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August 30, 2014

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Hush

by Jason Hughes, posted Jun 28th 2008 1:08PM
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Hush
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?
I'd like to thank you all for the selection of this episode. Even though it was obviously light on the dialogue, it still managed to showcase the angst, humor and wittiness of the show I'd heard about. The characters were well spotlighted. I didn't fully understand the situation with Spike, as he seemed to be treated like an unwanted dog and I'm not sure why he was allowing such treatment.

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.

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Brandi

BtVS simply made for the best television ever. Even if you are not into the vampire aspect you can't help, but appreciate the quality of writing. The thing I found most interesting about the show was how far in advance the writers or (Joss W) had decided on a story line. I watched all of the series, not in order originally, but saw it all. Later I bought the series on DVD and watched it all again. Knowing the characters and the future story lines the second time around made me realize just how many subtle hints to the future had been hidden in earlier episodes. If you enjoyed The Wish and Hush you have to enjoy the hilarious hints about Willow in Doppelgangland.
Band Candy is a classic as is the musical episode, but I agree to enjoy the musical you must know the characters and the story line more. One of my all time favorites is Beer Bad. Hilarious moments and to this day "Beer Bad/Beer Good" is still a common term used in my household. I fully agree with most all the previous comments posted here and have enjoyed all the insight and the memories this has all brought back. I will without a doubt say if you are looking for good TV, witty and well-written, Buffy is TV time well spent. Oh and to Chukmaty, S3 starts slow, but does get better.

August 27 2008 at 2:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Doug Nelson

As someone who has repeatedly tried and failed to get into B5 by starting from the beginning, I'd appreciate something like this for Babylon 5.

June 30 2008 at 4:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Chukmaty

As a huge Babylon 5 fan, I have got to say that watching Buffy from the start has to be made a priority for you.

Buffy is less of a story arc like B5, somewhat serialized with half season arcs giving the show solid direction. The first season is very cheesy at times, "I Robot" particularly aged very badly. But cheesiness, campiness, and all that good stuff can not only be forgotten but actually add to the experiance.

Frankly, the first season has some very interesting material that explains later story arcs.

Season two is where things get really good, the added characters bring a lot to the show. Plus the added metaphors and exaggerations in the Buffy/Angel relationship are spectacular.

Various demons being allegories for teen angst or highschool hell is campy and fun, this being applied to relationships pushes BtVS from the silliness into the realm of excellent television on a more serious level. Plus the acting and lines get a lot better, the Cordelia/Xander plotline is the best commic relief I have seen in TV other than Jayne in Firefly or Data in Star Trek Next Gen.

I am working through season 3, I don;t like it as much as season 2 but we will see how it ends. Looking forward to the new college chapter in season 4.

June 30 2008 at 1:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
leah

You really just need to set aside some time and watch from the beginning. It's ALL good. Even the first episode. You're missing so much. Just start at 1 and go through the end. It's the best way to enjoy buffy.

June 30 2008 at 10:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
divineparasite

One of the best things about "Hush" was its balance of horrer and humor. "The Gentleman" with thier nasty plastered grins, and wielding thier scalpels was such a simple frightening image. Yet, Whedon also used the confusion of the Scooby Gang for some halarious moments as well. One of my favorite moments is when Spike is drinking from his mug of blood and Xander arrives seeing Anya laying on the sofa. He sees Spike and assumes he's bitten her and attacks him. This episode also had major moments for two flourishing relationships, Buffy and Riley, and Willow and Tara.

June 29 2008 at 2:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
koku

I'm very glad the votes didn't go with the musical episode, as though it is fantastic, it is NOT a good introduction. It's very tied into the characters and overarching plots of the series. Ditto on The Body, I can't believe that was even a contender!

I do think that Hush is a good introduction, I've hooked many friends with it. I think the gimmick can draw people in, and they can see what a funny, scary and dramatically complex show it really is.

Standalone episodes that would make a good introduction... Hmm, I'm going to pick one from each season.

S1. Most of them are quite cheesy, but I'm going to go with The Pack. Contains the most brutal game of dodgeball ever committed to film.

S2. School Hard. Introduction of Spike, and shows the delicate balance of life and slayage Buffy has to deal with.

S3. The Zeppo. We so rarely get a Xander episode, and this is a great one.

S4. The Initiative. One of my favourites, not so much a standalone as a sort of reveal of whats going on in the season (with those army guys that confused you in Hush). There's lots of the funny here, especially the Xander/Harmony and Willow/Spike scenes.

S5. Tied with S6 for least standalone episodes, I'm going to go with Checkpoint as it shows Buffy at her most badass, standing up to the powers who want to tell her what to do.

S6. Can't decide, it's a weak season for the uninitiated. Pretty gloomy and many consider it the worst, but it's actually pretty good overall. Just a lot less peppy than most. I'd go with Smashed or Normal Again.

S7. Help. S7 started off wonderfully, then went downhill after the first 7 episodes or so. Help, about a young girl who's convinced she's going to die soon and teaches Buffy a lot about her mission. The episode Him is also hilarious good times, although much less serious than much of the later seasons.

June 29 2008 at 3:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sissers

What was the name of the episode in season 2 or 3 (or maybe 4? I dunno!) where Buffy could hear what people were thinking? And she overheard a voice saying they were going to kill everyone in school? She thought it was Jonathan in the tower, but it was the cook (Xander saw her pouring rat poison into the soup or something!). Cause that was a great episode! That was when she found out her Mom had sex with Giles. TWICE! I dont know how you guys remember, or know, the names of all the episodes, and what season they were in, but my hat is off to you! I need a guide book. Anyway, Hush was good. The Wish was awesome. But you still need to watch the entire show from the beginning! And then you will understand why they treated Spike the way they did. He was HORRIBLE! It wasnt until he realized he was in love with Buffy did you see feel any kind of sympathy towards him. Plus after what the Scooby gang went thru with Angel, could you blame anybody!??! Happy watching!

June 29 2008 at 12:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Patrick

Could I suggest you watch the first 3 episodes of season 1? You get all the background you're really going to need and yet not having to deal with the blatent cheeze factor. You did a great job of reviewing "Hush". Please take the time and give us your thoughts on "The Body".

More suggestions:
Season 3: The Wish -- Cordelia, pissed at Xander and Willow's make out session... meets Anya (The Vengence Deamon Anyanka) and wishes Buffy had never come to Sunnydale. It's like Rob Zombie directed "It's a wonderful Life" instead of Frank Capra, Willow is delicious as a Vampire.

Season 4: Superstar -- I'm not a huge Danny Strong fan (Recount) but the opening credits are worth watching this episode. Seeing Jonathon spliced into action shots as the hero of the show instead of Buffy... priceless.

Season 6: Tabula Rasa -- Willow tries to solve too many problems with magic, accidentally making herself and the others forget who they are. Spike thinking he's Giles son because of their accents... again priceless.

June 28 2008 at 5:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Brent McKee

That was one of Willow's first homosexual moments. Up to that time she had been happily heterosexual.

June 28 2008 at 4:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tim

One of the reasons this episode is always listed in the top 3 for the show are how well the idea that when we can't speak, we learn to communicate are so smoothly portrayed. The end exemplifies that as Riley and Buffy are now able to speak they sit on the bed silently.

June 28 2008 at 4:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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