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Vampire Diaries: Know Thy Enemy

“Everything you touch falls apart.”

Full confession? I didn’t like this episode much at first. Vampire Diaries has never given us much time to get our bearings, but after a season of twists and turns abruptly bisected by a six-week hiatus, I needed a bearing. Or at least a little bear cub to explain via interpretive dance and diagrams exactly who knew what, who was planning what, and what the stakes were. Because somewhere in the middle of my 42-day crave-a-thon, I’d lost the thread of excitement that keeps me tied to this show.

I got it back on re-watch, although of course it wasn’t quite the same. Alaric punching Sark was great. Damon’s constant use of the first-person plural was interesting, given his current off-screen sideline in hot news anchors. Even Bonnie was rather interesting—she’s like that superheroine in X-Men who can make storms. Storm, is it?

What really matters, though, are the tricks and the trades of any good spy drama: McGuffins and knowledge. Only one of our three McGuffins (the moonstone, the dagger, the doppelganger) was in play this week. (I thought hiding the moonstone in the soap dish was funny. After all, how often do vampires wash their hands?) Now Katrina has the moonstone, and the dagger is useless until they figure out what to do with Elijah. That leaves Elena, who is now protected by ownership of the Salvatore house.

Knowledge is practically a McGuffin of its own on this show, passed back and forth like Poe’s purloined letter. Bonnie’s new powers are more than just exciting new powers: they are also knowledge that gives our heroes the advantage they need so badly. Damon’s right. She’s a secret weapon, although she is set to self-destruct.

The real stand-out of the episode was Isobel, though. I’ve always reacted strongly to Mia Kirshner’s character on The L Word, because that sort of passive-aggressive disingenuousness make me see red. The VD writers have perfectly tapped that same saccharine falsity in writing Isobel. She played with Alaric, telling him he only stopped loving her because she compelled him to do so. She played with Elena, blaming her vampire-side for her lack of love for her daughter, even though most other vampires seem to have no problem loving their beloveds. I think Isobel might have enjoyed being under Klaus’s compulsion, as it gave her an excuse—I had to do it!—for devious machinations. I’m not sure I’ll miss her, although it does take one wild card out of the deck.

Klaus, though. Huh. So Alaric has been Klaused? The preview gave away a pretty big clue as to what happened at the end of this episode, but for now let’s just say that some sort of wacky blood rite has led to Mr. Fabulous turning into creepy Euro-trash.

And Matt and Sheriff Forbes. Double huh. The sheriff has had a change of heart: earlier this season, she wanted to forget. But as she’s starting to realize how many hi-jinks the vampires might be up to, she has started to investigate. With Matt undercover.

Bites:

• Stefan: “Why don’t you call Alaric and let him know that his wife just showed up on his girlfriend’s doorstep.”

• Damon: “Put that on our list of things to do today: harness dead witches’ power.”

• Damon: “Don’t mistake the fact that we haven’t set you on fire in your sleep for trust.”

• Mrs. Lockwood: “Do you think vampires are involved?
Sheriff Forbes: “I’m starting to assume the answer to that is always yes.”

• Alaric: “Whatever jacked-up vampire amends you’re trying to make to me…”

• Damon: “We’re gonna need a cover story. Epileptic fit, alcoholic binge, banana peel, whatever works.”

And Pieces:

• Was that the old Salvatore mansion?

• Damon almost catching on fire...funny, yes?

• Why did Damon take his shirt off after washing his hands? I’m not complaining, but that’s not how most people wash their hands, right? (Am I doing it wrong?)

• Jenna’s gone and Elena’s staying with Stefan and Damon. Hot Pockets and Donkey Kong for Jeremy.

• “The nicest foreclosure in town” reminded me of Darla’s desire for a room with a view.

• I think John Gilbert might have been for real this week. But that’s how Sark tricks us, right?

How many of the banana peels out of four?

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

9 comments:

  1. Definitely a four banana peels episode for me, although I am still a little dizzy from trying to keep up with all the various plot threads.

    Josie, I think this week’s flimsy excuse for Damon to get his shirt off was because he got a drop of Sark’s blood on it.

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  2. Definitely four out of four banana peels for me, too. Every episode these days is so chock-full of plot that I always think, how can they possibly keep this up? I'm even keeping episodes on the DVR to watch them twice because there's so much going on... okay, maybe that's a flaw. It makes every episode very exciting and fun to watch, but then you're going, what just happened? :)

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  3. He took his shirt off for the same reason he was washing his hands. It got all bloody when John leaked all over him. Although I wondered why he didn't just lick his fingers.

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  4. Vampire Diaries is back, at last!

    I loved the episode, but then again I'm not difficult to please..

    There were two things that I didn't understand; what was up with Matt and the sheriff, and what happened at the end with Alaric??! I don't understand Klaus, and his abilities...

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  5. Definitely 4 banana peels!

    Was so happy this show was FINALLY back! I've been missing my weekly Damon fix! :o)

    I'm really not getting the Alaric being Klaused scenario... so Klaus is just a jar of blood that can be transfused into any human being therefore possessing him? Or is Alaric/Klaus now a vampire???

    Felt really bad for Sheriff Forbes... I remember her first reaction to her daughter's "death", she'll be just as downtrodden this time, but set for revenge as well since she's also discovered Damon's betrayal! Kudos to Matt for pulling the trickery off, didn't know he had it in him!

    I for one won't be missing Isobel.

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  6. This is why I love the Vampire Diaries. When Matt was asking Caroline to take his memory away I kind of sighed. We've been waiting ages for him to find out about everything and they were just going to retcon it! Except they didn't. Shows like Heroes and Merlin would have taken the lazy route like this. But TVD is no lazy show. Instead he's he cahoots with the Sherrif. Didn't see that coming!

    Loving how well written this show is atm. It has alot of plot but is extremly charactor driven. One of the best things on TV. And yes, the fact that every. single. cast member could be a super model helps.

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  7. Buffy and Alias spoilers follow...

    I'm not feeling so excited about VD lately. Maybe it's because the show won me over as I watched all of season one on a roll and now it's not working for me on a weekly basis.

    Maybe it's because the show's greatest strengh is also it's biggest flaw: the fast developing and full-of-twists plot. There isn't enough time for characters to properly react as things happen around them.

    And there's a third thing. The story is not as twisted as it appears. In season one, we kept hearing about Katherine from pretty much the beggining, but she only appeared on the season finale. Nearly the same thing is happening with Klaus now. The writers simply throw a bunch of things in the midle to garantee there'll be a lot of twists. But in the end, the twists are only a way to postpone the real goal of the story. It's not a twist like Angel loosing his soul and tormeting Buffy or SD6 coming to an end. Case in point, Katherine not being on the tomb only postponed her appearence (oh, okay, it also made clear that she could care less about Damon).

    Don't get me wrong, I really, really loved season one. But I'm just not feeling season two. We've been hearing about Elena's sacrifice since episode, what, nine, ten? And what has happened so far? A bunch of things that postpone the big event (I know I'm being repetitive, sorry).

    So, I went to watch this episode with all those complaints in mind. And, oh my, I loved it.

    First, I have to say: I hate Matt. Caroline deserves way better, and I was so mad when he demanded her to make him forget. At that point, I didn't believe he was working undercover (although I thought of it when Caroline got home and he was there waiting for her), so I was shocked when he entered the car and revealed to be under vervain. What a twist (and not a fake one at that). That scene, with the reactions of Matt and Sheriff Forbes to Caroline's "death", is one of my favorites. And, boy, that storyline is way more interesting than the whole "We have to save Elena no matter how many others die/ Elena wants so sacrifice herself/ now Bonnie wants too." Oh, okay, back to liking the episode.

    Bonnie was nicely written, and that's always a plus. Her character has been so, uh, weird since she returned after her grandma's death and I'm sure that wasn't the best the writers could've done. I loved her Storm powers, since Storm is my favorite of the X-Men. Loved it. And, although the whole "I want to sacrifice myself for the greater good" is becoming a little repetitive, I liked Bonnie's determination as in "the powers are mine, I'll do what I want and have to" (and the actress sold that attitude).

    And Isobel. I found her death to be emotional and fitting, and that's a big plus for a show that keeps killing recurring characters that still have a lot of potential (RIP Lexi, Anna and Anna's mom). And I loved that it was left to interpretation if she immolated herself from being compelled or because she wanted to (even if the writers said afterwards which of the scenarios was the real one). Elena's reaction to it was spot on (connecting with her last parent left). That's the kind of character development this show misses from being too plot oriented.

    Sorry, that was a long post, but so was the hiatus.

    On to the next episode, which I didn't love so much.

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  8. The episode really looks great when you don't have to wait so long after seeing the previous one. So 4/4 banana peels.

    I liked that they finally gave a good reason for the vampire slaughter in the season one finale. Up until now i wasn;t sure why John, Isobel and Katherine would want the tomb vampires dead. Keeping Katherine's escape quiet and protecting Elena works for me.

    I think Klaus is above such things as a body and just transfuses himself into hosts. There must have been a reason why nobody can find him and there we haveit. For the entire episode I was wondering why did they knock out Alaric and where the hell was he. I hope they won't have to kill Rick though.

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  9. Poor Alaric! I really hope they find a way to save him, but I'm not too optimistic.

    I propose Bonnie track down the rest of the "Bennett witches" (I really dislike that name but don't know what else to call them) to share the burden of the spell with her. Maybe slip them vervain for a while first to make sure they're not under Klaus's compulsion (or as I prefer to call it, vampire mind warp).

    Should John Gilbert be able to invite vampires into Elena's house? Isn't he barely even a guest there?

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