Written by Joss Whedon
Directed by Joss Whedon

Mary Beth's Review | Perri's Review | Chris's Comments | SunSpeak

Mary Beth's Review

In psychology class, Professor Walsh is in full-on lecture mode. The topic: communication. Buffy is trying to listen intently but Riley, who is leaning heavily against the wall, is proving a challenging distraction. Walsh continues to discuss the rather abstract idea of "inspiration. Not the idea but the moment before the idea" and the "thoughts and experiences we don't have a word for." She calls for a demonstration and asks Buffy -- "a typical college girl, one assumes" -- to come forward and lie on the desk. Buffy is tentative, but Walsh tells her "it's perfectly safe." Buffy relents. Walsh then asks Riley to join in. She tells him to "be a good boy" as he approaches the desk and leans over Buffy, gently placing one hand on her side and the other behind her. He pulls her close. Buffy is uncomfortable, but Riley reassures her. "Don't worry, " he tells her, "if I kiss you it'll make the sun go down."

And he does. And it does. Their kiss grows deeper and the classroom grows darker . . . and emptier. They are alone.

"Fortune favors the brave," says Buffy, perhaps a bit in awe, before she's distracted by the sound of a child humming out in the hall.

Buffy goes to investigate. In the hall, she sees a young girl at the other end holding a small wooden box. As Buffy gets closer, the girl's humming turns into a nursery rhyme:

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.

Riley approaches Buffy from behind and reaches out to touch her shoulder, but when Buffy turns, she sees not Riley but a frightening grey-faced creature. In a flash, it's gone as Buffy awakens back in psychology class. She's been dreaming again.

Class is over now, though. Willow gives her friend a gentle ribbing but assures Buffy that she was very discreet in her slacking -- minimum droolage. Buffy starts to tell Willow about the creepy images she saw, but Riley interrupts. He did notice Buffy's catnap -- he thought she looked quite peaceful. He starts to join Buffy and Willow on their trek to the student center, but Willow -- sensing an opportunity for Buffy and Riley to bond -- invents and excuse to be elsewhere. She stays behind and proudly but not-so-surreptitiously watches as Buffy and Riley move on, continuing their discussion of Buffy's dream. Riley wants to know if he had a role in her dream, perhaps even romantic lead. Buffy isn't talking.

Outside, a bell tolls while Riley asks Buffy what her plans are for that evening. Buffy must be getting comfortable around Riley now because she speaks before thinking and tells him she'll be patrolling. She catches her goof, though, and tells him she'll be studying "petroleum." Riley himself will be grading papers. They babble some more and then Riley moves in for a kiss. More words get in the way, however, as Buffy wonders aloud what papers will be grading, since they only have a final left. He, too, covers. The moment, such as it was, is broken now, so they hem and haw and agree to see each other later.

Heading off in opposite directions, Buffy mutters to herself, "Fortune favors the brave."


At his apartment, Giles gets the details of Buffy's dream from her over the phone. Neither he nor Buffy can place the rhyme, and although he isn't entirely convinced it's not they mystery that is Buffy's mind playing tricks on her, he promises to look into it. He hangs up and asks Spike, who's rummaging around in the kitchen, if he's heard of "The Gentlemen." Spike hasn't, and he's more concerned that they're out of weetabix. He likes to mix it in his blood to give it texture. Giles is suitably disgusted. Those too are becoming quite the Odd Couple.

Meanwhile, Xander and Anya arrive outside Giles' apartment bickering like the old married couple they're not. It seems Anya doesn't think that Xander really cares about her -- he doesn't listen, he doesn't ask her how her day was. (The reviewer things someone's been reading Men Are from Mars.....)

Xander, who's never been very good at "communicating his feelings," tries to convince her that he does, in fact, care. But when Anya pushes for details, he balks and heads into Giles' place -- without knocking. Anya isn't letting him off that easy, though. She continues this very private conversation right on into a room of Xander's friends -- well, friend and vampire. "This isn't a relationship," she tells him. "You don't need me. All you care about is lots of orgasms." Xander is less than thrilled with Anya's frankness (Spike is amused), and thankfully, Giles manages to cut them off before she gets any more explicit.

They are there because Giles asked Xander to stop by because he wants Xander to take Spike for a few days (what is he, now, the Scooby Gang's new pet? Should we call him Scrappy?). Giles has a friend ("An orgasm friend?" Anya asks ever-so-tactfully) coming to visit and he would like some privacy. No one is happy about this idea, though, and while Spike, Xander, and Anya bicker about how to deal with this development, Giles returns to his books looking as though what he'd like more than anything is just a few moments of blissful peace and silence.

Willow, meanwhile, is enduring another meeting of her Wicca group. And what a group it is. After a brief blessing, they discuss ideas for a bake sale and their newsletter. They toss around every cliched phrase a young girl could find on Wicca while Willow looks on in boredom. Clearly, this is not what she had envisioned. She says as much to the group, too, when she floats the idea of trying spells. Although most of the group simply mocks her, Willow's idea does catch the attention of one quiet girl. This girl, Tara, tries to speak up in support of Willow, but she's rather easily cowed by the other girls. But Willow takes notice.

Later, Willow complains to Buffy about the lack of magical action she's getting with the group. They're just talk, all talk, and she's anxious to expand on her skills and "float something bigger than a pencil, someday." Buffy is supportive gal. When Willow then changes the subject to Buffy and Riley, it's Buffy's turn to complain about the lack of any action. "Talk, all talk." Willow isn't happy to hear this. She wants vicarious smoochies, and she threatens to tie the two of them together if they don't stop with the babbling and just get with it. It's not just that, though. Buffy is unhappy with the fact that she has to lie to him all the time. She's not used to this secrecy thing, and she just wishes she could just come clean with him about being the Slayer.

Riley, it seems, is having similar issues. At the headquarters for the DGLC (that's Damn Good-Looking Commandos, for you laypeople. And much easier to type than "Initiative," thank you very much), Riley and Forest have just finished, well, doing something with some kind of demon in a holding pen -- newly captured, perhaps? They're both all sweaty. And Forest is convincing Riley that he, too, has to remain quiet about his nocturnal activities. Despite the fact that they do something that makes them Look Damned Good, they must continue to Clark Kent their way through the day. Riley insists (for the 400+ time) that Buffy's special, but Forest isn't having any of it. He tells him to just stop with the talking and get with the kissing.

Back at the Harris residence, Xander is tying Spike to a chair -- unwilling to be as trusting of the vampire as Giles has become, despite Spikes assurances that he has no interest in biting him even if he could. Xander assures Spike that he is both most and delicious. With lights out, Spike taunts Xander about his fight with Anya earlier. Xander's had enough, though, and yells at Spike to just "SHUT UP!"

Giles, meanwhile, is burning the midnight oil trying to figure out what Buffy's dream meant. He's not having much luck. Thankfully, for him, his guest finally arrives. It's Olivia -- his "friend" from The Freshman. Her flight was delayed, and she had to endure a baseball movie, and she's ready for some action of her own. She pulls Giles in for a kiss with one last line: "That's enough small talk, don't you think?"

And up in the clock tower of a dilapidated church, the gears turn as time ticks by and pair of elongated, bony grey hands place a small, familiar wooden box in the center of a table. They gracefully lift the lid and move away. All across the town, Sunnydale citizens sleep soundly, completely unaware as one by one they gasp and wisps of smoke escape their mouths. As the sound of whispering grows ever louder, the wisps of smoke become one great cloud flowing toward the clock tower and into the small wooden box. With the last wisp, the same elongated hands shut the lid, and the camera moves back to reveal a Gentleman -- the same grey-faced man Buffy glimpsed, completely with dapper suit, deep-set eyes, and frightening grin.


The next morning, Buffy rises early and heads to the dorm bathroom for her morning routine. On her way back to the room, a girl passes rushes by in tears. Back in her room, Willow awakens at Buffy's return and Buffy bids her roommate good morning.

Only, she doesn't.

Although Buffy's lips are moving, no sound is coming out. Her voice is gone. Buffy grows more desperate, practically shouting at her friend -- but silence reins. Willow tries to speak, but she, too, has no voice. She begins to panic -- thinking she's gone deaf, but Buffy at least has figured out that they simply can't speak. Buffy checks the hall and finds it's not this them. Their dormmates are milling about in shock and fear -- and silence.

Xander, too, has discovered the loss of his voice. His first reaction is to blame Spike, but Spike is as affected as he is. And none too pleased with Xander's accusation, he flips Xander something that if you live in England, is most certainly not the Peace sign.

Xander's second reaction is to pick up the phone and call Buffy and Willow. Buffy answers the phone and . . . .

Hangs back up. One modern form of communication down. How many more to go?

At the frat house, Forest awakens Riley (who, by the way, has a really big bed), and they head down to the lab level in the elevator. Unfortunately, neither thought to remember the Vocal Identification security feature. The elevator stops abruptly. The system demands someone state a name or it will take "countermeasures." Riley is unable to make sufficient noise to satisfy the system (he tries breathing heavily into the intercom to no avail) and resorts to trying using a keycard and trying to enter an override code. Forest, meanwhile, seems clueless about this particular security feature and grows increasingly agitated -- scribbling urgent notes ("Come on! Come on!") behind Riley's back. Riley, however, is having trouble remembering the proper code. He runs out of time, finally, and a deadly gas is released into the elevator -- just as the doors slide open to reveal Professor Walsh and two lackeys. Riley and Forest rush out into the lab, gasping for air, while Walsh looks both annoyed and amused at their predicament. She points to a sign behind them on the wall and moves on. Riley and Forest glance at the sign, roll their eyes and follow. The sign? "In case of emergency, use stairway."

Back at the student center, Tara finds her classmates milling about in silence. Some are comforting one another. It's unnerving. Suddenly, a student drops a bottle. The sound of shattering glass is deafening amidst the silence -- everyone jumps. Tara searches the crowd as if looking for someone in particular, then moves on.

In town, Buffy and Willow move through the streets of Sunnydale, their hands clasped tightly together as they take in their surroundings. Animals are unaffected, it seems, as dogs bark loudly. The citizens, however, are deeply depressed. Most stores are closed, save the liquor store where business is booming. A man sits in the middle of the street, clutching his briefcase to his chest and blinking back tears, others sit forlornly on park benches or stand absently on corners. A group of people have gathered to pray with a priest -- one man holds a sign that reads "Revelations 15:1." A young man stands on the corner selling erasable message boards for $15.

At Giles' apartment, Buffy and Willow arrive -- each with an above-mentioned message board around her neck -- to find the whole gang there. In times of need, they always come together. Xander and Buffy exchange a wave; Giles gently touches Buffy on the shoulder. Buffy sees Giles' books open on the table and asks, or rather mouths, if he's found anything. He hasn't. Willow grabs her message board and scribbles -- she doesn't have a helpful hint, however. She simply writes "Hi Giles." Giles smiles and gives her a comforting hug. Buffy sees Giles' transcription of the words from the rhyme in her dream on his notepad "Can't even shout, can't even cry" and is sure this has relevance.

Xander interrupts with a snap of his fingers to divert their attention to a news broadcast. An outside affiliate reports on a "Laryngitis Outbreak" in Sunnydale, California, that -- in a written statement -- town officials are attributing to a recent flu vaccinations (And just who are the "town officials" these days, anyway?). The town is shut down, residents are advised to stay home and rest, and the CDC has quarantined the town until further notice. No one can go in or out. Convenient.

Buffy writes her own note on her message board, telling Giles and the others to keep researching. She needs to be in town that night.

Professor Walsh has the same idea. She's briefing her troops (her mode of communication? A computer with vocal software). She wants Riley and the DGLC to patrol, too. The potential for chaos is great, and she wants her boys to help keep the peace -- dressed as civilians to avoid panic at the sight of a military presence. Meanwhile, she and her team will continue to search for the answer to why this is happening.

In town that night, Buffy wanders the streets -- which are even more chaotic than before. A broken fire hydrant shoots water into the sky where an abandoned car has knocked it over; small fires burn and citizens roam the streets -- some are in a daze, and some are letting the stress get to them. Buffy spots two men fighting just as Riley intervenes to break them up. While Riley tries silently to reason with one man, he turns his back on the other. That man takes the opportunity to grab a pipe and go after Riley, but Buffy silently cracks his wrist as she walks by.

Riley turns and they melt into each other's arms instantly. They exchange questioning looks and affirmative response to reassure each other that they are doing okay. The sound of crashing glass distracts them -- and reminds them of their respective, yet similar, missions that evening. They begin to part, but turn for one last look. And finally, with no words to distract them, Riley pulls her into a kiss. The part once again and Buffy watches as he moves on to keep the peace.

In the dead of night, at the old boarded up church, the front door creaks open and several pairs of feet float out into the night. It's the Gentlemen. They're accompanied by several Igor-like demons wrapped in straight jackets and with bandaged faces. These demons gallop and spin awkwardly along as The Gentlemen hover gracefully just above the ground, moving soundlessly through the streets. Their shiny, toothy smiles never fade as they wave and part company, fanning out across the town with checklists and medical bags in hand as if on a harmless mission to gather signatures for a petition or orders for cookies.

Olivia lies restless in Giles' arms, unable to sleep. She rises, leaving Giles to rest and head downstairs to the kitchen. Something catches her attention outside, however, and she goes to the window to investigate. Across the courtyard, she catches a glimpse of one of the Gentleman and leans closer to the window for a better look -- just as another passes right in front of her. It stares directly at her, grinning all the while, before moving on. She gasps and jumps back, letting the curtain fall back.

More of the Gentleman float down residential streets, choosing a home and floating up a front walkway ready to make a most unwelcome house call. On campus, at Buffy's dorm, two more Gentlemen peer down a hallway and then skim smoothly along with Igors in tow. Students sleep soundly, unaware of these unnerving visitors. The Gentlemen appear to have some criteria for choosing who they visit, as one wags long bony finger at each door until they find just the right one. A choice is made, and one knocks soundly on the door.

A young dark-haired man, slightly resembling Xander, stirs and staggers sleepily to the door. He's completely unprepared for what awaits him. He stares wide-eyed at the Gentlemen as their demon helpers grab him and drag him to the bed. The boy is kicking and screaming for all he's worth -- yet not a sound escapes him.

The Gentlemen move in slowly and smoothly, exchanging pleasant looks with each other. They seem content with how well this is going. One opens his medical bag and removes a small, but long and very sharp scalpel. He nods and gently passes it to his most thankful companion, who examines the knife and then moves in toward the victim. The boy continues to struggle, gasping for air and straining to make some kind of sound. But he can't be heard.


We soon discover just what the Gentlemen are harvesting from their victims -- their hearts. In the clock tower, they have seven Mason Jars on the table next to the small, wooden box. Three of those jars already contain hearts. The Gentlemen politely applaud one another for their successful evening out.

The next morning, Buffy discovers the authorities outside one of the dorm rooms and sneaks in to investigate. She finds the bloody body of the young boy -- with his heart removed.

Olivia has spent the morning sketching the demon she saw the night before, and Giles discovers articles in the morning paper about the previous evening's slayings (Man, those Sunnydale reporters are on the ball!). Giles recognizes Olivia's drawing and something clicks. Wheels turning, he heads to his bookshelves and grabs a book titled Fairy Tales.

On campus, the Scooby Gang gathers in a classroom for an old-fashioned briefing from Giles, just like the old days in the Sunnydale High library. (*sigh*) Giles is quite well-prepared, as usual, and has compensated for his lack of speech -- with transparencies! He also fills the silence with a bit of Danse Macabre on the tape player. Sometimes, it's very clear he has too much time on his hands.

Willow and Buffy are ready with notepads and message boards, and Anya brought popcorn! The presentation starts off poorly though when Giles gets his transparency backwards, but the gang gets him back on track.

Who are the Gentlemen? Reads the first slide.

They are fairy tale monsters. Aww, he has a cute little drawing, too. Much like the Mutant Enemy logo.

What do they want?

Oh! Oh! Willow knows. She raises her hand frantically and points to her chest. "Boobies?" mouths Xander, gesturing the same with his hands. Willow glares and points to Giles' next slide.

Hearts is what they want -- as illustrated with Giles' drawings of valentine hearts.

They come to a town. (Okay, now his drawings are starting to look like rejects from The Simpsons) They steal all the voices, so no one can scream.

Then -- Giles pauses here for dramatic effect, finger in air (The reviewer is reminded that "he loves this part...") and then displays a transparency drawing of a man standing over a sleeping figure, bloody knife poised in the air above a gaping wound (you can tell it's blood because Giles has liberally applied red ink to portions of the picture). He replaces this drawing with one similar -- only with even more liberal use of red and the baddie holding a heart. The point is made; it's gory. Anya looks way too interested in this part.

They need seven. They have at least two. Xander finally cuts to the chase, scribbling a note on his message board: "How do we kill them?"

Buffy demonstrates her solution by pumping her fist up and down above her lap.

The entire group gapes.

She catches herself and, embarrassed, pulls out a stake and re-demonstrates.

The entire gang takes comfort.

In the tales, Giles' slide reads, No sword can kill them.

But the princess screamed once . . . . and they all died.

Buffy starts scribbling a response while Willow comes up with her own solution -- play some raunchy rock music (or perhaps just a recording of a woman screaming) and kill them all! She's quite pleased with herself. Unfortunately, Giles has a slide for this, too: Only a real human voice.

Buffy, quite simply, wants to know how to get her voice back. On this, Giles is at a loss. He puts up one more slide with instructions: Buffy will patrol tonight. (Buffy is aghast at Giles' wide-hipped drawing of her.) The others will continue the research. The gang gets down to business.

So do Riley and the DGLC. They suit up and grab their weaponry -- clearly the loss of human life has eliminated their concern over causing panic among the public. They mean business.

Buffy is strolling quietly through the neighborhoods, crossbow in hand, while Riley patrols nearby. He notices activity in the lighted windows of the church and head over to investigate.

On campus, Tara has been doing some research of her own. She's got a book open to a chapter on "Spells for Speech and Silence" and the campus directory open to Stephenson Hall. Willow's name and room number are highlighted -- several times over. Tara gathers some things together, steels herself, and heads out into the night. Outside, she hurries along, clearly unnerved by the quiet campus. Looking over her shoulder, she trips and drops her books. While picking them up, she fails to notice at first the Gentlemen and their crazy companions in the clearing behind her. When she finally does, they're moving quickly in on her. She takes off running as fast as she can, while the Gentlemen hover along after her, clearly not worried, clearly not hurried.

Meanwhile, Buffy spots a Gentleman or two on her own patrol. She watches as the demons move in on someone's home, but is caught off guard when one of the Igors jumps out of the bushes at her.

Back at Stephenson Hall, Tara rushes through the hall, banging on doors, frantic for someone to let her in, unable to scream for help. The students, too frightened to answer, simply hover in their beds, unwilling to risk themselves for someone else. The Gentlemen keep on coming, while Tara heads upstairs to the second floor.

In town, Buffy fights briefly with not one, but two Igors. She takes one out with an efficient neck snap (a little trick she learned from Angel), and the other takes off. She follows.

At the church, Riley enters with his taser gun in hand but is quickly jumped by one of the Igors. He takes it down rather impressively but is immediately jumped by another.

At Stephenson, Tara's frantic banging on doors meets with the same lack of response as on the first floor. Willow, however, does awaken at the pounding --she'd fallen asleep at her lap top doing research. In the hall, a door finally opens to the frightened girl. But it's not Willow -- it's one of the Gentlemen with human heart in hand. Tara backs away in fear and runs into Willow, who had come into the hall to investigate. The two girls scramble frantically on the floor, their faces contorted with fear as the Gentlemen silently, happily move in. They manage to get to their feet and burst through a doorway at the end of the hall.

In the church, Riley's got his hands full with two of the demons. He doesn't notice when one more bursts through the doorway, and Buffy bursts through the boarded up window after it. While Riley exchanges blows with one demon, Buffy takes on the other two. He gets a good knockdown punch in, while Buffy kicks one to the floor and throws the other against the wall. Buffy and Riley then grab their respective weapons (crossbow and taser) and turn to face the next foe -- and are shocked to come face to face with each other.


Before the two fighters have time to react, they're overtaken again by the demons. Buffy takes one out with a kick, while Riley shoots another with his taser gun. Buffy takes yet another out with the crossbow, and Riley struggles with another. Buffy is in fine form as she wails away at one last opponent. Riley takes his foe down and turns to watch in awe as Buffy grabs a rope and kicks her opponent through a support beam and into the far wall of the church.

At his apartment, Giles continues to research, and Spike raids the fridge for a late-night sip of blood. Anya rests on the couch. While he drinks, Spike morphs into vamp face and heads into the living room. There, he knocks some books to the floor and kneels down to pick them up. Xander picks that moment to arrive and from his angle can only see the prone Anya as Spike looks up with vamp face and blood on his mouth. Xander jumps to the wrong logical conclusion and reacts -- launching himself at Spike and giving the vamp a rather impressive beating. Spike is unable to fight back -- and unable to speak to get Xander to stop. Not until Anya awakens and gets Xander's attention does he realize his mistake. He drops Spike with an apologetic shrug and grabs Anya in a passionate embrace. Anya is touched by Xander's concern for her and his willingness to defend her safety. So touched she gestures to Xander -- quite crudely, in fact -- that she'd like to demonstrate her appreciation more intimately. They leave.

At the dorm, Tara helps an injured Willow (she hurt her ankle when she got tangled up with Tara) down the stairs and into the dorm laundry room. They try to shove the soda machine against the door, but it's too heavy. Willow collapses against the washing machine and concentrates with all her magical might on the machine -- but she's able only to make it shake where it stands. Tara realizes what she's trying to do and reaches tentatively for the fledgling witch's hand. Their fingers lock and the two girl exchange one knowing look before turning to stare at the machine, which then flies across the room with a previously unmatched amount of force. These two make a powerful, and dangerous, pair.

In the church, Buffy and Riley lose some ground to the demon-Igors, and while Riley struggles downstairs, Buffy chases another up to the clock tower -- and into the waiting arms of yet more helpers and two Gentlemen who look, as always, quite pleased to have their prey come to them. The Igors overpower her, and one of the Gentlemen moves in with scalpel in hand. As he draws close, however, he's shot back by an electrical surge from Riley's gun. He takes out another demon and distracts them long enough for Buffy to get loose. His gun, however, is out of juice, and he's forced back into hand-to-hand combat. They put up quite a fight, these two. They make quite a team. That is until Buffy is stabbed from behind by one of the Gentlemen. She's pinned against the spool of rope that leads to the bell and held from behind by one of the Igors. As she struggles to get free, she notices the small, wooden box on the table -- it's the same one the girl was holding in her dream. She waves frantically to get Riley's attention. He sees her motioning to the table, picks up his gun, and rushes over to smash . . . a vial that sits next to the box. Exasperated, Buffy tries again, this time motioning with her hands that she means the box. This time, Riley gets the message and smashes the box into pieces.

The wispy smoke explodes into the air and the demons throw Buffy to the ground. With a gasp, Buffy's voice is restored, and she wastes no time in letting out a amazing, blood-curdling scream. Riley looks on in shock as the demons grasp their ears in pain. After a few seconds of exposure to the sound of the "princess's" scream, the demon's head explode in a gory, goopy mess.

Buffy looks pleased with herself, until she catches Riley's eyes and realizes that not everything is right with the world.


The next day, Willow and Tara meet in the student center. Tara nervously explains that she'd gone looking for Willow the night before in hopes they could do a spell together. She'd been watching Willow in the Wicca group -- she knew she was different. Tara herself has been practicing magic since she was little. Her mother was powerful -- like Willow, says Tara. Taken aback by the compliment, Willow hems and haws and aww shucks her way out of it. But Tara insists she's definitely something special. A new friendship has been formed in the face of adversity.

Back at Giles' apartment, he and Olivia cuddle on his couch. Giles is probing Olivia for her feelings after the brush with danger. Olivia can't quite offer the words of comfort he'd like to hear. She'd never quite believed he was telling the truth when he'd talked about witchcraft and darkness and the like. Now, it's all kind of scary. "Too scary?" Giles asks. Olivia doesn't know.

And in her dorm room, Buffy's fiddling with laundry when Riley knocks on her door. He enters, shuts the door, and moves to sit on Willow's bed.

"Well, I guess we have to talk." His face is grim.

Buffy sits stiffly on her own bed facing him, her face mirroring his. "I guess we do," she replies.

An awkward silence fills the room, and the screen fades to black.

When a show decides to do something "different," rarely do they manage to so brilliantly make this "difference" blend so seamlessly -- and frighteningly -- into the landscape of the show as it's normally envisioned. With Hush, Joss Whedon pulls off a masterful hour of frights, laughs, and visual imagery that is unsurpassed in any hour of television I've ever seen. Add in the brilliantly eerie and ethereal music of Christophe Beck -- which heightens the horror, the action, or the humor just perfectly throughout -- the perfectly creepy makeup and special effects used to bring The Gentlemen to life, and the stellar performances of the cast in a truly challenging situation, and you've got something truly awe-inspiring.

The contrast of the graceful movements and overly pleasant demeanor of The Gentlemen with their horrifying visages and nefarious deeds results in the scariest villain Buffy's seen since, perhaps, the Master. And even he was hindered by his confinement to his underground lair.

The theme of communication was woven brilliantly throughout the episode -- from when Buffy and Riley (and Xander and Anya) struggled to connect in the beginning, through everyone's struggle to find ways to communicate without words, to the haunting last moment when Buffy and Riley are forced to find the words to confront their now-exposed truths.

The use of sound -- or the lack thereof -- really created a discomfiting atmosphere. The moments that should have been filled with sound or dialogue, weren't. Ambient sounds like glass breaking and dogs barking seemed louder than ever before -- and left the viewer with an appropriately uneasy feeling.

And still, in the midst of the frights, Whedon managed to find the funny. The classroom scene perhaps the best demonstration of what makes this eclectic group so perfect. Even without words, it was reminiscent of the hold high school group sessions, and everyone was perfectly in character -- Giles overdoing his presentation, Willow eager and ready with answers, Xander cutting through the show to ask how to kill 'em, and Buffy focused on the task at hand, while still managing to be offended by Giles' portrayal of her in picture form. But even as so much seemed so right -- so much went so wrong as they tried to communicate without words. Buffy and Willow's misunderstood gestures were hilarious.

While mostly a standalone episode, it did serve to bring new twists to current story arcs and for new ones. Buffy and Riley know each is more than meets the eye; Buffy especially should recognize Riley is one of the commandos she's been trying to find out about. The ending is particularly cruel because we don't get another new episode for a month. Oh to be a fly on that wall after the screen went black! Willow has a new friend who could help her focus her power -- or tempt her with something stronger than she's ready for. Giles's friendship with Olivia is tested -- perhaps with unsatisfactory results.

Mostly, we're left with a feeling of exhausted, exhilarated relief when the tense, frightening hour has finished -- and a feeling of expectation for what comes next. That's just about everything a fan can ask for.

Most emphatically, 5 loud whispers out of 5.

I continue to be amazed by what Joss and co. manage to get by censors either because their Britishisms or vague hand gestures -- or in the case of this episode, both. Spike's gesture to Xander, Anya's gesture to Xander, and Buffy's mistaken gesture in the classroom were shocking not only for their hilarity, but also for their crudeness. I wasn't offended; but I was pretty darned amazed some of them got on tv. Yay Joss!

Perri's Review

When Joss Whedon writes and directs an episode, viewers brace themselves. But nothing could have prepared us for this one. Brilliantly written, directed, scored and performed -- it lived up to the hype, and more. Words can't actually do justice to this episode, but I'll try.

Buffy and Riley know... well, something about each others' nocturnal activities. How much, we're not sure.

Giles' relationship with Olivia continues, although apparently on and off. And whether it keeps going depends on whether or not the concept of real-live monsters spooks her too badly. Time will tell.

Riley and Buffy have officially kissed. Whether more smoochies will be forthcoming depends on their little talk (that Joss didn't show us, &&*^^%$!).

Anya no longer suffers any doubts about Xander's feelings for her.

If anyone was trapped in a nightmare in this one, it was Giles. For a man who relies deeply and heavily on his ability to read and his ability to speak (and we've now seen him lose both), this was the worst. Without the ability to offer any form of comfort or support to his lover, or his children, on a verbal level, the one he is at least marginally comfortable in, he has to reach out from his nice, comfortable personal space to offer a physical comfort. And we're talking about a man who has only hugged any of these kids once, when Willow came back from the undead in 'Dopplegangland'. I'm not sure if I'm more touched that he did it, or impressed that he did it.

If it was hard for Giles, thought, it was certainly no picnic for Xander, who gets through life by being a smartass to avoid showing feeling. And he;s got the same problems with tactile communication that Giles does, given the family he comes from; he rarely even touches the girls without an ulterior motive (lots during first season, when he still had hopes of Buffy; almost none by the end of third season, except for Cordelia, for obvious reasons). Of course, he can't talk about his feelings even when he has a voice -- same reason as the touching, most likely, given what we know of his incredibly bad home life. In a way, he's lucky for that massive misunderstanding with Spike; by attacking someone who scares him to death, in order to save/avenge Anya, he proved how much he cares without having to say a word. Always a relief for him. But the words are going to become necessary sooner or later, for him as much as for Anya....

Oh, dear. Anya, we've really got to get that censor installed on your mouth. Soon. I'm uncertain whether I fell more sorry for Xander, having a dreaded "relationship discussion" in front of Spike and Giles, or for Giles, who has to listen to it. But I also feel sorry for her, having to grope her way through her first relationship with almost no prior knowledge, no context, to guide her. The first time in love/lust is no picnic, even with 16, 17 years of movies, friends, parents, etc. to give you a few clues. She really, really needs a female friend to hash this stuff out with before she tries to hash it out with Xander and freaks him.

I continue to like Olivia and be very frustrated by our lack of backstory on her. All we know about her is that she's British, fairly cool under pressure, and hot for Giles' bod. None of these things are bad, but they're not enough, either. I want to know what she does when she's not jumping Giles, how they met, who she is besides someone trying to replace Jenny. Because she can't replace Jenny until she's a person, instead of just a warm body with a cool accent.

The entire Initiative responds reasonably well to the situation. Walsh is obviously confused as hell, but working on the problem; I have no doubt they were the ones who spread the laryngitis story and got the place quarantined. But I'm also reasonably sure none of them were even close to figuring out the reason for the problem -- not surprising, without the Slayer's link to the PTB, plus I'm going to assume that they're still going to be looking for explanations of science rather than spells, given what we know. In an unknown situation, Walsh chose to put the guys where they could do some good, and she's right. Not a bad performance.

Forrest continues to amuse the hell out me. He's so enjoying being Superman and having the superhero gig, and so enjoying teasing Riley, that I can forgive his sexist dog tendencies and just enjoy him. For his part, Riley gets it done (I want Riley's entire arsenal, from baton to zap gun). I'm mildly peeved that he didn't find backup before investigating the clock tower, but only mildly; the lack of radio ability could have meant the bad guys would be gone before he got back. And he acquits himself damn well in the ensuing fight, and (eventually) manages to break the right thing, all without attempting to 'protect' Buffy, as she proves she doesn't need anyone's protection. As for the aftermath... why do I get the feeling he waited for an explanation from Buffy before he said word one to Walsh? Major points in his favor if he did.

And yes, I does amuse me that, for all that they can't stop babbling, when it comes to the most important things in their lives, both Riley and Buffy are completely lost. Chris amused me vastly on the phone by going on a riff of possible opening lines, but I can see where they would be stumped. "Where did you get your zap gun" seems a little... flippant. Even for Buffy. And consider the number of times Buffy has had to do this "coming out" speech. Once in the movie, for Pike with Merrick's backup, once for Xander and Willow, with Giles' backup, once to Joyce with no backup whatsoever except Spike. And we know how beautifully that last one turned out. She's in more or less uncharted waters, talking to a guy she was starting to trust who has proven to have some pretty serious secrets of his own, which automatically calls that trust into severe question. And she's got to figure out how much to tell him about who and what she is. I wouldn't want to be in her shoes. And if Joss just skips over the whole conversation altogether, and we entirely miss Riley's reaction to "I'm a vampire slayer", I'm gonna be ticked.

Tara is still very much an unknown entity; I get the impression that he mother must have been quite forceful, and Tara is used to living in someone else's shadow. She follows Willow's lead during their entire escape, even the magic part, though I'm inclined to believe her power levels are a good bit higher than Willow's. Our experience with Amy would tend to back that up since, like Amy, she's certainly a hereditary (famtrad) witch. I'm interested to see where they're going with this. I'm also interested to see what will happen when Willow has another 'real' witch to talk things over with. She and Amy were getting closer before the unfortunate rat incident; the same kind of relationship could develop here (and no, I'm not choosing to deal with the subtext at this time).

I'm not ashamed to admit that The Gentlemen scared the living hell out of me, and it's no better the third time through. I am not easily creeped, thank you, but I had to sleep with the kitchen light on that first night. Chris does a nice rundown of all the reasons these guys were terribly, terribly disturbing below, so I won't even try. Easily the best and most effective villains Joss has ever created (with the exception of Angelus and the Mayor, both of whom were scary more in context of their known actions than for any innate creep value).

Best Moments:
Riley and Willow teasing Buffy about sleeping in class. Very cute, especially the overheard comments as Riley and Buffy head away.

Giles asking Spike for information, and the ensuing roommates food fight. These two are really, really hysterical.

Xander and Anya taking their fight into Giles' apartment, and the reactions of the residents. < snicker >. Poor Giles -- first Buffy and Spike, not Xander and Anya. Much as he loves the kids, I bet he really wishes he knew lots less about their love lives.

Willow's disgusted "Do I have to tie you two together?". We'll help, Will.

The beautiful transition from Buffy and Willow to Riley and Forrest. And Forrest's riff is hilarious.

Xander and Spike at bedtime. < snicker >

Xander grabbing the phone to call Buffy, and Spike's utter disgust.

Riley and Forrest in the elevator. I got the problem at about the same time Riley did, and was equally appalled, while laughing hysterically at Forrest's notes.

Walsh pointing out the stairway sign. < snicker >

The guy with the writing boards. < g > I have to admire the man.

Giles greeting Buffy and Willow. The hug for Willow was especially sweet.

Buffy and Riley jointly helping clean things up. Oddly enough, I loved the hug at least as much as their first kiss (and Buffy casually breaking the guy's wrist.) And the music over the kiss was awesome -- have I mentioned that Chris Beck is a god?

Olivia seeing the Gentleman. < shudder > Babe, you have my deepest sympathies.

The Gentlemen and their first victim. It's not a pleasant scene, but it is a brilliantly written, directed and performed scene that wigged me on an epic level. And, again, the music added a whole new level of creep.

Giles' presentation, start to finish. < giggling > Truly a brilliant interaction between the cast members, and Anya with the popcorn was priceless. And a beautiful transition from Buffy looking through the transparency to end it.

The entire chase scene, with Tara then Willow. Really, effectively scary, especially when the dorm room opens on a Gentleman when you're expecting Willow.

Buffy and Riley coming face-to-face and weapon-to-weapon. A great, great way to out both of them.

Spike/Anya/Xander. Geez louise. Really funny, really sweet, and really appalling (Anya's mime). The best part was the expressions on Giles' and Olivia's faces (and Spike's) rather than Xander and Anya themselves.

Riley zapping the Gentleman as he advances on Buffy. What can I say, I love heroic rescues and Riley's timing is great.

Riley breaking the wrong this. Slo-mo and music and he looked so proud. < snicker >.

Buffy's scream. It all lead up to that, and it was an awesome moment, in every sense of the word.

Questions and Comments:
Okay, we've all heard Perri's rants about the portrayal of Wicca/paganism on this show before, so I won't repeat them (besides, Amy, Valerie and Jeff do it much better, below). While many pagan groups, particularly on a college campus, can be quite "wanna blessedbe", it is by no means a majority, or even close. Some of the things Willow casually dismissed are, in different circumstances, pretty important underpinnings of some branches of the religion, and this whole thing is getting damned annoying. Almost as much so as the constant (and completely inaccurate and utterly infuriating) association of Wicca with "dark powers". Bite me. A lot.

And the British obscenities continue to slip by the censers. For those of you in our studio audience, the backwards V Spike throws at Xander is the basic British equivalent of flipping someone the bird in the States. To say nothing of Anya's little pantomime... < snerk >

I've heard one or two people being puzzled about how completely the denizens of Sunnydale fell apart when their voices were stolen, and I lifted an eyebrow myself. Then I remembered the one and only time I was ever gifted with complete laryngitis (while city editor for my college paper, no less). It was horribly frustrating to be unable to communicate with someone a few feet away, much less across the room; I had to have someone sitting within a few inches of me to do my yelling for me when I could barely manage a whisper (and yelling was an absolute necessity with that crowd). Even writing was slow and bulky; the lack of ability to simply talk nearly drove me crazy until I recovered my voice a few days later. When I imagine that spread to the extent it was here, with no one able to communicate in the simple, easy ways we take for granted -- and a highly significant part of human interaction relies on the spoken word -- the sense of isolation must have been immediate, and utterly terrifying. Notice how closely people were clinging to each other, even among the Slayerettes, trying to replace verbal communication with tactile. Buffy and Willow held hands, girls clung to their boyfriends, Giles' hand on Buffy's shoulder, and hugging Willow... there was no other way to make that human connection. Yeah, I can imagine being freaked on cosmic levels.

This also explains why Giles insisted on using the music as background for his presentation. The silence had to have been unreal; the only thing that surprises me is that we didn't hear more stereos blasting and TVs playing, or see more people with headphones on. I would have gone racing for my Walkman just for the comfort of hearing something, and especially a voice. But 'Danse Macabre' was perhaps not the most comforting choice, Giles, dear.

And I did love seeing the television news program about Sunnydale; I love seeing outside, non-Hellmouthy reactions to the weirdness that is Sunnydale.

I'm interested that Olivia flipped her internal negative when drawing the Gentleman; she saw his right profile and drew his left.

Rating: 5 stars out of five. If Joss doesn't win an Emmy for this, along with Chris Beck, most of the actors and the entire makeup department, then there is no longer a legitimate reason for the Emmy awards to actually exist.

Chris's Comments

< shudders >

Okay. I'm going to go down the list of wiggy things that had me shivering about the Gentlemen. Usually, Joss & Co. make a monster, and I laugh or eep a bit with surprise, shock. Not fear. These guys... these guys had something. Aside from five jarred hearts, I mean. So....

They never stopped grinning. No matter what, they were grinning. With metal teeth, yet, and druggie-eyes, little pin-pupils in the middle of big pale orbs. So--- happy? Or do I mean lightly amused? Horrible things happen, and they never even seem to be moved by any of it.... Just glad to be there, it's all so *charming*, isn't it?

That gliding. Make me think of marionettes, and other un-alive things, but they were just a little too-- aware. Noticing things. It looked so effortless that all those people running away seemed even more terrified, because they were relentlessly following them without accelerating. Their gracefulness worked into this, too -- it was hypnotic, pretty, all their circling movements, but it looked so easy that it made you more afraid, because they weren't even *trying* to do it.

Their politeness to each other, their detached, thoughtless calm while everyone is trying to scream, or run, or fight.... You just knew they didn't care about anything but their little quest, that trying to reason with them would be pointless, even if you had a voice to plead with. They weren't interested. Their helpers were crazy, ugly, shambling things, and you couldn't reach *them*, either. And their weapons--- those tiny sharp knives--- that made it worse, too. Because if they weren't even pulling out a big machete to kill you with, if they were taking their time to kill you--- well then. They must be pretty sure they have lots of time to do it in.

Voicelessness, helplessness --- not being *able* to call for help --- man, Joss really knows which buttons to press.

No nightmares. Not yet, anyway....


"Hush was bloody brilliant! The episode was creepy and riveting and deeply twisted. Joss is the Almighty. He's a super hero; we should get him some tights and a cape. The entire cast did an incredible job with the .... script .... or whatever they used. < g > And Chris Beck certainly deserves an Emmy for his score. I'm in awe." -- Leslie

"I suppose, after so many millenia of righting wrongs - at least from the maligned woman's perspective - Anya's been pretty repressed. I just have to ask, though, WHY must she unrepress herself through Xander? Why? Why? Why? Why not Spike? He's a demon... she could at least talk shop. Or something. Or even Angel... no nix that. Buffy'd have issues. Many. All sharp and pointy. Xander though. I mean, he's the one who did Cordy wrong which brought Anya to her powerless ex-demonic self. You'd think she'd be bitter or something. Right. I wonder if Joss would believe me if I said therapy wasn't covered by Canada's health plan? Hmmm." -- Anya. No, *ours*

"Buffy & Riley. They're almost too much alike. Same reactions to the same situations and now they're having the reactions at the same time rather than taking turns. It's too cute and funny. Both want to tell the other about the other half of their life and can't. Both then babble to cover it up. And finally...worlds collided. A picture was definitely worth a thousand words when they both turned and pointed weapons at each other. And they worked so well together! (well, except Riley's mistake in the charades catagory.) Both kicked major butt. And so Jossesque in timing. At first they can't talk about it for secrecy reasons. Then they can't because they can't talk at all. Then they have their voices back, but still can't quite figure out what to say to explain. Oh, to be a fly on the wall for the rest of _that_ non-conversation. And Joss had better 'show, not tell' that one! Damn! When's the next new ep?" -- Julie

"And now the resident fang-boy. I just love that Spike is running tame at Giles' home. I suppose it had to happen, especially if Giles wanted to shower ever again. And taking him to Xander's? Geeze, I hope they remember where that vampire begone spell is for if/when Spike gets that implant out. Or if Dru shows. I mean, wouldn't he be able to invite her in? And Spike managing to completely irritate and/or disgust everyone except Anya. (Are the words 'demon' and 'tactless' synomymous?) It seems to be his only way to get back at them all these days. And he's just as eloquent in his silence. < g > However, I fear the stuff he'll know and be able to use against the Scooby gang later that he's seeing and hearing now." -- Julie

"I really enjoyed each characters reaction to the silence and how each developed his or her own way of communicating. Giles drawings for the overhead projector were a hoot. That second blooding maiming had me on the floor in tears. And the moment Riley and Buffy drew crossbows on each other was too good to miss. Wonderful!"
"I loved how Anya was treating it as entertainment - munching on her popcorn, showing approval of Giles' presentation when she liked it." -- Leslie and Karen

I do want to know how Xander explained Spike to his mom, and how Giles explained him to Olivia - 'Don't drink the red stuff in the fridge; that's special food for our neutered vamp" wouldn't quite work." -- Karen

"And Spike...James does some amazing eye work. His nonverbal communication speaks VOLUMES. I found myself filling in Spikisms. Very fun." -- Leslie

"Biggest gripe: missed opportunity--not a single sign in the whole ep. I was really hopeful that, in the background of a large shot, we'd see *someone* signing. It could have been quite amusing, even--The Gang walks past someone conversing easily, even without voices, and gives one another a digusted, "Oh, not fair!" look. *sigh* I was really disappointed with that--doesn't take up screen time, could have worked well."
"Here, here!! (Hear, hear?) Would have *loved* to see some signers chatting away, oblivious that there even *was* a problem." -- Amy and Jeff

"Giles is terribly cute--making his little overhead projector show...including getting bored near the end and using different colored overhead markers and showing the gleeful guy holding the heart over the bloody bed. I loved how he still tried to present stuff just as he would out loud, including the dramatic pause. "Then..." on its own overhead... Love that he knows the basics of how to use one (got it oriented toward him as the instructor so it was top-side up)...then got it upside down so the text was backwards. "
"That was just too bloody priceless--he had to illustrate *two* steps of the heart removal, as if people weren't going to get it from one!" -- Amy and Valerie

"I love the sale of the message boards (which I'd heard spoilers about), and the fact that they came with strigs to tie them around your neck (which I hadn't heard about). What a perfect addition to the forlorn look as Buffy and Willow arrive at Giles'." -- Amy

"I was terribly impressed that I could lipread *every* line they mouthed. (Context is a wonderful thing...) Excellent enunciation, too, though. ...And I wonder if they played with those lines so that they found stuff that was most visible." -- Amy

"Chris Beck's music during "Hush" was *amazing* - I'll bet he did get the extra time for scoring he'd asked for. If he doesn't get an Emmy for that score, I'll have no respect whatsoever for the Emmys again." -- Maureen

"I know people had speculated about Buffy ending up an Initiative lab rat, but it occurred to me over the weekend to wonder whether they might try to *recruit* her--Maggie likes her, after all. If she finds out she (a) has combat skills and (b) knows all about the vamps and demons and such, it seems a logical next step. It really isn't *that* immediately obvious that there's something inherently supernatural about Buffy herself, and certainly Buffy is unlikely to volunteer that information in a hurry. Hmmmm. Interesting place to go. "
Ooo. I hadn't thought of that. I like it. It makes perfect sense. Only problem is that Buffy doesn't follow orders. Well, hardly ever. Which means that she could be the biggest possible headache to Maggie. And the only one with the 'balls' to argue with her."
"I have trouble seeing Buffy actually joining up, but if I postulate the possibility... pointy commentary on women in the military, anyone? I mean, yeah, Maggie's in charge, but she's in *charge*. Look at how Riley and his buds talk on patrol and even in the elevator, and then *totally* switch behavior in Maggie's presence. How would they react to a female field operative?"
"Especially as Riley is romantically involved with her. Big problems. Especially if they have the 'you keep back while we take care of the big, bad vamp' attitude. Buffy'd *wap* them upside their heads first, _then_ take care of the vamp. This would be a big dent in their pride and would probably result in lots of undercurrent hostility. I mean, just look at how Xander had reacted in 'Halloween' when Buffy took care of Larry for him. And Xander _likes_ Buffy. How much worse if he had already resented her?" -- Valerie and Julie

"I don't know--she did say last time that she got recruited because she'd been working petty vengeance spells against some guy who'd dumped her. And I think she remembers quite a bit about being a timeframe when she was basically property and her future life and happiness depended upon whatever match she made. (Hence the all-or-nothing apparent mood swings with Xander.) Plus she would have been raised on "courtly love" romances--or the lower-class equivalent--which (in their non-Victorian-edited form) tended to make Harlequins look like Disney. (Hence her complete lack of self-censorship...she really doesn't understand what the big deal is.) I think the point is that she hasn't paid any *attention* to the way that male-female relations have evolved over the centuries; and now that she's forced to live within those circumstances, she's either completely not getting them, or else experiencing massive culture shock and choosing massive denial as her means of coping." -- Valerie on Anya's age

"This leaves Giles. And Olivia. Very interesting with them. I like it."
"Me too. I hope she's able to deal now that she knows all that stuff about demons and magic is true. The look on his face when she said "I don't know" was just...ow! I like her, a lot a lot, even though we know virtually nothing about her. If they pull an Anne (HL) on us, I'm going to be really unhappy. Giles *deserves* this, dammit, don't bollux it up!!!" -- Julie and Valerie

"*Loving* the Buffy/Riley stuff this ep. Want to see more. NOW. I just really wonder how they're gonna play it next. Do you think they'll be straight with each other or chicken out and tell half-truths? For that matter, do you think they'll be straight with Giles and the Evil Bitch Monster from Hell or try to hide what they know about each other? I guess, so long as they don't both claim to be 'Rogue Demon Hunters' I'll be OK either way -- and I pretty much assume Joss can't pass up so many chances for angst. Although Buffy at least should have learned something about keeping so many secrets. But we'll see. " -- Jennie "I'm wondering now just how *much* they're going to tell each other. I think that, although they both know the other does armed-commando things, that they each know of the existence of monsters, but I'm suspecting it'll be a few eps before there is really full disclosure. They're both so used to keeping secrets (loved the Clark Kent reference of Forrest and his delivery on "Good thing we're pretty.") that I am not sure that they'll tell each other hardly anything. I think what they say will be the truth, but I'm not sure that it'll even resemble 10% of the truth as they know it. I just hope (like someone said) that Buffy has *finally* learned about full disclosure where it concerns other members of The Gang--and that she *TELLS* Willow and Giles. Keeping these kinds of secrets...not smart. And not constructive. I did like that Buffy and Riley caught each other in awkward false statements about their respective evenings. Buffy with "patrolling" and Riley with his fake excuse as compared to her slip-up. I thought it was nice that they caught each other even without knowing anything about what's up (yet)." -- Amy

"I was at first weirded by, then thought about it and got it better, the degree to which everyone was traumatised by the loss of their voices. I forget all too often that the average folks at Sunnydale don't know that there are supernatural things happening all the time. And it is wigsome to be unable to communicate, call out, etc. I love that Xander, finding he can't speak, immediately *calls* Buffy on the phone. Buffy answering the ringing phone on auto-pilot/instinct then sadly hanging up the phone was *really* nicely done, I thought." -- Amy

"...they were just *so*....gheeeeeeeeeee! Even Jack, at their first appearance gliding down the street, said out loud "Wow. *That's* creepy." And he's pretty profoundly uncreepable by the mere *appearance* of a baddie. Gheeeeeeeeeee." -- Valerie

"Okay, question: am I one of the few-to-only who saw *major*, huge quantities of lesbian subtext in this burgeoning friendship? I mean, it seemed fairly obvious to me, but I could be wrong."
"Wouldn't say major or huge, but yeah, it's readable that way. Then again, I don't think it's possible to work magic so closely in tandem *without* having it be readable that way. Too soon to make any call on it, methinks."
"To me, there's no denying that there was *something* there beyond an immense joining of power.... And in the end scene, well, while Willow just seemed happy and impressed that someone was looking up to *her*, Tara seemed.... well.... up to something. Whether Joss lets the subtext become text remains to be seen. But since he plays in metaphors, I wouldn't be surprised if Joss used magic and its seductive powers to illustrate experimentation and even addiction. In this case, the lesbian subtext would pretty much remain subtext." -- Tina, Valerie and Mary Beth

"I'm so glad I'm not the only one who thinks this. I was getting a majorly creepy vibe from Tara--there's just this intense *neediness* about her. I don't know if she's necessarily a villain per se, but I did get the sense that something was going on beyond the simple joy of connecting with a kindred spirit that Willow seemed to be experiencing. And I'm *way* curious about her mother, whom she spoke about in the past tense." -- Jen, also on Tara

"The way she talks about her mom (and do I remember correctly that she refers to her in the past tense?), I think she has some serious measuring-up issues. What I really want to see is Willow benefiting from Tara's FamTrad knowledge, and Tara's self-image benefiting from Willow's friendship the way Willow's has from Buffy's. That would introduce enough tension in the the bestest-buds dynamic to satisfy the Recommended Daily Angst quotient without once *again* undermining Willow's ability to trust and care about people." -- Valerie

"Have to admit, I was a little uncomfortable during the joining hands scene and at the close of the ep where Wil & Tara were talking. I was watching the ep with 3 others guys and a woman--none of whom would be overly phased by such a relationship, but everyone was slightly wigged. Somehow, it just didn't seem to feel very 'Buffy'--if that *IS* the road they're planning to travel. I warmed immediately to the actress (Tara) in the Wicca Group scene. She seemed painfully shy & insecure, but genuinely kind-hearted. This being JossWorld, I have no doubt there will be angst aplenty in store, but am hoping she & Wil will become the kind of bosom buddies (absolutely no puns intended) that Wil & Amy really weren't." -- Jeff

"I don't take issue with Willow using fantasy-based (Samantha Stephens-type) witchcraft. It fits into this world quite well. I don't have a problem with pagans existing in this world. I *do* have a problem with them confusing paganism and the "dark arts" and talking like they're one and the same (especially in dialogue where Willow--the "Good Witch"--using "dark arts" and "sisters to the dark ones" in the same breath as "wicca" and other terms that refer to the religion). I do have a problem with them confusing paganism and Willow's telekinetic, poof-make-it-so magic. I do have problems with Willow talking about the religious aspects, "Talk. All talk. Blah, blah, Gaia. Blah, blah, moon. Menstrual life-force power thingy," and dissing them as stupid when they're cornerstone ideas of the religion (however dorkily presented). I do have problems with them having a "Wicca Group" only to make every member annoying and flakey and, "Like, should we have, maybe, a bake sale?" The show could barely be more belittling of paganism and witches and witchcraft if they set out to be offensive and attacking. I'm terribly irritated. I do think that possibly someone is attempting to be politically correct by calling it "Wicca", but as much as I don't trust Joss in general, I used to respect that at least he did his homework. I don't see evidence of that here. It seems to me he found a few buzz words and is using them (not terribly correctly). I'm finding the attempts offensive and counterproductive (in terms of my own goal that people become less convinced that all witches are Dangerous and Bad).

"I have asked myself several times if I should just chill and shrug this off, but I don't think I should. This is a show that has sensitively and joyfully handled numerous delicate topics--the most stand-out for me being the dilemma of gay teens and coming out. The show and Joss and company are more than capable of addressing "fringe" issues with respect and research and in such a way that they are attempting to raise consciousness and inform the public with accurate information. The fact that they've proved this makes it, to me, all the *more* appalling at how abyssmally and, imo, irresponsibily, they're handling this particular issue. They have the perfect opportunity here to make a statement that might show even a few people that Wicca and witchcraft and magic and paganism and witches *aren't* bad and devil-worshipping--quite the contrary. But instead they're poking fun and setting up stereotypical caricatures of ditzy New-Ager-types. Instead they're perpetuating the idea that paganism and spell-casting are synonymous with "practicing the Dark Arts". I'm disappointed and angry." -- Amy

"I was doing fine until the flakey group. At this point, I have to agree with Amy. I was, and to a certain point am still, dealing with the "dark arts" references as appropriate to Buffy's quasi-Lovecraftian mythos...everything's just a little darker in their reality. But the dingbats annoyed me. Granted, a bunch of college-age "wannablessedbes" (I did adore that) are likely to be directionless and generally on the wrong track without experienced and knowledgeable teachers. And granted, I'd rather see wiffling about bake sales be the result rather than some of the stuff that happened in my circle of acquaintance in college, where I learned the true meaning of "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing". And granted, it was clever to show the group being that way when we would naturally expect some ominous purpose lurking behind them to trap poor unwary Willow. That said, though, they annoyed the living s*** out of me for all the reasons that Amy mentioned. What I'm hoping at the moment is that they will fade into the background, and Willow's new FamTrad friend (did they give her a name? I missed it) will provide the spiritual knowledge and center that's been desperately needed since Jenny's death." -- Valerie

"Laughed loads during the Wicca meeting, but have to agree--I was ticked by the obvious conclusions that being a witch/pagan/wiccan (apparently used interchangeably in BuffyVerse) means you're one of two things: a.) a fruity pebbles-grade newager ditz, or b.) sister to the 'Dark Ones'--and never the twain shall meet. BULL. I'd love to see Willow encounter honest-to-goodness, down-to-earth, practicing pagans of one or another variety that either don't overtly practice magic, or at least nothing blatantly spectacular that includes transmogrifying, demon-summoning, soul imprisoning, etc. Just good people trying to live in harmony and do good things--likely, in a quiet and relatively homespun manner." -- Jeff

Back to Episodes.