BtvS 3.09

© Text and musical examples: Rob Gokee

Promotional CD tracks

05. Bizarro Sunnydale (2'03) 64kbps / 192kbps
06. Blood machine (2'30) 64kbps / 192kbps
07. Slayer's elegy (1'49) 64kbps / 192kbps

Not one, not two, but three promo tracks in one episode! For the next three episodes! The middle part of the season seems to be the "meat" of Chris' cues for season three, and for good reason. All three of the tracks here are exciting both visually and musically. The first one is "Bizarro Sunnydale," which helps set the scene for the brave new world Cordy helped create. It begins with synth effects with distorted choirish voices swirling above, then moves to brass and percussion over the still ominous synth. The cue then switches to a marching brass motif that works well with the now running-scared Cordelia, the synth and effects still laying a foundation for the brass to stomp over. The cue ends quickly with the brass coming to a halt and the effect noises fading out.

The second cue is "Blood Machine," which is named after the bloody (pun intended) machine the Master creates to mass exterminate humans. It begins with rolling percussion that moves into a bass line [Ex.1], turning quickly into a cinematic sounding phrase [Ex.2] that is repeated with brass and embellished more each measure, shifting upwards harmonically to heighten the tension; stopping only to switch to stattaco trumpets playing over percussion in what is the start of the action cue of the episode. Cymbal crashes and a droning synth sound help layer this cue, which comes to a close majestically, moving into the third cue of the episode, "Slayer's Elegy."

For this cue, Chris utilizes vocalist Bobby Page to sing over his string arrangement and bass line to give the cue a dream-like sound. The difference between the sampled choir sounds and Ms. Page's voice is like night and day; she brings even more depth to this already lush cue. The melody moves higher and higher [Ex.3], building to its center and then building again to the climatic end of Alternate Buffy's life and our return to present day Sunnydale.

[Blunt's comment: probably one of the most consistently dazzling scores for the season, made all the more impressive by the way the three differently paced promotional cues link together to form a mini suite. Thematically taught but extravagantly orchestrated, Beck delivers menace, excitement then pathos in a manner which makes the music as satisfying on disc as it is accompanying the extraordinary storyline.]

The episode

Picking up from last week's devastation, Cordy tries to begin anew and forget about her past with Xander, but the rest of Sunnydale High's populous has other ideas. She is mocked by her friends and turned down by jocks, and accidentally knocked into a pile of garbage by Buffy. She complains to her new friend Anya and wishes for a world without Buffy Summers, to which Anya responds by going all veiny and granting Cordy's wish via a magic amulet around her neck. Suddenly Cordelia is in a world without the slayer, where a curfew is enforced and students are scarce. She runs afoul vamp Xander and vamp Willow, and although she is rescued by Giles and his merry band of "White Hats," Xander and Willow track her down and drain her. Giles grabs the amulet (now around Cordy's neck) before incinerating her, and tries to get in touch with Buffy, the slayer he was supposed to watch but never showed up. Meanwhile, the Master has taken charge of Sunnydale with a plan of complete dominance and mass production of human blood using his new machine to drain humans. Buffy shows up, frees a locked up Angel, and attempts to stop the Master while Giles calls on Anyanka. Buffy and Angel descend on the Master, and fitting deaths befall our alternate scoobies. Xander dusts Angel, Oz dusts Willow, Buffy dusts Xander, and the Master kills Buffy just as Giles destroys the necklace and reverts Sunnydale back to normal.

Fun quotation:
Buffy: "Your logic does not resemble our earth logic."
Xander: "Mine is much more advanced."

The music

This one has it all, from eerie synth to lush strings and vocals to brass anthems. There are over 30 minutes of score music in this episode, and it also contains the longest continuous cues I've come across so far. There are two in particular, a 7 minute and a 9 minute cue, that stand out, the latter containing two promotional cues and then some within the span. Much of the music is atmospheric and synth heavy, fitting for the dark new vision of Sunnydale presented in the episode.

*NEW* Bonus:

A piano arrangement of the end of the "Slayer's elegy": Notation (.gif) / Music (.midi)

Arrangement by Bluntinstrument, with thanks to Rob Gokee for discovering a section of score, and to CB for permitting it to be used as basis.

Cue notes

Timings are approximate. This episode has four pop songs that were harder than usual to pick out in the cue notes, so if I've incorrectly labeled a cue or song, please let me know on the message board so I can change it, I'd hate to give incorrect credit to someone…


Buffy is once again in peril, and the percussion and brass usher in the monster, and quickly take him out so that Buffy can rejoin her picnic.


Piano and woodwinds play as Cordy cuts up pictures of Xander and burns them, a very sad cue that becomes slightly menacing as we watch the flames lick at Xander's face.


It's Nerf Herder breaking a tackle up the middle and moving for the end zone…


Heavy metal rock cue as leather-clad Cordy glides through the parking lot into the school. (possibly "Tired of Being Alone" by The Spies)


Piano and woodwinds again as we move from sad Cordy to quiet (for a change) Oz.


Strings as Oz "uncomforts" Willow and she moves down the hall, and then back to Cordy faux kissing a jock for Xander's benefit, only to be cast away.


"Get Out of My Way" by Music House in the Bronze


Vamp attack, we get brass and percussion as Cordy becomes the Garbage Lady, and we end with piano and strings as the scene fades out to Cody and Anya.


Synth and strings as Anyanka reverts to her natural state and grants Cordy's wish at the end of act 1.


Strings with an airy flute playing a "train whistle" trill over the top, moving us into the alternate Sunnydale where Cordy once again is Queen C.


The "Bizarro Sunnydale" cue begins as darkness settles over downtown Sunnydale. The heartbeat-like thumping works as Cordy's heart as she races to find somewhere to hide, and instead find vamp Xander and vamp Willow. Strings turn to brass as she runs for her life and is saved by Giles. The cue is somewhat muted as Giles examines her, and quickly turns to…


"Dedicated to Pain" by Plastic in the new and improved Bronze


We switch to a very short synth cue as the Master comes into view…


…which comes back as the Master talks of Buffy and the scene moves to the library.


Synth and strings as Willow and Xander drink Cordy and the camera moves around her. The cue and the cinematography work hand in hand to give the scene a big screen feel and importance to Cordelia's death.


This 7 minute cue, which spans the entire length of act 3, begins as a repeat of the previous one, with strings that are slightly softer as Cordy's body is disposed of. We move once again to the Master, and change to atmospheric synth noises. The cue changes to soft piano as we move back to Giles, and then to Willow and puppy Angel, and it takes on a more dissonant feel. Chris' music is very low in the mix until we see Angel's face, then we return back to the opening of the cue. Percussion accents Angel's torture, until rising and falling strings take us back to the library. The cue and scene move to Giles car, and the music begins to build strength as he stops to battle vamps, is knocked down, but saved in a musical flourish by a just-arrived Buffy. The hardened slayer marks the end of the cue and act three.


The longest cue of the season so far (almost 9 minutes) begins with drums as Buffy finds Angel in the basement. Piano and synth enter as Angel tries to convince Buffy he knows her. The cue then becomes "Blood Machine," starting slowly and building as the Master tests out his new toy. The scene move to Giles apartment and the raising of Anyanka, and the cue changes to synth briefly before rejoining the "Blood Machine" cue and the Master as one of the Cordettes is drained. Strings join the cue as Buffy slowly makes her way through the crowd, when the cue then jumps into a section used in the episode "Lover's Walk" during the battle in the Magic Box. We jump back to Giles, and then into battle at the factory. Brass and percussion take us into "Slayer's Elegy" as the battle moves in slow motion and the alternate versions of our heroes are killed off. The cue ends with Buffy losing her life to the Master, Giles breaking the amulet, and things reverting back to normal in a brilliant white flash.


"Never Noticed" by Gingersol takes us to the credits


Nerf Herder, who actually saved the day but let Buffy take the credit.

Musical examples

Ex.1 [midi] Ground bass line from "Blood Machine"
Ex.1: Double basses and cellos

Ex.2 [midi] Bass line with brass melody from "Blood Machine"
Ex.2. Horn line over bass

Ex.3 [midi] Tragic vocal line from "Slayer's Elegy"
Ex.3. Female vocals