The Harsh Light of Day (Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode)

The Harsh Light of Day (Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode)

Infobox Television episode
Title=The Harsh Light of Day

Series=Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Airdate=October 19 1999
Writer=Jane Espenson
Director=James A. Contner
Episode list=List of Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes
Prev=Living Conditions
Next=Fear, Itself

"The Harsh Light of Day" is the third episode of season 4 of the television show "Buffy the Vampire Slayer".

Plot synopsis


Spike returns to Sunnydale for a gem that will make him invincible; Buffy tries to return to the dating pool.

Expanded overview

At the Bronze, while the Dingoes play on stage, Willow and Oz talk while Buffy secretively watches Parker play pool. After the Dingoes wrap, Oz gets ready to take Willow home and Parker volunteers to take Buffy back to her dorm since it isn't safe outside. While Willow is waiting for Oz and Devon to return to the van outside the Bronze, Harmony approaches her. The two of them talk and then Harmony reveals she's a vampire and bites Willow. Oz rescues her and Harmony goes away threatening that her boyfriend is not going to be happy that they were mean to her. Buffy and Parker walk back to the dorm, and Parker discovers her scar from when Angel bit her. She tells him it was an angry puppy that bit her. He then asks her to a party the next night and she accepts.

At Giles' place, Xander is helping him put books away when Anya makes a surprise visit. She wants to know where her relationship with Xander is going, and not aware that they even had a relationship, Xander is a bit confused. Back at the dorms, Buffy and Parker are just about to kiss when Willow and Oz arrive. While Oz cleans her wound, Willow fills Buffy in on everything, including Harmony's supposed boyfriend. Harmony goes to her boyfriend who's working underground and it's revealed to be Spike. He works on plans with another vampire to dig through the floor of a crypt. Harmony persistently annoys him and he continues to yell at her. She complains that she wants to go out, and after the use of some feminine charm, he agrees to take her out to a party.

The party happens to be the same one Buffy and Parker are attending and the two couples run into each other. A thoroughly amused Buffy teases Spike about being with Harmony and the two vampires flee. Buffy pursues them and she and Spike fight. Harmony reveals that Drusilla left Spike for a fungus demon and that they'll be back as soon as they get the Gem of Amara, to Spike's utter irritation. Anya shows up at Xander's place and after getting her a drink, he turns around to see that she's naked. Buffy calls Giles and informs him about Spike and Harmony. Giles looks up the Gem of Amara, and he says it doesn't exist. Buffy says she's going to sleep but instead, goes back to the party with Parker. Harmony annoys Spike then draws his full attention with her sexual charm. Anya and Xander have sex because she's convinced it will help her get over him, and Buffy makes the decision that she wants to sleep with Parker.

The next morning, Buffy wakes up to an empty bed, and as she's searching for her clothes, Parker arrives with coffee. He says that he'll call her. Anya tells Xander that she's over him, and when he says he's okay with that, she storms out in anger. Spike wakes up to Harmony drawing on his back with lipstick and then leaves to get back to work. Buffy finds Willow and Giles in her dorm room and apparently the Gem of Amara is real. After they get rid of Giles, Buffy tells Willow about her night with Parker.

Spike finally breaks into the crypt, and thinks he's found the Gem of Amara in a necklace. Harmony shows up and starts trying on jewelry. Spike finally loses his control and tries to stake her but the stake doesn't kill her. He sees the ring and after holding a cross to her, he takes the ring off of her and leaves to go outside. At Giles' place while they search for answers, Xander finds a TV and turns it on. They watch the news and see that there was a sinkhole caused by the erosion of dirt beneath it. They come to the conclusion that it was Spike's underground digging that caused it. Buffy tracks down Parker, but she finds him putting the same moves he used on her on another girl and that the sex they had was basically meaningless to him. She thinks it's her fault and again, feels sorry for herself. Spike shows up in the daylight and hits her.

Buffy and Spike have a spectacular fight outside. She tries to stake him, to no avail. Xander shows up but Spike quickly knocks him out of the way and continues to beat up Buffy. He talks very vulgarly about her relationship with Parker, with just enough truth in his comments to sting. Then Spike makes the mistake of bringing up Angel and mocking their relationship as well. An enraged Buffy pummels Spike and takes the ring from him. Smoking from exposure to the sun, he dives down into the sewers. Later, Buffy and gang sit around at Giles's place and Buffy decides that she wants Angel to have the ring. Oz volunteers to take it when he goes to LA for a gig.

Buffy, Anya and Harmony all walk separately around campus, all single.


*This episode explores the ramifications of casual sex when the participants hold different expectations, which happens more often when it occurs soon after the two people meet or when they are under the influence. In "Beer Bad", Parker will make an argument for spontaneity -- Willow points out that his seduction implies more to the girl, however.

*Harmony is in an abusive relationship with Spike. She wonders why she continues to love him when Spike is so mean to her ("I love "syphilis" more than you").



*Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers
*Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris
*Alyson Hannigan as Willow Rosenberg
*Seth Green as Oz
*and Anthony Stewart Head as Rupert Giles

Guest starring

*Emma Caulfield as Anya
*Mercedes McNab as Harmony Kendall
*Adam Kaufman as Parker Abrams
*James Marsters as Spike


*Jason Hall as Devon MacLeish
*Melik as Bryan

Production details


*Bif Naked - "Anything"
*Bif Naked - "Lucky" (Dance Remix)
*Bif Naked - "Lucky"
*Bif Naked - "Moment of weakness"
*Devil Doll (American) - "Faith In Love"
*Dollshead - "It's over its under" (Club Mix)
*Dollshead - "It's over its under" (Rhythm mix)
*Dollshead - "It's over its under"
*Four Star Mary - "Dilate"
*Psychic Rain - "Takemedown"

Quotes and trivia

* Joss Whedon has mentioned in various interviews that Sarah disagreed with Buffy sleeping with Parker. She thought that it was too soon after Angel had left her, and she didn't think that Buffy would do something like that. Whedon told Sarah that when you "go to college, you do stupid things"Fact|date=February 2007

* The party takes place in a building with Greek letters ΓΑΠ (gamma alpha pi) by the door. When translated into English it spells GAP.

* The album that Oz asks Giles about in this episode is "Loaded" by The Velvet Underground.

* The scene where Buffy wakes up in Parker's bedroom echoes the scene from "Innocence" where Buffy wakes up in Angel's room after they sleep together. In both scenes, Buffy wakes up alone, wrapped in red sheets. Buffy seems to sense this and worries that Parker is gone, like what happened with Angel, until he walks in with coffee. Similar circumstances also occur later in the season, when Buffy sleeps with Riley. This time, however, Buffy wakes up in red sheets, looks around, and Riley is lying right next to her.


* Italian title: "L'accecante luce del giorno" ("The blinding light of day")
* German title: "Der Stein von Amara" ("The ("gem")stone of Amara")
* French title: "Désillusions" ("Disillusions")
* Spanish title: "La áspera luz del día" ("The rough light of day")


Arc significance

Crossover with "Angel": Oz's visit to Los Angeles was aired immediately afterwards in the episode "In the Dark".

* This episode features Anya's first appearance since season three.

* Harmony returns as a vampire, revealing her fate in the season 3 finale, and becomes a more prominent villain in the series.

* Spike's obsession with Buffy is revealed for the first time in this episode. His fixation will become a major plot point later in the series.


*Stories that take place around the same time in the Buffyverse:

External links



* [ Soulful Spike Society analysis of "The Harsh Light of Day"]
* [ Peripheral Visions Review]
* [ Section 31 Review]
* [ Swing the Sickle Review]

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