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Recap / Buffy the Vampire Slayer S 4 E 3 "The Harsh Light of Day"

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Harmony: "I don't know why I let you be so mean to me."
Spike: "Love hurts, baby."

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While Dingoes Ate My Baby play The Bronze, Buffy talks to Willow while also secretively watching Parker play pool. After the Dingoes wrap, Oz gets ready to take Willow home and Parker volunteers to take Buffy back to her dorm. 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 ("Graduation Day, Part 2"). 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, having returned to Sunnydale, makes a surprise visit. She wants to know where her relationship with Xander is going, and not aware that they actually 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. Underground, a group of vampires are digging. Harmony approaches the leader who is also her boyfriend... Spike!

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As Spike attempts to play the tough-guy against one of his worker vamps regarding their digging through the floor of a crypt, Harmony asks him to kill Willow, using her nickname for Spike which is 'blondie-bear'. Spike isn't keen, since killing Buffy's best friend would set her on to them. Harmony then 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 Amarra, 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 tells Buffy that the Gem of Amarra was rumoured to contain great power if a vampire was ever to get a hold of it, but was concluded to have never existed when they scoured the Earth looking for it and found nothing. Giles decides to research it in case, Buffy says she's going to sleep but instead, goes back to the party with Parker.

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Xander is shell-shocked that Anya is standing in front of him completely naked, as she explains that having sex is the best way for her to rid herself of her feelings for him. Xander attempts to refuse, telling her that having sex is supposed to be about more than what she's saying, but in the end can't refuse what he's being offered.

In their bedroom, Harmony and Spike lie together and it quickly becomes clear that he doesn't hold nearly as much affection for her as she does for him, considering her to be nothing but annoying as she drones on about relatively unimportant things. Harmony, however, starts flirting with him, and the two soon start having sex.

After having a nice time at the party, Buffy and Parker discuss Parker's decision to take History and he speaks about making choices. Buffy finds herself enraptured with Parker's deep thoughts, and afterwards decides to make her own choice and sleeps with him.

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, but not before sending some stinging insults her way. Buffy finds Willow and Giles in her dorm room; they tell her that an ancient text was found that places the Gem of Amarra in Sunnydale. After they get rid of Giles, Buffy tells Willow about her night with Parker. She then waits for Parker to call her all day, but he never does.

Below ground, as Spike starts breaking into the crypt, Harmony balks when she's told she can't go back outside and complains. As a result, Spike puts her in her place with some harsh verbal abuse. When he finally breaks into the crypt, Harmony tags along. An irritated Spike tells her to take anything else she wants, and looks for the Gem of Amarra. Seeing an elaborate pendant, he assumes that to be the gem and puts it on but feels nothing. When he tries to pick up a cross it burns him as it normally would. Harmony prattles on, and Spike finally loses all his patience and stakes her with a jagged piece of wood... however instead of turning to dust, nothing happens to Harmony and the wound instantly heals itself. Spike realizes the ring Harmony picked up randomly is the Gem of Amarra and tries to force it off her. Upset, Harmony just gives him it and Spike, knowing that the ring will render him invincible to all vampire weaknesses, including daylight, decides 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. Giles sends Xander to find Buffy while the others will head to the sinkhole. As Xander looks for Buffy, he runs into Anya who tries to talk to him about the previous evening and her feelings, but he's distracted and blows her off. In the crypt Giles, Willow and Oz confront a crying Harmony who confirms Spike has the ring.

Buffy tracks down Parker, but she finds him putting the same moves he used on her on another girl. She asks him if everything is ok and Parker, completely casual, tells her it is. She asks if he wants to do something, but Parker refuses citing earlier plans and attempts to rush off. Buffy asks if she did something wrong, but Parker assures her she didn't and he had a lot of fun. Buffy realizes that, while their night together meant a lot to her, for him it was nothing more than casual sex. He reminds her that it was her that put the moves on him, and claims that he thought they were on the same level. He then quickly leaves, telling Buffy that he'll call her when he clearly has no intention of doing so. As Buffy reels, she turns around when she hears a familiar voice and Spike hits her.

Buffy and Spike have a huge fight outside. She tries to stake him, to no avail and he reveals the ring that is protecting him. Xander shows up, but Spike quickly knocks him out of the way and continues to beat up Buffy. As he does, he notes that Buffy and Parker didn't seem to know each other that well and that she fell for his trick of playing a sensitive side and getting her to seduce him. He then mocks her by telling her that she must not be worth a second go, and jokes that Angel told him as much 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 the gang sit around at Giles' place and Buffy decides that she wants Angel to have the ring. Oz volunteers to take it when he goes to L.A. for a gig.

Buffy talks to Willow about what happened with Parker, wondering if every guy she sleeps with will end up evil the next morning. Willow assures her that she just made a mistake, but despite how badly he's treated her Buffy is still hung up on him and wonders if it was something about her that put him off despite Willow insisting it isn't. Buffy decides to take a walk and as she does, so do Anya and Harmony. They all walk separately around campus, their minds very much on the men in the lives and their conflicting feelings about them.


Tropes:

  • Almost Kiss: Parker and Buffy's moment outside her dorm is interrupted by Willow and Oz running up to warn her about Harmony.
  • Being Evil Sucks
    Harmony: Being a vampire sucks!
  • Breaking Speech: Spike of course — unfortunately, it backfires.
    Spike: So you let Parker take a poke, eh? Didn't seem like you knew each other that well. What did it take to pry apart the Slayer's dimpled knees?
    Buffy: You're a pig, Spike.
    Spike: Did he play the sensitive lad and get you to seduce him? That's a good trick if the girl's thick enough to buy it.
    [They fight. Spike has the upper hand.]
    Spike: I wonder what went wrong? Were you too strong? Did you bruise the boy? Whatever. I guess you're just not worth a second go. Come to think of it, seems like somebody told me that. Who was it? Oh, yeah. Angel.
    [Buffy proceeds to kick every square inch of his ass.]
  • Brutal Honesty/Do You Want to Copulate?: Anya regarding sex — the start of a Running Gag with Xander.
    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.
  • The Bus Came Back:
  • Call-Back:
    • Xander reacts to all the blunt comments from Anya about wanting sex from him by telling her she's still more romantic than Faith.
    • The scar on Buffy's neck from when Angel fed on her in "Graduation Day, Part II". Saying it was done by an "angry puppy" might be a writer's in-joke reference to "The Wish", where Vampire!Willow referred to a bound Angel as her "puppy".
    • "Did he play the sensitive lad and get you to seduce him?" Puts a whole new spin on some Bangel moments in the first two seasons.
    • Buffy is infuriated when Spike claims Angel thought she wasn't good in bed. Angelus taunted Buffy over her sexual performance after his Sex–Face Turn in "Innocence". The Not Staying for Breakfast is also a call back to that episode.
    • Buffy taunts Spike by asking if Drusilla dumped him again. The last time they met was in "Lovers Walk", which ended with Spike determined to win back Drusilla after she ended their relationship. Apparently that whole "torture her until she loves me again" idea didn't work.
  • The Casanova: When Buffy runs into Parker after they've had sex she finds him giving another female student the same lines he had told Buffy about his dad dying and living for now.
  • Casual Kink: Spike still has chains from when he was dating Drusilla.
  • Coincidental Broadcast: While everyone is at Giles' apartment to research the latest crisis in Sunnydale, Xander is shocked to discover that Giles has a TV set that had been buried under some boxes of books. He turns it on, and everyone gathers around it to watch. Giles tells them all to get back to work. "Watching television is not going to help us right now." Cue a news report that gives them a vital clue.
  • Convenient Slow Dance: The band at the frat house segues into a slow number as soon as Parker asks Buffy to dance.
  • Daywalking Vampire: The Gem of Amarra protects its user from vampire weaknesses, including sunlight. Spike very much enjoys the ability to kick Buffy's ass all over a strangely-empty campus in the middle of the afternoon.
  • Description Cut: "A guy dating Harmony dead. Must be, like, the most tolerant guy in the world." Cut to the Dramatic Unmask showing that Spike is back in Sunnydale.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Distracted by the Stark-Naked Sexy Ex-Demon.
    Anya: At which point the matter is brought to a conclusion with both parties satisfied and able to move on with their separate lives and interests. To sum up, I think it's a workable plan.
    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.
  • Dress Hits Floor: Anya does this when trying to seduce Xander.
  • Double Entendre: Loads, naturally, in an episode about sex.
    • "You love that tunnel more than me."
    • [DING] "Fabric softener..."
    • Buffy stakes Spike (who's wearing the Gem). "Oh, do it again. It tickles. You know, in a good way."
    • Anya on why she wants to have sex with Xander. "It's the secret to getting you out of my mind. Putting you behind me. Behind me, figuratively. I'm thinking face-to-face for the event itself."
    • "Being a vampire sucks!"
  • Downer Ending: Buffy, Anya and Harmony walking alone, regretting having sex the night before.
  • Dramatic Necklace Removal: Lampshaded and parodied when Spike dramatically rips a necklace off of a corpse.
    Harmony: Ew. Like you're too good to work a clasp.
  • Dramatic Shattering: Spike picks up Buffy and slams her down on a glass tabletop.
  • Dramatic Unmask: Spike removes his welding mask to reveal the Big Bad is back!
  • Erotic Dream:
    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.
  • Everybody Lives: There are no deaths in this episode.
  • Evil Makeover: Averted.
    Harmony: So is it doing it? Do you feel it. I mean, you don't look different, if you were wondering. I thought maybe you'd look taller or glow or something.
  • Face Doodling: Harmony writes "Spike loves Harmony" on his back. Spike's reaction when he wakes up? He's not pleased.
    Spike: I love syphilis more than you.
  • Face-Revealing Turn: Harmony at the beginning as she's talking to Willow. The meeting starts out as two friends just catching up... then Harmony reveals she's been undead for quite some time.
  • Fool for Love:
    Buffy: What's the matter, Spike? Dru dump you again?
    Spike: Maybe I dumped her!
    Harmony: She left him for a fungus demon. It's all he talks about most days.
  • Game Face:
    Harmony: You were always so funny, Willow. You haven't changed a bit.
    Willow: No, you neither.
    Harmony: Oh, maybe a little. [vamps out]
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    Anya: (DING) Fabric softener.
  • Girlfriend in Canada: According to Willow, Harmony would always use this tactic to cover for the fact that she couldn't hold a boyfriend (on the grounds of being so annoying).
  • Hard-Work Montage: Spike drilling through the crypt while Buffy searches for Spike and waits for Parker's call.
  • He Is Not My Boyfriend: Parker asks Buffy if Spike is her ex-boyfriend. Buffy bursts into laughter.
  • Hypocrite: Parker is judged harshly for having misled Buffy, who calls him "manipulative and shallow". This has some basis - he presented as being more caring and sensitive than he really was. Buffy's hypocrisy was that she presented herself as being an entirely different person to who she really was; Buffy hid her identity and outright lied to Parker multiple times, such as by claiming her vampire bite was actually from a puppy. Parker's manipulation only put Buffy's feelings in danger, whereas Buffy's lies put Parker's life (and, in the Buffyverse, his soul) in clear danger. Overlaps with Protagonist-Centered Morality.
  • Idealized Sex: Played straight, then subverted when Buffy wakes up and sees just how grungy Parker's apartment is in the harsh light of day.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Harmony after Spike gets fed up with her prattling. Good thing she found that gem beforehand.
  • Implied Death Threat: Spike checks out Buffy's new boyfriend. "I like him. He's got... what's the word? Vulnerability."
  • Incredibly Lame Fun: Willow is enthusiastic about traveling to France. Think of all those museums!
  • Ironic Echo: After The Reveal about Parker, Willow says it's OK to make mistakes. Buffy notes that Parker said the same thing, so she'd take a chance on sleeping with him.
  • It's All My Fault: Willow tries in vain to convince Buffy that Parker is a poophead.
    Buffy: You're right. He's manipulative and shallow... and why doesn't he want me? Am I repulsive? If there was something repulsive about me you would tell me, right?
    Buffy: Maybe Parker and I could still work it out. Do you think we could still work it out?
    Willow: I think you're missing something about this whole poop head principle.
  • Little Black Dress: Buffy wears a backless black dress when seducing Parker.
  • Literal-Minded: Willow
    Devon: That was like the best set ever. We'll do great in LA. We're gonna have them glued to their seats.
    Willow: Uh, Devon. Aren't they supposed to dance?
    Oz: Well, we can glue them to the dance floor.
  • A Man Is Always Eager: Xander tries, he really does, but Anya and his own libido wear him down.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Parker Abrams
    Spike: Did he play the sensitive lad and get you to seduce him? That's a good trick if the girl's thick enough to buy it.
  • Mineral Macguffin/Nigh-Invulnerability: The Gem of Amarra makes vampires immune to all harm, including staking and daylight.
  • Mock Guffin: Spike and Harmony are looking for the Gem of Amarra in a tomb full of jewelry and other artifacts. Spike thinks it's a huge gaudy necklace and puts it on. Moments later he tries to kill Harmony in a fit of rage only to discover when he fails that the real Gem was a relatively nondescript ring that Harmony had put on.
  • Modesty Bedsheet: Buffy while making love to Parker. She's also wearing it in the morning after.
  • Mood Killer: After a night of romantic lovemaking, Buffy wakes up the morning after in Parker's messy dorm room.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Harmony and Anya.
  • Nipple and Dimed: SMG had visible nips during the fight with Spike.
  • Not Staying for Breakfast: Averted in a deliberate Call-Back to "Innocence" — Buffy finds an empty bed, but then Parker turns out to have ducked out for coffee. Then subverted when it turns out Parker was just using her for sex after all.
  • Oh, Crap!: Spike has been trying to avoid letting the Slayer know he's back in town. Then he and Harmony bump into Buffy while carrying a neck-bleeding victim out of a frat party. Busted!
  • Offing the Annoyance: Spike is so annoyed at Harmony's prattling while he's trying to find the Gem of Amarra he stakes her. Fortunately she's wearing it at the time.
  • Plot Hole: How Harmony became a vampire; we saw her get bitten in "Graduation Day", but did any vamp have the chance to bring her across?
    • Considering how chaotic everything was, it safe to assume they were trying to create more vamps as they went along.
      • Or maybe she actually survived and it just happened later.
  • Percussive Therapy: Annoyed by Harmony's prattling, Spike tries to stake her. Furious at Spike's snarking, Buffy overcomes Spike.
  • Ready for Lovemaking: Harmony in Spike's lair. Also Anya stripping naked in Xander's room.
  • Required Spinoff Crossover: What happens after Oz takes the Gem of Amarra to Los Angeles is shown in the Angel episode "In the Dark".
  • Ring of Power: The Gem of Amarra.
  • Romantic False Lead: Spike is sleeping with Harmony to get over Drusilla; he will eventually fall in love with Buffy. Buffy is sleeping with Parker to get over Angel; she then hooks up with Riley Finn. Xander sleeps with Anya to get over Faith, while Anya sleeps with Xander to get over him and the two end up falling in love.
  • Saying Too Much: Harmony blurts out to Buffy that they're looking for the Gem of Amarra.
  • Scar Survey: Parker checks out Angel's bite scar on Buffy's neck. Buffy claims it was from an angry puppy.
  • Shirtless Scene: Our first, but not the last, look at Shirtless!Spike.
  • Shoulders-Up Nudity: Anya when naked in front of Xander.
  • Something Else Also Rises: Xander turns around to offer Anya (whom he only knows as a weird ex-demon girl who makes a lousy prom date) a juice box, to find Anya has dropped her dress. Xander reacts by squeezing the carton he's currently holding, causing juice to spurt in the air.
  • STD Immunity: Averted as Anya has condoms. Even black ones.
  • Taking You with Me: Buffy grabs hold of Spike's ring and is about to remove it when Spike warns her that they'll both go up in flames. She does so anyway, and Spike immediately runs for cover instead.
  • Transhuman Treachery: Inverted; Harmony is revealed to be a vampire here, but her personality seems to have hardly changed since she was human.
  • Visual Gag: The Greek letters on the Frat house are Gamma Alpha Pi (ΓΑΠ) which, from the angle the shot is taken, look a bit like FAIL. The house in the background across the street bears the letters ΤΩΑ. Perhaps it's a sorority house?
  • We Will Meet Again: Spike calls a raincheck on fighting the Slayer, because he doesn't have the Gem.
    Spike: It isn't time yet.

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