Willow dressed as a knight

About:

Title: Buffy S4.E03 “The Harsh Light of Day” + S4.E04 “Fear Itself”
Released: 1999

Drinks Taken: 27
Vamps Dusted: 0

 

Follow the whole rewatch here!

Last week we packed up our cars full of Bed Bath & Beyond duvet comforters and twinkle lights and drove away to college! We ran into some old rivals and learned that college professors can kinda be massive dicks. (I have been waiting for an email back from a dean for TWO months at my job. What the heck?) This week feels tailor-made just for moi, as it features a real-life haunted house / escape room! Oh, and there’s also Parker. (But I don’t want him, kthanksbyeee.) 

Buffy eagerly watching a pitcher of beer being poured into her glass.

The Buffy Season Four Drinking Game Rules

Drink once every time:

A vamp is dusted
A scene takes place in a cemetery
You see the “University of California Sunnydale” entrance sign
You actually see a class in session
Oz is ridiculously low-key cool
Spike has mad swagger
Willow and/or Tara gets witchy with it
The Initiative makes you go, “Bored now”
Riley is a drag
Things get funcomfortable between Anya and Xander

Drink twice every time:

Giles drinks tea
There’s an extremely outdated pop culture reference
A vampire is invited into a house
There’s a call back to previous season shenanigans
Harmony says something dumb
Someone uses a payphone

Alright, let’s get this Parker storyline going so we can be done with it. 

Parker talking to another girl on campus while Buffy watches

4.03 “The Harsh Light of Day”

Buffy is having lusty feelings after Angel! Unfortunately (unfortunate because we know he’s a total douche-canoe) those feelings are for Parker Abrams, the cute older college guy who flirted with her last week at the cafeteria. Parker and Buffy share a deep conversation on their walk home from the Bronze about his deceased father and how his death made Parker want to “live for now” which is total bro code for “so have sex with me now!” Buffy shares a sanitized version of her drowning from a few years back, and Parker “seizes the moment” to invite her to a party.

Willow has a run-in with recently-vamped Harmony that same night. Oz scares her off, but not before Harmony tells them her boyfriend will make them sorry! Later, Buffy hypothesizes that any vamp who can deal with Harmony “must be the most tolerant guy in the world” but the joke’s on her, because the boyfriend is Spike!

After Dru dumped Spike for a fungus demon, he returned to Sunnydale to search for the Gem of Amara, a ring that makes a vampire invincible. It’s hidden in some underground crypt, so he’s got a team working day and night to dig it out. Harmony begs him to kill all the people who were mean to her, but Spike is basically that abusive older boyfriend your mom always warned you about, so he alternately yells at her, pushes her, or tolerates her with barely concealed loathing. Fun! Except Harmony is also a soulless vampire, so she kinda gets off on some of his more violent moments. Double fun!

Spike capitulates to Harmony’s desire to go out, and they end up attending the same frat party where Buffy and Parker are on their first date. Harmony and Spike dump their snack (a drunken frat bro) and Buffy ditches Parker to go a few rounds with Spike, but when Harmony blabs about the fungus demon she pisses Spike off.

Harmony talks over Spike and reveals their plans, he shakes her and they run off.
Spike: “We are going. It isn’t time yet.”
Harmony: “Yeah, but as soon as we have the Gem of Amara, you’re gonna be sor—”
Spike: *growls and shakes her, then runs them both off*

It was kind of a brilliant move by the writers to put Harmony and Spike together.

Buffy rejoins Parker and tells him Spike is an old friend and she had to save him from drinking as he’s an alcoholic. (Earlier she told him her vampire bite scar from Angel was made by an angry puppy. We know Parker must REALLY want to get laid because he does not question her flimsy excuses at ALL.) They share a romantic dance and soon Buffy is comfortable enough to head back to his room for sexytimes. She wakes up alone the next morning, but only because Parker was out getting her coffee; she perks up and asks if he wants to hang out later. Parker says he’ll call her, which pleases Buffy, but it does NOT please me, because he may as well have had all his fingers and toes crossed judging by the look of utter disinterest on his face.

Let’s pause and visit another awkward sex encounter. Anya has returned from her Ascension-free road trip plagued by sexy dreams starring Xander. She wants to date him, but Xander is not having it…until Anya shows up in his basement apartment (where he’s putting up his disco ball!?) and drops trou. She explains she thinks sexual intercourse is the secret to getting Xander out of her mind by “[…]putting you behind me. Behind me figuratively. I’m thinking face to face for the event itself.” Xander can’t help but slip a little misogyny into his initial refusal (he says he’s “turning into a woman” because he thinks sex should be about emotional intimacy) but Anya is relentless and unbuttons his shirt when it’s clear he’s helpless in light of her naked physique. I do feel a little bad for him when he tells her that, amazingly, this is still a better sexual encounter than Faith

Cut to their morning after, where they sit on Xander’s sad couch-bed, post-coitus. To me, it’s the perfect sum-up of their entire relationship. Anya weakly declares she’s over him now, but her face says otherwise. Xander, with his back to her, doesn’t notice and gets offended by the remark, so he snarkily replies, “Okay?” And Anya, now offended by his flippant reaction, assumes HE’S rejecting HER and stalks off. These two, with their snark and assholish tendencies, are all at once so perfect for each other and yet SO not, as neither is ever willing to communicate honestly.

There’s a sad montage of Buffy constantly checking her messages to no avail; Spike drilling for his Precious and being mean to Harmony; and the gang searching campus for anyone who has seen Harmony. Finally it’s clear to Buffy that Parker isn’t calling her, and she flops on her bed in a dejected way I think most of us have experienced at some point or another. Harmony inadvertently picks up the Gem of Amara and Spike drives a stake through her heart to test its efficacy, then practically rips it off her finger. He’s finally hurt Harmony beyond her breaking point, and I do feel bad for her even if she is an evil creature of the night.

Buffy spies Parker dead-dading a new girl and confronts him about not calling her. “It’s only been a couple of days,” says the commitment-phobe. “Do you need to talk to me about something?” It takes Buffy so long into this conversation to catch on, and you can’t help but feel sad for her when she realizes their night was nothing more than “fun” for him. His responses are so flippant and infuriating as he tries to make Buffy feel stupid for thinking they had a connection when it was always “clearly” a one-night stand. He twists Buffy’s emotions into such a Gordian knot that she ends up apologizing TO HIM for misreading the situation, and OMG I WANT TO PUNCH HIM.

Buffy looks distraught when Parker rejects her.

How dare you make Buffy doubt her awesomeness!!

Spike, out in broad daylight because of the Amara ring, is unfortunately there to witness her humiliation, and the two fight. Buffy, despite her sore feelings, eventually bests him and takes the ring. She tells the Scooby Gang she wants Angel to have it (cue crossover episode!) and gives it to Oz for the hand-off.

We end with Willow comforting Buffy about Parker, even though Buffy doesn’t want to be cheered up. She’s confused and hurt and still thinking that part of this is her fault: “He’s manipulative and shallow…and why doesn’t he want me? Am I repulsive?” OH, GIRL, NO. Willow is the BEST when she flatly labels Parker a “poophead”, but Buffy is still pondering if there’s a way they can work things out. It’s cringey and yet eminently relatable.

How many times do I have to take a drink?

16

Vamps Dusted

0

Headlining at The Frat Party

It’s Bif Naked! “We are the Lucky Ones” is on the show’s soundtrack, for those that are keeping track.

Singer Bif Naked at a frat party.

You Laugh Now…

When Parker asks Buffy if she and Spike used to date:

Buffy bursts out laughing when Parker asks if she used to date Spike

If only that was still her reaction in later seasons… (#NotASpuffyShipper)

Sarcastic Giles For Life

Buffy strolls into her dorm room after her night with Parker and is surprised by Giles and Willow.

Giles sits at a computer while Willow stands behind and makes a knowing face.

Giles: “Um, good morning.”
Buffy: “Giles! I didn’t know you were here.”
Giles: “Oh really?”
Buffy: “Um, I, I was studying. At the library. All Saturday night. Uh…you know what? I’m an adult, and it’s none of your business where I was!”
Giles: “And I’m sincerely relieved to hear it. Now can we discuss the impending disaster?”

Ruffled Giles For Life

Without the school library, Giles has all his research books at his home, and it’s causing him some uncomfortable moments with the Scooby Gang always around:

Xander: “Whoa, Giles has a TV. Everybody, Giles has a TV! He’s shallow like us!”
Oz: “I admit, I’m a little disappointed.”
Giles: *sputters*
Willow: “Well, maybe it doesn’t work! It’s like art.”
Xander turns the TV on.
Giles: “Aah…Public television!”

Haaaaave You Met Angel?

Parker looking like a tool lying to Buffy.

Parker, after telling Buffy about his dead dad: “And I’m not doing the deep, get sympathy routine. I mean, don’t you just hate guys who are all ‘dark and brooding, so give me love’?”
Buffy, laughing nervously: “I don’t think I’ve ever met that type.”

Xander in a tux getting scared by a skeleton in a tux

4.04 “Fear Itself”

Ever since Parker’s rejection, Buffy’s been feeling majorly down in the dumps; not even eviscerating a pumpkin for Halloween can make her feel better. Xander and Willow are trying their hardest to cheer her up, but Buffy is “fully vacationing in the land of not coping” by choice.

Willow is feeling her own frustrations as her magic abilities plateau. Seems the only way to get more power is to begin conjuring, which is tricky to get right. Buffy and Oz caution her against too much too soon, which, to a smart, capable person like Willow, feels like they’re saying they don’t trust her enough to make good decisions (weeeeeell…).

Even the mere glimpse of Parker in the cafeteria is enough for Buffy to tuck tail and run, so Willow tries to distract her with a costume party. Buffy’s obviously not feeling the party mood and tries to weasel her way out of it by blaming Giles and his strict patrol schedule. She heads to his house to get her corroboration, and then we are treated to THIS delightful sight:

Giles dressed in a sombrero and poncho for Halloween.
Giles *shakes a hanging Frankenstein decoration*: “It’s alive!”

GIF from Starryeyesxx

OMG, please always wear this, Giles.

Meanwhile, a group of frat bros are setting up their cheesy Halloween decorations in what seems like quite a nice frat house. One of the brothers is copying a magical-looking, circular symbol from an old book onto the attic floor for atmosphere. I appreciate his dedication to creating an authentic party experience. Oz, there lending his sound equipment, accidentally cuts his hand and spills a drop of blood on the design, which, OOPS, triggers the magic. A plastic spider turns into a real tarantula (nope, nope, NOPE) and the foreshadowing hits us over the head.

Buffy stops by Maggie Walsh’s psych classroom and apologizes for skipping. Walsh has zero sympathy for man-induced depressive episodes and leaves without giving Buffy the day’s assignments. Riley, of the floppy hair and baggy button-downs, still remembers what it was like to be a freshman, so he gives her the homework AND a pep talk, encouraging Halloween fun even though he’ll be at home “grading papers.” Uh huh.

So Buffy asks her mom to let out her Little Red Riding Hood costume from when she was twelve. She laments that everyone she opens her heart to ends up leaving her: her dad, Angel, now Parker. Joyce says she knows how it feels; it took her a long time to open up and make friends in Sunnydale (and since her last boyfriend ended up being a homicidal robot, she’s also been wary of dating). But Buffy has Giles and her friends who care about her, and, of course, Joyce herself will always be there (NO YOU WON’T, JOYCE!!! *Sob*).

The gang meets up outside the party house and Xander (dressed as James Bond, just in case they end up becoming their costumes again) informs them he invited Anya, who is showing up later because she couldn’t find a scary enough costume. Two Initiative operatives stumble out of the bushes in full gear right next to the group, who dismiss them as fellow costumed students. Judging by the bumbling, I can only assume one of them is Riley. Willow’s entire job this episode is to pump Buffy up for a good time, and she tries, but the scene is intercut with shots of people already inside screaming, dying, and, I would assume, costume-wetting.

Once they enter Hell House, the Scoobs aren’t impressed with the faux dismembered head in the entry or the jumping skeleton with the plastic knife, but the tarantula on Willow’s shoulder (sorry, you have to burn that now), the real blood on the ground, and the bats that fly at their heads soon have them singing a different tune. The hallways shift and lead them in circles while doorways disappear and reappear at will.

Buffy, ever the pragmatist, whips a mini crossbow out of her picnic basket and decides to venture to the attic alone to find party-goers. Willow is offended Buffy doesn’t want their help, especially when Buffy expresses disbelief that her “simple incantation for lost travelers” will even work. “I’m not your sidekick!” she huffs and stalks off.

The house splits the group like a knife through hot butter. Xander becomes invisible and wanders the halls scaring himself. Oz runs away from Willow after he begins turning into his wolfy self sans full moon. Willow tries her lost traveler’s spell, which fails spectacularly as dozens of CGI fireflies swarm her.

Buffy, on the lookout for survivors, busts down a door and falls two stories down into a basement doubling as a cemetery. One of the dead frat bros taunts Buffy that her friends may have abandoned her, but she’s not alone. Cue zombie arms bursting through the ground to encircle her. Buffy fights her way free, escaping through a little baby door, which somehow deposits her into the attic. All around are terrified party guests sobbing into their capes and clown wigs, including Oz, Willow, and Xander.

They find the book the frat bros used to accidentally create the summoning spell for the demon Gachnar, who feeds on fear by distorting reality before becoming corporeal. Before they can find an escape route, a chainsaw-wielding figure breaks down the door. It’s Giles! (What I haven’t mentioned yet is Anya arrived at the house, noticed the lack of door and a girl screaming in a window, and promptly got reinforcements. Good Scooby Gang initiate!)

Giles is fluent in Gaelic (of course), so he reads aloud that the summoning of Gachnar can be stopped in one of two ways: “Destroying the mark of Gachnar–” Buffy immediately punches through the floorboards bearing the design, while Giles huffily continues, “–is NOT one of them and will, in fact, IMMEDIATELY bring forth the fear demon itself!” After a lot of groaning and flashing lights, Gachnar is revealed and…well, I’ll just let you see for yourself:

Buffy looks at a tiny demon on the ground

As Xander puts it, “Big overture, leeeetle show.”

Buffy struggles to smother a laugh as pint-sized Gachnar screams, “Fear me!!” She promptly stomps him into mini-demon goo before ending the night at Giles’ so she can raid his Halloween candy.

How many times do I have to take a drink?

11

Vamps Dusted

0

The Truest Thing Anybody Said This Week

Anya: “You haven’t called. Not once.”
Xander: “You said you were over me.”
Anya: “And you just accepted that? I only said that because I thought that’s what you wanted to hear.”
Xander: “Well that’s the funny thing about me. I tend to hear the actual words people say and accept them at face value.”
Anya: “Well that’s stupid.”
Xander: “I accept that.”

And A Long-Running Show Bit Is Born

Anya’s fear of bunnies is first documented in this episode! There’s just something about the look up-and-down that Xander gives her here that tickles me.

Xander finds it strange Anya's scary costume is a rabbit.

Xander: “THAT’S your scary costume?”
Anya: “Bunnies frighten me.”

Best Grrrl Power Moment

Buffy has weapons in her little red riding hood basket

Xander, in a creepy-dude voice: “What do you have in the basket, little girl?”
Buffy, matter-of-factly: “Weapons.”
Xander, dropping the act: “Oh.”

Bloody Good Snark

Buffy Willow and Oz eat chocolate but Willow feels sick.

Buffy, after slaying: “This is much better. There is no problem that cannot be solved by chocolate!”
Willow, clutching her stomach: “I think I’m gonna barf.”
Buffy: “Except that.”

Silly Giles For Life

An image of the demon Gachnar in a book

Giles: “Bloody hell. The inscription!”
Buffy: “What’s the matter?”
Giles, shows her the book: “I should have translated the Gaelic inscription under the illustration of Gachnar.”
Buffy: “What’s it say?”
Giles, disgusted: “‘Actual size.’”

Is Amy Still A Rat?

We don’t see hide nor hair of her, so yep.


What did you, dear watchers, think of the Parker storyline? Did it feel realistic? How does this Halloween episode stack up against the others?

Show up for class next Wednesday to hear Sarah orate on the terribad “Beer Bad” and Oz/Willow ship-killer “Wild at Heart” (I’m not ready!).

Stephanie (she/her) is an avid reader who moonlights at a college and calls Orlando home. Stephanie loves watching television, reading DIY blogs, planning awesome parties, Halloween decorating, and playing live-action escape games.