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Vampire Diaries: The Killer

“Since when do we team up with Klaus and the lollipop guild?”

This is a difficult review to write, because I am of two minds about this episode and this season. On the one hand, this was a VD-patented fast-paced emotional gorefest—a good thing. On the other hand, VD is starting to have the same false, what now?, convoluted feeling that finally turned me off Gossip Girl two years ago.

What do I mean by that? It comes down to the relationship of character to action. Ideally, characters are so well developed that their actions make sense: Bonnie is a buzzkill; Damon thinks only of Elena, but too impulsively; Elena puts everyone ahead of herself. Put those characters into various perilous situations stemming either from threats from within the group (based on a character’s desire and how it conflicts with the desires of others) or threats from outside (external threats like Connor Jordan).

But occasionally a show cheats. That is, the writers make a character act nonsensically in order to make things happen just for the sake of making something happen. Stefan’s alliance with Klaus is troubling, but I could see why he would let bygones be bygones to help Elena. But his “bossy pants” attitude and the easy way he accepted Klaus’s assertion that Damon’s only interest would be in keeping Elena the way she is—that’s harder to take. The combination of Stefan’s bossiness and Connor’s weirdly absurd hostage-taking plan was even harder: both seemed to come out of the clear blue sky. Especially since I think Damon’s reaction wouldn’t be “no cure for Elena” but “let’s tell Elena and see what she wants to decide.” And that’s what I would say, too. But that’s less nail-biting than an idiot plot.

But Stefan’s actions, and his unwillingness to tell Elena or Damon what’s going on, lead to a situation that is horribly ironic—or not, depending. Elena finally lost control and killed Connor Jordan, the one person (well…) who could lead to a cure for vampirism. Elena’s reaction to Connor’s murder was perfectly in character: so shocked she tried to bury him, horrified and disgusted at herself for what she has done. How will that play out? I’m excited to see.

But now Connor is dead, much sooner than I expected him to be. The external threat has been neutralized so quickly, so conveniently, that it seems Connor’s main purpose wasn’t to hunt vampires but to introduce us to the idea that Jeremy is one of these mystical hunters. Since the real tension of this episode wasn’t whether or not one of our main cast would die in Connor’s elaborate werewolf-venom trap, but whether or not the map would be destroyed, the entire hostage plot feels unnecessary. The chance for a cure hasn’t been lost, just displaced. And Jeremy will have to kill numerous vampires to create the map.

(Perhaps Team Mystic Falls can take a side-trip to Cleveland.)

Mixed in those shenanigans were some great character moments: I’ve already mentioned Elena’s reaction to killing Connor, but I’d add Matt’s can-do attitude about sneaking out of the Mystic Grill kitchen, Caroline calling her mom to block off the street so no one else could get hurt, Damon waking up from a massive injury cursing Stefan’s name, Jeremy and Matt trying to protect April. Elena’s rage was set off by her desire to protect Jeremy, her last remaining family: that makes sense. Those are the fascinating interactions, and I wish VD would trust itself to focus on more like them, rather than attempting to keep the tension turned up to eleven.

It was Bonnie’s story that was most interesting—and trust me, I never thought I would type that sentence. Professor Spooky’s lost-time mindgames were horribly creepy. (Although there’s a chance I found it creepier than most people would, since I have a fear of hypnosis.) (Yeah, that’s right. You wanna make something of it? It’s perfectly reasonable to be afraid of hypnosis. And of spiders.) Is Prof. Spooky this seasons real big bad? Will he make Bonnie his unwitting pawn? She could be a powerful foe.

Bites:

• Damon: “Classic shame spiral.”

• Damon: “Is that where you’ve been all morning? Buying bossy pants?”

And Pieces:

• Journaling voiceovers at the beginning: not my favorite thing, although they were convenient in telling us what Elena and Stefan were thinking.

• Poor Caroline, with her vampire-hearing, thought that Tyler cheated on her with Phoebe Tonkin. Instead, she discovered the Tyler and Phoebe were plotting the liberation of the hybrid race. Hooray?

I hate that I’ve been so down on this show lately; I’ve even started watching Person of Interest before The Vampire Diaries when I get home late Thursday night. I’ve had my doubts before, though (during the sun-and-moon curse, for instance), and VD has always come back to wow me. Surely it will again, right?

How many out of four weird MacGyver crossbows?

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

11 comments:

  1. I tend to be a Pollyanna about shows I like, and I thought it was a good episode, so three out of four crossbows? I thought Nina Dobrev was terrific. I was sorry we lost Connor so soon. And interested in where they're going with Bonnie and the prof.

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  2. I thought the reason Stefan didn't tell Damon was not because he didn't trust Damon with the cure, but because Klaus threatened to throw the sword in the river if he did. I think he knows Damon wants her to have the cure. Although, I agree it would be more in character for Stefan to go ahead and tell Damon anyway.

    I may be in the minority here, but I love this season so far. "Vampire Elena" is much more interesting than "Ripper Stefan", which always felt like a ret-con to me. I mean, when Lexi met Stefan, wasn't he sneakily feeding on injured Civil War soldiers, not violently ripping their heads off? Anyway, I think this season is so compelling for me because Nina Dobrev is such an excellent actress, and Elena's emotional roller coaster gives her something to work with. It's fascinating to watch.


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  3. I'm with Billie, when I like a show as much as I like VD I tend to see the good stuff and gloss over the bad (unless it's terrible).

    I did not see Connor's death coming at all! It's interesting in what this means for Jeremy...

    In a way I'm glad Elena finally killed, her reaction will be a big step foreward (hopefully), a breakthrough her moping. That's one storyline I haven't been enjoying!

    I was also creeped out by the hypnosis storyline! Prof Creepy is definitely looking like a potential "Big Bad"

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  4. I enjoyed it quite a lot. I didn't really get the whole character bending thing that you did Josie. The only major flaw here was using my precious Phoebe Tonkin in some sappy soap opera side-plot. FAYE DESERVES BETTER.

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  5. But a wonderful review all the same :)

    And ditto on the spiders thing. YUCK.

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  6. I liked it a lot, much more than last week's. I was bored by Bonnie but I love seeing Matt, Jeremy and April together (aka the humans, or one human, one Slayer and one something-she-doesn't-know-yet) and the rest had me fairly gripped too.

    I was disappointed that Damon didn't point out to Stefan that they should ask Elena whether she wants the cure, if they find it, or not but not overly bothered by Stefan's actions. Maybe it's just cause I'm not a Stefan fan anyway? (I'm telling you, that's Puppet!Angel right there, not some dude called Stefan). I though Damon's assertion that Stefan couldn't love Elena as a vampire was interesting too.

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  7. I was enjoying this right up until the end. The scene between Damon and Stefan put my feminist self into such a state, I had to watch it three times to make sure I had heard correctly.

    Damon: "...or you can't love her if she is one?"
    Stefan: "I'll always love her. But, she's not supposed to be this person. I don't want her to be."

    Are you kidding me??? Elena's boyfriend is going to decide who she should be, dependent on what he wants her to be, and he is going to manipulate her and everyone around her to make this happen? Seriously??

    Please, someone, tell me that I am over-reacting to this and that the women writers and producers of this show have not all lost their collective minds.

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  8. Good review, Josie.

    I agree on the Bonnie/Professor Spooky thing. Creepy...

    Again, the storylines (esp dialogues) involving Stefan, Elena and Damon are becoming replays. Secret/withheld info then tell-all. Hmmmmp!

    Couldn't Elena have wiped the blood off her face before digging a grave? Ugh.

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  9. Too funny, PlatinumRosebud! I hate it when vampires don't wipe their faces!

    I am surprised Bonnie is allowing herself to be hypnotized by the Professor (crush notwithstanding). Doesn't she get all uppity when the vampires compel people?

    ChrisB-I don't think you are over-reacting. Stephan is being very manipulative in how he is going about obtaining the cure, but his big thing is always letting Elena make her own decisions, so I don't think he would make this one for her. I think the writers are just trying to tip the love seesaw in Damon's favor by introducing the idea that Stefan may not love Elena unconditionally.

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  10. I also liked Damon and Stefan's bit in the cave. Very in character for Damon.

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  11. (Perhaps Team Mystic Falls can take a side-trip to Cleveland.) Lol!!

    I absolutely love every buffy reference that you guys throw out in TVD reviews :)

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