Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Case of the.... The Vampire Diaries - Episode 4-8

It feels like every week I make this observation that the show comes THIS close to creating a truly tense relationship between Elena and somebody close with her – usually due to the fact that she’s (typically indirectly) responsible for the demise of those around her – but they can’t seem to pull the trigger on it.  It seemed to happen again this week, particularly in when Caroline confessed that she did not quite like what Elena the vampire is turning into.   But, again, by the end of the episode they were hugging and apologizing to each other.

This actually sprung me to make an interesting observation:  The show really doesn’t like to create tension between the central “good guy” characters.  Ever since the first few episodes of season one, Damon and Stefan (who have had probably the most tumultuous relationship) are very rarely truly at odds with each other.  Even when they’re forced to work against each other (like last season), one of them has always harbored compassion towards the other.  But meanwhile, look at the various break ups and new relationships, and none of those have resulted in ill will towards each other.  Matt used to date Elena, and they’re still best friends.  Elena started dating Stefan immediately after, yet those two are cool with each other too.  Then Matt dated Caroline, who he continues to be cool with despite their break up.  And he’s ALSO fine with Tyler, his best friend who started dating her after.  Former couple Jeremy and Bonnie?  Also cool with each other!  And even Caroline, despite her constant support of Stefan and arguments against Damon, typically acts perfectly fine around Damon.  Damon has murdered Jeremy on numerous occasions (and he didn’t always know he was wearing the ring), yet aside from sometimes calling him a dick, Jeremy is pretty cordial towards him as well.  The closest we’ve seen of a sustained hostility between two main characters was when Alaric wouldn’t talk to Damon.  But, again, that was more of a one-way deal.

This isn’t a criticism, per se.  Heroes was guilty of insisting that their central characters remain at constant odds with each other, which really halted any long-term storyline and character development.  Point being, having a group of friends that actually like each other isn’t a bad thing.  I guess my point is that they are dealing with a large group here and for the first time ever, it doesn’t seem like there’s one central objective.  Creating a little conflict within their comfortable group could be an interesting story arc.  Particularly if it results in some alliances that we aren’t expecting.

Oh, and before I forget, I MUST commend the writers for bringing up the fact that Caroline used to sleep with Damon.  It happened so long ago and both characters have changed so much since then that I suspected it might be a fact that was conveniently forgotten.  So I do offer a sincere “bravo” for that!  However, I do wish that Caroline got a bit more into Damon’s abusive nature.  He was quite cruel to her, and even forced her to let him feed on her.  Yes, Damon has always been there for Elena, but that does not make him a good man.  Of course, instead of making that point, Caroline was doubling down on her judgments by also attacking Bonnie and her budding relationship with Shane.

I’m somewhat torn on the whole sire storyline, only because it feels a bit rushed and incomplete.  Clearly, the sire bond is not something that they pulled out of nowhere.  Both Stefan and Damon were obsessed with Katherine, and all of Klaus’ hybrids need to be tortured in order to break that bond.  And, if I recall, Katherine sired Caroline, who felt a bond to her as well (remember how proud she was when she was finally able to lie to Katherine?)  But I feel like we’ve seen a lot of vampires created in the history of this show, and many of them don’t seem to have any allegiance to the person who turned them.  I wish both sides had made this observation.  Elena or Damon could have brought up the fact that Bonnie’s mom certainly didn’t consider herself loyal to Damon.  Stefan or Caroline could have brought up the connections I pointed out earlier.  The debate, instead, seemed to boil down to Stefan desperately trying to prove that Elena’s love for Damon was manufactured, while Elena desperately tried to prove that her feelings for Damon were authentic.  I appreciate the human nature of those arguments, and I would have been fine with leaving it at that if it was the first part of a multi-step story.  Instead, it just felt like the question of Elena’s feelings was settled by the end of the episode.  As Tyler confirmed, your feelings for the person don’t change because of the sire bond.  That’s a significant revelation – it just felt a little early to find that out.  I’m still intrigued by the story, so I am eager to see where it’s going, though.

I did have a qualm with the flashback portions of the episode, though.  I think even the writers seem to forget how tense and hostile things were between Damon and Stefan at the beginning of the series.  They literally tried to kill each other.  Damon DID kill people close to Stefan.  Damon’s presence in Stefan’s life was a thing of torture.  Yes, this was several decades after their interaction during World War II, but it felt like things between them had been quite violent for a while.  I just didn’t buy that things would be so amicable between them, and that Damon would be that friendly and sweet.  It’s similar to my criticism of the flashback of when Damon first (secretly) met Elena when he first arrived at Mystic Falls.  Through flashbacks, the writers seem to want us to forget what a murderous jerk Damon was when the series first began.

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