Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Vampire Diaries

The Vampire Diaries
Episode 22: The Walking Dead
By: Carlos Uribe

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

Spoilers Ahoy!

In any fictional show, there is a thing as a a good mystery and a thing as a bad mystery. A good mystery keeps the viewers on their toes to try and figure out the truth. A great mystery will be one that few of the viewers would have been able to solve. A bad mystery is one that confuses the viewer into what they're watching. They won't know what a major character is trying to accomplish or why which makes it difficult to follow the plot. The viewer might not even be aware that there is a mystery as they might assume that they simply lost track of what's happening on the show. It becomes frustrating viewing. All shows require a healthy dose of good mysteries to keep things interesting but they can't make the mistakes of making any of them bad. The Vampire Diaries is a show that can't hide the general plan of the good guys. It can hide the motives, it can hide the specifics of the plan, and it can hide the obstacles but it should always reveal what the character is generally trying to accomplish. Why? The Vampire Diaries is a show whose narrative is driven by plans. Stefan and Damon plan to find the cure and use it on Elena. They plan to find a way to kill Klaus or any of the other hybrids. They plan to stop Shane from reviving Silas. It's basically a show about characters going on missions and watching it blow up in their faces. The Vampire Diaries is a serialized show but it has a procedural element because it all comes down to how the good guys are going to get their desire. If that desire happens to be to defeat a big bad or to get Elena turn her humanity back on then the writers structure the episode around that. We usually don't learn the specifics as we instead watch the plan work until it usually fails big time. Failure might be frustrating for the characters but it's one of the reasons the Vampire Diaries is such an entertaining show. Bonnie has had a plan to use the tombstone to use Quelstiah's blood to drop the veil just long enough to talk to the witch to learn how to defeat Silas. Once we know the plan, her confusing and contradictory actions in the last episode make sense because the show brought them into context. I guess the viewers should have been asking what is Bonnie planning to do but it really just felt like the series forgot to tell us than a mystery. Ultimately, I think this is because we have to know the plans in order to root for the characters. We need to know what we're cheering them to do because then we can understand the stakes and the obstacles. In other words? Bonnie's plan should have been revealed last week when she talked to Katherine rather than waiting this week.

Her plan goes terribly wrong. It actually goes right for a time. She's able to activate all the sacrifice places which causes Mystic Falls to lose power. There's also a storm when it's supposed to be sunny. Bonnie goes to the center of the triangle to perform her spell. It's predictable that the middle happens to be the school but it's surprising when it's revealed that she's actually under it. A great twist by the writers. She's able to drop the veil which causes ghosts to appear at Mystic Falls. The series explains why thousands of supernatural ghosts don't appear: there's nothing for them to do in Mystic Falls. Ah, the joys of small town life. That's when Silas shows up. He wants her to remove the veil so he can take the potion but she resists him. She's able to get the strength she needs to defeat him when her grandmother gives her a confidence boost. She turns him into stone using her expression magic and Silas is defeated. Only this confidence boost messes with her priorities. She doesn't put the veil back up but rather decides that she'll bring Jeremy back to life first. She's warned that she can't do this but Bonnie is a teenager. She ignores such sensible warnings and then collapses. The next thing Bonnie knows, she's looking at her dead body. She's shocked and thinks she's dead-as she proclaims “Oh My God. I'm dead!” I'm a bit skeptical because this might just be a trick or temporary. Is she actually dead or is this out-of-body experience? Will she stay dead or will the writers find a way to bring her back? It's a pretty big twist whatever happens and I have no idea how permanent it is. The writers might follow through on her death. It's not like Bonnie is really that important of a character as she's generally relegated to the background. It's only when the series needs a witch that she tends to be used and there's no shortage of witches in the Vampire Diaries world. She can easily be replaced. I don't want her to be dead since I like Bonnie but I wouldn't be surprised if this was real.

Her death isn't the only consequence of her plan. The series isn't building up to an emotional finale but an action-packed one. Bonnie dropped the veil and it hasn't gone up. This means that villains who have died can come back and cause problems for our heroes. This means vampire hunters, witches, hybrids, and vampires that will want revenge against our characters. We do get some nice visits as well but it's largely going to be an epic battle between those who died and those who live. This episode already begins that by bringing on a pissed off Kol. Kol is angry that Jeremy killed him and he seeks revenge on the only living Gilbert left. He's defeated at the end of the episode by Stefan but only temporarily. You can't kill a ghost after all. This is going to create a lot of problems for our characters. How are they going to bring the veil back up when their witch friend is apparently dead? How are they going to deal with a group of ghosts that are going to want them dead once and for all? How are the townspeople going to react to seeing people who have died come back alive? Okay, the series probably won't deal with the last one. I'm pretty excited to see what the season finale comes to store and dread the cliff-hanger that will probably have me wishing that summer would end already. The penultimate episode set up the season finale in a pretty exciting way.

Of course, this was a pretty good episode on it's own. There's a lot it was dealing with but the major focus was Elena's emotions. She has turned them on but focused them all on rage. She wants to kill Katherine and she's willing to do anything to accomplish this. Stefan tries his best to redirect her anger but she's not willing to hear him out. She's even deluded herself enough to think that killing Katherine will make her capable of processing all her guilt and grief. That is until she slaps Stefan when she gets angry with him and finds no relief. Elena flees to her brother's grave to basically admit that she doesn't even want to live anymore. She's willing to let Kol kill her but the show wisely brings Ghost Jeremy to save her. Kol is defeated and Jeremy and Elena can finally talk. They can finally bid goodbye to each other. This is what will allow Elena to grieve: being able to gain closure on her brother's death. It's pretty powerful stuff that manages to fit perfectly into Bonnie's plan to drop the veil. Their reunion might be permanent but it'll be enough for Elena to process her feelings for losing Jeremy and start dealing with her guilt. There were also some other amazing moments: having Ghost Alaric be a great friend to Damon and Rebecca's slapping Caroline out her brainwashing. The developing friendship between Rebecca and Matt works pretty well. Oh, and who can forget Ghost Lexi stopping in to have a nice chat with Stefan. So many good beats that we don't see anymore because they have died only makes one realize just how much we have lost over the course of four seasons. Too bad we might have to add Bonnie to that list.

Overall, The Walking Dead is a great episode that builds up to what I'm sure will be an epic season finale.

Other Notes:

Will all of the surprise stabbings that happen, I'm surprised characters don't make sure the other people aren't hiding stakes.

I think Silas was defeated a little too easily for being the Big Bad. His body-switching this episode was pretty surprising.

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