Hush is a unique episode in the Buffy lineup. It’s the only episode that was nominated for an Emmy and it feels like a mix of a silent movie and a Doctor Who episode. The episode is written and directed by Joss Whedon and it shows his range as both. Joss Whedon is known for his memorable dialogue and wit, so an episode where the characters are silent for most of the time is seriously different from that.
The episode starts out with Buffy in psychology class. Professor Maggie Walsh is lecturing on communication and language. She calls Buffy down to the front and tells her to lie down on the desk. She calls her TA,
Captain Cardboard Riley Finn to help her with the demonstration. The two of them share a kiss as the sun goes down. Apologies in advance to Marc Blucas, by the way. Out of all the love interests in this show, Riley is one I particularly dislike. Anyway, the sun goes down and Buffy hears a girl humming from the hallway.
I have to wonder if Steven Moffat ever watched Buffy because this scene feels very much like the creepy scenes in the scarier Doctor Who episodes, with a little girl singing a creepy nursery rhyme about something called “The Gentlemen.” We get a quick glimpse of the Gentlemen only for Buffy to wake up in class.
Turns out that Buffy fell asleep in class and the whole previous scene was just a dream. Willow heads off to Wicca group and watches Buffy and Riley make conversation. Yes, she ships it. I don’t. Buffy and Riley’s conversation is majorly awkward even with Buffy wanting to kiss him and Buffy leaves, miffed that she didn’t get the guts to tell Riley about her feelings.
Buffy calls Giles about the dream that she had, since Slayers like her often have precognitive dreams. Spike, who is staying in Giles’s house, acts like your typical sitcom annoying neighbor, complaining that they’re out of Weetabix. Xander and Anya come around in the middle of having a “where do we stand in this relationship” argument. Anya doesn’t exactly have a filter on her mouth, which leads to the argument being a source of humor for Spike. Giles tells Xander and Anya that he needs Spike to stay with them since he’s having a friend over, much to everyone else’s chagrin.
Willow attends a Wicca group meeting that is about as authentic as, well, a really bad youth group meeting. (No offense to actual youth groups.) Willow wants to study magic, catching the attention of a shy blonde named Tara.
Every other girl in the group, however, is dismissive of Willow’s suggestion. Willow complains to Buffy about how they’re all a” bunch of wannablessedbes.” They walk back to their dorm, where Willow eggs Buffy to get to the making smoochies with Riley already. Buffy wants to open up about her secret life as the Slayer, but can’t. Riley, of course, has his own secret life as a soldier of the Initiative.
Xander ties Spike up inside his basement and no, in spite of the dialogue there won’t be any bromance between the two of them. Although memories of Nicholas Brendon admitting to having a crush on Spike still makes me giggle, especially with this scene. Spike mocks Anya’s voice to keep annoying Xander while Giles greets his girlfriend Olivia.
Over in a clock tower, a creepy white hand opens a box. All over town, voices escape from people’s bodies, flying inside the little box. The creepy hand closes the box to reveal an equally creepy face that reminds me of the Smilers from Doctor Who.
The next morning, Buffy gets ready and hears someone crying as they walk down the hallway. Willow wakes up and Buffy greets her, only for both of them to realize that they have no voices. Willow thinks she’s gone deaf, but both of them realize that they just don’t have voices. Xander wakes up with no voice and thinks it’s all Spike’s fault. He calls Buffy and Willow, but since neither of them can talk, it’s a major problem. Riley and his friend Forrest head on over to the Initiative and panic when the elevator stops working. They make it down to the base to find Maggie Walsh, who points to the “In Case of Emergency, use stairs” sign. Keep in mind, btw, that this episode takes place before the invention of social media and text messaging. So it’s not like these guys can just Tweet each other.
Buffy and Willow walk around town to find Sunnydale in complete chaos. The liquor store is open but other places are closed. There’s a priest telling his flock to open their Bibles to Revelation 15:1 “Then I saw another portent in heaven, great and amazing: seven angels with seven plagues, which are the last, for with them the wrath of God is ended.” This verse is relevant because, if you remember the rhyme, the Gentlemen need to take seven somethings.
Buffy and Willow buy a couple of white boards and head over to Giles’s apartment. In spite of the fact that there’s no dialogue, the key relationships between everyone are clear to see. Buffy checks to see if Giles found anything in his research, but there isn’t anything. Willow writes “Hi Giles” in her sweet adorable little way. Buffy thinks that the Gentlemen may have something to do with everyone being silent. Xander draws everyone’s attention to the news and it turns out that Sunnydale is the only place affected, with the town put under quarantine. Buffy tells Giles to keep researching while she goes on patrol. Maggie Walsh tells her soldiers via text-talk to make sure that the town doesn’t descend into chaos. Buffy finds Riley out on the town and hugs him. Then Riley kisses Buffy as he goes to take care of someone breaking into a store.
It’s at this point that the Gentlemen finally come out in all their Slender Man/Smilers/Silence-type creepiness. They float around town with their minions looking for…well, something. Olivia sees one of the Gentlemen through a window and gasps. Two Gentlemen float down to the dorms of UC Sunnydale and you’d think they’d go after Buffy and Willow or even Tara, but instead they go into the dorm room of a random college student, knocking on his door. Once inside, they literally steal the poor guy’s heart, ripping it straight out of his chest with the help of some surgical tools. Thankfully we don’t actually see the heart-ripping thing. When we return to the clock tower, we see that the Gentlemen already have three hearts.
The next day, Buffy goes to the dorm room of the student whose heart got ripped out while Olivia, in Giles’s apartment, draws a picture of the Gentlemen, prompting Giles to grab a book of Fairy Tales.
The scene in the classroom, with Giles on the projector, is one of my fave scenes in this episode. Giles plays “Danse Macabre” on a stereo as he tells everyone what the Gentlemen are. Willow knows that the Gentlemen are after hearts, pointing to her chest, but Xander thinks of boobs instead. Giles explains via slides and crude drawings that the Gentlemen come into a town, steal everyone’s voices, and rip the hearts out of seven people. Everyone is grossed out over Giles’s drawing of a Gentlemen killing a human and ripping out his heart except for Anya, since she used to be a vengeance demon. She eats popcorn, sitting a few rows away from everyone else. Xander asks “How do we kill them?”
Buffy makes a motion with her hand that we know looks like staking but the way she’s pumping her hand makes everyone else think of something else until Buffy takes out her stake. Giles says in another slide that the Gentlemen can’t be killed by any weapons, just a human screaming. Willow thinks they can use a CD of screams, but only a real human voice is capable of killing them. So Buffy asks “How do I get my voice back?” Giles’s next slide says “Buffy will patrol tonight” with another crude drawing. Buffy scoffs at how big her hips look in the drawing. Over in the Initiative Base, Riley and Forrest prepare for their own patrol.
Out on the town, nobody’s around except for Buffy and Riley. Inside a dorm room, a list of phone numbers lies on top of a page that says “Spells of Speech and Silence.” Willow’s number is highlighted. Tara is shown leaving her dorm room, probably heading to Willow since she has Willow’s dorm room number written on a Post-it. As she leaves her room, you can’t help but think “Uh oh,” especially when the Gentlemen find her as she walks around the UC Sunnydale campus. Tara starts pounding on doors in Stevenson Hall, looking for Willow as the Gentlemen follow her. Tara starts pounding on one door and the editing tricks you into thinking she’s pounding on Willow’s door until the door opens revealing a Gentleman with a heart in his hand. Willow steps out of her dorm, literally crashes into Tara, and the two of them run away from the Gentlemen.
Meanwhile, Buffy fights off the Gentlemen’s minions and Riley inspects the clock tower. He fights off a couple of minions and Buffy crashes in with the minions she was fighting. The two of them have a stand-off with their weapons, but decide to keep fighting the minions first.
Over in Giles’s apartment, Spike sips some blood out of a mug, going into vamp face, and goes into the living room, where Anya is resting on the couch. Xander walks in and finds the vamp-faced Spike looking like he bit Anya and drained her. He starts beating Spike up to a pulp, which wakes Anya up. Anya breaks up the fight and Xander kisses her as romantic music swells. Then Xander and Anya decide to go off to get a room.
Willow and Tara make their way down into the laundry room and try to push a soda machine over to the door to no avail. The Gentlemen are pounding at the door. Willow tries to make the soda machine move, but it’s not working. Then Tara holds Willow’s hand and the two witches combine their magic to move the soda machine and succeed. Tara doesn’t let go of Willow’s hand, however, which hints at the relationship the two of them will later have.
Back in the clock tower, Buffy follows a minion up the stairs to the Gentleman’s base. She gets captured by the minions and the Gentlemen move towards her, only for Riley to taze them. Buffy and Riley fight off the minions and one of the Gentleman cuts her. A minion gets Buffy in a chokehold as she recognizes the box on the table as the box from her dream. She motions to Riley to break the box, but he doesn’t get it right the first time. When Riley actually gets it right, Buffy gets her voice back and unleashes a loud, piercing scream, causing the Gentlemen and their minions to die via head-explosion.
The next day, Willow and Tara make conversation about being real witches and magic. It’s clear from this scene that Tara is seriously attracted to Willow and that Willow is picking up on Tara’s interest. Giles and Olivia have a small moment, but given that Olivia doesn’t appear again until the comics, she’s not gonna stick around after this episode. The episode ends with Riley entering Buffy’s dorm, telling her that they should have a talk. Instead, the two sit across from each other in awkward silence.
I seriously love this episode, Captain Cardboard aside. It’s suspenseful and scary without actually being gory. You never see the Gentleman’s victims, just Giles’s crude drawings. I also love the way that everyone plays off of each other. It takes a lot of chemistry and good acting to convey how everyone relates to each other without having any dialogue whatsoever.
If you’re a fan of Doctor Who and have never seen Buffy, check out this episode. I also recommend this episode to those who want to see Joss Whedon do silent film. (Until he does an actual silent film, that is.)