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After reading critical response to the series in which the dialogue was praised as the most successful aspect of the show, Whedon set out to write an episode almost completely devoid of speech. Only about 17 minutes of dialogue is presented in the entire 44 minutes of “Hush”. In “Hush”, a group of fairytale ghouls named “The Gentlemen” come to town and steal everyone’s voices, leaving them unable to scream when The Gentlemen cut out their hearts. Buffy and her friends must communicate with one another silently as they try to discover why no one can speak and find whoever is murdering the townspeople. They must also find ways to express their feelings about each other and keep some semblance of control as the town descends into chaos.
Hush” addresses the limits and assets of language and communication and the disruption to society when communication breaks down. During a college lecture where Dr. They are interrupted by a young girl holding a distinctive box, singing a cryptic rhyme about “The Gentlemen”. Riley and Buffy speak after class and they almost kiss, but are unable to stop talking. They leave when it becomes awkward. Anya is trying to get Xander to tell her what she means to him.
He is unable to answer her. Willow raises the subject of spells but is chastised for pandering to the stereotype about witches performing magic. Willow’s suggestion, but falls silent when the attention turns to her. That night, as Sunnydale sleeps, white wisps float from each person’s mouth to a belfry, where they settle in the box from Buffy’s dream as ghoulish skeletal figures, with metal-toothed grins and impeccable black suits, look on. Buffy and Riley, each concerned that chaos will ensue, find each other attempting to keep order on the streets. They exchange a look and then their first kiss, before parting to continue their efforts. The next night, the ghouls leave the belfry and float into town accompanied by their straitjacketed, deformed minions.
They knock on the door of a student. When he opens it, aroused from sleeping, they hold him down and carve out his heart while he tries in vain to scream. At Giles’ apartment his visiting girlfriend, Olivia, is frightened by one of The Gentlemen outside Giles’ window. The Gentlemen steal the townspeople’s voices so no one can scream as they gather the hearts they need, and that folklore indicates that they have been vanquished before when a princess screamed: the only thing that will kill them is a live human voice. Xander enters Giles’ apartment as Spike, his mouth wet with blood, bends down to pick up something that he dropped in front of the sofa where Anya sleeps. Anya gestures that they should go have sex. On her own Tara finds a spell to help the town get its voices back, and goes out to show it to Willow.