Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Buffy Blogthrough: 1.11 "Out of Mind Out of Sight"

Parenthood has slowed both my TV watching and my writing. It's way past time to get back into both habits!

1.11 “Out of Mind, Out of Sight”
broadcast: May 19, 1997
writer: Joss Whedon (story) and Ashley Gable & Thomas A. Swindon (teleplay)
director: Reza Badiyi

Non-linear television is rare enough that this episode's black/white flashbacks are noteworthy. But otherwise, where the last episode succeeded by abandoning Buffy's established structure, this one works mostly because it follows the blueprint so well. “Out of Mind” applies the monster-rific metaphor of invisibility to a high school wallflower. The student aims to avenge her condition by mutilating Cordelia for her haughtiness and narcissism, which, coupled with the Hellmouth, has caused her condition. Her motivations are relatable but ostracism renders her psychotic (a classroom allusion to Shylock fits in here). But this episode excels in its characterizations. Buffy remembers her pre-Slayer popularity as May Queen and feels like a third wheel in Xander and Willow's long friendship. And Cordelia, finally centerstage, admits to her own streak of alienation but (again like Shylock) uses it to justify her cruelty. In a bonus subplot, a prophecy sets up next week's finale.