Professor Walsh starts us off this week with a lecture about non-verbal communication, and the thoughts and experiences that we don't have a word for. She orders Buffy to come up for a demonstration, and has her lie down on the desk. Walsh asks Riley to participate. He leans is toward Buffy, and says that when he kisses her, it'll make the sun go down. He kisses her, and indeed it does get dark. The other students and Walsh disappear, and when they finish their kiss, Buffy says, "Fortune favors the brave." She then hears the voice of a little girl. She goes out into the hall to investigate, and sees a little girl, holding a carved box, singing a rhyme: "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." Riley comes up behind Buffy and puts his hand on her shoulder, but when she turns, she sees an eerily smiling monster... and she wakes up from her Psych class nap just as class is ending. Willow teases her, and as they leave, Riley approaches, wondering if he was in her dream. She flirtatiously admits that he was, but refuses to give details. He asks what she's doing tonight, and she blurts out, "Patrolling." She covers, saying "petroleum," which confuses Riley. He says he'll be grading papers tonight, and as they reach their parting point, he almost kisses her. Before he can, though, Buffy pipes up with, "What papers?" She realizes there should be no more papers to grade; all that's left for the class is the final. Riley covers with "late papers." She accepts that, and they go their separate ways. "Fortune favors the brave," Buffy mutters to herself.
On the phone with Buffy afterwards, Giles has written down the rhyme, and agrees to check it out, acknowledging that it could be one of her prophetic dreams. He hangs up, and asks if Spike has ever heard of The Gentlemen, but Spike, of course, is no help. Outside, Anya is arguing with Xander over whether or not he actually cares about her. They enter, and Anya continues the argument, saying, "All you care about is lots of orgasms." Xander is suitably embarrassed, but puts that aside when Giles tells him he needs Xander to keep Spike for a few days. Turns out he has a friend coming over for a few days, whom he'd like to be alone with. Anya wonders if it's "an orgasm friend," and she, Spike, and Xander complain.
At her Wicca group meeting, the girls talk about dance recitals, newsletters, and bake sales. Willow suggests that they might take an interest in doing spells, but she is scoffed at. A blond girl, Tara, looks like she's about to agree with Willow, but when the group's attention is focused on her, she gets shy and says nothing. Willow and Buffy meet back up and head back to their room, and Willow complains that all the group does is talk. She comments that she'd like to be able to float something bigger than a pencil someday. She changes the subject to Buffy and Riley, but Buffy comments that all they do is talk, as well. Willow's disappointed (she wants some "vicarious smoochies"), as is Buffy. Buffy also doesn't like that every time they talk, she has to lie to him (about slaying); she wishes she could come clean.
Over at Initiative headquarters (apparently after a sweat-inspriring workout), Riley expresses the same wish to Forrest, who reminds him it's a burden he has to bear.
That night, Xander ties Spike to the chair for the night, though Spike insists he wouldn't bite Xander anyway. Xander argues that he's very biteable, and Spike teases him about Anya.
Giles is researching when Olivia arrives, apologizing for being late. They talk for about 10 seconds before Olivia suggests that that's enough small talk; they kiss.
In the Sunnydale clock tower, some demony-looking hands open a box which looks just like the one in Buffy's dream. We see what looks like the breath being sucked out of the people of Sunnydale as they sleep; all the breath (in a fog-like form) makes its way to the clock tower and inside the box. The box is then shut, by a grinning monster like the one Buffy dreamt.
The next morning, Buffy goes to the restroom and brushes her teeth; she sees a girl crying in the hall. Willow is waking up when Buffy enters the room again, and they try to say good morning to each other. Willow at first thinks that she's gone deaf, but Buffy can't hear her, either. Buffy peers out into the hall, where students appear to be talking and freaking out, but no voices can be heard from them.
Xander, too, wakes up voiceless. He accuses Spike of doing this to him, mouthing "You did this to me," but Spike can't talk either, and brushes Xander off. Xander tries to call Buffy; she picks up the phone, but since neither of them can speak, they hang up. Spike gives him a look.
At Lowell House, Forrest gets Riley up. He puts on his shirt and they head to the elevator. The retinal scan lets them in, but the elevator balks when it doesn't hear Riley's voice. Riley tries breathing into the microphone, but it doesn't work, and the system threatens lethal countermeasures. Riley tries to input the override code, but can't remember it, and poison gas begins leaking into the elevator. The doors suddenly open, and Walsh is waiting in front of the elevator. She points at a sign: "In case of emergency, use stairwell."
At school, Tara (the shy girl from the Wicca group) walks into the student center, where it's dead quiet except for one girl crying. Suddenly, a student drops a glass bottle, the sound startling everyone. Tara, who appears to be looking for someone, leaves.
Buffy and Willow walk through downtown Sunnydale, holding hands. Only cars, sirens, and a dog barking can be heard. They see a group of people reading bibles, holding up a chalkboard reading, "Revelations 15:1." They also see an entrepreneur selling dry erase message boards for ten dollars each. The girls look disapproving... and show up at Giles' place, each one wearing a message board around their neck. Giles says (using the term loosely) that he doesn't know what's going on. Xander turns up the news, on which the newscaster announces that Sunnydale is quarantined until this town-wide case of "laryngitis" is cured; no one but the CDC will be allowed in or out. Buffy writes on her board that she should be in town tonight. Giles wonders why...
"Because there will be chaos," Professor Walsh types into her talking computer. She directs the guys to work in town tonight, dressed in civilian clothing, because a military presence would only make things worse. Riley wonders (on paper) what's happening, and Walsh says they're looking into it.
Out in town that night, Buffy spots Riley breaking up a fight between two men. As she approaches, one of them is about to make a move, but Buffy stops him. She and Riley hug, and confirm that they're OK. They hear something shatter, and each indicates that they're headed the other way. They start to walk away, but Riley pulls Buffy back and kisses her. They kiss passionately, and Buffy watches as Riley walks away.
At the clock tower, a door opens to the outside and the Gentlemen glide out or float out, but whatever you want to call it, their feet don't touch the ground. We see six of them, gliding in pairs, and each pair is "armed" with a pair of goons hunched over, straitjacketed, hyperactive things. Each pair of Gentlemen, smiling away, goes a separate way.
At Giles', Olivia can't sleep. She gets out of bed and goes downstairs, where she looks out the window. A Gentleman glides right in front of the window, and gives her quite a fright.
Elsewhere, two Gentlemen head to a residential house; another two head to the UCS dorms. They end up in Stevenson, but they seem to be pretty choosy about which dorm to enter, and they pass Buffy and Willow's. They finally choose one, and knock on the door. The resident wakes up and answers the door; the goons pin him down while he does his best to struggle and scream. The Gentlemen take out their scalpels, toast each other, and lean in. The camera cuts away as we hear the sound of an incision.
Later, the Gentlemen meet back at the clock tower. There are seven jars around the box; four empty and three with hearts in them. One Gentleman seems to present them to the others, and the others applaud. The first makes a modest "it's nothing" gesture.
The next day, Buffy checks out the dorm room crime scene. At Giles', Olivia has drawn an excellent sketch of the monster she saw. Giles looks at the newspaper, featuring the headlines, "15-year-old Girl Found Stabbed, Heart Was Missing" and "Brutal Slaying Shocks Silent Community." He looks at Olivia's sketch and gets an idea; he goes to his books and gets out a Fairy Tales book.
Later, the gang meets in the lecture hall at school. Giles plays some music and takes the floor as the others sit down (and Anya busts out some microwave popcorn), and he begins a show of transparencies on the overhead projector. He puts the first one up backward, and the gang signals for him to turn it around. He does; it says, "Who are the Gentlemen." The next shows a little drawing of one, and says, "They are fairy tale monsters." Next: "What do they want." Willow excitedly raises her hand and points to her chest. Xander is confused, and cups his hands in front of his chest, mouthing, "Boobies?" Giles puts up the next transparency, "Hearts." Xander catches on; Anya smirks. The next ones, with cute drawings, read: "They come to a town... they steal the voices so no one can scream... then..." Giles then displays two graphic drawings of the Gentlemen cutting the heart out of someone. Buffy and Willow look at each other; Anya excitedly munches her popcorn. Giles posts, "They need seven, they have at least two," while Xander writes out on his board, "How do we kill them?" Buffy makes a fist and jerks her arm up and down repeatedly. The gang looks at her strangely. She gets a stake out of her bag and repeats the motion, stake in hand (stake them). The gang gets it; she gives them a weird look. Giles posts, "In the tales, no sword can kill them," and then, "But the Princess screamed once, and they all died." Willow gets excited again, and grabs a CD from her bag. She holds it up, and then grabs her ears and acts out pain and then choking, breaking into a goofy smile at the end. Giles presents his next statement, "Only a real human voice." Willow is disappointed. Buffy writes out, "How do I get my voice back?" Giles shrugs. He puts up, "Buffy will patrol tonight," with a little drawing of what's supposed to be Buffy. Buffy balks and gestures that he's drawn her as fat and wide-hipped (she's right). Giles isn't concerned; he gestures that she'll patrol and that the gang will research. They get up to leave, and Buffy goes to take a better look at a drawing of the bad guys.
At Initiative headquarters, Riley and some other guys suit up and arm themselves. Riley heads out on his own, and spots shadows moving up in the clock tower. He goes to investigate.
Elsewhere, we see a list of dorm residents with a Post-it note stuck to it, reading, "Willow, #214, Stevenson." Under the list is a book, open to a page titled, "Spells of Speech and Silence." Tara grabs the Post-it and some books and leaves. She heads out into the night, but hears a noise it's the Gentlemen. She drops her books and starts to run; they give chase.
Tara heads into the dorms, pounding on dorms. One girl is shown waking up, but is too scared to open the door. Tara heads to the second floor, where Willow hears her banging on doors. She goes out to investigate, just in time to be knocked down by a running Tara. Willow hurts her ankle, and sees the Gentlemen. The girls run.
Buffy, out on patrol, spots a Gentleman. Suddenly, she's attacked by one of the goons. They fight; she breaks its neck, and chases after another one. Riley goes into the clock tower and is attacked by goons. He fights. Buffy suddenly bursts in, but Riley is too busy fighting to notice her... at first. After a bit more fighting, the two end up pointing their weapons at each other. Surprise! Now's not the time for explanations, though (even if they could talk), as there's still demon ass to kick. Riley stuns a goon with his taser, and the two each take one on. Riley is startled by Buffy's moves.
Over at Giles', Spike gets a cup of blood from the fridge. Drinking it cold, he vamps out and gets blood on his mouth. He takes his snack into the living room, where Anya is sleeping on the couch. Xander arrives, and sees what looks like Spike killing Anya. He rushes over and starts punching Spike, taking a while to notice that Anya has gotten up and is fine. She finally gets his attention, and the two hug and make with the smoochies. Anya is obviously convinced that Xander does care about her. Xander shrugs to Spike, and Olivia smiles at the couple... until Anya gestures to Xander that they should go have sex (by inserting her finger into the hole she's made with her other hand). Anya manages to be tactless even when she can't talk.
At school, Willow and Tara continue to run from the Gentlemen. They run into the laundry room, but the monsters are trying to burst through the door. Willow, not strong enough to push the vending machine in front of it, tries to move it with her mind. She can't get it to do more than shake a bit, though, until Tara takes her hand. Holding hands, the girls concentrate, and the vending machine slides over, blocking the door. The girls stare at each other.
Riley and Buffy continue to fight bad guys. Buffy chases one upstairs, where she's overtaken by three goons. They hold her back while one of the Gentlemen comes at her with a scalpel. Suddenly, he's zapped by Riley. More fighting. One of the Gentlemen gets a good stab at Buffy's back, and a goon manages to hold her back again. She sees the box from her dream, and tries to indicate to Riley that he should smash it. Unfortunately, it's amongst all the jarred hearts, and Riley smashes a bottle instead, looking quite pleased with himself. A frustrated Buffy manages to correct him, and he smashes the box. A fog of voices bursts out, and when Buffy gets hers, she screams better than any movie scream queen. The Gentlemen finally stop smiling, the goons convulse on the floor, and the heads of the Gentlemen burst into green goo. Buffy and Riley stare at each other.
The next day at school, Tara explains to Willow that she'd been looking for her; Willow impressed her at the Wicca group meeting. Tara explains that she's been practicing since she was little her "mother was [a witch] too, and she had a lot of power, like [Willow]." Willow denies that she's anything special, but Tara insists that she is. Willow smiles, as does Tara.
Over at Giles', Olivia confesses that she never believed Giles about the monster stuff he told her about. He wonders if it's too scary for her, and she says she doesn't know. They look contemplative.
Riley arrives at Buffy's dorm. "Hi," he says. "Hi," says Buffy. Silence. He sits down on Willow's bed. She stares at him. "I guess we have to talk, " he finally says. "I guess we do," agrees Buffy, as she sits across from him on her own bed. They look at each other, they look around the room. They don't say a word.