Sunday, September 22, 2013
Buffy the Vampire Slayer - 1.11 - Out of Mind, Out of Sight - Roundtable Review
Welcome back to the weekly Buffy Roundtable. This week we review Out of Mind, Out of Sight where Joss Whedon puts an interesting spin on the idea of loneliness and feeling invisible in the crowd. While this one had some character leaps and questionable physics, it also focuses more on Cordelia and Buffy and the bonds between them. For me, it was the first time I felt any sympathy for Cordelia and it made her less of a caricature by the end, rounding out an otherwise flat character. John felt that both Cordelia and Buffy were out of character to hyperbolize the metaphor. Please continue the conversation in the comments below.
Spoiler Warning - Although we discuss specific episodes in these roundtables, all episodes of Buffy and Angel are fair game. There may be spoilers ahead for those who have not watched both series in their entirety.
Participants - John and Dahne
Dahne - So overall how do you feel about this episode? I like it as a standalone.
John - I agree. It had some big structural flaws that made it both better and worse than expected (which I'll explain in a second), but it was largely enjoyable.
Dahne - Which structural flaws are you talking about?
John - Basically, the episode did two things that kind of irked me. A) The writer changed the characters - or perhaps emphasized certain traits a little more than usual, like Cordy's selfishness and Buffy's potential loneliness - in order to B) make giant super obvious metaphors. It was bad because obvious metaphors and characters acting differently bothers me, but I liked it because it did some fantastic humanization for Cordelia.
Dahne - I was a big fan of them spotlighting Cordelia and her own loneliness so that didn't bother me in this. I thought it showed growth in Cordelia's character which had been pretty standard mean girl up to this point. I think we've had hints of Buffy feeling alienated from others before.
John - I suppose. Definitely I enjoyed the character growth. I just spent the first twenty minutes slightly more horrified with her than usual lol.
Dahne - Ah, I remember people like that from high school (minus the death is all about me part of course) so it wasn't quite as big a stretch for me when it first aired. For me it was more the physics side of the episode that makes some parts hard for me, although the metaphor there is stellar.
John - Hahaha, I mean, I don't know how I feel about very obvious metaphors. I liked how some of it worked out - for example, how Marcie thought she could count on Buffy, but watching her and Cordelia bond made her think Buffy was "one of them" - but a lot of it was just over-the-top obvious. For example, as you said the whole "This is all about me... me me me!" line was unnecessary. And the episode was called Invisible Girl. About an Invisible Girl. Made Invisible by virtue of the word's figurative meaning.
Dahne - For me, all of Marcie was over the top and I completely agree about the episode NOT being subtle. I think that is somewhat typical of season 1. I also wasn't a fan of the first "government is evil" episode. That came back to play with the corrupt mayor and all of season 4.
John - Yeah I didn't see that twist coming AT ALL! What a weird ending. Don't think I liked it.
High school as Hell:
John - That being said, I know how much you like monster-as-metaphor, so do you want to discuss that some more? Just, like, your take on what they were talking about.
Dahne - I liked the whole lonely in a crowd and the trials of both being popular and not popular better. Cordelia's speech and Buffy understanding gave them both more depth as characters.
John - Yeah, definitely. Despite its obviousness - ohey, remember when Xander and Willow always reference inside jokes in front of Buffy and neglect to invite her over for dinner - I really enjoyed how it kind of got at the heart of feeling alone both within and without a crowd. (Sorry, I meant that ohey in the context of the rest of the first season. Given that they have never done that sort of thing).
Dahne - I liked that scene, especially because it reminded me of how long Xander and Willow were friends, something that sometimes I forget in other episodes.
John - Yeah, that's a fair point too. Why hadn't they been doing that before this episode?
Dahne - That's a great question. They do sometimes talk about inside jokes around Buffy but it didn't come off as completely excluding her like it did here.
John - I guess part of the fun of this episode is that we really linger on Buffy and Cordelia's reactions to things. Maybe we can treat these hyperbolic versions of the characters as not occurring in reality, but rather, us being able to see how they perceive the world. They physically had to show us because how else would that be communicated on TV. I'd be happy with that interpretation and would be more charitable as a whole towards the episode lol.
Dahne - I guess I don't find them to be so hyperbolic that it takes me out of the episode so I am good with their reactions. The only one truly over the top for me is Marcie.
John - Fair enough. Okay, so, my favourite part of the episode was when Giles and Angel bonded :). Although the overt metaphors struck again with the whole I CAN'T SEE ME IN THE MIRROR thing, but it was fun to watch Giles get so excited about a long-lost book.
Dahne - I have the Angel and Giles part as one of my favorites too. I like that both of them got extra time this episode.
John - We never really see Giles in his own space doing his own thing. We only ever really see him interacting with - or trying to save - the kids. It's nice to see him bond with other adult people.
Dahne - Plus like you said, he was excited about it. He's usually more calm and whenever he isn't, the kids make fun of him about it.
John - True. Then they bonded about how invisible teenagers kind of wasn't their thing.
Dahne - Ha! Not sure invisible teens are anyone's thing. I also like that Angel rescues them in the end although the plot seemed straight from Hocus Pocus.
John - Lol, agreed.
Dahne - I thought that the whole "someone watching you for months" premise gave the episode a great creepy vibe. I also liked that for as crazy as Marcy was, she could be smart as well.
John - Yeah, I thought that Marcie, though creepy, was excellent in the climactic scene where she almost scars Cordelia.
Dahne - I also liked the parallel of the teacher talking about "active listening" and then Buffy used it at the end to defeat Marcy.
John - Yeah, this episode was somehow both not subtle at all and yet creative in its ability to make those sorts of connections.
Dahne - Two small moments I liked were the looks they gave Xander when he says it might be a "vampire bat." That pun was so bad I laugh every time. I also loved Giles giving Xander the teacher look when he goes to put his feet on the table.
John - I enjoyed those moments as well :).
Dahne - Plus Cordelia actually thanks the Scooby gang and takes that step towards being a member of it.
John - I can't remember, had Cordelia seen vampires before? And the Scooby gang in action?
Dahne - Does Cordelia see vampires in this one? For some reason I thought that was next episode.
John - Naw not this episode. To be more precise, has Cordelia seen them deal with monsters of any kind? I feel like she has been part of some Scooby adventures and just feigns, or believes for the sake of her sanity, that nothing unexplainable happened. But I can't remember. Lol, only 11 episodes in to the series...
Dahne - As for the Scooby gang, I am not sure she knew exactly what they do but she knew enough to reach out to Buffy, which showed she was smarter than originally portrayed to me. She saw Buffy and Luke so I guess that counts as seeing a vampire although she didn't think they were vampires.
John - Right, and pretty much everyone at the Bronze just explained that away with steroids or something.
Dahne - I can't think of another time when she specifically witnessed an event but she was there in the aftermath of a few. Hmm, now I am going to have to go over my notes from the previous episodes.
Dahne - So did you have any favorite lines?
John - I really enjoyed when Cordelia said: "Being this popular is not just my right, but my responsibility." (sighs) Also, this line made me smile just because it exemplifies what I love about Whedonesque writing: Xander: "So, Giles said you'd be here. Why are you being here?" You?
Dahne - Ha! I loved that everyone got a snarky gem in this episode, even Willow. Cordelia: "Buffy, I…I know we've had our differences with you being so weird and all and hanging out with these total losers. Well anyway, despite all of that, I know that you share this feeling that we have for each other deep down." Willow: "Nausea?" I also Xander's "duh" voice in this one: Willow: "Why is Marcy doing this?" Giles: "The loneliness, the constant exile…she's…she has gone mad." Xander: "You think." We also get the classic - Giles: "A vampire in love with the Slayer. It's rather poetic in a maudlin sort of way."
John - Yeah, this episode has some excellent writing. I don't even remember the context of this, but apparently it was my other favourite? Buffy: "Gee, it's fun that we're speaking in tongues."
Dahne - I have that one too. It's when Xander and Willow are talking about Cordelia and Buffy feels left out.
John - Oh right! ALSO: Xander: "What, so there's homework now? When did that happen?" Buffy: "It's all part of the glamorous world of vampire slayage." Okay I am done now lol
Dahne - I have that Xander quote as well. In fact, apart from the season finale, I think I have more favorite quotes in this one than any of the other season episodes. Another great parallel of lines were: Giles: "0nce again I teeter on the precipice of the generation gap." and Buffy: "I think I speak for everyone here when I say huh?"
John - I missed that generation gap one! That's the best!
Dahne - Snyder made me laugh with: "What are you? Ghouls? They are no dead students here…this week." Only in Sunnydale.
John - Me too! Buffy: "Mitch wanted me to get his comb. He likes his comb." Snyder: "I don't think Mitch needs his comb right now. I think Mitch needs medical attention."
Dahne - Bwah! That Snyder quote was awesome, especially in the deadpan delivery. Principal Snyder was evil but funny. One of my favorite Snyder moments is when he is saying that he hates kids and Giles questions why he is a principal then.
John - Definitely one of my favourite recurring characters. Best deadpan ever.
Dahne - I loved Principal Snyder. I know most people hated him but he could turn a phrase like no one's business and screw over Buffy without a second thought.
John - Did most people hate him? I thought it was a love to hate kind of deal. I don't even love to hate him, I think he's fantastic.
Dahne - Yeah, love to hate is probably a better term. I thought he was fantastic too. I love how he was the complete opposite of Flutie and yet they both ended up screwed over by the Hellmouth.
John - Oh Flutie. I'm glad he went so early so we could have a Snyder, but having a Flutie was pretty fun too.
Dahne - I loved both of them. I would have liked Flutie to stay a bit longer, but Snyder was such a brilliant move you can't fault them for hastening Flutie's death.
Dahne - So any impact from this episode on the series? For me it was confirmation that vampires don't breath that became important in the finale. Also bringing Cordelia more into the fold.
John - Oh, I didn't even notice the breathing thing! I need to pay better attention while I scribble down my notes. Yeah, I think the biggest impact was the slight humanization of Cordelia.
Dahne - Angel mentions it when he rescues them from the gas.
John - So, in other realms of thought, the only thing I thought was problematic about this episode - other than most of what Cordy says, but we know it's supposed to be problematic - was Xander's whole dream of invisibly "[protecting] the girls locker room". Not because he makes the comment, but because no one reacts. I guess it's cool that no one laughs, but probably he should have been called out. At least by Giles or something.
Dahne - I think the tight sweater comment about the "active listening" teacher was a little much too. Although when this first aired, neither comment bothered me that I can recall. Shows how culture has been changing since Buffy aired.
John - Crap. I missed that comment too. What happened there? And yeah, it's cool to see that sort of change actually occur :).
Dahne - Apparently Xander didn't remember the active listening demonstration he did with his teacher because he was so enraptured with her tight sweater.
John - Ohhhhh. Okay.
Dahne - My other issue is Buffy going out in that outfit and Joyce not saying anything. What was that? Both Buffy and Cordelia wear some things that just weren't appropriate.
John - Right. I don't know where I fall on policing dress. I suppose there's something to be said for the need to police minors at the very least.
John - Anyway, unfortunately, I must leave now :(. It looks like this episode gave us LOTS to talk about though.
Dahne - So any last thoughts?
John - Naw, I said my piece. It was a strong standalone episode with a few quirks.
Dahne - This episode has grown on me each time I've rewatched it. I have some nitpicks but for the most part I like the character growth.
Screencaps by Buffy Database, Teen Nick, So Good It's Awesome, Skyler and Buffy, Jenny Trout, Buffygasm, and Rose Watches Buffy.