Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Season 1 Episode 11

Out of Mind, Out of Sight

Aired Tuesday 8:00 PM May 19, 1997 on The WB
out of 10
User Rating
846 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary


An invisible force is attacking the students and teachers at Sunnydale High. Buffy and the gang must find a way to stop this unseen menace, and determine why it seems to be centering its attacks on Cordelia.

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  • invisiable Girl meets slayer

    Out of Mind, Out of Sight episode brings Angel back into the show to help Giles with a prophecy and to save Xander, Giles and Willow from a gas leak in the locked boiler room. While Buffy defeats the invisible girl and protects Cordelia.
  • "Out Of Mind, Out Of Sight"

    This episode too comes awfully close to being a classic, but can't quite overcome the same problems that "Nightmares" has: some erratic performances and a plot that's more busy than necessary. It's also another of the Monster Of The Week episodes in Season One that's a little too blunt about its metaphor.

    The story is simple: Someone's been messing with Cordelia and all her friends. Someone who's invisible. Someone who turned invisible becauseirony alertnobody in school has ever paid any attention to her. The logic of all this seems a little diceyand the mechanics of invisibility are mostly ignored until the climactic fight between Buffy and Miss Invisible, when our heroine finally and belatedly gets the bright idea to use outside materials to make the invisible visiblebut Clea DuVall plays the villain well in her handful of flashback scenes, and the episode's final shot of a classroom full of invisible girls in training for covert government operations is suitably creepy. So I'll forgive the on-the-nose-ness of this premise. Mostly.

    Still, there are intimations of real depth in a few scenes here that I wish the episode had explored more fully. It's there in the literature class, where Cordelia reveals something fundamental about her worldview by complaining that Shylock's "If you prick us, do we not bleed?" speech in Shakespeare's The Merchant Of Venice is just the rambling of a whiner. It's there in the scene where the invisible girl stalks the boys' locker rooma pointed inversion of the usual invisibility fantasy in sci-fi and horror moviesand wallops Cordelia's boyfriend with a baseball bat. It's there in the interlude where Giles consults with Angel about the danger coming in the season finale, leading Giles to spend long stretches talking to Angel's absent reflection. And it's there in the scene where Buffy watches Cordelia try on her May Queen outfit, and she pines for a life she left behind to become a Slayer.

    All of those scenes speak more subtly and wisely about high school society than the too-simple idea of a girl who vanishes due to inattention. The central contradiction of adolescence is that nearly every teenager feels like their problems and their lives are incredibly important, while also feeling that they could drop dead tomorrow and no one would really care, because no one really knows who they are.

    To that end, my favorite scene in this episodeand one of my favorite scenes of Season Onetakes place in the hall between classes, as Xander and Willow share a private joke about Cordelia that they've obviously laughed at for years, and they fail to share it with their new friend Buffy. For a moment, Buffy's face registers the pain of feeling excluded even among the excluded, and we're reminded that her calling is always going to make her an outsider.moreless
  • Out of Mind, Out of Sight

    Unlike "Nightmares" [1x10], "Out of Mind, Out of Sight" tells a coherent story. It's not the deepest story you'll see on Buffy and it has a metaphor that is a little too transparent in places, but it largely succeeds at what it sets out to do and develops a character in the process. While it succeeds in offering us something worthwhile, it still struggles in terms of those ever important details such as pacing, subtlety, and depth. I was really digging this one until around the midway point, which is where it started losing steam. Speaking of details, how about I give you some of my own?

    What would happen to a person so ignored they literally disappeared? It's as if the collective indifference around them wished it to happen, and it did. "Out of Mind, Out of Sight" explores this concept and does a decent job at bringing in a couple characters, namely Cordelia and Buffy, along for the ride. A classroom scene early in the episode sets up the events to come quite nicely. Cordelia gives an ironic little rant about how "the outcasts of society" simply need to get over themselves, while Willow rebuttals with a more sympathetic outlook. This is all relevant to the plot at hand and gets us thinking about whether or not we should feel sorry for Marcie. If so, does that empathy extend to revenge on those that ignored her? By the end of the episode we find out Marcie is completely insane. This sadly makes these questions less relevant than they otherwise could have been.

    There's an interesting scene early on in the hallway where Xander and Willow share an inside joke with each other, leaving Buffy feeling out of the loop. Xander even unknowingly criticizes Buffy for missing and enjoying school coronation events. I really appreciate how the episode draws attention to Buffy's loneliness and loss, which contrasts with both Cordelia and Marcie two girls who we find out both suffer from different variants of loneliness. Marcie tries to quell this feeling with revenge, Cordelia by surrounding herself with others to feel popular and wanted, and Buffy by sacrificing to make a difference even if those around her fail to notice it. Buffy even gives us an example of her often selfless nature by genuinely smiling after seeing Cordelia getting all dolled up for the coronation. It says great things about her when she shows such appreciation in seeing someone else enjoying that which she wants and cannot have.

    In addition to getting that beautifully subtle moment from Buffy, there's a wonderful scene a bit later that finally gives Cordelia some much needed depth. After Buffy pokes fun at her superficiality, Cordelia responds by revealing that "I can be surrounded by people and be completely alone. It's not like any of them really know me. I don't even know if they like me half the time. People just want to be in a popular zone. Sometimes when I talk, everyone's so busy agreeing with me, they don't hear a word I say." Buffy follows this up with another nice beat in which she agrees with Cordelia and admits that even before the Slayer gig she sometimes felt the same way. Cordelia genuinely thanking Buffy and gang for their help at the end of the episode is a perfect grace note for what turns out to be the first step towards a better (but always tumultuous) relationship between them. They're not quite there yet, though, a fact Cordelia's boyfriend reminds us of in the final scene.

    Not to get lost in the action, Angel pays Giles a visit and gets a moment of reflection (har, har) of his own. This moment is where he tells Giles that having no reflection is an overrated pleasure, hinting at the fact that he's, in actuality, a lonely creature that feels perpetually damned. It was great to see Angel and Giles finally have a moment to bond a little, particularly because of how these moments resonate in light of events to come.

    While the first half of "Out of Mind, Out of Sight" does a pretty nice job at using its plot to draw parallels to the characters, things begin to slide downhill quickly after that point. With the exception of a scene or two, the last half of the episode is drearily paced, repetitive, and fairly boring. It's actually quite a shame, because it's like Whedon had this great concept for an episode but the actual script just came up short. The writers didn't quite seem able to add in that extra layer of pathos, emotion, and depth.

    While Marcie's plight is somewhat intellectually fascinating (as described above), it's just not very emotionally fascinating. I would have very much appreciated Marcie's motivations to be fleshed out a bit beyond 'I was ignored, woe me, psycho time!' Rather than anyone actually learning anything from Marcie's actions, the episode just writes her off as a lunatic who gets wisped away by a couple convenient FBI guys in an overly comical conclusion. This is all a bit of a shame, because it almost all came together for me.

    Despite my notable qualms with "Out of Mind, Out of Sight," it definitely does enough right in terms of theme and character to be a worthwhile effort. I really loved seeing Cordelia actually become a real character (rather than a walking, talking clich) and taking that first step towards integrating with the Scooby Gang. I also appreciated how Marcie's situation is, at least early on, used as a point of reflection for Buffy. In the end it let the good will it had built up slowly slip away. It's a mixed bag overall, but one I'm willing to carry along with me for all the tasty bits inside. It also ends up being one of S1's better entries.moreless
  • The girl who wasn't there

    Out of sight, out of mind;

    The Good;

    One of the best allegories yet for High School as hell. Real sense of menace to the knife floating behind Buffy although from what we've seen since it probably didn't pose a real threat to her. Cordelia starts to come more and more into her own here and some funny stuff from Snyder

    The Bad;

    Not much, very strong episode

    Best line;

    Cordelia; Oh my god, is she really wearing Laura Ashely?

    Worst line;

    Willow; Mitch was attacked by a floating bat?

    Xander; Maybe it was a vampire bat? (GGRRRoooaaannn!)

    Questions and observations:

    So, the goverment know what's going on in Sunnydale and are exploiting it to their own ends? We see the beginnings of the Initiative here. A sign of the times that Marcie at the end is training to assasinate cult leaders as this was just after Waco. Nowadays of course she'd be after Osama and co. Interesting that the class are doing The Merchant of Venice, Marcie easily resembles the figure of Shylock.

    If you've ever watched the DVD commentary for The Grudge SMG remembers the guy who played Ford in 'Lie to Me' appearing on Buffy but not Clea Duvall. Rewatching the ep you realise that she never has any scenes with visible Marcie so they probably never met. Harmony again, named for the first time. Cordy has passed her driving test to judge by her story of running the girl on the bike over. The scene where the teacher is nearly smothered by the plastic bag is HORRIBLE. First meeting between Giles and Angel. Cordy, Buffy, Willlow and Xander are all knocked out, the start of a grand scooby tradition. Ironically Giles who is so notorious for it stays conscious. Cordy and Buffy are also tied up, another Buffy cliche that will see much use. How exactly does Marcie get Cordy and Buffy to the Bronze? I gotta say, if faced with the choice of being gassed or risking an explosion I'd take explosion every time

    If you'll pardon the pun it would have been lovely to 'see' Marcie again, maybe in season 7 Buffy could have been chained up and helpless only for her bonds to miraculously unravel? But if at her new school she's got friends etc won't she become visible again?

    I don't know if it's deliberate but the title reminds me of the story where Soviet premier Breshnev is meeting the US President Nixon and during the chitchat he asks where the vice-president Spiro Agnew is? (some form of demon according to Angel and Fred's dad). Agnew was keeping a low profile at the time as he was under investigation for corruption so Nixon replied, "Oh, you know, out of sight, out of mind'. Breshnev looks at Nixon oddly then hurriedly walked away whereupon Nixon's translator tells him that Breshnev's translator interpreted 'out of sight, out of mind' as 'Invisible maniac'

    Good ep, 4/5

  • high school can be cruel

    Espeacilly when your invisible.

    ok so I'm guessing this episode is a metafore for being ignored at school.

    So if you go to school in america and no one talks to you and you get ignored then you will turn invisible. I wish someone told me about that when I went to school I wouldn't have made so much of an effort.

    I guess if anything else people can take a lesson from this one and make an effort to get out their and be noticed. it's all about confidence. So in this one a girl lives in the school and is invisble. Probably had to be a girl. because if it was a guy he wouldn't be going around bashing people with baseball bats and kicking people down stairs.

    also we get to see a different side of Cordelia and see the non bimbo side. Talk about character depth.

    Not to bad episode. They should do a spin off show from this one and just have invisible people as the stars. That way they wouldn't have to pay the actors.moreless
Ryan Bittle

Ryan Bittle


Guest Star

Denise Dowse

Denise Dowse

Ms. Miller

Guest Star

John Knight

John Knight

Bud 1

Guest Star

David Boreanaz

David Boreanaz


Recurring Role

Mercedes McNab

Mercedes McNab


Recurring Role

Armin Shimerman

Armin Shimerman

Principal Snyder

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (15)

    • Goof: Just before Harmony falls down the stairs she has a purple backpack slung over her right shoulder, but it is gone when she tumbles down the steps.

    • Goof: At the very end of the episode as the invisible girl gets taken along a corridor by FBI agents, look towards the top of the screen, you can see a boom mike creep in as the agent says his line, then is withdrawn.

    • Nitpick: Page 54 of the textbook at the end reads: Chapter 11: Infiltration and Assassination. There is a subheading below it (Case D: Radical Cult Leader as Intended Victim), but the rest of the page is irrelevant. The paragraph begins with "August 2nd, 19xx" and the rest of the page appears to consist of the lyrics to the song "Happiness is a Warm Gun" by The Beatles.

    • In this episode, Willow wears a white Scooby-Doo t-shirt. Beginning in the episode "What's My Line (1)", the Slayer and her friends start calling themselves "The Scooby Gang" or "The Scoobies".

    • We learn that vampires have no need for oxygen and cast no reflection.

    • Goof: When the gang are having lunch, watch Xander's food. First he's eating a sandwich, then he's not, then he's back to the sandwich again.

    • Nitpick: Buffy says that Marcie, who disappeared six months ago, is the most recent person on the "dead and missing" list. Since this episode deals with the May Queen, it probably takes place in late April or early May. This means that Marcie disappeared in late October or early November. The timeline of this season is not very exact, but it is clear that students have died and/or disappeared more recently than this.

    • Angel and Giles meet for the first time in this episode.

    • Goof: When Buffy takes the yearbook from Marcie's "nest," there is a blue post-it sticking out the top of it. Later in the library, the gang is looking at the yearbook and the post-it is gone.

    • Nitpick: The announcement board outside The Bronze says that the club is closed for fumigation. Since that makes no sense (the dance is to be held there that same evening), this is obviously recycled stock footage from the episode "Angel" (1x07).

    • Nitpick: When Buffy was trying to get into the closet while Cordelia was being taken, Buffy first tries to push the door. However, you can clearly see the hinges on the door, meaning it would open outwards.

    • The agents in this episode say they are FBI, but later Marcie is reading about Assassination and Infiltration, clearly learning to be a spy. The CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) is in charge of spying on other countries, while the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) is in charge of investigating crime, not spying on other countries. In fact, the FBI does not even have the right to take Marcie without an arrest warrant.
      Most likely, the agents actually belong to some sort of secret, black ops agency (perhaps The Initiative?) and lied about their affiliation.

    • Goof: In the scene where Buffy and Cordelia are tied to chairs, Cordelia's face wound is a little suspect. Right after the slice is made, her "blood" dries quickly, but in the next shot, the cut is moist again and continuing to drip blood.

    • Goof: After Buffy frees herself from the chair at the Bronze, she goes over to untie Cordelia. As Buffy is knocked down by Marcie, the rope around Cordy's left hand becomes untied. For the rest of the scene, the rope is tightly tied around Cordy's hand once again.

    • Goof: When Buffy goes to save Cordelia and falls through the floor, she lands on her back and rolls onto her side. But in the next shot, she is still on her back.

  • QUOTES (27)

    • Xander: You wanna come over for dinner tonight? My mom's gonna make her famous 'Phone call to the Chinese place.
      Willow: Do you guys even own an oven?

    • Giles: I'll research all the possibilities, ghosts included. But Xander, if you're not doing anything, would you like to help me?
      Xander: What, so there's homework now? When did that happen?
      Buffy: It's all part of the glamorous world of vampire slayage.
      Xander: Well, what part do you have?
      Buffy: Gonna find out what I can about Mitch. This attack wasn't random.
      Xander: Well, I want that part.
      Buffy: Fine. You can do it. Ask around, talk to his friends. Talk to Cordelia!
      Xander: Talk to Cordelia? (to Giles) So, research, huh?

    • Harmony: Ow! Oh, my ankle! I think it's broken.
      Buffy: What happened?
      Snyder: (to Buffy) Hey! Who's the principal here? (to Harmony) What happened?

    • Cordelia: (giving her acceptance speech) Ask not what your school can do for you, ask "Hey! What am I wearing to the Spring Fling?"

    • Buffy: You guys didn't know Marcie Ross?
      Xander: Never met her. Why?
      Buffy: 'Cause you both wrote it, too.
      Xander: (reading Marcie's yearbook) "Have a nice..." Yeesh!
      Willow: Where am I? Oh. "Have a great summer." See, I cared!

    • Buffy: So you've come to me for help.
      Cordelia: Because you're always around when all this weird stuff is happening. And I know you're very strong, and you've got all those weapons... I was kind of hoping you were in a gang.

    • Buffy: You know what you were saying before? I understand. Somehow it doesn't seem to matter how popular you are when...
      Cordelia: You were popular? In what alternate universe?
      Buffy: In L.A.. The point is, I did sort of feel like something was missing.
      Cordelia: Is that when you became weird and got kicked out?
      Buffy: Okay. Can we have the heartfelt talk with a little less talk from you?

    • Cordelia: Look, um, I didn't get a chance to say anything yesterday with the coronation and everything... but, um, I guess I just wanted to say thank you. All of you.
      Xander: That's funny, cause she looks like Cordelia.

    • Willow: Why is Marcie doing this?
      Giles: The loneliness, the constant exile. She has gone mad.
      Xander: You think?

    • Cordelia: People who think their problems are so huge craze me, like this time I sort of ran over this girl on her bike. It was the most traumatizing event of my life, and she's trying to make it about her leg. Like my pain meant nothing!

    • Buffy: Monsters don't usually send messages. It's pretty much crush, kill, destroy. This was different.
      Giles: I'd have to say you're right.
      Buffy: I love it when he says that!

    • Cordelia: If I'm not crowned tonight then, then Marcie's won! And that would be bad. She's evil, okay? Way eviler than me!

    • Giles: You know, I don't recall ever seeing you here before.
      Cordelia: Oh no, I have a life.

    • Giles: How exactly do you propose to hunt someone you can't see? You may have to work on listening to people.
      Buffy: Very funny!
      Giles: I thought so.

    • Cordelia: You should have seen him lying there all black and blue. How's that going to look in our Prom pictures? How am I ever going to be able to show them to anyone?
      Harmony: Well, they can do wonderful things with airbrushes these days.

    • Giles: Buffy told me you don't feed from humans anymore.
      Angel: Not for a long while.
      Giles: Is that why you're here? To see her?
      Angel: I can't. It's, uh... It's too hard for me to be around her.
      Giles: A vampire in love with a Slayer. It's rather poetic. In a maudlin sort of way.

    • Xander: I'd give anything to be able to turn invisible! Well, I wouldn't use my power to beat people up, but I'd use my power to protect the girls' locker room.

    • Willow: (reading Marcie's yearbook) Oh, my God! "Have a nice summer." "Have a nice summer." This girl had no friends at all.
      Giles: Uh, once again I teeter at the precipice of the generation gap.
      Buffy: "Have a nice summer" is what you write when you have nothing to say.
      Xander: It's the kiss of death.

    • Giles: It's a bit of a puzzle, really. Um, I've never actually heard of anyone attacked by a lone baseball bat before.
      Xander: Maybe it's a vampire bat. (everyone just stares at him) I'm alone with that one, huh?

    • Giles: Of course! I've been investigating the mystical causes of invisibility when I, I should have looked at the quantum mechanical! (off their look) Physics.
      Buffy: I think I speak for everyone here when I say, "huh?"

    • Cordelia: I just love springtime. Me and bright spring fashions!
      Mitch: Spring training.
      Cordelia: Me at the end of school dance.
      Harmony: The end of school.
      Cordelia: Definitely my favorite time of year. I am, of course, having my dress specially made. Off the rack gives me hives.

    • Cordelia: So, are you saying she's invisible because she's so unpopular?
      Buffy: That about sums it up.
      Cordelia: Bummer for her. It's awful to feel that lonely.
      Buffy: Hmm. So you've read something about the feeling?
      Cordelia: Hey! You think I'm never lonely because I'm so cute and popular? I can be surrounded by people and be completely alone. It's not like any of them really know me. I don't even know if they like me half the time. People just want to be in a popular zone. Sometimes when I talk, everyone's so busy agreeing with me, they don't hear a word I say.
      Buffy: Well, if you feel so alone, then why do you work so hard at being popular?
      Cordelia: Well, it beats being alone all by yourself.

    • Buffy: (to Marcie) Y'know, I really felt sorry for you. You've suffered. There's one thing I really didn't factor into all this. You're a thundering loony!

    • Cordelia: (to Buffy) I know that you share this feeling that we have for each other, deep down...
      Willow: Nausea?

    • Snyder: There are no dead students here... this week.

    • Giles: There's an... invisible girl terrorizing the school.
      Angel: That's not really my area of expertise.
      Giles: Nor mine, I'm afraid. It's fascinating, though. By all accounts it's a wonderful power to possess.
      Angel: Oh, I don't know. Looking in the mirror everyday and seeing nothing there. It's an overrated pleasure.

    • Cordelia: This is all about me! Me, me, me!
      Xander: Hey! For once, she's right!

  • NOTES (5)


    • Cordelia: Ask not what your school can do for you...
      Cordelia is paraphrasing a line from President John F. Kennedy's 1961 Inaugural Address.
      "And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country."

    • Visual: (written on the blackboard behind Mrs. Miller) To every man his little cross. Til he dies. And is forgotten.

      This comes from Samuel Beckett's play, Waiting for Godot, in which two men wait in vain for the ambiguous title (non)character.

    • Buffy: It's pretty much "Crush! Kill! Destroy!"
      An android killer in the 1960s sci-fi show Lost In Space episode "Revolt of the Androids" pursued the astronauts saying only "Crush! Kill! Destroy!", which Buffy says here, referring to the fact that monsters usually don't communicate ideas.

    • Cordelia: God, is she really wearing Laura Ashley?

      Laura Ashley is a home furnishings and clothing designer that is apparently below Cordelia's high standards. Laura Ashley creations are typically up-scale and often feature floral prints.

    • Buffy: Gee, it's fun that we're speaking in tongues.

      Buffy, not understanding Willow and Xander's inside joke, equates their conversation to the practice of speaking in tongues. Some religious groups believe that those of their number who are divinely inspired will begin to speak in strange languages. Since this usually sounds like gibberish, the term "speaking in tongues" also refers to someone saying something that cannot be made out or understood.

    • Cordelia: That is such a twinkie defense.

      Cordelia is making a reference to Dan White's defense in the murders of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk. Urban legend claims that part of White's defense was temporary insanity, due to the consumption of too much junk food. The term "twinkie defense" has come to mean a specious claim of non responsibility.

      In reality, White's lawyers argued that the previously health conscious White was suffering from untreated and spiraling depression, as evidenced by his conversion from a healthy diet to high fat, high sugar foods, such as Twinkies.

      The term "twinkie defense" has become a commonly recognized phrase, but it is based on something that never actually occured.

    • Cordelia: He acts like it's justice, him getting a pound of Antonio's flesh.

      Ms. Miller is reading from Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice. In the play, Shylock lends three thousand ducats to Antonio. As a bond, Anontio agrees that if the sum is not repaid, Shylock is entitled to a pound of his flesh.

      Shylock's position as an outcast in his society and the class discussion is a fitting background for the story of an outcast/unseen girl.

    • Cordelia: My eyes are hazel, Helen Keller.

      Helen Keller (1880 - 1968) was a world famous author and speaker. Due to a childhood disease, she was left blind and deaf. Her story and that of her tutor, Anne Sullivan, have been told in numerous biographies and movies.

    • Title: Out of Mind, Out of Sight

      A play on the phrase "out of sight, out of mind." The original means not thinking about someone (or something) because it is not around. The twisted phrase, which is the title of the episode, is also a summation of the plot. The girl that no one felt invisible and so became it.

      Also, "out of mind" is a reference to insanity, which clearly describes Marcie. This may be a nod to a well-known story of a mistranslation from "out of sight, out of mind" to "invisible, insane."