Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Buffy Blog: "Out of Mind, Out of Sight"

Previously in the Jossverse: I read or heard somewhere that the idea for an a girl driven invisible by high school cliqueism originated at a drawing when Whedon was 15.

Previously on Buffy: Buffy was the equivalent of “may queen” at Hemery High in LA. Willow references “The Witch” (act two). Cordy refers to the time Buffy attacked her at the Bronze (“Welcome to the Hellmouth/The Harvest”). Does the gas that Marcie turns on to try to kill Willow, Xander, and Giles and that Giles says could blow up Sunnydale High foreshadow what will happen at the end of season three in “Graduation Day”?

High School is Hell: Marcie Ross represents the high school “looser” or “leper” who wants to be part of the “in-crowd” but is repeatedly ignored by the “in-crowd”.

Slipping into the Twilight Zone: Marcie, neither seen, nor listened to, nor heard by any one, including teachers, turns into invisible girl.

Science: It is “quantum mechanics”, being ignored by other students and teachers, that turns Marcie into the “invisible girl”.

Playing with Genre. Buffy does the invisible man, er invisible girl theme in the horror genre.

Character: “Out of Mind, Out of Sight” is a Cordy episode. Cordy is humanized in this episode. Cordy discusses her feelings of feeling lonely even when she is with others from the in-crowd with Buffy while Buffy is protecting her from Marcie in act two. “I can”, Cordy tells Buffy, “be surrounded by people and still feel completely alone”. Cordy tells Buffy that she has become popular because she doesn’t want to be alone.

Payback is a Bitch: Marcie attacks Mitch (teaser), Cordy’s latest boyfriend, Harmony (act one), Cordy’s in-crowd friend, Ms. Miller, a teacher who pays attention to Cordy and helps her but not Marcie (act three), and Cordy (acts three and four) because they didn’t see her (LOOK) or hear her (LISTEN). Now they are learning what their in-crowd ethnocentrism means (LEARN).

Foreshadowings: Angel tells Giles that he can get the “Pergamum Codex”, a book of prophecies about the slayer’s role in the “end times” for him. This book of prophecy will play an important role in the next episode, the aptly titled “Prophecy Girl”.

Scoobies in Peril: Willow, Xander, and Giles are tricked by Marcie to come down into the basement at Sunnydale High. Once they come down to reason with her Marcie traps them there and turns on the gas in order to kill them. Cordy may not quite yet be a Scooby, but see “Prophecy Girl”, but she is in danger (“This is all about me! Me! Me! Me!”, Cordy says, and this time she is right) and asks the Scoobies and Buffy for help.

Angel to the Rescue: Angel, smelling gas when he enters Sunnydale High through the tunnels to give Giles “the Codex”, smells the gas and saves Willow, Xander, and Giles from almost certain death.

The Scoobies as Outsiders: Cordy refers to Buffy as “weird” (the teaser). Cordy, campaigning for may queen, tells Buffy she doesn’t “need the looney fringe vote”,
Buffy’s vote. Cordy refers to the Scoobies as a “social leper colony” and people who frequent the library as not having a life, unlike her.

Shakespeare Alert: Ms. Miller’s class is talking about “The Merchant of Venice”. The outcast theme of that play fits in well with this episode, an episode which deals with outcasts like Marcie and the Scoobies.

It’s a Greek Myth: Xander references tales of cloaks of invisibility in Greek myths.

The Tragedy: Angel visits Giles in the library and tells Giles that he can’t see Buffy because he loves her. Giles refers to Angel’s love for Buffy as “rather poetic in a maudlin sort of way”. Is Buffy rather poetic in a maudlin sort of way? Giles tells Angel he is researching an invisible girl who is “terrorizing” Sunnydale High. He mentions to Angel, an Angel who can’t be seen in the glass in the library bookshelves, that invisibility must be a “wonderful power to have”. Angel responds that being invisible is “an overrated pleasure”. Note how many references to and metaphors about invisibility float through this episode.

Vampire Lore: Angel leaves no image in the glass in the library (act two).

Cinematography: the scenes of Marcie interacting with Cordy and her in-crowd, the “Cordettes”, in school halls, in one of the school bathrooms, and in class are in a brownish “sepia toned” black and white. Did they film them in colour and then black and white them? Note the nice use of shadows as Buffy is making sure Cordy is safe in act two. Note Buffy’s wonky vision after she is anesthetized by Marcie.

Sound: Note the nice and eerie use of Marcie’s breathing in the scene where Buffy explores Marcie’s “nest” in act two.

Narrative Parallelism: Elegant. Giles tells Buffy she is going to have to learn to listen. Buffy uses her listening and feeling skills to hear and feel Marcie without seeing her by closing her eyes, feeling Marcie’s movements, and hearing Marcie as she steps on a squeaky part of the Bronze floor. Buffy’s listening and feeling skills allow her to defeat Marcie in yet another battle at the Bronze.

Buffy the Leader: Buffy organizes the Scoobies in act one telling Willow to “compile a list of kids who’ve died here (at Sunnydale High) who might have turned into ghosts”. Buffy tells Xander to talk to Buffy or help Giles with his research. He chooses the latter.

Psychology: invisibility gives Marcie power and drives her mad.

The Government is “Very Creepy”: The agents who will take Marcie to be rehabilitated so she can become a “useful member of society” appear in act three wearing your standard black suits, black pants, and white oxford shirts. Some commentators have found this X-Filesy. But it is also very Twilight Zoney.

Trivial Pursuit: Willow has a Scooby-Doo t-shirt on. Cordy is used as “bait”.

Cultural References: Note the reference to the “cult leader” in the textbook Marcie is given once she is taken to the government spy training centre. Giles refers to the theory of social constructionism, the perspective that argues that we create our own realities through our perceptions. Cordy calls Mitch a “Helen Keller” when he gets her eye colour wrong (they are hazel).

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