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Friday, 22 of June of 2018

The Vampire Diaries Catchup

Uncle Mason is back? The silly ghost storyline is finally all worth it.

So, I’ve had a rough few weeks. Life has been very busy and at times quite stressful. Most stressful, though, is the fact that I haven’t had a chance to write up TVD, despite the fact that it is firing on ALL cylinders. I mean, they even made that ghost storyline work—and within the context of Halloween—how awesome. Now, am I happy that Tyler is slowly being regressed into his formerly assaholicky state? Not so much. Am I pleased that Awesome Vampire Caroline is seeming less smart because of her failure to comprehend how important Tyler is to Klaus? Nope. What about the fact that Jeremy and Bonnie are done? Well, yeah, that I am happy about.

I don’t want to write up this week without at least pausing to take stock of the last two weeks, so I’m still waiting to watch the most recent episode (which is kind of killing me), so I can give a sense of where I’m at with the show.  There is much that I’ve liked in the last few weeks.  For instance, the show finally gave us an explanation for all this ghost nonsense (remember, muddy mythology is my top crime for a fantasy show).  Plus, the great perk of the ghost storyline was definitely not Vicki but rather seeing other, way more interesting characters.  Like Uncle Mason.  Can we have a “hell yeah” for Mason being back in town?  Love, love love.  Boasting extreme integrity, Mason is a genuine, honest, admirable character, even in death.  How sad that he never stopped by to say “hi” to Tyler to show him how awesomeness is done.  I’m kind of sorry the ghost stuff seems to have been shut down, if only cause I’ll miss Mason.

So let’s take a moment to consider where all the characters are in life, with some advice for what’s missing.  Again, don’t get me wrong–I’ve found the last few episodes to be surprising, action-packed, and entertaining.  But I’m a TVD glutton–there is always more awesome to be had.

Elena:

One problem with Elena right now is she’s being acted upon more than she’s acting. Her biggest move was to call for reinforcement from a real do-er: Lexie. Lexie’s method of “saving” Stefan was rather absurd, and it makes me a bit sad that Lexie has never really gotten to be a character, cause she seems to know her stuff. I mean, imagine Lexie and Katherine going head to head—it would be legendary. But instead, Lexie exists only as a means to save Stefan. This is unsatisfying for another reason—why is Lexie magically able to hold on to her humanity more than other vampires, including Stefan, who’s theoretically the model of restraint? I wish Lexie wasn’t shortchanged as a character, cause I think she’s way more interesting than that other evil blonde, Rebekah.

Back to Elena. She spends most of her days remaining “true” to Stefan—in spirit and in body (each time she is next to Damon). Usually TVD does an okay job of remembering Elena is its heroine by giving her gumption and smarts (as when she told Stefan that her faith in him makes her strong), but I am always worried about where they are going with her. Maybe that is one of the reasons I enjoy this show so much—I have genuine concern for their characters. I kind of like seeing Stefan torture Elena, and I was worried that the ghost episode would return Stefan to his senses too soon. Remember season 2 of Buffy, guys—you have to seriously break down your heroine in order to build her back up. for example, Elena learning how to be a vampire slayer is good stuff. Hope they continue with it, even letting her get a bit magicked up by Bonnie (let Bonnie do something proactive for once) so Elena can be stronger. That’s be awesome.

Stefan:
Love bad Stefan. It is always fun when the dreamy, faithful lover gets to show his nasty side. This is so much more satisfying than when Stefan last fell off the wagon—cause he didn’t have any fun then. He seems to be having fun now, though. Every so often it occurs to me that this could be a trick, that maybe Stefan remembers everything but is playing along. But I sure hope not. The experience of seeing your lover at his worst is a great ploy for a love story—how MUCH do you love him, Elena? But what I need MUCH more of is Stefan’s relationship with Damon, and rumor has it that is coming this week.

Damon:
Still on the fence about this one. Notice how there is so much more going on with other, minor characters, than with our heroes? It seems our primary love triangle is in a bit of holding pattern while everyone else just falls apart around them. This makes the more minor characters infinitely more interesting, but it also suggests that Damon needs some motivation. He’s getting walked all over by Klaus’ minions, he’s letting Katherine take lead on trying to DO something about Klaus, and he spends all his time listening to Elena mope about Stefan. Yes, there are glimpses of fun, like when he showed Elena how to stake a vampire in the side—that was hot. But I like my Damon either not caring AT ALL or being super large and in charge. Let’s move him to some action, please.

Ric:
Slowly but surely, Ric is becoming a character I can love again. The depressed Ric was kinda funny, but when his friendship with Damon was ruptured, he became a real downer. It seems that he and Damon are made up, but now that Ric has religion about vampires being evil (a la dearly departed Uncle John), there may be more up his sleeve. And I like Ric—like all my characters—with a clear mission.

Awesome Vampire Caroline:
She needs a lot more vampire-strong-as-shit fighting action. When she determined to save her future mother-in-law, I was pretty darn excited. Didn’t realize how much I missed her being awesome (a la that fight with Damon to save Daddy). I need more of her being tough. Hope it is Caroline that takes down Rebekah (girl fight!). Caroline also is playing an interesting role with Elena and Bonnie—she’s the truth teller. When these other women try to stick their heads in the ground, Caroline pulls their heads right back out. I kinda love it. Now, she’s a bit clueless with Tyler. He needs WAY more support than she is giving him. Remember how Stefan pretty much lived with Caroline after she turned because he wanted to keep her from eating people? Why isn’t Caroline doing that more seriously with Tyler?

Tyler
I’m super worried about my man, Tyler. The scene where he told Caroline that she is what he likes most about himself pretty much summed up this character’s journey. Taking him back down the asshole path (i.e. arrogance being the driving force of all his actions) certainly gives us more drama, but does it advance the character? If they get too repetitive with Tyler (showing limitations with his potential to change/advance the plot), then he becomes disposable. And are there that many more characters that this show can stand to lose?

Also, is the “sire” plot a bit of a deus ex machina, aka, we need Tyler to have motivation to be a jerk, so we’ll pretend that only sometimes do vampires feel tremendous allegiance toward their makers? That’s fuzzy mythology people.  A fantasy program’s mythology has to be consistent or your audience has no reason to buy the stakes set up based on that mythology. The sire element of Tyler’s backslide seems cheap, and because he’s a character I root for, I need his storyline to be grounded in his own desires, anxieties, and insecurities.

Jeremy
I was talking with a friend who complained about the actor portraying Jeremy being a poor actor. I’m not sure I agree—sure, he’s no James Dean—but he does okay being a sort of clueless, angry teen. He also has a slight sexiness that he exudes with seeming ease. I was initially on board with the Jeremy/Bonnie pairing, but when all the fun leaves a couple on TV, the romance is over. Bonnie’s concern about the ex seemed whiny and intolerant because she never framed her upset in realistic terms—i.e. I am hurt that you would rather hang out with your dead girlfriend than with me (of course he would, Bonnie, all you do is complain). How cool would it have been if Bonnie had said, “I can tell that you miss Anna a lot—let’s talk about her and how you are handling the loss of her.” What if Bonnie had not resorted to petty jealousy but instead had tried to be Jeremy’s friend? Way better storytelling—and way more likely to make me support this couple. As it is, I care not at all that Bonnie and Jeremy are over. Good riddance for two mediocre characters.

Bonnie
For a moment there, Bonnie was sucking less. That’s over.  Sure, I was moved when Grandma showed up, but Bonnie has always been a weak character, and I’m not sure what on the horizon will make me like her more. Why is Bonnie so lame? Let me count the ways: she tends toward the self-righteous, which is obnoxious. She acts tougher than she is, which is laughable. Her “rules” seem flexible, but only in ways that satisfy Bonnie. Also, there’s no joy with Bonnie. It tends to be gloom and doom all the time. No thank you.

Klaus
Initially, I was not a fan of Elijah—granted. But he won me over by being a supreme hard ass. Now I continue to long for Elijah because Klaus just doesn’t have “it.” He needs more joy, too (maybe Klaus and Bonnie should get together). Where’s the menace? Where’s the brilliance? Where’s the charm? All lacking. Rebekah is a worse character (a whiny snob? That’s supposed to entertain me?), but I would love a bad guy whom I felt could go head to head with Damon, and I just don’t see it here. The person that can be a terrific bad guy is Stefan. Let’s hope they go that way. Or bring back Elijah.

Katherine
So where are all the bad guys? They left us hanging with Katherine caught in Michael’s teeth, not even giving us a glimpse of her in the Halloween episode. I cry foul. Katherine is consistently clever, snarky, and selfish. I love her for her consistency. She also always shakes things. Katherine advances plot, she sets characters in motion. More Katherine!


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