Review: ‘The Vampire Diaries’: Truth, dare or werewolf?
Welcome to the town of Mystic Falls, where the only qualifications to be mayor are that you have a pulse and are completely insane! We also have a wonderful education system in which your children can choose when they want to attend classes. At night the high school is completely open to the public for all to enjoy, and at least once a week we all get together and hold a memorial service for those we’ve lost because we sure do have a lot of unexplained or suspicious deaths in these here parts!
I kid, I kid. Mystic Falls is a wonderful place to live. If you like being trapped in school libraries by a 900-plus-year-old Original vampire with an axe to grind or if you enjoy running for your life from the resident town werewolf. If love triangles are more your thing, there is also plenty of that to go around. However, after tonight’s episode it’s more like… like… what’s a shape with only two sides because the third was burned so badly that he dramatically walked away and now seeks only revenge? I don’t know. Whatever. The point is, tonight’s episode, “After School Special,” was a welcome return after four barren weeks with no teenage angst, no Jeremy Gilbert tank top parties and no evil scheming. It’s good to be back, yeah?
This week’s episode packed some action, just like every other week, but the action was more a means of setting up something larger, something scarier than just Rebekah’s return and need for revenge. This was another case of putting all the puzzle pieces on the table and setting them up for an 11 hour marathon puzzle session. In other words, this is what ‘The Vampire Diaries’ does best. It lays out all of its tangled and convoluted storylines early in the season in a way that makes you think there’s no way these stories will ever come together in a satisfactory way. And then it slowly builds and sets a trap that the viewers don’t even see coming. Before you know it it’s the end of the season and your jaw is on the floor and you’re crying in to your bourbon as you watch Alaric die. ‘The Vampire Diaries’ is a master storyteller and this week’s episode was just the end of act one. There’s a whole lot more action to come in the following weeks, but first, let’s talk about what happened this week.
If you’ll recall, after weeks of being mostly friendless and a really annoying broken record, April finally found Rebekah’s daggered body in the final episode before the winter hiatus. She also saw Caroline lying dead on the bathroom floor of the Mystic Grill (um, gross much?) only to spring back to life, have an entire very vampire conversation in front of her and then try to compel her to forget. What we knew and what Caroline didn’t, is that April was wearing Jeremy’s vervain bracelet and could no longer be compelled.
Fast forward four weeks to tonight (so, like, a day in Mystic Falls time) and we find out Rebekah is not only undaggered, but she’s pissed about constantly being daggered and shoved in to coffins when there are so many lives to ruin. The girl really needs to A) leave Mystic Falls, and B) find some better friends. But because she’s not smart enough to take the Elijah route (or the more likely option, she’s too scared after having Klaus as a constant companion for years and years), she sticks around Mystic Falls and enlists April as her evil henchman (who does a surprisingly good job) in her scheme of revenge (did she consult Emily Thorne? Do I need to write a fanfiction crossover in which Emily and Rebekah meet at Revenge School and become total besties but secretly also really hate each other because they both think the other is prettier and better at revenge?).
Rebekah enlists April to help her reenact her favorite episode of ‘Dawson’s Creek’ (she probably caught up on Netflix) with her four closest supernatural buds – Elena, Caroline, Stefan and Tyler. In the episode in question, the gang is locked in the school library for an entire day of Saturday detention and Abby Morgan forces them all to play truth or dare, a childish game which very nearly exposes Joey’s misguided love for Dawson when the two are dared to kiss.
If ‘The Vampire Diaries’ wasn’t a Kevin Williamson show, I’d cry foul at the ways in which TVD mirrored DC tonight. But because it is, and because I choose to see the episode as an homage (of an homage, as the DC episode is an homage to ‘The Breakfast Club’) I’ll allow it. But unlike ‘Dawson’s Creek’ the stakes of this “detention” are much higher.
Rebekah, who didn’t immediately ask about the current status of Elena’s love life the second she was undaggered (they’re called priorities, girl, get some), stumbles upon the fact that the golden couple have broken up only after some awkward moments spent taunting the eldest Salvatore brother about his love for the most recent doppelganger. Her plans for revenge are redirected a bit by her curiosity and demands Elena tell her everything like this is some sort of a slumber party.
During Rebekah’s feelings interrogation it comes to light that A) Stefan knows that Elena slept with Damon, B) Elena feels like Stefan was always trying to fix her during their relationship and therefore fell out of love with him, and C) Caroline cannot keep a damn secret. But that’s not even the worst of it. On top of the emotional damage she’s wrecked, Rebekah lures Tyler down to the high school and then compels him to change. That’s right, she makes him change into his werewolf form and THEN HE DESTROYS ALL THE TABLES IN THE LIBRARY. Giles would be so upset if she knew the way the high school library in Mystic Falls was treated. But then again, they blew up the Sunnydale library so maybe he’d be completely cool with it.
Elena, Stefan and Caroline are forced to make a run for it in after Tyler’s completely changed (I personally would have been outta there the second Rebekah compelled him, but hey, then again I’m just a lowly human), but they cannot leave the school because Rebekah’s compelled them not to. They split up and Elena and Stefan end up running for their lives together. Just like old times, guys!
In another part of the school Klaus and Rebekah are torturing Shane (whom Kol kidnapped because he knows lots o’ information re: old things like cures and magic and how to make it so a vampire cannot compel him) in order to find out about his own intentions for the cure. Once he mentions Silas, Kol flips and decides the only course of action is to kill Shane in order to keep him from raising Silas (is Hunter Parrish busy right now? Cause that’s how I’ve continued to picture Silas…).
Bonnie arrives at the school after witnessing Shane’s abduction from his office earlier that night and performs a protection spell with a necklace Shane gave her made of human bone. Yes, you read that correctly – Shane gave her a necklace made of human bone and not once did she stop and think, “Huh, maybe this isn’t such a good idea?” But because she’s Bonnie, she inadvertently ties Shane’s life to April’s, much like Alaric’s life was tied to Elena’s last season. The girl just cannot catch a break, can she? Whatever. Anyway. Shane lives. April lives after Stefan gives her some of his blood and he orders Bonnie to take April home.
And then Elena decides that NOW would be the perfect time for them to have a serious discussion about relationships, as if there isn’t a werewolf running around the high school (to be fair, by this time Tyler has changed back and Caroline is cradling his naked form as he cries about not being able to save his mom)! Stefan eventually finds that he can’t take anymore heartbreak (you go, Glen Coco!) and walks out on Elena without ever looking back in her direction. Elena looks disappointed but doesn’t chase after him after it’s clear he has no intention of speaking to her. As someone in a really important, highly praised, award-winning movie once said, “You can’t ride two horses with one ass.” Apparently Elena never got around to seeing ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ otherwise she’d have known that.
Meanwhile, while Rebekah’s emotionally ravaging our heroine, Damon is off playing Mr. Miyagi to Jeremy’s Karate Kid (and ogling Matt’s biceps… OK that last part was just me). Jeremy’s training isn’t going as quickly as Klaus would like so he joins the three amigos at the lake and takes matters in to his own hands. First he turns the darling pizza girl who Jeremy is quick to kill once he saw that she was attacking Pudding Pop. But that one kill wasn’t enough to satisfy Klaus’ cravings so he turns an entire bar full of people into vampires and plans to unleash them on Jeremy in next week’s episode. Hey, what can I say? You have to admire his total commitment to being an evil genius.
By episode’s end, allegiances have been formed out of revenge and necessity. Stefan, who hates Damon and wants to find the cure so he can find out if Elena’s feelings for his brother are real, teams up with Rebekah, who hates her brother and wants to find the cure so she can kill him once he’s human again. We also have Damon and Klaus teaming up to finish Jeremy’s tattoo so they can find the cure, both for Elena, but both for completely different reasons. Damon wants to find the cure so he can remove Elena’s sire bond and prove that her love for him (oh yeah, Elena totally told Damon she loved him – way to bury the lead, Kaitlin!) is real and not a side effect of the bond. Klaus obviously wants to make Elena human again so her blood can one again create hybrids. And then there’s Shane and Bonnie whom I don’t even carry about anymore so … yeah.
And all of this circles back around to April who finally does what most humans would do in this situation: she goes to the police (and the new mayor) and tells them everything she knows. Welcome back to Mystic Falls, guys! Hope it was worth the wait!
Some stray observations:
- “I’m at a mandatory all alone drinking party.” – Stefan, channeling my favorite drunk, Alaric
- Bonnie’s dad is the new mayor. And he was the sixth choice. So you know, he probably feels really good about himself.
- It was nice to see Kol return, but to be honest, I think 99.9 percent of us would have rather it was Elijah. Unfortunately, I don’t think Elijah would have been so quick to help Rebekah in her revenge plot.
- I have a couple of issues with the Damon/Elena scene at the end in which she told him she loved him and he told her he would get the cure. That part was all fine, but the part that rubbed me the wrong way was the part where Damon told Elena to come to him. Elena jumped when he told her to jump. I know it’s partly the sire bond, but I would like to see Elena make some decisions for herself. Decisions that aren’t based around a Salvatore brother.
- Speaking of decisions, has anyone even ASKED Elena if she wants to be cured? Because I for one do NOT want to see that happen. Yes, break the sire bond, but do so without having to cure Elena. Make a decision and stick with it, please!
Photo: Bob Mahoney/The CW