Vampire Diaries: What Are You?

“Miss me?”

Last week I rewatched the premiere of The Vampire Diaries. That episode was so underwhelming that Billie called it “Muppet Babies with fangs” (you know a line is good when I remember it unprompted eight years later), but it did have the seeds of TVD greatness that kept us all watching this show for so many years.

Such as: taking time with characters. Shocking us with the unexpected. Teasing out relationships. Remember when Caroline was annoying and annoyed, more scheming striver than stable vampire? When also-rans like Vicky Donovan were allowed screen time on their own, not just in relation to the main characters?

Early seasons of TVD were remarkable for their breakneck pace, from incredibly short scenes (paying close attention to one episode, I discovered that most scenes were under a minute) to perpetual last-minute complications and deaths. But, amid all the carnage and mayhem, our heroes had the time to work through their issues.

Bonnie does get some time to do so in this episode. Her resistance to talking to any of her Mystic Falls friends is understandable, but Caroline’s decision to call Bonnie’s mom was truly inspired. The tension between the two was fabulous—exactly what you’d expect from a mother/daughter pairing that barely speaks, has all sorts of baggage, but still loves each other.

The take-away from those scenes, however, is more plot focused: in the last episode, when the sky wobbled as Bonnie reacted to Enzo’s death, did she open up a door to hell that Kai came through? Is Enzo’s ghost wandering around somewhere? Bonnie’s mom reminded us that the Other Side doesn’t exist anymore, but that she mentioned it seems like the show is reminding us of the big-picture stuff. Maybe we should expect some world-shattering changes soon.

Like, for instance, Stefan being human. That should be a gigantic deal. Like, the biggest deal ever. The series premiere started with him saying “this is my story,” after all, and although TVD has waxed and waned a long way from that conceit, Stefan is one of our major players.

But, aside from a couple of flashbacks to killing the Fell girl, Stefan’s state of mind was mostly communicated through an odd twist on the pathetic fallacy: rather than letting weather tell us the character’s mood, TVD choose to show us how awful it is to be a human in the world, what with the police, the injuries, the inability to compel people, and the coincidental almost-orphan. Stefan had a very unlucky day, which meant so much happened (and then was fixed by Caroline) that we didn’t get a chance to watch him work through his issues. Perhaps, having focused on Damon’s angst in the previous episode, the show wanted to avoid repeating itself.

Damon certainly wants to avoid thinking about things. He seemed shocked by Enzo’s death, but mostly because of how it affected Bonnie. That’s sweet, but does Damon remember how much time he’s spent with Enzo over the past 70 years? It’s kinda a lot. They were in prison together. They worked for the Sirens together. But Damon was more focused on doing what Cade wanted. Enzo (and Alaric) be damned.

Luckily for Damon, and Alaric, and Matt, and Intern, Cade is a very talkative villain. God—or should I say, the Devil?—forbid that Cade simply demand the Maxwell journal. He has to tell Damon why he wants it. He’s like a dapper Scooby-Doo bad guy.

Maybe I’m just resentful because the journal meant that we were subjected to yet another hokey and bizarre flashback. Matt and his Bennett witch crush were…well, they tried. The dialogue wasn’t doing them any favors. And it’s hard not to laugh at the mystical superbell.

Bites and Pieces:

• One more observation about the series premiere: it was so long ago that Elena was wearing boot-cut jeans, which are just now coming back in style. TVD has been around longer than skinny jeans!

• It was nice to see Kai, since he might add some much-needed energy to the end of the season.

• Based on casting rumors, he’s not the only familiar face that we can expect soon. At least one of those rumors has me very, very excited.

• Is the cure still in Elena? Is Stefan going to rapidly age? I’m so curious and so forgetful.

How many colonial blings out of four?

Josie Kafka is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)

9 comments:

Billie Doux said...

While I enjoyed all of the frantic carrying on that reminded me (as you said) of earlier seasons, what drove me absolutely nuts was this:

Why the hell didn't someone PHOTOCOPY the journal?

Librarians and archivists scan and photocopy old books and manuscripts ALL THE TIME. Constantly! We even have circulating photocopies and online scans so that people won't handle rare stuff, break off brittle pages. As a teacher, Alaric should have thought of this... Okay. I have to shut up now.

Maybe that's what the mysterious intern did. I've been trying to figure out where he came from and what he's there for. This might be it. The fact that he's African American has made me wonder a couple of times if he's a relative of Cade's?

Mallena said...

I think you mean that now boot leg jeans are coming back. That's good, cause I like those. I used to wear bell bottoms in the 70's, you know.

I liked this episode, but then I'm one of the few people who still seem to like Stefan. Yes, Ripper Stefan is bad, but then so was Angelus and Spike when he was a new vampire. I like redemption stories, I guess.

I also thought that someone was going to photocopy the book...oh well.

Josie Kafka said...

Yes, that is what I meant--I fixed it.

I bought a new pair but haven't had much success wearing them without heels. I used to love them but my eyes have adjusted too much to skinny jeans.

Ditto on the photocopying question.

Mallena said...

Yeah, I thought so. I puzzled over that sentence because it sounded like you were very adamant that they were NOT coming back and I couldn't imagine that you would hate boot leg jeans that much.

I once proof-read one of my reviews multiple times and only noticed at the last minute that I had typed guiet instead of quite and my sentence would have been very wonky.

I liked TVD from the very first episode. It wasn't perfect, but I could see it's potential and the compelling characters right away. Paul Wesley's tight wardrobe didn't hurt either.

Lik G said...

What i don't understand is why Cade can't go and get the journal himself?
There's nothing any of them could have done to stop him...
Since he came out of his hell dimension i don't understand why he needed Damon and Stefan at all.. he can easily kill and take whatever souls he like.. and he can see if they're good or bad cause he can read minds.. sooo why would he need their drama..?...

Patryk said...

I guess it's customary for the devil to be making deals. Also for some reason Cade is very big on playing people and forcing them to do stuff they don't want. I kinda like him as a bad guy (for now since the best bad guy who's not Klaus or Katherine just came back). As a side note I just realized that all the best bad guys have names starting with K.

Yeah Human!Stefan seemed like an afterthought to the episode and not the big revelation it would have been earlier in the shows run.

The show does try to keep to continuity by mentioning the other side being destroyed and that a cured vampire can't be re-vamped. So a thumbs-up for that.

Billie Doux said...

Patryk, honestly, I never tracked the fact that most of the VD villains have names beginning with a K or a hard C, and I should have -- it happened in one of my favorite old TV series, Highlander. That is hilarious.

Patryk said...

I think the writers do it on purpose since 3 of them are shortened names beginning with a K in the middle. Arcadius, Malakai and Niklaus. :)

Marianna said...

Billie, I love your librarian corrections! I used to work in libraries, and I'm currently considering getting back into the field and going for a master's degree in library science.

The cure is not in Elena anymore; it's in Stefan. Stefan will not rapidly age unless someone takes the cure from him. The cure rules are weird.

I'm really happy that Alaric is back, but it would have been nice for him to explain why now!