Story Code '4ABB10'
by Joss Whedon
Buffy nods off during her psychology lesson and has an incredibly vivid dream in which she and Riley share a passionate kiss in front of the whole class; night then falls and the class members vanish, leaving Buffy alone except for the sound of a young girl chanting a rhyme about the “gentlemen”, and “not saying a word”. Buffy investigates, and sees the girl standing in the hallway holding a small box; Buffy then turns round and sees a tall, grey-skinned man with a maniacal smile leering at her - and then wakes up with a jolt. On the way out of the tutorial she is teased by Willow and Riley for napping during class; Buffy and Riley both make fake plans to distract the other, as they both plan to go out on patrol that night. Buffy calls Giles and tells him the details of her dream, as Xander and Anya arrive at Giles’s arguing about their relationship; Giles asks Xander to take Spike for a few days as his friend Olivia is coming to visit. Meanwhile, Willow attends a Wicca group meeting but is disappointed to discover that it has nothing to do with witchcraft, and is more about ‘bake sales’; only one other girl, Tara, seems genuinely interested in witchcraft. In his basement, Xander ties Spike to a chair before going to sleep. Hours later, while the whole town sleeps, inside the town’s clock tower one of the Gentlemen from Buffy’s dream opens a box, the same one as in her dream, and the voices of Sunnydale’s inhabitants leave their bodies and drift into the box; when the townsfolk wake the next day, everyone has lost the ability to speak, and panic quickly sets in. Riley and Forrest take the secret lift down to the Initiative, where Walsh gives them written orders to dress as civilians and try to prevent riots and looting from occurring. Buffy and Willow head to Giles’s, and along the way they pick up message boards; meeting up with the rest of the Scooby gang they watch a television news report which attributes the phenomenon to a massive outbreak of laryngitis, noting that the town has been quarantined. Riley and Buffy run into each other while they are both out on patrol, and, unable to communicate any other way, they share their first kiss. That evening, while everyone sleeps the Gentlemen emerge from the clock tower and, accompanied by demonic lackeys dressed in straightjackets, hover their way silently through the streets. Olivia gets out of bed and is horrified to see one of the Gentlemen outside her window; two more of the Gentlemen enter the dormitory where Buffy and Willow live and take the heart of their first victim. After there are several more murders during the night, Olivia draws a sketch of the Gentlemen for Buffy and the others; Giles recognises it, and pulls out a volume of fairy tales. He then assembles Buffy, Xander, Anya and Willow in an empty lecture hall, and using a slide projector and hand-drawn pictures, tells them that the Gentlemen are featured in an old fairy tale and are in Sunnydale to collect seven hearts; they have taken everyone’s voices to prevent anyone from screaming, which is the only thing that can destroy them. That evening Tara tries to find Willow but is pursued by the Gentlemen, and then discovers the body of another victim; when Willow hears the commotion the two girls collide in the hallway, injuring Willow. Together they run downstairs to the laundry room, where they attempt to barricade themselves in by pushing a vending machine in front of the door, but they are not strong enough. Willow tries to move it telekinetically, and is amazed when Tara joins her strength with Willow’s, successfully moving the machine with witchcraft. Xander enters Giles’s apartment and, thinking that Spike is drinking Anya’s blood, valiantly comes to the girl’s rescue; Anya is in fact fine, but realises how much Xander cares for her. Buffy and Riley are out on their separate patrols, and both realise that something is happening in the clock tower. After they each battle the demonic lackeys and their Gentlemen masters, both Buffy and Riley turn round with their weapons ready - only to find to their utter amazement that they are facing each other. Riley sees just how powerful Buffy is as she fights the demons; the Gentlemen are armed with scalpels, and prepare to take Buffy and Riley’s hearts to complete the seven required. Seeing the box from her dream on the table, Buffy attempts to communicate to Riley that he must break it. He does, and the voices of Sunnydale escape from their prison and return to their rightful owners. With her voice returned, Buffy lets out a high-pitched scream that causes the Gentlemen’s heads to explode. As life returns to normal in Sunnydale, Willow is pleased to learn that Tara’s mother was a witch, and that Tara herself has been studying since she was a child. Meanwhile, confronted with the knowledge that all of Giles’s stories are indeed true, Olivia is not sure where she stands with this and with Giles. Riley visits Buffy, both knowing that they need to talk about the previous night; but when they sit down, they find themselves lost for words.
Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy Summers), Nicholas Brendon (Xander Harris), Alyson Hannigan (Willow Rosenberg), James Marsters (Spike), Anthony Stewart Head (Rupert Giles), Marc Blucas (Riley Finn), Emma Caulfield (Anya), Leonard Roberts (Forrest Gates), Phina Oruche (Olivia), Amber Benson (Tara), Lindsay Crouse (Professor Maggie Walsh), Brooke Bloom, Jessica Townsend (Wanna Blessed Be), Camden Troy, Charlie Brumbly, Doug Jones, Don W. Lewis (Gentlemen), Carlos Amezcua (Newscaster), Elizabeth Truax (Little Girl), Wayne Sable (Freshman)
Directed by Joss Whedon
TX (US): 14th December 1999
TX (UK - Sky One): 10th March 2000
TX (UK - BBC): 21st December 2000
*Featuring Buffy, Xander, Willow, Giles, Riley, Anya and Tara