Vampire Diaries: The Devil Inside

“These are the neediest people I’ve ever met.”

So, okay. The thing is. Well—wait. Wait just a second. Hmm…I’m really not sure if—Wow! And yet: huh.

That’s an approximate representation of my feelings as I tried to figure out not just how I felt about this episode (liked it) but about the shape of this season of The Vampire Diaries. And it hasn’t gotten any clearer.

I’m a narrative control freak. I don’t like Kindles because I can’t skip ahead to see where the current chapter ends; I can’t feel the pages read stacking up on the left or the pages-yet-to-read on the right. Part of my love of TV may stem from the neat interplay between 44-minute episodes, 22 episodes a season, and the expected upbeats and downbeats of winter and spring finales. I’m not saying I like to know where a show is going. I just like to know where I am in the journey.

That’s where I’m getting confused with TVD. Are we done with Whitmore College? We saw it only briefly this week, and only so we could be re-introduced to Aaron. With Elena permanently (yeah, right) tucked away, it may be a while before we need to return. So…was the point of Whitmore to introduce Damon’s dark past, and therefore Enzo, in order to create a scenario in which Damon returns to his bite-‘em-and-leave-‘em first-season persona? I can’t tell if TVD is in the process of resetting some of the plot points of this season (which is not unwelcome, despite the jarring effect), or if this is how the season was supposed to go.

I suppose it doesn’t matter, as “The Devil Inside” made some fun changes. Damon’s return to form should provide us with a nice tortured antihero: while I never loved Klaus, I see his narrative necessity now that he’s gone. Juxtaposing Damon’s tortured bad boy with Katherine’s scheming minx should make for exciting TV in the second half of this season. Villains are always more frightening when they’re familiar, since we know their motivations—and especially since we know so much more than Team Mystic Falls does. Throwing Enzo and Nadia into the mix provides just the right dollop of mystery.

But that’s all prognostication about where this season might be headed, and I don’t have a great track record with guessing this show’s future. Yet even beyond the set-up material, this episode had plenty of strengths. Not least among them was Nina Dobrev switching seamlessly between Katherine and Elena: the scene in the tomb was remarkable for the way Dobrev communicated which character was in charge with very little dialogue. Katherine one minute, Elena the next, then Elena pretending to be Katherine? Well done.

My favorite bit, however, might have been Caroline’s desire for expiation. She wants to be judged, to have others reaffirm the badness of her decision to sleep with Klaus, but I hope she realizes that we all make mistakes, and sleeping with a moody older hybrid original vampire in the woods is something most of us do freshman year, anyway.

Plus, this episode had excellent scenes between friends: Matt and Elena Katherine, Stefan and Caroline, Matt and Tyler. Even Damon and Stefan discussing pouty-face versus dick-face. I’ve written before about how this show’s appeal stems from the close-knit nature of its core group; more scenes like that, especially after the Whitmore College/Mystic Falls split we got earlier in the season, are always a good thing.

What will happen next? Why was Bonnie conveniently absent (casting necessity aside)? How will Jeremy deal with gradually figuring out that his sister has been body-snatched? Does Damon have a handkerchief to wipe off that blood? For the first time in a while, I find myself looking forward to the answers.

Three and a half out of four vervain watches.

Nota bene: Due to a DVR malfunction and unrelated internet troubles, I could only watch this episode once, and didn’t get a chance to list my favorite quotes. Add your own in the comments, and let me know if I missed anything!

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?)

2 comments:

Katerina said...

I don't understand why Bonnie wouldn't have known that Katherine didn't pass over after she "died." You'd think she would've questioned it and said something to everyone, especially knowing about the Travelers. I know - then this body hi-jacking would probably have been discovered quickly. I hate when something is conveniently overlooked for the sake of a plot, though. I also don't understand why Elena didn't kill the person performing the ritual, or snatch Katherine's body as she ran out - something - since she probably realized what was happening. Needless to say, I was a bit annoyed by how they got to the end, though I'm not saying it won't be interesting.

TheShadowKnows said...

"I also don't understand why Elena didn't kill the person performing the ritual..."

I said the same thing to my wife, and in fact until the woman got back up I assumed Elena HAD killed her. I mean, why wouldn't she? IMO it's always acceptable to kill someone who's casting a body-snatching spell on you. But if Elena disagreed, all she had to do was beat the gypsy woman into a coma, or punch her in the throat a couple of times, or break her jaw, or do ANYTHING to keep her from speaking and (thus) finishing the spell. And of course she should have staked what's-her-name so this didn't happen again. Instead, with both her enemies down for the count, she ran like a rabbit(?) Not Elena's finest hour.