Sunday, April 28, 2013

A Case of the.... The Vampire Diaries - Episodes 4-19 & 4-20

Since I was in Texas the night The Vampire Diaries returned from hiatus and I wasn’t able to watch the episode until the following Wednesday, I decided I would just do another dual review for the prom episode, as well as the set up for the Originals spin off.  This is actually quite convenient, because neither review will be particularly long as they were both meant to set the stage for bigger things (the story for the finale in one case, and the plot of the spin off for the other).

Episode 4-19 – “Pictures of You”

I know this show was trying to make the prom seem like this highly special and emotional affair, but it rang kinda weak with me.  I mean, this town has parties and celebrations for the first time somebody farted in church – it’s asking a lot for them to be like, “No, but really, THIS is the event that means a lot to everybody.”

That isn’t to say I didn’t like the episode or even how they handled the prom itself.  The highlight, for me anyway, was seeing Stefan and Damon fall into their old habits in their attempts to get Elena to turn on her humanity.  Stefan, who had seemingly found peace with the possibility of a life without Elena, began to fall back in love with her.  And Damon, who had seemingly “won” in his battle for Elena’s heart, reverted back to his jealous paranoia that Elena will always truly love Stefan.  It was fun seeing them try their hardest to swoon Elena, only for her to completely reject their advances and have them fall for their own game.

I also enjoyed seeing all of the hostility towards Elena.  One of my main criticisms of the show is that there doesn’t seem to be any long lasting tension between the characters.  Think about the fact that Damon has literally murdered Alaric and Jeremy (in the former’s case, on more than one occasion) and yet, for the most part, he’s been fine with both of them.  In fact, Alaric was his best friend.  Likewise, Matt has been dumped by both Elena and Caroline, and he became THEIR best friends as well.  He didn’t even seem to have any sustainable tension towards his other best friend, who started seeing his ex girlfriend.  And no matter what ever happens between Stefan and Damon, they always end up fighting alongside each other.  And regardless of the amount of people who were lost along the way, nobody ever seems to carry any ill will towards Elena.  So while they are essentially still fighting on Elena’s behalf by attempting to get her to turn on her humanity, it is still fun (and appropriate) to see all of the central characters talking about how much they’d actually want to kill her.

Also, does it seem like Caroline is all over the place romantically speaking?  She’s with Tyler, but at the same time they’re hinting at something between her and Klaus (which we know won’t go anywhere, since he’s going to be leaving the show for his own series).  Meanwhile, they seem to be doing this weird thing where they’re dropping extremely subtle hints that there might be brewing feelings between her and Stefan.  Yet every time they seem to be leading down a new path, they have Tyler return and she ends up professing her love for him.  So which one is it?

Speaking of unclear relationships, I was glad they brought a bit more attention back to the Rebekah/Matt prospect.  They seemed to show Rebekah showing a fair amount of interest last season, and even touched upon it at the beginning of this season.  Then it sorta seemed to disappear before reemerging this episode.  But, like the Klaus/Caroline courtship mentioned above, this can’t really go anywhere since Rebekah will have her own series next season.

On a final note, I’ve often drawn my comparisons between this show and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but is it me or is Silas reminding you A LOT of the First Evil from Buffy’s final season?  It’s basically right out of that playbook – the Big Bad appears to everybody as dead people in order to torment or manipulate them into doing his bidding.  “Pictures of You” reminded me a great deal of “Conversations with Dead People.”  Anybody else catch the similarities?

Episode 4-20 – “The Originals”

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with this episode, as “backdoor pilots” (which are television pilots that double up as episodes of the series its being spun off of) can be pretty dreadful.  I mean, did you see “The Farm” episode of The Office?  But I have to say, I was really impressed with what this series has to offer.  I’ve been singing the praises of Elijah and Rebekah for two seasons now.  And Klaus has grown on me a great deal.  And while I wasn’t completely sold on Hayley as a character, this latest plot development – that she’s carrying Klaus’ baby – has intrigued me a great deal.  And one thing I’ve always commended The Vampire Diaries for is their ability to explain something to the audience without being transparent.  They did this quite successfully in explaining how Klaus was able to reproduce, despite being a vampire.  As the witch explained, Klaus is a vampire by curse, but he’s a werewolf by birth.  And as established by the Lockwood family, werewolves CAN produce offspring.  It’s a very clever development.

And for what it’s worth, Elijah continues to be the potential MVP of the future Originals cast.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved Rebekah’s continued development, but the manner that Elijah carries himself just makes him an instantly compelling and authoritative character.  And while he HAS gotten his hands dirty, he’s the most favorably viewed of all the originals, so he’s a fitting character to provide the exposition for certain things.  For example, I think his speech to Rebekah about how Klaus can be saved and can receive redemption goes a long way with the audience.  Besides which, this season of The Vampire Diaries has done an effective job of reminding us that the characters we’ve been rooting for have possibly committed just as many diabolical acts as Klaus has.

Above all else, these two episodes did a great job of easing the viewers into buying Elijah, Rebekah, and even Klaus as believable protagonists (but not necessarily heroes) for their new series.  Like I said, I plan on watching.

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