Written by Joss Whedon
Directed by Joss Whedon
Buffy’s in Psych class, and they’re talking about…communication? It’s not entirely clear. Buffy has to come to the front for a demonstration, which involves her lying down on the desk at the front of class. Riley comes over to her, and this is officially the weirdest class ever. Oh, wait, that’s because it’s a dream sequence. They kiss, and it’s suddenly night time and everyone is gone from the class. She hears a little girl singing and follows the sound. Riley doesn’t go with her. The girl is singing a fairytale sort of rhyme. Riley touches Buffy’s shoulder, and then suddenly it’s this thing behind her instead:
Buffy wakes up, and she actually is in Psych class. Willow and then Riley tease her about falling asleep. Willow leaves to go to Wicca group, only she’s actually spying on them walking and talking. They’re being flirty, and Willow is delighted.
Buffy almost slips up and tells Riley about patrolling, and she awkwardly covers it. There’s a moment where they might kiss, and then Buffy ruins it by asking him what papers he’s grading. She’s clearly kicking herself for chickening out. They split up.
Giles is on the phone with Buffy about her weird dream. He thinks it might be prophetic, and he’ll do some research. Spike is in his kitchen, and he’s never heard of “the Gentlemen,” the creepy dudes in Buffy’s dream. Spike has been raiding Giles’s pantry, much to Giles’s annoyance, but he can apparently trust him not to run away or trash the place, because he’s not shackled anymore.
Xander and Anya are arguing. She thinks he doesn’t care about her. He doesn’t want to talk about it now. They barge into Giles’s flat. She thinks he just likes her for the sex. And she thinks that very loudly, in front of Giles and Spike. Giles wants them to shut up or leave, and Spike wants them to continue. The reason Giles asked Xander to come over, though, is because he needs someone else to be in charge of Spike for a few days because his lady-friend from “The Freshman” is coming back, and he doesn’t want a creepy vampire voyeur hanging about. If Spike’s at Xander’s basement, that will make things just as awkward for Xander and Anya.
Willow is at wicca group, which is really hokey and ridiculous. They don’t actually do magic, just bake sales and newsletters and girl power dipped in fluffy mysticism. It’s revolting. Willow points out that they could do actual witchcraft, which they think is hilarious, except for one girl, Tara, who is too shy and stuttery to speak up in Willow’s defense.
Willow complains about the lameness of the wicca group to Buffy on their way back to the dorm. Then she asks about Buffy and Riley, and Buffy’s annoyed because nothing’s happening. She has to lie about who she is a lot and she gets nervous and then no kissing happens. Riley seems to be having similar concerns. He can’t tell Buffy about being a soldier guy. And Forrest is still annoying.
Xander has just finished tying Spike up to a chair in his basement, and then he tries to go to sleep when Spike starts imitating Anya in an annoying voice. This is going to be a long night.
Giles is still trying to puzzle through the fairytale lyrics in Buffy’s dream, and then Olivia shows up and they start snogging. Bah, who needs to do research anyway.
About that. In the clock tower on campus, a Gentleman guy opens a weird box. Then everyone in Sunnydale exhales a weird misty cloud. All of these misty clouds rush across town into the box in the clock tower, and the Gentleman closes it. That’s not good.
The next morning, Buffy wakes up and goes to do her morning routine in the bathroom. She passes a crying girl on her way back to her room, then goes inside. Willow is awake, and they greet each other. Or…they try to. No sound comes out. Buffy thinks something’s wrong with her voice, and Willow thinks she’s deaf. Some awesomely creepy instrumental music starts up. They’ve lost their voices. They poke their heads into the hall and find that everyone else has the same problem
In Xander’s basement, he and Spike can’t talk either. Xander thinks it’s Spike’s fault, to which Spike flips him off. Xander tries to call Buffy. Buffy tries to answer, then realizes, annoyed, that it’s not going to work. They hang up.
The soldier guys are marching with purpose. Riley and Forrest try to get down to the Initiative headquarters, but they can’t pass the vocal code part, so they’re about to get gassed when an exasperated Walsh opens the elevator door and points at an “In case of emergency, use stairs” sign. Hahaha, dorks.
Tara from Wicca group is in a common area, where a bunch of silent students are worrying together in small groups. A kid drops a bottle, and the shattering sound makes everyone jump.
All over town, large signs announce whether places are open or closed. Bank: closed. Bar: open. Buffy and Willow walk down the street, hand in hand. There’s a religious group silently reading the Bible together. There’s also a dude taking advantage of the problem by selling little white boards on strings. Buffy and Willow grudgingly buy a pair.
They make it to Giles’s place, where everyone else is already gathered. They greet each other wordlessly. Giles hasn’t been able to find out anything with his books so far. Then there’s something relevant on the news. The whole town is under quarantine now because of a supposed 100% outbreak of laryngitis. Schools and businesses are all closed.
Buffy feels she needs to patrol that night while everyone else keeps researching, because there’s going to be chaos. Walsh and the Initiative are thinking along the same lines. Walsh uses an obnoxious computer voice to say this stuff to the soldiers.
Oh hey, Buffy’s wearing her pretty periwinkle coat again. I think it’s one of the ones from S3.
She breaks up a fight by breaking a dude’s arm on the way over to Riley. They hug. Then they hear a disturbance and have to go deal with it, but they kiss first. Nice to have those pesky words out of the way for some things.
Later that night, the music takes a much creepier turn as the Gentlemen come floating out of the clock tower building, accompanied by minions in straightjackets. In Giles’s apartment, Olivia gets a creepy feeling and looks outside. She sees some of the Gentlemen in the distance, and then one RIGHT THERE. Super creepy.
One pair of Gentlemen floats down the dormitory, passing room after room until they finally pick one they like. They knock, and an unsuspecting student opens the door. Their minions seize him and force him down on his bed, and then the Gentlemen cut his heart out with a scalpel. He can’t even cry for help the entire time. He might have a roommate asleep in the next bed, completely unaware.
Up in the clock tower, they’re collecting hearts in jars. Seems that that’s what they need seven of. They golf clap for the one who brought the most recent heart. So considerate!
The next morning, there’s silent panic on campus because of what happened to the boy. Buffy finds the crime scene. At Giles’s apartment, Olivia has sketched the thing she saw outside the window. Giles finally realizes that his normal research books won’t be any good, and he grabs his book of fairy tales.
Presentation time! Giles takes advantage of campus being shut down to commandeer one of the lecture halls, and all the Scoobies are there to observe. Anya even brought popcorn. Giles puts on some lovely “Danse Macabre” on his little stereo, then uses the overhead projector to deliver exposition. The Gentlemen are fairy tale monsters who are trying to collect seven human hearts. There are lots of amusing misunderstandings of gestures as the Scoobies try to respond. The Gentlemen can be defeated if someone manages to get their voice back and scream, so they have to find out where they’re keeping the voices. A recorded voice won’t work. Giles’s drawings are hilariously bloody, and he made some unfortunate decisions regarding proportion when he drew Buffy. She doesn’t appreciate that. Class dismissed. There’s a really cool bit of camera work when Buffy goes and picks up one of the transparencies with a Gentleman drawn on it.
The Initiative are gearing up to go keep the town safe, and Buffy is patrolling, armed with a crossbow. Riley notices weird movement in the clock tower, and he heads to check it out.
Meanwhile, Tara, who knew something mystical was going on, decided to try contacting Willow, the only other Wicca group girl who isn’t a New Age-y hippie. She’s found out which dorm Willow lives in, so she heads out to go find Willow. Which means lots of walking alone across campus at night. She trips, which is of course when she hears the Gentlemen coming. She drops her stuff and bolts.
Buffy sees the Gentlemen going into a building in the distance, but then she gets jumped by one of the minions.
Tara runs through the dorm, pounding on doors, trying to get someone to let her in so she can be safe from the Gentlemen, but everyone’s to scared after what happened to the people the previous night.
Buffy fights off the minions and makes her way towards the house where she saw Gentlemen activity, which is where Riley has already gone inside. He’s fighting too.
Tara keeps running, and she pounds on another door. Willow, inside her room, hears the pounding and cautiously gets up to investigate. But we’ve been tricked! The door Tara’s knocking on is one that Gentlemen are behind! They come out, holding another heart. Tara flees, and she ends up crashing into Willow, hurting Willow’s ankle. The two girls keep running.
Buffy breaks into the boarded up church with the clock tower on top, and she and Riley keep fighting until they end up pulling a crossbow and a high-tech taser gun on each other. They freeze, each shocked at the identities of the other. Then they resume fighting the monsters.
At Giles’s apartment, Spike gets a mug of blood out of the fridge. (Ew, he just leaves it uncovered like that? Isn’t it full of delightful fridge flavor now?) He drinks it, vamping out and getting a blood mustache from it. Then he goes over to the living room and pokes around with some books. Anya is lying on the couch, asleep. Then Xander comes in, and he sees Spike with his blood mustache and Anya unresponsive, and assumes the worst. In a distraught rage, he tackles Spike and starts beating him up. Anya wakes up in the commotion and eventually manages to alert Xander to the fact that she’s still alive and well. He kisses her and hugs her close in relief. She’s delighted at this new evidence of how much he cares about her. Xander shrugs an apology to Spike, who is annoyed. Giles and Olivia have come out of his room or the kitchen or wherever and are looking fondly at Xander’s display of affection for Anya. Then Anya gestures that Xander should leave with her so they can go have sex. Spike looks indignant, and Giles and Olivia look a good deal less charmed than they previously were.
Willow and Tara are still fleeing. They end up in a laundry room, and they try to barricade the door with a drinks machine, but it’s too heavy to move. Willow’s ankle is also really hurt. She tries to use magic to move the drinks machine. Tara notices, and she intertwines her fingers with Willow so they can combine their power. The drinks machine, which previously only shook a little, goes rocketing over to block the door.
Buffy manages to get up to the clock tower while Riley fights the minions. Then a bunch of them overwhelm her and hold her down so the Gentlemen can cut her heart out, but Riley fries him with his electro gun. Which then powers down. They keep fighting. Buffy sees the box from her dream, the one with all the voices. She gestures for Riley to smash it, because she’s just been stabbed with a scalpel. He smashes a little glass thingy next to the box instead, then smiles proudly. She rolls her eyes and indicates the box. He smashes that. All the voices go flying back to their rightful owners, and Buffy lets out a long scream. The Gentlemen go rigid, and then their heads explode like greenish-yellow melons. Ew.
The next day, Tara explains why she came looking for Willow. She’s not like the other girls, so she figured Willow had the best chance of helping her put everyone’s voices back. She’s been a witch her whole life, and so was her mom. She seems to think Willow is pretty powerful, but Willow, in the aftermath of “Something Blue” isn’t really feeling that way, but Tara’s praise makes her smile.
Olivia is reeling from everything that happened. She never thought all this monsters and magic stuff was real. It may be scary enough that she doesn’t want to spend much more time with Giles.
Riley comes to see Buffy. They need to talk about what happened in the clock tower.
Well, looks like that talk isn’t going to happen until next time.
So yes, “Hush” is one of the best one-shot episodes of the entire show. I love that it’s basically the result of a bunch of critics scoffing at how the only reason Joss’s stuff is good is because of the witty dialogue, and then Joss was all “challenge accepted” and came up with an episode where there isn’t any dialogue. I think he made his point, don’t you? The Gentlemen are easily the most unsettling monsters in the series. The idea of not being able to scream, of people just a few feet away not being aware of something horrible happening to you, is serious nightmare fuel. Rarely is Plot A so gripping, especially in a one-shot. And it’s this gripping without sacrificing any connections to Plot B. Words are getting in the way of everything. Buffy and Riley are too nervous to move forward, and they keep using words when they should be using action. Xander doesn’t know how to reassure Anya of his feelings, but that’s because his only efforts to do so have been verbal. Action is needed there too. Tara has such a bad stutter that she can barely get any words out at all in that stupid Wicca group. When the words go away, she’s therefore more on top of things than anyone else. It’s truly a mark of how well-crafted these characters are that they still feel like themselves when they can’t speak.
I find it fascinating how easy it is for Buffy to use words as a shield with Riley. That was never an issue with Angel. She and Angel could be talking about how it would be better if they kept their distance while simultaneously doing that soul-gaze thing and moving closer together. But with Riley, words are actually a barrier. That’s why they needed to go away in order for them to gain any forward momentum in their relationship. And now their secrets are out in the open too, which I’m not sure would have happened if they hadn’t stumbled into each other in the middle of a battle.
Xander has never been good at dealing with his feelings, and Anya really did sneak up on him. Or come sprinting out of nowhere at him and tackle him to the ground. Whichever. He’s always been better at showing his priorities than explaining them. When he was dating Cordelia, he always went running if Buffy or Willow was in trouble. Anya is less inclined than Cordelia was to just accept that. She wants proof that he’d do the same for her. And he gives it to her. It’s really rather sweet. I’m starting to think I’m going to like Xander better than I ever have now that he’s dating Anya and Angel isn’t around for him to use as a verbal punching bag all the time.
Willow is now recovered enough from her post-Oz depression to have resumed playing matchmaker for Buffy. So far, Riley hasn't demonstrated any red flag type behavior (being super bland doesn't really count), so I can't really fault this. I think the thing that really scored Tara points with Willow during these early interactions is that she praised Willow’s efforts as a witch. Giles has been stern and cautious from the start, and Buffy and Oz both tended to want her to go slower than she wanted with it. What she’s wanted to hear all along is that she’s doing an amazing job, even if it’s true that she should be pacing herself better and being more careful.
Spike makes Giles’s unemployed bachelor situation much funnier than it used to be. It’s like they’re a pair of flatmates who hate each other. Spike is the one who eats all the food, doesn’t clean up his messes, controls the TV, and never forks over his share of the rent on time, and Giles is the one who grits his teeth while doing twice the amount of chores he should have to do. Fortunately for Giles, he can hand Spike off to Xander when his tolerance expires.
Giles has now hugged Willow twice. I’m getting very impatient for some Buffy/Giles hugs. He’s her father figure, dangit. Not Willow’s. His presentation in the lecture hall is pretty much the best thing ever. He would’ve had to put some serious effort into making all those transparencies, and he picked music to go with it! “Danse Macabre” is a great choice. I don’t think I knew anything about that song (or the folklore behind it) the last time I watched this episode, but I do now, and it makes it even better. Apart from being an excellent, eerie song, the Danse Macabre is a centuries-old thing about how Death dances with everyone in the end, whether they be noble or common, clergyman or layman, and there’s this whole dancing skeleton motif that goes with it.
“We’re out of Weetabix.”
“We are out of Weetabix because you ate it all. Again.”
“Get some more.”
“I thought vampires were supposed to eat blood.”
“Yeah, well, sometimes I like to crumble up the Weetabix in the blood. Gives it a little texture.”
“Since the picture you just painted means I will never touch food of any kind again, you’ll just have to pick it up yourself."
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The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.