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Vampire Diaries: Night of the Comet

“Are you worried, Stefan? Scared we might be doomed to repeat the past?”

The first time I watched these first few episodes, they felt very 90s to me. I still can’t quite put my finger on why, although I think the music has something to do with it—even if the songs aren’t from the 90s, they’re very reminiscent of the one-off bands that populated the radio in my teenage years. But maybe it’s the earnestness of the show in general: witness the opening snippet of yet another couple attacked in the woods. Exactly what you think might happen? It happens.

It’s tempting to say that the writers and creators should just get around to watching Scream and Buffy, already. But they’ve obviously seen Buffy (Elena’s mom’s maiden name is “Sommers”). And co-creator Kevin Williamson pretty much is the Scream franchise. What does that all add up to? This earnestness is intentional. And, once you get used to it, it’s one of the show’s most charming features. After all, no one feels ironic detachment from their own life. I hope.

We got some of the benefits of that earnestness this week: Elena and Matt’s conversation was equal parts ease and discomfort—typical of a conversation with an ex that you don’t really have lusty feelings for, but whom you still love in that distant, I’d-help-you-bury-a-body sort of way. Vicki and Jeremy, too, felt like people who should become lovers, if only Vicki could get over her weird affection for that jock.

What tempers all of this post-ironic sincerity is the fabulous Damon and his delightful interactions with Elena and Stefan. I was never a huge Boone fan—he bored and annoyed me—so I’m still surprised by what a Damonite I’ve become. His scene with Elena in the Salvatore house was sparkling, and I don’t mean that in a Twilight-has-sparkly-vampires kind of way. I mean sparkage. He makes every scene, and every actor, better.

He also seems to be the only one aware of the fact that he’s in a CW tv show about vampires. He pokes fun at clich├ęs (as in the quote at the top of this review), he doesn’t take love or friendship or brotherhood seriously, and he seems to know that everyone around him is operating according to the Ten Laws of Overwrought Melodrama. He doesn’t even bother to finish his threat to Stefan. Oh, Damon, how much you’ll change! Goodbye, ironic detachment, and hello bleeding-heart vampire!

Before I get too far into my Ode to Damon, I should mention that he’s still a stone-cold killer. The body count in these first few episodes is high, and it’s amazing how quickly we’ll be able to forget about all of those corpses by the end of the season. But we’ll talk about that then. In the meantime, I leave you to think about this: is Damon really stone-cold, or is he just lonely and reaching out to his brother, the one person he both wants to make miserable and to make love him?

This episode is better, but still not great—although it’s better upon second viewing. Here’s what happened if you want to skip it:

Vicki got better, and Stefan compelled her to believe she was attacked by a wild animal. But, because he’s on a low-human diet, his compulsions don’t work very well, and Vicki is feeling a little off. Damon rectifies the situation by compelling Vicki to think Stefan, not Damon, bit her. Damon and Stefan reveal that they have some brotherly issues.

Jeremy tells a big group of people that he and Vicki have been sleeping together. As he’s the annoying little brother and a stoner to boot, this begins the long slide of Vicki’s reputation.

Bonnie reveals that she’s a witch, and she gets a witchy flash when she touches Stefan. She also explains that the comet might lead to beaucoup paranormal activity.

Jenna struggles with parenting a druggie.

Damon bites Caroline.

Bites:

• Elena: “Stefan didn’t tell me he had a brother.”
Damon: “Well, he’s not one to brag.”

• Damon: “Oh, you two haven’t had that awkward exes conversation.”
Elena: “Nope.”
Damon: “Oh, well, it’s bound to come up now.”

• Elena: “We met, and we talked, and it was epic. But then the sun came up and reality set in.” This was the first time in about 15 years that I’d heard the word “epic” used in this way.

• Damon: “That’s for me to know, and for you to dot dot dot.”

• Stefan: “I met a girl. We talked. It was epic. And the sun came up, and reality set in. Well, this is reality. Right here.” To Damon, it’s still a silly show. But not to Stefan.

And Pieces:

• The business with the comet—interesting, isn’t it? We’re told that it might lead to lots of paranormal activity, and lots of paranormal activity certainly does occur. But is it correlation or causation? All the vampires, and all the craziness that they cause (including, later, more vampires) seem to have pretty good reasons for being in Mystic Falls. It seems sort of like the eclipse on Heroes. Ultimately irrelevant.

• Elena’s jacket takes the 80s revival too far. I think it had an elastic waistband.

• Both this episode and the pilot began with Damon biting a couple, and ended with him biting a young woman alone.

Two and a quarter irrelevant comets.

(Screencap courtesy of vampire-diaries.net. Thanks!)

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

4 comments:

  1. We're only on episode 19 here in the UK but, like you, I'm also surprised that I've grown to like Damon. In the early episodes he was thoroughly unlike-able. In fact, most of the characters were one dimensional. Damon was bad. Stephan was good. Elena was good. Caroline was shallow, etc. Yet, by the end of the season, everyone's turned around.

    Oh, and your "I'd help-you-bury-a-body sort of way" comment was hilarious. I almost choked on my porridge.

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  2. Loved your review, Josie. I will probably keep watching just so I can have a context for them. :)

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  3. I was just rereading this review while coding it for the site and thought I'd mention the wonderfully camp end-of-the-world zombie movie, Night of the Comet. It's a hoot. And I wonder if the title was a little homage to the movie.

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  4. Damon Salvatore. Sigh...

    From last episode's, "Hello, Brother," through to the end of season three (where we are now), I have been half in the love with this one.

    This was the episode that cemented that feeling for me. And, Josie, you nail why. He is irreverent and snarky and funny and simply lovely to look at.

    I had forgotten how high the body count is at the beginning. Just another sign of my infatuation with the boy.

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