Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Buffy 1x11 -"Out of Mind, Out of Sight"

If you were expecting that the penultimate episode of the season would lay the groundwork for Buffy's final confrontation with the monster, then you're bound to be disappointed by "Out of Mind, Out of Sight." What we get here instead is a fairly standard, high concept Buffy episode with only passing references to the ongoing plot, but with some long-overdue character development for Cordelia.

"Have a nice summer!"

Cordelia has been underused during the first season of Buffy. Charisma Carpenter's name appears in the opening titles of the show alongside the other stars, but her role has been minimal. Usually she exists for little reason other than to add a little bit of flavor to the high school setting, which is important, but the writers have struggled with making her seem an integral part of the show. She's a sort of real-world antagonist for the group, which means that in contrast to the fantasy-horror Monsters of the Week she's always going to seem a little inconsequential.

Bringing her into the fold and making her an official part of the "Scooby Gang"* was always Joss's plan, but if that was the case then maybe he and the other writers should have given more thought to what she could actually do with her before they were ready to "activate" her as a character. Angel went through a similar problem, as I remarked in my review of "Never Kill a Boy on the First Date", but that was dealt with four episodes ago, and he's only a recurring guest character at this point.

*(For those newbies unfamiliar with the term, "Scooby Gang" was a term used in the writers room during the first season to refer to Buffy, Giles, Willow, and Xander. During season two, the term got worked into a line of Xander's dialogue as an inside joke, and eventually it became common for the characters to refer to themselves as "the Scoobies".)

Still, even though Charisma Carpenter's not the strongest actor of the cast, she does reasonably well with giving us a slightly more sympathetic side of Cordelia here, and the writers do a good job of respecting the original intent of the character (as a reminder of what Buffy once was, but can no longer be). but striking out in another direction.

The central premise of the episode, that a girl is ignored so often that she literally turns invisible, gives us another example of a metaphor being literalized, something this show really loves. Clea DuVall does a good job in the role. Genre TV fans might remember her from her recurring role in Heroes as an FBI agent who partnered with Matt Parkman, back when the show was watchable. In this episode, as in Heroes, she does a great job of portraying an unremarkable but sympathetic character. It's just that this one happens to also be homicidal.

The ending of the episode, with Marcie seems like it ought to amount to something later on, but it  doesn't. Unlike most of the other instances of this so far this season, it's a shame this time, as I'd love to have seen more about these invisible assassins. Ah well.

1 comment:

  1. My favorite literalized metaphor of the series has to be "Beer Bad!"