Buffy re-watch: Out of mind, out of sight. Don’t watch, listen

Out of Mind, Out of Sight is the penultimate episode to Buffy season 1. Here’s the episode in a nutshell and some themes that come to mind. Beware, as usual spoilers will not be invisible!

  • Students and staff are being mysteriously attacked at Sunnydale High School, but thankfully with no fatalities. “There are no dead students here. This week.” celebrates Principal Snyder.

  • The Scoobies look for answers in research and school records. Through a series of flashbacks we learn that Sunnydale student Marcie Ross was unpopular and ignored. She became isolated, lonely and literally invisible.
  • Like in the preceding episode, Nightmares, reality is affected by the residents of Sunnydale. The energy of the Hellmouth may be the driving force for it, but as Giles expositions, “Reality is shaped – even created, by our perception. People perceived Marcie as invisible and she became so”.
Buffy Out of mind, out of sight, huh

“I think I speak for everyone here when I say, huh?”

  • Three main themes stand out for me in this episode, listening, loneliness and the desire to be noticed.
  • The word listen is repeated throughout and the failure to listen can be disastrous. Giles advises Buffy that she will have to listen for once. “Listen” is one of the cryptic messages that Marcie leaves after a violent attack. No one listened to Marcie and she became a threat. Listening is important. Buffy eventually beats Marcie by listening.

Buffy listens

  • During the episode Buffy and Cordelia both speak of feeling alone. “I can be surrounded by people and be completely alone”, says Cordelia. Ironically it is really Marcie who is surrounded by people and is completely alone.
  • However the episode shows some character growth for Cordelia. She seems to be aware that the people who are attracted to her popularity are shallow. But she is not yet ready to join the “social leper colony” that is the Scooby gang.
  • Also a theme is the desire to be the centre of attention and to be noticed. Cordelia wants to be the May Queen, Willow comments that she tries to hard. Buffy is jealous of the attention around Cordelia and reveals that she was the May Queen at her school in LA. She misses the life in which she was popular and the centre of attention.
  • But being the centre of attention proves to be dangerous, as Cordelia realises that Marcie’s violent spree is “all about me”. Marcie who has suffered from lack of attention aims to make everyone notice Cordelia in a negative way, by disfiguring her face.
Side notes – Buffy season 1 progression
  • The Big Bad of the season, The Master, doesn’t make an appearance, but Angel and Giles have a rare friendly moment where they discuss prophecies. Viewers are reminded of the impending doom The Master is working towards.
  • Angel admits to Giles that he finds it too difficult to be around Buffy. “A vampire in love with a slayer … It’s rather poetic … in a maudling sort of way” observes Giles.
  • Later Angel helps out Willow, Giles and Xander behind Buffy’s back and they avoid telling her about his involvement, much like in the Season 4 episode, Pangs.
Episode messages
  • Listening is good. Being ignored is bad for people. It’s not always good to be the centre of attention. Also never follow music down to a basement…
  • On that note, nothing nice ever happens in the basement of Sunnydale High, we should know that by now.

One thought on “Buffy re-watch: Out of mind, out of sight. Don’t watch, listen

  1. Pingback: Buffy re-watch: Prophecy Girl – In which she flunks the written | Vampires These Days

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