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Vampire Diaries: After School Special

“Clowns make you happy, Elena.”

David Mamet’s now-infamous memo to the writers of The Unit breaks scenes into their basic parts: characters have needs. They pursue those needs and encounter conflict from other characters. Success or failure, the result leads to the next scene. And that is plot.

I probably thought of Mamet’s memo during tonight’s episode of The Vampire Diaries because a large portion of “After School Special” was exposition: Rebekah used compulsion to force our heroes to explain what we’d been watching since she was daggered. As far as exposition scenes go, it was a decent excuse to catch us all up: Rebekah did want info, and I can’t think of a better way for her to get reliable dirt on the denizens of Mystic Falls. Plus, we learned Elena’s true feelings for Damon, who makes her happier than clowns.

But I’m struggling with Rebekah for the same reason I’ve always struggled: I don’t care about her needs. That’s what Mamet’s memo misses—creating sympathetic characters. (If pressed, I might say the same thing about most of his plays.) Rebekah is petulant, vindictive, and bent on vengeance against her brother because he didn’t love her enough. I’m tempted to grab her pretty blond hair and scream, “Get over it!”

Just as I was getting thoroughly depressed at her return—to the point of being so distracted I zoned out for an entire scene, trying to decide if I should grow my hair out, and had to rewind—Rebekah finally got put to some use: agent of chaos, which is something The Vampire Diaries does very well. She discovers she needs Prof. Shane, she acquires him (thanks, Kol!), she interrogates, Kol impales…And all hell breaks loose.

Bonnie’s discovery, or partial uncovery, of the true nature of “expression” has been a long time coming, and the bone necklace should have been a clue. But now she knows how creepy and uncontrollable blood magic can be: April, eternal virginal victim, was seriously harmed by Bonnie. Thanks to that same magic, Shane is very much alive. And while Bonnie might not know that’s a bad thing, we do: he wants to raise Silas, who will be able to raise all the dead who have died for Silas’s cause. Who wants to bet a kitten that Shane lost someone to Cause Silas in his dark, mysterious past?

Stefan, meanwhile, has caught the petulance virus from Rebekah, and is pouting because his brother stole his girl. (Ring any Civil War bells, readers?) He still wants the cure, although I’m starting to wonder if he wants it for revenge against Damon rather than to restore Elena to her factory settings. Stefan/Rebekah vs. Damon/Klaus. It’s interesting, to say the least.

So is April, who has never had much to do. (I miss her wandering around in each episode, chiming in with “Have you seen Rebekah?” and then wandering off.) She’s spilling the beans to Sheriff Forbes and Interim Mayor Hopkins, aka Bonnie’s persistently MIA dad. I wonder if April, Caroline, and Tyler will form their own team to try to put a wrench in Stefan/Rebekah vs. Damon/Klaus/Jeremy vs. Bonnie/Shane, etc. Where does Elena fit into all this?

Bites and Pieces:

• So Sheriff Forbes really only has the one outfit, her uniform? She couldn’t swap out the jacket for a nice blazer, even for a memorial? Really?

• I didn’t realize who the new mayor was until Bonnie called him “Dad.”

• Best quote of the night goes to Damon: “I know how to whittle. Thanks.”

• Mark Greig discussed the proposed Originals spin-off here. I want to go on record as saying I think it is horrible, but I’d love to see Klaus and Rebekah go elsewhere.

Three out of four whittling vampires.

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


  1. I was thinking, wow, why the creative catchup exposition dump? It hasn't been that long a hiatus. But it was still fun. I don't dislike the Originals as much as you do; Rebekah isn't my favorite character and neither is Klaus, but I rather enjoy them. Although Elijah is still my favorite Original and it's been forever since we've seen him.

  2. I love the Originals! Especially Klaus. I guess he's my Spike fix (together with Damon). Can't imagine how a series with such totally evil characters would work though.

    You can tell Rebekah's evil by 'clowns make you happy.' Clowns make no one happy, they just make people scared and maybe slightly sad. I think she meant 'kittens make you happy.'

  3. I'm with you Billie, on the sudden roundabout in the writing; especially on the "dumping" of infos using the ever usable power of compelling.

    Allegiances and objectives in this ep seemed to have done a bingo raffle.

    My jaw dropped especially on Bonnie's total trust for the user/professor.
    She lets herself become pawn in his game. Tsk-tsk-tsk.

    Whatever, Caroline is still my fave. :)

    Thanks for the review, Josie.

  4. So, is Silas going to be next season's big bad? ;o)

    Stephan just dropped big time in my appreciation!

    I think April is going to have quite a bit more to do from now on...

    How will Elena react when she finds out how Klaus and Damon have been getting Jeremy to kill vampires? Badly I imagine!

  5. Ahhh how could you guys not mention the phone call? It gave me goosebumps and reminded me that beyond the action and the twists, it's the emotion that keeps me coming back to this show after a season that has been quite disappointing.
    I absolutely loved Elena profession her love and Damon responding "come to me now" and then tearfully looking up into the sky. Ian just knocked it out of the park! Definitely the highlight of he episode for me!

  6. Yes, Nadim, yes! It was the greatest scene of the episode and Damon's look into the sky was very moving. Definetly the highlight of the episode. In fact, despite the fact I don't like Tyler very much, his scene with Caroline at the spot of his mom's memorial was quite remarkable to. In the end, the emotions are what matter in this series.
    Now, seriously Stefan, you'd want to forget about Elena completely? That's what spoiled kids do after they lose a game, or can't play well with a TOY: I don't want to play this stupid toy! Which drives me back to Elena's letting him know that she feels he thinks of her as a broken toy... Shame on you, Stefan, because you've failed to hear what really mattered: Noone likes to feel that needs to be fixed. That's why she unfell in love with him, not the siring bond or whatever.
    Whatever comes next, who knows... All I know is that Elena got in a car to be with Damon, so please Damon, get the hell out of that bar, will you?

  7. I wouldn't mind it if Rebekah caught a stake, and frankly I would like to see a villain more interesting than the Originals. The show has vampire overload right now - they need a demon or alien or ghost or SOMETHING to add some flavor (so I'm actually rooting for them to dig up this Silas guy, unless he turns out to be yet another vampire). I miss the Buffy writers who knew when to go with vampires, and when to give us some variety.

    My other gripe is that "expression" is the single stupidest name for a form of magic that I've ever heard. Bar none.


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