Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Vampire Diaries

The Vampire Diaries
Episode 17: Because the Night
By: Carlos Uribe

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

Spoilers Ahoy!

I just love it when the characters fail big time. Damon and Stefan both fail big time at the task they were supposed to do. Damon decides to take Elena to New York City. He's pretending to take her because he claims that having fun will encourage her to turn on her humanity switch. There's a lot of fun to be had in the city and nobody really notices if there's a little death because of how many people are in the city. There is less risk of them attracting any attention or getting caught. His excuse makes sense and it's plausible but Elena doesn't really buy it. She knows that Damon is really in the city for a different reason. She would be right. Damon is actually in the city because he has a lead on where Katherine is. He's hoping to find her location and get the cure for Elena. While he's trying to deal with this problem. Stefan figures out whose behind the hospital thefts. Silas hasn't feeded in two-thousand years so he would need the blood. When he discovers that Shane has been visiting Bonnie, he manages to figure out that Silas is planning to use her for the last massacre. His mission becomes to stop the massacre and find a way to undermine Silas. The two don't really succeed as the two simply don't have a good day. Silas gets one step closer to removing the other side while Rebekah is now on the straight path towards the cure. Because the Night is a pretty great Vampire Diaries episode which complicates matters for the Salvatore brothers in a good way.

The search for Katherine is a fun one for two reasons. The first is that Katherine is a fun character and this is a great way to write her into the plot. The second is because the search provides a lot of room for conflict. Damon is trying to find the cure but he's hoping to do it without scaring Elena away. He needs to keep her close so that when he gets it, he can force it down her throat. It also helps that he needs to keep her under supervision so she doesn't get too reckless. When Rebekah shows up, this adds another player into the search. This would by itself be strong enough to elevate the tension but the show gets more promising than that. Rebekah decides that it would be smart to partner up with Elena. They can make a great team as they have similar goals. Elena wants to find the cure first so she doesn't have to take it. Rebekah wants to become human. Elena can therefore give Rebekah the cure and her problems would go away. It certainly makes sense. Elena doesn't see it that way at first. Her emotions are off so she thinks logically. All she can see Rebekah is a huge risk because of how emotionally unstable the original vampire is. It isn't until Rebekah is able to prove her worth that the two formally pair up. The Vampire Diaries isn't praised for this often but it really is skilled at playing the game of shifting alliances and enemies in a manner that doesn't betray characters or the history that they share. It makes perfect sense for a calculating Elena and Rebekah to set aside their differences to get what they want. It promises to be more fun next week.

The Silas plot takes a big leap forward when he accomplishes one of his goals. He wants to reunite with his lover but he needs to get rid of the supernatural afterlife first. He's woken up but he needs to complete the massacre triangle for his spell to work. He's been manipulating Bonnie into getting his wishes. The first massacre was a human one and the second one was a hybrid one. The final massacre has to therefore be witches. This is complicated because they can use magic to defend themselves. The solution is to distract them by forcing them to combine their magic in an attempt to cleanse magic. When they are all united, the idea is to strike at one of the witches when they least suspect it. They would all die at the same time and the massacre would be done. It's a simple plan but it's completed not by Silas but by Caroline. Caroline can't accept the idea of her friend dying so she decides to try and save her. This involves killing the head witch. Caroline accidentally completed the massacre which leaves Silas clear to do the necessary spell. Overall it's a great plot and I especially like how it uses an unexpected character to be responsible for the bad guy's victory. The next step of the plan is simple: use Klaus to get to the cure.

While all of this is going on, we also get some fun flashbacks to the seventies. Damon has turned off his humanity and is enjoying himself in the Big Apple. Hatred is the first of his emotions to sneak itself back into the character as Lexi eventually finds out. She arrives at the city in an attempt to get him to turn his switch back on. He plays along with her up to the point where he pretends to fall in love with her. They sleep together but it was a trap. Damon locks her into the roof as revenge for trying to make him a better person. The one thing that came up to my mind is how fun it was to see Damon in the seventies. It's been a while since we've had flashbacks that were actually fun. It's not like major plot details were being revealed but just focusing on Damon's character. The flashbacks were a big success due to this concentration on character. It helps that they were given some room to actually breathe and weren't forced in for the sake of having flashbacks. They actually felt organic to the episode and contributed to the pace.

Because the Night is a pretty great Vampire Diaries episode. It was filled with many plot twists and turns. The character allegiances shifted in the episode and the Silas plot moved forward a bit. The narrative momentum is kicking into high gear. The plots were fun not just because of their interactions but also because of how their plans failed. I'm going to say this: the Vampire Diaries is really a collection of plans that go terribly wrong. That's really what helps make each episode so entertaining because we're seeing truly competent characters fail so miserable because there's always an element they can't control.

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