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Recap / Buffy the Vampire Slayer S4 E10 "Hush"

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Can't even shout, Can't even cry,
The Gentlemen are coming by,
Lookin' in windows, Knockin' 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

Directed by Joss Whedon

Written by Joss Whedon

Professor Maggie Walsh is discussing communication in class and asks Buffy to come up to the front desk and lie down on it. Riley steps forward and kisses Buffy as the sun goes down. She goes into the hallway after hearing a young girl's voice. The girl stands holding a box and chanting a disturbing nursery rhyme. Buffy wakes up to see she's been dreaming in class. As they leave, Riley asks Buffy about her dream and they talk about their plans for the night. Both make up excuses as to why they're busy that evening and part ways, seemingly dissatisfied with how their courtship is going.

Giles receives a phone call from Buffy who relays the information from her dream. He begins researching into demons named The Gentlemen. Spike, meanwhile, makes himself very comfortable at Giles' apartment, complaining about there being no Weetabix left to eat. He claims he likes to add butcher's blood to it and repulses Giles with the mental image. Xander and Anya arrive, arguing about whether Xander really loves her or is only interested in her for sex. Her frank openness with the issue makes Giles uncomfortable and Spike laughs at Xander's situation. Giles informs Xander that he needs to keep Spike at his house for a while because an old girlfriend of his is visiting from England. None of them are particularly pleased with the arrangement: Xander not trusting Spike around him or his friends without restraints and Spike not wanting to be around Xander and Anya; especially if they're intending to be intimate whilst he's in the room tied to a chair. The three argue back and forth with Giles in the middle.

Willow excitedly joins a Wiccan group but is disappointed by it as the girls there are only wannabe Wiccans with no knowledge of real magicks. When Willow mentions the 'wacky' possibility of performing spells, the leader of the group just ridicules her. However, whilst the rest of the group laugh, one girl named Tara becomes interested in Willow after her suggestion of performing actual magic. She tries to agree with Willow's suggestion but her shyness causes her to be intimidated by the others. Willow realises she's never going to learn anything in the group and talks to Buffy about it. Buffy complains about how slowly her relationship with Riley is progressing. Riley discusses the same thing with Forrest; both concluding that the real reason they can't progress is due to them not revealing their true identities to each other.

The night before bed, Xander ties Spike to a chair as Spike exclaims that he wouldn't bite him even if he could. Spike begins imitating Anya and further annoys Xander. Meanwhile at Giles' apartment, his old girlfriend Olivia arrives and after a brief chat, the pair get straight to kissing. At the clock tower, one of the Gentlemen opens a box and steals the voices from everyone in Sunnydale as they sleep.

When Buffy and Willow wake up the following morning and finding their voices have disappeared, they panic. Leaving their room, they see that nobody else in the dorms can speak either. Xander immediately blames Spike, whose gestured response is very clear. Riley and Forrest try to enter the underground lab, but Riley is unable to open the voice-activated doors. Professor Walsh lets them in, gesturing to them that they should have used the stairs.

Buffy and Willow walk through Sunnydale, armed with whiteboards to write down their thoughts. Sunnydale is completely closed down - apart from liquor stores. A man silently preaches the end of the world. A television news reporter states that everyone in Sunnydale has come down with laryngitis and the town has been quarantined. Knowing trouble is looming that night, Buffy gets ready to patrol and Prof. Walsh sends Riley and a team out incognito to maintain order. Riley and Buffy meet in the street and as he's about to leave, Riley kisses Buffy for the first time. Later that night, the Gentlemen and their footmen lurk out into the night. Olivia wakes up in the night and spots one of them out of the window, floating. Two of the demons enter UC Sunnydale dorms and find a freshman boy. The demon assistants hold the boy down as one of the Gentlemen cut out his heart.

The next morning, Olivia draws a picture of the creature she saw. Giles sees in the paper that there was a similar murder the previous night and recognises what is happening. He puts aside his books of demons and pulls out volumes of fairy tales. In a lecture room at the college, Giles shows the story of the Gentlemen using an overhead projector. They travel towns to collect seven human hearts, taking people's voices as well as this is the only thing that could kill them. They're immune to swords and stakes and only the sound of a real human voice — not a recorded one like Willow suggests — will kill them. The demons have taken two of the seven hearts they need already. Unfortunately, Giles doesn't know how to get the voices back. As everyone else begins researching, Buffy gears up to go patrolling. Riley does the same.

Tara from the Wiccan group tries to make it to Willow's dorm room as the Gentlemen chase her. She finally makes it and the two girls escape. Riley is attacked by the demon's assistants in the clock tower until Buffy shows up to fight against them. The two are at first shocked to see each other but they don't have time to talk about it. Spike vamps out whilst drinking a mug of blood. He bends down by the sofa where Anya is sleeping and as he stands, Xander sees him with blood on his lip. Xander concludes that Spike bit Anya. Xander punches Spike several times before Giles and Anya stop him. Xander then kisses Anya passionately and the two run off together.

Hiding in a laundry room, Willow and Tara try to move a vending machine to block the door but they're not strong enough. Willow tries to move it via magic but can only shake it slightly. Tara understands what she's trying to do and clasps Willow's hand to combine their magic. As soon as they hold hands, the vending machine slams against the door. Buffy gets caught by the assistant demons and as they prepare to cut into her, Riley shocks them with bolts of electricity. They fight once more and Buffy recognises the box containing the voices from her dream. She points it out to Riley who smashes it. The voices get released and Buffy lets out a long, loud scream causing the Gentlemen's heads to explode in a shower of green slime.

The next day, Tara tells Willow that she was trying to find her as she wanted a spell to restore the voices, knowing that from the Wiccan group she was the only one interested. The two talk and Tara tells Willow that she's powerful, even if she doesn't know it yet. Giles and Olivia talk about how many scary things there are in the world and how she feels like she doesn't want to be part of it.

In her dorm room, Riley visits Buffy. He tells her that they need to talk to which she agrees. However, the two of them find that they're overcome with silence once again.

Tropes in this episode:

  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: The scalpels the Gentlemen use are capable of cutting out a human heart and a slash from one during battle is enough to stun Buffy long enough for the Footmen to get the upper hand. Probably justified since they are scalpels used by murderous demons after all.
  • Accidental Unfortunate Gesture: During the Scooby Gang's meeting regarding the Gentlemen, Willow mimes that the Gentlemen want hearts. Xander interprets it as breasts. After that Buffy attempts to suggest staking them. It comes out as... something else.
  • Actor Allusion: Giles plays "Danse Macabre" during his slideshow. This was also the theme song for Jonathan Creek, which featured Anthony Head in its first season.
  • Almost Kiss: Buffy and Riley are about to kiss when a nervous Buffy does a Moment Killer by babbling about something inconsequential. Fortunately, the Gentlemen steal the voices of everyone in Sunnydale, so the two communicate the only way they can.
  • Alpha Bitch: Willow's wicca group is led by one of these, who mocks Tara's stutter.
  • Am I Just a Toy to You?: Anya complains that Xander doesn't have any strong feelings for her and believes the only thing he cares about is "lots of orgasms." She's proven wrong when Xander assaults Spike, believing him to be attacking her and drinking her blood.
  • And I Must Scream: The Gentlemen steal the voice of everyone in Sunnydale. They then proceed to break into college dorm rooms, cut their victims open and remove their hearts, all while the fully conscious victim screams silently. Hence the end of song "You're gonna die screaming but you won't be heard."
  • Anxiety Dreams: A more subtle version is when Buffy has an Erotic Dream of kissing Riley — except it's taking place in front of an entire class, showing her nervousness about trying to get his First Kiss.
  • Apocalypse Anarchy: The Gentlemen steal everyone's voices. Everyone freaks out, gets drunk, goes to church, resorts to violence in the streets.
  • Artistic License – Religion: The Wiccans' haughty attitude to the idea of spellcasting is justified, as it's an actual religion rather than a means of gaining Dark Powers. A deleted scene makes Willow's feelings on the subject more justified, as the group states that they do dabble in rituals, but in a half-assed way that makes them less "proper" Wiccans and more like they're playing at being witches for kicks.
  • Asleep in Class: Buffy falls asleep during a college lecture and has a prophetic dream about the Gentlemen. Willow reassures Buffy that she was very discreet about it.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: The Gentlemen float around ripping people's hearts out while dressed in sharp black suits.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: Anya and Xander have one after he confirms he really does care about her, Riley and Buffy share one just before they part again to try to stop people from panicking/rioting.
  • The Big Board: Giles uses an AV projector, since no one can talk. Complete with stick figures.
  • Blatant Lies: Buffy's and Riley's cover stories. Buffy will be patrolling— uh... "petroleum." Riley will be "grading papers." What papers? Uh... late ones.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Averted; Riley's taser rifle runs out of power in the middle of the battle.
  • Broken Heel: Tara trips and drops her books; as she is gathering them up we see the Gentlemen gliding up behind her.
  • Brown Note Being: Inverted. The monstrous "Gentlemen" can be killed by hearing a human scream.
  • Brown Note: The Gentlemen can only be killed by hearing a human voice. In this case, though it's nonspecific, any human voice will do as long as it's a live person and not a recording.
  • Can't You Read the Sign?: Riley and Forest take the elevator down to the Initiative, but can't provide the voice ID and the elevator starts to fill with Deadly Gas. They're rescued before they asphyxiate; after letting them out, Professor Walsh points out the sign that reads "In case of emergency, use stairs." Judging from her expression, she's had to do it more than once.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: An underlying theme — various characters only start communicating once their voices have gone. Reinforced with the last shot of the episode.
    Riley: I guess we have to talk.
    Buffy: I guess we do.
    Both: [drawn out silence]
  • Cassandra Truth: Turns out when Giles talked about witchcraft and monsters and stuff in the past, Olivia thought he was just being pretentious.
    Giles: Well, I was, but I was also right.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Olivia from "The Freshman" makes a reappearance.
  • Chekhov's Lecture: Professor Walsh's lecture on the difference between language and communication — done so even In-Universe, as the lecture turns out to have been part of Buffy's dream.
  • Clock Tower: The Gentlemen have made their base in a boarded-up clock tower, and the climactic battle takes place there.
  • Cold Ham: None of the Gentlemen speak or even change expression, but all their movements are incredibly smooth and theatrical and all of their motions are seemingly punctuated with a flourish.
  • Continuity Nod: Spike drinks from the "Kiss the Librarian" mug used to feed him in "Something Blue." Willow wants to float something bigger than a pencil ("Choices").
  • Conveniently Timed Attack from Behind: The Footmen have Buffy pinned while a grinning Gentleman advances on her wielding a scalpel... then Riley frees her with a well-aimed taser blast.
  • Crash-Into Hello: When Tara meets Willow (they'd seen each other earlier at a Wicca group but not talked). Tara is pounding on doors trying to escape the Gentlemen when she literally runs into Willow, knocking them both over and giving her a Twisted Ankle which slows them in fleeing from the floating horrors.
  • Creepy Children Singing: In her dream Buffy sees a young blonde girl singing about the Gentlemen while holding a box that turns out to be the key to breaking their spell.
  • Curse of Babel: Taken to extreme, when the entire town have their voices taken away by the Gentlemen.
  • Cut Apart: Tara hammering one of the dorm room's doors, and Willow waking up from the noise. The door opens... to reveal one of The Gentlemen holding a bloody heart. This was actually hinted, since the previous scene showed Tara looking up Willow's room number in the student directory (which wasn't the number on the door).
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Willow suggests to the Wiccans that they try using actual magic for a change. They all give her a look, then one of them says: "Oh yeah, then we could all get on our broomsticks and fly around on our broomsticks."
  • Diegetic Soundtrack Usage: Giles puts on the perfect musical accompaniment for his lecture on the Gentlemen: La Danse Macabre, a song for the pan-European folklore about Death summoning people to dance their way to the grave, a song that caused fear and anxiety where it was played.
  • Didn't Think This Through:
    • Xander calls Buffy, and she picks up the phone. Simultaneously, they realize it was a stupid idea since they're both incapable of saying anything through the line.
    • This nearly kills Riley and Forest when they forget the Initiative security system requires a voice ID.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: With the characters unable to speak, Buffy mimes hand gestures that are supposed to represent staking the monster of the week, but that instead resemble masturbation. The rest of the Scoobies look at Buffy as though she's gone mad, and she hastily repeats the gesture with a stake actually in her hand.
  • Double Entendre: Buffy is talking to Willow about her disappointing Wiccan meeting. As they enter their dorm room Buffy says "I'm sorry it was a bust. I know you were looking to go further in that department" to the not well-endowed Willow.
  • Dramatic Pause: One of Giles' briefing overhead transpariencies is marked only with the word THEN to introduce a suitable dramatic pause in his exposition.
  • Dramatic Shattering: Everyone jumps when a boy drops a beer bottle in the now silent lounge room.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: Buffy while Asleep in Class.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: The banks are closed but the liquor stores are open.
  • Empathic Environment: In Buffy's dream Riley tells her, "If I kiss you, it'll make the sun go down." After they kiss, the class is empty and everything's darker.
  • Enemy Mime: The Gentlemen do not speak, and can't survive the voices of others. Hence, they communicate with gestures.
  • Establishing Character Moment: At the Wiccan meeting where we first see her Tara sits on the floor, implying that she doesn't have the self-confidence to just borrow a chair from another table. She perks up when Willow mentions magic, but then stutters and retreats when all the attention is on her.
  • Establishing Shot:
    • Just before Willow and Tara talk in the Common Room, there is an overhead shot of the UC Sunnydale campus. This is from the first episode of the season, "The Freshman." At the bottom center you can see Buffy walking away from the camera.
    • The front of the Initiative's dorm/headquarters with the toilet paper still in the tree from Halloween is seen again.
  • Erotic Dream: Buffy's prophetic dream has Riley kissing her in front of the entire class.
  • Everyone Hates Mimes: Meta-Example. In the commentary, Whedon says that thanks to the skilled, expressive silent acting of the people playing The Gentlemen, he no longer takes mimes lightly.
  • Face, Nod, Action: Willow and Tara when they're being pursued by The Gentlemen: their eyes meet as they link hands, Tara nods, then they simultaneously face the door, using their combined power to block it with a vending machine.
  • Facial Dialogue: A matter of necessity given that everyone is mute.
  • Fairytale Motifs: Giles explicitly describes The Gentleman as "fairytale monsters" in his mute lecture.
  • Faux Affably Evil: The Gentlemen get along well with each other; in one notable scene when a Gentleman places one of the collected hearts before the others, they gently clap while the responsible Gentleman makes gestures of, "Oh, stop, you guys, I'm blushing." All of their movements have an exaggerated politeness to them, befitting their name of "Gentlemen."
  • First Kiss: Buffy and Riley have theirs.
  • Flashback Cut: Buffy remembers the singing child in her dream holding the box containing everyone's voices.
  • Flipping the Bird: Spike doesn't need a voice to communicate. He gives the British two-finger version.
  • Flying Broomstick: A non-empowering stereotype for Wiccans.
  • Foreshadowing: The episode starts with one of Buffy's prophetic dreams. Naturally it covers the events of the episode. However, it also has something of significance to the later season: Professor Walsh tells Riley to "Be a good boy".
  • Funny Background Event: Forrest holding up COME ON, COME ON on his notebook as Riley struggles to deactivate the Deadly Gas.
  • Game Face: Spike vamps out after drinking a mug of blood. This doesn't help his case when he then drops something near a sleeping Anya, leaning down near her neck to pick it up.
  • Gas Leak Cover-Up: Apparently the Mayor's demise has not ended Sunnydale Syndrome — the authorities blame the sudden loss of everyone's voices on "laryngitis caused by flu vaccinations." Others think it's all a big hoax.
  • Gilligan Cut: Willow and Buffy give disapproving glares to people buying price-gouged dry-erase boards that can be worn around the neck from someone taking advantage of the situation to make a profit. Cut to... Willow and Buffy wearing said dry-erase boards around their necks.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The student who's had his heart removed.
  • Gratuitous Princess: According to legend, the scream of a princess killed the Gentlemen. Fortunately All Myths Are True but it doesn't have to be a screaming princess. In all fairness, it's unclear if an actual princess vanquished the Gentlemen in the past or if the "princess" refers to Buffy in prophecy.
  • Hand Signals: After Anya is "saved" by Xander she makes a hole with one hand and sticks a finger through it (a symbol for having sex) before she and Xander run off. Joss Whedon has said he has no idea how that made it to air.
  • Hidden Depths: Despite her introverted persona, Tara works out a spell that might help everyone get their voices back, and is brave enough to go out at night to find Willow and share it with her.
  • Holding Hands: Willow and Tara's memorable scene ends up with the girls holding hands and looking each other in the eyes, surprised by the strength of their combined magic. Earlier in the episode, Buffy and Willow do this for mutual comfort while walking through the streets of Sunnydale.
  • Homoerotic Subtext:
    Xander: Don't even think of biting me.
    Spike: Sure, you're just a nummy treat.
    Xander: Course, I am. I'm moist and delicious.
  • Improvised Weapon: Everything Buffy and Riley can get their hands on in the clock tower, including hanging ropes and the bell.
  • Internal Reveal: Buffy and Riley come face to face in their fight with the Gentleman. She learns that he's one of the commandos she's run across, he learns that she's... something? Also, Olivia finds out that Giles wasn't just making things up when he told her about the supernatural world — though to be fair, he did make some other things up.
    Olivia: All those times you talked about monsters and darkness...I always thought you were just being pretentious.
    Giles: Well, I was. I was also right.
    Olivia: ...So everything you told me was true?
    Giles: Well, no, I wasn't actually one of the original members of Pink Floyd. But the monster stuff, yes.
  • Intertwined Fingers: Willow and Tara casting the spell to move the soda machine to block the door.
  • In the Back: Buffy gets back-sliced by a scalpel-wielding Gentleman.
  • In the Style of: Does this episode owe a debt of gratitude to 1920s German silent horror movies or is the only thing they have in common the sparse dialog and the creepy monsters?
  • I Resemble That Remark!: Lampshaded. Buffy is a little upset when Giles shows the slide of her patrolling, specifically miming "Hey, my hips aren't that big!!"
  • Ironic Nursery Tune: Sung by the young girl during the prophetic dream.
  • Irony:
    • When Buffy and Riley get their voices back and have something really important to talk about, they can't think of anything to say.
    • Professor Walsh refers to Buffy during her dream lecture as "A typical college girl, one assumes."
    • "We have a gig that would inevitably cause any girl living to think we are cool upon cool." When Buffy finds her Mr. Joe Ordinary is a demon hunter like herself, she wants to break off the relationship.
  • Jump Scare:
    • Olivia catches a glimpse of a Gentleman across the street, peeking in windows. She peers through the window for a closer look when suddenly a Gentleman appears right in front of her, looking through windows on her side of the street.
    • Tara pounds on a door for help, only for a Gentleman to open the door clutching a fresh heart.
  • Knuckle Cracking: Giles cracks his knuckles before undertaking the task of ... changing the overhead transparencies.
  • Large Ham: When Giles reveals that a scream can kill the Gentlemen, Willow grabs a CD and mimics with exaggerated gestures their demise. Giles has to inform her (using a pre-made slide) that only a live human voice will work.
  • Last-Second Word Swap:
    Riley: So, what have you got going on tonight?
    Buffy: Patrolling.
    Riley: Patrolling?
    Buffy: ... petroleum.
  • Lecture as Exposition:
    • The very beginning of the episode is this, with Professor Walsh giving a foreshadowing lecture by saying "It's about communication", explaining that it is not the same thing as language.
    • Lampshaded and subverted when Giles is forced to do this without his ability to speak, instead using transparencies and mime.
  • Little Dead Riding Hood: Although she wears blue (see Red Oni, Blue Oni) in the DVD Commentary Joss Whedon refers to Tara meeting the Gentlemen as the lost woods scene. This shows how Tara is taking over the Damsel in Distress role from Willow, who was becoming too powerful and assertive.
  • Lock Down: The CDC isn't letting anyone in or out of Sunnydale thanks to the "laryngitis outbreak."
  • Loud of War: Screaming causes the Gentlemen's heads to a splode.
  • Love at First Sight: Or love at first spellcasting at least.
  • Love Cannot Overcome: Giles's Temporary Love Interest Olivia. At the end of the episode, after Olivia learns of the existence of demons, she says, "Scary." Giles asks, "Too scary?" and Olivia responds, "I'm not sure." Since we never see her again after that, we can presume that it was indeed too scary for her.
  • Make Me Wanna Shout: Buffy's scream kills the Gentlemen via Your Head A-Splode, but this is not a superpower. It is a Weaksauce Weakness.
  • The Masquerade Will Kill Your Dating Life
    Forrest: This is the burden we bear, brother. We have a gig that would inevitably cause any girl living to think we are cool upon cool, yet we must Clark Kent our way through the dating scene, never to use our unfair advantage. Thank God we're pretty.
  • Mission Briefing: Two, without any spoken dialogue — Giles uses OHT's, Walsh uses the voice synthesizer on her computer.
  • Modesty Bedsheet: Averted; Olivia slides out from under the covers and puts on a robe in the dark bedroom.
  • Monster of the Aesop: A Monster of the Week steals everyone's voices, forcing them to avert Poor Communication Kills by concentrating on communication.
  • Mood Whiplash: From wacky misunderstanding (see Not What It Looks Like) to romantic kiss (Xander and Anya) to dramatic chase scene (Willow and Tara).
  • Mooks: The shambling Footmen in their Bedlam House straightjackets.
  • Morning Routine: Buffy brushing her teeth before she realises she can't speak. A crying girl running down the hallway gets a quizzical look.
  • Neck Snap: Buffy kills one of the Footmen this way.
  • Newspaper-Thin Disguise: Willow hides behind an open writing pad to spy on Buffy flirting with Riley.
  • Nightmare Fuel Coloring Book: Giles is expositioning away via overhead transparencies.
    They come to a town (picture of two Gentlemen on a hill overlooking some buildings)
    They steal all the voices no one can scream (picture of two Gentlemen on hill and four people losing voices)
    Then (picture of Gentleman; Giles holds up index finger for emphasis)
    (picture of Gentleman wielding red knife standing over person in bed, their chest is red, and red is dripping onto floor)
    (Buffy and Willow exchange a look, Anya munches her popcorn)
  • No-Dialogue Episode: Not quite no dialogue at all but the Gentleman make sure there is as little as possible.
  • Nonverbal Miscommunication:
    • At the beginning of the Scoobies briefing, Giles accidentally lays the first transparency down backwards. Xander tries fruitlessly to read it, Willow and Buffy both point at the screen, and Anya just twirls a finger in the air.
    • While brainstorming on how they might slay the demons, Buffy shrugs and nonchalantly pumps her hand up and down in the air in front of her, drawing looks of startled disbelief from her friends. Embarrassed at their reactions, she pulls a wooden stake out of her bag and repeats the motion. Everyone gets it.
    • Immediately prior, Xander confuses Willow's "heart" gesture for breasts.
    • Later, Buffy tries to signal to Riley that he needs to smash the box on a table that's holding all the voices inside it. Riley thinks she means the crystal next to it and hits that, then grins like a dope at her before an exasperated Buffy makes more specific gestures.
  • Nothing Is Scarier:
    • All we find out about the Gentlemen is that they're fairy tale monsters. We never find out where they came from, why they came to Sunnydale, or why they need human hearts. They're more or less just there, and Giles' research claims they can appear in any town.
    • The gentlemen burst into a boy's dorm room. Their bandage-wrapped, straitjacket-clad henchmen hold him down as he pointlessly, voicelessly screams for help. They pull out a scalpel. We see from the boy's perspective as they lean in and start cutting. All we hear is a small, biological noise. Cut to black.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Xander sees blood on Spike's lips (in full game face) as he's bent near a sleeping Anya — cue Berserk Button. Due to the lack of voices, we get a "this isn't what it looks like" facial expression.
  • Oh, Crap!: Riley and Forrest freak out when they realize they can't give the vocal identification in the elevator.
  • Opportunistic Vendors: After everyone has first lost their voice, a vendor is selling whiteboards and pens (for 10 dollars). Buffy and Willow frown at this, but they each end up buying some for themselves.
  • Organ Theft: The Gentlemen must take seven hearts for an unknown purpose.
  • Overly Long Scream: Buffy when she finally gets her voice back, for fifteen seconds.
  • Pass the Popcorn: Anya munches popcorn throughout Giles's mimed overhead-projector lecture about the Gentlemen.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Willow tries to join a Wiccan coven who are more interested in holding bake sales and throwing bacchanals, talking about woman power and lunar cycles, and generally enjoying being "witches" than they are in doing actual magic or any meaningful religious practices related to those things. When Willow asks about casting spells, which is something even real-life Wiccans do in fact do, she's laughed at.
  • The Power of Rock: Averted; only a live, human voice will kill the Gentlemen, who have taken away everyone's voices to prevent this. Willow offers to play a CD, but Giles informs her it won't do the trick
  • Power Floats: The Footmen move in a shambling walk while the Gentlemen float just above the ground.
  • Pretender Diss: Willow dismisses most of the neo-pagans at her college as a "bunch of wanna-blessed-bes." Fortunately for her, Tara turns out to be an exception.
    Willow: Talk, all talk! Blah blah, Gaia, blah blah, moon, menstrual life-force power thingy. You know, after a couple of sessions I was hoping we would get into something real, but...
    Buffy: No actual witches in your witch group?
    Willow: No, bunch of wanna-blessed-be's. You know, nowadays every girl with a Henna tattoo and a spice rack thinks she's a sister to the Dark Ones.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Willow (outgoing, magically powerful and impulsive) wears red while Tara (shy, but with longer experience in magic) wears blue.
  • Riddle for the Ages: Why do the Gentlemen need those hearts?
  • Robo Speak: Walsh uses a computer voice synthesizer to brief Riley's team.
  • Rule of Scary: Nobody really cares that The Gentlemen look like gray glittered morticians who can float above the ground and are only single episode villains. The viewers are too focused on their unsettling smiles. It's telling enough that Joss Whedon said he was basically creating creatures that kids would have nightmares over.
  • Rule of Threes
    Giles: I need you to take Spike for a few days.
    Xander: What?!
    Spike: What?!
    Anya: What?!
  • Screaming Woman: For once, this is effective because the Gentlemen are scary and certain to produce the screams that kill them.
  • Secret Identity: Buffy and Riley discover the truth about each other.
  • Shipper on Deck: Willow for Buffy/Riley. "Do I have to tie you two together? I need my vicarious smoochies!"
  • "Shut Up" Kiss: Inverted Trope — Buffy complains to Willow that every time she feels ready to kiss Riley she starts babbling. When they two of them meet for the first time after losing their voices, they quickly have their First Kiss.
  • Silence Is Golden: The episode is without dialogue (other than computer voices and a news broadcast) for over 27 minutes straight, nearly two thirds of the episode.
  • Silent Antagonist: Played to horrifying effect with "the Gentlemen," a group of demons/monsters/whatever-the-hell-they-are who show up to steal people's voices and rip out hearts. Throughout the episode, they never utter a word, just grin at each other and use gestures... and yet they still manage to be absolutely terrifying.
  • Simple Solution Won't Work: Comes up twice in Giles' lecture on the Gentlemen. Stake them in the heart? Only thing that'll kill them is the sound of human screams. Play a recording? It has to be live.
  • Skewed Priorities: Buffy is indignant that Giles's drawing of her is too fat.
  • Slasher Smile: The Gentlemen wear these for the entirety of their appearance. And they never talk, despite gesturing at each other as if they were talking. The entire effect is ridiculously creepy.
  • Spotting the Thread: Buffy and Riley both notice flaws in their excuses for why they can't hang out, the things they're doing. Buffy tries to cover up "patrolling" by saying she said "petroleum", while Riley claims he's going to be busy grading papers.
    Buffy: What papers? We only have the final.
  • Static Stun Gun: Riley's taser blaster is either this or a Lightning Gun.
  • Stating the Simple Solution: When the Scoobies watch Giles's lecture, Willow picks up a rock band CD and mimes why not play it since that should count as a scream to incapacitate them. The next slide reveals why: recorded voices don't work.
  • Talk About That Thing: Willow leaving Buffy alone with Riley. She then turns right back around to spy on them from behind a notebook.
  • Talking with Signs: Giles and Forrest explain things this way because they can't speak.
  • The Tape Knew You Would Say That: Giles uses an overhead projector and pre-written transparencies to brief the Scooby Gang on the Gentlemen. At one point, Buffy and Willow mime separate suggestions of how to dispose of the Gentlemen, and Giles immediately displays transparencies explaining why the plans wouldn't work. It's not quite a straight example, though, since Giles is visibly annoyed that they interrupted him to ask the obvious questions instead of just letting him go to his next slide.
  • Terrible Artist: Giles' stick figure explanations of the Gentlemen that lead Buffy to mime that she doesn't have hips that big.
  • That Came Out Wrong: Buffy mimes a staking by jerking her hollowed right hand up and down, before she realizes what that gesture normally refers to.
  • There Was a Door: Buffy enters the clock tower by smashing through a boarded-up window.
  • The Thing That Would Not Leave: Spike eats Giles' entire supply of Weetabix, and no one wants him around when they're having a shag.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Riley and Forrest really didn't think through the whole "Taking the elevator downstairs when it requires you to speak to not die" thing through.
  • Too Much Information: Giles having to listen to Anya and Xander discuss their sex life. Spike mixing his blood with Weetabix.
  • Twisted Ankle: Downplayed; Willow twists her ankle after her Crash-Into Hello with Tara while fleeing from the Gentlemen. The injury is not emphasised, but is just one more thing to add to the terror of the scene.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: In the second half of the episode, Buffy and Riley play out the A plot and Willow and Tara the B plot. Due to the alternating editing of the scenes together, they seem to take place at the same time when actually the B plot occurs slightly before the A - all the Gentlemen can be seen in the clocktower, meaning the two pursuing Willow and Tara must have given up and returned to base. This appears to be Canon Discontinuity at first, seemingly the number of the Gentlemen has risen from 6 to 9.
  • Two Scenes, One Dialogue:
    • Repeatedly done between the Scoobies and the Initiative:
      Buffy: [to Willow] I wish I could just come clean.
      [Smash Cut]
      Forrest: [to Riley] Well, you can't.
    • And after everyone loses their voices...
      Buffy: [writes] Keep researching. I should be in town tonight.
      Giles: [mouths] Why?
      [Smash Cut]
      Walsh: [computer voice] Because there will be chaos.
  • Unusual Euphemism:
    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.
  • Verbal Backspace: Sunnydale authorities have issued a statement... that is, a written statement...
  • Violently Protective Girlfriend: Riley breaks up two men about to have a fight. One picks up a pipe to take a swing at Riley, who has his back to him, only for Buffy to walk up and coldly snap his wrist without even looking at him.
  • Visual Innuendo: Buffy's hand signal for "staking", which looks like a "wanking" gesture. Anya's gesture to Xander, on the other hand, leaves absolutely no room for ambiguity.
  • Wakeup Makeup: Buffy and Willow after their voices have been stolen. We even see Buffy going to the bathroom to get ready despite the fact that she already looks perfect.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Buffy does mime staking to deal with the Gentleman. Giles has a slide explaining they are immune to regular weapons.
  • Your Door Was Open: Anya barges into Giles's home as per usual.
  • "You!" Squared: Done silently between Buffy and Riley, on finding themselves at taser/crossbow point.
  • Your Head A-Splode: What happens to the Gentlemen when Buffy screams.