Review: ‘The Vampire Diaries’: Oh, Canada!
As if on cue, tonight’s episode of ‘The Vampire Diaries’ highlighted the very essence of my review for last week’s episode: how something is determined to be bad or good is colored by the person doing the looking – and from where I’m sitting, this episode was a mess.
Our rag tag group of misfits traveled to Canada this week in search of the cure. I’m sure the writers chose Canada as the resting place of Silas and the cure for a reason, but wouldn’t someplace more exotic have been a better choice? Though, I guess if you’re going to bury something that supposedly has the power to restore life to those things once dead, it makes sense to do it on a creepy island off the coast of Canada where tourists aren’t bound to happen up on it. Sometimes the logic on this show makes sense. But then again, it’s Canada. No offense to the multitude of actors I admire who hail from Canada – including this show’s star – but … Canada? I half expected Shane to come stumbling out of the woods with an exuberant smile on his face as he was cast in the glow of Canada’s greatest cure: Tim Horton’s.
In theory this episode should work. It has all the makings of a great ‘Vampire Diaries’ episode: intrigue, hella confusing back story, Bonnie playing with fire, Damon alternating between a smirk and a scowl. But despite all of the ingredients being present, the episode lacked finesse in its execution. This episode faltered because it lead viewers to believe this would be the episode in which the cure storyline would finally come to a head. All the previews promised us some crazy island shenanigans. Having watched ‘Lost’ I should have known better than to hope we’d get answers from a mystical island. Maybe this is our fault? Whatever. The point is this episode did not bring the cure story to a close. Instead it made it more confusing.
Shane, in an attempt to really live up to his Shadypants nickname, tells the story of how his dead wife told him about Silas and the cure after falling into a magic cave. Nevermind the fact that Shane should probably be more skeptical of something that looks like his dead wife telling him to kill several dozen people, but this entire story reeks of recycled ‘Buffy’ plots. I know I keep promising to stop comparing the two shows, but when a story so closely resembles that of another beloved show, it’s kind of hard to look away. On ‘Buffy’ the First took the form of dead people and tormented their loved ones until they ultimately did what it wanted. Who is to say that Silas didn’t take the form of Shane’s dead wife in that cave? I mean, she did everything but give a PowerPoint presentation on how to unleash his evil into the world.
But that’s not even the worst part of the episode. The worst part is that this island means different things to each of our characters and the conflicting wants and desires of our heroes make this story even more shaky.
Stefan and Rebekah both want to find the cure for themselves. Rebekah, as mentioned last week, wants to be human again and experience everything that comes with living a human lifestyle – including falling in love and having children. Stefan wants the cure because he’s spent the last 150 years of his life torturing himself for the havoc he’s wreaked since becoming a vampire. He wants to be human again to rid himself of the guilt and anguish he feels on a daily basis. Because in case you haven’t noticed, Stefan hates himself when he’s on the wagon. The only way to get him to stop hating himself is to become human again.
Elena finally admits in this episode that she wants the cure and it’s nice to finally have an actual confirmation from her. But the scene in which this confession plays out is by far the weakest of the episode, and it comes from the weakest Elena the show’s ever seen. Like many fans, I found that the scene in which Elena asks Damon to take the cure with her played out like a girlfriend begging her boyfriend to love her. As a human, Elena used to be fearless, even when being fearless was stupid and led her straight to danger. Human Elena was fierce and passionate and she never would have made that declaration the way vampire Elena did. And it’s depressing because as a vampire, Elena held so much promise. Instead of making her stronger, it appears that it’s actually made her weaker.
It would be easy to blame Elena’s reaction to Damon’s rejection of the cure on the sire bond – something else that needs to be resolved ASAP – but I’m not sure if that’s even the reason behind her personality swap. If the cure means a return to an Elena who isn’t a sad sap, I might actually be interested in it. But considering that if the cure were a real thing (and again I have to say that I believe there is something that will bring people back from the dead, but exactly what that something is was lost in translation and the cure isn’t exactly what everyone seems to think it is) that the show would lose its sole purpose for existence, I’m inclined to believe that it’s about as real as the sun and the moon curse.
As for Damon, his rejection of the curse makes sense from a character standpoint. We have no reason to believe that Damon ever wanted the cure for himself. He’s said he wants it for Elena so they can break the sire bond, but the flip side to that is that if she’s cured, there is the possibility of her feelings for Damon vanishing along with vampirism. It’s a double-edged sword. He’s damned if he doesn’t find the cure for her, because the sire bond will continue to exist, but he might be damned if he does, because he still believes there is a possibility all of her feelings are stemming from the sire bond.
Sire bonds aside, Damon has never said he wants to be cured. He is one of the few characters on the show who very obviously revels being a vampire (the other being Klaus). It’s not his rejection of the cure though that makes Elena so upset. It’s that he worries (and rightfully so when every single person is in his ear telling him it’ll happen) that once cured, Elena won’t love him anymore. Because Elena truthfully believes (along with a billion shippers across the world) that the sire bond has no effect on her feelings for him, Elena’s sure that she’ll come out the same on the other side. But for all of his cockiness, Damon’s very insecure in his relationship with Elena. It’s actually rather annoying that after all this time he still rejects the idea that someone (Elena) might love him. And it’s a shame because Damon deserves to be loved.
While it looks like all of these storylines intersect at a central point, the differing viewpoints and the fact that Jeremy is kidnapped by one of Shane’s minions early on, only leads to more confusion. But messy island stories aside, this episode also spelled out quite literally what I wrote in my review last week: whether or not a person or an act is good or evil is subjective. Both Damon and Rebekah spoke to this in tonight’s episode, but there’s an even better example of it in the form of yet another love triangle.
This scene had the potential to be great, but it ultimately fell flat on account viewers are aware Joseph Morgan’s Klaus will soon be departing Mystic Falls for New Orleans. In what starts out as a delicious counter to the mess on the island, Tyler taunts Klaus as he’s trapped in the Gilbert living room, but the situation turns sour once Klaus bites Caroline and refuses to give her his blood to save her. This leads to a scene in which Caroline manipulates Klaus into giving her his blood by telling him that she knows he loves her and for that reason he’s worthy of being loved and saved and all that jazz. Because he is capable of loving her, this means he’s at least partly human. But like I said, knowing that Klaus will soon be departing the show makes this encounter a little lifeless (however, I’m sure Tumblr has already GIF’d the hell out of that scene, so what do I know). Something not lifeless? Tyler’s hair. What was going on there, man?
Ultimately, at the end of the day this mess of an episode is forgivable for one reason and one reason only: it was a setup episode. It was necessary to move the plot along and to setup next week’s episode in which I pray to God the cure – or whatever it is – is found. This story has definitely stayed past its welcome and it’s time for the show to get its ass in gear.
Some stray observations:
- While everyone else was bundled up in layers, Jeremy Gilbert was standing around shirtless in the Canadian wilderness. There’s liking your new ink, and then there’s Ed Hardy level douchbaggery, Jer. And don’t you think Bonnie could have taken pictures of your tattoo before you set off for the cold weather of Canada? I’m not usually one to complain about a shirtless Jeremy, but sometimes my logical brain kicks in and I can’t turn it off.
- Damon encounters another member of the Five after walking away from Elena. Naturally it ends with his neck snapping.
- Elena offers Rebekah the white oak stake as a token of trust. I’m OK with it.
- Matty stayed home for this excursion. Which is probably for the best, because I have a feeling shit’s about to go down and I don’t have the time to worry about whether or not someone is snacking on his neck.
What did you guys think? Do you believe the cure exists? Are you upset at Damon’s rejection of Elena’s longing for them to grow old together? What does Klaus do when he has to pee?
Note: Photo courtesy of The CW.