The big picture
- Mayor Richard Wilkins III was the best villain in the world Buffy the Vampire Slayer because his goals weren’t about defeating Buffy personally, but rather about unleashing hell on earth.
- The Mayor’s cheerful and charismatic personality contrasted with the hardships Buffy faced, making him more approachable and trustworthy to the average civilian population of Sunnyvale.
- Season 3 did a great job testing the mayor’s plan and bringing about the satisfying conclusion to Buffy’s fight against him, which brought recognition to her heroism and inspired the city to join the fight.
While many of the best moments in Buffy the Vampire Slayer revolve around individual, “monster of the week”-style threats that Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and their friends, it was clear at the beginning of the first season that each new part of the series would bring with it a new “big bad” that the Scooby Gang would have to deal with at the end of the season. Buffy, Willow Rosenberg (Alyson Hannigan), Xander Harris (Nicholas Brendon) and her friends faced off against a variety of villains; Throughout the show, the Scooby Gang battled possessed ghosts, drunken cavemen, cyborg sociopaths, and even Count Dracula himself. However, none of Buffy’s antagonists were a match for Mayor Richard Wilkins III (Harry Groener), the third season villain who almost single-handedly unleashed hell on earth.
Why the Mayor was “Buffy’s” best villain
Each season of the series developed an antagonist that fit the parameters of the themes and scope of the series at the time. The first season introduced The Master (Mark Metcalf), a funny but ultimately generic vampire leader who served as a gateway to more complex villains in the later seasons; The simplicity of the character (who is nothing more than a slightly scarier vampire) reflected the relatively straightforward quality of the series’ first twelve episodes. Similarly, the show’s second season dealt with Buffy’s increasing maturity and the development of her sexuality. It made sense that her main antagonist was an evil version of her friend Angel (David Boreanaz), who “loses his soul” after sleeping with her for the first time.
In the third season, Buffy learned to take more responsibility for her actions; Gellar’s performance was more mature as it felt like she was wrestling with the consequences that were ignored in the first two seasons. After leaving her home in Sunnyvale at the end of last season, Buffy returns to face the possibility of her senior year. She realizes that everything in her life will soon change and she will no longer be able to enjoy the safety of high school; their “guardian” Rupert Giles (Anthony Stewart Head) won’t always be there to comfort her, Angel reflects on his departure and looks for redemption, and even Willow has developed an independent relationship with her boyfriend Oz (Seth Green). Buffy learns to appreciate what she has; She goes on a Christmas date with Angel in “Amends” and receives her mother’s acceptance (Kristine Sutherland) in “Band Candy”. It only made sense that the threat she faced would also threaten the few things Buffy could hold on to.
The Mayor’s goals are not focused on Buffy; She happens to be an obstacle in his mission to unleash the Helmouth and release all sorts of undead creatures into Sunnyvale. Unlike the Master or Angel, whose goal was to defeat Buffy personally, the Mayor barely takes the time to notice her. Buffy’s mission to defeat him revolves around protecting Sunnyvale’s civilian population, her classmates and friends, all of whom were able to live their daily lives without fear of undead creatures or vampires. Buffy fights to ensure that these innocent people can live a peaceful life that she will never enjoy. Although the Mayor exposed Buffy’s mortality, he also showcased her selflessness.
Why the mayor was the worst “Buffy” villain
Groener’s screen presence was clearly different from everyone else’s Buffy the Vampire Slayerare the other antagonists. While the Master was evil to an almost absurd extent and Angelus was spiteful towards Buffy in a very personal way, Mayor Wilkins is cheerful, charismatic and even silly at times. He represented normality, which felt particularly cruel to Buffy, given how stressful and confusing her youth could sometimes be. Buffy leads a hard life and has to sacrifice things like normal relationships and typical teenage misadventures to protect the city. People have a hard time trusting Buffy given the lies she has to tell. In comparison, Mayor Wilkins’ lovable personality feels much more trustworthy to the average citizens of Sunnyvale.
Groener also has a great screen presence and the season does a great job of gradually introducing viewers to the outside threat that The Mayor posed. Unlike The Master or Angelus, whose villainous plans were clear from the start, the Mayor’s plan is subtly hinted at throughout. The idea of an unobtrusive yet authoritative presence is associated with the appearance of the particularly annoying vampire Mr. Trick (K Todd Freeman) in the episode “Homecoming”; It was a clever way to tie a “monster of the week” style villain into the larger plot. It’s not until the episode “Bad Girls” that Buffy finally confronts the menacing villain who moves chess pieces to turn Sunnyvale into a demonic beehive.
Although he was originally banned from public broadcasting, Buffy the Vampire SlayerThe two-part Season 3 finale “Graduation Day” couldn’t have been a more satisfying conclusion to Buffy’s ongoing battle against the Mayor. There was a sense of contingency in their conflict, so of course the mayor’s call to the undead would occur on the same day that Buffy and her friends graduated from Sunnyvale High School! Although the mayor had pushed the Scooby Gang to their limits, he also inspired the rest of the city to finally recognize the unspoken heroism of the main characters that had long been ignored. After bestowing a “special honor” on Buffy in the episode “The Prom,” Sunnyvale’s graduating class helps repel the invading forces of the mayor and his legion of villains.
The Mayor was a down-to-earth threat in the first three seasons. The show would soon eclipse the parameters of Buffy’s high school experience, the town of Sunnyvale, and the “Scooby Gang,” but for the first three seasons, these were the main things at stake; Mayor Wilkins threatened them all. He remains one of the greatest single-season villains in the history of science fiction and fantasy television.