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03 August 2016 @ 12:27 am
The Harsh Light of Day, or all males are pretty much the same  
Spike's back. So's Anya. Can I hear a yay?


Buffy and Willow are at the Bronze, and so is Parker who, it turns out has a reflection, so big plus there. Buffy's having lusty wrong feelings. She makes the minimum attempt to deny it.

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So that's OK, then. What's more, he's concerned about Buffy's safety this late after dark, and offers to walk her back to her dorm. Sweet and clearly totally innocent.

Oz has been playing a set with Dingoes, and Devon is enthusiastic about their forthcoming gig in LA. Are you paying attention? This is a PLOT POINT, in nice, big, friendly neon letters. Willow leaves the boys to walk home alone, and bumps (geddit?) into Harmony, who it seems has changed a little since graduation.

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Oz reappears in the nick of time, though, and saves the day, as all good boyfriends are supposed to do. Harmony feels her boyfriend is going to feel cross that Willow rejected her.

Parker walks Buffy home, establishing that he is psychologically damaged, but won't use it for sympathy, because I mean don't you just hate guys that are all 'I'm dark and brooding so give me love?' Buffy says she's never met that type. Naughty Buffy tells fibs. Carpe Diem is Parker's motto. Remember how well that worked in WTTH? He asks Buffy to go to a frat party with him.

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Xander helps Giles shelve stuff, but is bemused by the alphabet. Anya, who has given up the whole 'fleeing in terror' thing arrives, and with classic subtlety takes Xander away. I need to talk to Xander. Go away.


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Anya needs to talk about the relationship Xander hadn't realised they were having. In deep there, pal.

Parker and Buffy arrive at her dorm door, which is almost definitely made of wood, but nothing indecorous can happen because Willow and Oz arrive with news about Harmony, and how pale she now is. Parker has lived at Sunnydale U for a while, but some things about the area have just passed him by, so he leaves, planning to pick Buffy up for the party the next night. Now there's an angry puppy to be dealt with.

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They are all astounded that Vamp!Harmony has a boyfriend, who Must be like, the most tolerant guy in the world. Yes, right.

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He promises to take her somewhere nice as long as she just sods off now to let him get on with finding a crypt with his minion.

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At the party Parker wants to dance.

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But Buffy bumps into an old friend, with a somewhat somnolent companion and a girlfriend.

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They are both amused. Buffy asks Spike if he lost a bet to get Harmony. Spike likes the look of Buffy's young man, who looks deliciously vulnerable.

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Fisticuffs ensue once they are outside, but Harmony, with her customary acumen lets slip the name of the object Spike has been searching for.

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Meanwhile, Anya visits Xander with very explicit motives. He is a little startled.

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But, after all, she is more romantic than Faith.

Giles abandons unpacking his stuff to do some research on the Gem of Amara, which probably doesn't exist.

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Parker is worried Spike might have dated Buffy in the past. No. Really not.

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Spike is not in a dating mood. He loves syphilis more than Harmony.

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But somehow he is persuaded. And does that panther crawl thing.

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And Buffy makes a choice.

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So everybody is rather physically engaged, which is why Giles gets only the answering machine when he tries to call Buffy. Pity, as he has bad news. The Gem is not a fantasy after all, it's real.

And the next morning Buffy wakes up alone. For a moment, then Parker brings coffee. Turns out he's busy today, though. Anya is convinced sex with Xander has got him out of her system. So that's all good.

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And Harmony is happy in her love too.

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Until he tells her to shut up about France. Love hurts, baby.

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Spike has a single focus, breaking through to the crypt. Buffy has two - finding Spike and checking frequently to see if Parker called. He hasn't.

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Spike breaks through to the crypt, which is full of pretty things. It takes him some time to find what he wants, as Harmony has it. He's pretty pissed-off with her, though, and that helps answer his question.

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And Harmony is left all alone.

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Oz is impressed by the Giles record collection. But Xander discovers Giles is shallow like the rest of us - he has a TV. Which reports there has been unusual topsoil disturbance near campus. Aha!

Buffy finds Parker. Who is dismissive. He's already working on the next girl.

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And just when her sense of abandonment and betrayal is particularly bad, she meets Spike. Enjoying the sunshine.

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There is badinage, of a particularly hurtful kind, and fisticuffs, which hurt in a different way.

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And Buffy takes the Gem. But some of Spike's jibes hurt, if only because they are true. 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. And Anya finds Xander, who doesn't have time for her. And Harmony knows being a vampire really sucks.

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Oz will take the ring to Angel in LA. (See, I told you the gig was a PLOT POINT) But we end on three miserable young women, a Slayer, a vampire and an ex-demon. Nope. Sex is not The Answer.

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*******


Wow, there was a lot packed into that episode! Lots of sex which didn't help anybody in the story but was not wholly unpleasant for the viewer. And lots of messages about the way people use and exploit other people, and how sex might seem to be a happy ending but is often a sad beginning. Of all the pairings we see in this ep, Willow/Oz is the only one we don't see doing the deed, and the only one which is essentially happy and stable. It is stable, right?

Harmony is hilarious in this. No longer a mere bitchy sidekick to Cordelia, we see that she hasn't changed all that much; she just wants a man, pretty things and glamorous locations. But this man is never going to them to her, and she really doesn't see that. She thinks she's using him for access to the pretty things and such, but it's the other way round. Anya thinks she's using Xander to work off sexual tension and get him out of her system, but it turns out it wasn't what she really wanted at all. And Buffy thinks she's making an adult decision and moving on with her life, not at all rebounding from Angel, and doesn't see she's been manipulated by one of the oldest tricks there is.

It's not an anti-sex episode, however; it can be fun, it can be good. But you have to understand yourself and your partner and both of your motives, or it will leave you feeling even more hollow than before. This time Giles doesn't reassure Buffy and talk about respect - he's just glad she isn't going to overshare.

Lots of plot threads to help build the season, too. Giles establishing his home base. Oz and the band moving around off-campus. Parker. (Ugh.) Spike, once again taken down by the Slayer just when he was certain the odds were in his favour. And we see the Spike who doesn't love his partner - a total change from his interactions with Drusilla.

Oh yes, and plenty of manly Spike-flesh on show. Not that this would concern me, of course. Honest.

*******


So, what do you think of this one? As so often in this show, the third episode really does seem to kick everything up a notch. Is the loveless sex theme a little overdone or spot on? Do Anya, Buffy and Harmony have as much in common as is suggested? All those carefully-framed shots in which they parallel each other - clever or annoying? Are you pleased to see Spike back? And is the comedy up your street or a bit broad? (Yes, Xander's fruit drink, I'm looking at you here.) Do you have favourite lines, shots, scenes? Please share - comments are much-sought and warmly welcomed.

All caps courtesy of Screencapped.net.




 
 
 
dancing till the world ends: tvd: i want morelynnenne on August 3rd, 2016 02:31 am (UTC)
I find this episode dated in a world of Tindr. It assumes that women always want love over sex - even Anya, who says she wants just sex - and that men take advantage of women's desire for love as a way to get sex. Of course, that does happen, but there are plenty of young women today who want sex and nothing more.

I kind of enjoy the fact that some of today's shows don't make the same assumptions.
Shapinglight: Harsh Light of Dayshapinglight on August 4th, 2016 12:43 pm (UTC)
I agree the episode seems dated. Thinking about such issues has moved on a lot in the last ten years or so.

When I re-watched BtVS from start to finish last year, I did find there were quite a few things that made me cringe/squirm/delete as appropriate. On the other hand, the show still makes a pretty good job of illustrating some universal truths, and Buffy herself, as a character, seems as fresh and revolutionary as she did back then.

Which, when you think about it, is pretty sad, I suppose. ;)

So yes, the show is very dated in some ways. In others, it's lasted really well.
(no subject) - lynnenne on August 5th, 2016 09:15 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - gillo on August 5th, 2016 07:28 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - lynnenne on August 5th, 2016 09:23 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - gillo on August 6th, 2016 04:54 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Dannachasingdemons on August 3rd, 2016 03:13 am (UTC)
Buffy is so sweet. She’s clearly excited about Parker. Thinking about taking a chance and letting down her defenses. Maybe the lesson here is not that bad things happen when you have sex, but that bad things happen when you open yourself up. When she kept watching her answering machine, my heart broke for her. Especially when there was a message from Willow asking if Parker had called yet. It’s these little things that make this show so personal. It made me feel like Joss read my diary (from many years ago).

And this episode shows how very crafty and instinctive Spike is. When he saw Buffy and Parker and said “He’s got. What’s the word? Vulnerability.” I mean he never met Parker, and didn’t know much about what Buffy was up to these days. After seeing them for two seconds, he nailed it. Spike doesn’t miss much.

I have to say I hate the way Spike treats Harmony. It kind of gets in the way of a certain narrative about Spike. That he loved Dru – sure, I buy that. It makes sense that an evil vampire can worship Dru and treat Harmony like dirt. But that he turned all noble for the love of Buffy - that doesn’t ring true to me. Even after he got a soul, he treated Harmony like crap and oddly it’s one of the many reasons I am not totally on board with the concept of Spuffy. He staked Harmony just because he was annoyed with her. Had she not been wearing the ring, she would have gone to… I don’t know, hell I guess. And he was going to stake Dru to impress Buffy. I think Spike is basically self-serving. He’s noble when it serves him. It doesn’t mean I don’t love him.

I was also especially disgusted that Parker used a story about his father dying to get women to sleep with him. After he moves on from Buffy, you see him telling Katie Loomis the same story! Did his father really die, and he is capitalizing on it? Or did he totally make the story up? I don’t know which is worse.

I thought Xander struck the right balance. After all, Anya was pretty much trying to force herself on him. He had no obligation to go along with it, but at the same time, he was not dismissive.

Lastly, gotta love Spike using power tools! And I love the way Harmony is totally unfazed when she makes Spike really mad.
baudownbaudown on August 3rd, 2016 11:51 am (UTC)
I hear what you're saying about Spike's treatment of Harmony, and while I'm not justifying it, I do have a couple of thoughts about it. First, this is a rebound relationship -- Spike, having been dumped, is trying to use the relationship to feel a sense of control, and to feel wanted, and to not be alone, which is unbearable to him; and while it isn't the right thing to do, I understand his motivation. Second, it's no joke that Spike is the most tolerant guy in the world, because no one else can stand Harmony for an instant. I love her as a character, but to actually interact with her would be incredibly grating. Spike is really the only one willing to be with her -- even his minions are disgusted with her. Lastly, despite Spike's meanness to her, Harmony manages to get her way with him most of the time. She wants him to pay attention to her sexually, and he pays attention to her sexually. She doesn't want to do bondage as he suggests, so they don't do bondage. She wants to taunt him by talking about Dru even though he forbids it, and she continues to talk about Dru. She wants him to take her to a party, and he takes her to a party. The relationship isn't as unbalanced as it might appear.

I initially had the same reaction regarding his relationship with Harmony on AtS. I guess in retrospect, I feel like, the soul doesn't make him a saint, and this was a lot of what we saw with him on AtS: Spike settling back into his own personality post-soul; finding a balance between self and self-sacrifice. And I think there are times when he's noble for selfish reasons, and times when he's noble for unselfish purposes (like at the end of AtS).

Anyway, if nothing else about Spike/Harmony, I'm grateful that it gave us the panther crawl. That's a gift that keeps on giving!
(no subject) - shapinglight on August 3rd, 2016 01:23 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - chasingdemons on August 4th, 2016 01:03 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - shapinglight on August 4th, 2016 08:33 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - chasingdemons on August 4th, 2016 12:44 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - baudown on August 4th, 2016 12:49 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - gillo on August 5th, 2016 07:38 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - chasingdemons on August 6th, 2016 03:40 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - gillo on August 6th, 2016 04:58 pm (UTC) (Expand)
lusciousxander: Unable to Fit In made by thiscanbeginlusciousxander on August 3rd, 2016 07:14 am (UTC)
There's a gender reversal in this episode with Xander/Anya. From his experience with Faith before, Xander associated sex with connection and love. Faith laughed off his innocence and resumed attempting to rape/murder him in Consequences.

Xander here talks about relationship being meaningful and that's what he's looking for while Anya was pushing for sex. Even his reaction to Anya's "I'm over you now" is absolute acceptance - leftovers from his Faith experience. It's just about sex.

When Anya got angry at his acceptance, he was genuinely confused. It's always been about sex. What changed now?
baudownbaudown on August 3rd, 2016 11:24 am (UTC)
Yep. I've said this before, but I remember watching the show for the second time (immediately following watching it for the first time) and realizing how VERY annoying I often found Xander to be, and how I was kind of disliking him. And then I got to this scene, and the look of resignation and complete lack of surprise at being used and rejected just made me ache for him; and I knew I would never dislike him again, no matter what. Despite his many mistakes and shortcomings, this scene made me love him unconditionally.
Trepkostrepkos on August 3rd, 2016 07:53 am (UTC)
I love the whole thing - apart from Parker, he really annoyed me right from the start. Harmony is an absolute treasure! I did enjoy seeing Spike actually on a mission again. Competence is hot. But how was he so stupid as to let Buffy take the ring?! I don't think Buffy, Anya and Harmony have much in common, other than their ability to be hurt. But Anya can't really blame her partner for that, whereas the others have a case.
Shapinglight: Harsh Light of Dayshapinglight on August 4th, 2016 12:45 pm (UTC)
But how was he so stupid as to let Buffy take the ring?

I wondered that too. I think you have to put it down to an acute case of villainitis, which among other symptoms, makes villains' plans come to nothing and, if they have guns, makes them terrible shots.
(no subject) - gillo on August 5th, 2016 07:47 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - shapinglight on August 7th, 2016 03:34 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - gillo on August 5th, 2016 07:45 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Shapinglight: Harsh Light of Dayshapinglight on August 3rd, 2016 08:52 am (UTC)
I like this episode a lot, though I do cringe for poor Buffy falling for that old trick of Parker's, which rather hits home for me, have to say.

I agree to a great extent with chasingdemons above about Spike and his treatment of Harmony, which is my least favourite thing about him. I don't see him as completely self-serving in his relationships with women, though, and present his relationship with Fred as exhibit A. I think he's still very much a work in progress at the end of AtS season 5.

In this episode, while I don't enjoy his exceptional meanness, I do enjoy Spike's competence in managing to track down the Gem of Amarra, which no one else has ever managed to do, even if he does then lose it so easily. Typical Spike really. His plans are quite good. He just falls down on the follow-through.

I'm not entirely convinced by the comparisons between the three women at the end, though of course parallels can be made, and the threeway walk where they don't actually meet is a bit cheesy. If you compare the three men in the picture, Xander comes out of it way the best.

ETA: Sorry for the endless editing. I just thought of something else. This ep (and the following AtS one) contains two of JM's most egregious mistakes with Brit pronunciation - 'squirls' instead of 'squirrels.'

Edited at 2016-08-03 01:12 pm (UTC)
feliciacraft: spike smilefeliciacraft on August 4th, 2016 06:26 am (UTC)
Can you please clear up the "squirls" vs. "squirrels" for me? In my totally American way, I pronounce both...the same. *cocks head*

(Yes, there's a lot of great meta, but I'm really curious about this "squirls" thing.) :)
(no subject) - shapinglight on August 4th, 2016 08:29 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - gillo on August 5th, 2016 07:58 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - shapinglight on August 7th, 2016 03:31 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - gillo on August 5th, 2016 07:57 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - shapinglight on August 7th, 2016 03:30 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Butterflysnogged on August 3rd, 2016 12:21 pm (UTC)
This is definitely one of my favorite episodes of the season.
:)
Shapinglight: Priincess Harmonyshapinglight on August 4th, 2016 12:46 pm (UTC)
It's very enjoyable, I agree.
(no subject) - gillo on August 5th, 2016 08:00 pm (UTC) (Expand)
feliciacraftfeliciacraft on August 4th, 2016 06:41 am (UTC)
I see clear parallel between Buffy and Harmony. Both are being used by someone who doesn't care about them, and neither is getting what they thought they'd get out of the relationship. I see deception from both men in terms of empty promises and egregious misrepresentation. The methods of deception employed are different, but they're equally despicable. And the way both woman continue to pine for their respective partner when it's clear (at least to me as a viewer) that love has never been on the table is just...sad. Ugh. :(

I see some similarity in Anya and Xander's budding relationship, but both of them are at least trying to be honest and straight-forward (even if awkward and not exactly romantic) with each other (even if Anya may be lying to herself about her feelings for Xander). There's no obvious "wrong" being committed. Not surprisingly, this is the couple who has a chance to (and in fact, will) build a real relationship, something mutually beneficial.

Thanks for the recap!
Shapinglight: Harsh Light of Dayshapinglight on August 4th, 2016 12:49 pm (UTC)
And the way both woman continue to pine for their respective partner when it's clear (at least to me as a viewer) that love has never been on the table is just...sad. Ugh. :(

It is very sad, though sadly I think it's probably quite realistic. In Buffy's case, of course, what happens with Parker compounds the feeling she's had since her seventeenth birthday, that men will reject her after having sex with her, and it's all her fault. This feeling is possibly subconscious at this point, I suppose, but still powerful for all that.
(no subject) - gillo on August 5th, 2016 08:03 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - feliciacraft on August 5th, 2016 10:47 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - gillo on August 6th, 2016 05:01 pm (UTC) (Expand)
relurkerrelurker on August 7th, 2016 11:03 am (UTC)
Hey, I just liked it a lot!
Double Dutchess: Sparmonydouble_dutchess on August 10th, 2016 05:53 pm (UTC)
I love this episode! Spike was very nasty but oh so sexy. His fight with Buffy was pretty good too. I loved the parallels in this episode. Harmony is the one I felt most sorry for in the end. She may be an evil (or wannabe evil) vampire but for some reason I find her strangely endearing -- very different from when she was still human.