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HUSH (ep #4.10)

(a.k.a. __________)

Written by: Joss Whedon
Directed by: Joss Whedon
Starring: Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers
Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris
Alyson Hannigan as Willow Rosenberg
James Marsters as Spike
Anthony Stewart Head as Rupert Giles
Guest Starring: Marc Blucas as Riley Finn
Emma Caulfield as Anya
Leonard Roberts as Forrest Gates
Phina Oruche as Olivia
Amber Benson as Tara Maclay
Brooke Bloom as Cheryl
Jessica Townsend as Nicole
Lindsay Crouse as Maggie Walsh
Co-Starring: Doug Jones as Gentleman
Camden Toy as Gentleman
Don W. Lewis as Gentleman
Charlie Brumbly as Gentleman
Carlos Amezcua as Newscaster
Elizabeth Thuax as Little Girl
Wayne Sable as Freshman

Plot Summary

The Gentlemen caused Sunnydale residents to lose their voices and forced the actors to show what they are capable of.

Plot Details

The episode opened with Prof. Walsh lecturing on communication. She volunteered Buffy for a demonstration in which Buffy was supposed to lay on a desk while Riley kissed her. The room went dark, and they found themselves to be alone. Buffy heard a little girl chanting a song about Gentlemen. Buffy felt Riley put his hand on her shoulder, but, when she turned around, she saw a Gentleman.

Buffy woke up at the end of a review session in her psychology class. Willow talked about how the session was very important for understanding the class but then assured Buffy that she was fairly discreet in her napping. Riley, however, noticed. Willow suggested that he and Buffy go ahead and then ran ahead and hid (very poorly) behind a textbook to eavesdrop on the two of them discuss Riley's role in her dream.

Buffy said that she was patrolling that night but then covered to say that she had petroleum instead. Riley said that he was grading papers, but Buffy pointed out that there were no more papers to grade. They left without kissing, which disappointed both of them.

Buffy called Giles about the song she heard in her dream. Giles thought it was vaguely familiar, but it could have just been a childhood nursery rhyme. After a bit of a discussion in which Spike wanted Weetabix to give texture to his blood, Xander and Anya came in with Anya arguing over whether Xander loves her for more than orgasms.

Giles wanted Xander to come by because Giles needed him to take Spike for a few days while a friend of Giles visited. Xander, Spike, and Anya all objected, but Giles wanted a bit of privacy.

Willow attended a Wicca group meeting and found that, except for one very shy member (Tara), they were all interested in bake sales, Gaia newsletters, and woman-power shrines. They poo-pooed her interest in spells. Willow complained to Buffy afterward before interrogating Buffy on what was going on with Riley. They were a little disappointed that Buffy was too nervous to bring the relationship past talking.

That night, Xander tied Spike to an easy chair before going to bed. Meanwhile, Olivia arrived at Giles's apartment while he was trying to figure out the rhyme from Buffy's dream. She did not want to waste time making small talk.

Later that night, one of the Gentlemen opened a box that the girl in Buffy's dream was holding. Throughout town, visual effect mist came out of sleeping people's mouths and congregated at the top of a clock tower. The Gentleman closed the box and looked pleased with himself.

Buffy woke up and brushed her teeth. When she returned to her room and tried to say good morning to Willow, no sound came out. They started to get upset. Xander woke up with the same malady and blamed Spike, whose response indicated that censors for the WB network either do not know or do not care about obscene British gestures.

Riley and Forrest took the elevator down to initiative headquarters, forgetting that a vocal test was needed to avoid lethal countermeasures. Riley tried to enter an override code, but the door opened anyway. A mildly perturbed Prof. Walsh pointed to a sign saying to use stairs in an emergency.

In Sunnydale, a local bank was closed, but business was booming at the liquor store. In general, people stood around looking depressed, except for one enterprising young man who was selling message boards. Buffy and Willow arrived at Giles's apartment to find Giles, Xander, Anya, and Olivia there. Buffy recognized that the "can't even shout" part of her dream came true. Xander turned up the volume on the television set for a news story on the "laryngitis" epidemic in town. Buffy said that Giles should continue researching while she patrolled that night. Meanwhile, Prof. Walsh sent the initiative to patrol as well.

That night, Buffy ran into Riley breaking up a fight. She had to break the wrist of a man who was about to attack Riley from behind. Without the ability to talk, Buffy and Riley decided to kiss instead. Later, at least six Gentlemen with at least three footmen went out. Olivia went to a window and saw a Gentleman peer in.

A pair of Gentlemen went down Stevenson Hall until they found a room of choice and knocked on the door. When the occupant answered, two footmen entered and pinned him down. One of the Gentlemen pulled out a scalpel and cut into the victim's chest. A bit later, a Gentleman showed three human hearts to the others. They were all pleased.

The morning newspaper described slayings in which people had their hearts cut out. When Giles saw that and Olivia's drawing of a Gentleman, he recognized it from a fairy tale book. He called the group to a classroom at UC Sunnydale to present what he found.

The Gentlemen did not want boobies, as Xander guessed, but hearts. Their modus operandi was to come to a town and steal voices so nobody could scream. They then take seven hearts. Xander asked how to kill them and Buffy responded with another gesture that somehow got by censors. After some quizzical looks, she again moved her hand rapidly up and down, this time, with a stake in her hand.

According to Giles, they could be killed only with a scream from a real human voice, but he did not know how to get Buffy's voice back. Giles suggested that Buffy patrol that night, but Buffy objected to his drawing making her hips look big. Everyone else was to do research.

That night, Buffy and Riley both went patrolling while Tara decided to go looking for Willow with a bunch of spell books. While walking across campus, she got nervous and tripped. She found herself pursued by two Gentlemen and two footmen. She entered Stevenson Hall and desperately started knocking on doors.

Meanwhile, Buffy encountered two of the footmen and fought them. She managed to kill one, but the other escaped. Riley started to explore the clock tower, where two footmen attacked him. Later, Buffy had arrived at the clock tower and helped Riley battle the footmen. They were both surprised to see each other, but the footmen gave them no time to ask questions, even if they could speak.

Tara climbed up to the second floor of Stevenson Hall and desperately knocked on a door. Willow got up to investigate. When the door opened, Tara found herself face-to-face with a Gentleman who had just recovered a fresh heart. Two more came at her from down the hall. She started to flee and inadvertently tackled Willow, who had come out to investigate. Willow hurt her ankle in the fall, and Tara helped her escape.

Xander arrived at Giles's apartment to see Anya lying still and Spike with blood on his lips. From Xander's perspective, it looked like Spike had just killed her. Infuriated, he ran over and started pummeling Spike. Somehow, Anya figured out what had happened and showed Xander that she was all right. A grateful Xander kissed her. Even Giles and Olivia looked pleased, until Anya made another gesture that somehow got by censors. She and Xander left to Giles and Olivia's disapproving looks even though Giles and Olivia had been busy doing what Anya suggested.

Tara assisted Willow to a laundry room. Tara locked the door, but that would not keep the footmen out for long. They tried to push a vending machine to block the door, but it was too heavy and Willow's ankle was too sore. Willow tried to move it with magic. Tara figured out what she was doing, held her hand, and together they pushed the machine against the door.

Buffy and Riley made their way up to the room where the Gentlemen kept the hearts. A Gentleman managed to stab Buffy in the back with a scalpel while a footman held her down. However, she recognized the box from her dream and motioned to Riley to smash it. He took the butt of his taser gun and very dramatically smashed a dish next to the box. He looked very pleased with himself until an exasperated Buffy signaled to smash the box.

The misty visual effects poured out. As soon as some entered Buffy, she let loose a scream that caused the heads of six Gentlemen to explode and at least neutralized the footmen.

The next day, Willow and Tara talked in a lounge. Tara was hoping that the two of them could cast a spell to make people talk. She learned magic from her mother and had a great deal of respect for Willow.

Meanwhile, Giles and Olivia talked about recent events. Giles had talked about the supernatural to her before, but she did not believe him. She did not know if everything was too scary for her or not.

Riley visited Buffy. He sat on Willow's bed and suggested that he and Buffy needed to talk. She sat down and they both stared at each other as the episode ended.

The Good

James Marsters once said that if the writers do not scare the $#!+ out of the actors at least once per season, they are not doing their job. Repeating the same old stuff each week is a poor formula for a show. A great show should frequently try to do new things.

In this case, the actors were asked to tell a story without some of the tools they normally use to do so. They could not use dialogue or a vocal inflection to communicate with us. Instead, the actors had to depend on gestures and facial expressions. With a lesser cast, this episode would have been a colossal failure. Instead, this cast created one of the greatest counterexamples to anyone who would dare suggest that television is nothing but a wasteland.

This was a challenge to all the actors, but it must have been a particularly sadistic trick to ask Amber Benson to do this on her very first episode on the show. I cannot say that it was much easier for Phina Oruche on her second episode.

It is not just the actors who shone in this episode. Joss Whedon did his usual great job in both writing and directing. The music was great, the fight scenes were great, the makeup was great, etc. Buffy may have had one of the greatest casts on television, but it also had one of the greatest crews as well.

The Bad

Believe it or not, there will be an episode later this season that is even better.

Overall Rank: 4

Action: 7

Buffy and Riley battled footmen in the clock tower.

Xander beat up on Spike.

Comedy: 6

Spike and Giles discussed lack of Weetabix followed by Anya slipping in the word "orgasm" a couple of times.

The exposition scene was very funny with Giles's pictures, Anya's popcorn, and Buffy's gesture.

Drama: 5

Most of the characters found the loss of their voices to be very upsetting.

Buffy and Riley have something to talk about.

Romance: 8

Riley and Buffy kissed twice, once for real.

Olivia did not come to Sunnydale to lay on the beach.

Anya found an appropriate way to show her appreciation to Xander for rescuing her from what he believed was danger.

I am even willing to give a little credit to the subtext when Willow and Tara moved the vending machine.

Character Development: 8

Tara is a very shy member of the Wicca group that Willow attended. She apparently was the only other one who was there to learn about magic. She had been practicing for as long as she could remember and learned much of what she knows from her mother. She also seems to greatly admire Willow.

Willow is not very confident when it comes to using magic, in part because of what happened in "Something Blue." She was disappointed to find that most of the Wicca group members were more interested in menstrual lifeforce than in magic. However, there was one member who made a point to seek her out afterward and who gave Willow some much needed admiration.

Buffy now knows that Riley is one of the Initiative commandos.

Riley now knows that Buffy knows how to fight supernatural evil.

Giles, despite admonitions to Buffy not to betray her secret identity to impress attractive members of the opposite sex, had done so with Olivia. He also claimed to be an original member of Pink Floyd.

Olivia did not believe Giles when he talked about monsters or Pink Floyd. She has not decided if Giles's life is too scary for her or not.

Anya had been feeling insecure about whether Xander truly loved her or just the sex. She now knows that he loves her.

Xander, perhaps more than the other characters, does better communicating with actions rather than words.

Importance: 6

This episode introduces an important character.

Buffy and Riley have their first kiss and find out that each has a secret life.

This episode leaves no doubt as to the talent of those who create it, both on screen and behind the scenes.

Most Valuable Player: Riley

Buffy and Riley are two real candidates for the award. Riley smashed the box and gave everyone their voices back, and Buffy screamed, which defeated the Gentlemen. I will give the MVP to Riley because he also zapped a couple of footmen who were holding Buffy.

Sherlock Holmes Award: Giles

Giles recognized Olivia's drawing and found the story of the Gentlemen for an easy win. The only other competitor was Buffy who first had a prophetic dream and later figured out that smashing the box from the dream would give her voice back. I am also tempted to give credit to Willow for finding something heavier than a pillow to block a door to keep dangerous things out.

Goat of the Week: Nobody

The Gentlemen would be an obvious candidate, but they get a pass for being beaten by a superior opponent. Otherwise, the characters' performances were almost as good as the performances of the actors who played them.

Random Commentary

Every time I walk past Weetabix in a cereal aisle, I think about how it adds texture to blood. Despite that fact, I have tried Weetabix and found that it got soggy in milk very quickly and did not add much texture. I did not test it in other liquids.


What is the point of a hidden elevator with multiple security measures if people could simply go down stairs that do not require such security measures?

Stevenson Hall Students

DVD Extras

Original Script is the only teleplay to get an Emmy nomination for the show. In fact, it represents the only Emmy nomination for the show in any major category, which says far more about the Emmys than it does about the show. Ordinarily, I tend to dismiss scripts as fluff, but this was the first that I read through completely. It was also useful in getting names for the two wannablessedbes who received guest star credits.

Commentary by Writer, Director Joss Whedon is as interesting as a typical Joss Whedon commentary. There are mild spoilers for the beginning of the second season of Angel and the sixth season of Buffy and major spoilers through the end of the fourth season of Buffy. Insights include:

Memorable Dialogue

It is tempting to say that the lack of dialogue made this episode memorable, but there were still some memorable quotes.

"Don't worry. If I kiss you, it'll make the sun go down." Riley

"Can't even shout; cant even cry.
The Gentlemen are coming by.
Looking in windows; knocking on doors.
They need to take seven, and the might take yours.
Can't call to mom; can't say a word.
You're gonna die a-screaming, but you won't be heard." Little Girl

"I thought vampires were supposed to eat blood." Giles
"Yeah, well, sometimes I like to crumble up the Weetabix in the blood, gives it a little texture." Spike
"Since the picture you just painted means that I will never touch food of any kind again, you'll just have to pick it up yourself." Giles

"This isn't a relationship. You don't need me. All you care about is lots of orgasms." Anya
"OK, remember how we talked about private conversations, how they're less private when they're in front of my friends?" Xander
"We're not your friends. Go on." Spike
"Please don't." Giles

"Oh, you mean an orgasm friend?" Anya
"Yes, that's exactly the most appalling thing you could've said." Giles

"All talk. 'Blah, blah, Gaia. Blah, blah, moon. Menstrual lifeforce power thingy.'" Willow

"Bunch of wannablessedbes. You know, nowadays, every girl with a henna tattoo and a spice rack thinks she's a sister of the dark ones." Willow

"Get with it. I need my vicarious smoochies." Willow

"We have a gig that would inevitably cause any girl living to think we are cool upon cool, yet we must Clark Kent our way through the dating scene, never to use our unfair advantage. Thank God we're pretty." Forrest
"But it's... Buffy's special." Riley
"You think she's special? Wow, first 486 times you told me, it didn't register, but now, I see that you think she's special." Forrest

"______" Buffy, Willow, Xander, Giles, Spike, Anya, Riley, Tara, Forrest, Prof. Walsh, and Olivia

"I don't have much in the way of power. Really, I mean, most of my potions come out soup. Besides, spells going awry, friends in danger. I'm definitely nothing special." Willow
"No, you are." Tara

"All the time you used to talk to me about witchcraft and darkness and the like, I just thought you were being pretentious." Olivia
"Oh, I was. I was also right." Giles
"So everything you told me was true?" Olivia
"Well, no, I wasn't actually one of the original members of Pink Floyd." Giles

Characters in Peril


The body count of this episode nearly matched the body count of all episodes this season through "Something Blue."

Police and Guns

Strictly the Caucasian Persuasion

Giles Unconscious

Unusual Pairings

Spoiler Questions

Highlight the space after each question to find the answer. It is strongly recommended that you do not do so if you have not seen episodes through the episode indicated.

This page was last modified on November 23, 2012