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Stew’s Buffy The Vampire Slayer Retrospective: Season 4, Episode 10

January 12, 2024 | Posted by Rob Stewart
Buffy the Vampire Slayer 4-10 Hush Image Credit: 20th Century Fox TV

Nine, Ten, Never Speak Again: A BTVS Retrospective, S4 E10


Episode 10

Image Credit: 20th Century Fox TV

Oh my god with the Psychology class stuff. I know I joke, but can’t this season give us a single other class of hers? Well apparently not, as we start off in Psych Class, with Buffy and her renewed straight hair* being called to the front of the class by Professor Walsh.

Walsh asks Buffy to lie down on the front desk, then has Riley go over to her and kiss her without anyone asking if Buffy is okay with it. Is sexual assault a curriculum now?

Oh, it’s suddenly night time. So this is a dream, all right. There’s a weird humming sound, which Buffy follows into the hallway, whereupon she finds a little girl singing an evil nursery rhyme about the threat of The Gentlemen. And DAMN, this show sure likes to rip-off Nightmare on Elm Street.

In the dream, a monster man grabs her shoulder, and she is startled awake in class. She walks out with Willow, but the latter bails to spy on Buffy talking to Riley. We hit ANOTHER season one trope for this show, as Buffy says she can’t see Riley that night because of “patrol… I MEAN PETROLEUM”.

Jesus Christ, I didn’t miss those ha-larious lines, writers.

Riley also slips up, saying he has papers to grade, but Buffy calls him out for there not having been any papers lately. These two are destined to be together. Friggin’ idiots with their idiot dialogue.

At Giles’ house, the former librarian is studying the nursery rhyme Freddy Krueger girl, and Spike has been promoted to being a free range vampire, not longer tied up! Good for him, I guess.

We check in on Xander and Anya next. Anya’s upset that Xander never asks her about her day or even shows her much affection. She tells him she thinks he is just with her for the sex.

I mean… yes. That is a Xander thing, yes.

They walk into Giles’ house, still bickering over their relationship. Giles tells them they have to babysit Spike so he can have a lover over. More squabbling all around.

Back at college, Willow is sitting in a Wiccan Meeting and seems terribly bored. The Wiccans are just saying prayers and speculating on a bake sale. Willow asks if they want to try real magic, and the rest of the group just laughs at her.


These people live in SunnyDale. There is NO WAY they don’t know supernatural bullshit is real. Like, 4 episodes ago, we had the “My brother-in-law is a warlock” bartender. The cat is out of the bag! You can’t have it both ways, show!

Anyway, at the meeting, there is a shy girl with bad posture: it’s the first appearance of Tara! And I’d pretend I don’t know who Tara is, but… I actually do. So… here’s Tara! Yay? My wife reports she never liked the Tara character. But my wife also didn’t like Cordy, though, so WHAT DOES SHE KNOW?

Dueling scenes next of Buffy talking to Willow and Riley talking to Shelton Benjamin. They each feel bad for always having to lie to the other. FORESHADOWING.

In Xander’s basement, he has Spike tied to a chair (aww, he just gained his freedom privilege at Giles’) so he can go to bed in peace. Spike teases him about Anya.

At Giles’ house, Olivia shows up, so she can have ANOTHER chance to die this episode.

Just… so many gripping scenes in a row of characters having tedious interactions. And this episode that will eventually be about no one being able to talk sure has a lot of talking for the first 15 minutes or so.

On that note, we cut to the clocktower, wherein we see The Gentlemen casting a spell that absorbs everyone in SunnyDale’s ability to speak. They lock the VOICES away in a BOX, and I see what you did there, BTVS.

Fair play: The Gentlemen are EASILY the creepiest monster design this show has had so far. The malicious smiles and decent practical effects makeup and the way they float without walking? That is some primo level stuff. These guys look un-fuck-with-able!

The next day, everyone wakes up to find they can not speak. Everyone in Buffy and Willow’s hall seems to be affected. Xander accuses this of being Spike’s doing, and our edgy vamp soon-to-be anti-hero gives him the “jog on” motion I’ve seen SO MANY GIFs of.

Team Riley can’t speak, either, so Riley and Shelton get on the elevator, and even MY dumbass knows what is coming next, as the elevator has voice-activated security. They are locked in and about to get poison gassed when Professor Walsh frees them and points at a sign:


Yes. Use the stairway to the highly secretive and secured military base.


would there even be

a stairway?

I swear to god, this show. It’s just writing with reckless abandon. Never let even the tiniest amount of common sense get in the way of a mediocre attempt at humor, right? Heaven forbid.

Tara is suddenly a character worthy of following around, I guess, so we see her walking through a chaotic SunnyDale. There is a street preacher with signs about Revelations, and he has a large crowd. There is a man selling marker boards for $10 each, and I actually love all of this. The two great aspects of panic in America: hypocritical religion and abuse of capitalism.

This all came one scene after the stairway joke. It’s like they immediately fired the writer of that scene and the whole “petroleum” thing, and then they hired a competent one. But they weren’t about to reshoot the other stuff!

The gang regroups at Giles’ home, and they see a national news report about a laryngitis outbreak in SunnyDale, CA. Buffy realizes there will be panic in the streets, so she heads into town.

Riley’s team, too, is sent into town to keep order. Prof Walsh has a computer that reads aloud what she types, and this episode is already cheating at being a SILENT episode.

My next note: “-IT IS HARD TO TAKE NOTES WHEN NO ONE IS TALKING”. It’s true! I’m not a good typist to begin with, and now every time I looks down, I miss EVERYTHING that is happening!

Buffy and Riley see each other in the streets, and hug. Then they have their first kiss (right?).

The Gentlemen, pleased with what they have wrought, float out of their clocktower and out into the night. AND THEY HAVE CRAB PEOPLE MINIONS. WHY DO THEY HAVE CRAB PEOPLE MINIONS?! Who behind the scenes of this episode was like “floating, smiley demons are scary, sure. But they need something else. But what? I got it! Flailing, scurrying henchmen! Of course!”

And then I sang the Crab People song every time they appeared.

Olivia gets out of bed and heads to the window, and one of The Gentlemen passes right in front of her and gives her a look! I think ANOTHER minority character is about to bite it, but they just… ignore her.

Instead, they head to the college dorm and attack a boy alone in his room. Terrifying, harrowing stuff as he repeatedly “screams” for help, but no sound comes out. They slice him open and take out his heart. Back at the clocktower, we see that makes three. They need/want seven in total, according to the “One, Two, Gentlemen Coming For You” girl.

Buffy sneaks past the highly effective cops and sees the boy’s body.

After having consulted a Fairy Tales book, Giles summons the team, but we don’t see how, and remember: none of these characters have cell phones or texting plans. But whatever: everyone shows up for his meeting anyway. He busts out the old overhead projector to display his info on The Gentlemen… and his crude (but fun) drawings!

Everything about this episode feels so delightfully, charmingly archaic. An overhead projector instead of PowerPoint? Strapping on marker boards instead of texting? This was TWENTY-THREE YEARS AGO. This episode happened closer to the first election of Ronald Reagan than it did to today.

You’re welcome for that, by the way.

Also, we get an actual funny jerking off joke here, but maybe that’s only funny to me because I am a child. Surely there are GIFs out there of Buffy’s pantomiming of staking someone? I’ve seen the Spike GIF!

We also get info that only a real scream can kill The Gentlemen, and NO WILLOW, apparently a CD doesn’t count. Which, I dunno, feels like cheating, right? Not saying THAT should have been our resolution here, but I’d have liked to see The Gentlemen having developed a counter for that, too. Like maybe they absorb the sound from speakers, too?

I do wonder now what, TECHNICALLY, is the difference between a real-life voice and a recorded voice. Like, in the real world. What is the audio difference there? You got me thinking, BTVS, and I hate that.

Especially since I’m 99% sure you are just cheating.

Riley sees silhouettes in the clocktower window, so he rushes in and gets into a fight with the Crab People.

Buffy also finds some Crab People and starts fighting.

Tara ALSO also finds some Crab People (with their bosses), and she… does not fight. She flights. She makes it back to the dormitory and starts banging on doors for help as the monsters track her down. One door is answered by one of The Gentlemen, and he has a heart in his hands.

Okay, aspects of this episode are genuinely creepy.

Eventually Willow hears Tara and runs out to help her. They flee The Gentlemen together.

As they each fight some Crab People, Buffy and Riley run into each other, so good thing that earlier foreshadowing paid off. All cats are out of their respective bags.

Another pay-off occurs at Giles’ place, where a sitcom-esque whacky misunderstanding leads to Xander believe Spike has killed Anya, so he goes berserker rage on the neutered vamp. Anya calms him down, but also now feels appropriately romanced. Xander DOES care, she thinks!

Just wait until literally any other girl comes along, Annie.

Willow and Tara are trapped in a room. They hold hands and are able to Jean Grey a vending machine against the door to barricade themselves in. Some real Huey Lewis & The News shit there.

The Gentlemen come back to their Clocktower, and they have six hearts.

They only want seven.

So Buffy’s done a pretty shit job defending her town, guys. She has only saved ONE life so far.

That one life is about to be HERS, though, as The Gentlemen move to take her heart. But Riley has some fucking electro-gun thing and wards them off. Buffy tells him to break the Voice Box; once he does, she screams and the threat is no more.

We got Epilogues, y’all!

-Tara tells Willow she was looking for her in the panic of running from The Gentlemen. Tara thought they could save the day with a spell. Oz is getting further in that rearview mirror.

-Giles and Olivia talk at his place. WAIT, OLIVIA SURVIVED! It turns out Olivia is not “in the know” about everything, but she clearly is now. Why did I just assume she was another Watcher? Huh. She’s a civilian.

-Riley to Buffy’s room for a “I guess we need to talk” moment. But then… they can’t figure out what to say to each other. Ah, thematic to the episode AND Dramatic Irony. You love to see it!

Image Credit: 20th Century Fox TV


So I did. And here’s the reason for that: The review of just this episode is already huge, so it’s getting the rare Solo Article treatment. Which left me with, like, Episode 9 floating alone.

I weighed my options and decided the best course of action is to do Episode 9 and 11 joint next time. So stay tuned for that!