Vampire Diaries: Man on Fire

“Have fun sorting this out with your brother.”

Although Enzo has been in nine episodes this season, we haven’t gotten much of a chance to get to know his story. Enzo’s plots have illuminated Damon’s dark mid-century past, and Enzo himself has been an interesting foil to Damon’s rage and Caroline’s pep. His apparent levelheadedness evoked Alaric, and—as Enzo was fond of pointing out—Caroline does have a thing for guys with accents. His place within the show seemed fairly solid and more than functional, so it was high time for a bit more information about him.

Yet, despite liking Enzo and wanting to know more about him, I’m not overly impressed with how this episode gelled—or didn’t. It felt like a clunky way to create a false Stefan/Damon conflict, especially given how quickly Stefan jumped from watching Enzo frame him to telling Elena he’d “basically just killed” Enzo. Haven’t they learned yet that honesty is always the best policy?

Mostly, though, I was underwhelmed because the Enzo “love of my life” plot didn’t do much for me. We saw almost nothing of Enzo actually falling for Maggie—just lots of sepia-tinged flashbacks of him staring at Maggie, who stared back. They did the patented love-flashback-head-wiggle that I first noticed in the (strikingly similar) love flashbacks that permeated Bryce Varley’s flashes forward in FlashFoward. (Yes, that comparison is straight outta left field.) We were told they were in love, but never really saw it.

I’m also not sure how I feel about Elena and Stefan studying together. As Elena pointed out, Stefan is doing his patented Good Guy shtick, but opening this episode with Elena and Stefan getting all buddy-buddy right after the closing scene last week, in which Damon said he didn’t want to have anything to do with Elena—well, why can’t Elena study with Bonnie and Caroline? Why does she have to bop from brother to brother?

Probably for the sake of episode efficiency: Elena and Stefan needed to be in the bar so they could be tied up by Enzo together, and so Liv could wash her hands of any complicity in their deaths, since dead doppelgangers = happy witches. Episode efficiency could also explain why, in the middle of an angry-vampire hostage crisis, Liv and Bonnie could have a nice chat. And why Matt and Jeremy sat in the house waiting for Damon to give them permission to leave, which is truly bizarre. Or why the sudden rainstorm seemed cued to begin and end with the big fight.

TVD has been hit or miss all season, and I wonder if that is just, as they say, the new normal. With some shows, we know to expect mythology episodes interspersed with standalones. With others, we know to expect comedy every now and again, usually right before the big sad. Maybe, with TVD, we can expect a constant 2:1 ratio of good:awkward. Those awkward episodes shift all the pieces on the board, and set us up for the fun and games of the stronger episodes.

Because this episode does set up some interesting points: Enzo is now in the disintegrating Other Side, working on a Damon/Augustine-level of vengeance. The Travelers have figured out how to cheat magic (yet, sadly, not death) and want to take over Mystic Falls. (I think. Their plan is a big muddy.) Bonnie, once again, might die, which makes me think she will never, ever die for longer than half an episode.

Bites and Pieces:

• I sort of loved Matt and Jeremy looking for the mystical Traveler knife under the couch.

• But I wish they’d also found Caroline under there. Her presence was sorely missed.

• Wow, the Travelers have a gigantic chalice. Like, “choose wisely, Indy” big.

Two and a half out of four Cape Horns

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:

Billie Doux said...

It was okay, but I was underwhelmed. Just as you said, Josie, the Maggie/true love plot felt manufactured and I didn't buy it. And I was just starting to like Enzo a little. I wish they'd gone a different direction with him.