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Friday, 16 of April of 2021

The Vampire Diaries — “All My Children”

You know? I kinda agree.

This week The Vampire Diaries presented one of their big showdown eps–a big huge buildup that lead to very little change of our current stasis. Dang.

Let’s review: Elena? Still torn between brothers. Stefan? Still fighting life without a soul (though there was one reveal—more about that below). Damon? Pretty much where he has been for years—was his choice a step forward or a big ol’ step back to normal? Klaus is a hybrid, Rebekah is a bitter annoying girl, Kol seems psychotic (I could get behind his version of vampire crazy), Ric has been shot, killed, maimed, beaten, or some other awful physical punishment…AGAIN.

In fact, the main character that changed (a literal change) is so minor I can’t figure out why I should care. Oh, and another minor character disappeared. So she is apparently back where she was, um, two episodes ago.

Way to move the plot forward, team TVD. (Keep reading, my review gets better, I promise)

The best part of this episode (cause there are always great parts of a #TVD episode, even when my reviews are grumpy)…Damon knows Stefan really well—after 146 years together, he knows his tells.  I have to admit, I didn’t predict this reveal.  I knew there was an awful lot of attention being paid to a certain glass of blood, but I didn’t get that Stefan was fighting back.  And I love that he stopped drinking after the bridge episode, since that was particularly traumatic for Elena.  I’d love to see Elena and Stefan have to work through that night on the bridge in the future–can Elena forgive him?  It is unclear, so this reveal was satisfying.  And since I’m a big ol’ fan of the true lovestory of The Vampire Diaries—Damon and Stefan—I found their conversation reassuring, even as Damon has again accepted the mantle of bitter dick.

Another fun product of the new episode?  There’s a new couple to ship for, as far as I am concerned EE4Ever.  That’s Elena and Elijah, in case you didn’t follow my joy.  Elijah is an actual good character–and an Original, so that’s impressive.  Because Elijah has a code, which means his actions can be predictable yet also difficult for him to decide.  He is a character whose identity is built around conflict–this is a good.  As Elijah noted this week, “Mother made us vampires—she didn’t make us monsters.  We did that to ourselves.”  I’m excited to see this angle play out.

Now, you can also have a code and be a fanatic (that would be brother Finn), and that’s boring because though his actions are predictable, there is no inherent tension there.  Does Finn still hate himself?  Yes.  Does that mean he is driven to self destruction? Yes.  Ho hum… Klaus is the worst example, though, because he has zero code but it goes to waste.  You’d think having no code would make him more interesting, or at least more dangerous, but it doesn’t.  Complete chaos (a la the Joker in Batman) could be terrifying, yet Klaus not only has no code but also rarely DOES anything.  If he was truly evil, we’d see a lot more bodies and a little less mooning over Awesome Vampire Caroline.  Thank goodness that crush seems to be over (in anti-climactic fashion, btw).

I’m learning there are two types of TVD episodes that bum me out–one is the climax that isn’t really a climax.  No big reveal, no big death, and no big stakes…for anyone.  Case in point, this week our fearless leaders develop this big plan, and they execute, but then the plan IMMEDIATELY reverses.  So Ric manages to stab Kol, but suddenly Klaus is there and the ashy dagger is removed.  This  means all that buildup led to a bunch of writers who couldn’t get it up (sorry for the  masculinist metaphor—it seemed appropriate here since TVD is often all about macho posturing).  Even the buildup–would Stefan kill Bonnie–led nowhere interesting as Bonnie’s big trauma was the death and resurrection of her mother as a vampire.  Bor-ing.  Unless Abby goes bat shit crazy, that is, partnering with Kol and trying to take out her daughter.  If you are going to sacrifice a long-absent mother, looking for redemption, do it like you did with Uncle John.  That was a beautiful sacrifice–he chose death to save his kid, and it was all the more impactful because he did it in silence.  This here was mostly just Abby being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  I also cannot for the life of me imagine what Vampire Abby adds to the show.  Won’t this just make Bonnie even more annoying?

I will say this…Awesome Vampire Caroline explaining that Bonnie doesn’t want to see Elena right now initially had me annoyed (cause everything involving Bonnie usually ends up annoying).  But when AVC suggested that Bonnie’s pain is in part deriving from the fact that she’s always the road kill on the side of the road–accidentally smushed by Elena’s speeding car (another lame metaphor, sorry)–the scene came together and had impact.  Road kill has no dignity.  Bonnie feels like the collateral damage, and she’s right.

The show has also twice featured characters reminding Elena that not everything on this show is about Elena. This may be true–but as my friend pointed out to me recently, everything on this is show is actually how Elena impacts the Salvatore brothers and their relationship.  Elena is merely the mediator through which they express their relationship. It is an intriguing notion–they are unable to address their feelings but through a woman, and in fact, the woman also becomes a mere device to flesh out their feelings.  This episode seemingly was about saving Elena from Rebekah by stopping the curse that would kill the Original family–yet what it produced was the reveal that Damon knows Stefan has stopped drinking blood.  All the activity and false intensity of this episode leads to that simple conversation.


Other thoughts:

Elena sleeps with a teddy bear??!!

Damon has a string of great lines in reaction to Elena’s concern that she contributed to Elijah’s future death:

  • Why do you look like someone just shot a panda bear?
  • I’m supposed to care about Elijah?
  • See, it is democracy in action

Rebekah has grown a tiny bit since she f’d Damon so handily.  First, I finally noticed that her dress last week was pretty darn gorgeous.  And she showed that she isn’t as stupid as Klaus with her neat threat to burn Elena, cowering in her vampire-free cave.  Course, then Elena psychoanalyzed Rebekah successfully, which made me admire Elena’s wits but go back to thinking Rebekah is an idiot.

Klaus’ lameness isn’t rubbing off on AVC yet, thank goodness. When he offers some droopy, lame line about wanting to know her hopes and dreams, she reminds him, ” just to be clear, I’m too smart to be seduced by you.”

Now, what to make of Damon’s sad-sack final scenes?  “I do [love Elena],” he tells Stefan, “and I thought I could win her from you fair and square.  She didn’t want me.  It’s for the best.  I’m better at being the bad guy, anyway.” I’ve been waiting for Damon to go really evil–at some point you have to make a choice–are these two guys going to be eternally fighting over a girl or are we going to get serious here?  The love triangle is a tricky thing–if it loses even a bit of its tension, it fails entirely as a narrative device.  Is Damon really out?  Has Stefan hurt Elena enough that she’s unable to return to him?  Will Elena surprise Damon by kissing him for once?

The episodes ends on what could be two super-lame moves.  First, Rebekah tells Klaus that the tree–the ashy tree that can kill Originals–is growing somewhere.  Um, what?  Now the show is going to become about people trying to find and destroy a freaking tree?  What is this?  The gardening channel?

Then the camera cuts to Ric, asleep in Dr. Fell’s apartment after his latest body busting.  He finds a lot of evidence of the recent murders, and when Ric looks up, she is standing there with a gun.  If Dr. Fell is somehow supernatural, Ric lives.  And much though I ADORE Ric, how many times is this guy going to die before the device gets a bit old?  Please don’t kill Ric, but please give him more of a storyline.  You know, one that allows him to make choices and do stuff besides falling down and playing dead.

Oh, and the second type of #TVD episode that drive me bananas?  The flashback episode.  This is something the show attempts quarterly, and rarely does it pay off.  Looks like we may be stuck with stasis for a bit.

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