Vampire Diaries: Best Served Cold

“Let’s just say that the furniture Lily recently purchased is psychotic.”

TVD has come a long way from its high-school angsty roots. Journaling, first love, where to go to college, and who you want to be when you grow up—these are questions the show has left behind. Now, the angst is focused on potential parenthood, career plans, and how to plot bitter revenge against your evil vampire mother. (Okay, the last one isn’t too grown-up.)

Fans have wondered how Candice King’s (née Accola) real-life pregnancy would, or wouldn’t, play a part in this season’s adventure. Now we know: Caroline has been impregnated, without knowledge or consent, with Jo and Alaric’s babies by the then-dying Gemini coven. Given this week’s flashforward, in which we find out that Caroline and Alaric are engaged, this situation raises a series of questions:

• Are the babies dormant, or something? Because you’d think Caroline would notice if she started to crave blood-dipped pickles or experience creature-of-the-night morning sickness.
• When will this show stop forcing things onto Caroline? Back in Season One, she was repeatedly raped. Then she was in-vampired. Now she has been forcibly impregnated.
• How does this surrogate pregnancy lead to Caroline and Alaric getting engaged? I can’t quite picture them in love, although I can see them doing it for the kiddos.
• Can we expect some sort of awkward babies-in-peril plot as Valerie tries to work through her grief about losing her own child?

I’m curious to see how the show answers, or sidesteps, some of those questions. But the process of getting there seems to be rather meandering: we got a bit too much of the Heretics, again. I just don’t care about Nora and Mary Louise’s relationship problems or sartorial challenges. Or about Enzo’s weird Lily-lust. (His relationship with Bonnie is growing on me.)

Julian is an interesting-enough villain. He seems to be racist (ordering Beau around); charming to women in need of affirmation; and a classic abuser given to emotional manipulation, victim-blaming, and self-pity meant to foster dependence. He's also in possession of a scar on his chest that is evocative of the wound we’ve seen on Stefan in the flashfowards. Hmm...

But the party scene was a bit odd. Why did TVD have Our Heroes empty Mystic Falls, only to fill it with out-of-towners for party occasions? Does the blood-farm (at the high school) mean that Our Heroes now have carte-blanche to kill the Heretics, since they broke the no-killing rule?

It would seem like an easy question to answer—yes!—but Damon wants to hold off on the outright slaughter in favor of the slightly-chilled revenge of the episode’s title. This results in an interesting cascade of conflicts: Julian vs. the Salvatores becomes Salvatore in-fighting becomes Mama Salvatore asking “What did I do to deserve this?”

The episode took a real turn for me in the Stefan/Damon/Julian fight. As Stefan and Damon realized their mother is dating a man just as—or more—abusive than their father was, they went from vindictive and plotting to desperate to save themselves; the heightened emotions of that scene seem to be drawn from their own history of being abused. And that desperation in the face of (analogic) parental abuse was an interesting counterpoint to the opening scene, in which Stefan dreamed about the sort of father he would have been.

That becomes even more sad when we think about the flashforwards: Stefan and Caroline aren't speaking, which means Stefan can't even be an uncle to the littlest Saltzmans. Damon doesn't seem to have a relationship with them, either, despite his longing for a real, albeit dysfunctional, human family with Elena. These are grown-up sized regrets.

Bites and Pieces:

• “Revenge is a dish best served cold”: I’ve heard it attributed to Les Liaisons dangereuses by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos, and to the Klingons.

• I did enjoy the really snarky way that Lily greeted everyone as they entered the party.

• I really liked NotJo, Florence who was killed by a mystical sword. She seemed smart and interesting. Her goodbye with Alaric was quite sweet. Goodbye, NotJo.

• Damon: “Here I thought [Lily] slept standing up like a horse.”

Three out of four Jacobs (because I totally think that’s a reference to Lost)

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:

Billie Doux said...

I always enjoy your TVD reviews, Josie.

Gotta love a mystical pregnancy. :) Actually, I usually hate mystical pregnancy plots, but this is Caroline and Alaric and somehow that makes it okay with me. Oddly, this is also the episode where I realized I wasn't missing Elena at all. It's not that I'm not fond of Nina Dobrev, because I am, but maybe they'd done everything possible they could do with her character. Maybe the Salvatore brothers are enough for me now. I still can't stand their mother, though, and the heretics are still doing nothing for me.

It's funny that you mention that the Enzo/Bonnie thing is growing on you, though, because it's also growing on me. Maybe it's the possibility that Enzo actually has taste?

Josie Kafka said...

Oddly, I've been rewatching Angel Season Four, which has the mother of all pregnancy plots (pun!). My tolerance for them is only slightly higher than yours. :-)