1. You can tell a story without dialogue – Go in to any movie catalogue and rent a silent film, and the best silent films will tell you that you don’t need dialogue to tell a good story. “Modern Times,” “The Gold Rush,” “Laugh Clown Laugh,” all amazing stories without dialogue. Human expression, body gestures, idiosyncrasies, they can do so much that dialogue can’t. And “Hush” dares to defy the stereotype that “Buffy” is not funny without the clever one-liners, and it succeeds. You do not need to club us over the head with dialogue to let us know what we should feel, and it’s flawless in its delivery.
2. Brilliant Editing – There is something to be said for the brilliant editing in this particular episode, especially when–without dialogue or sound–the creatures and monsters can sneak up at any moment and frighten us. How else to explain the moment where Giles’ girlfriend is looking out the window and peeks at the Gentleman? Or the use of knocking on doors as a means of misdirection throughout the episode? It’s fantastic.
3. Subtle Humor – See number two. A guy is selling washboards to people on the street as a means of conning people. Buffy and Willow are pissed off! Buffy and Willow show up in the next shot with washboards. Sometimes, the con men just have us by the balls. Plus this signifies how dire the situation is that Buffy lets the bad guy get away unscathed.
4. Stroking… It? – This is just the funniest moment of the episode. Buffy mimes a staking motion in an unfortunate motion, the Scoobies are all horrified, until Buffy pulls out the stake to correct herself. Timing. Delivery. Reaction. And NO dialogue. Genius.
5. Music Motif During Turn of Events – Why Giles feels the need to play dramatic music during his explanation of the Gentlemen is beyond me but it sets the mood.
6. The Introduction of Tara – Whether you love her or hate her, Tara was key to Willow’s life. And her introduction to this series is downbeat and subtle. She merely helps Willow save herself and channel her powers. Nothing big. And yet so important.
7. Words However, Are Important – Riley Finn and his partner are nearly killed thanks to their defense mechanism on the elevator that takes them down to their base. Without voice identification they’re screwed. It’s a tense moment.
8. Speechless – What can you say? There is so much to be said and yet when Riley discovers Buffy is a slayer, and Buffy discovers Riley is a top secret soldier fighting demons on campus, the pair can’t say anything to one another. Though they have the chance now. And once again we know what they’re thinking because of good acting and facial expressions. No dialogue is really needed, and yet they grasp for words.
9. A Princess’s Scream – I loved the fairy tale implications that come with “Hush” because the gentlemen seem like the rapscallions you’d find in a fairy tale book, thus a princesses scream would pierce them to the point of making their heads explode. Plus no man likes to hear a woman talk. What?! It’s true!
10. The Gentlemen are Icky – I can barely look at the gentlemen. In a series filled with big bads, these are the villains I have a hard time looking at without closing my eyes. They’re horrifying. And their demure matched with their attire make them the most ghoulish caretakers of all time, all of whom clap when they’ve garnered a new heart. They’re terrifying specters of death.