Cast of 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer'
(20th Television)

‘Slayers: A Buffyverse Story’ Bring the Multiverse to Sunnydale

Four poker kittens out of five.

Among the upper echelons of pop culture, few TV shows are as revered and beloved as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the iconic ’90s/early 2000s supernatural teen drama about a high school girl who finds out she’s a chosen warrior fated to defend the world against vampires. Though it’s been 20 years since the series finale, Buffy has seen no shortage of continuations and reimaginings: a spinoff series, novels, games, and comics, to name a few. The latest addition to the ever-expanding world of Buffy is Slayers: A Buffyverse Story, an Audible original audio drama written by Amber Benson (Tara Maclay). Though its new characters aren’t particularly compelling, Slayers‘ reframing of characters we know and love offers an exciting, queer-centric new narrative for fans to devour.

Recommended Videos

Starring Buffy alums Benson, James Marsters (Spike), Charisma Carpenter (Cordelia), Juliet Landau (Drusilla), Emma Caulfield Ford (Anya), and Anthony Head (Giles), Slayers: A Buffyverse Story finds Spike 10 years after the Buffy finale. He’s infiltrated the monstrous underbelly of LA’s magical scene, feigning a return to his evil ways and using the cover to secretly feed information to slayers and watchers. After a chance meeting, he’s roped into acting as a mentor figure for newly-activated (as in, just got her powers that morning) 16-year-old Slayer/Buffy superfan Indira (Laya DeLeon Hayes). Though trying to handle Indira is trouble enough for Spike, things go from bad to worse when he encounters an alternate universe version of Cordelia Chase, who ropes him into a multiverse mystery in which Anya, Drusilla, and Tara Maclay are key players.

The promo art for 'Slayers: A  Buffyverse Story'.
(Audible/20th Century Studios)

Without question, the major draw of Slayers is the impressive voice cast—getting to hear Masters, Carpenter, Landau, and Caulfield Ford slot so effortlessly back into the characters is like reuniting with an old friend after decades apart. Marsters (a veteran of audiobook narration) is in strong form with Spike as the series’ narrator—his classic accent and smarmy quips are just as charming as they were in the ’90s. But while Spike remains the familiar character we knew and loved, the rest of the Buffy returnees are (for the most part) playing new and/or alternate-universe versions of their characters. This presents both the writers and actors with a unique opportunity to explore new facets of personalities that fans might not expect from such beloved figures.

Though our universe’s Cordelia met an untimely end in season four of the Buffy spinoff Angel, the Cordelia Chase of Slayers hails from a different universe, one where Buffy Summers never existed and Cordy was the teenager fated to ward off the vampires. Cordelia isn’t the only character to undergo a major role shift in this alternate universe. Anya (who’s similarly dead in Spike’s original world) is a witch, not a vengeance demon. After alternate universe Spike’s death, his unhinged lover Drusilla has ascended to the title of vampire queen and is terrorizing the world Cordelia and Anya call home.

Cordelia herself is the unexpected emotional core of the story—while she’s still got plenty of her signature sass, this version of the character is a much more mature, battle-hardened one, having undergone some of the more brutal tragedies we saw Buffy experience in the TV series. As such, a more world-weary, down-to-earth Cordy gives Carpenter an opportunity to bring pathos to a character who was mostly used for comic relief in the original series. Especially considering the treatment Carpenter received on the set of Buffy and Angel, it’s cathartic to see Cordelia come into her own in such a beautiful way.

Undoubtedly though, fans will be most excited by the return of and alterations to Amber Benson’s Tara Maclay—a shy, mild-mannered witch and Willow Rosenberg’s girlfriend who met a tragic and untimely end in Buffy season six. Tara’s death has always been a particular pressure point for fans, and Slayers not only finds a way to bring her back to the Buffyverse, but does so in a deliciously twisted way that gives Benson the chance to flex her voice acting prowess and pairs her up with a frequent and unlikely scene partner: Drusilla.

But while the return (and alternate universe version) of original Buffy players makes for entertaining (and often remarkably emotional) interdimensional storytelling, the new characters invented for Slayers don’t fare quite as well. Indira faces the uphill battle of having to keep up in scenes with a gaggle of characters who are already a) beloved and b) experienced, and unfortunately, she tends to teeter the line between ingenue and annoying—an issue that isn’t helped by Spike frequently noting how much he doesn’t want her around.

Still, shaky character development isn’t enough to dissuade Slayers from being an engrossing listen, nor does the conspicuous absence of key Buffy alums like Alysonn Hannigan’s Willow, Nicholas Brendon’s Xander, David Boreanaz’s Angel, and (oh yeah), Sarah Michelle Gellar’s Buffy. Strangely, you don’t feel Buffy’s absence nearly as much as one might assume—a phenomenon which can mostly be credited to the fact that half the story takes place in a world where there was never a Buffy in the first place.

Though it takes an episode or so to really find its footing, Slayers: A Buffyverse Story is an electric, character-driven dive back into the world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its bounty of beloved characters. While it may struggle to integrate new faces with old favorites, Slayers is a delightfully unexpected celebration of some of Buffy‘s best scene stealers, and a reminder of how thoroughly performers like Marsters, Carpenter, and Benson love and understand their characters.

Slayers: A Buffyverse Story is currently available exclusively on Audible.

(featured image: 20th Century Studios)


The Mary Sue is supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Learn more
related content
Read Article The Real Monster in ‘Doctor Who’s Latest Episode Is Ruby’s Trauma
Ruby Sunday (Millie Gibson) in Doctor Who "73 Yards"
Ruby Sunday (Millie Gibson) in Doctor Who "73 Yards"
Ruby Sunday (Millie Gibson) in Doctor Who "73 Yards"
Read Article Is There a ‘Heartland’ Season 17 Release Date on Netflix? Answered
A still from 'Heartland'
A still from 'Heartland'
A still from 'Heartland'
Read Article Why the Hottest Historical Drama of the Year May Not Return for Season 2
Julianne Moore as Mary Villiers and Nicholas Galitzine as George Villiers in Mary & George
Julianne Moore as Mary Villiers and Nicholas Galitzine as George Villiers in Mary & George
Julianne Moore as Mary Villiers and Nicholas Galitzine as George Villiers in Mary & George
Read Article ‘Elsbeth’ Scores Early Renewal Following Season 1 Success
Carrie Preston and Wendell Pierce in 'Elsbeth'
Carrie Preston and Wendell Pierce in 'Elsbeth'
Carrie Preston and Wendell Pierce in 'Elsbeth'
Read Article ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Is Coming to an End With Season 5 Episode 10
Sonequa Martin-Green as Captain Michael Burnham in a character poster for Star Trek: Discovery season 5. The Discovery ship flies past in the background.
Sonequa Martin-Green as Captain Michael Burnham in a character poster for Star Trek: Discovery season 5. The Discovery ship flies past in the background.
Sonequa Martin-Green as Captain Michael Burnham in a character poster for Star Trek: Discovery season 5. The Discovery ship flies past in the background.
Related Content
Read Article The Real Monster in ‘Doctor Who’s Latest Episode Is Ruby’s Trauma
Ruby Sunday (Millie Gibson) in Doctor Who "73 Yards"
Read Article Is There a ‘Heartland’ Season 17 Release Date on Netflix? Answered
A still from 'Heartland'
Read Article Why the Hottest Historical Drama of the Year May Not Return for Season 2
Julianne Moore as Mary Villiers and Nicholas Galitzine as George Villiers in Mary & George
Read Article ‘Elsbeth’ Scores Early Renewal Following Season 1 Success
Carrie Preston and Wendell Pierce in 'Elsbeth'
Read Article ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Is Coming to an End With Season 5 Episode 10
Sonequa Martin-Green as Captain Michael Burnham in a character poster for Star Trek: Discovery season 5. The Discovery ship flies past in the background.
Author
Lauren Coates
Lauren Coates (she/her)is a freelance film/tv critic and entertainment journalist, who has been working in digital media since 2019. Besides writing at The Mary Sue, her other bylines include Nerdist, Paste, RogerEbert, and The Playlist. In addition to all things sci-fi and horror, she has particular interest in queer and female-led stories. When she's not writing, she's exploring Chicago, binge-watching Star Trek, or planning her next trip to the Disney parks. You can follow her on twitter @laurenjcoates