“Out of My Mind”
Written by Rebecca Kirshner
Directed by David Grossman
At the cemetery, Buffy is crouching on top of a mausoleum. Awesome. She leaps down and starts running after a vampire. She stakes one before he even comes out of his grave, then has to fight the next on. Riley shows up out of nowhere to help, and Buffy is more surprised than appreciative. Also, Riley is doing some pretty impressive feats of strength. Then A third vampire pops out of his grave, and Spike attacks him. Buffy doesn’t appreciate the two of them horning in on her patrols. Spike has a bloody nose and finds the blood very tasty. Spike sense the tension between Buffy and Riley and thinks it’s hilarious. They leave. Riley really wants to keep helping Buffy. She’s not enthusiastic about that plan. Also, neither of them think it would be entertaining enough to go back and stake Spike just for fun. Spike resents that. He’s dreaming of the day when he can drain Buffy dry. Then he walks right into one of the graves a vampire just rose from. Bahaha.
Buffy and Willow are debating about the French Revolution as they walk down the hall. Buffy thinks one of the historical figures was likely killed by vampires. Willow is very excited to be having an intellectual discussion with Buffy. So exciting that she makes a very dumb pun about it. Buffy wishes she could just have a training montage instead of actually having to go through all the study and training. Willow accompanies Buffy on her way to said training.
Xander is using his recently developed carpentry skills to make a bunch of shelving sets for the Magic Box. Giles is actually impressed with his work. Tara and Anya are also there. Anya is appalled with the organization of the spell ingredients. The wrong pair of items sitting next to each other could easily explode. Buffy and Willow arrive. Willow loves it. Willow and Giles have a passive-aggressive disagreement about actual newt eyes versus run-of-the-mill amphibian eyes, and then Buffy and Giles head to the training room. Willow thinks Tara should do tarot readings for customers. Willow holds out her hands for a palm reading. It ends up being more cute than portentious.
Riley tackles Buffy when she enters the training room. She’s annoyed, and then she gets a look at the training room. It’s awesome. She totally loves it. Tons of fantastic space and equipment. Xander is very proud of the dummy he made. Riley really wants to spar with Buffy, but he’s being obnoxiously overeager about it.
Spike is watching...Dawson’s Creek? Is it a guilty pleasure or is he just so bored that he’s resorting to teen melodrama to pass the time? Whatever. Harmony shows up, hoping for sanctuary. She thinks Buffy is hunting her, which is hilarious. Spike certainly thinks so. Still, he’s not above sleeping with her, so he starts with the suggestive hints about what she can do to convince him to let her stay in his crypt. These hints fly completely over her head for an embarrassingly long time, but then she figures it out and is fine with that. She thinks cigarettes are part of her new villainous image, but that’s ruined somewhat by the coughing and the not knowing how to light a cigarette. Harmony thinks killing Buffy is too hard, so she’d like Spike to do it. He can’t, though, because of the chip. So they decide he’ll be the brains and she’ll be the brawn.
Buffy and Riley are in bed, talking about bed activities. Whatever. The next morning, Dawn is talking to Joyce about school stuff while having some kind of bland cereal for breakfast. Oh, wait, no, she’s just pouring all the cereal out so she can get the little toy thing out of the box. She’d actually rather have eggs for breakfast. Joyce is about to bring her an omelet when she pauses. She suddenly doesn’t know who Dawn is, and then she passes out. Dawn calls 911.
Buffy and Riley find Dawn at the hospital. An intern named Ben comes out to tell them Joyce is doing okay. The doctors are pretty confident that this is nothing to worry about. Dawn plays with his stethoscope, listening to his heart, Buffy’s, and Riley’s. Riley’s sounds like a galloping horse. Uh oh.
Riley has severe tachycardia! Fun. He’s refusing to stay at the hospital, though. Buffy doesn’t approve, and nor does the doctor. When the doctor leaves, Buffy tries to get answers out of him. Riley tries to calm her down. According to him, this is just the result of his being an Initiative lab rat for months. It’s his version of normal! Yeah, sure. Joyce and Dawn join them. Buffy hugs Joyce, who is ready to go home. Riley concurs. Buffy isn’t happy with him, but they go.
Buffy, Willow, and Dawn are all trying to think of nice things to do for Joyce. Joyce thinks they’re overreacting and that they should focus on Riley. Buffy pretends not to be worried about Riley for Joyce’s sake, but then in her room with Dawn and Willow, she goes on a rant about him. Dawn annoys Buffy with irrelevant anecdotes about the CIA and Fidel Castro. Willow recommends contacting the Initiative. Only problem with that is the Initiative no longer exists. Then Dawn has an actually good suggestion. If the Initiative really was keeping tabs on her, then Buffy should just address them directly with the wiretaps or whatever. Buffy heads out.
She goes to Riley’s place. Riley isn’t there. She picks up the phone, which has some weird clicks mixed in with the dial tone, and tells anyone who might be listening that Riley’s in trouble. Elsewhere, Riley is playing basketball, and he’s untouchable. Then he sees Graham sitting on a nearby bench. Hi Graham! He’s accompanied by a couple of agents, and he wants to get Riley into an operating room right now. Riley isn’t interested in being a lab rat again. He doesn’t trust anyone working for the government. Graham isn’t willing to negotiate, so Riley punches him out, then beats up the other two agents and skedaddles.
Graham finds Buffy, who’s very annoyed that he failed to help Riley. His heart will give out if his condition isn’t treated. Graham tells Buffy about the specialist at Sunnydale Hospital she should take Riley to see. She’ll do it.
That night, Riley is wandering somewhere outside. He finds a nice cave to hide in. At the Magic Box, Buffy is at her wits’ end because she hasn’t been able to find him. All the Scoobies are there too. Xander thinks Riley’s doing all this reckless crap in a desperate attempt to win Buffy’s love. He suggests this possibility using that “I have this friend who...” structure that people typically use when they’re talking about themselves, which is what Anya thinks. While cute, the result is a derailment of the conversation, which Buffy doesn’t appreciate at all. They divide up to go look for Riley in various likely places. Buffy thinks it would be a good idea to search the Initiative caves, and Giles thinks she should make use of Spike’s knowledge of those caves. Buffy hates that idea but doesn’t really have a better one.
In the crypt, Spike and Harmony are playing an extremely disappointing game of 20 Questions. Then Buffy hammers on the door, and Harmony dives into one of those above-ground tomb things to hide. Buffy offers Spike money to look for Riley in the caves and bring him to the hospital. She’ll give him the cash when the doctors succeed in fixing Riley. Spike mouths off, so Buffy smacks him. Spike insists on half upfront, so Buffy rips the bills in half and throws “half” at him. (You know, if the half she tossed at him is the bigger half, then that’s still legal tender. You only need 51% of a bill for it to be useable. If she managed to tear them in exactly equal halves, though, both halves are worthless. And if he got the smaller half, those would also be worthless now.) Spike is clearly seething with pent up rage now.
Graham checks with the surgeon guy to make sure Riley will be okay if they get him in very soon. The surgeon isn’t confident. Also, there’s a new complication in the form of Harmony and Spike. Spike wants the surgeon to remove his chip, and Harmony will kill him if he doesn’t.
Buffy heads to the caves alone. The surgeon isn’t sure removing Spike’s chip is a surgery he’s capable of performing. Also, they’re not in a proper operating room with proper equipment. Spike doesn’t care. The surgeon points out that if anything goes wrong with the operation, Spike could be a vegetable. Spike thinks it’s worth the risk, and that the surgeon will try his hardest with Harmony holding a crossbow on him.
Willow and Tara search for Riley in the ruins of the high school. Willow does a light spell to make their search easier. Tara is either impressed or alarmed, but it’s hard to tell. She taught Willow the light spell, and then Willow figured out how to make it bigger and finds it a convenient alternative to flashlights.
Flashlights like the one Buffy’s using. She actually does find Riley. He’s punching a rock wall repeatedly, and can’t feel it. Riley still doesn’t want help, especially not from the government. He likes how powerful he is. He wants her to lay off already. She doesn’t understand his attitude. He finally admits that he doesn’t think he’d be enough for her if he was just a normal guy (if they actually did fix him instead of doing something horrifying). Buffy’s rather offended by his view of her, which is based partly on her history with Angel and partly on all her recent dedication to becoming the best Slayer she can be. Buffy doesn’t get why any of this is a problem, but Riley is convinced she’ll lose interest in him eventually. She feels that their connection is very solid—more solid than anything she’s ever had before. I’m not sure I buy that. I know they’ve had some deeply personal conversations, but some of them have been offscreen and the ones that have been onscreen weren’t deeper than ones she’s had with Angel, Giles, or Willow. But even if the footage doesn’t back up that claim, she’s hurt that Riley doesn’t believe she’s as invested in this relationship as she is. She was never dating Riley for his super strength. If that was all she wanted in a guy, she could just date Spike. (Oh how that line is going to come back to bite you.) She’ll drag him to that doctor if she has to. He finally caves.
The surgeon is mid-operation on Spike, and there are lots of squishy brain noises. Harmony is distracting the surgeon with inane chatter, then threatens him with the crossbow when he tells her she’s distracting. She’d like to poke Spike’s brain. He and the surgeon object. Spike is getting very tired of Harmony (again).
Buffy and Riley find Graham barely conscious. He informs them that Spike and Harmony have kidnapped the surgeon. Buffy realizes why. Riley is really not doing well. Buffy figures out they’d need to be somewhere with medical equipment, and she has Graham get his army guys on it. She and Riley leave too. She’s officially done tolerating Spike.
Spike is fantasizing about their final showdown too, only with more enjoyment. And it seems the surgeon has reached the chip. Harmony starts smoking, and the surgeon points out the no smoking sign, which makes her apologize profusely. While she’s disposing of the cigarette, the surgeon finishes his task. Spike and Harmony are thrilled. Now Spike just needs to be stitched up. Um. Doc, why are you stitching up the back of his head when you were just poking around in the top of his head? No, seriously, look!
Now that the surgeon is done, Spike is less interested in keeping him alive, but that’s when Buffy and Riley show up. Spike is ready for their death match. He and Harmony vamp out. Buffy stops the surgeon from running. She and Riley have a standoff against Spike and Harmony, which breaks when Harmony accidentally shoots Riley in the leg. Which he can’t feel. He attacks her, and Buffy attacks Spike. Spike savors the moment, and then goes right in for the bite...and gets the pain! Is this some kind of operant conditioning thing? Riley grabs his heart and cries in pain, then collapses. Spike finds a penny in the dish that was supposedly where the surgeon put the chip. Oh. So he just didn’t remove it. Then what was that whole bit where he could see it? Is he just really brave, or really doubtful of his skills?
Spike and Harmony run away, and he’s ranting about Buffy. He seems to think Buffy’s favorite hobby is ruining his life. That’s hilarious. He throws a tombstone in his anger. He’s really really fed up with Buffy.
Riley’s surgery is over. He made it through. He’s still a little bummed he’ll be normal now, but Buffy assures him she won’t leave him. Then she leaves to go check on her mom. Riley seems to think this is the beginning of the end. I think Riley is ridiculous. Riley and Graham are walking out of the hospital. Graham thinks Riley could get his career back and have a real purpose again. He could pull some strings and make it happen. The only thing Riley has going for him in Sunnydale is that he’s Buffy’s boyfriend, but is that enough? Graham doesn’t think so. Riley walks away from him.
Spike’s napping in his crypt when Buffy storms in. Wait, why is Spike suddenly wearing the kind of shirt Angelus wore instead of his usual wardrobe? Spike never wears shirts like this.
And why is it unbuttoned at the top like he’s on the cover of a romance novel? They trade insults, and Buffy pulls out a stake. She’s decided it’s time to finish him off. He’s had enough of this crap (specifically, having to deal with her all the time), so he rips off his shirt and dares her to kill him. Instead, they end up snogging. The hell? Buffy breaks away, horrified. Then slowly comes back for more. She says she wants him, and he says he loves her. Then he sits bolt upright in bed, next to Harmony, utterly horrified. Oh. So that’s why he was dressed like that. Melodramatic costuming for the dream sequence. Got it.
Here we go. Spike is now aware of the turn his Slayer obsession has taken. I don’t particularly like “Out of My Mind,” but it sets up a few important character arcs. Something is wrong with Joyce. Nothing is physically wrong with Riley anymore, but something is very much emotionally wrong with him, and with his and Buffy’s relationship. And Spike is obsessed with Buffy in a sex way rather than in a murder way now. Fun. Oh, and it’s also the stealth introduction of half of the Big Bad, and another hint that all is not normal with the existence of Dawn. It’s an episode that does a lot of building and establishing, but isn’t particularly memorable for its main plot. It’s kind of nifty, though, how all three of the plots involving doctors chain together. Because Joyce went to the hospital, Dawn noticed Riley’s scary heartbeat, and because Buffy was looking for Riley, Spike learned about an Initiative surgeon who might be able to get his chip out with the proper motivation.
I think most of the trouble in Buffy and Riley’s relationship is coming from Riley. The only thing Buffy’s really doing wrong is not making a sincere, open-hearted effort to find out what’s wrong so that she can try to fix it. But Riley is the one imagining problems that don’t exist and possibly projecting his dissatisfaction with his own life onto Buffy. I’m not sure this is something Buffy could fix even if she was doing everything right.
If Xander wants to help Buffy and Riley fix their problems, he should probably be a little less vague about it. Also, the window of time in which Buffy and Riley’s problems can be fixed by advice from outside party is rapidly closing, so there’s an expiration date on that, and it is rapidly approaching. Also, it’s really too bad that there apparently wasn’t a woodshop class at Sunnydale High. Xander could’ve figured out his real talent years earlier.
It’s nice how supportive and encouraging Willow is of Tara. She doesn’t know this yet, but Tara hasn’t really gotten that kind of validation from anyone before. And I like seeing Willow chilling with Buffy and Dawn and doting on Joyce like she’s the third Summers sister. That was really sweet.
Riley doesn’t think he’s enough for Buffy, but it occurred to me watching this episode that it might actually be the other way around. I’m not sure he feels like being Buffy’s boyfriend is enough for him, because there’s not much else he thinks he can do in Sunnydale. (Which is a load of bunk. What about his advanced degree? Did he get expelled from UC Sunnydale when he left the Initiative? Can’t he do school and dating for his Plot B and help the Scoobies fight monsters for his Plot A?) Maybe he feels like if Buffy is the only thing he has going for him, then the relationship is unbalanced as long as he’s not the only thing she has going for her. Which is ridiculous.
Anya is kind of adorable when she’s not talking about sex. Also, I love how she’ll randomly demonstrate her vast knowledge of magic, but usually only when someone else is doing it wrong.
I like how quirky Dawn is. She sees nothing wrong with ransacking a box of cereal for the little toy in the bottom. But that doesn’t mean she isn’t capable. Instead of panicking when Joyce drops, she immediately calls 911. And she’ll play with a doctor’s stethoscope, but she’s clever enough to recognize something’s wrong with Riley’s heartbeat, and to actually say something about it. Go Dawn! (I’d consider her behavior this episode as proof that she doesn't need a babysitter. But that doesn’t mean she should be left without protection.)
So Spike is in lust with Buffy. (Yeah, no, I’m not going to indulge him and use the word “love.” This is clearly about obsession and hormones for him, but what more could you expect from a guy with no soul?) And he’s extremely bad at coming up with ways to remove and/or disable his chip. I still think someone with Spike’s tendency towards recklessness would probably have just found a couple of high-voltage electrodes and held on until he felt the chip go *pop* in his head. He’s spent a whole year with this chip now, loathing it to the core of his being, and the only things that have occurred to him for removing it are Adam and this surgeon guy? That’s pathetic. I guess he’s enough of a drama queen that he devotes more of his energies to wallowing in the situation he hates than in getting out of it. And I’m amazed by how myopic his perspective of Buffy is. From our perspective, it’s obvious that Buffy is extremely annoyed that she even has to interact with Spike, but the way he sees it, all she ever does is contrive new ways to make his life hell. That is amazingly arrogant. But completely unsurprising.
I think this episode might have been one of the first times Giles was impressed with Xander, thanks to his fine carpentry work. I like the way Giles is responding to Xander’s efforts to be a useful adult.
“Yes, blueprints? Not a bad idea. That, and getting straight ‘measure twice, cut once.’ You know, for the longest time I had it backwards. Messy!"
The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.