At the end of the semester, a lot of campuses, including ours, have "dead week." For us, this means that you can't have papers due, can't give exams, and generally must go easy on the students.
This was a different kind of "dead week," in that they were so quiet that signs of life were few and far between. Mild provocation didn't work ("Did you want her to kill Annoying Character?"). Softball questions didn't work very well ("What do you think the author meant by calling Character X 'Obviously Symbolic Character Name'?"). Humor worked a little, but not for long.
I couldn't get mad, somehow; it's midterm week, and they're tired. They look tired, anyway. They need a day off, and they'll get one because I'll be away at a conference. They may not need a midterm, but they're getting one of those, too.