Vampire Diaries: Memory Lane

“I want her to like me.”

It may be the heat-wave that won’t abate. It may be that my work schedule demanded that I flip-flop my waking hours and my sleeping hours, which is very hard to do when you’re not sixteen anymore. It may be the succulent peach I enjoyed while watching this episode. I may just be horribly wrong. But I’m going to say it anyway: I think “Memory Lane” was possibly the most artfully constructed episode of television I have seen in a long, long time.

Look at all the balls writer Caroline Dries managed to juggle: the bromance of men fighting over women. The ho-mance of women struggling for the same man. (I don’t think I’ll ever use that word again). The vampire-werewolf pissing contest. Four different fake-outs. An inquisition scene. A doppelganger face-off. All sorts of people sneaking up on other people. A dream sequence that didn’t suck, set in both the past and the present. And all of these binaries had something at stake: a moonstone, information, loyalty, stability, women, men. A beautiful structural symmetry permeated every scene, as did allusions to past episodes and intimations of future twists. If it weren’t so damn interesting, too (because structural elegance and a Lacanian attention to the circulation of information don’t always make for compelling TV), I could write about the interlocking parallels for ages.

Instead, I’ll just say: Stefan totally faked me out when he nearly kissed Katherine. My peach-holding hand stopped halfway to my open, gaping mouth like I was a cartoon character. Then I cheered when he injected her with vervain. Stefan and Elena faked me out, too—with a twist. At the 52-minutes mark, I groaned and wondered if Stefan and Elena would have a touching hug near the end of every episode. By the 59-minute mark, I was cheering that they hadn’t really broken up. Aw. (The other two fake-outs are Damon agreeing to put the dog-fight with Mason to rest, and how I thought Caroline was keeping Elena away at Stefan’s behest, not Katherine.)

Stefan and Elena’s fake-up (a fake-break-up) likely won’t convince people for long. But hopefully it will help stave Katherine off for a while, especially as Katherine seems to have the rather adolescent view of romantic love as a once-in-an-immortal-lifetime prospect. Does she really want Stefan, or does she want to be wanted? Or does she just want to cause trouble?

We could ask the same questions of Damon, who continued to get closer to “Rick” as they bonded over common prey. Damon wants to have friends, but doesn’t think he deserves them, and he does everything he can to remind people that he doesn’t deserve them. Everyone but Rick, of course. Damon can be himself around Rick. (Okay, I’m done now.)

Damon can also be himself around Stefan, and that’s what makes Katherine and Elena so interesting: Damon and Stefan are playing tug-of-war for the Katherine/Elena rope, but it’s not just about getting the girl. It’s about the other guy not getting her. And that tension—two guys holding opposite ends of a girl-rope—is a bromance.

Damon and Mason dogging it out for supremacy is a bromance, too. Damon’s dance with the werewolf is also frakking hilarious. The double-entendres at the party (definitely the highlight of the show), Damon stabbing Mason with the silver and not getting any results, the look on Damon’s face, Mason’s apparent immortality…Now that he’s interacted with Damon, I like Mason more. And now that I’ve typed their names so many times, I realize that they’re only one letter different. Like I said, symmetry.

Back to the fake-up and the constant Elena/Stefan hugging: their relationship feels so stable to me: even though Katherine managed to insert a twinge of doubt into Stefan’s dream, that was still an external problem, not one internal to their love. That stability has me worried. TV thrives on tension. How much longer can Stefan and Elena stay safe in their love-bubble? This show is willing to kill people off, but is it willing to take the risk of breaking up the relationship at its center?

Bites:

• Damon: “I’m going to put some silver in Mason Lockwood and prove that he’s a werewolf. See you at the barbecue.”

• Katherine: “[Werewolves] mainly just exist in books and really bad movies.”

• Jenna: “[Caroline] is not the plus-one I’m worried about. Why is Damon coming?”
Elena: “Because Alaric is a pity-taker.” Not only is “pity-taker” a great line, but Damon is Alaric’s plus-one! Those boys just might make a go of it.

• Damon: “I know what you must think of me.”
Jenna: “No, you don’t. You’ve never dated you. I’ve dated many yous.”

• Mason: “I apologize. I’m an animal.”

• Damon: “Really? I always pegged you for a lone wolf.”
Mason: “Well I’m sure I wasn’t half the lady-killer you were.”

• Damon: “You, my friend, are barking up the wrong tree.”

• Mason: “I couldn’t control myself.”
• Damon: “What, no obedience school?”
• Mason: “I mean it. Let’s not spark some age-old feud that doesn’t apply to us.”

• Caroline: “You’re going to be seventy and in diapers, and he’ll still be smoking hot.” (For a while, I thought Caroline was trying to break Elena and Stefan up so she could have the sexy vampire boyfriend.)

• Damon: “I tried to kill a werewolf, and failed. Now I feel like I’m not living up to my full self.”

And Pieces:

• Is Katherine a mind-reader? A dream-walker? Is that like compulsion on steroids?

• Damon. Pictionary. ‘Nuff said.

• Is Mason immortal?

• No Bonnie this week, and not nearly enough Alaric. But we got some Jenna, which was nice.

• Nina Dobrev has lost weight. I thought it was just in her face in the first few episodes, but she’s gotten quite thin. Almost Bonnie-thin.

There’s no way this review did justice to the fabulousity of this episode. So I’ll let Kevin Costner do the talking for me:

Four out of four Dances with Wolves.

(Screencap courtesy of vampirediariesweb.com)

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

16 comments:

Mark Greig said...

Had a little Princess Bride flashback when Katherine revealed she’d been building up an immunity to vervain over the last century. Very Dread Pirate Roberts.

Billie Doux said...

This episode was so much fun that I'm actually rethinking my aversion to werewolves in vampire shows. Damon and the double entendres had me howling, and even though I desperately want Stefan and Elena to break up, I loved their fake-out.

Josie, I had the same thought about the writers breaking up their core romantic relationship (you and I have been thinking alike way too much lately). They've done a lot of gutsy things on this show, though, and I think they might risk it.

Paul Kelly said...

Damon and the double entendres had me howling,

I see Damon's not the only one throwing in the werewolf double entendres ;o)

I can't believe this show's the same one I watched last year. It's so much better now. I actually look forward to watching it... rather than it being background noise while I read a book.

Great review, Josie.

Josie Kafka said...

Billie, why do you want Stefan and Elena to break up? Just for the wacky tragedy that will ensue, or so Elena can be with Damon?

(By the way, I have no intention of starting some sort of 'shipper war with this question. If I catch anyone lobbing cows from catapults or salamanders from slingshots, I will smack you down. We're better than that. Well, better than trolling. We're obviously not better than idle threats and Lorne quotes.)

Billie Doux said...

Wacky tragedy and Damon, absolutely. Maybe it's just residual irritation from Bill and Sookie, too.

Rafał said...

I don't think Stefan and Elena should break up and I definitely don't think Elena should be with Damon (at least not before he redeems himself, and you know, he still has a long a way to go, and he took few steps backward when he snapped Jeremy's neck!).

But... I think Stefan should get killed off. I like Stefan, but I think his death could propel the show in very interesting direction. I see it like that: Damon and Stefan have some big disagreement and Stefan once again claims that he doesn't want to have anything to do with Damon, so when Stefan gets in danger, Damon refuses to help him. So Stefan gets killed and Damon starts to feel so guilty about it that he actually starts to try to become a good guy. He becomes a really good friend of Elena that after some time she decides that he deserves her. It shouldn't happen too fast, though.

What do you think about that?

Josie Kafka said...

Wow, Rafel. That's fabulous!

And then, after Damon has redeemed himself and he and Elena are dating, Stefan returns from the dead...because Bonnie still has it out for Damon, and that's the best punishment she could think of.

Rafał said...

I'm sorry that my name is so hard to pronounce. Just like Paul Wesley (whose real name is Paul Wasilewski), I'm a Pole, and many polish words are impossible to write or speak to english-speaking people, so I gotta think about some cool nickname.

And I really hope that Katherine will stay completely evil. She's already a great villain, and she needs to stay as ruthless and badass as possible!

Josie Kafka said...

...or I could just double-check my spelling! Sorry about that--I hate it when people get my name wrong. :-)

Samantha Gomes said...

No,no, no Caroline didn't get fool me, not for an inch. I just realized it at once that she was a bit too much of a concerned friend, and knew she had been sent to keep Elena away. Now, Katherine, she fooled me right. So she could have gone away much sooner from Stefan's imprisonment, Verbena for that long, wow, that's more than love, that's nearly psycopath, and that's why she sould be feared! But I must say I hate her less for her coming back to kiss Stefan and make that scary promise to him. And I pitied Damon even more, wow, not even a look at him! Why does everyone think he is so despicable? Ok, now he may be, but he wasn't.. What is it about Stefan that he doesn't have? He want so much to be loved, just thinks he doesn not deserve it! Ok, I confess: I LOVE Damon.
And that Damon/Mason thing was hilarious, Damon's face in "oh, Gosh, he didn't die and now he can kill me" was great. And why is it I sense a triangle coming : Alaric/Jenna/Mason?
Great acting, great show, great season... I agree with you Josie, four of four Dance with the wolves...

Starfox said...

Long term reader/first time poster....so hi.... :)

I wanted to put my weight behind what Josie had said - I thought this episode was fantastic, loved every minute of it, it has left me on a high.

Usually I am trying to discover what is going on or what the writers are playing at and where things are going but I was just happy to be taken in by what this episode was and enjoy it for that - passionate, romantic, fun, serious....I actually have no idea who I want to be with who anymore ahh

Also - I know a lot of the music is amazing in this show, but in particular the song at the end whenever Katherine was remembering in the final scene - Sara Bareilles - Breathe Again, beautiful...

I LOVED your review Josie, as a reader of your Flash Forward reviews I am lovin' being addicted to your reviews of a show that is getting stronger and has actually made it into Season No.2...keep it up for the reason of VD S2 please!

Josie Kafka said...

Hi Starfox!

Thank you for your wonderfully kind comment.

I'm so happy that both VD and Fringe are getting better and better each week, too.

Patryk said...

Nice to see I'm not the only Pole reading this site. :)

Mike/Michał said...

As long as we're on the subject of Polish fans of Billie's website, you can count me too. :)
That's three already, so I think we're making a good statistic. :D

As for the show itself, I am really happy that Josie was 100% right about it getting real good with time. I gotta say that I really enjoy watching new episodes of this show. When it found it's true potential, somewhere in the middle of the first season, it really got intriguing and kept me interested till the end of the season. And the new episodes just keep with the same trend. I am also surprised by the fast pace of this season. We've only had four episodes, but we've learned so much, and seen so many things. I wonder what'll come next. :)

Last time I wrote a comment here, I said that VD "is not True Blood good". Now I see that the show has its own unique potential, and I even stopped making the comparison in my head. So I'm glad I stuck around and "got to the good stuff". :)
Josie, thanks again for the encouragement. :)

Josie Kafka said...

Mike/Michal, we'll add you to the list!

(We don't really have a list.)

Just wait--I think it gets even better!

Marianna said...

I didn't realize until reading this that Mason only avoided the silver pie server to make Damon think that werewolves can't touch silver. How very devious of him!

Mark, thank you for the Dread Pirate Roberts reference!