Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Hush
by Jason Hughes, posted Jun 28th 2008 1:08PM
Do not adjust your web browser. You are now entering the Retro Squad, where we are reviewing past episodes of classic TV shows.
(S04E10) Well, it was a close call, with the top three candidates separated by two votes or less. So while I almost got to experience the Buffy musical experience with "Once More With Feeling," or the fifth season episode "The Body," it was instead the silent episode "Hush" that came out on top. Now, understand that this is by no means an intention to say that the entire series can be fully appreciated by one episode. In fact, I have every intention of watching the whole thing. Maybe I'll even give you guys season-by-season updates as I go along.
What I did learn from this is even several years after it's end, Buffy and Angel fans are as passionate today as they are about their favorite shows when they were on the air. And it makes me even more depressed at the poor treatment Whedon's other television masterpiece Firefly got at the hands of FOX. Maybe if it had been on UPN or The WB, it would have had a chance to develop as Whedon envisioned. But to the matter at hand. How does someone who's never seen a single episode of Buffy or Angel take an experience like "Hush?"
I'll admit that I probably could have done well to have known who some of these people were before jumping into this episode. For example, the two guys who almost get killed trying to enter a top secret lab facility (guessed on the lab bit due to the white coats). Yeah, no idea who they are or what the facility is. Later it seems more like a task force. Maybe to protect the city from all the supernatural juju that keeps happening?
Why is it, by the same night after they woke up without their voices, we've got an abandoned car on a hydrant spraying water across the street and a guy ready to bludgeon another guy with a blunt object because he can't get his point across? Is it so easy for us to fall to our basic instincts? Probably.
Now I'm going to come out and agree right now that with a show like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, it is probably better to watch the show from the beginning. But I also heard from several of you that some of those early episodes are pretty cheesy. Now I've come to the same problem with a show I've really enjoyed that also had a rough go of it during several of its early episodes: Babylon 5. Taken as a whole, the five season run is a near masterpiece of television. But if I just tell someone to start at the beginning, they're pretty likely to give up early on.
I'm not saying Buffy is as bad as all that, because I can't, as I haven't seen it. But, there are nevertheless some episodes of B5 that stand alone enough that someone who has a vague understanding of who's who and what's going on can get a notion of how great that show was. This is what we were going for here.
And then, of course, our top two vote getters were both gimmick episodes. A mostly silent episode, and a musical episode. I'm not sure what this says about fans of the show that they think these two episodes, which are so unlike every other episode in the series, are good candidates for newbies to sample the wares, but I've heard for years that both of them were great episodes.
I can see how this silent episode was a challenge for the extended cast in regards to the acting. Sure, they came up with all sorts of ways to get around the lack of verbal dialogue, but in the end much of the story had to be sold through facial expressions and body language, which is harder to pull off than it may seem. Again, while I go into this knowing the principal characters of Buffy, Giles, Willow and Xander, I didn't really know much of anyone beyond that core four. But, nevertheless, I was able to enjoy the intricacies of the plot and the cleverness of the production.
Plus, we were able to fully appreciate the beauty of the full orchestral score that's so often completely ignored. The make-up on the bald, ugly, smiley, creepy, floaty guys -- which is what I've decided to dub them -- is excellent. When they float by the window where Giles' lady friend is peering out, it's as much a disturbing shock for us as it is for her. And I love how melodramatic they are amongst themselves, like a bad theater troupe.
Other Fun Tidbits
- It was great when Willow was trying to bring in bits of real magic into the wiccan group she had joined, and the derisive responses of her fellow group members.
- Xander calling Buffy on the phone after they lost their voices ... classic! Spike's look ... double classic!!
- Little things like Giles putting the transparency on the overhead backwards do so much to humanize the characters. I love it when shows remember the simple little errors that sprinkle everyday real life.
- Buffy meant stabbing with that gesture during Giles' presentation. Giles, Xander and Willow are dirty, filthy perverts.
- Okay the mistaken identity when Spike didn't bite Xander's lady-friend's neck was a bit obvious of a set up, but still kind of funny.
- Was that one of Willow's first lesbian "moments" when she clasped hands with the blonde girl I don't know, and then their talk later? I know the show took awhile to get to this with her character but not sure how long it took. See, I do know some stuff already about these characters. In your collective faces!
- The scream that defeated the "gentlemen" and what happened to their heads ... gross?
And there were all those characters I didn't know at all, but I got Buffy's concerns about revealing her "slayer" tendencies to a boyfriend, setting up beautifully the final scene. You could feel the inner torment on her face when her boyfriend said to her "I guess we need to talk." And it couldn't have been handled better than with a fade to black. I don't know if the next episode picks up with their conversation, but I find myself kind of hoping it doesn't. Some things are better left private.