Thursday, May 1, 2008

Buffy Top 10: Part 3...

#3 Hush: Other than being evil (see previous post) Joss Whedon is probably best known for having amazing dialogue in all of his works, from Buffy to Firefly to Toy Story.... yes, Toy Story. So it came as a big surprise to many that the much hyped 10th episode of the 4th season of Buffy, titled Hush, would contain very little speaking at all. Other than the lack of much dialogue, Hush is also best known for being the only episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer that was nominated for an Acadamy Award for writing.

The episode starts out with Buffy daydreaming in class (about new beau Riley (few dates, no kiss yet)) with the daydream turning into a strange nightmare, with a little girl singing a song about demons named The Gentlemen. She tells Giles about the dream, and he says he will research it. Willow is still recovering from Oz's recent departure, and decides to join the college Wicca group, who discuss nothing about magic and spells, and instead discuss bake sales and "menstrual lifeforce." When she points out the lack of magic talk, she is mocked by the group, except for one young lady, named Tara, who seems quite eager to hear more of what Willow has to say. Anya is on Xander's back about what their relationship is about other than "lots of orgasms." Meanwhile, Giles is entertaining a female friend from the UK, and has had the neutered Spike moved to Xander's basement for the visit. This is discussed in one of the best lines of the season:

Giles: I have a friend who's coming to town, and I'd like us to be alone.
Anya: Oh, you mean an orgasm friend?
Giles: Yes, that's exactly the most appalling thing you could have said.

After all this exposition, The Gentleman appear and steal the voices of everyone in Sunnydale. This is where things get interesting. We start with Buffy and Willow realizing they have no voices, and then Xander tries calling Buffy on the phone, realizing that there is no way to communicate, and he starts blaming Spike for their current situation. Everyone arrives at Giles' and they watch a newscast announcing the current predicament. The newscasters voice is the last one we hear until the end of the episode, and all of the acting is pantomime. This is what makes Hush so incredible, is everything that happens while no one is able to talk.

Some brilliant scenes come out of the silence. Buffy and Riley finally kiss while helping the towns people at night, helping to prevent the mayhem caused by a town now gone mad. When Xander returns to Giles' apartment, he finds spike hanging over Anya's sleeping frame with blood around his mouth, and Xander, believing Spike has attacked Anya, jumps to the rescue, making Anya quite happy, and frisky. The best scene of all is the one where Giles explains to the Scoobies what The Gentleman are and why they are in Sunnydale. Camille Saint-Saens' "Danse Macabre" plays while Giles uses an overhead projector to show his crudely drawn pictures of The Gentleman and Buffy. This scene is one of the funniest in the series, despite the masturbatory and boobies related humor. This is also where Willow and Tara finally meet, warding off one of the Gentleman, which winds up being a big turn for the series.

The Gentleman and their helpers are amazingly well done. They are very pale, almost bone white men in black suits. They have enormous toothy grins, and use slow, methodical movements. Imagine polite skeletons with tight skin and you will get the idea. The Gentlemen float slowly through the air with an eerie calm about them. To contrast their subtle ways, their henchmen are loping, arm flailing demons, wrapped in straight jackets and chains.

As if there was any doubt, Buffy, with the aide of Riley, defeat The Gentleman and gets everyone's voices back. During the fight, Buffy and Riley both realize that the other is something more than merely college students, and the episode ends with them seeing that they both need to explain who and what they are. In another brilliant ending, Joss ends the episode with the following, taken directly from the Hush script (which I actually own):

Well. I guess we have to talk.
Buffy: I guess we do.
(The two sit in awkward, dead silence.)

Credits Roll

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