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Buffy The Vampire SlayerBig Bad 101: Lesson 1: The Master - Review
Monday 15 March 2004, by Webmaster
Big Bad 101: Lesson 1: The Master
The Bard takes you back to the first season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer with a look at the original Big Bad... The Master
Before The First, before Glory, before Spike and Dru, there was The Master. Head of the Order of Aurelius, commander of the select, the elite. The Master was an old vampire, who had grown past the curse of human features ("You have fruit punch mouth" as Buffy noted in the season 1 final "Prophecy Girl").
Back in 1937 The Master came to the US, not just to feed, but to open the portal between this reality and the next known as The Hellmouth, to bring back the demons, and bring about the end of the world. He would have succeeded to if not for a huge earthquake that swallowed half of Sunnydale and trapped The Master in a ruined church, rather like a cork in a bottle.
In 1997 an event occurred that could have potentially freed him, The Harvest. To quote Giles...
"It comes once in a century, on this night. The Master can draw power from one of his minions while it feeds. Enough power to break free and open the portal. The minion is called the Vessel, and he bears this symbol. He draws a three pointed star on the whiteboard"
Fortunately The Master’s plan to use The Harvest to escape was foiled by Buffy when she slayed Luke, the chosen vessel (the guy sporting the three pointed star symbol).
The next big event for The Master came when The Brethren of Aurelius brought him The Anointed One (aka Collin, but The Anointed One sounds cooler huh)...
" ’And there will be a time of crisis, of worlds hanging in the balance. And in this time shall come the Anointed, the Master’s great warrior. And the Slayer will not know him, will not stop him, and he will lead her into Hell.’ As it is written, so shall it be. ’Five will die, and from their ashes the Anointed shall rise. The Brethren of Aurelius shall greet him and usher him to his immortal destiny.’ As it is written, so shall it be."
Buffy believed she had slain the Anointed One when she dusted one Andrew Borba at the mortuary, specifically by locking him in the furnace. But Buffy missed The Anointed One, as it was written, "The Slayer will not know him" Collin the Anointed One was in fact a young kid and was delivered as promised to The Master in his ruined church prison.
The Master’s ultimate plans were hampered slightly when Angel dusted his favorite "child", Darla. Darla had been sired by The Master himself back in 1609, in the Virginia Colony. Darla had been trying to lure Angel (or to be more precise Angelus) back to The Master’s side by getting him to kill the slayer, whom we all know he loved. The Master was temporarily released from his prison by the nightmare of Buffy when a young kid, Billy, caused people’s nightmares to physically manifested, while released he buried Buffy alive "What’s the fun of burying someone if they’re already dead?" Buffy was released and The Master sent back to his prison when The Scooby Gang woke Billy up by forcing him to confront his fears.
In mid-1997 Rupert Giles, while translating the Pergamum Codex, discovered a disturbing prophecy concerning The Master and the Slayer. One that predicted that The Master would kill the slayer.
The slayer’s death would be proceeded by shaking of the ground (earthquake). Giles tried to protect Buffy from her destiny by at first only informing Angel of the prophecy, however Buffy overheard them talking and initially said that she quits being the slayer, however after seeing Willow following her and Cordelia’s discovery of a gang of dead teens in the AV room at Sunnydale High Buffy decided to face her destiny.
Knocking out Giles and taking a crossbow Buffy heads out of the school to be met by Collin, who leads her down into The Master’s ruined church lair where their final confrontation will take place. After some banter and sarcasm The Master reveals the truth about the prophecy...
"You heard the prophecy that I was about to break free and you came to stop me. But prophecies are tricky creatures. They don’t tell you everything. You’re the one that sets me free! If you hadn’t come, I couldn’t go. Think about that!"
The Master proceeds to drink from Buffy, just a few sips is enough to provide him with the power to escape from his prison, after admiring Buffy’s dress.
Fortunately for Buffy Xander and Angel were following her, Xander performs CPR on her and brings her back to life. The action now moves to the roof of the library, where The Master has gone to watch the Hellmouth opening (it opened into the Sunnydale High library, which is fortunate since that’s where the Scoobies hang out most for the first 3 seasons).
The Master is shocked to discover that Buffy is still alive ("You were destined to die! It was written!" to which Buffy replied with the now famous line "What can I say? I flunked the written."). The ensuing fight is brief but deadly, with Buffy ending it by throwing The Master through the skylight in the library roof and crashing down onto a jagged piece of wood, finally dusting The Master for good.
Collin the Anointed One did attempt to resurrect The Master using a revivification ritual, using The Master’s bones and the blood of the ones that were closest to him when he was dusted. However, with the help of Angel and Xander, Buffy stopped him and smashed The Master’s bones (as Xander noted "we could grind our enemies into talcum powder with a sledgehammer, but, gosh, we did that last night")
We were shown a glimpse of what life, or rather unlife, for The Master could have been like if Buffy hadn’t come to Sunnydale in time for the Harvest when Cordelia wished that she didn’t, and Anyanka granted the wish. But Anyanka was defeated by Giles when he smashed her amulet and the alternate reality reverted to the proper one. In that reality, The Master rose at the Harvest and laid waste to the population of Sunnydale, turning the Bronze into his base of operations, and Vamp Willow and Vamp Xander as his lieutenants.
Here endith the lesson!
The Master is/was played by Mark Metcalf, a distinguished stage actor before getting into filmmaking, his most memorable performance would probably be as Douglas C. Neidermeyer in "National Lampoon’s Animal House." Who can ever forget "What is that on your chest, mister?" However, Mark went beyond being a star in a film, he also directed "When It Comes Early" and "You’ve Still Got Most Of Your Hair", "Bikini Bar" and "And The Wolf Finally Came."
Mark was born on March 11, 1946 in Findlay, Ohio and has his official site at http://www.mark-metcalf.com/index-1.htm Mark also owns the Libby Montana Bar & Grill (5616 W. Donges Bay Rd/Mequon WI /262-242-2232) the official site for which can be found at http://www.libby-montana.com/