xander ranting that the incident in the factory was the absolute last time he and Willow were going to kiss and rationalizing that the whole mess is Oz's and Cordy's fault for rescuing them.
    • Cordelia eventually determines that Buffy is to blame for her predicament, as she never would have dated Xander if Buffy hadn't hung out with him and made him cooler.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Cordelia wishes that Buffy never came to Sunnydale, while near vengeance demon Anya. Yep, nice job causing a Crapsack World/The End of the World as We Know It, Cordy...
  • Nightmare Fetishist: Wishverse Xander happily watches Wishverse Willow torture Wishverse Angel with a fond look on his face.
  • No Body Left Behind: Averted with the squid-demon at the beginning of the episode, meaning the body has to be buried, much to everyone's dismay.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Angel's reward for trying to protect people from The Master's minons is to be regularly tortured by Willow and Xander.
  • No Ontological Inertia: Played straight. When Giles (in a dystopian alternate timeline) smashes Anyanka's amulet, history is restored. It makes some sense, given that the spell was itself retroactive, but events early in season 7 may still lead one to question the logic.
  • Not Herself: Harmony and the rest of the Cordettes are dressed much more conservatively in the Wishverse, wearing dresses with muted colors. Cordy is a standout in her turquoise outfit.
  • Oh, Crap!: Anyanka freaks out at the end of the episode as she realizes her wish-granting powers no longer function.
    Cordy: I wish [bad thing].
    Anya: Done.
    Cordy: I wish [worse thing].
    Anya: Done!
    Cordy: I wish [really awful terrible thing].
    Anya: DONE.
  • One-Woman Wail: During a slow-motion sequence that results in Xander and Willow dead and the Master entering the fray.
  • "Open!" Says Me: Buffy smashing open Angel's cell with one well-placed kick.
    • Recommended strategy for cell doors everywhere! Though it took Gunn a few more tries.
    • Giles requires a double-bladed battle-axe to break the lock on the bookcage door.
  • Operation: Jealousy: Deconstructed. Cordy, spying Xander down the hall, immediately grabs some jock's attention and asks if she has something stuck in her teeth. From Xander's viewpoint, it looks like they're making out, and he dejectedly walks away. Back on Cordy's end, the jock tells her he can't be seen with "Xander Harris's cast-off," but if she wants to go someplace private...the implication being that he wouldn't be averse to bumping uglies in secret. Cordy is stunned, and the jock leaves.
  • People Farms: Part of the the Master's plan
    The Master: The days of compromise, of living alongside the humans, are over. It's time to take them out. Time to treat them like... well, let's not mince words here — like the cattle they are!
  • Permastubble: Giles in the Wishverse, another sign of how much stress he's under.
  • Plot Hole: Giles recognises the necklace as the symbol of Anyanka and takes it off Cordelia's body, keeping it for himself. But then when tasked to destroy Anyanka's power source, he has no idea what it might be, apparently not considering the necklace that was important enough to be in the book with an illustration as a possible power source. On top of that, when he summons Anya later, she's somehow wearing the necklace again, and only then does he decide to smash it.
  • Power Glows: The amulet's telltale green glow, which tips off Giles that it's the power source he must destroy.
  • Prank Date: In the courtyard, Cordelia catches sight of Harmony and the few remaining Cordettes (Harmoniettes?). Harmony has minions! Harmony, with a sunny smile, greets Cordelia and says she looks amazing. Cordy looks relieved; she's back in the fold. The unnamed Asian-American Cordette tells Cordy she should start dating again, and Harmony says she has someone who is "so you." They walk over to the stairs, where Jonathan is sitting. Harmony snickers that he probably won't cheat on Cordy. Har har. Cordy bows her head as Harmony and her group walk off laughing.
  • Real Is Brown: Inverted; in the wishverse, Buffy never came to Sunnydale (now she's in Cleveland), so the Master escaped and took over, turning the town into a vampire-ridden hellscape. This is the episode that establishes vampires are attracted to bright outfits; Cordy (unaware of the rules of the new reality) is the only person dressed in other than drab browns.
  • Reset Button: Cordelia makes a wish that propels the show into an Alternate Universe where the vampires have their run of Sunnydale. At the end, Giles destroys the MacGuffin that allowed the demon Anyanka to do this. The only character who remembers the Wishverse is Anyanka herself, who becomes human due to the destruction of said MacGuffin. Although in "Doppelgangland" the events of this episode manage to come back and bite the characters in the ass one last time.
  • Reset-Button Suicide Mission: Cordelia wishes that Buffy had never come to Sunnydale, which transforms the city into a Villain World. Giles, Oz, and a few other people have banded together to fight the vampires, and when Giles learns about Cordelia's wish and discovers the cure (which involves destroying the wish-giving demon's enchanted amulet) the ragtag gang infiltrate the Master's lair to do so. A version of Buffy eventually shows up and they attack together. By the time Giles manages to take the necklace from the demon, every other main character who wasn't already dead is, including Buffy who gets offed by the Master himself. And then Giles destroys the amulet, and the world returns to normal.
  • Rescue Introduction: Once Giles is struck by the van door, two vamps set upon him, but we hear another vamp combust off-screen. Yet another vamp goes flying into the picture, and the two holding Giles rush into the fray. A little more off-screen-fu, and it's just Giles lying on the ground. He looks up to see a radically different, war-torn Buffy glowering down at him.
  • Retcon: Giles claims that destroying Anya's power center will reverse all of the wishes she fulfilled, not just this latest one. However, later episodes clearly contradict this, including "Selfless", where we learn that she was partly responsible for the 1905 Revolution, and "Hell's Bells", where one of her former victims returns to ruin her wedding.
  • Revenge: Cordelia wants revenge and inadvertently creates a universe that reflects this. Xander and Willow are dead, and in return they get revenge on the Alpha Bitch who humiliated them for years. Oz kills Willow, who has betrayed him in the normal universe. Xander kills Angel and Buffy stakes Xander in turn, a lethal version of their conflict over Bangel.
  • Riddle for the Ages: Cordelia Lampshades that Giles still being in Sunnydale In Spite of a Nail doesn't make much sense, because as far as we know in the original timeline, the only reason he moved there was to be Buffy's Watcher. Xander and Willow interrupt by killing Cordy before he can give any answer.
  • Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory: Averted. As shown later on, only Anya remembers what happened in the alternative eventline. Others don't know anything about what happened until they learn in episode 316.
  • The Scapegoat: Buffy for Cordy's problems.
  • A Shared Suffering: Harmony introducing Cordelia to her new "stallion": Jonathan, sitting alone on the stairs. Jonathan gives Cordy a sympathetic look, knowing what it's like, and goes back to nursing his soda.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Cordelia's teacher hurriedly grabs his books and flees the classroom the moment the school bell rings. By the time Cordy makes it outside, the carpark is deserted.
  • Smash Cut: Buffy asking if Xander has finally gotten hold of Cordelia yet. Willow says no, but that Amy saw her at the mall the previous evening, and that she looked "pretty scary." Cut to a Hell-Bent for Leather Cordy exiting her convertible to the tune of a menacing guitar riff.
  • Stepford Smiler: At the Bronze, Cordelia and Xander seem to be engaged in some passive-aggressive duel. Cordy is laughing loudly with some guy, clearly aware that Xander, Buffy, and Willow are sulking on a nearby couch. "Tears of a Clown, baby!," crows Xander, "—Or is it, 'grins of a sad person?'" He retaliates by glancing over at his friends and forcing out gales of laughter.
    • The girls are uncomfortable with making war with Cordelia, particularly since she's justified in her feelings. Xander hisses that he's done with this "guilt-a-palooza" and barks at Buffy and Willow to get with the program and be happy.
    Buffy: He's actually making sense. We're young and free in America. How dare we be spun by love or the lack of same?
    Willow: [weakly] Absolutely. It's self-indulgent. I'm in. I'm on the joy train.
    [They all put on radiating smiles]
    Buffy: That didn't work. Who wants chocolate?
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Averted; Wishverse!Buffy doesn't recognise Angel (saying crudely "Is this a 'get into my pants thing?'" when he starts talking about destiny), is fully prepared to leave him chained up when she discovers he's a vampire and has absolutely no reaction when Angel dies saving her life.
  • Static Stun Gun: The Master's employees use shock sticks to debilitate one of the Cordettes before shackling her to the blood draining machine.
  • Status Quo Is God: Did you really believe that Cordelia's wish wouldn't be undone by the end of the episode?
  • Straw Nihilist: Wishverse|Buffy has developed a fatalistic and grim personality (similar to Faith, but without the perky exterior and the flirty behavior), shunning friends or family, living only to slay.
    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.
  • Sublime Rhyme: Xander high-fives a fellow vampire. "Slap my hand, dead soul man."
  • Taking the Bullet: From afar, Angel sees that Xander has picked up a discarded crossbow bolt and is rushing at Buffy. Angel bounds over and takes the bolt in the heart. Turning to the camera, he says, "Buffy..." before disintegrating. Buffy walks through his dust to take on Xander without even changing expression.
  • Talk About That Thing: Subverted. Oz opens his locker, cuing Willow to emerge from her stalker position ("Look at us, running into each other! As two people who go to the same school are so likely to do now and then!"). Oz calls her out, saying that he told Willow he needed some space, and that she only wants to talk so she can feel better about herself.
  • "Take That!" Kiss: Willow extravagantly telling Angel about the big launch of the Master's factory, right before licking his ear.
    Willow: You remember I told you about the plant? All those people you tried to save? It's gonna be quick for them. Not for you, though. It's gonna be slow for you.
  • Tempting Fate: Anyanka threatens a terrible fate on any man who summons her. Giles replies, "I'm not afraid of you. Your only power lies in the wishing." Anyanka grabs him by the throat and shoves him against a wall. "WRONG."
  • This Is the Part Where...: Vampire Willow is big on this.
  • Time Skip: Cordelia got impaled with rebar in the previous episode. That is not something you shrug off. That she's up and walking would suggest it's been months.
  • Toyota Tripwire: Giles drives home in his ancient jalopy. He sees some vamps loading people into a recycling truck. Giles hastily grabs a large cross and stake and gets out. He fends off the vamps with the cross and instructs the people to run. But a vamp hits him in the face with one of the truck doors, knocking him flat.
  • Trust Password: Cordelia is babbling to Giles about the wish she made, and how Buffy is supposed to be there. Come to think of it, Cordelia asks why he's there, as he was Buffy's Watcher. Giles is startled, as he never told anyone that he used to be a Watcher.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: The climax of the episode splits the scenes between the Factory and the fights there (Buffy and Angel against Xander, where both vampires die; Larry and Oz against Willow, who is staked; Buffy and the Master, who breaks her neck and kills her) and Giles's apartment, where he has a fight against Anyanka to destroy her power source and restore the world.
  • Undeathly Pallor: Xander and Willow. Cordelia fails to notice, despite having already been told they were dead.
  • Unholy Matrimony: Vampire Willow and Vampire Xander, much to Cordelia's exasperation. Besides killing people, their relationship involves Xander watching Willow brutally torture people.
  • The Unmasqued World: Not quite; the people of Sunnydale refuse to acknowledge why they don't wear bright clothes and no one goes out at night, but the Crapsack nature of the Alternate Universe has stretched their Weirdness Censor to the breaking point.
  • Unwanted Assistance: Outside the Bronze, an apologetic Buffy catches up with Cordy and suggests they talk about how she's feeling. Cordy, realizing that Buffy's been there before, seems ready to bury the hatchet when a vamp jumps out of nowhere. Buffy kicks him, knocking him into Cordelia, who is then propelled into a pile of garbage.
    Buffy: Cordelia, look —!! [CRUNCH] ...out.
  • Vampires Own Nightclubs: The Bronze is now the home base of the Master. The club was very different before the vampires took over, but once they did, it became this trope in full (at least, as much as they could get away with on a network Teen Drama in the '90s), with vampires partying and humans caged, chained up and fed on.
  • Victory Is Boring:
    • Implied with the Master, who laments that he doesn't have the same vigor for killing anymore. This is mirrored by his Evil Plan to industrialize blood removal from humans through assembly lines, thereby eliminating the predatory aspect of the vampire's nature. Why the Master never got around to opening the Hellmouth and releasing the Old Ones as he originally intended is never brought up.
    • Cordy tries running from Xander and Willow, but only gets to the other side of the street before Xander snatches her and throws her to the asphalt, knocking her out. Willow grouses that she didn't even fight. When the duo later returns to the Bronze after killing Cordy, Xander says the deed was too easy. Willow: "I felt cheap."
  • Villainous Demotivator: The Master orders Xander and Willow to kill Cordelia, or they'll be "kissing daylight".
  • Villain World: Cordelia tells Anya that she wishes Buffy had never come to Sunnydale, resulting in this; Angel is imprisoned, Xander and Willow are both vampires, the Master is free, the Bronze is an evil lair for vampires, almost everyone rightly hides in fear in their houses every night, and the vampires are opening a slaughterhouse-factory where machines drain humans of all their blood.
  • Visible Boom Mic: After Cordelia asks the Cordettes if they want to go to the Bronze, a microphone is visible above Harmony as she asks: "Is that a joke?"
  • Visionary Villain: The Master, up on a dais with Xander and Willow, giving a Rousing Speech about the wonders of technology. He goes on that some have pooh-poohed such an advancement: "They claim that death is our art. I say to them — well, I don't say anything to them because I kill them." He then adds that the human concept of mass production will aid them in taking over the world.
    Wishverse Xander: [choked up] We really are living in a Golden Age.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Considering the rest of the season shows that Sunnydale is a hotbed of evil activity because the Mayor wants to become a pure demon, where is he? The Master's Industrialized Evil plan would put a whole host of problems in Wilkins's plans.
  • Wicked Cultured: When the Master sits down at the Bronze and asks for news from Xander, he says: "Now, what news on Rialto?" This is a quote from The Merchant of Venice, at least the third time this play has been mentioned on Buffy.
  • Woman Scorned: Cordelia.
  • You Fool!
    Anyanka: You trusting fool! How do you know the other world is any better than this?
    Giles: Because it has to be. (smashes amulet)
  • Would Hit a Girl: Giles delivers a pretty nice backhand to Anyanka. Given that she was a demon, was responsible for the Wishverse, was choking him out, and was revelling in all of the above, it's justified.
  • You Remind Me of X: Buffy identifies with Willow's dread that her boyfriend (i.e. Angel) wants nothing more to do with her. Buffy later tries relating to Cordelia in this way, but it doesn't go over as well thanks to a badly-timed vampire attack.