Vampire Diaries: The Cell

The Theme of the Week is confinement, and how confinement can act as a crucible in which characters reveal their true selves. The parallel stories of Damon’s and Stefan’s confinement—in different times and different contexts—reveal the fundamental difference between these two brothers: when given the chance, Stefan is a protector. But when stuck between a rock and hard place, Damon chooses himself over those around him.

Or does he? Caroline has reminded us for the past few episodes of Damon’s serial-killer tendencies, but we also know that Damon is willing to do almost anything to protect Elena. Is that a good thing? There are two answers: It’s selfless because it prioritizes Elena’s happiness over Damon’s. Or, it’s selfish because Damon is happier, and more likely to stay in a relationship with Elena if she’s happy. It’s a question of intention, and whether good deeds are still good if done for bad reasons.

Added to that is the revelation that Damon has been enacting a decades-long quest to get punish the Whitmores. This is rather hard for me to stomach: not because it is unlikely, but because we’ve gotten no indication that Damon occasionally disappears to get his Monte Cristo on until this very moment. It feels, in short, like a massive ret-con of the cuddly Damon who has emerged over the past season and a half.

Perhaps Damon’s quest for vengeance is a story only half-told: maybe there is another side, maybe he’s lying to protect Elena, maybe there’s more to what we learned here. TVD does tend to pull the rug out from under us, so I’m holding out hope.

But not too much. I love the flashbacks on shows like Buffy and Angel, but I’ve never loved them on TVD. Watching this episode, I understood why: the best Buffyverse flashbacks reveal the complicated backstories of characters we already know. Many (granted, not all) of the TVD flashbacks introduce a new character we’ve never heard of that is sure to pop up in the modern day, just like Enzo. Of course, maybe Enzo will be the kick in the pants this part of the season needs, adding a complexity to the so-far rather thin Whitmore plots.

And the rather odd Mystic Falls plots. Caroline’s decision to lock Stefan in the safe was quite possibly the stupidest thing she, or anyone else in the history of the world, has ever thought of. But I can’t blame her: the safe was just a tool to get the Stefan/Katherine relationship to an appropriately awkward reunion.

Cold comfort? Or something more? Perhaps Stefan is doomed to fall madly in love with human versions of the female doppelgangers, and Damon falls for the vampiric versions. Or perhaps Stefan just likes tragic women: Elena after the death of her family, Katherine after the death of her immortality. It will be interesting to see how Elena reacts to this news when she finds out, although of course someone has to find them first.

Bites and Pieces:

• I loved Katherine’s sarcastic diary entry.

• I think it’s hilarious that Aaron Whitmore thought that going to Whitmore College would somehow help him get away from all the troubles he’s had.

• Did anyone think of the cages in Season Three of Lost this week?

• Is playing Patsy Cline on repeat some form of torture?

What did you all think? Did this episode seem rather dull and hokey? Or am I burning out on this show?

Josie Kafka reviews The Vampire Diaries, True Detective, Game of Thrones, and various other things that take her fancy. She is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)

1 comment:

Liz Haley said...

The cages didn't make me think of Lost--it was all the Patsy Cline music!

I might argue that this episode's flashbacks had a dual purpose--they did, in true TVD fashion, introduce us to a new character that's conveniently just now shown up in the present, but they did also share some of Damon's convoluted backstory, too. He's been shown to be someone who feels things very intensely, and that he has only shut his emotions off in times of deep guilt, sadness, or grief. To me, the flashbacks actually showed a more human side of him--the guilt he must have felt at not being able to save his friend.