Friday, 9 December 2011

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Out of Mind, Out of Sight

“Being popular is not just my right. It’s my responsibility.”

We get a lot more in the way of witty lines than we did last week, but this is another so-so episode of The X-Files- er, Buffy. We get another metaphor for teenage life, as a friendless girl becomes literally invisible. And we get our first real look at Cordelia as something more than comic relief. Oh, and did someone say that men in black were in the zeitgeist during 1997?

Oh, and as I’m writing this, my iTunes library is on shuffle. It’s playing Metallica’s “Invisible Kid”, appropriately enough. And the metaphor is a good one. But I don’t like Giles’ explanation that it’s quantum mechanics; this is science fiction, not horror / fantasy, and this is too early in the show’s run for that kind of extreme playing around with the genre. You need to fully establish rules before you break them. Besides, I’m no scientist, but even I know that the phenomenon of particles only being in one definite place one they’re observed only works on the quantum level; once one gets above a certain (very small) size, it’s classical physics all the way.

Oh, and this May Queen thing. That’s one of those traditions they have in American High Schools that I know nothing about. Is it something of a trope for the most popular girl to get elected? It’s a nice framework for some fun with Cordelia, anyway. She’s a fantastic character, and in this episode she gets all the best lines. My favourite is when she dismisses a girl she ran over on her bike: “It’s the most traumatic event of my life, and she’s trying to make it about her legs.”

And yet, we get more hints of a deeper and more intelligent Cordelia beneath this popular and vacuous front. Her heart-to-heart with Buffy is gripping, and we get a glimpse into a much more self-aware and psychologically astute Cordelia; she “can be surrounded by people and be completely alone.” Her desire for popularity is just another way of coping with the anxieties of being a teenager. She’s a fascinating character, and it’s great to see the beginnings of her involvement with the Scooby Gang. She’s in on the secret, sort of.

Oh, and Angel pops by to be all mysterious and to establish a bit of a rapport with Giles, which has to happen at some point. He’s also gone to get a book about some prophecy, in the season’s most obvious bit of arc stuff. That’ll be the McGuffin for the season finale, then. Oh, and the Master has a big plan. Gosh.

Oh, and there’s loads more fun with Principal Snyder. Of course, the character, in his role of obstructive authority figure, has to tread a fine line between being annoying and losing credibility, but he’s achieving this perfectly by being funny and seeming yet again as though he may know exactly what’s going on: “Dead? What are you, ghouls? There are no dead students here. This week.”

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