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Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Harsh Light of Day

Buffy: "So what I'm wondering is, does this always happen? Sleep with a guy and he goes all evil?"

For a beautiful, charming superheroine, Buffy doesn't have a lot of luck with guys, does she?

It was inevitable, though; you walk around looking vulnerable, and some jerk will zero in – it never fails. To make it even more interesting, we have three characters moving on to a second lover, and none of them seem to be doing very well at all.

Parker, my new candidate for a Spike Happy Meal, was manipulative and shallow and out to get laid; he gave Buffy another good reason to think guys and sex weren't worth the trouble. (I liked the part at the beginning where Buffy was watching Parker's reflection, not Parker. Interesting upfront symbolism there.)

Anya seduced Xander, and neither of them showed any sign of enjoying the experience. And Spike moved on to Harmony, a match that just grated on me; I was certain he'd lose his temper and kill her before the end of the episode, and he almost did. When you consider what happened to Giles, too, Willow really won the sex sweepstakes on this show, didn't she?

All in all, though, I think it was an excellent plot move to have Buffy have sex with someone other than Angel right off the bat, pun intended – and having it turn out to be such a lousy experience just made us empathize with her and want her to have a good experience. It deflected us from possibly being mad at her for being "unfaithful" to Angel.

Spike actually made me uncomfortable. I'm used to liking Spike, so I couldn't figure out why at first, but then it came to me. One of the things that makes Spike so appealing is his love for Drusilla; without her, he seemed a lot harder and nastier. I guess that was understandable if she left him for a fungus demon, though.

I thought right from the beginning that the gem should go to Angel, and it was logical that Buffy would feel the same way. More about this in my Angel installment, "In the Dark" (which is here).

Bits of stuff:

— Why wasn't James Marsters listed in the guest cast? Must be a contractual hiccup or something. (The credit did show up later.)

— The Buffy/Spike scenes were really interesting, especially when they were teasing each other about their romantic choices. The two of them have an odd chemistry.

— So the Bronze is now walking distance to Buffy's dorm? You know, I need to just suspend belief here instead of trying to figure out the geography of Sunnydale in a logical way.

— I really liked that Anya mentioned condoms. This is a show that is watched by a lot of teens, and especially teenage girls. Plus we had Xander, Buffy, and Anya not really enjoying it all that much, another positive message. Not that I think teens should think sex is bad; they just need to be encouraged to think about the consequences, and about what they really want.

— Loved Xander squeezing the drink.

— Why do subordinate vamps always stay in vamp face while the main vamps keep looking human?

— That bite on Buffy's shoulder is going to be a pain for the makeup department.

— In this week's hair report, Anya went darker and longer.


Willow: "Harmony, hey. I haven't seen you since..."
Harmony: "Since graduation. Big snake, huh?"

Anya: "I can't stop thinking about you. Sometimes in my dreams, you're all naked."
Xander: "Really? You know if I'm in the checkout line at the Wal-Mart, I've had the same one."

Buffy: "Harmony, a vampire? She must be dying without a reflection."

Spike: "He's got, what's the word? Vulnerability."
Buffy: "And you with Harmony. What'd you do? Lose a bet?"

Buffy: "What's the matter, Spike? Dru dump you again?"
Spike: "Maybe I left her."
Harmony: "She left him for a fungus demon. That's all he talks about most days."

Harmony: "Is Antonio Banderas a vampire?"
Spike: "No."
Harmony: "Can I make him a vampire?"
Spike: "No. (pause) On second thought, yes. Go do that. Take your time. Do Melanie and the kids as well."

Xander: "So, the crux of this plan is..."
Anya: "Sexual intercourse. I've said it, like, a dozen times."
Xander: "Uh, huh. Just working through a little hysterical deafness here."

Anya: "I like you. You're funny, and you're nicely shaped. And frankly, it's ludicrous to have these interlocking bodies and not... interlock. Please remove your clothing now."
Xander: "And the amazing thing? Still more romantic than Faith."

Spike: "I've got to get back to work."
Harmony: "You love that tunnel more than me."
Spike: "I love syphilis more than you."

Oz to Giles: "Okay, either I'm borrowing all your albums or I'm moving in."

Spike: "Birds singing, squirrels making lots of rotten little squirrels. Sun beaming down in a nice, non-fatal way. It's very exciting. I can't wait to see if I freckle."

Let's go with a three. This was a very good episode,

Billie Doux reviewed all of Buffy and Angel, so she knows the plural of apocalypse.


  1. Welcome back to town, Spike. Hope you decide to stick around. Sunnydale has been a less fun place without you.

    And please, if it's not too much to ask, kill Parker. Repeatedly.

  2. Hi Billie!

    I've been reading your reviews on a lot of other shows, and now that I've finally taken the time to watch Buffy (and Angel) from beginning to end, of course I read your reviews of that too.. Love them!

    Thought I should mention that you forgot the "dog reference" in this episode; Buffy blamed her scar on a bad puppy (I never would have noticed that if it hadn't been for your reviews) :p

  3. Thanks, Johanne! At some point, I just stopped recording the dog references. :) And I don't think I ever added them for Angel. Or Firefly. Or Dollhouse. It's a Whedon thing, isn't it?

  4. you know, I've never noticed before, but I will definitly "keep my ears open" while watching (and re-watching) his shows from now on!

  5. Spike and Harmony! oh what a funny / doomed pair. Harmony is much more interesting as a shallow, vapid vampire than a human.

    I find it hilarious that Drusilla left Spike for a fungus demon. Don't we get a flashback to that at some point in either Buffy or Angel? I feel like I remember that scene being played out. Did I just imagine it?

    Lots of sex in this episode, and in classic Whedon fashion it ended badly for many of our characters. Buffy has such bad luck. Parker is a total douche - using that line about his father passing away to score different chicks. I nominate him for a Spike happy meal as well!

  6. Also Anya's seduction of Xander was a hoot and a half!

  7. We get the flashback--complete with "horns and antlers"--in "Fool for Love." It's awesome.

    (I hope that's not a spoiler. I don't think so.)

  8. Ah that's right! Thanks Josie.

  9. "I love syphilis more than I love you."

    I wish I had more opportunities to use that quote, because it is perfect.

    Rewatching this episode, I realized that I almost think of this as the season premiere. The first two episodes are like webisodes (or something) to me--this is when things start to get going, and episodes like this are why I like Season Four more than I should.

  10. This episode is pretty much perfection. What else would you expect from a Jane Espenson episode? The one liners are hilarious ("I love syphilis more than you") and it re-introduces not one, not two, but three totally fantastic recurring characters. Anya! Spike! Harmony! This episode has no bad for me.

    The whole Buffy has sex then bad things happen has been played before obviously, but this time it's definitely more real world. Parker doesn't go insane and start murdering Buffy's friends, he's just a dick.

    Also, SPIKE. XD

  11. So my reaction to the pairings as the episode was on were pretty much like this:
    Buffy and Parker – So far, he’s dull and he’s making her dull too. Thank god he turned out to be a jerk.

    Willow and Oz - Background

    Anya and Xander – Fun. Once again Xander is a high point for me. 3 for 3 this season. Of course he had some help from Anya “I’m thinking face to face for the event itself.” Anya seems disappointed after that she wasn't "cured" of her attraction to Xander. Something about him brings out the vulnerable in these hard shelled women like Cordelia and Anya.

    Spike and Harmony – Entertaining, but wow, he really has come down in the world. Dru may have been crazy but she was interesting. Oops – now I see what the attraction is. “Bite your tongue” “You do it for me.”

    The fight scenes usually don't do much for me, but it was interesting to see one in the daylight when Spike was invulnerable. Too bad for him that Buffy had some anger issues due to her bad hookup with Parker. Then, of course, he had to go and poke at her about Angel and that really woke up her spirit. A little cliche' but it worked, I thought.

    Once in a while I really notice the age of this show. This time it was the phones during Buffy’s call to Giles. Her on a payphone and him with an old rotary desk model – dated even then but so right for Giles.

    I'm with Josie - now it feels like the season has started.

  12. Spike! I agree that he is relatively unpleasant in this episode, but he still makes me laugh. Telling Harmony to take her time and go made Antonio Banderas a vampire is just hilarious.

    I like the chemistry between Buffy and Spike as well. There is something primal and passionate about it, much more interesting to watch (for me) than the gooey stuff with Angel.

    I agree with Josie that this feels like the beginning of the season for me as well. Especially now that Spike and Anya are around again.

  13. Newbie report:

    The title says it all: The Harsh Light of Day. This episode is all about women and their unrealistic ideals about sex. We have three women who are giving away sex in the expectation of getting something.

    Harmony is desperate to have a boyfriend. Willow tells us that Harmony always lies about having a boyfriend. Harmony is using sex partly to attempt to keep Spike from leaving her but it is obvious that he will dump her eventually. Her insecurities and desperation make me very sad for her.

    Anya is trying sex as an attempt to solve a problem, that being her confusing feelings about Xander. (The fact that Xander is creeped out about it makes me love him all the more.) After the event, Anya's expectations that sex would solve all her problems were disappointed.

    Buffy is searching for true love. She thinks she has found it and gives herself to Parker, expecting this means she had found it. When he doesn't call, that his her "harsh light of day". And welcome to college, Buffy!

    I think all these women could have learned a lot from Faith.

    I admit, I was surprised with the "boyfriend" took off his hood and it was Spike. Not expecting that. I'm not on the Spike love train yet, but I'm willing to give him time to grow on me. Drusilla - now there's a character I miss.

    While Buffy is dealing with the harshness of daylight, Angel is "In the Dark". Interesting.

  14. I love this one as much as everyone else and agree that episodes like this one make me like season 4 quite a bit more than I thought I would given some of the comments it gets. I agree with everything people have said. So far.

    A couple other parts I liked that weren't mentioned were Oz's exchange with Giles about his records and Willow's imitation of Harmony talking about boyfriend's from other schools -- "you wouldn't know him."

    I really like how Joss and co weren't afraid to make Buffy seem like a real college girl with vulnerabilities.

  15. Whenever I see this episode the amount Parker makes my skin crawl increases, he's such a creep.

    Don't really have anything much to add as its all been said much better above.

    Yay Spike, Yay Anya sums it up really.

  16. Season four might hv had a really bad BigBad but its one of my favourites.. Must be cos of Spike... No wonder I m nt a big fan of Season3...

    Annie I know what you mean...Parker should be fed to Spike! And the worst was how Buffy kept feeling she must have done something wrong or isnt good enough for him. POOPHEAD!!

  17. I'm with Josie--I would like more opportunities to tell people "I love syphilis more than I love you." Love Spike's wit. :)

    I couldn't take Harmony seriously at all--mainly because every time she opened her mouth I had a flashback to her role in Addams Family 2, where she was the snotty blond girl always bullying Wednesday. HILARIOUS!

    Poor Buffy. On the plus side she proved to herself that her sexuality will not drive away everyone's soul. Sadly, she ended up rebounding with "that guy"--the one all the girls warn each other about. What a man-whore. I want to braid his abnormally large eyebrows and make him wear a dog-shaming sign that says "I claim that my father is dead so I can have a one-night stand."

  18. Liz, I loved your comment. "I want to braid his abnormally large eyebrows and make him wear a dog-shaming sign" -- perfect.

  19. I didn't like Parker from the start, so i should be glad he's gone.

    I had that empathy again, the moment Buffy found out what was really going on. I really felt bad for her.

    Someone posted a comment that a lot of the woman in this episode could have learned a lot about Faith. That comment made me also feel bad, because Faith was afraid of all sorts intimicy. She was too manly. Nothing to learn from that.

    You don't make an omelet without breaking egs. Faith never ate omelet. She was afraid of food poisoning.

    How unfortunately it was for Buffy, she wasn't afraid to cook, sit down and eat it. She learned that next time she just needs to use some different ingredients.

    Buffy won't starve in the end!

  20. Intimicy...Err, that should have been 'Intimacy'.

    Not my first language. Told ya.


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