Far Our Review: Hush

The Gentlemen: the terrifying ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ villains created purely out of spite

Stagnation is one of the worst things that can happen to a popular TV series. Still, even though Buffy the Vampire Slayer remained as popular as ever in its fourth season, creator Joss Whedon took a peculiar form of umbrage with the praise being lavished upon his supernatural smash hit.

One of the hallmarks of the show – and of Whedon’s career until it self-destructed in the wake of troubling misconduct allegations – was its free-flowing dialogue that had its ear to the ground of pop culture. Deciding that his signature style being singled out as the pivotal element of Buffy’s success was a personal insult, he decided to prove himself more than capable of crafting elite-level television without dipping into his favoured bag of tricks.

As a result “Hush was born which stands out as one of the finest episodes of Buffy‘s entire run, which it managed to accomplish without dialogue for the majority of its 44-minute running time. A terrifying cabal of creatures known as The Gentlemen descend upon the fictional town of Sunnydale to steal the voices from local residents, rendering them unable to scream when the demons remove their hearts.

From the way they look to the way they move, everything bout The Gentlemen is unnervingly creepy, which is par for the course when they drew their inspirations from the vampire classic Nosferatu, Hellraiser icon Pinhead, and even Mr. Burns from The Simpsons, all wrapped up in Victorian-age costuming, demeanour, and politeness. Born from a recurring nightmare Whedon had as a child, it’s easy to see why he was so frightened of his own dreams.

Conveying such monstrous tendencies without words wouldn’t have worked without the right performers, with ‘Hush’ lucking out again by hiring Doug Jones, Camden Toy, Don W. Lewis, and Charlie Brumbly, all of whom were professionally-trained mimes with experience playing monsters of varying degrees. As a result, their theatrical movements and disorienting physicality played just as big a role in striking fear into the hearts of viewers as their penchant for removing organs from living victimes.

Beyond their grotesque appearance, The Gentlemen – and ‘Hush’ at large – subverted Buffy‘s alleged overreliance on dialogue to craft a spine-chilling standalone story that can reasonably be named among the single finest instalments of any show to air in the 1990s. Intentionally robbing himself of the very thing that made his name in the first place Whedon was daunted by the challenge but pulled it off expertly.

Existing as characters plucked from a fairly tale that the scream of a princess can kill, legend states, The Gentlemen also deconstruct the title hero’s status as a beacon of powerful femininity. Sarah Michelle Gellar’s Buffy became a feminist icon for a multitude of very good reasons. However, in ‘Hush’, she’s refitted into a more archetypal damsel in distress role, with her being the princess who lets out the guttural roar that completes the story and causes the demonic beings to explode from the neck up.

Throw in the biblical undertones of Revelation 15:1 being spied on a billboard – “I saw in heaven another great and marvellous sign: seven angels with the seven last plagues – last because with them God’s wrath is completed” – and it’s easy to infer that the septet of hearts The Gentlemen are seeking is in service of a higher power, adding another layer of subtle, otherworldly thematic heft to what was ostensibly another ‘monster of the week’ episode on paper.

Doing things out of spite isn’t always the best way to accomplish any given goal, but when it came to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, ‘Hush’ and tHe Gentlemen, Whedon’s desire to do the exact opposite of what people loved so much about the series turned out to be one of its greatest masterstrokes.

Original article at Far Out Magazine.

This article has been reproduced for archive purposes, all rights remain with the originating website.

Author: Cider

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