FEATURE: Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Out Of My Mind
Previously on Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Buffy's somehow acquired a sister. She's also decided to train harder, study better and generally become a more successful Slayer. Spike's chip is still in his head and he still plans on defeating Buffy somehow.
Holy foreshadowing, Batman!
Seriously, there is so much of it in this episode and I'm finding it quite baffling that I barely remember it as a result of this fact. Sure, I remember the major developments like Spike realising he's in love with Buffy and Joyce starting to get sick (oh dear god), but the Riley stuff? Not a jot. Let's talk about the good stuff first though. Do you remember where you were when you first saw that kiss?
I do. It was, as ever, a Thursday night on BBC 2. I'm fairly sure we'd had something like spaghetti bolognese for dinner. I'd converted my family on to the Buffy wagon by this point, so we were all watching it together. No more sneaking around and messing with the VCR for me. Someone, I can't remember who, shouted "NO!" in shock. We stared aghast. Spike kissed Buffy. Buffy kissed Spike. Spike was dreaming! He's in love with Buffy! Ah, it's never going to go anywhere... Or is it?!
Well, we all know the answer to that question now, but then? What a shock that was.
Elsewhere, we have the first arrival of the ongoing season arc outside of Dawn as Ben shows up to treat Joyce for the first time. He's still all Gentle Ben for now, but another jigsaw puzzle is in place. There's another in Tara starting to get a little concerned that Willow is overreaching a little with magic. The other key bit is that Joyce is on the decline, though again, we don't know it yet. Cleverly, the show distracts us with Riley's ongoing plight, yet it's all pretty ominous and, like her death will be, shockingly normal. There's nothing mystical in these bits of the episode, just cold, hard human reality. I'm not ready, you guys.
There was also the joy of seeing Spike and Harmony back together again. Exasperated and useless Spike really is the best Spike and it's amazing how successful the show managed to make him work that change as a character. Credit must go to James Marsters, of course, and to the writers, who'll keep crafting a truly fascinating ongoing and begrudging addition the gang. Plus, we get Mercedes McNab in full bimbo mode. Her scene with the surgeon is classic Harmony, full of little gems, but my favourite has to be her hastily extinguishing her cigarette upon seeing the No Smoking sign. Such a badass.
I supposed I have to return to the Riley stuff now. It's clear that they were running out of ideas for the character of Riley by this point. We've already done the Riley gets sick because of the Initiative's meddling bit, but now we get it with added masculine insecurity. As I've said before, I like that Buffy tackles the idea of men not being able to deal with Buffy's strength and doing it through Riley makes a tonne of sense. I love that Buffy immediately calls him out on it when he points out his differences to Angel. What I don't love about the episode is mostly that it, and the rest of the show, has forgotten to make us care. It also made Graham kinda sucky. The post-Angel relationship was always going to be tough to win people over, but Riley's just so beige. He really is everything that he fears he is, just not to Buffy.
Out Of My Mind is one of those episodes that's more important in the long run than it is in the moment. Buffy getting her life together and doing well is the biggest sign of doom we could possibly have, but there are plenty of other hints towards it in the episode. Oh boy.
Quote of the Week:
Spike: I will know your blood, Slayer. I will make your neck my chalice and drink deep. [Stalks off and immediately falls into an open grave.] OW!
Let's Get Trivial: Spike's watching an episode of Dawson's Creek in his crypt, which Mercedes McNab had previously guest-starred on.
You can catch Becky's look at previous episode, The Replacement, here.