Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Vampire Diaries

The Vampire Diaries
Episode 8: We'll Always Have Bourbon Street
By: Carlos Uribe

The Vampire Diaries is a show about Elena's love triangle with two vampires.

Spoilers Ahoy!

A major cliff-hanger at the end of the last episode is that Elena is actually sired to Damon. This episode picks up that idea but it expands it. Stefan manages to confirm the sire exists when he gets Damon to get her to drink from a blood bag. This turns out to be the second time that Damon has sired a vampire. The first time he tried to solve it by going to a witch, who had a spell that could help them. This witch's store was in New Orleans so the two head over there to try and find her. It's been over forty years since Damon was in the city so they happen to run into the vampire he had sired. She's still obsessed with him as she's been following his instructions to count every brick. They do find a witch that tells them how to break the sire bond. This is where the series revealed a pretty good thing: the sire only exists if a human had feelings for the vampire that created her. When a vampire is turned, all their feelings are magnified. So the sire is really a magnification of that love. Being sired only changes how you act, not how you feel. This is such an important distinction for the series to make as it means that their feelings towards each other are real. I had noted in the last review how this was bad news for Damon-Elena fans because it essentially meant that the series was tricking them with the idea they could work together. Now we know that only Elena's actions, but not her love, were influenced by the sire bond. This means that this entire development in the love triangle does count and it wasn't a waste of time that ignores all character development.

The question becomes whether or not Damon is willing to break up with Elena. He's been falling for her over the last few seasons but he's always allowed himself to be the bad guy whose willing to do what's necessary to keep her alive. Every single time that she was coming around to seeing him as a hero, Damon has been forced to sacrifice the goodwill he's built in order to save her. He's always done this because he's not as selfish as he wants people to think. He truly cares about Elena and her happiness that he was willing to allow her to be with Stefan. Now that he has her, he's being forced to give her up again. He wants her to be with him from her own free will. The flashbacks in this episode are meant to reinforce that he has always been willing to sacrifice his own happiness for the happiness of the people he loves. This has been a consistent character trait ever since he started being an anti-hero. The flashback sequence wasn't really necessary as it didn't add any new information we didn't know but they were fun and well-executed. It really does feel like the show has started to add flashbacks for the sake of having them rather than to actually develop the plot in an interesting manner. This is the second episode this season where the flashbacks didn't feel like they actually contributed to the episode.

While Stefan and Damon go to New Orleans to figure out what exactly is going on, Elena has a girl's night out with Caroline and Bonnie. The three are able to enjoy themselves in a really fun scene. This show usually has them in such serious situations and scenes that it's nice to see them simply be happy. Even Bonnie is able to let lose and enjoy herself. There are a few developments in this part of the plot. The first is that Elena figures out she's sired. This is why she's able to realize that Damon is trying to break up with her and she makes it emotionally difficult to do so. There's a reason the episode ends with that scene: it makes you wonder whether Damon will be able to do the right thing or whether he'll finally succumb to his selfishness. The second is that we learn that Bonnie is practicing something worse than dark magic called “expression”. In order to truly tap into that power, a sacrifice of twelve must be made. This sacrifice is going to be the twelve hyrbrids that Haley and Tyler have been unsiring. Whereas previous seasons would have probably released this information a few episodes back, this one is taking it's time with it's main plot.

Talking about Tyler and the twelve hybrids, there's a sub-plot that involves them. They're working on unsiring the last hybrid when he gets challenged by another hybrid. What essentially goes on is that Tyler's alpha status in the pack is being challenged. He has to submit this werewolf to follow him so that he's able to completely unsire them all. It takes him an entire episode before he's able to accomplish this when he literally puts his hand through the chest of the hybrid challenging his authority. He threatens to rip her heart out if she doesn't submit to him. She does and all the other hybrids follow suit. It was a perfectly executed moment for the series as all the hybrids kneel in front of him. There is just something thrilling when any fantasy show is able to sell a character taking authority over a group of people. This sub-plot does set Tyler directly at odds with Shane. Now that he's their leader, he's not going to just allow them to be sacrificed. It places him as a character whose going to put the interests of his pack on top.

We'll Always Have Bourbon Street is a pretty good episode of the Vampire Diaries. The only flaw is that the flashbacks didn't feel necessary. This is a series that used to make flashbacks integral to tell kep plot elements but they largely feel like they're added to episodes because they haven't done flashbacks in a while. The rest of the episode was pretty good and it was interesting to see how the episode was grounded with the core relationship between Stefan and Damon along with Caroline and Elena. That's where most of the emotional conflict lay. Overall, a pretty great episode that managed to make a twist I was wary of work.

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