Your opinion of this episode likely depends on your patience for flashbacks, recycled plots, and totally awesome one-off character actors you’ve never heard of before.
Let’s start with that last item: The highlight of this episode for me was the unexpected awesomeness of rogue Heretic Oscar. He was played by Tim Kang, who is now officially on my list of character actors to watch out for. (He’s been in a bunch of stuff I haven’t seen, too.) His low-key, vaguely New-Agey vibe was exactly what this dour, pouty season has needed. That he could turn on a dime (from stoner to super-intense badass) was even cooler.
I got so into his character that I started to imagine which direction they’d take him. Would he and Damon—stepbrothers, of a sort—go on a buddy road trip? Would Damon make a joke about how Oscar was a much better brother than Stefan, at least as far as partying was concerned? Would they get wasted and misbehave in funny ways? (Could they be in the fourth Hangover movie?)
And then he died. Damn! His death made me actually hate the Heretics. (I have a bit more to say on this topic, so whited-out spoiler here: I haven’t seen the promo for next week yet, but I hear that it has more Oscar. Hooray! Otherwise, boo.)
The Bonnie, Alaric, and Damon show was pretty delightful, too. Those three should spinoff into a wacky sitcom. I’m glad they cleared up some of the Phoenix Stone fuzziness—at least Bonnie knows that Alaric didn’t destroy it, and what he wants to use it for. (I like that Damon used his bro-dar to suss out the truth on his own, too.) As Damon said, “Aww…my besties are buds again.” And buds may they remain.
The flashbacks were less awesome, at least for me. I’ve never really connected with the flashbacks on this show. (I’m not sure why. I loved the flashbacks on Buffy and Angel.) The idea of a lost love connection was too reminiscent of Katherine, which even Caroline pointed out. And I quibble at the idea that being someone’s “first” is necessarily a profoundly deep connection. When I think of my “first,” I feel mild annoyance.
That seems to be about how Stefan feels, too, which makes the flashbacks nothing more than time spent on drama manufactured by Valerie to upset Caroline. Since I don’t care about Valerie, and since Caroline isn’t too upset, I’m left feeling like we’ve wasted time. (Well, I guess we can expect Julian to show up in the present day, so that plot point has been solidly established.)
Bites and Pieces:
• How do you know when a show is heading towards the end? When you get fan-service scenes of two straight guys playing up the homoeroticism of their Odd Couple pairing.
• So…Mama Salvatore sent a beautiful blond woman to check on Stefan, and a pudgy Asian guy (in the 1860s American South! That must have been insane!) to check up on Damon. Playing favorites, or aware of what each young man needed?
• Julian: “How wise you must sound to less intelligent men.” Zing!
• Valerie was pregnant when she died and became a vampire. Does that mean that she’s permanently in a state of being a little bit pregnant? Did she mystically miscarry? Could she possibly have brought the baby to term?
This episode was all highs and lows for me, so I’m going to split the difference and call it a 2.5 out of 4 drinks served in fishbowls. What about you? Did you like the flashbacks more than me?
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?)
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