The Vampire Diaries: I’ll Remember

“I realized it was pointless and I needed to move on with my life.”

Although Elena is the soft, chewy center of The Vampire Diaries, I’m more and more inclined to think of Caroline as the true heroine, and this sixth season premiere really cemented that idea in my brain. (Which is painful: cement-brain is worse than ice-cream freeze-brain.)

This episode began and ended with voiceovers: Elena’s peppy “everything is awesome” speech to Damon, which we now know to be proof that she’s the queen of denial, and Caroline’s long voicemail to Stefan, which showed that she’s the one member of Team Mystic Falls who is seriously working on solving the big problems of Damon’s and Bonnie’s disappearance and death, and the mystical barrier that prevents our supernaturals from entering their hometown.

Elena’s actions throughout this episode prompted I09 reviewer Charlie Jane Anders to declare her “the villain” of The Vampire Diaries: “Everything bad on Vampire Diaries happens due to Elena Gilbert, the self-centered main character who nobody ever holds responsible for anything.” Anders is talking about Elena’s drug-induced killing spree, but also the way that Caroline (and, probably eventually, everyone) tends to cut Elena an awful lot of slack.

Should they? That’s a good question, and it’s one that I had in the back of my mind for most of the events in this episode: should our characters keep doing what they’re doing?

Take Caroline: she really wants to reunite the group, return to her hometown, and “hold on to what’s familiar,” as Sheriff Forbes explained. Caroline’s struggle resonates more with me, and probably with most people who ever transitioned from high school to college. Caroline is worried that her group of friends will become “just pictures in a yearbook in a drawer somewhere.”

That’s a very real fear—but it also raises the question of whether or not it’s time for Team Mystic Falls to disband. Perhaps Mystic Falls is better off without a bunch of vampires. As Elena pointed out: “On the plus side, the crime rate is way down.” Perhaps Stefan should move on. Perhaps Alaric should find more grown-up friends and work on his flirting skills. Perhaps it is time, in fact, to end this show. Not because it’s bad, although this episode lacked the mile-a-minute pace of most TVD eps. But before it becomes bad or, worse yet, stagnant.

Like Jeremy, who has decided that girls, games, and gluttony are the ways to enjoy his post-high-school, post-hunter life. Or Alaric, who is doing exactly the same thing he was doing before his resurrection, but with blood cravings, a new discipline, and even less game than he ever had. (I was still insanely delighted to see him again.) Or Tyler, who is clearly going to lose it in some creepy way soon.

Matt seems to be the only one of our heroes who is really using the events of the fifth season finale to make something of himself: a community volunteer in a program run by Sheriff Jack Carter some guy named Tripp who got the job thanks to his excellent skills at managing odd small towns.

All that would make this episode odd enough: our characters are stuck, Caroline is unable to figure out a solution, Stefan is off being a mechanic, and the show seems to be aware that what we’re supposed to want—for everyone to return—might not actually be worth rooting for. I like the thoughtful ambiguity of this episode, but I’m also curious and a little confused about what will come next.

That curiosity is due, in no small part, to the weird epilogue with Damon and Bonnie. The Collective Soul song playing in the background—plus the fact that Damon and Bonnie appeared to be reading hardcopy newspapers (OMG!)—led TVLine to speculate that they were pushed back into the 1990s. I can’t top that explanation. But I can offer you a screenshot of Damon-made pancakes with little fangs:


Bites and Pieces:

• Imaginary Damon: “Can we go back to the part where Ric came back to life to be a college professor?”

• Luke: “You’re asking if there are side-effects to the ancient psychedelic herbs I’ve been giving you? Because there haven’t exactly been clinical trials.” I like Luke.

• Alaric: “Occult studies.”
Professor Jo: “I didn’t know that’s an actual thing.”
Alaric: “Yeah.”
Professor Jo: “Not that it’s not a thing.”

Alaric (on the phone to someone, maybe Stefan): “Okay, so when I lost my human nature, I also lost my game.”

I’m not sure. Maybe three out of four pancakes?

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?)

6 comments:

Billie Doux said...

It was fun. I enjoyed it. And I knew they were going to give us Damon and Bonnie at the end -- but I didn't expect them to be wherever it was that they were. I thought they were going to be roaming around in some purgatory-like place waiting for someone to get them out. This is better. Whatever it is.

Alaric teaching college. But of course. And it's somehow not awkward. I was thinking that Elena got at least one of her six parents/parental figures back.

TVD isn't complete without a Josie review. :)

Nic said...

Re: Alaric's phonecall, he was calling Elena. The very next scene is of her in the car with her phone receiving a new voicemail from Alaric. Which she ignored, of course.

Nice review. I disagree with Caroline as the heroine though. (Not that I like Elena any better.) How can she be when she's actively working to put the people in Mystic Falls in danger again? I mean, I get that she wants to be able to go back home but trading an entire town's safety just for a chance to eat at the Grill again seems far too selfish. Then again, almost everyone in this show is on a sliding scale of amorality.

I'd dropped this show some time in the fourth season. It is, as you say, getting quite stagnant. And I really have a hard time trying to see any of the characters as either sympathetic or even vaguely heroic. But now that Alaric's back, I have to watch it again. Damn you, show.

Oh also, hehe, there was an odd feeling watching Sheriff Carter get shoved aside by Sheriff Forbes. He just can't seem to stay away from secretive small towns, can he?

TheShadowKnows said...

I disagree that Elena is a "villain" or the cause of all the bad things that happen on the show, but she certainly isn't very sympathetic. I would call her behavior in general more stupid than villainous.

It would be cool if they eventually made her a villain though.

Unknown said...

Bringing back one person from death is a nice surprise or twist, but when you keep on doing it, not only does it make future character's deaths cheaper, but it also makes the first instances of bringing someone back from the dead less impactful, too.

Anyway I was hoping more from a season opener and maybe think this show is going to limp to the finish. This episode felt like they didn't really now where to take things after last season's finale and they're trying to be too heavy handed with the almost schizophrenic nature of everything. I purposely delayed watching this for a month so I could binge out, but after watching the first episode i was way less enthused to do so.

On a positive note, at least there was some great music in this one. I loved how they used “From The Wreckage Build A Home” by the Wind and The Wave when Elena walks to the crypt and narrates that she has chosen to be a doctor, and also it was cool to hear Alt-J's "Hunger of the Pine" when Caroline calls Stefan and tells him she’s not giving up and wants everyone together again...but it's kinda lame how just the music and the last scene are the only two things that really stood out to me, I used to love how action-packed this show was.

Juliette said...

When I finally - a year late - watched the season 5 premiere, I decided I couldn't be bothered and just caught up on the 100th episode (for an article). But when I watched this, it made me think, hmm, I think I shall watch some more of season 6. So I think that's a thumbs-up? I suspect it's entirely Alaric- and maybe Matt- related.

But how is Tyler still on this show? Someone please send him to another show where he can be disposed of as he should be (I'm imagining Sam and Dean hunting him - human or otherwise - or Eric Northman ripping him to pieces, or Buffy handing him over the to Initiative or something...)

Marianna said...

The villain argument has occurred to me. I think that's going too far, but I definitely don't think she's a hero, or any of them are for that matter. If we compare any of the Scoobies on this show to those on Buffy, the difference is that when a crisis hits the Buffy characters immediately think of the larger ramifications it will have on the world. On this show they only think of their group. (e.g. there's this super-dangerous immortal guy Silas and only one dose of a drug to make him killable, but let's only think about how we can use it to make Elena human.) That includes Stefan who often gets referred to as a hero. Basically they're all a lot more immature than any of the Buffy characters despite the fact that they're the same age (and in some cases older), but hey we can't all live up to Buffy standards. So if you consider being a hero to be thinking of not just people you personally know, I don't think any of them are heroes, but I don't think they're villains either. I think they are all somewhere in the middle.