Monday, January 21, 2013

The Vampire Diaries

The Vampire Diaries
Episode 10: After School Special
By: Carlos Uribe

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

Spoilers Ahoy!

The Vampire Diaries comes back with a Breakfast Club episode! This isn't just any Breakfast Club episode but it's one with a delicious supernatural twist. In the classic John Hughes movie, some teenagers are stuck in detention which forces them to bond as they reveal their deepest secrets. In the Vampire Diaries version of it, Rebekah kidnaps certain characters of the show and compels them to reveal secrets that drive them apart. This means that would would have otherwise been a gimmick episode is elevated because it makes it all about the characters. That it manages to develop the plot at the same time along with some pretty surprising plot twists means that this episode manages to fit seamlessly into the season's narrative. After School Special is an effective homage to the Breakfast Club for two reasons. The first is that it takes the general idea behind it and applies it in a way that it doesn't seem like it's just copying the original. The second is that it manages to remain central to the show's identity. This is a Breakfast Club episode that only the Vampire Diaries could have created and that makes it organic.

What were the big secrets revealed? Rebekah is shocked to find out that the characters haven't been able to find out where the cure is despite having the sword and a hunter. She believes that the only reason Stefan hasn't found the cure for Elena is because something must have happened between them. She gets her answer when Stefan reveals he knows that Elena slept with Damon. Elena is a bit shocked at the news but is soon forced to make her own revelation. She tells Stefan that she didn't sleep with Damon because of the sire bond but because she loves him. Since she's under compulsion, this reveals two things. The first is that she loves Damon. Having been compelled to state what's really in her heart makes Elena realize that she actually does love him. Stefan's heart breaks at this point but he's hurt even more when Elena is forced to admit that she's no longer in love with Stefan. This basically kills him. He's hurt so badly that he practically begs to Rebekah to have his memory wiped of Elena. This in turn hurts Elena because while their love story might have ended, it still holds value in her heart. This episode takes a relationship that had been on the cliff of destruction and pushed it. Stefan still wants to find the cure but not because he wants Elena to be normal again but because he has to find out if her feelings for his brother are real. As for Rebekah? She wants to find the cure so she can make Klaus normal. Stefan and Rebekah naturally team up because they both feel betrayed and they want revenge. The emotional consequence of this episode was so well-done and I'm excited to see a genuine Stefan-Rebekah alliance.

Of course, the plot was being developed at the same time. Rebekah learned that they weren't using the hunter as the real map because Shane knew the location of the cure. They manage to find Shane but they decide to torture him. It's okay because Bonnie puts a protection spell only she accidentally links to April. Shane is able to survive his torture because of this spell but it almost kills April. Luckily, vampire blood is able to revive her in the last minute. April decides to take action into her own hands and reveal Shane's plan to the sheriff along with her desire to reveal the truth to the public. It's kind of surprising where they're taking April as it's going to a place I wasn't expecting completely. Shane does reveal his ultimate plan to release Silas upon the world which causes Kol to try and kill him. Kol thinks he's dead now but Rebekah knows that Shane is still alive thanks to Stefan. It's nice to get confirmation of what Shane is trying to do and get a sense of what his plan is. I wonder what the tombstone is. The plot of the season is turning out pretty nicely so far and it's actually heading in some pretty surprising places. We don't know yet why Shane wants Silas out in the world but most of the decisions by the characters all come from who they really are. In order words, the narrative gets right into gear and it allows the characters to drive it.

Separated from the main action is what's happening with Jeremy. Damon and Matt are trying to train Jeremy to be a fierce vampire slayer. They aren't moving fast enough because Klaus is getting impatient. He wants results starting yesterday. If that means turning the friendly pizza girl into a vampire so Jeremy is forced to kill her then so be it. If it means having to turn an entire bar into vampires so that Jeremy's hunting map really grows then so be it. It's interesting to note that Stefan and Rebekah are joining together to find the cure and they plan to use Shane. Damon and Klaus are also trying to find this cure but they're using Jeremy's mark and the sword. The comparison continues as Damon wants to use the cure so that Elena becomes human and he knows she really does love him. Klaus wants Elena to be human so he can make a new hybrid army now that the old one is dead. These small factions that are forming for the same goal yet opposed to each other is going to lead to interesting conflict and is a small change of pace for the show. It usually brings all characters with similar goals together but the season seems content to allow them to be separate for now. Giving the characters different ways to accomplish the same goal allows them to work towards it without actually communicating. Anyways, Elena is now heading towards Damon even as he accepts that Klaus' dark plan is the proper one to take.

An after school special in television is usually a joke. It's where an entire “entertainment” product is made in the hopes of imparting kids on how to deal with real life situations using unrealistic characters and outdated lingo. The Vampire Diaries episode “After School Special” is anything but that. It has realistic characters, the best dialogue in the genre, and it doesn't impart any actual lesson. It is a very serious episode that is wickedly fun-just like the rest of the show.

Other Notes:

In some pretty powerful stuff, Tyler has to grieve his mom's loss as he blames himself for her death since he couldn't rescue her.

A spin-off between Klaus and Hayley is being planned. I think this might be fun but it could also turn out terrible. I'm all for it if all the Original siblings agree to star in it.

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