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I've got to say that first, Joss Whedon is a genius! Second, who'd have thought that 27 minutes without talking could be a success on screen?! As you've probably guessed by that question, the residents of Sunnydale are voiceless for a great portion of this episode. Buffy has a prophetic dream, in which Riley kisses her, the sun goes down and a little girl mentions seven. As it turns out, a group of demons called "The Gentlemen" steal the voices of Sunnydalians whilst they are sleeping so that they may collect 7 hearts without listening to the screams of the collectees. The scream of a 'pure princess' according to the fairytale that Giles alludes to, will kill the gentlemen.

This episode, without a doubt in my opinion, contains the scariest monsters and storyline of any season yet. I think it's mainly due to the imagery associated with the ghastly grimacing Gentlemen and the fear of having no voice to cry for help, scream or otherwise, when they arrive in your room and cut your heart out. Not an ep for the faint-hearted obviously.

If there were one message that permeates the whole ep, it would be that words can get in the way. This is demonstrated in a few scenes such as Buffy and Riley wanting to kiss but both are so nervous that when the moment comes, they babble. However without voices, it's not a problem any longer and they have their first kiss. Lack of vocalisation also aids Anya and Xander in their relationship. Prior to being mute, Xander can't understand why Anya keeps harping on how he feels about her. Then, upon walking into a room, where he believes Spike has bitten Anya, he shows his feelings by beating on Spike and hugging her fiercely. One of the most amusing scenes consists of Giles holding a presentation via overhead to the Scooby Gang. When asking them how to kill the Gentlemen, Buffy has an idea....kill them with stakes but her stabbing motion (minus stake) leads the gang to presume she means something else entirely...hilarious!!

Willow joins a wicca group and finds out they don't actually do spells. She's disappointed along with another member, Tara. They both end up running from the heart-seeking demons, combining their powers to ward them off and finding a special quality in one another....something that will obviously spark a relationship.

Another milestone in this ep happens in one of the final scenes where Riley comes upon the Gentlemen's lair as does Buffy. They both find out at once that the other is involved in more than just college study as they both fight for their lives. The box that holds the stolen voices is crushed by Riley, Buffy screams and that's the end of the Gentlemen and their equally frightening lackeys complete with strait jackets.

A rather poignant closing scene....Riley seated on Willow's bed facing Buffy saying "We've got to talk". Sometimes talking doesn't equal communication....

Definitely one of the best eps all season.

Regular characters: Spike, Anya, Xander, Willow, Buffy, Giles

Villain: The Gentlemen (demons)

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