Richard Wilkins III, also simply known as The Mayor, is a fictional character created by Joss Whedon for the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Played by Harry Groener, he was the villainous mayor of the series' fictional town of Sunnydale. Although the character is mentioned in season 2, Mayor Wilkins makes his first on-screen appearance in Season 3, eventually serving as the "Big Bad" of the season. He has several humans, vampires and demons working for him, including the renegade slayer Faith and Mr. Trick.
Wizard Magazine rated the Mayor as the 34th greatest villain of all time.
Richard Wilkins arrived in California in the late 1800s, looking for gold. It is shown in Tales of the Slayers that he founded Sunnydale after the last Slayer died there in 1899. Wilkins found a place infested with demons, with whom he made a pact to avoid being killed.
He agreed to found a town atop the Hellmouth for "demons to feed on", on the promise of an Ascension and subsequent immortality once a full century has elapsed. Until Wilkins attained demon form, he would not age until after 100 years to the very day Sunnydale was founded, at which point he would supposedly lose his power. Richard Wilkins III was also Richard Wilkins Sr. and Jr., pretending to be the son in each subsequent generation to conceal his lack of aging. This created a problem when his wife Edna May, whom he married in 1903, began aging and probably contributed to his lack of romantic relationships later on. Wilkins seemed to have sold his soul early in life as one of his "campaign promises."
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
The Mayor is the first non-vampire Big Bad to appear on the series. Season 3's longer story arc follows the Mayor's plan to "Ascend," transforming him into the pure-breed demon Olvikan. This process involves becoming invincible, eating fifty spiders from the Box of Gavrock, and finally transforming in to the demon.
The Mayor achieves "Ascension" during the Sunnydale High graduation ceremony in the two-part episode "Graduation Day" (1) (2). He transforms into Olvikan, a gigantic snakelike demon vulnerable to fire. Despite the students keeping him at bay with flamethrowers, he eats Principal Snyder and recurring student Larry Blaisdell. The students fight the Mayor and his vampire lackeys to a standstill. Buffy exploits his "human weakness" for Faith by taunting him with the knife he gave to Faith and with which Buffy put Faith in a coma. Buffy lures Wilkins into the empty library, now filled with bags of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, diesel fuel and dynamite, and Rupert Giles detonates the bomb. Both the Mayor and the school building are destroyed. Staying true to his avoidance of foul language, Wilkins' last words are "Well, gosh."
Faith goes to work for the Mayor after Faith's accidental killing of a human leads to what she believes to be a betrayal by the Scoobies. The Mayor becomes a father figure to Faith. He calls her pet names like "firecracker." He builds her confidence by comparing her favorably to Buffy, telling her how much potential she has, and how beautiful she is (though this is done in a strictly non-sexual manner.) He rents her a furnished room, complete with a PlayStation, because he does not like to see her stay at a place with an "unsavory reputation." He purchases her dresses, Icee's and a very expensive knife in "Choices". When the Mayor discovers that Buffy attacked Faith and put her in a coma ("Graduation Day (Part 2)"), he loses his cheery demeanor and dislike of bad language and attempts to smother Buffy with his bare hands in the hospital, but is stopped by Angel. Buffy uses the Mayor's feelings for Faith to goad him into attacking her during the battle at the Sunnydale High School graduation ceremony. When Faith recovers from her coma in Season Four, she discovers that the Mayor left her a magical escape route: A spell which will let her switch bodies with Buffy.
The Mayor also plays a role in separating Buffy and Angel. During a hostage exchange in "Choices", the Mayor discusses his own experience as a man who does not age with a wife who grew old and died cursing his name. He suggests that Angel cannot provide Buffy a life of anything but pain and heartbreak, and that staying with her is selfish. In the next episode, Angel tells Buffy that he believes the Mayor was right, and breaks up with her.
The Mayor has also appeared in expanded universe material such as Buffy comics and novels, most notably the 2002 comic Haunted. In the Haunted, Mayor Wilkins is shown to live on as a ghost for a while, possessing the bodies of dead animals and demons (as well as vampires). In the process, he is also responsible for the creation of Adam, when he possesses the corpse of a powerful demon (his earlier vampire body having been captured by the Initiative) and badly injures the then-human Adam. Willow figures something is going on when Wilkins mentions his previous attack on 'the librarian', Giles, which was done with a different vampire body. Without discovering it was the Mayor, the group performs a generic banishment spell, forcing Wilkins spirit out. The closing narrative says he is simply left with 'his hate'.
Groener has mentioned that "There's something the mayor knows about the potential of his power which makes him less afraid of people who threaten him. That's interesting to play because the closer we get to absolute power, the closer we get to the part that corrupts. Even the vampires are sort of scared of him." Groener made some of his own conclusions about the character: "I think in his actual political life, he's a good mayor. He's probably a fairly conservative politician, a very conservative Democrat or a very liberal Republican. He likes to keep things clean. He likes things to be neat. He doesn't like a lot of clutter, so I imagine he likes to keep his town that way. It's only this other thing which makes him a little weird. Other than that he's a fairly standard mayor."
Powers and abilities
Before transforming into a demon, Wilkins was a powerful sorcerer who specialized in the dark arts. He had a cabinet full of shrunken heads, bones and supernatural paraphernalia. He became immortal and gained eternal youth thanks to demonic benefactors. For 100 days until the Ascension, he could not be permanently harmed, and was able to heal from massive injuries immediately.
As the embodiment of the demon Olvikan, he possesses within his snakelike form inhuman strength, endurance, and size, endowed with a thick, bone-armored hide, sharp teeth and mandibles, and a spiked tail-club.
- Season 3 (1998 and 1999) – "Homecoming"; "Band Candy"; "Lovers Walk"; "Gingerbread"; "Bad Girls"; "Consequences"; "Doppelgangland"; "Enemies"; "Choices"; "Graduation Day, Part One"; "Graduation Day, Part Two"
- Season 4 (2000) – "This Year's Girl" (in Faith's dreams and a video recording)
- Season 7 (2002 and 2003) – "Lessons"; "Touched" (both times as manifestations of the First Evil)
- "No Future for You, Part 4" - flashback
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|Series: Film • Television (Episodes • 1 • 2 • 3 • 4 • 5 • 6 • 7) • Season Eight Season Nine|