Buffy: The Vampire Slayer
December 14, 1999
Buffy: Sarah Michelle Gellar
Willow: Alyson Hannigan
Spike: James Marsters
Xander: Nicholas Brendan
Giles: Anthony Stewart Head
Riley: Mark Blucas
Professor Walsh: Lindsay Crouse
While Willow tries to fit in at a pretentious Wicca meeting (they’re horrified by the idea of casting spells but think a bake sale would be empowering,) Giles asks Xander to “take Spike” for a few days while his woman friend Olivia comes to town. (Xander, unlike Giles, will tie Spike up.) Meanwhile, Buffy and Agent Riley of the Initiative each want to come clean about their crime-fighting ways, but alas, cannot.
Giles researches a group of spirits called the Gentlemen until the lovely Olivia arrives. In the night, the Gentlemen cast a whispering spell that travels through the town and removes everyone’s voice.
Next morning, everyone is magically mute. Not deaf-- they can hear doors slamming, books opening-- just mute. The Initiative elevator nearly toasts Riley and his Initiative Pal when they can’t speak to the computer. (Professor Walsh recommends they use the staircase next time; at least she has the benefit of a voice modulator on her computer.)
Sunnydale turns to Doomsday Land, with all public services closed and people wandering the streets like silent ghosts.
Across town from one another, Giles and Professor Walsh do their research while Buffy and Riley hit the town to keep chaos from descending. Riley and Buffy meet on the street and embrace in silence.
Then, the Gentlemen come gliding across the town, smiling and wraithlike in caretaker suits as they float on their heels, guided by dog-like ghouls in straitjackets. Silently they enter a dormitory, killing a college student who can’t scream as they slice him open with a scalpel.
The Gentlemen are collecting hearts in the bell tower where they hang out. Meanwhile, Giles gives the Slayer Gang an overhead-projection lecture on the Gentlemen, fairy tale ghosts who steal the voices of the living so no one can scream as they collect seven hearts from their victims. Legends tell of a Princess who got her voice back and screamed once, killing them all.
Buffy patrols, once again running into Riley when they both track the Gentlemen to the Church Tower. Meanwhile, Tara, a painfully shy girl from the Wicca group, goes hunting for Willow, and ends up pursued by the Gentlemen. Willow is the only in the dorm one brave enough to emerge from her room while Tara frantically beats on the door. At the Church Tower, Riley and Buffy come face to face with one another in their respective crossbow-wielding roles.
While Buffy and Riley do their action hero thing, Xander nearly beats Spike to death when he mistakenly believes Spike has attacked Anya. Sweet. At the dormitory Willow and X use their combined telekinesis (!) to block the Gentlemen’s path with a coke machine. And at the church tower, Buffy and Riley finally stumble across the Box of Voices, which must be crushed to release the captured sounds. Buffy becomes the Screaming Princess, her shriek popping the heads of the Gentlemen like green pimples, if pimples were bald and wore lots of eye shadow.
Turns out Tara recognized Willow as a powerful witch like Tara’s mother was. Willow doubts her own powers, but the two have a sweet moment when Tara protests that Willow is special.
Riley comes over to Buffy’s dorm to talk things out, but as it happens, they can’t think of a thing to say, and we end the episode with silence.
Wow. Buffy, The Vampire Slayer has always been a show that leaned heavily on nearly unmatched dialogue, but in this episode, the series reaches MASH heights by pulling out a truly different episode. Definitely an episode you have to watch, "Hush" relies on sound effects and the utter silence of the characters for tension without abandoning the usual humor. It's an ambitious attempt and succeeds nicely, as the characters try to use hand gestures, message boards, voice modulators, and overhead projectors to take the place of everyday vocal communication. Buffy is great TV, if there is such a thing.
The only thing I thought lacking, in fact, would be a hearing-impaired community (doesn't every college have one) who would, of course, blithely go about their business, suddenly better equipped than the rest of the town. Sunnydale shuts down when no one can speak; a deaf person would probably find that hilarious.
Willow is getting more powerful by the episode, and here we learn that in fact she's not your usual witch-- in fact, most of the Wiccans in the Buffy world are like those of your average college, just regular folks with a hip hobby. Willow is special, and it takes the tongue-tied Tara to tell her. I wonder where this relationship with Tara is going. Will this be a new best friend, someone to finally free Amy the rat, or are we looking at the beginning of a Neve Campbell-esque LUG scenario?
And of course, finally Riley and Buffy have discovered that neither is who he or she seems. It's a nice touch that, having discovered this and gotten their voices back, they still sit in silence, unable to begin the talk. (Good move, too, any conversation would be anti-climactic.)
Xander continues to grow in bravery and mass; he's reaching Shwarzeneggarian proportions and soon will be the resident muscle of the team. He and once-dweebish Giles are in a race to become sex symbols on the show, and soon we will have no resident nerds. (Meaning the powers that be will have to introduce some new ones.) So it goes.
Anya: “You don’t care what I think; you don’t ask about my day.”
Xander: “You really did turn into a real girl, didn’t you?”