Buffy the Vampire Slayer/The Harsh Light of Day

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The Harsh Light of Day
The Harsh Light of Day
Season 4, Episode 3
Airdate October 19, 1999
Production Number 4ABB03
Written by Jane Espenson
Directed by James A. Contner
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Fear, Itself
Buffy the Vampire SlayerSeason Four

The Harsh Light of Day is the third episode of the fourth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the fifty-ninth episode overall.

Starring: Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy Summers), Nicholas Brendon (Xander Harris), Alyson Hannigan (Willow Rosenberg), Seth Green (Oz)

and Anthony Stewart Head (Giles)

Guest Starring: Emma Caulfield (Anya), Mercedes McNab (Harmony Kendall), Adam Kaufman (Parker Abrams), James Marsters (Spike)

Co-Starring: Jason Hall (Devon), Melik (Brian)


Plot Overview

Buffy accepts a date with Parker and it doesn't take long for things to progress. However, her ideal return to dating doesn't hold up well soon after. To make things worse for Buffy, Spike has returned to town on the hunt for a legendary vampiric artefact, having also begun dating anew. Meanwhile, Anya has also returned to Sunnydale to examine the nature of she and Xander's relationship.


Monster of the Week

Spike and Harmony return in this episode in search of the Gem of Amara, something which Giles calls the vampire equivalent of the holy grail. He also believes it to be fictional, due to the fact that many questing vampires in the 10th century failed to uncover it. Legend only states that it has "immense power." When Spike finally excavates the gem, it turns out to make vampires invulnerable as long as they wear it.

Body Count

There were no deaths in this episode.


  • "Moment of Weakness" performed by Bif Naked: The band playing at the Wolf House party is Bif Naked, who perform "Moment of Weakness" in the first scene of the party. The song appears on Naked's 1998 album I Bificus.
  • "Anything" performed by Bif Naked: When Buffy returns to the party, before she and Parker dance, Bif Naked is performing "Anything", another song off I Bificus. Unlike "Moment of Weakness" or "Lucky", this song was not released as a single.
  • "Lucky" performed by Bif Naked: The third song Bif Naked plays at the party, which seems to go on for a very long time considering that Buffy and Parker have time to dance, have a conversation and later make out in the span of a normally 4-minute long song. It also appears on I Bificus, as well as the first soundtrack for the series.
  • Devil Doll - "Faith in Love"
  • Dollshead - "It's Over, It's Under"
  • Four Star Mary - "Dilate"
  • Psychic Rain - "Take Me Down"

Arc Advancement


  • Sunnydale: In older texts, vampires and other demons referred to Sunnydale as the "Valley of the Sun." It seems likely that the town was named for this moniker.


  • Spike and Harmony: Spike has moved on after being dumped by Drusilla and has chosen Harmony as his new beau, although he clearly doesn't like her that much. The two share an abusive relationship for the duration of the season.


  • 3x22 - Graduation Day (2): Before Harmony vamps out and attacks Willow, they share a bit of small talk about Graduation Day, when they mayor turned himself into a giant snake-like demon. During the final battle, Harmony was bitten by a vampire but her fate was not revealed until this episode. Parker also comments on Buffy's scar which came from her allowing Angel to feed off her blood so he could fend off being poisoned.
Harmony: Big snake, huh?
  • 1x13 - Prophecy Girl: Buffy briefly died in the first season when she was drowned in the submerged church which held The Master captive until she, unwittingly, set him free. She was revived by Xander, who performed CPR on her.
Buffy: I sort of drowned a couple years ago.
  • 3x08 - Lover's Walk: Spike took Willow hostage in an attempt to force her into performing a love spell for him, after Drusilla dumped him for the first time. He never did come close to actually killing her, however, because he still needed her to perform the spell and he was eventually caught by Buffy while out of his lair.
Harmony: You almost killed her last year.
  • 3x13 - The Zeppo: Xander saved Faith from a demon who was attempting to bring about the apocalypse and she wound up using him for sex after he brought her back to her motel room. Afterward, she threw him out of her room before he could even put on clothes. She later tried to strangle him to death after a later "romantic" encounter in "Consequences".
Xander: And the amazing thing? Still more romantic than Faith.
  • 2x14 - Innocence (2): The reaction Buffy has to waking up in Parker's bed the morning after they had sex mirrors the reaction she had after sleeping with Angel, especially when she looks around and sees that the room is trashed.


The Show

  • Crossover: Buffy's decision to give the Gem of Amara to Angel is followed up in "In the Dark", the episode of Angel which directly followed this episode when it first aired.
  • Trick Credits: In the original airing of this episode, James Marsters was not credited as a guest star until the end credits. This was done to preserve the surprise.

Behind the Scenes

  • International: Buffy the Vampire Slayer has been dubbed into many different languages and the title translated for each different international version. Some international translations of this episode's title are:
    • French: "Désillusions" ("Disillusions")
    • Italian: "L'accecante luce del giorno" ("The Blinding Light of Day")
    • German: "Der Stein von Amara" ("The Stone of Amara")
    • Spanish: "La áspera luz del día" ("The Rough Light of Day")

Allusions and References

  • Loaded: While Giles is trying to research the Gem of Amara, Oz is looking through his albums and contemplates either borrowing all of them or moving in. The one that he "could make an argument" for being more important than the matter at hand is Loaded by The Velvet Underground. The album is the final studio album to feature most band members, including frontman Lou Reed.

Memorable Moments


  • Spike takes off the necklace, before trying to get the ring off Harmony, but it then reappears when she throws it at him. Also, at this point, there appears to be no pendant attached to it.
  • The students that are seen on the campus all suddenly disappear once Spike shows up to fight Buffy.


  • Harmony: You love that tunnel more than me.
Spike: I love syphilis more than you.
  • Oz: Okay, either I'm borrowing all your albums, or I'm moving in.
Giles: Oz, there are more important things than records right now.
Oz: (pulls out Loaded by The Velvet Underground) More important than this one?
Giles: Um, I suppose an argument could be made for...
Xander: Whoa, Giles has a TV. Everybody, Giles has a TV! He's shallow like us.
Oz: I got to admit, I'm a little disappointed.
Giles: I-I-I...
Willow: Well, maybe it doesn't work. It's like art.
  • Harmony: Being a vampire sucks.
  • Spike: So, you let Parker take a poke, eh? Didn't seem like you knew each other that well. What exactly 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. I wonder what you did wrong. Uh, too strong? Did you bruise the boy? Whatever. I guess you're not worth a second go. Come to think of it, seems like someone told me as much. Who was that? Oh yeah. Angel.