It was Buffy Supreme! Twenty-nine minutes without a spoken word. After
all the preliminary media hype, I anticipated the best, feared the worst
and got everything and more than I had hoped for.
It's been said that sometimes pictures say more than words. This was one
of those times. "Hush" took the WB's New Tuesday to a new level of
suspense and scariness with great visuals, riveting music, gruesomely
gross sound effects and a good balance between horror and humor.
Personally, I like scary movies. When Stephen King's "Pet Cemetery" first
came out I went to see it and scared myself half to death, even though
I'd read the book. Last summer I saw "Urban Legend," which is by far the
scariest movie I've ever seen, and I scared everyone else half to death,
when the guy who sat behind me on the aisle accidentally touched my
elbow with his foot during a crucial scene and I shrieked quite loudly.
But I'm digressing here.
Let's see if this eerie Buffy tale can be told in the written word.
It begins harmless enough, in Professor Walshe's psych class, where Buffy
is asked to come to the front and lie down on her teacher's desk (Come
again?). "Riley, if you could oblige," the professor then says, and he
walks over and bends to kiss Buffy. When she hesitates he says, "If I
kiss you, it'll make the sun go down." (Now there's a line you don't
hear every day!). Astonishingly enough, he told the truth. The sun does
go down and the two of them are still in the classroom, alone. Buffy
hears a distant chanting and gets off the desk to follow the sound.
In the dark, deserted hallway she happens upon a little girl in a red
dress, who is holding a wooden box in her hands. The girl remains
motionless, staring back at Buffy, and singing in an eerily monotonous
"Can't even shout, can't even cry,
The Gentlemen are coming by.
Looking in windows,
Knocking on doors,
They need to take seven
And they might take yours.
Can't call to mom, can't say a word,
You're gonna die screaming
But you won't be heard."
Buffy stands mesmerized (while the hair on the back of my neck stood on
end), until Riley appears behind her, breaking the trance when he
touches her shoulder.
In a flash we, too, are brought back to TV reality, to the end of psych
class to be exact, where Buffy just jerked awake from a daydream. "Just
tell me I didn't snore," she says to Willow, who assures her that it was
very discreet and with minimal drool factor.
Buffy is telling Willow about her vivid dream when Riley joins them.
Willow leaves them alone, under the pretense of a Wicca group meeting,
and positions herself strategically to spy on the would-be couple.
Walking toward the dining hall, they talk vaguely about Buffy's dream,
with Riley insisting that he, as a psychology major, is more privy to
useful insights than Buffy herself. Flattered by his interest, Buffy
admits that Riley had "a feature role" in her fantasy, but refuses to be
more specific. Before they part, Riley inquires about Buffy' s plans for
the night and she blurts out, "Patrolling, eh petroleum. And homework,"
raising at least two pairs of eyebrows (Riley's and mine. Petroleum?
C'mon guys, you can do better than that). Nevertheless, a determined
Riley seizes the moment and leans in to kiss her, but of course that
would be too easy and distract from the story line, so Buffy throws in a
completely irrelevant question to stop him.
Over at his place, Giles is sitting at the desk, trying to solve a
riddle that came to him, too, in a dream. In bold letters his notes read
"The Gentlemen" and "Can't even shout, Can't even cry," leading to the
conclusion that, indeed, he had the same vision as Buffy.
Spike walks into the kitchen, rummages through some shelves and
announces, "We're out of Weetabix."
(That's a kind of British high-in-fiber-and-good-for-you cereal). He
tells Giles to pick up some more, and the following exchange ensues:
G: "I thought vampires are supposed to drink blood."
S: "Well, sometimes I like to crumple up the Weetabix with the blood.
Gives me a little texture."
G: "Since the picture you just painted means I'll never touch food of
any kind again, you'll just have to pick it up yourself."
Xander and Anya are on their way over to Giles', discussing, as usual,
their relationship. Anya accuses Xander of not really caring about her
and her feelings, to which he matter-of-factly says, "So you did turn
into a real girl." But pressed for a more specific measure of just how
much he does care, he tries to postpone "the talk." No such luck,
however. Just as they enter Giles' apartment, Anya lays it all out for
him. "This isn't a relationship. You don't need me. All you care about
are lots of orgasms."
Xander reminds her of a talk they had about private conversations and,
"how they are not so private if we have them in front of my friends."
Spike, now genuinely interested, quickly interjects. "We're not your
friends. Please, go on."
Giles then explains to Xander that he needs him to take care of Spike
for a few days, since he has "an old friend" from London coming to
visit. This doesn't sit well with anyone. Xander insists that Spike will
have to be tied down again, since he doesn't trust that he is really
incapable of attacking him. Anya is worried that there will be no
opportunity for them to have a romantic night in, and Spike, torn
between disbelief and disgust, says, "I will not have these two shag
while I'm there tied to a chair."
The earlier-mentioned Wicca group, meanwhile, has a much more subdued
meeting. The group leader recites something about darkness, wolves and
walking through a waterfall to the black heart of eternity,
transitioning seamlessly into planning a bake sale. Willow, a little
discouraged by the lack of enthusiasm for witchcraft, suggests they talk
about "the wacky notion of spells, conjuring and transmutation." While
the other girls take it as an attempt at humor, one of them quietly
observes Willow. Tara (guest star Amber Benson) seems to know what
Willow is talking about, but she is too shy to approach her directly.
Later, in their dorm, Willow tells Buffy that the Wicca group is just not
working out for her and, changing subjects, asks if Buffy and Riley
finally kissed. When the news is negative on that front, Willow launches
into a pep talk. "Get with it," she concludes. "I need my vicarious
smoochies." Buffy explains that every time they are about to kiss, both
of them become so nervous that they start rambling about unimportant
things. (Here's my theory: First kisses are potentially the best, most
exciting and certainly most memorable. The Hellmouth could open right
beside me and I wouldn't care. I wholeheartedly agree with Willow. Get
with it already before the Hellmouth opens up again!) Things would
be so much easier, Buffy thinks, if she didn't have to lie about being
the slayer and could just come clean with Riley.
We conveniently cut to Riley climbing up a ladder behind his friend
Forrest (recurring guest star Leonard Roberts) somewhere in the confines
of the Initiative. He apparently wishes to come clean, too, about being
one of the guys in black. "Well, you can't brother," Forrest tells him
and Riley asserts that, "this time it bugs me. Buffy is special."
In his basement, Xander busies himself with tying Spike to a recliner
chair. Our villain, rendered harmless by the implant given to him by the
Initiative, contents himself with arguing about the necessity of such an
S: "I don't see why I have to be tied down. It's not like I'd bite you
X: "Oh you would!"
S: (presented with a head's on view of Xander's butt, covered in blue
and green flannel boxers, leaning across the bed to turn off the light) "Not bloody likely."
X: "I'm bitable. Moist and delicious."
Giles is still researching the dream riddle when there's a knock at his
door. It's Olivia (recurring guest star Phina Oruche). He asks how her
flight was. Too long she says and then gets down to business. "That's
enough small talk, don't you think?" Taking off his glasses Giles kisses
her. The Gentlemen are forgotten.
Around 1 a.m. that same night, in a clock tower somewhere in Sunnydale,
we see a pair of long, gray, gnarly hands open the wooden box carried by
the little girl in Buffy's dream. All over town, at Xander's, at Giles',
in Buffy and Willow's dorm, something is sucked out of the sleeping
people. Wisps of white fog, accompanied by a low and constant whisper,
stream into the night air, toward the clock tower and into the box. When
those hands close the lid, complete silence falls over Sunnydale. For
the first time, we see one of The Gentlemen. Clad in a black suit, he
looks like a long-dead version of Jim Carrey in "The Mask."
Panic sets in the next morning when everybody discovers their voices are
gone. Willow thinks at first that she has gone deaf. Xander accuses
Spike of stealing his voice and gets a look of exasperation from the
bound and likewise mute vampire.
Riley and Forrest are on their way to Initiative headquarters for an
emergency briefing and take the elevator down. Hm, something's not right
here. Wasn't there a voice recognition system that controlled access to
the facility? Yep, there was! Uh oh. Just when the computer announces
"lethal countermeasures" against the intrusion and Riley's override code
fails, the door is opened from the outside and the two agents face their
superiors. Resigned, Maggie Walsh points to sign on the wall: "In case of
emergency use staircase."
The gang gathers at Giles' place, unsure what is going on. A national newscast
announces that Sunnydale town officials have issued a written
statement, declaring the town under quarantine due to an unusually
widespread case of laryngitis. (Talk about rationalization!)
At the Initiative headquarters the emergency meeting is under way. With
the help of a computer, Walsh tells her minions to patrol the town
tonight disguised as civilians, since a military presence might cause a
panic among citizens.
Later in town, Riley is separating two guys who were fighting, when
Buffy, also patrolling, spots him. He has his back turned and doesn't
see her. Walking by one of the fighters, Buffy casually breaks the man's
arm when he gets up with a weapon in his hand. Riley turns to see her,
obviously relieved that she seems all right. For a moment, they both
just look into each other's eyes, then hug. "Are you all right?" Riley
mouths. Buffy nods and silently replies, "You?" (OK, now get out the
camera for a Kodak moment. I mean it's gotta be now or never, since no
one will start rambling, right?) Riley smiles and is distracted by a
scuffle nearby. He takes a few steps, then turns, grabs Buffy's
shoulders and kisses her thoroughly. Then he leaves.
It's almost 2 a.m. that night, when The Gentlemen proceed with step two
of their plan. They come floating out of the clock tower, followed by
their helpers, clad in straight jackets, who stick to the more earthly
art of walking. Accompanied only by the faint clinking of the metal
jacket buckles, they go looking in windows and knocking on doors.
Over at Giles', Olivia can't sleep. She gets up and stands by the
window. Looking out, she sees one of the Gentlemen floating through an
adjacent garden. Mesmerized, she stares, then jumps when another one
floats right by her window, looking directly at her.
Two Gentlemen go knocking on Room 118 in one of the dorms at UC
Sunnydale. A careless, and still sleepy, freshman opens the door and is
struck instantly by the realization that this can't be good. The little
helpers grab him, drag him to the bed and hold him down, while The
Gentlemen, teeth-baring grins still plastered on their faces, open a
black suitcase and take out a scalpel. The freshman's face contorts in
horror as he tries to scream and the camera zooms in on The Gentlemen.
The only audible sound is that of a scalpel slicing through human flesh.
Later in the clock tower, we get a glimpse of several glass jars,
arranged around the wooden box, all containing human hearts. The
Gentlemen applaud, delighted at the latest addition to their collection.
On campus the next day, Buffy walks by the dead freshman's room, where
he is still lying on the bed. (Now, I expect Sunnydale to be different
from any other town. But don't you think it's a little out there to
leave the uncovered body of a student, less the heart, lying around in
his room and let random people wander in to take a look?)
Olivia, meanwhile has drawn a picture of the creature she saw the night
before and Giles, upon seeing it, goes straight for his book on fairy
After researching some more, Giles gets the gang together in one of the
classrooms. Buffy, Willow, Anya and Xander watch in anticipation as
Giles turns on a tape recorder with classical music, cracks his knuckles
(Now that send shivers down my spine. Really.) and begins his Q&A on the
overhead projector. Who are The Gentlemen? They are fairy tale monsters.
What do they want? Willow points to her heart, confusing Xander, who
thinks she means breasts (What's that statistic? The average man thinks
about sex every four seconds? Check that.). Giles continues: They come
to town and steal everybody's voice, so people can't scream. Then, and
he demonstrates this with two oddly cartoon-like pictures, they cut out
people's hearts. They need seven and have at least two (there was
another murder written up in the paper that day). They can't be killed
with stakes or swords, but in the fairy tale the princess screamed and
they all died. Willow then suggests, in a hilarious mime routine, to
play really loud music, but Giles indicates that only the human voice
will suffice. He can't, however, answer Buffy's question, "How do I get
my voice back?"
That night, Riley and his team go out in military gear. Walking through
town, Riley sees shadows moving around in the clock tower and decides to
investigate. Buffy, also on patrol, encounters two of the helpers and
fights them, killing one.
Back at school, Tara, the shy girl from the Wicca group, goes in search
of Willow's room. She crosses the path of The Gentlemen and their cohorts, and
runs from them, knocking on various doors, but no one lets her in. As
she nears Willow's room, Willow hears the commotion and curiosity gets
the better of her. As she steps into the hall, Tara bumps right into
her, knocking her down. In panic, Tara pulls her up and they run for
In the tower, Riley is fighting with some of the helper
creatures when Buffy kicks in a window that was nailed shut and joins
the effort. Suddenly, they come face to face, pointing their weapons at
each other. (Surprise!) After staring at each other for a long
moment, the fighting continues. But when Riley sees Buffy fight (and
she's resourceful, you gotta give her that), swinging from a rope and
kicking one little helper clear through a wooden pillar, it dawns on him
that her presence could not possibly be a coincidence.
Waiting things out at Giles' place, Spike gets a cup of pig's blood from
the refrigerator. As he drinks it, his face changes into the evil
vampire mask. He wanders into the living room, where Anya is resting on
the couch and kneels on the floor to pick up some books. At that moment
Xander walks in. He sees Anya, looking rather lifeless, and then Spike,
still sporting the evil face, on the ground next to her. In a
millisecond Xander pins the vampire to the floor and begins punching his
face (Remember, Spike can't fight back because of the implant; any form
of violence on his part causes him extreme physical pain.). Anya,
clearly touched by this obvious display of love for her, taps Xander on
the shoulder and smiles. Relieved he gets up, hugs her tight and kisses
her. At her beckoning, a universally understood gesture that is, they
leave, to oblige their primal instincts.
In a more precarious situation are Willow and Tara, locked inside a
laundry room at school. Fearing the lock will give in under the constant
assault from the helpers, Willow attempts to move a soda machine in
front of the door, using mere willpower. The apparatus shakes and
rattles a little, but it doesn't move. Suddenly Tara joins hands with
Willow, they share a look of understanding (as only fellow witches can)
and with their combined willpower hurl the machine across the room,
blocking the door.
Buffy's fight has taken her upstairs into the tower where she encounters
the scalpel-wielding Gentlemen, the hearts, the wooden box and more
helpers, who take her into a tight grip. Riley appears and uses his
tazer gun, momentarily scattering the creatures. Buffy has some
maneuvering room and bangs on a table to get Riley's attention. She
points to the table with the glass jars and the box. Pleased to be able
to help, Riley smashes one of the jars with the butt of his gun, smiling
proudly. Buffy rolls her eyes and motions him to open the box. Again
using his gun, he smashes it to pieces, setting free all the captured
voices. Buffy, taking a deep breath, begins to scream. At first
hoarsely, then accelerating to a high pitch, she doesn't stop until the
heads of The Gentlemen explode and green slime oozes from their necks.
Riley just stares.
The next day Willow and Tara talk. Tara, it turns out, has practiced
witchcraft since she was a little girl and learned it from her mother.
"She was very powerful," Tara says, "like you." Willow remarks that she
really isn't that powerful, since her potions turn out as soup and her
spells usually go awry, but Tara just looks at her and declares, "But
Riley, meanwhile, goes to see Buffy in her room. Closing the door behind
him, he sits on Willow's bed and announces solemnly, "I guess we have to
talk." Buffy takes a seat opposite him and concedes, "I guess we do."
Now, here are my two cents:
It was awesome! The little girl in the daydream promised a hair raising
tale and the WB gave it to us.
It is a risky thing for a prime time television show to forego 29
minutes of possible dialogue and rely entirely on visuals, but the Buffy
creators pulled it off successfully. And they managed to tell several
stories in the process. Buffy and Riley, of course, who took one step
forward and two steps back. This will make for an interesting story line
now, because even though they both fight evil, they do it for very
different reasons. Xander and Anya, superbly funny as always, officially
are a couple, now that he has proven himself worthy and caring. Giles
and Olivia - well, it takes some getting used to, watching Giles
actually have a life. I hope the story line goes somewhere and doesn't
just taper off with time. And Willow, who seems less distraught about
Oz' departure and finally has found someone to talk witchcraft with.
Tara's hint in regard to Willow's powers also suggests an interesting
story line coming our way.
It certainly was a worthy episode to end the year with (that's right,
the next all new Buffy will not air until January 11, 2000). They've
left me wanting answers and I'll be sure to tune back in next month.