Friday, December 23, 2011

"Hush" (Buffy 4.10): Silent night, awesome episode

Many believe that this is the best episode with which to introduce the uninitiated to the Buffyverse. And truly, it is classic television, whether you're a fan of the genre or not. I mean, it's not easy to be nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a show that has twenty-plus minutes of zero dialogue. So if you're a Scoobie home for the holidays with a newbie, consider queuing up "Hush." After all, it's the episode so nice, I blogged it twice. The earlier post focused only on the horror that is the Gentlemen,

Quick reminder.

so let's pick up the rest of the fun with this, the Buffy guide to saying it best while saying nothing at all.

DO brush up on your Freud.
The episode opens with a patented Buffy portentous, symbol-laden prophecy dream. In addition to the appearance by the spooky child--

as my intrepid co-watcher Jenn notes, the older we get, the more creepy nursery rhymes become--we get hints that Professor Walsh likes to watch. Ew.

DO make every word count.
In the first oh, twelve or so minutes, we get lots of people bemoaning their inability to communicate, through subtext that, pace Whedon, rapidly becomes text. Buffy and Riley can't tell each other about their respective secret identities, Xander and Anya can't manage a relationship-defining talk to save their lives, and Willow isn't able to get what she wants out of the "wanna-blessed-be" school Wiccan group.

Well, she doesn't get what she wants just yet.

DO sit back and enjoy the genius.
Then, roundabout minute 13, love 'em and leave 'em Olivia utters the fateful line, "That's enough small talk, don't you think?" And so it is, until the last few minutes of the episode. The Gentlemen having stolen their voices, the Sunnydale-ites have to find other ways to talk. They range from

automated voices,

Hal, as it turns out, is right.

to price-gouged message boards,

to overhead projectors,

Thankfully not the last Rupert Giles original of the series.

to gestures,



to touching. Everyone touches a lot more in this episode. For good,

for bad,

for, oh, I'm not going to say it.

In fact, DO give Riley a break. It's Christmas.
As Jenn rightly observes, "I know he is a douche, but at least in these early stages, Riley does seem rather cute albeit in a bumbling kind of way." I will allow that, as well as her other point:

The dude got height.

This is a remarkable episode. It's laden with crucial details that will resonate throughout the rest of the season and series. And just in case you were on the fence about Joss's genius? The silent sermon Buffy and Willow witness uses Revelation 15.1 as its text, which reads:

And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God.

Seven . . . why does that number sound familiar?  "Hush" is truly a series highlight, wonderful for all the reasons that Whedon written and directed episodes always are. And if "Hush" left you hungry for something a little more seasonal, there's always "Amends"!

 Merry Christmas, Whedonites!!


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