Ask any Buffy fan and they can tell you about their favorite injustice. Without even touching the dicier parts of Joss Whedon as a person, they’ll be quick to tell you about the character he introduced in the opening credits only to kill her off in the same episode (Tara), or who didn’t make it out of the final battle of Sunnydale but really fuckin’ should have (Anya). Even continuing the story in an “eighth season” of comics didn’t seem to provide much comfort for fans hanging around to see what happens and hoping to get justice for their faves. But Audible, with its new series Slayers: A Buffyverse Story, hopes to provide some long-awaited relief for Buffy fans, and maybe even right a couple of wrongs along the way.
And thanks to the prevalence of the multiverse, everyone can get their just deserts — and even be alive again.
Slayers picks up “about a dozen years” after the finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, when Buffy and co. managed to give every potential slayer their slayer powers. The person explaining this to us is Spike (played, as all familiar Buffyverse characters are, by the original actor, in this case James Marsters). The first half of the episode is his — mostly about him meeting Indira (Laya DeLeon Hayes), a slayer who only recently got her powers and is stoked to be here. (Like “know the whole history,” ships Buffy and Spike, gets called Slayer at school “in like, a mocking way.”)
[Ed. note: The rest of this post contains some light setup spoilers for the end of the first episode of Slayers.]
Just when it seems the premiere episode is purely setting up another unlikely buddy pairing with Spike and a plucky young girl, she shows up. No, not Buffy — Cordelia Chase.
Of all the Buffy injustices, Cordelia’s — and that of Charisma Carpenter, who plays her — ranks fairly high. Cordelia is written off in one of the worst Angel seasons, with some thankless plotlines, and brought back later only so she could die. Carpenter has said all this was “retaliatory” behavior for her getting pregnant, after years of “hostile and toxic work environments” working under Whedon.
So it really matters when Carpenter as Cordelia shows up to kick Spike’s ass. And not just because she’s alive. She’s a slayer, reluctantly coming to this universe thanks to magic from Anya (Emma Caulfield) to get Spike’s help with the big bad in her world: Drusilla (Juliet Landau). This Cordelia has always been the only chosen one, and she has no idea who this Buffy that everyone keeps talking about is. And thus, like 2009’s Star Trek before it, Slayers is free to do as it wants, constructing all-new worlds and relationships between characters we know and love.
The ensuing story can be a bit slow; the Whedonesque banter that so defined Buffy and Angel is hard to replicate, and even harder without the on-screen presence a lot of these actors brought to the roles. Slayers keeps the universe’s penchant for action, but it’s podcast action, so it can’t help but feel different.
But there’s a pluckiness to the whole affair that rings true, particularly as it pertains to Cordelia. She’s still herself — she tells Spike she doesn’t want to kill him, at least partially because getting his “vamp dust” in her hair after she just washed it would be a pain — but she’s also more empowered than she’s ever been. And while after just a few episodes Slayers hasn’t fully shaken the “not fully canon” vibes that plagued the season 8 comics run, it’s maybe the closest I’ve come to caring what happens in that world. As we find out at the end of episode 1, Drusilla is working with someone, and it’s not hard to guess it’ll be someone else who got done dirty in the main timeline.
So I’m jumping back into the Buffyverse, eager for once to see how a new story can play out there. But while revisiting Buffy or Angel feels like revisiting a whole host of favorites, with Slayers I’m looking out for just one. Nothing but respect for my Chosen One, Cordelia Chase.
Slayers: A Buffyverse Story premieres on Audible on October 12.