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Vampire Diaries: The Reckoning

“The species has become such a broody lot.”

Senior Prank Night is all about memory-making: crazy fun, minor vengeance on loved and hated teachers, and a community of young people coming together despite their differences. Senior year is typically (on TV, that is) associated with putting the kid-stuff of petty rivalries and mean-girliness behind. It’s one last youthful gasp before the onset of adulthood, or at least college.

Caroline’s got it right, though. At the beginning of this episode, she was excited about the rite of passage she and her friends are about to undergo. By episode’s end, she clearly realized what we’ve known for a while: this is no ordinary set of high schoolers, and the memories they make will likely be of the bloody, scary, depressing variety.

Matt has never been my favorite character, but he’s a pretty good indication of just how “screwed up” life has gotten for everyone in Mystic Falls. It’s weird to think that everyone must be wishing that the vampires, werewolves, and witches could just settle down—it’s not Damon, Bonnie, et al., that make Mystic Falls dangerous. It’s the trouble they bring. Specifically: Klaus.

Episodes set in the Mystic Falls High School are always creepy. It’s so contained yet vast, with odd hallways shooting off in every direction. Klaus and Rebekah were able to cause a fair amount of chaos: capturing Elena, forcing Matt and Bonnie to do some deadly underwater research, killing Tyler, wounding Caroline (Rebekah, you bitch), creating a hybrid. TPing the school swimming pool pales in comparison.

The Stefan/Elena scenes broke my heart. Klaus breaking down Stefan’s will and ability to resist was so slow and fraught with dread. Knowing that he couldn’t kill Elena somehow made it worse, because he could—and did—break her heart. Elena’s right. Stefan is lost now. Even if our heroes somehow defeat Klaus (perhaps with the aid of their newly-minted werevamp), Stefan will be racked with guilt. And how could Elena ever put the memory of his cruelty behind her? How much forgiveness is possible? Or even forgetting?

Damon offered to make Elena forget, but she’s right to keep her wits about her. Nina Dobrev did an incredible job in that scene. With very little makeup on, she looks about 5 years old. I wanted to give her a lullaby and a cookie (perhaps not in that order). Damon, of course, was as perfectly supportive as he could possibly be.

Warning: Damonophile paragraph ahead.

[Stefan said that when Elena speaks, all he can hear is her heart beating. That really rubbed me the wrong way, although I suppose he gets points for honesty. It felt so much like the idea that men only listen to women speak so they can get laid. Damon lusts after Elena, but it never quite freaks me out like that. It feels like Damon has reasons for loving Elena, whereas Stefan is just mysteriously fated to be with her. That doesn’t mean I’m pure Damon/Elena ‘shipper. Not at all. I’m just more comfortable with Damon’s baggage, I guess.]

End Damonophile paragraph.

Just after the Elena-as-kiddo scene, Katherine and Jeremy discovered Mikael (that’s how the closed-captioning spells it) in the tomb in Charlotte. Nina Dobrev as Katherine was incredibly gorgeous: the shot of her walking through the shafts of sunlight was incredible. Plus, how fun is the idea of Katherine, Jeremy, and a vampire-hunter who is also a vampire (a vampire-vampire-hunter?) taking a road trip back to Mystic Falls?

Speaking of odd pairings: Matt and Bonnie worked well together. I’m liking Bonnie more this season. Matt’s drowning scene was painful to watch: it was just as much about his desire to see Vicki as it was about his bromantic love for Tyler. Matt has a heart of gold and a spine of steel. I hope he isn’t killed off soon. He deserves a nice, normal, happy life.

So does Elena. Oh, you poor thing. Hugs, hugs.

Bites:

• Damon: “Oh, stop being cute.”
Katherine: “It’s not possible.”

• Damon: “Jeremy? Really?”

• Damon: “I’d say you were desperate, or lying. Or drunk. Or desperate, lying, and drunk.”

• Katherine: “My advice? If you want to make an omelet you have to break some legs.”

• Klaus: “Elena? She’s making a donation to a greater cause.”

• Damon: “Consider it our leverage.”

And Pieces:

• If Ian Somerhalder and Nina Dobrev can’t make it at the whole acting thing, they should consider making adult films. Together. As vampires. There could be hot oil of some kind.

• As much as I admire Stefan’s attempt to resist the compulsion, in the hallway my first thought was: “he’s like a magnetic pinball!”

• I liked the twist, that Elena didn’t have to die. Even better? Damon carrying Elena out of the hospital.

This review doesn’t begin to do justice to the wonderfulness of this episode. Partly, that’s because my reactions are still on the visceral, emotional level—I don’t want to intellectualize this or analyzing the theme of leverage that’s keeping everyone alive and miserable. I just want to sit in sad, stunned silence and mourn for Elena’s lost chance at happiness while worrying that Mikael will be more trouble than he is worth, and that Klaus will come back.

Mostly, though, I blame Mark Greig, who warned me this would be a wonderful, Buffy-esque episode and thus cursed my reviewing abilities.

Four out of four Mark Greigs.

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

15 comments:

  1. I absolutely adored this episode. I loved all the random pairings - probably my favorite was Jeremy and Katherine.. Not that they had a whole lot of time together, but just the 'oddness' of it.

    I am liking Bonnie a lot more this season (I didn't like her too much at all; she's far too judgemental - "Judgy" as Damon calls her, for my taste... I love Caroline, and anyone who causes Caroline pain, emotional or physical, is on my poopy list. So Bonnie has a ways to go before I officially "like" her. But she's getting there.

    As a total 'Damonophile', I loved the final scenes.

    Great review, as always.

    Was Katherine's quote "My advice, if you want to make an omelette, you need to crack some [eggs] or [legs]?" I thought eggs, but maybe it got Katherine'd and made more sinister to 'legs'.

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  2. What a terrific episode. I have to watch it again before I can write a coherent comment.

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  3. Cass, closed captioning agrees with you, but I sort of heard "legs," and it seemed to make sense, since she was advocating torture.

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  4. I'm surprised nobody commented on the role reversal of the last scene - this could have been copy/pasted right into the first season, only with Stefan and Damon reversed roles. Cute, actually :)

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  5. Just as I was thinking this episode was nigh on perfect, you go and mention hot oil and offer a potential improvement. I sit through VD these days constantly thinking "Oh, they probably won't do that" -- only for them to invariable do it. That's the kind of show it's become. The beauty of a TV show with a supernatural bent is that we get to mourn people without them actually dying. Which, if they ever do die, is double the value.

    One thing I've found pleasantly surprising about this season is that the perpetually boring Jeremy, Matt and Tyler are starting to grow on me. They seem to have purpose. Even Bonnie's undoing some of my apathy towards her. Of course, it's also possible I've been glamoured by a hot, oiled up Katherine. Oh God... I hope so! Lovely review, Josie. Particularly the oily bits. And speaking of oily bits *shudders with delight*

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  6. Great review Josie!

    Season two fell a bit flat for me, I lost interest then ended up watching about 8 during the summer to catch up.

    Season three has been fabulous so far and this was the best one yet. I love the 360 of the bad brother/good brother, even tho Stefan is compelled and hasn't just thrown himself off the rails! :)

    Agreed about the more mediocre characters too. Good to see Jeremy holding his own, I have a big crush on Tyler but I'm still a little "meh" with regards to Bonnie!

    I also can't help thinking of Angel and Angelus. I suppose it is inevitable when you have a vampire drama that comparisons will be made, but the scene at the end with Stefan taunting Elena and Damon was pure "Passion" for me. Brilliantly chilling and I can't wait to see where they go with it.

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  7. Another fantastic episode, definitely worth four out of four mes.

    Josie, you should start keeping track of how often Damon carries Elena. Could be wrong, but I'm sure it happens at least three or four times a season. It's pretty much the Damon equivalent of “As you wish”.

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  8. Fantastic episode.

    Not entirely thrilled with the brothers' role reversal, but really interested to see where the writers are going with it.

    Pretty sure Katherine says legs, watched the scene a few times, CC probably has the original line.

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  9. This was an amazing episode. Just AMAZING. I had to pause it twice to let my heartrate normal out. Any other show, I wouldn't be so stressed over what would happen but VD can and will kill characters off. I was freaking!

    Stefan, oh Stefan! I am delighted with the character arc and the acting but it's just so damn sad. Poor wee Elena. :-( At least she has Damon - and I do understand the Damon-Elena connection you're talking about Josie. It's like the difference between Spike seeking and earning his soul and Angel just having one stuck on him. I think Damon is starting to earn Elena. With Switched-Off Stefan as a housemate??? Potential awesomeness awaits.

    After Caroline's ass-kicking last week it was shite to see her taking a beating this week. DO NOT HURT CAROLINE. Plus her face at the end, holding on to Tyler - he thinks everything's ok. She knows it's not. Tyler's a hybrid now. Which makes me sad because he was just starting to get used to be a wolf. And obviously things are going to get really bad as a result of this. Tyler's going to go darkside. And Caroline's going to get hurt. And my heart is going to break.

    I love this season so much! I even liked Matt and Bonnie in this episode. Also, Jeremy was kind of hilarious. And it's always good have Katherine around. And now there's a vampire vampire-hunter? This really is the season of the hybrid!

    Love love love this show!

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  10. I just finished watching it a second time. It was so Buffyesque but it was still very TVD. I didn't think I could love Damon any more than I already did, but son of a gun, I do. I'm certain Katherine said "legs", not "eggs", so the close captioners must have missed it.

    And how about all those life and death scenes in a gym with all those half-filled cups on the floor?

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  11. I was late watching it and couldn't resist reading your review and then watching it. I thought I'd be prepared for this episode and thus not so jaw-opened, but no, it was the most amazing, incredible, scary and strong episode of this season.

    Stefan is lost, and lost for good, and he is going to be worse than Damon was in the first episodes of the series, because Damon had very little humanity left, but very little is better than none. And Stefan,wow, who is he now? The Ripper.

    As a Damon fan, I must confess I felt the hospital scene quite symbolic of the new status quo: Stefan couldn't resist the urge to drink from Elena, even if it meant killing her. Damon picked the blood bag, with the tube aiming at him like a straw (reminding me of Eric's scene drinking from the heart using the arthery as a straw), put it aside and was so chilvarous carrying her out of the hospital. Sorry, Katherine, the Damon you knew is gone, besides, he'd never have done it for you either. Both brothers as we know are gone.

    MIkael is up next. Tyler is a question mark. And Klaus, well, hide and seek has just begun.

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  12. What a fantastic episode. I particularly loved watching Paul Wesley's performance as Stefan's humanity got compelled out of him. So sad, yet so well done.

    I have a question - I thought Klaus was wanting to make a hybrid race? Why did he leave behind the first hybrid he made?

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  13. OH...EM...GEE! This episode was amazing! I love how quick the storytelling on this show is, with Klaus turning up within the first 2 minutes, and Tyler dying in the first 10! So is Matt like Jeremy now? Can he only see Vicki or can he see other dead people too? When he told Bonnie about everyone being a supe but him it totally made me think of Xander's Zeppo-ness

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  14. HO. LY. CRAP. I was completely unprepared for the INCREDIBLENESS of this episode. Definitely the best of the season, if not the entire show for me. I kept expecting it to be the end because nothing else could possibly happen right? And then I looked at the time and we were 20 minutes in. I lost count of the number of times I squealed with delight/fear/excitement. This was absolute perfection from beginning to end. I completely agree about the peripheral characters coming into their own. Even Klaus and Rebekah, who have been at best rather boring and at worst utterly annoying until now, came into their own and were actually moving and terrifying villains. I'm getting MAJOR bad vibes from Tyler's overjoyed attitude at being turned into a hybrid. He is way too happy- happiness is not a good sign on VD.

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  15. The twenty minute countdown was disappointing. It really bugs me when bad guys lay down a ridiculously brief time requirement for the completion of a complex task that will further their diabolical aims; creative work doesn't run on a schedule like that.

    But I really enjoyed the whammy that by restoring Elena's life after the sacrifice, our friends basically enabled the creation of additional hybrids. That's some sweet plotting!

    I also was very happy with the Matt-Vicki storyline; I liked her from the beginning and it was good to see her with some measure of happy resolution.

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