by Josie Kafka
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 reviews The Vampire Diaries, 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?)