Vampire Diaries: The Descent

“You’re my existential crisis.”

This is what I said in my last review: “I like Rose, and I like her vampires-with-benefits relationship with Damon. But to kill off a character whose departure I’d thought was already a foregone conclusion doesn’t seem like the riskiest writerly choice. Will her death send Damon on a mission of werewolf vengeance? That could be neat.” Now that I’ve seen how deeply Rose’s death affected Damon, I feel like a heartless bitch.

Although this was Rose’s death, it wasn’t her episode. It was Damon’s. He connected with Rose, as a friend and as a lover—and we can’t forget that Damon doesn’t have friends, or doesn’t think he does. He doesn’t connect, and can’t even be honest unless it is with a stranger he is about to kill. He deals with grief and pain and any unwelcome emotion (which, unless snark is an emotion, is pretty much all of them) with quips and violence. In this, he is deeply human, but he continues to deny his humanity and to channel his pain into inhuman activities. Like, for instance, slaughter.

Damon wants so desperately to be what he already is: loved and cared-for. He doesn’t realize that he is either of those things, though—Damon doesn’t see his own kindness to Rose, as in the dream world that he created for her. And, above all, he feels deeply guilty: guilty for Rose’s death and guilty for not being able to win (or “good enough” to win) Elena’s love.

Damon described Elena as a do-gooder (“It’s in her nature. She just can’t resist.”), but that applies to him, too. However, he’s also an evil-doer. Back in 1.13, Elena said “I really think that Damon believes that everything he’s done, he’s done for love. It’s twisted. And sad.” But it’s sort of true: Damon may not realize it, but even his evilest acts are done because of love, if not for it.

Ian Somerhalder has been consistently great in this show, but rarely has Damon had the opportunity to have an honest and simple emotion as he did with his psychoanalyst-cum-victim. He did such a wonderful job. I cried. And then I cried some more. Oh, Damon!

Meanwhile, Caroline, Tyler, and Matt are headed for a complex vampire-werewolf-jock love triangle that will only get more complex as Tyler finds out more about wolfiness and vampires, and if Matt ever, ever cottons to the high rate of supernaturals in his town.

Oh, and—Sark! Did you all know he was coming back? I didn’t know this, and I yelped when he appeared on screen. Sark! I hope he sticks around for a while. I hope we get to see him interact with Isobel, whom Stefan seems to be close to locating. Just imagine how complex and fascinating a Sark, Jenna, Alaric, Isobel conversation would be. Add a little vengeful Damon to the mix, and it’ll be combustible. Sark!

Bites:

• Damon: “If you’re going to be maudlin, I’m going to kill you myself, just to put me out of your misery.”

• Rose: “I haven’t had a cold in five centuries.” Jealous.

• Elena: “I expected silk sheets.”

• Damon: “You know, you are ruining our perfect day with your strange philosophical babblings.”

• Damon: “Well, I’m compelling this dream. Maybe I’ll cheat.”

• Damon: “I’m lost... Not that kind of lost.”

And Pieces:

• Two of Damon’s most emotional, vulnerable moments this season are known only to him and to us: his confession to Elena, which he then erased from her memory, and his kindness to Rose in this episode.

• The death toll was awfully high in this episode: at least two campers, the couple at the event of the week, Rose, and the girl at the end. That’s a lot.

• Damon is reading Gone with the Wind. He is sort of a Scarlett.

• When Damon was hugging Elena, he resembled Stefan enough for me to buy that they were brothers.

Four out of four camper limbs. (And that’s with the deduction for too much Tyler.)

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

14 comments:

TVNerd said...

Ok, maybe it is because of the Supernatural connection, but I really liked Rose. She was an interesting, complicated character that could've been a nice addition to the show. So I was really upset when it got to forty minutes in, and I realized they weren't going to do a last minute save.

But to be fair, this was a Damon episode, and Ian simply shined. His denial that she meant something to him, his desperate attempts to save her, and when he finally let her go I could almost see the human in him die a little more.

On the other hand, my second favorite character (Caroline) is now in my least favorite story line. Tyler is beginning to grow on me, so I'm sorta rooting for him to be a good guy. Maybe next week will prove more interesting in this department.

Great review, and I'm glad the hiatus didn't melt the brains of the writing staff over at VD.

TVNerd

Billie Doux said...

It's always a risk doing an episode like this, but they absolutely pulled it off -- I cried twice, and I really didn't have anything invested in Rose at all. It was all Damon.

I've been sort of okay, let's just get past the werewolf plot, but I actually rather liked Tyler in this one and started seeing him and Caroline as a possibly interesting couple.

Wonderful review, Josie. You absolutely nailed it. And I laughed out loud four or five times. And Sark!

Liz said...

Oh, wow- I had a completely different opinion of this episode. Maybe it's because I hadn't watched TVD for months, but Damon's emotional breakdown just didn't have the desired effect on me. His former snark wasn't nearly fresh enough in my mind, so the change didn't pack a very powerful punch.

As for Rose... honestly, my opinion of her was always along the lines of "Her hair sticks straight up, and she's bloody stupid". I mean, she was introduced as a kidnapper and then proceeded to sleep with Damon who I think should be with Elena. The connection to Rose that Damon felt seemed a bit unwarranted, and her sudden, underdeveloped desire to be human seemed contrived.

I really did want to like this episode, I swear! I dunno, I am very excited for the return of Sark!

Anonymous said...

I think you forgot another good/funny quote. *spoilers*

It was when Tyler kissed Caroline near the end of the episode and Caroline started to vent out, and said something like "I wish everyone would just stop kissing me!" before she went back inside her house.

I don't remember the exact wording but it was something like that, and it made me laugh out loud literally.

Felipe said...

I'm so excited for the return of VD, damn Holiday hiatuses are driving me nuts. Who watches football pff! Unfortunately, this episode was quite the disappointment.

It focused too much on an underdeveloped character and also made me loathe Damon. His body count is higher than the bad guy's. Also I didn't believe his reaction to Rose's death, I mean a couple bones and now existential crises, no. I suppose one can argue transference, but he has just killed too many people, the ones Rose ate included. Of course bad boy lovers will just eat this up, for shame. At this point he isn't a bad boy that can be changed, he's a villain in need of staking.

Rose's death scene was very well done though, had I been more invested in her I know I would've bawled my eyes out.

I'm glad Sark is back, he looked much more dapper then his last appearance maybe its the hair, perhaps the lack of spewing blood and fingers.

Josie I'm pretty sure Damon says he's controlling the dream not compelling it. I mention it only because when I read it I was all "Damon can compel vampires?" I had to re-watch the scene. On second watching the scene would have worked better if he could compel her.

Anonymous said...

I was moderately disappointed by this episode too. Caroline's storyline isn't doing it for me at all. I hope the writers don't lose her in a sea of mediocre storylines for the rest of the season.

Samantha Gomes said...

I love to see Damon opening up, he tries so hard to be that bad guy, to keep up his bad attitude that when he opens up his chest he goes overboard and makes us all cry. I loved it, every single moment of Damon/Rose/Elena storyline.
I'm worried about that Jules bitch (sorry), she's not only not concerned with killing freely but also is plotting on our guys and trying to ruin CAroline/Tyler relationship - she's just plain evil so far.
Sark, oh Sark, seeing Uncle/Daddy John again is just great.
I'm glad VD is back and believe that the finale will be great.
Another great quote:
JUles (to Damon): Bite me!

ME TOOOOOOOO!

Patryk said...

This show is seriously underusing Alaric. Don't they know that even saying his full name brightens up any scene. Alaric Saltzman, i sometimes can't stop repeating it myself. ;)

Billie Doux said...

LOL, Patryk. Great comment. I feel the same way about his name. :)

JK said...

Extemporaneous comment #2:

Desperately hoping this isn't another "idiot plot", because I'm amazed it never occurred to any of them to try it: if the cure for a werewolf bite turns out to be wolfsbane, I'm going to be royally pissed off.

Swoooze said...

Damon really has problems saying what he feels. Maybe he should write a poem about how effulgent she is.

Another Buffy flashback for me (I'll try not to constantly do this) but while the girl Damon bit at the end wasn't dead (at leats not yet), it did remind me of Holden Webster from 'Conversations With Dead People' with both Damon & Buffy being able to open up about their feelings only when talking to someone they knew (despite not wanting to) that they were going to kill.

The main difference being that while Buffy used the situation to let someone talk to her, Damon opted for a one sided conversation. Maybe he's not a fan of shrinks?

Swoooze said...

I rambled on and forgot the two points I came here to make.

i: Caroline's "everybody needs to stop kissing me." was hilarious.

ii: Sark's back!

Marianna said...

How I'll miss Lauren Cohan. But I understand. She had to leave to go star on The Walking Dead. Two things that annoyed me. Why did it take so long for Damon to get back? After Jules told him werewolf-bitten vampires become rabid I expected him to run back to make sure Elena was safe. Instead hours went by. Where was he?

This is a small complaint but Rose described where she's from as "30 kilometers south of London." England only switched to the metric system relatively recently so it would have made more sense for Rose to use miles.

"Everyone needs to stop kissing me!" was hilarious!

Patrick said...

Damon's farewell gift to Rose of the last perfect day was beautifully handled. It helps that I've always liked Lauren Cohan, but it was still lovely.