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"The Harsh Light of Day" is the third episode of the fourth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the fifty-ninth in the series. Written by Jane Espenson and directed by James A. Contner, it was originally broadcast on October 19, 1999, on The WB network.


JAMES MARSTERS RETURNS AS SPIKE — The underworld version of Sid Vicious, Spike, returns to Sunnydale in search of the vampire version of the Holy Grail, a mythical relic that supposedly engenders the wearer with unimaginable powers, and it's up to Buffy to stop him. Meanwhile, Buffy is distracted by dating issues as she deals with her feelings for a new boy who happens to not be a blood-sucking vampire, but is equally as difficult to understand. Xander has romance issues of his own when his prom date from last spring, Anya, can't get the X-man out of her mind.[1]


As the Dingoes Ate My Baby play at the Bronze, Buffy talks to Willow while secretly 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. Willow waits for Oz and Devon to return to the van outside the Bronze, and Harmony approaches her. The two talk, and Harmony reveals she's a vampire and bites Willow. Oz rescues her, and Harmony leaves, threatening that her boyfriend won't be happy they were mean to her. Buffy and Parker walk back to the dorm, and Parker discovers a scar on her neck. She tells him it was an angry puppy that bit her. He 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. He is confused, not realizing they were ever in an actual relationship.

Back at the dorms, Buffy and Parker are about to kiss when Willow and Oz arrive, causing Parker to leave. While Oz cleans Willow's wound, she tells Buffy about the encounter with Harmony and her alleged boyfriend. Underground, a group of vampires are digging in the tunnels. Harmony approaches the leader and hugs her boyfriend: Spike.

As Spike bullies his worker vamps about the excavation in the tunnels, Harmony calls him Blondie Bear and asks him to kill Willow. Spike declines, explaining that killing Buffy's best friend would alert her of his presence in Sunnydale. Harmony complains she is bored and wants to go out. After she seduces him with her charm, Spike offers to take her to a party.

Buffy and Parker arrive at a college party and stumble across Spike and Harmony, who are carrying a bitten man. Buffy teases Spike for being with Harmony, and Spike pokes fun at Parker. The vampires flee the party and Buffy follows them outside, where she and Spike begin to fight. Harmony interrupts, revealing Drusilla left Spike for a fungus demon and that they'll be back once they find the Gem of Amara. Irritated, Spike yells at Harmony for revealing too much information and grabs her to leave.

Anya shows up at Xander's place. He gets her a drink, and he turns around to see that she is naked.

Buffy calls Giles and informs him about Spike and Harmony. Giles tells Buffy that the Gem of Amara was rumored to contain great power if a vampire was to ever obtain it, but was later determined to be a myth after extensive searches turned up nothing. Giles chooses to look into it while Buffy announces she's going to bed.

In Harmony and Spike's lair, Spike is trying to read blueprints of the underground tunnels while Harmony is laying on the bed. When she talks nonstop about unimportant things, he becomes irritated. However, Spike joins Harmony on the bed as she begins to flirt with him.

Xander is shocked that Anya is standing in front of him naked, as she explains that having sex is the best way for her to rid herself of her feelings for him. Though Xander tries to say no, reminding her that sex should have more meaning, he accepts the offer.

Buffy returns to the party and finds Parker. They discuss Parker's decision to take History, and he speaks about making choices. Buffy finds herself enraptured with Parker's deep thoughts and decides to have sex with him.

The next morning, Buffy wakes up to an empty bed. As she's searching for her clothes, Parker arrives with coffee. He says that he'll call her.

While they get dressed, Anya tells Xander she's over him. He replies he's okay with it, and she runs out in anger.

Spike wakes up to Harmony drawing on his back with lipstick. He gets up to go back to work, and she complains he loves the tunnel more than her. He says he love syphilis more than her.

Buffy arrives in her dorm room, where she's surprised to find Willow and Giles. They inform her about the discovery of an ancient text that places the Gem of Amara in Sunnydale. After Giles leaves, Buffy tells Willow about her night with Parker. She then waits all day for Parker to contact her, which he never does.

As Spike becomes closer to breaching the crypt, Harmony complains about being told to stay indoors. Spike insults her and says that the gem is all that matters for now. When he finally breaks into the crypt, Harmony tags along. Spike tells her to take anything she wants while he searches for the Gem. Seeing an elaborate necklace, he puts it on and picks up a cross, but it burns him as it normally would. As Harmony keeps talking, Spike grows impatient and stakes her. However, nothing happens to Harmony and the wound instantly heals itself. Spike realizes the ring Harmony is wearing is the Gem of Amara and tries to force it off her hand. Upset, Harmony throws it at him. Spike leaves the crypt wearing the ring.

In Giles' apartment, Xander finds a TV and watches a news broadcast on a sinkhole in Sunnydale caused by soil erosion. They conclude that Spike's underground digging caused it. Giles sends Xander to find Buffy while the others head to the sinkhole. As Xander searches for Buffy, he stumbles across Anya, who attempts to talk to him about the previous evening and her feelings, but he is distracted and dismisses her. Giles, Willow, and Oz discover Harmony crying in the crypt. She tells them love sucks and confirms Spike has the ring.

Buffy finds Parker hitting on another girl with the same lines he used on her. She asks him if everything is okay, and Parker tells her yes. She asks if he wants to do something, but Parker refuses, citing earlier plans. Buffy questions whether she did anything wrong, but Parker tells her that she did not; he had fun with her. Buffy realizes that, while their time together was special to her, it was just casual sex for him. He says he assumed they were on the same level, reminding her that it was she who made the first move. He quickly leaves, casually telling Buffy that he'll call her. Dejected, she turns around and Spike punches her.

Buffy and Spike fight as he enjoys the non-lethal sunlight. She stakes him, and he reveals the ring that is protecting him. Xander shows up, but Spike easily knocks him out and continues to beat up Buffy. As he does so, he notes Buffy and Parker did not appear to know each other well, and that she fell for his trick of playing a sensitive side and convincing her to sleep with him. He then mocks her by saying she must not be worth a second go, and jokes that Angel told him so. 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 Los Angeles for a gig.

That night, Buffy talks to Willow about what happened with Parker, wondering if every guy she sleeps with will turn evil the following morning. Willow assures her that she simply made a mistake. Despite how badly he treated her, Buffy remains fixated on Parker and wonders whether there was something about her that turned him off. Willow assures Buffy she is not to blame. Buffy decides to take a walk and departs. Separately, Buffy, Anya, and Harmony walk around the UC Sunnydale campus.


  • It's revealed that Harmony was sired when she was bitten in the Graduation Day battle ("Graduation Day, Part Two").
  • Willow is bitten by Harmony, becoming the third Scoobie to be bitten by a vampire, after Buffy ("Prophecy Girl") and Angel ("Becoming, Part One").
  • Parker notices Buffy's scar from being bitten by both the Master ("Prophecy Girl") and Angel ("Graduation Day, Part One").
  • Buffy explains she was bitten by an "angry puppy"; Willow's vampire double also referred to Angel as "the puppy" in "The Wish."
  • Buffy mentions that she drowned a couple years before, referring to her death at the hands of the Master ("Prophecy Girl").
  • Harmony says her chained victim tastes funny. The man appears to be wearing a green shirt (like the military fatigues), which could indicate that he is an Initiative agent or recruit; it is revealed in "Goodbye Iowa" that Initiative agents are given drugs, which could alter the taste of their blood.
  • It's revealed that Spike wasn't able to resume his relationship with Drusilla after his last appearance in "Lovers Walk."
  • When questioned by Parker if Spike is an ex-boyfriend of hers, Buffy laughs at the idea. Two years later, she will enter a sexual relationship with him ("Smashed"), and they eventually become a couple in Love Dares You, Part Two.
  • Buffy comments that, as a vampire, Harmony "must be dying without a reflection." We see in "Harm's Way" how Harmony eventually copes without a reflection.
  • When Anya tries to seduce Xander into having sex, he calls her blunt and "still more romantic than Faith," referring to when he had sex with her in "The Zeppo."
  • Buffy waking up in Parker's bedroom is reminiscent of when she woke up in Angel's room after they slept together in "Surprise." Both times, Buffy wakes up alone, wrapped in red sheets. A similar circumstance will later occur with Riley in "The I in Team," but he's behind her in bed.
  • Buffy's reaction when she finds Parker after days of no contact is similar to her reaction when she confronts Angel in "Innocence"; both times, the men she slept with act flippant about their night together, leaving Buffy confused and blaming herself.
  • In the Angel episode "In the Dark," Spike will follow Oz to Los Angeles and try to get the ring from Angel.



Organizations and titles[]





Death count[]

  • None.

Behind the scenes[]


  • This episode sets up a crossover with the Angel episode "In the Dark," broadcast the same evening, in which James Marsters and Seth Green guest star.


  • "The Harsh Light of Day" had an audience of 3.4 million households upon its original airing.[2]

Deleted scenes[]

  • An exchange between Willow and Buffy:[3]
    Willow: "You know what else I love about college? How when the professor comes in, the class gets all quiet."
    Buffy: "Oh, I hate that. I'm always like, what? Did something scary come in? Do I have to kill it?"
  • When they see Harmony again:[3]
    Devon: "Man, that looked like Harmony. Weird. I saw her get bit at graduation. I didn't tell you?"
  • Buffy tells Parker she drowned:[3]
    Parker: "Wow, I mean, you hear about stuff like that."
    Buffy: "Yeah, well, pool safety, important. Anyway…"
  • Another reference to her drowning:[3]
    Parker: "Buffy? When you… drowned, whoever brought you back? They're getting a big kiss from me."
    Buffy: "Xander will be so happy."
  • Anya talks to Xander:[3]
    Xander: "This is just, I'd say out of nowhere, but that doesn't really capture the amount of nowhere which it's out of."
  • Buffy sees Spike:[3]
    Buffy: "I think you two should go."
    Spike: "But the fun's just starting: old friends, lots to drink…"
  • Anya visits Xander:[3]
    Xander: "So… you're my first guest at Casa del Xander — not the final name, still working on it."
  • Buffy and Giles discuss Spike and Harmony's relationship:[3]
    Buffy: "I mean, I thought Spike and Dru were a forever kind of deal, didn't you? Where's the commitment?"
    Giles: "I'm disillusioned. I shall never love again."
  • Parker and Buffy discuss that everyone has a choice:[3]
    Buffy: "It doesn't feel like it. To me, a lot of the time, it feels like stuff's just coming at me, you know, and I'm reacting as fast as I can, just trying to keep going. Just - just trying to be on my feet before the next thing hits."
    Parker: "That sounds exhausting."
    Buffy: "It really is."
  • Buffy confronts Parker:[3]
    Parker: "Okay, I'm a little confused now. I mean, I definitely got the idea you'd done it before. You were the one who was all over me. It was fun."
  • When Buffy and Willow talk about sleeping with a guy and then he turns evil:[3]
    Willow: "Well, from what I understand, pretty much. But it won't always be like that. You've just had some really bad luck."
    Buffy: "I don't know, Will. Bad luck just happens. I made this happen."
    Willow: "Well, why shouldn't you, if it's what you want? I mean, as long as it's safe. Oh, Buffy, it was safe, wasn't it?
    Buffy: "It was safe. It's not that. It's that the whole time, I kept thinking, hey, look at me with someone who isn't Angel. Look how much I'm not hung up with Angel anymore. Look how this is not all about Angel. God, how come I didn't see it?"

Pop culture references[]

  • Giles compares the Gem of Amara to the Holy Grail, a treasure with miraculous powers in Arthurian literature.
  • Xander mentions dreaming he's naked at the checkout lane at the Walmart, a hypermarket chain.
  • Oz asks Giles about the album Loaded by The Velvet Underground.
  • Harmony asks Spike if the actor Antonio Banderas is a vampire. This may be a reference to his role as a vampire in the 1994 film Interview with the Vampire. Spike suggests Harmony also kills Banderas' then wife Melanie Griffith and her three children.


  • When Spike takes the Gem of Amara from Harmony, he takes the necklace off. In the next shot, he's wearing it again, but, when we see him leave, it's gone again.


International titles[]

  • Armenian: "Օրվա կոպիտ լույսը" (Harsh Light of Day)
  • Czech: "Nelítostné denní světlo" (Fierce Daylight)
  • Finnish: "Ärsyttävä päivänsäde" (Irritating Daylight)
  • French: "Désillusions" (Disillusions)
  • German: "Der Stein von Amara" (The Stone of Amara)
  • Hungarian: "Amara ékköve" (Amara's Jewel)
  • Italian: "L'accecante luce del giorno" (The Blinding Light of Day)
  • Japanese: "残酷な日の光" (Cruel Light of Day)
  • Polish: "Brutalny świt" (Brutal Daylight)
  • Portuguese (Brazil): "A Cruel Luz do Dia" (The Cruel Light of the Day)
  • Romanian: "Lumina crudă a zilei" (Cruel Light of Day)
  • Russian: "Резкий свет дня" (Harsh Light of Day)
  • Spanish (Latin America): "La Hiriente Luz del Día" (The Hurtful Light of the Day)
  • Spanish (Spain): "La Áspera Luz del Día" (The Rough Light of the Day)
  • Swedish: "Dagens Starka Ljus" (Strong Light of the Day)


Promotional stills[]

Behind the scenes[]



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 lane at the Walmart, I've had that same one."
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."
Willow: "He's 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'd tell me, right?"
Willow: "I'm your friend. I would call you repulsive in a second."
Buffy: "Maybe Parker and I could still work it out. Do you think that we could still work it out?"
Willow: "I think you're missing something about the whole poophead principle."
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: "More important than this one?"
Giles: "Well 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."


  1. "The Mortuary." Buffy.com. Archived from the original on March 31, 2001.
  2. "Nielsen Ratings for Buffy's Fourth Season." Nielsen Ratings for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, & Firefly. Archived from the original on July 6, 2008.
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 "The Harsh Light of Day Script." BuffyWorld. Archived from the original on November 7, 2018.