Buffyversed #11: “Out of Mind, Out of Sight” is Essentially an ‘X-Files’ Episode

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Buffyversed is a week by week, episode by episode, re-exploration of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Look for it every Friday on Goomba Stomp. 

Looking at the geneaology of a show like Buffy the Vampire Slayer there are a couple of clear influences. One of those is, of course, The X-Files, and “Out of Mind, Out of Sight” is Buffy at its most X-Files. 

Things start off pretty typically, all things considered, with someone being attacked by an unknown, or supernatural, force, in this case… a bat? Okay, I mean, normally, that would be an off-kilter starting point for us here, were it not for the fact that the bat seems to have acted of its own accord.

If you’re already erring on the side of Invisigirl, you’ve either seen this episode, or have chosen a random entry of my weekly Buffy column by mistake. Either way, yes, there is an invisible lady in the appropriately named “Out of Mind, Out of Sight” but what makes this episode notable is the almost total lack of wiggy elements in the “how” category in relation to Marcie’s invisibility.

Of course I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out the fact that this is one of Clea Duvall’s earliest starring roles.

As it turns out, Marcie is not possessed by a demon, or the victim of a curse, or the benefactor of some magical relic–she’s simply a girl who no one noticed, and though there’s a throwaway line about the Hellmouth possibly being a culprit for the eventual result of her invisibility, the fact that there are 5-10 other invisible kids at the tail end of “Out of Mind, Out of Sight”  (it’s hard to count invisible students) means that ultimately this phenomenon is possible, with or without the Hellmouth.

Finishing off the X-Files motif, we also have a very X-Files ending, with Marcy being recruited by a secret FBI training group to be utilized for assassination and infiltration missions. It’s a pretty odd, one-off, conclusion in hind-sight, and it shows that Buffy still wasn’t 100% sure what it was yet as a serialized drama.

Speaking of serialized, though, this episode is notable for a few other reasons. The first is that this is the return of Angel after a 4 episode hiatus. I know Cristina missed him, and I’m sure you all did too, depending on your ages, and your penchants for brooding, romantic types.

Yes, surprise of surprises, Angel did not say goodbye forever after surviving a dual-wielding pistol fight with Darla. Not only that but “Out of Mind, Out of Sight” actually finds the narrative heft to include him in both the Monster of the Week plot and the serialized narrative focus of wrapping up season one.

Look guys, we don’t need rape sub-plots in our invisibility story!

With that in mind, almost no one will be surprised to see Angel in next week’s finale, and even fewer folks will be shocked to find that David Boreanaz becomes a main cast member in season two… with sexy results!

The other thing we need to talk about is the serious softening that Cordelia takes in this week’s treatment. While “Nightmares” might have given her a slice of life, “Out of Mind, Out of Sight” lowers the gauntlet considerably in regard to her character. This is also the first time the series plays with the notion, in plain sight, of Cordy as the former Buffy.

Essentially Buffy was Cordelia before she became the slayer. This notion of putting Buffy face to face with her former self (even through a clever mirroring shot later on in the episode) hammers home how much Buffy has changed, and how large the discrepancy is between Buffy and her former self, as personified by Cordelia.

Amusingly, “Out of Mind, Out of Sight” plays with the idea of making Cordelia likable in a really fun, and deliberately inconsistent, way. Every time you’re just starting to warm up to Cordy, she puts you off by saying something insensitive or oblivious. This is the start of her new arc, one that sees her as a growing part of Buffy’s inner circle, while still allowing her to remain true to her character roots, in all of their vapid glory.

This would be much more intimidating were it not done up in glitter paint.

Cristina Says:

“Cristina Says,” is based on observations my fiance makes. This is my 4th time through the series, but she’s a first-time watcher with modern TV sensibilities.

“Those guys are just watching him get dressed with big smiles on their faces?” (There is a real homo-erotic tone to the opening, and it’s definitely not deliberate.)

“So is this the point where they suddenly try and make you like Cordelia?” (I just told her to “Wait for it.”)

“Aaaaaaaaand then you hate her again.” (See above.)

*Sarcastically* “Right on Angel! …Fuck I hate that guy.” (Is Cristina the first woman in history to not find herself smitten by Angel’s broody charms? Perhaps it’s her propensity for my broody charms, right guys? Right!?)

I can’t find the source for this, but whoever made it is much cooler than me.

Notable Whedonisms:

Whedonisms are a sort of term for (Buffy creator) Joss Whedon’s style of dialogue, and something we’re using as a catch-all for particularly fun or witty lines.

“My eyes are hazel, Helen Keller!” (Cordy is super sensitive to the difference between basic color discrepancies and a serious physical handicap.)

“Oh yeah! Well, I don’t even like chocolate!” (Buffy struggles for a comeback after Cordy passes her over for a bribery cupcake.)

“Maybe it was a… vampire bat! No? So I’m alone on that one, huh?” (Xander puns hard and deals with the consequences.)

“I know we’ve had our differences, what with you being so weird and all.” (Cordy asks for help in the only way she knows how: with a total lack of self-awareness.)

Like Madonna, we’ve finally made it through! Next week we find ourselves at “Prophecy Girl”, and the end of the first leg of our Buffy retrospective. See you in seven.

Mike Worby is a human who spends way too much of his free time playing, writing and podcasting about games. Through some miracle he’s still able to function in society as if he were a regular person, and if there’s hope for him, there’s hope for everyone. He’s the managing Games editor for Goomba Stomp, creator of the weekly Buffyversed column, and can be found bi-weekly on the Random Encounters podcast.