Emmie Mears
SFF. Queer AF.

Big Bads of Buffy: The Master

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Big Bads of Buffy: The Master

First things first — thank EVERYONE for the awesome buzz and excitement I’ve been seeing around the Twitterverse about the End of the World Flash Fiction Contest! I’m so floored, I’ve got carpet imprints in my back. Y’all are snazzy, snazzy people, and you can take that straight to the bank. Though I don’t know what you’d do with it once you got there.

In other news, it’s Monday, which can mean many things round these parts. Since we shall be on the topic of the End of the World for the next couple weeks, I thought it might be fitting to discuss someone who tried to bring it about. Buckle up, because we’re headed back to 1997 Sunnydale.

Say what you will about the guy, but he’s the one who catapulted Buffy into true Slayerdom. Before the Master, Buffy staked the occasional vamp, sure. And took care of Lothos. But the Master was the first to wriggle under her skin, taking her many episodes to truly conquer — even after he was vanquished.

Master (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

Master (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Let’s start with what this guy wants.

Aside from a facial.

When we meet the Master, he’s entombed beneath Sunnydale in a buried cathedral — and he can’t get out. To break out of his mystical prison, he needs an immense amount of power, and his minions can only bring him so many humans. So his first goal is to get out of the Christian bubble.

Buffy first catches wind of the Master during the Harvest, in which she intercepts a large number of vampires reinventing the term “hunter-gatherer” by snatching unwary Sunnydale High students as they schmooze at the Bronze. All we know for most of season one is that he wants go open the Hellmouth and take over Sunnydale — though in season three’s The Wish, we see that his plans for the town became even more insidious once realized.

So the Master wants out. And he wants to open the Hellmouth. In short, he wants to bring about the end of the world.

Who could resist that face? Erm, me. For one. (Image via match-cut.org)

Let’s talk motivations.

As far as Buffy baddies go, the Master is a pretty straightforward King O’ Evil. While Joss and Co. really hit their stride when they were wading through gray areas, the Master is still a lot of fun.

An earthquake hits.

Yes! Yes! Shake, earth! This is a sign. We are in the final days! My time is come! Glory! Glory!

Quake stops.

What do you think? 5.1?

The Master also has a certain fondness for Darla, which we find out on Angel when her back story is revealed. He’s the one who turned her when she lay dying of syphilis, and through even her early years with Angel it’s clear she kept in contact with him.

Still, the Master is one of the least humanized villains on the show. In a way I think that explains Buffy’s extreme reaction to him. Not only does he kill her (her first death, aw), but he is pure evil and wants nothing beyond the destruction of humans. He’s Russell Edgington without the great publicist. It makes sense that coming up against an ancient, evil vampire with little to no remaining humanity would leave a bit of PTSD lurking about.

Yeah, this? Not inspiring dreams of rainbows and puppy snuggles.

The Master may lack in the sympathetic department, but he makes up for it in evil and pluck. And his creepy four-year-old anointed sidekick. And his fruit punch mouth.

For a show that started midseason with a token budget (think carwash tokens) and not a little skepticism, Buffy needed a terrifying antagonist to form the spine of the first season. And the Master was exactly that, which set everyone up for the masterful (pardon the pun) season finale and six more stellar seasons.

He didn’t succeed in ending the world, but he did help create one.

Something tells me he’d be a bit pissed to know that.

What did you think of the Master? Which Big Bads would you like to see explored in this series? I’m always open to hearing suggestions!

If you missed the announcement for the End of the World Flash Fiction Contest yesterday, here’s a link to the contest details!

The contest runs until midnight EDT on 30 July, so make sure you check out the rules and get your entry in!

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Author | Emmie Comments | 4 Date | July 16, 2012



I loved the Master and it was great to see him back in season 3. He was a proper, old school vamp.

July 16, 2012 | 5:42 pm


I’m curious about something. In terms of the Big Bads, you say that “Joss and Co really hit their stride when they were wading through the grey areas”, I would argue that the grey areas have more to do with exploring the dark sides of the main (good guy) characters, and that the Big Bads are always pretty much Bad. You could argue (and you probably will 😉 that they Mayor might have humanizing angles – he did care for Faith, after all – but Glory? The First? Not so much.
I’m looking forward to your upcoming posts on the subject!

July 17, 2012 | 3:36 am


Emmie – good to see your Flash Fiction Contest is rockin’. How was the Irish Music concert last weekend. Give us an update!

July 21, 2012 | 4:32 pm

    Emmie Mears

    It was awesome! I had a great time with the band, and one of the members offered to pass my info and a blurb about my new book onto someone she knows in publishing. 😀

    July 21, 2012 | 4:42 pm

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