Season 4, Episode 3 - The Harsh Light of Day
Original airdate: Oct. 19, 1999
Project 310 re-watch date: Feb. 17, 2009
Finally, a really good episode!
Season 4 got off to a slow start (not as slow as Season 3, but still, annoyingly slow). This episode picks things up with Spike’s return to the show, in what is actually part 1 of a 2-part episode crossover with “Angel”.
Spike is searching for the Gem of Amara, which has the power to make a vampire invulnerable. He’s got the help of his new girlfriend, Harmony, who is now a vampire.
I mentioned this in my recap of “Graduation Day, Pt. 2”, but it bears bringing up again. Given the chaos of the fight at graduation, it seems unlikely that there would have been an opportunity for Harmony to be sired.
That aside, Spike saves what had the chance to be a really bad episode. Buffy gets all physical with her new “boyfriend” Parker, leading to him bailing on her, which brings about lots of sadness. Spike ditches Harmony once he finds the gem, which makes Harmony sad. Anya returns, has sex with Xander, then has all these conflicting human emotions. Again, sad.
So with all that sadness, why do I actually enjoy this episode? Two words: ass kicking.
Spike was at his best when he was just being a villain. The Spike at the beginning of Season 2 was way better than the one at the end of Season 2, or the one we saw a glimpse of in Season 3. In this episode, Spike’s all pissed off, then when he gets the gem, he has one of his best one-on-one fights with Buffy in the entire run of the series.
Also, with Spike, Harmony and Anya all showing up here, this episode really ends up being huge in terms of reintroductions of characters. Anya and Spike both become integral parts of the show and Harmony is a great recurring villain who ends up being a regular in Season 5 of “Angel”.
Also, I’m not usually a fan of forced melodrama, but the scene at the end with Buffy, Harmony and Anya all walking around, hurt by the men in their lives, and going off in separate directions, is very cool.
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.”