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Thursday, 25 of February of 2021

The Vampire Diaries – “Disturbing Behavior”

This week's "Most Valued Player." You go, bad girl.

This week’s The Vampire Diaries was a vast improvement over last week’s episode. First of all, there was more Damon. More importantly, Damon was being less the whipped puppy dog and more the snarky, somewhat dangerous Damon we all know and love. Keeping it real for Damon is sort of crucial for this show, something they acknowledged rather openly when Damon told Elena to stop trying to make him into Stefan. We already have one Stefan, and his goodness is so annoying that only his rare sparks of confident power keep him bearable.

Vampires are sexy because they can break all the rules (Ric seems to think this is a problem, but I disagree). Vampires need to be bad to be awesome.  This fact has never been proven more true than when Eric on True Blood became an emasculated, lobotomized loser attached to Sookie’s “fairy vagina.”
Here’s the lesson: childlike and naïve Eric = boring.
Sorta evil, kinda a dick Eric = sexy.
I know this is somewhat problematic as we like to believe the good guy wins and that evil is merely a cover for an inner goodness. And certainly Damon’s affection for Elena could be viewed as an indication of his own inner goodness. But it also could be read as pretty rude, considering that Elena is his brother’s girl [serious party foul].

I’m a Damon fan, but I gotta be honest that the spark in this character derives from the fact that he will do the unexpected, that he’s untamed, that he’ll always make a bad joke in a bad situation. If Damon gets too cuddly, his menace (and therefore his appeal) evaporates.

So—hooray!  Damon is being a jerk again.

In other news, Klaus is still boring, Rebekah is as annoying as one might expect, and Katherine adds some much needed spice to the mix.  In fact, almost every scene that advances the plot this week involves Katherine. She makes things happen.  Thank God for her.  Let’s see if she can get Damon out of his rut further.

Stefan is in Chicago still, as the show opens, bored with Klaus while Rebekah shops. Rebekah’s reaction to contemporary clothing is actually rather amusing—she’s horrified when Klaus says the clothes she is finding in stores are simply how women dress now. “Women in the 21st century dress like prostitutes?” she snaps. Stefan goes outside for “air” and spots Katherine across the street, who beckons to him to follow her (points to Stefan for always knowing which doppleganger is which).

Damon and Elena are making chili for another lame Lockwood Founders’ Party event (gotta admit, I kinda miss these events being grand and central to the episode’s plot). They are bickering in a super flirty way, with Damon asking Elena why she insists on making chili when she knows that everyone else will also be bringing chili to the party. She replies that it is an old family recipe, to which Damon remarks, “I knew your old family—they make sucky chili.” Ric sees them and immediately gets a concerned look on his face.  “Why are you  here?” he asks Damon.  Elena speaks up for him, “he thinks I’m going to break.”  “She’s in denial,” Damon taunts, and they exchange strong looks–the chemistry between them is apparent. Damon points to the necklace and asks, “isn’t this a reminder of your unbreakable bond with Stefan?”  Ric continues to look concerned.

Katherine reveals that she is already well aware not only of the fact that Rebekah is missing her necklace but also that Elena has it. [So, am I to take from the fact that Katherine is ALWAYS better informed than anyone else on this show that she’s be best bad guy ever, while Klaus, who can’t even sense when Elena is three feet away from him, is the WORST bad guy ever?] Katherine wants to know what is Stefan’s diabolical plan, about which he keeps mum, so she does offer Stefan a warning: “Klaus is smarter than you. He’s smarter than everyone.” [Okay, really? Do we have ANY evidence that Klaus is smart—other than the fact that he continues to exist?]

Jeremy wakes up to find Anna in his bed. She’s super relieved that he can hear her because apparently she hasn’t been able to reach out to him for the last few days. When he says he was dreaming about her, Anna smiles. Jeremy’s confused but sort of excited to get to be with Anna again.

Awesome Vampire Caroline arrives at Elena’s house with a surprise—Bonnie. [Dang, Caroline, way to be less awesome by bringing Bonnie back into the picture—bor-ing]. Elena seems excited to see Bonnie, though I cannot imagine why.

The Sheriff is chatting with Damon about their “Bill, aka Not So Awesome Daddy” problem. “Can’t we just kill him?” Damon asks. The Sheriff replies, “No, Damon, he’s Caroline’s father.” “Sound like a douchebag to me,” Damon snaps. All the sheriff wants from Damon is for him to test Bill’s blood for verveine and then glamor him to forget the whole “Caroline is a vampire” thing. Damon chats with Bill briefly, a conversation of which I wish we could have heard more. [Damon’s questions—“what makes you think you can change the basic nature of a vampire”—gets to the heart of this show’s central conceit: that vampires can control their own urges. Isn’t Stefan changing his basic nature by choosing not to eat Elena every time they make out? Didn’t Caroline require quite a bit of training to control her own lust for blood? This conversation is therefore rather urgent because it may reveal whether the basic core of this show’s philosophy is legitimate or whether it is in fact a convenient departure from mythological consistency in exchange for narrative advancement.]

Anyway, Damon glamors Bill and the scene ends.

Bonnie explains that her summer was really dull [of course it was, Bonnie—you bring dullness wherever you go]. While they chat, Gloria is working her magical mojo to locate the necklace. Elena emits a cry of pain as the necklace begins to burn on her chest. Bonnie reaches out to the necklace and Gloria exclaims, “I found it.”

Don’t worry, she didn’t really find the necklace. She just saw a girl with her friends, so apparently her spell was lacking a geo-tracker [crappy finders spell, Gloria—doesn’t Bonnie locate shit all the time?] Gloria asks Klaus to leave cause he’s “harshing her juju.”

Awesome Vampire Caroline proves herself worthy of that honorary title by repeatedly questioning Elena throughout the episode about her relationship with Damon. “So, you’re not, like, switching Salvatores, are you?” she asks with true curiosity. She warns Elena that Damon can’t be tamed: “if my own father, who I love dearly, can’t change me, no one’s changing Damon, not even you” [And I say hallelujah to that]. While Bonnie is investigating the necklace’s properties, it start to float. “The necklace has its own magic,” Bonnie deduces [uh, duh].

Damon and Ric are having a drink at the Lockwood party, but Damon excuses himself to join the Founders’ Council to plot against vampires. Ric strongly cautions Damon, “I think you need to take a beat with Elena.  What it is you two have going on, I think it’s a bad idea.”  When Damon says it is none of his business, Ric persists, “I said I’d look after her, and this is me doing that.”  The scene gets tense, but Sheriff Forbes interrupts. [I love the Ric and Damon bromance, but I can’t argue with Ric here.  He’s trying to protect Elena.]

Klaus and Stefan are making fun of Rebekah in a scene I think we’re supposed to read as demonstrating their family-like ease and youthful sense of play. “I’m not a brat,” Rebekah insists, only proving herself to be, indeed, a brat.

Jeremy calls out for Anna at the Lockwood party, and there she is.  Anna explains that there’s a push-pull thing going on—Anna has to want to be heard by him and Jeremy has to be open to the possibility. Anna is not happy—“I’m all by myself here,” she sadly notes. She explains further that she can’t see Vicki, but she feels her darkness when she’s near. [BTW—both Anna and Vicki are vampires, so it isn’t like either one gets to claim moral authority here. Though I guess Vicki did try to kill Jeremy, while Anna never did. But the logic of the vampire afterlife is getting really confusing, despite Anna’s efforts to explain it here. Warning, TVD writers: the foundation to your program’s mythology is experiencing a minor earthquake. Take evasive action.] Things then get more confused when Anna tries to touch Jeremy, saying “I know you can’t feel anything,” but then Jeremy seems to feel something. [Does anyone know what the rules are around here, please? Maybe Katherine can tell us, since she seems to be in the know about everything. Or maybe Klaus can finally have a purpose by explaining the ins-and-outs of the vampire afterlife since he’s sent so many people to it.]

Gloria is alone with Stefan and quickly focuses all her energy upon him. It seems she not only saw a girl talking with her friends but also heard that they were discussing Stefan. Gloria reveals that the necklace was a talisman from the original witch herself—and Gloria wants the necklace. She does that brain-fry thing that Bonnie always does to Damon, and then warns Stefan, “guess I gotta get it out of you the hard way.”

After the commercial break, we see that Gloria is torturing Stefan, paralyzed by a spell. “I’m a little more old school voodoo,” she says with pride. She cuts into his wrist, draining his “essence” as she describes it. She then puts verveine on her hands and touches his chest. Stefan screams.

The Council meeting proves to be SUPER boring as they determine there hasn’t been much vampire activity and therefore the Council has nothing to do. At the end of the meeting though, Bill walks in and asks Damon, Carol Lockwood and the Sheriff if they think the other Council members are clueless or just stupid? [The scene ends there and the music swells because we’re supposed to feel intrigue and suspense….]

Bonnie and Jeremy are doing some good ol’ fashioned book-based research to try to understand the power of the necklace. She has to admit that the old witches have cut her off because they are mad she used their power to bring Jeremy back from the dead. She asks Jeremy if he’s okay, revealing that Elena has mentioned Jeremy having a hard time. Anna suddenly appears, saying she feels the presence of darkness, and then Bonnie’s magical books ignite in flame.

Stefan is resisting Gloria with all his might, but she slowly gets the truth out of him: “you love her, you’d do anything for her, and you have…She’s the doppleganger…she’s supposed to be dead…” Enter Katherine with a Damon-like snarky comment, “well, this is creepy,” and then she dispatched with Gloria, stabbing her in the neck. “Maybe you did need my help, after all,” she points out.  [Dude, Katherine may be earning her own honorary title, “Don’t F with her Katherine.” She’s terrific in this episode.]

Awesome Vampire Caroline is not done lecturing Elena. When Elena wonders where is Damon, Caroline offers, “probably off doing bad things to good people. Consider me the honesty police,” she suggests.

As Elena and Ric leave the Lockwood mansion, Damon chases after them.  “Houston, we have a problem…Apparently, [Bill Forbes] is impervious to compulsion.  He threatened to out me.  Don’t get me started on the irony of that [a reference to Bill being gay, which I didn’t catch on my first viewing].”  Damon complains about Bill’s plan–to take over the Council because it has been compromised (“It has,” Ric offers), he wants to put verveine in the town’s water supply.  “Maybe it’s not a bad idea,” Elena muses, “I mean, it help you keep yourself in control now that Stefan’s not here to…”  “To what,” Damon asks, angry. “To keep me in check, maybe to behave? Should have killed him this morning.”  “He’s Caroline’s dad, Damon,” Elena reminds him.  “Yeah, and when I kill him, she’ll have one more parent that we do.” Ric tries to intervene, and when he won’t back down, Damon checks for his ring and then snaps Ric’s neck. Off Damon goes to kill Bill.

Katherine begins to plot, because that is what she does best.  She wisely suggests that the sister is the key, perhaps, to finding Klaus’ weakness—namely, from whom was he running all those years ago. Katherine recommends that Stefan get so chummy with Klaus that Rebekah feels left out: “She loves you like it was yesterday. She’s the easier mark.” Despite the wisdom of this advice, Stefan refuses to let Katherine help him, but he does tell her that he is trying to learn who can possibly make an original vampire frightened enough to run.  “If you’re looking for a diabolical partner in crime, I suggest you look elsewhere,” Stefan says as a goodbye.

Tyler returns from football practice to find Awesome Vampire Caroline in his bedroom. [Wait, one of these kids still participates in a school activity, suggesting he actually goes to school some time? I mean, when was the last time we saw these kids in class?] This scene is awfully cute. Caroline complains that Tyler is super smelly, but he assures her that it is sexy. She insists that he smells pretty bad, but because she is awesome, her protest does not stop her from falling back on the bed with him in a tight embrace. Unfortunately, this terrific scene ends when Elena calls with an emergency—namely Damon taking matters into his own hands.

Damon confronts Bill about why the compulsion failed. First, Bill has been training his brain for decades. Second, he tells Damon his technique was “a little lazy”, and Damon concedes the point. [This exchange makes me like the character of Bill a lot more.] Damon wonders why Bill is ballsy enough to face off with him, and Bill explains, “you’re not self-destructive enough to kill the Sheriff’s ex-husband” [clearly, he doesn’t know Damon well.] “That makes you the third person today to underestimate me today,” Damon complains, and then he bites Bill. “I almost forgot how good blood tastes when its fresh,” he relishes and goes back in for another taste. Suddenly, Awesome Vampire Caroline comes to the rescue, pushing Damon off her father. “I’m stronger than you, little girl,” Damon cautions. “Well, I’m angrier,” Caroline retorts. She lays Damon out, grabs her father, and gets the heck out of there.

Elena is super annoyed at Damon’s behavior: “you can’t do this anymore…” When he protests, she admits, “I don’t want you to be what other people think that you are.” Damon’s tone hardens: “Hate to disappoint you, Elena, but last time I checked I was still a vampire.”  “Yes, but I wish you didn’t have to act like one,” she argues with intensity.  ” I am not Stefan. How ’bout you stop trying to turn me into him?”

Jeremy is annoyed with Anna for popping up while he is with Bonnie. She insists she can only do so when Jeremy is thinking of her, and then realizes that maybe he hasn’t told Bonnie because he’s afraid about how much he still cares for Anna. Jeremy realizes he can’t do this, so he shuts Anna out. As Anna calls for him, gradually silenced by Jeremy’s will, he turns to Bonnie and tells her the truth about the ghosts he has been seeing all summer.

Rebekah finds Stefan staring at the caskets of her entire family. “Dreary, isn’t it?” she says. Stefan tries to be subtle, asking her about the man from whom they were running in the 1920s. She admits, “No one in this world is truly fearless.” Rebekah mentions that Klaus told her about the dead girl Stefan loved and the brother, who is the only reason Stefan is with Klaus now. “I think he secretly admires that about you—how you’d sacrifice anything for family.” She kisses him and asks, “do you think you’ll ever love anybody like you loved that girl?” “One day, maybe,” he says, trying to play the game.  “I can always tell when you’re lying, Stefan.”  When Klaus arrives to announce that Gloria is missing, Rebekah turns on Stefan: “Something wrong, he was asking about Michael. He’s not with us, Nick, I can sense it.”

Damon prepares two drinks and waits for Ric to come back to life. When he does, Ric is pretty pissed. “You killed me,” he says with disbelief.” “You pissed me off,” Damon replies to undercut the tension. “You killed me,” Ric insists, more strongly, more angry. Damon tries to explain, but Ric won’t hear it: “maybe they finally realized you’re just a dick.” Ric has joked that Damon is a dick before, but this time his anger is genuine.

Elena is upset about Damon, but Caroline can see that something has changed. “It doesn’t matter what he does—Damon has gotten under your skin.” Elena refuses to listen, but Caroline continues, “Just admit it.  You are attracted to him, in all of his bad brother glory.  Elena can’t hear it: “if I admit it, if I even let the thought in for a second, what does that say about me?” Caroline is gentle, saying it would only make Elena human. [I’d prefer a deeper analysis, but depth isn’t really Awesome Vampire Caroline’s strength, much though I love her.]

Awesome Vampire Caroline runs into Not So Awesome Daddy, who is preparing to leave town [what?! Already?! I thought he was going to be the new Uncle John.] He thanks her for saving him, and she tries to assure him that she’ll be okay. But he looks at her sadly, “You’re a vampire, sweetheart. I don’t think you’ll ever be OK again.” [Now that’s a good scene.]

Ric confronts the Sheriff and Carol Lockwood, insisting they let him on the Council as a representative of the Gilbert family. When they protest, he reminds them that their children are either a vampire or a werewolf—they need him to look out for the actual humans of Mystic Falls. Ric is angry: “They are still supernatural. They don’t follow our rules or our laws.  They look out for themselves, and that’s what we need to do.  I’ll see you at the next meeting.” [Man, the bromance with Damon is over, but I like this newly fired up Ric.]

Bonnie meets up with Elena at lunch, asking her if she knows that Jeremy has been seeing the ghosts of his dead girlfriends. Elena asks for the necklace back, and after Bonnie hands it to her, she disappears.

Katherine arrives on Damon’s doorstep. He mistakes her for Elena, as is his wont. When she smiles, he realizes it is her, and he bangs his head on his door in a really amusing manner. Katherine announces that she is looking for a partner in crime. Damon at first walks away, but then rethinks, “You  have impeccable timing.  I was told I need to take a beat.” Katherine shows him that she has Elena’s necklace and offers to drive.

Klaus opens the back of his truck (you know, the truck where he carries around the dead bodies of all his family) and shows Stefan that they are back in Mystic Falls.

In sum, the episode advanced the plot on a number of levels.  Emotionally, the bromance is over (for both Ric and Damon, and for Stefan and Klaus), Elena had to ponder her feelings for Damon, Jeremy said goodbye to Anna, and Caroline lost her father.  As far as actual action, Gloria is dead, Klaus no longer trusts Stefan, Ric is now on the Council working against Damon, Not So Awesome Daddy left town, and Katherine teamed up with Damon.  All of these things suggest some action-packed moments to come.

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