Demon Anya, Punisher of Evil Males
by julianatheorize [julianatheorize at gmail dot com]
Spoilers throughout all of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
"That's my girl... always doing the stupid thing."
-Xander Harris, "Chosen"
I'll admit, my Buffy the Vampire Slayer-watching habits only began recently, after it was cancelled. I was first introduced to Anya (played by Emma Caulfield) in the episode "Selfless," which most Anya fans recognize as The Anya Episode, though for me, it was only the second episode I'd ever seen (and I'd caught it by accident while flipping channels). I didn't really know anything about Anya, though I knew enough about Buffy the Vampire Slayer to understand it, and I had heard so much about the musical episode and the flashback in "Selfless," so the random song outburst wasn't surprising. Still, why would they center an episode around Anya?
After renting and buying the DVDs and catching up to the entire story, I got a sense of Anya. Ex-demon, likes money, does a "Dance of Capitalist Superiority" every night before closing the cash register, and fears bunnies (but enjoys screwing like them). I also realized why I liked "Selfless" so much - my favorite episodes were ancient character history. I loved "Becoming," "Fool for Love," Angel's "Orpheus," and the like. Anya, who began as "evil-girl," became so much more, and with episodes like "Triangle" and "Selfless," she had a solid history.
Now, anyway, let's get into that history.
Anya Christina Emmanuella Jenkins...
First introduced in Season 3's "The Wish" as the sort of "monster-of-the-week," vengeance demon Anyanka finally became a regular in Season 5. However, to any Anya fan, her definitive episode was the Season 7 episode "Selfless." We see that her life began somewhere in Sjornjost, Sweden. Her name was Aud (pronounced "odd"), and she was married to a Viking named Olaf. Sometime in 880 CE, she got fed up with him. Her love of generousity made her want to give out bunnies to the people for free (and we see her house full of the floppy little things). This idea made Olaf laugh - her logic was "insane and happenstance, like that of a troll," he said. She also suspected that he had been cheating on her with the barmaid Rannveig, and used the Thornton's Hope spell with eelsbane to turn him into a troll.
D'Hoffryn, the patron of the "family" of vengeance demons from the dimension called Arashmaharr, saw Aud's true destiny as the demon Anyanka, who became a "sort of patron saint for scorned women," as Giles put it. The cry of a scorned woman was like a "siren's call" to Anyanka, who granted wishes (and using her new demon powers, could teleport herself anywhere to grant the wishes immediately). Around the year 1200, cursing a shepherd in the Kastka Valleys, she witnessed a sorcerer achieve Ascension (become pure demon instead of any of the "tainted" varieties that walk the earth) - where he became the demon Lo-Hash, a four-winged soul killer, and destroyed the entire village. Around 1580, Anyanka had a brief "thing" with the famed vampire Dracula, who admired the spell she used to turn a man incredibly fat, or, as she later put it, "like a human minivan." Anya also attended the Salem Witch Trials, which the chaos demon, taking the form of dead children Hans and Greta Strauss, caused. In 1905, Anya could sense the change happening in Russia - "a victorious communist revolution resulting in socio-economic paradise on Earth." The same Anya who does a "Dance of Capitalist Superiority" (as seen in "All the Way") before closing the cash register? Well, things sure do change a lot when you've been a demon for a thousand years.
Sometime in the middle of all of this, after 1880, D'Hoffryn turned a woman named Cecily (whom a young, pre-vampired Spike was in love with) into a vengeance demon (though she preferred "justice demon") named Halfrek, and she and Anya became friends. Halfrek, however, liked vengeance demons to be known as "well-rounded" and not just for scorned women ("Anya's little raison d'être"), though she had a "thing for bad parents," as Anya later put it, though Halfrek insisted that "the children need [her]."
Anyway, I disgress. In 1998, Anyanka turned Sunnydale, California completely upside-down when Cordelia Chase wished that the Slayer had never come to the Hellmouthed town - and Anyanka, under the guise of a Sunnydale High School student, made that wish come true. The wish was reversed with the smashing of her power-containing amulet, and she lost all of her demon powers. She appealed to D'Hoffryn to turn her back into a demon in the later episode "Doppelgangland," but he refused, telling her that time had since passed. Anya tried to get Willow Rosenberg to help her with a spell to open up a temporal fold, opening the alternate dimension from "The Wish," but instead of getting her amulet back from that dimension, she accidentally released the evil, vampiric Willow Rosenberg into the normal (er, relatively speaking) Sunnydale. The evil Willow was sent back to the "Wish" reality (or the "Wishverse," as some fans call it). Anya later returned as Xander Harris's date to the prom, only to flee Sunnydale to escape the Mayor's Ascension.
Anya returned in Season 4 and began to date Xander regularly after sleeping with him and finding that she couldn't get over him. Her opinionated bluntness and lack of any tact or subtlety made her a good replacement for bitch-queen Cordelia Chase, who left for spin-off show Angel. Particularly of note in Season 4: in the episode "Fear, Itself," when Xander told her to dress up as something "scary" for Hallowe'en, she came to the party in a bunny costume; D'Hoffryn returned in "Something Blue" to offer Willow status as vengeance demon (she refused, but D'Hoffryn gave her a summoning amulet in case she changed her mind); the episode "Restless," a David-Lynchian sort of episode featuring the strange dream sequences of Willow, Xander, Giles, and Buffy - in Xander's dream Anya is thinking about "getting back into vengeance," which may or may not be a clue to her misadventures in Season 6.
Anya became a regular in season 5. She worked with Giles in a magic store called the Magic Box, and we discovered her love of money. Season 5 also featured Willow accidentally bringing Olaf (troll form and all) to Sunnydale, where he wreaked havoc and threatened the love of Anya and Xander before Willow sent him back to troll-land. Before the supposed apocalypse brought on by Hell-god Glory, Xander proposed to Anya in "The Gift," and later, in Season 6, they announced their engagement. However, in "Once More, With Feeling," when the demon Sweet made everyone sing out their true feelings, Anya first sang of her love for Xander (revealed in a flashback in "Selfless"), but later sang a duet with Xander about how nervous she was about the upcoming wedding, and in the following episode, "Tabula Rasa," when a spell of Willow's caused everyone to lose their memories, Buffy and Spike saw something between them, as did Willow and Tara - though Anya and Xander never even suspected their relationship, which was a definite clue towards their relationship not working out.
In "Hells Bells," right before the wedding, Xander was visited by someone who tricked him into thinking that their future together was doomed. However, even after the man was revealed to be a man that Anya had cursed, Xander was so afraid that they would end up like his own parents - drunk and fighting. He left her at the altar. D'Hoffryn saw her pain, and offered to make her a vengeance demon again.
She returned in "Entropy" to try and curse Xander, but Halfrek reminded her that vengeance demons cannot exact vengeance for themselves - she had to get someone else to wish vengeance on Xander for her. After hilariously trying to get Buffy, Dawn, and Willow and Tara to do so, she resorted to Spike, even though he was not a woman and therefore not going by her usual line of work. After sharing a bottle of Jack with Spike, instead of wishing vengeance on Xander, she ended up sleeping with Spike, which was caught on camera and witnessed by Xander, who went after Spike. Anya told Xander that it wasn't vengeance, it was solace - and since he left her, what did it matter? Xander didn't understand why Spike of all people, but after finding out that Spike had been sleeping with Buffy, he just walked away. Spike began to wish something horrible on Xander, though Anya didn't let him finish.
Back to the beginning - and the end. In Season 7, "Selfless" showed Anya getting seriously back into vengeance - and regretting all the death she caused. Buffy's immediate reaction was just to go after and kill her. A sword through the chest didn't kill Anya (it takes much more to kill a vengeance demon as seen in "Older and Far Away"), so Willow used her vengeance demon amulet to summon D'Hoffryn, who thought Willow had reconsidered the offer to be a vengeance demon (apparently, a vengeance demon named Lloyd keeps a sketch of her rage-induced flaying of Warren Meers). However, all Willow wanted was Anya's deadly wish to be undone. Undoing her wish cost the life and soul of a vengeance demon - but since Anya was so guilt-stricken she was willing to die, instead D'Hoffryn had Halfrek killed. Anya tells D'Hoffryn that he should have killed her, and he replies "Oh, I wouldn't worry about that. [...] All good things in time." Seventeen episodes later, in the season finale (and last episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer ever) Chosen, Anya was killed in the final fight.
Anyway, I leave you with my favorite Anya moment, from the episode "All the Way."
As Anya does a dance with all of the money from the Magic Box, Dawn asks, "You do this every night?" To which Anya replies very matter-of-factly, "Every time I close out the cash register. The dance of capitalist superiority." The delivery of the line is perfect, and you know that whether or not anyone's looking, she's doing that dance every time.
Lame-Ass Made-Up Maiden Name...
In Season 3, Anya's made-up surname is "Emerson," though in Seasons 5 and 7, she notes her full name as "Anya Christina Emmanuella Jenkins." This was never explained.
It Must Be Bunnies
After being asked why her "scary costume" for Hallowe'en was a bunny suit, Anya replied in all seriousness: "Bunnies frighten me." Supposedly a one-time joke, it quickly became something that the writers milked for all its worth and then some. Before the supposed apocalypse at the end of Season 5, Anya finding a toy bunny caused her to moan that it was a horrible omen. In Season 6, she sang about her bunny fear in the musical episode. In "Tabula Rasa," even after losing her memory, she feared bunnies instinctively. Anya's last words were an angry "Bunnies... floppy, hoppy bunnies..." Yet in "Selfless," we see Aud with a house full of bunnies. Where the fear came from was never explained. The most common theory is that bunnies remind her of her days as Aud, and after a thousand some odd years, it became a natural fear. Maybe it came from Monty Python and the Holy Grail or Donnie Darko. We'll never know.
In the very first season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, we find out that when a vampire is made, the demon takes over, and the human soul is lost (except in Angel's case, and later Spike's). After so many episodes of Buffy, all with very colorful demons, most of them evil, the assumption is made that demons have no souls - at least not human souls. (Exceptions like Whistler and Angel's Doyle exist, though this is arguable). When Angel's soul was returned to him, he almost went insane with the guilt from everything he had done as a vampire. A common question among fans is whether or not vengeance demons have souls. In Arashmaharr, when becoming a vengeance demon, does the demonic aspect take over entirely, or does the human soul stay? In "Selfless," D'Hoffryn references the "life and soul" of a vengeance demon, which obviously means that a vengeance demon has some sort of soul. Since vengeance demons are (in their twisted logic) "righting wrongs," perhaps they have a human soul - corrupted, but there. Anya's willingness to die after (literally) tearing out the hearts of some college boys shows that she just couldn't do the vengeance thing. I think that vengeance demons keep their human souls - but with the power to do so many horrible things, the soul gets buried somewhere else, whereas Anya's was brought out after living as a human among people like Xander and Buffy for three years.
In "The Wish," Giles says that smashing a vengeance demon's amulet will undo all wishes. However, this is later proven untrue ("Hells Bells"). In "Older and Far Away," Anya says that only a vengeance demon can undo her wish. However, in "Selfless," undoing a wish costs a vengeance demon's life. This bothers me like you have no idea.