Written and directed by Joss Whedon

Buffy, Willow, and other students are sitting in Professor Walsh’s psychology class, listening to a lecture on communication and language. She asks Buffy to come to the front of the room for a demonstration and has her lie down on her desk. She tells Riley to “oblige,” and he goes over to Buffy. “Don’t worry,” he says to her. “If I kiss you, it’ll make the sun go down.” They kiss and the lights in the room dim. Buffy sits up and says, “Fortune favors the brave.” She hears a little girl singing in the hallway and goes out to see her there, holding a wooden box. The girl continues singing a chilling song and when Buffy looks up at Riley, she instead sees a demon’s face.

Buffy suddenly wakes up, still in class. Willow teases that everything on the final was revealed in the last twenty minutes of class. She asks if Buffy was dreaming, and Buffy tells her that it was intense. Riley overhears and tells her that she looked peaceful. Riley and Buffy head off on their own and Willow pretends to go somewhere else, then discreetly follows them. Riley asks Buffy about her dream, wanting to know if he was in it. She hints that he may have made a “cameo.” He asks what she’s doing tonight and she slips up, telling him she’s patrolling. He questions her, confused, and she says, “Petroleum.” “Tonight you have crude oil?” he asks. “And homework,” she replies. He tells her he’s grading papers, but as he’s about to kiss her, she mentions that they don’t have any papers in the class. He covers by saying that he’s looking at late papers. They separate, and Buffy says to herself, “Fortune favors the brave.”

Buffy calls Giles, telling him about the dream and the song. He asks Spike if he’s heard of a group called the Gentlemen, from the song, and Spike is elusive and unhelpful. (Surprised?) On their way to Giles’, Anya accuses Xander of using her and not really caring about her. They enter the apartment and Anya says, “All you care about is lots of orgasms.” Disturbed by the conversation, Giles tells Xander that he needs him to take Spike for a few days because he has a friend staying over. “An orgasm friend?” Anya asks. “Yes, that’s exactly the most appalling thing you could have said,” Giles replies. Anya is disappointed that Spike’s presence will mean that she and Xander can’t have sex, and Xander is just unhappy in general.

In a lounge at UC Sunnydale, Willow meets with her Wicca group, a handful of girls more interested in raising money via bake sales and writing a Gaian newsletter than actually practicing witchcraft. Willow suggests actually doing spells, but is shot down and criticized for giving in to stereotypes. She meets Tara (Amber Benson), a girl too shy to speak her mind. Later, Willow complains about the group to Buffy, then asks her how things are with her and Riley. Buffy says that, like the Wicca group, their relationship is all talk. She wishes she could tell Riley about her secret identity. In the Initiative, Riley has told Forrest the same thing. Forrest reminds him that they have to “Clark Kent” their way through relationships, even though girls would think they were cooler if they knew the truth.

It’s bedtime in Xander’s basement, and Spike has been tied to a chair. He mocks Xander about his relationship with Anya, making Xander mad. Olivia (last seen in “The Freshman”) arrives at Giles’ apartment and they start making out. At 1 a.m., a box is opened in the clock tower and, all over town, peoples’ voices are drawn out of their bodies. The voices are trapped in the box, which is closed by a creepy-looking demon (a Gentleman). The next morning, Buffy goes about her morning routine, but when she and Willow try to say “good morning” to each other, they find that they can’t speak. Out in the hallway, other students are afflicted by the same problem. In the basement, Xander is freaking out and silently accuses Spike of doing something to him. In response, Spike gives him the British version of the middle finger. Xander calls Buffy, who realizes when she answers the phone that not being able to talk is a problem.

In their frat house, Riley and Forrest go to the elevator (see “The Initiative”) and head down to the Initiative. However, since neither can speak, the elevator doesn’t accept a vocal code match. Riley desperately breathes into the microphone while Forrest encourages him with the words “come on, come on” written on a pad of paper. Riley tries to enter an override code, but can’t remember what it is. The computer announces that it will introduce “lethal countermeasures” and gas is released into the elevator. Moments later, the elevator doors open in the Initiative and Walsh greets Riley and Forrest by pointing at a sign that says, “In case of emergency, use stairway.” Tara leaves her dorm, where people are growing distraught due to their lack of speech. Willow and Buffy walk through downtown Sunnydale, where chaos has ensued and someone is selling dry erase message boards.

Buffy and Willow arrive at Giles’ apartment with message boards and greet the other Scoobies (Willow writes “Hi, Giles” on her board). They listen to a news report stating that Sunnydale has been hit by a laryngitis epidemic and been quarantined. Buffy writes to Giles that she should be in town tonight. In the Initiative, Walsh is telling the commandos the same thing, because of the ensuing chaos. Buffy walks through downtown Sunnydale and helps Riley break up a fight between two men. They hug (Buffy and Riley, not the two men) and, before splitting up, share their first smooch. That night, the Gentlemen float through town, accompanied by their straightjacketed minions. Giles sleeps in his bedroom while Olivia lies awake. Downstairs, she is startled by a Gentleman floating by the window. The Gentlemen and lackeys head into Buffy and Willow’s dorm and knock on a student’s door. The student answers and is rewarded by being held down and cut open. Back in the clock tower, the Gentlemen have a stash of hearts in a jar and are congratulating one on the kill.

The next morning, Buffy sneaks into the student’s room and sees him still on the bed, dead. Giles reads about murders in the area in the newspaper and Olivia sketches the Gentleman that she saw. After seeing the drawing, Giles grabs a book of fairy tales. Later, he, Buffy, Willow, Xander, and Anya (who’s eating popcorn) gather in a lecture hall at UC Sunnydale, where Giles has prepared a presentation. Accompanied by the song “Danse Macabre,” he shows the Scoobies overheads, informing them that the Gentlemen are fairy tale monsters. He asks what they want, and Willow points to her chest; Xander thinks she means breasts, but Giles continues that they want hearts. The Gentlemen come to a town, steal people’s voices so that they can’t scream, and then kill them. According to the song, they need seven, and they already have two. Xander asks how they can kill the Gentlemen, and Buffy suggests slaying them. Giles replies that, in the fairy tale, “The princess screamed one…and they all died.” Only a human scream will kill them. “How do I get my voice back?” Buffy wants to know. Giles isn’t sure. He tells Buffy to patrol that night (and Buffy is offended by the wideness of her hips in the drawing Giles has done of her), and the presentation ends.

That night, the commandos suit up and head out as Buffy patrols. Tara looks up Willow’s dorm room and takes off. On her way over to see Willow, she’s chased by Gentlemen. Buffy is attacked by a minion. Tara makes it to the dorm and starts banging on doors, trying to get someone to help her. Buffy chases the minion that attacked her as Riley, having spotted movement from the ground, goes up to the clock tower and is also attacked. Willow hears Tara banging on doors and goes out to see what’s happening. The two girls run off, still being pursued by Gentlemen. Riley fights Gentlemen and minions in the clock tower, unaware that Buffy has crashed into the clock tower and is fighting as well. In the middle of the fight, Riley and Buffy are surprised to come face-to-face, aiming weapons at each other.

Riley is impressed by Buffy’s skills as they continue to fight. At Giles’ apartment, Spike drinks blood from a mug and kneels down next to the couch where Anya is sleeping. Xander enters and, seeing Anya out and blood on Spike’s mouth, thinks that Spike has attacked Anya. He tackles the vamp and hits him until Anya alerts him to the fact that she’s okay. He happily embraces her, and Giles and Olivia are touched by his concern until he and Anya head upstairs to have sex. Willow and Tara wind up in a laundry room, where Tara tries to push a soda machine in front of the door to barricade them inside. Willow stares intently at the machine and Tara realizes what she’s trying to do. She reaches for Willow’s hand, and together they magically move the machine in front of the door.

The clock tower fight continues, and Buffy comes close to having her heart cut off. She spots the box from her dream and, unable to reach it, alerts Riley and indicates that he should smash it. He triumphantly moves to do so but, misreading her, smashes a jar instead. She gestures that he should break the box, and he finally does so. Voices are returned to their owners, and Buffy lets out a healthy scream, which makes the Gentlemen’s heads explode. The next day, Tara tells Willow that she went looking for her because she thought they might be able to do a spell together to restore everyone’s voices. She encourages Willow, telling her that she has a lot of power. In Giles’ apartment, Olivia is uncertain that she wants to be a part of Giles’ life when he’s constantly dealing with such weird stuff. Riley goes to Buffy’s dorm room, saying that they need to talk. She agrees, but both fall silent.

MORAL, or CRAMMING COMPLEX ISSUES INTO A NUTSHELL: Don’t watch this episode alone and/or in the dark.

GRADE: A Even silent, the Scoobies are compelling.


MEMORABLE QUOTES - “Can't even shout, can't even cry
The Gentlemen are coming by
Looking in windows, knocking on doors
They need to take seven and they might take yours
Can't call to Mom, can't say a word
You're gonna die screaming but you won't be heard.” - the little girl’s song

Giles: “Have you heard of a group called the gentlemen?”
Spike: “Group of what?”
Giles: “The gentlemen.”
Spike: “Dunno.”
Giles: “You certain?”
Spike: “No. We're out of Wheatabix.”
Giles: “We are out of Wheatabix because you ate it all - again.”
Spike: “Get some more.”
Giles: “I thought vampires were supposed to eat blood.”
Spike: “Yep. Well sometimes I like to crumble up the Wheatabix in the blood give it a little texture.”
Giles: “Since the picture you just painted means I will never touch food of any kind again you'll just have to pick it up yourself.”
Spike: “Sissy.”

Xander: “Okay…remember how we talked about private conversations and how they're less private when they're in front of my friends?”
Spike: “Oh, we're not your friends. Go on.”

Buffy: “No actual witches in your witch group.”
Willow: “No. Bunch of wanna-blessed-bes.”

Spike: “Like I'd bite you anyway.”
Xander: “Oh, you would.”
Spike: “Not bloody likely.”
Xander: “I happen to be very biteable, pal. I'm moist and delicious.”
Spike: “All right, yeah, fine, you're a nummy treat.”
Xander: “And don't you forget it.”
Spike: (imitating Anya) “Xander, don't you care about me?”
Xander: “Shut up!”
Spike: “We never talk.”
Xander: “Shut up!”
Spike: “Xaaannnder.”
Xander: “Shut up!”

Olivia: “So, everything you told me was true.”
Giles: “Well, no, um, I wasn't actually one of the original members of Pink Floyd.”

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