Vampire Diaries: Black Hole Sun

“Why do you think we’re stuck on a repeating loop?”

Okay, sure, I cheated. That quote—from bratty psychopath Kai—really ends with a reference to May 10, 1994, the day in which Damon and Bonnie are stuck. But it is the question of the episode, and possibly the entire season so far. What will TVD do to get us out of these perpetual cycle of misery?

Stefan and Damon both struggled with the past and with moving on this week. Actually, so did Elena and Alaric. And Tripp. And Jeremy. Caroline is probably struggling, too, but she's doing it off-screen.

Damon told Kai and Bonnie the story of his return to Mystic Falls in 1994, and the way he killed a bunch of lodgers, one of whom is Sarah’s mother. That whole scenario—while interesting enough—seemed to exist solely to reveal that Sarah’s parents were killed by uncle-nephew Damon.

Well, that, plus the connection between Stefan and Damon. Stefan and Damon have an astonishingly co-dependent relationship. They both blame one another for everything that has gone wrong: Stefan sees Damon as destroying “every single thing that [he] built.” Damon saw Stefan as owing him an eternity of misery for a life of betrayal.

In the note that Elena left for herself, she said that she wanted memory-wiped Elena to define herself as herself, not in reference to someone else. Stefan seems to be doing the same thing in trying to get over the loss of Damon. The suggestion that Damon is not just Elena’s soulmate but also Stefan’s is depressing, as though toxic relationships really are inescapable.

Having said that, the flashbacks seemed strained: a rough attempt to show us rather than tell us about Karen’s parentage. After all, May 10, 1994 is not Damon’s personal hell. It is Kai’s, designed by the Gemini coven to punish him for killing his entire family-coven of witches. Well, not his entire family. He let one sister live (only took her spleen), and who thinks we might see her at some point this season?

Kai claims not to have magical powers, except for the ones he steals, but I think he has a magical skill at delay. Think of the silly pranks he played on Damon and Bonnie. Think of the useless map-locator spell meant to locate something he already had, or the backstory he demanded from Damon despite knowing it wasn’t relevant. All of his nonsense just takes up minutes.

In fact, most of this episode felt like delay. Stefan and Elena playing at reinvention did precisely nothing for me. How does faking an engagement help a person reinvent themselves? Does Elena’s threat—to harass Stefan as much as Enzo did—really seem like a threat we’re supposed to get behind?

Trip’s threats seemed a bit more interesting. Like Sarah, his compulsion vanished when he crossed back into Mystic Falls. Unlike Sarah, he had a lifetime of memories flood back, including the remembrance that his wife did not die in a car accident. She was killed by vampires, and suddenly Trip’s mission seems to make a lot more sense. Too bad he has trapped one of the few vampires that we know has the ability to put up with decades of torture and not break.

Alaric’s struggle with the past—and Jeremy’s—was also interesting. Both Alaric and Jeremy really can’t come to terms with all of the misery they’ve experienced. They’re stuck in a perpetual loop of mourning the past that has left them unable to really come to terms with the present, much less plan for any sort of future. Stefan is in the same boat, I guess: Ivy, his new-life girlfriend who was killed by Enzo, is now in possession of an unlife. I wonder how that will change Stefan’s plans? Will he, like Elena, opt-in for reinvention?

I also wonder how it will affect the show as a whole. These past four episodes seem to be all about getting trapped in a repeating loop, and the heavy-handedness of that metaphor makes it hard for me not to see it as the show talking about itself. The fast-paced plot of seasons yore is gone. That was interesting at first, but now I am sort of... bored.

Bites and Pieces:

• Bonnie was wearing overalls half-unbuttoned.

• The Gemini coven was mentioned back in the first episode of this season by Enzo and Caroline. I still think Liv and Luke might be part of it, as they are twins.

• Why was the pretty doctor so mean to Alaric?!

• If Kai murdered (most of) his family on May 10, 1994, then why is the newspaper already carrying the story? Was that just the day the Gemini coven caught him?

• I loved seeing Caroline’s mom talking about her toddler: “Caroline’s high maintenance, but she’s worth it.”

• Stefan and Elena joked about his red “grannymobile,” but he had a blue car under a tarp. Was he sort of lying-by-implication to Elena about his plans?

• Was that Elena’s dad saving Sarah’s life?

How many Soundgarden songs out of four? Maybe two?

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:

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure the blue car Under the tarp was Damon's car.

Josie Kafka said...

Thanks, Anon!

So it just symbolizes that Stefan can't get over Damon, and is going to carry his memory (or "drive" his memory) with him wherever he goes. Bittersweet.

Paul Kelly said...

This is fairly irrelevent, I know, but all I could think when they kept mentioning Gail was on vervain was: vervain is a uterine stimulant. You don't take it when you're pregnant. You take it to bring on childbirth -- not six months in.

What a weird thing for me to get hung up on.

Billie Doux said...

Paul -- is vervain a real thing, then? I kept thinking it was made up for this series.

I'm finding the "stuck in someone else's Hell" thing interesting. They've certainly never done it before, and I like seeing Damon and Bonnie as friends when their previous relationship was so adversarial.

I've never been much into Stefan as a character, but right now, I'm liking him more than I ever have. Maybe it was the fake proposal scene with Elena in the bar.

Paul Kelly said...

Billie, yes vervain is an actual herb sometimes known as verbena. There's a whole host of folklore surrounding it, but it makes a pretty decent tea. I drink it quite regularly, not because of vampires, but because I grow it in my herb garden.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone considered that Kai is supposed to be 20 years older so who ever the girl was that he didn't kill could of had two babies a year later (twins, luke and liv), who are part of the Gemini coven which means twins. Also that would make luke and liv about the right age, 19? ...That's my theory