The Harsh Light of Day (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

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"The Harsh Light of Day"
Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode
Spike wearing the Gem of Amarra that makes him immune to stakes and sunlight
Episode no. Season 4
Episode 3
Directed by James A. Contner
Written by Jane Espenson
Production code 4ABB03
Original air date October 19, 1999
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
← Previous
"Living Conditions"
Next →
"Fear, Itself"
List of Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes

"The Harsh Light of Day" is the third episode of season 4 of the television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Written by Jane Espenson and directed by James A. Contner, it originally aired on the WB network on October 19, 1999. In "The Harsh Light of Day", Buffy tries to return to the dating pool, and guest star James Marsters, reprising his role as Spike, returns to Sunnydale for a gem that will make him invincible. The same gem appears in the spin-off Angel episode "In the Dark", which originally aired immediately following this episode.


At the Bronze, Oz and his band Dingoes Ate My Baby play a set, while Buffy and Willow hang out. Willow remarks to Buffy that she has been spending a lot of time with Parker, however Buffy does not want to smother him, so keeps a safe distance and watches as he plays pool. However, Parker approaches Buffy and asks to walk her home, so the pair leave. After the band have finished playing, Oz, Willow and Devon begin to put the equipment in the van out the back. As Willow waits for the others to return, Harmony approaches her. At first Harmony appears friendly towards Willow, but ultimately reveals herself to be a vampire and bites Willow. Oz saves Willow by brandishing a cross, forcing Harmony to flee, but she also threaten them with an attack from her boyfriend. Willow and Oz then precede to Buffy's dorm and warn her of Harmony.

Harmony returns underground and Spike is revealed to be her boyfriend, undertaking a search for an unknown item by digging underneath the city. Harmony persistently annoys Spike to take her to a party, to which he reluctantly agrees to do so the following night. The next day, Xander is helping to arrange Giles' books when Anya makes a surprise visit, questioning a confused Xander about their relationship. That night, Buffy and Parker go on a date to party and run into Spike and Harmony who are carrying a nearly drained party-goer. Spike and Harmony escape, but Buffy catches up with them. Spike proves reluctant to give information to Buffy, but Harmony, absent-mindedly, tells Buffy Drusilla left Spike for a fungus demon and that the pair are in town to find the Gem of Amarra. Spike becomes enraged and forces Harmony to leave. Buffy phones Giles and tells him of the vampires' plans, much to Giles surprise as he believes the Gem to be fictional. Buffy returns to the party and after spending more time with Parker decides to sleep with him. Meanwhile, Anya arrives at Xander's home and they have sex, while Harmony seduces Spike into bed.

The following morning, Anya tells Xander she is over him, but his lack of a response angers her and she leaves. Harmony continues to irritate Spike and he too leaves to continue work on finding the Gem. Buffy awakes in Parker's dorm and is happy to hear that he will phone her later that day. As Buffy arrives back at her dorm she finds Willow and Giles researching the Gem that turns out to be in a hidden crypt in Sunnydale. Soon after, Spike and Harmony discover the crypt. Harmony begins to try on the jewels while prattling on, enraging Spike who stakes her - however she is impervious to harm. Realising that she is wearing the Gem, Spike forces it off her and leaves the crypt. Meanwhile, while searching for information at Giles' house, Xander turns on the news, which is reporting on a giant sinkhole caused by the erosion of dirt beneath it. They come to the conclusion that Spike's underground digging caused it.

Buffy tracks down Parker, but she finds him putting the same moves he used on her on another girl. She realizes that the sex they had was meaningless to him and thinks it's her fault.

Willow, Oz and Giles arrive at the crypt and find an upset Harmony who refuses to help them locate and stop Spike, still in love with him. At the same time, Spike, protected by the Gem, attacks Buffy in broad daylight and the pair fight. Xander attempts to help Buffy but is of little help. During the fight, Spike insults Buffy. She manages to remove the Gem from Spike and he is forced to flee into the sewers. Later, the gang meet at Giles' place where Buffy decides she wants to give the ring to Angel. Oz offers to take it to him when he visits L.A. for a gig. Buffy then leaves Giles and walks around the campus upset by the events with Parker. Anya and Harmony also wander alone - all three women heartbroken.

Production details[edit]

When this episode was aired on BBC Two during early evening, the Broadcasting Standards Commission complained about the "sexually charged" scenes between the couples.[1]


  • Joss Whedon has mentioned in various interviews that Gellar 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 Gellar that when you "go to college, you do stupid things"[citation needed]
  • The party takes place in a building with ΓΑΠ (gamma alpha pi) by the door: the Greek equivalent of the letters 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, as happened with Angel, until he walks in with coffee. Similar circumstances also occur later in the season, when Buffy sleeps with Riley. That time, however, Buffy wakes up in red sheets, looks around, and Riley is lying right next to her.


  • When Parker points out Buffy's scar from Angel, she says it's from an "angry puppy". In the season three episode "The Wish" Angel was referred to as "Puppy" by Vampire Willow and The Master.
  • Harmony and Willow briefly discuss the events of "Graduation Day" when Harmony mentions the "big snake."
  • Harmony references Spike almost killing Willow last season, recalling the episode "Lovers Walk".
  • Before having sex with Anya, Xander mentions having sex with Faith in the season 3 episode "The Zeppo".

Arc significance[edit]

  • Crossover with Angel: Oz's visit to Los Angeles was aired immediately afterwards in the episode "In the Dark".
  • This episode features Anya's, Harmony's and Spike's first appearances in season four.
  • Harmony returns as a vampire, revealing her fate in the season 3 finale, and becomes a more prominent (though inept) 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.


  1. ^ Stephen Kruger, Peter Wall (2004), Media studies: the essential resource, Routledge, p. 156, ISBN 0-415-29173-9 

External links[edit]