Vampire Diaries: Bringing Out the Dead

“This is family business.”

After a clunker last week, Vampire Diaries returned full force with “Bringing Out the Dead,” an episode that caused two gasps, one OMG, and a deep-throated “Nooooo!” before I came to my senses. And how cool is it that I am reviewing a show in which vampires solve murder mysteries?! This really has been the luckiest week ever.*

I’ve been resistant to thinking of Klaus as a fourth starring member of this season, despite the massive billboard I drive past every day, posing him with our real heroes. But “Bringing Out the Dead” made me realize something that has perhaps been obvious to everyone but me: Elena and Klaus are foils for one another, and their relationships with their families reveal their respective strengths and weaknesses.

Elena’s great strength is the force of her love and concern for those she invites into her circle. She considers Alaric family now, which seems to have promptly doomed him to a stabbing. But she was able to take an enormous risk, re-stabbing him to save him, and it paid off. Alaric cares for Elena because she needs to be cared for, but also because she deserves it: no matter how much life throws her way, no matter how much all of this is, ultimately, caused by her existence—she preserves and never stops trying to take care of those around her, even if that means sending them away, like Jeremy.

Klaus, on the other hand, doesn’t take care of his family. He tries to control them, but suffers from a strong case of the whiney “not my fault”s. When he and Elijah were fighting, Klaus said, “Don’t make me dagger you!” That’s how Klaus sees all of his actions: his hand was forced, he was made to do it, people pushed him to it. He refuses to take responsibility for the pain he causes, and is surprised when that pain has consequences.

Maybe Mama Original—aka the Original Witch—can talk some sense into her boy. Klaus needs his mother in a way that Elena doesn’t need her parents or Alaric: Klaus is stuck in arrested development and has been for at least a thousand years. Hopefully the other originals can knock some sense into him.

The parallel structure doesn’t stop there, though. Elena had to stab her father figure (uncle figure?) in a classic hurt ‘em to save ‘em scenario. That moment was also Elena taking ownership of her own “supernatural” status. Klaus’s mother was resurrected, and the balance of power in Familia Original has radically shifted. Bonnie’s mother finally managed to work some mama mojo, and we don’t know how that will work out yet. And Caroline’s father died a death of quiet dignity. (Or, at least, I assume so: see Rule #10.) Poor Caroline: her father’s love for her is so tied up in her own growing awareness of what it means to be a vampire, and given his anti-vampire suicide, that knot will never be untied.

In the midst of all this family drama, there were some great character moments. Bonnie’s frustration with her mother was touching in a way that last week’s encounter wasn’t. The tense dinner party, and Elijah’s delightful faux pas, was quite fun. And the murder mystery is lots of fun, especially now that the prime suspect has been alibied. Could it be the Fell Ghost? I thought ghosts couldn’t affect reality. Possession, maybe?

Speaking of possession, albeit of a different kind: Stefan and Damon are coming head-to-head over Elena. Is Klaus right—are they both the worst thing for her? What does it mean for Elena that Damon is now so open about his feelings for her? Has Stefan still given up, or does his confession of his love reveal that he’s still in the game? Such delightful questions. I love this show. And only 9 episodes left until the end of the season!

Bites:

• Elena: “I refuse to believe that your luck with women is that tragic.”

• Alaric: “You’re on speakerphone, dick.” Hungover Alaric is fun.

• Damon: “It makes you look all villainy.”

• Damon: “I though we agreed to leave the grumpy Stefan at home.”

• Klaus: “The worst thing for Elena Gilbert is the two of you.”

• Damon: “Matt Donovan? Really”
Klaus: “Yeah, why not?”

• Elena: “I can’t lose any more family.”

• Stefan: “I love her, Damon.”
Damon: “So do I.”

And Pieces:

• Color me confused. Tatiana, the original doppelganger, lived in the pre-Columbian New World. And then her descendents must have moved back to Bulgaria, where Katerina was born?

• More importantly: a third doppelganger! Will Nina Dobrev be asked to play a third part? That’d be quite cool.

• No Tyler this week.

• Matt reiterated what Jeremy said in an earlier episode: Mystic Falls is basically cursed. This is starting to feel like foreshadowing.

• The darkened Gilbert house with the bloody handprints was terrifying.

Four out of four whiskey-dials. Because those are so much more intense than regular drunk-dials.

(About this being the luckiest week ever: among other things, I found out I didn’t need a root canal seconds before the procedure was slated to begin—I’d already been Novicained and everything. Awesome, awesome, awesome.)

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

6 comments:

CrazyCris said...

Loved this episode, can't wait to see what Mama Original brings to the table! :o) Equally curious about the other two brothers who have been out of circulation for how many centuries? Methinks they will be trouble!

I felt so badly for Caroline... she has grown so much since the first season when I didn't care about her one bit!

Now bring on that fabulous ball next week! ;o)

PS: note the Sheriff said it was the 3rd Council member to have been stabbed? I think she and Mayor Lockwood had better watch their backs! And I never thought it was Klaus, he's trying to play nice with them.

Billie Doux said...

Loved it. I think you're right on in your Elena/Klaus comparison, Josie. They're two sides of the same coin, linked in parental situation weirdness. I'm so enjoying the relationship Elena and Alaric are building. And the Originals story is getting better and better. Or maybe I'm just really happy to have Elijah back.

Congratulations on your luckiest week ever! Here's to a whole lot more.

Panda said...

Great review, I loved all that you said about all of the stories running in parallel to one another.

The ending was amazing, as was Rebekah's return (the greatest of the vampire characters, after Caroline & Katherine obvs) but was anyone else expecting it to be the original doppelganger that popped out? I'm assuming she'll be putting in an appearance by season's end.

It'll be interesting to see Nina pull of a third role, and what kind of a character she'll be, since Katherine and Elena are such polarizing players already.

Colin said...

It was a great episode and I'm so exited about the new brothers (isn't Kol hot in a nerdy dead for a century kind of way ?) but I can't hold it any longer : Mama Original would have been a blast if Alice Evans hadn't been so underwhelming... Bad acting, bad bad.

Harry Earle said...

Awesome episode, as soon as we saw the brother in the coffin I was hoping that he'd wake up sometime but I never thought we'd get ALL the Originals awoken by the end!

By the way, can someone explain to me why Klaus couldn't just compell Stefan to return the coffin to him?

ChrisB said...

Great point about Elena/Klaus! I saw this episode as a mirror - each family strand had another reflected in it, but opposite.

The fathers - Caroline's dies, but Elena's lives. Caroline's begging her father to stay and her conversation with Elena about living without her dad brought back some sad memories. The writers do these kinds of scenes extraordinarily well.

The mothers - they both come back. Bonnie expects help and has to twist her mother's arm to get it. Klaus expects death, but gets unexpected help.

The brothers - Klaus/Elijah pretend to get along, but Elijah is working behind his back the whole time. Stefan/Damon begin the episode not trusting each other at all, yet at the end have the most honest conversation they've had in a long time. But, I do find it interesting that K/E also were part of a love triangle, until they "recognised the sacred bond of family." Foreshadowing? Especially when Damon doesn't take Elena's call in the middle of his conversation with Stefan.

The other character moment I thought was really interesting was Elena asking Stefan if he had killed the medical examiner and he asks her if she spoke to Damon about it. The look on both their faces when they realise that she now trusts Damon more than Stefan was heartbreaking.