Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | October 15, 2012

Robin’s Review: S5, E04 – Out of My Mind

Synopsis: Joyce collapses and while at the hospital Riley discovers that he has an abnormally fast heartbeat. Harmony is on the run from Buffy and seeks comfort with Spike. Graham and some Initiative men come to take Riley for surgery which will clean out the effects of the drugs which Maggie had put him on. Riley refuses and goes into hiding. Buffy makes the mistake of asking Spike to help. Instead he and Harmony kidnap the doctor and try to get the chip out.

The Good: It was a pleasure to see Spike back in action as an evil demon rather than comic punching bag. He remains compelling to watch in that role as he infuses every action with a joy that is hard to quantify. Harmony plays sidekick just fine and their attempt to get the chip removed was entertaining to watch. Spike’s obsession with Buffy turning sexual is an unexpected twist but one that makes some sense. We saw that Spike fretted around Drusilla as if she had power over him and perhaps that is how he forms attachments. It should certainly give his story a focus that it has lacked for some time.

The triple combination of plots (Joyce, Riley and Spike) certainly gave you plenty to sink your teeth into (no pun intended). Joyce of course asks Dawn who she is when she collapses which is another reminder of the mystery there. I liked the use of Dawn’s borrowed stethoscope to discover Riley’s dangerous heartbeat. Buffy’s love for Riley is sweet and it was touching when she assures him that she is still touchable once his surgery is complete.

The Bad: But why do I not feel the same way about Riley’s love for Buffy? We’ve discussed Marc Blucas’ acting many times but I think there is a bigger problem here. Graham walks out warning Riley that he has no purpose here, that he is just Buffy’s boyfriend in Sunnydale where he could be a super soldier somewhere else. That comment felt both entirely accurate and quite shallow. I mean, doesn’t Riley have any other ambitions other than to be a soldier? We don’t know much else about him and he’s never stated a desire to do anything with psychology, the subject he was presumably mastering in. No, all we know about Riley is that he was happy leading men into combat. So Graham’s words haunt the character, implying strongly that he won’t last in Sunnydale because he really isn’t needed there. If that’s true then Riley is stuck in the same place Angel was in Season Three: his relationship with Buffy is doomed and we are just waiting around to see when it happens.

Whatever the case may be Riley’s decision to hide in a cave and punch the walls just felt foolish. He didn’t have a plan to combat his own decreasing health so he seemed stupid for not addressing it in some way. Graham is pretty wooden isn’t he? I was amused by his collection of bruises as the episode went on.

The Unknown: I’m not sure how I feel about Spike, presumably, falling in love with Buffy. Obviously it depends where the story goes but for a start I can’t see why she wouldn’t kill him at this point. But beyond that the writers are going to have to work hard against the obvious conceit that they just want to find ways to keep him around. First the chip so he can’t kill any one and now he falls in love so that he will want to stay around. It’s got to become more convincing than that sounds.

I guess we got more information about Xander’s carpentry skills but this was the bare minimum. His attempt to reveal what Riley told him last episode was confusing and unhelpful. Tara’s concern about Willow’s use of magic reminded me of the same worries Oz expressed early last season.

Best Moment: While being sewn up Spike was Spike again. He threatens to kill the doctor with the smile of a psychopath and then bursts to life when Buffy enters the room.

The Bottom Line: I have an odd feeling at seeing both Spike and Riley bowing at Buffy’s feet and feeling inadequate around her. It’s hardly her fault but I’m not sure what it’s doing for either of their stories.

55/100

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Responses

  1. Feels odd to be a Riley apologist when he does indeed act like a moron in this episode, but his frustration’s rooted in the knowledge the Buffy’s going to leave him and the fact that he’s right make me inclined to cut him some slack.

    You say you found Buffy’s love sweet, but I think it’s significant that she never actually uses the word “love” in her little speech. What’s more, she fails to back up her words with actions as, the moment Riley’s in the clear, she’s off to check in on her mom. That’s fair, except why couldn’t she bring Riley with her?

    Riley manufactures a crisis because that’s the only time Buffy’s interested. Yes, it’s immature. But he’s not wrong about her.


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