Episode title: Out of Mind, Out of Sight
Original air date: May 19, 1997
“Y’know, I really felt sorry for you. You’ve suffered. But there’s one thing I really didn’t factor into all this. You’re a thundering loony!” – Buffy
It’s hard to believe but next week is the season one finale and while this first season has just flown by, this revisit has served to highlight flaws I missed previously like just how little we saw of “The Master” which is only the more strange when he’s supposed to be the season big evil. This episode does little to change that status as this week Cordelia finds herself being stalked by an foe with the power of invisibility as she campaigns for May Queen, while leaving Buffy with the issue of how do you hunt a foe you can’t see?
Another of my all-time favourite episodes and not only because it guest stars indie favourite Clea DuVall, but because it also brought a fun new spin on the invisible man idea, with Sunnydale High Student Marcie turning invisible as a result of none of her fellow students acknowledging her existence. Once again one of those things which tend to happen when you live above a hellmouth it would seem.
This episode comes with a nice mystery element as the Scoobies attempt to find out who is targeting Cordelia’s friends, which sees her boyfriend being beaten up by a baseball bat, best friend Harmony pushed down a flight of stairs and most shocking one of her teachers being suffocated with a plastic bag! A scene which is still shocking even now and more so when you consider that this show was originally shown at primetime, let alone the fact the scene wasn’t cut but as we will see especially in the later seasons what the show got away with in terms of violence was frequently surprising.
Marcie is an interesting villain even though it’s unclear if she went mad as a result of her condition or whether it was from the power to essentially do what she wants now that no one can see her. Unquestionably DuVall sells the socially awkward outcast side of Marcie, which was unsurprising seeing how she’s spent the best part of her career playing these kinds of characters. At the same time she really sells the crazy side of Marcie, which was certainly not something I’d seen her play before and even though it’s voice work for these scenes they don’t come off cheesy or overplayed, while the treat of her tray of surgical implements sets up a fantastic finale. One of things I still don’t understand though is how easily she manages to carry both Buffy and Cordelia after they are knocked unconscious, more so when its never clarified if being invisible makes you stronger, which would certainly seem to be the case here, even if its a question frustratingly never answered.
Outside of the main plot this week we get to see more of Buffy’s vulnerable side as she feels like an outsider, especially when her friends want to reminisce about events before she came to Sunnydale, while the May Queen election makes her pine equally for the life she had before she became the slayer, were she held the same social position as Cordelia. True these moments are brief but once more Sarah Michelle Geller proves herself more than capable of selling such moments without them over powering the main plot. This episode also sees the return of Angel whose been keeping his distance from Buffy, since she found out he was a vampire and as such spends the episode with the Scoobies, locating for Giles the “Peragum Codex” which will play a very important part in the season finale while this also marks Angel making his first steps towards becoming part of the group, which is only further cemented when he implausibly turns up in the nick of time to save Giles, Willow and Xander from being gassed to death.
While Marcie would sadly be a one shot villain, more so when the ending teases so many exciting prospects as she is seen joining a class of invisible students being trained for government black ops. Now how cool would it have been to see Buffy face off against Marcie again, only this time with her as a rogue government assassin! Sadly this would not come to be even though he condition would be mentioned several other times over the course of the series. As such Marcie ends up being another missed opportunity for the show, especially after this being such a standout episode.
Knowing the path ahead for these characters, this episode certainly marks an important turning point for both Cordelia and Angel who both started their journey towards joining the Scoobies here, while at the same time adding alittle more depth to their character especially with Cordelia who shows that she could be more than the queen bee she portrays herself as. This and a killer invisible psychopath needless to say only spells good times!