Hush
Written and Directed by: Joss Whedon
Air Date: Dec 14, 1999

buffy

“Hush” is one of those episodes that, once you see it, it sticks with you. I’ve often heard it described as a perfect “BtVS” episode to use if you are going to introduce someone to the series, due to the self-contained lore, the perfect use of characters, the lack of necessary backstory, and such a quality example of writing. Its also the series “silent” episode, that is to say, the magical properties of the “monster-of-the-week” (here, the Gentlemen) steal everyone’s voices (though it IS a touch sketchy in regards to gasps and deep breaths) so that they can’t scream while they cut into peoples’ chests and steal their hearts right out of them. Its very, very interesting and well acted, written, and perfectly directed. Its an all around great episode, one of the series’ strongest.

The plot is simple enough, so simple in fact that I just described it. But its not the story, or the awesome nursery rhyme, or the dream sequence Buffy has (she’s prone to those, remember?) or anything else that really gets people invested in the episode. No, rather its the seriously creepy bad guys, the actual scares, and the wonderful use of dialogue in an episode where it is conveyed through various means. Prof. Walsh makes a big stink about how what we say sometimes betrays what we mean, that communication gets muddled through the various means we attempt to utilize in order to accomplish the act. The example used, here, is when Riley and Buffy try to tell each other they have feelings for one another, but get sidetracked talking about, well, anything else. There are, of course, other examples as well (such as Anya wanting Xander to tell her how she feels about him), but this is the big one, and the one that ties the episode together.

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The best moments of the episode are too numerous to even list in a full review. I could go over every last detail, for example, of the classroom demonstration; the backwards slide, the blood and more blood, Buffy’s reaction to her bloated representation. But at the end of the day, we all know this scene. Its perfect, its funny, and its sometimes inappropriate. And that’s all well and good. But its the smaller moments, like Xander accusing Spike of stealing his voice and subsequently failing miserably to remember his lost voice when he tries to call Willow… its Willow writing “Hi Giles” on her white board… its the powerful and sensual introduction to Tara’s magical connection to Willow with the vending machine… Its all the small moments that really drive this episode and, likewise, make the characters feel human in an inhuman situation.

This episode also reveals Riley’s role, officially, in the Initiative. Well, at least to Buffy. And likewise, Buffy is outed as a Slayer. During the big, final confrontation in the abandoned clock tower (I wonder if you could put “abandoned” in front of any location and you’d find one in Sunnydale…?) against the Gentlemen and their lackluster goon squad (the only really negative thing I have to say about this episode is these lame assholes. They’re like different groups, the Gentlement and the so-called “Footmen”) they have to team up for the first time to stop the bad guys, free everyone’s voices, and unleash a strained scream to blow the monsters’ fucking heads up in a goopy fashion. Riley has no idea what he is seeing as she sends motherfuckers flying across the room with swift kicks, but he clearly likes what he sees.

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The end of the episode, after Buffy and Riley smash open the voice box (after an embarrassing first attempt, by the way), everyone is left to ponder what they just experienced. Anya knows how Xander feels, and likely Xander is finding out, himself. He’d beaten the shit out of a house-arrested Spike after he’d mistakenly assumed he’d bitten her. Willow has a new friend and a co-pilot in her magic using ways. Giles finds out that he can go black and then… no where else ever again, apparently. And Buffy and Riley have a lot to talk about. In fact, everyone has small conversations about their new-found discoveries, getting past the “demon” that is communication, the thing Walsh had mentioned before. They’re all able to push past the desire to hide themselves and really start getting it out there.

Aside from Buffy and Riley, who leave the episode in an attempt to talk, but they simply sit and stare across Buffy’s dorm room, waiting for the other person to start, first. Its a powerful image, to be sure, if not a bit rife with overplayed-hand-syndrome. Its neat because of all the obvious reasons, but the obviousness is not so overbearing as to wreck it all up. No, rather it adds another human level to the whole episode, showcasing that these two, two people who have had to lie to each other out of honor and duty, suddenly have a giant hole that they can’t fill with conversation any longer. At least, not goofy, doofy banter. The best part is that the following episode picks up exactly from here, so its nice that we actually get resolution to this. But that’s for next time.

Episode Rating: 98

Additional Notes:
-Riley’s dumb ass smile when he assumes he did good smashing that heart jar is so, so embarrassing
Doug Jones plays one of the Gentlemen and he is bad ass if you didn’t know
-PS: Those Gentlemen are exceptionally creepy. Easily some of the best monsters in the series
-I like the TV station saying its an outbreak of laryngitis. Media. Pff
-What was Joyce doing all this time? Probably she was happy, Dawn-memory-wise, that the bitch didn’t have her annoying voice for a night
-Olivia, Giles’ black girlfriend, gets the best shot of the episode, though, with her reaction to those creepy fucking dudes creeping by the window

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