EW Community TV Show Episode Guides and Recaps from EW's Community

Image Credit: The WB

'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' recap: Three broken hearts and the Gem of Amara

Note: Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a security blanket during my formative teenage years. I’m overjoyed to relive the show with all of you through a new series of recaps. I’m starting with season 4, while other fine contributors will take previous seasons.

Season 4 | Episode 1 | “The Harsh Light of Day” | Aired Oct 19, 1999 on The WB

This is the one where everyone gets laid. Boy, that Parker Abrams moves fast. It’s only been a week since Parker was hitting on Buffy in the UC Sunnydale cafeteria. Now they’re inseparable.

One night, Parker notices a scar on Buffy’s neck—bite marks from Angel. It’s like an ex’s permanent hickey on your neck, except you can blame it, as Buffy does, on an angry puppy. (Remember how Vampire Willow referred to Angel as “the puppy” last season in “The Wish”?) Parker brings up his recently deceased father. He lays it on thick, but promises he’s not one of those dark, brooding, give-me-love types. “Don’t you hate them?” he asks.

“I don’t think I’ve ever met that type,” Buffy replies. Oh, we miss you, David Boreanaz.

Parker's stupid puppy dog eyes.

Parker’s stupid Prince Eric puppy-dog eyes

In the interest of continuity, Harmony shows up on campus and finds Willow. Last we saw, she was getting sucked dry by a vamp in the season 3 finale, and now she’s one herself. Vamp Harmony grows to be hilarious this season, but today she just wants to kill Willow. Oz jumps to the rescue with a microphone stand and a cross. Harmony backs off, but threatens Willow with a boyfriend of her own: “He’s gonna be mad that you were mean to me …”

Over at Giles’ house, Xander tries to earn some extra cash by helping the former Watcher organize his Wiccan books, but the men are surprised by the reappearance of another season 3 character. Anya, the man-killing former demon, wants to pick up her relationship with Xander where they left off, before the Mayor tried to eat them all. Xander explains how relationships shouldn’t be forced, but Anya later ambushes him with a prequel move to “The Naked Man” from How I Met Your Mother. They bone down.

Back at the dorms, Buffy and Parker are about to share their first kiss, but Willow and Oz run up with news of Harmony.

“Harmony’s a vampire?” Buffy marvels. “She must be dying without a reflection.”

That boyfriend of Harmony? Spike. Bless you, Jane Espenson, for bringing all the best non-Scooby characters back into the fold. Spike is in town to find the Gem of Amara, which grants immortality to its wearer. Spike and Harmony have some raunchy rolls in the sack, but outside the bedroom, Spike can’t shut Harmony up. Every time Spike tries to focus on finding the Gem, in comes Harmony to natter on about a vacation to France, or to hug her “Blondie Bear.”

Despite Spike’s contempt for his new chatterbox girlfriend, he agrees to take her out to kill and eat someone fresher than the dude chained up in their dungeon. And whom do they run into at a party? Buffy and Parker. The four exchange some awkward, threatening words before Spike takes off, claiming it isn’t time yet to fight the Slayer, but not before Harmony gives away their plan to find the Gem of Amara.

Parker is completely clueless that he just met two vampires. Buffy and Parker dance, drink, and sleep together after the party. She wakes up in Parker’s room and Parker bursts in a minute later with coffee for Buffy. Could this guy be better than Angel? No. He’s not. He tells Buffy his mother’s in town, so Buffy leaves immediately. He promises to call and never does.

Not in the mood for Spike fight.

Not in the mood for a Spike fight

Meanwhile, Anya and Xander are having their own morning after. Slipping her dress back on, Anya claims she’s now over Xander, and Xander says OK. Anya storms out, because she’s so not over him, and there we have the second beginning of a long-term on-and-off relationship.

Spike finally tunnels into the crypt where the Gem of Amara should be, with Harmony following close behind. She puts on all the gems she sees, opting for a tiara first. Same old Harmony. When she won’t stop talking, Spike finally stakes her in the heart, but she doesn’t die. Spike realizes she’s wearing the Gem and wrestles it from her. He leaves her crying to go “play outside” in the sun and find some trouble.

After no calls from Parker for two nights, Buffy sees him on campus talking to another girl. She tries confronting him, but the Buff gets brutally rebuffed. He says their night together was “fun,” nothing more. He’s not interested in a commitment. Buffy’s caught completely off guard and (painfully) apologizes. She’s hurt and vulnerable, and who’s there to kick her when she’s down? Spike, of course.

Spike has made it to UC Sunnydale, ready to fight the Slayer with his new immortality. In his usual revolting fashion, he taunts Buffy for sleeping with Parker, establishing his twisted fixation with Buffy. This manifests beautifully in later seasons.

“So, you let Parker take a poke, eh? Didn’t seem like you knew each other that well.” She responds by calling him a pig (but Buffy loves pigs! See: GIF). When he brings up Angel, though, it’s clear the topic still sets Buffy off. She snaps Spike’s arm and pulls off the ring, forcing him to sizzle in the daylight and escape into a nearby sewer hole. Conveniently, not a single student or police officer sees this fight take place.

Buffy loves pigs!

Buffy loves pigs!

Giles wants to destroy the ring, but Buffy decides to give it to Angel. Oz offers to swing by Angel’s show place in L.A. to drop it off. Back in 1999, this happened the next hour, when the shows aired back-to-back on The WB. I remember those crossover Buffyverse nights fondly.

As the dust settles, Buffy and Willow talk about the Parker situation. Willow sums up Parker neatly: “He’s a poophead.” But this is only Buffy’s second sexual encounter, and she’s not ready to give up. We feel the consequences of Parker’s careless playerdom for a couple more episodes. Both Anya and Harmony are also left confused and hurt by recent, unsatisfying attempts to do right by their man. You’ve got to feel especially bad for Harmony. When cornered by Giles to give up Spike’s location, she’s loyal to him and doesn’t give in. She’s a loyal dimwit.

The episode ends with a shot I’ve admired to this day: Buffy, Anya, and Harmony walk near each other on campus, unknowingly joined in their parallel broken hearts, isolated by the men they want.

Big Bad of the Week: Sure, Spike is back, and what a baddie he is. But from our 2014 perspective, we know Spike’s importance and can’t hold any premature grudges. Parker the scumbag, however, will never be remembered fondly. The Big Bad title belongs to him, for taking advantage of a freshman.

Quote of the Week: “I like you. You’re nicely shaped and frankly, it’s ludicrous to have these interlocking bodies and not interlock.” —Anya, “seducing” Xander into bed

Honorable Mention: “It’s called the alphabet.” —Giles to Xander, after Xander says he doesn’t understand a book filing system

Heinous ’90s Fashion of the Week: Can we talk about Willow’s huge coat for a second? The brown one with the gigantic plush trim and floral embroidery? I don’t think this is even a 1990s thing. This must have been the inspiration for Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop.”

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

You May Like