Review: ‘The Vampire Diaries’: There can only be one
Mythology is important to shows that exist in the realm of the supernatural. It provides a backstory, explaining the past as it affects the present. It also acts as a guide and directs what path the show will follow down the line. And while it creates a sense of depth, it also usually creates more questions than answers. It can be a sticky bog that slows down what are normally fast paced TV shows. In short, mythology is a supernatural show’s greatest strength, but it is also its greatest weakness.
‘The Vampire Diaries’ has a fairly complex mythology, but up until this season it was an asset. The Originals story is perhaps one of the greatest origin stories to come out of vampire lore in quite some time, and it gave us characters so complex that I often find myself rewinding their scenes over and over again in order to catch the smallest facial movements or the tiniest inflection in their voices that give away their true motives. Klaus and Rebekah are two of the greatest cast additions since ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ made Anya a regular and it makes absolute sense that The CW would want to cash in on their popularity. In fact, I feel comfortable in saying that it was never if there was a spinoff, but always when. Their existence in the overall ‘Vampire Diaries’ mythology is as rich as it is complex, and it’s proved to be a great asset.
But the introduction this season of Silas and the cure to the show’s mythology was, up until tonight, one of those instances where instead of adding to the show, it detracted from it. At first it was a plot running parallel to the main action of the series, one that didn’t take over entire episodes. But eventually, as the season progressed, the cure plot grew too big and it had to be addressed. And as the show is wont to do, it doesn’t save these things for season finales. No, this show likes to have the equivalent of at least three season ending cliffhangers per season.
When Elena and Co. traveled to Canada last week in search of the cure, viewers thought it would be a turning point. Instead we were left with a sour taste in our mouths as very little was accomplished outside of Damon admitting he didn’t want to be cured. And usually when the show has an episode that appears weak or diluted, it’s because it’s setting itself up for one of those patented ‘Vampire Diaries’ twists. And this week the show delivered on that promise.
Tonight we found out that there was only ever enough cure to reverse one person’s immortality. And if that wasn’t bad enough (truly, who didn’t see that one coming?), tonight we said goodbye to two fan favorites, one leaving town (possibly for good) and another dead (possibly not for good). But those departures are part of the pay off for the complex mythology the show has been weaving together out of a tangled web this season.
Tyler, who bid Mystic Falls farewell tonight in order to stay alive, has been an interesting character and has been involved in several of the show’s more important additions to its mythology. His transformation into a werewolf, and subsequent hybrid, allowed for the werewolf introduction that every supernatural drama needs. But unfortunately, as soon as Tyler and Hayley unsired the hybrids from Klaus, Tyler’s fate was sealed and it was only a matter of time before he either had to split or be killed.
Michael Trevino truly shined this season as Tyler became the hero and moral compass of a show that often blends good and evil so well that it’s sometimes hard to tell where anyone stands. Tyler’s farewell with Caroline tugged appropriately on the heartstrings, but it also opened the door for Klaus to swoop in. How Caroline will react to Klaus’ feelings for her is yet to be seen, but common sense would tell you she probably won’t be so quick to jump his bones considering he’s the reason her boyfriend was forced to leave town (again). It doesn’t look like Trevino will be back anytime this season, but no one ever can stay away from Mystic Falls for too long. I suspect we’ll be seeing more of Tyler next season (in case you missed the announcement earlier this week, the show has already been renewed for a fifth season).
But as we were busy saying goodbye to Tyler, a surprise guest returned to the fold – she herself an interesting part of the show’s mythology – and she looked a lot like Katherine Pierce. Fans have been clamoring for Katherine’s return for awhile now, but her fear of Klaus has kept her away. With Klaus’ imminent departure for his own spinoff, and considering all of the hints that were dropped about a fourth party searching for the cure, it was only a matter of time before she returned. We just didn’t realize it would come so soon.
Tonight Katherine attacked Elena in the cave and knocked her out long enough to steal her coat and pretend to be Elena. It’s a patented Katherine move so it doesn’t really shock viewers, but it took Jeremy by surprise as she thrust his wrist into Silas mouth in order to revive him (and make it possible for her to steal the cure). But before viewers could appreciate her return, she was gone and Jeremy’s neck was attached to Silas’ mouth. As Silas continued to drink, he snapped Jeremy’s neck (hey, who hasn’t gotten a little overzealous with their food before? Let’s not hold it against him, OK?). Yes, that’s right, the littlest Gilbert is dead.
A fairly large death has been rumored for weeks now, so viewers were on guard tonight, but that doesn’t make losing Jeremy any less difficult. He was Elena’s last remaining tether to her humanity. He was her last living relative and without him, it’s possible that she’ll never be the same. I’m not sure Elena can recover from a loss like Jeremy’s.
But that’s assuming his death sticks. While most of the show’s deaths have actually been final (unlike those on say, ‘Supernatural’), I have reason to believe Jeremy’s death will be reversed. Moments after the episode ended (and it ended on such a haunting scene as Jeremy’s lifeless body fell to the ground in the most fabulously lit cave I’ve ever seen), I took to Twitter to try to calm my own nerves. It has long been speculated that the cure isn’t what it seems. And from where I’m standing I see two ways for this story to play out (three if you’re actually willing to entertain the idea that we’ve seen the last of Jeremy, and frankly, I am not).
Option one: The cure has been said to cure immortality. But one of the favorite TV tropes of the supernatural genre is that the meanings of words have changed over time and since so much of the magical world has ties to ancient times and thus dead languages (see this episode’s Aramaic translation or any time anyone’s ever cast a spell in Latin), things tend to get lost in translation. Immortality is the ability to live forever, or in essence, the absence of death. Could it be possible that the cure isn’t just a cure for vampirism, but has the power to restore to life those who are dead? Vampires themselves are dead, to cure them means they’re given back their life. Though it is the least likely of the two options, who is to say the cure isn’t given to Jeremy to reverse his death and bring him back to life?
Option two: All season long we’ve been hearing of Silas’ mythology and that he required so many sacrifices in order to return. And once he returns, he has the ability to bring back to life those who died for him to live again. As Jeremy was the final sacrifice, there’s the possibility that he will be brought back to life by Silas himself. Now, I’m sure it’s not that simple, but it seems like the more likely option. Like I said, mythology is important on this show, and this particular part of the mythology has been hammered into our heads for most of the season.
(Note: Several of you have commented on Twitter about Silas lying about being able to bring the dead back to life. So far, we don’t even know who Silas is so I’m going to refrain from speculating on the truthiness of that. The only thing confirmed is that he used the forms of our characters’ deceased relatives to manipulate them into bringing him back. While we should certainly be skeptical that he can – or more importantly will – bring back to life those who’ve died to help bring him back, there has been no concrete evidence that he lied about being able to do this. And further more, as I understand it, he can bring back to life those who sacrificed themselves for him, i.e. those who died for him – Jeremy, the hybrids, Pastor Crazy Pants, etc. In Shane’s case, he was merely a glorified planner. He gathered up all the necessary pieces, but he himself didn’t die to raise Silas. Yes, Silas lead him to believe that his wife and daughter – and for that matter, Hayley’s birth parents – would be brought back, but where we should be skeptical is in the wording of the Silas legend.)
Of course it’s possible I’m just in denial. I mean, I’m the girl who refused to believe Sirius Black was dead until he showed up when Harry used the Resurrection Stone (OPTION THREE!?) at the end of Deathly Hallows, but in this case, I don’t think I am. Jeremy is too important of a character, both in terms of the story/mythology now that he’s a hunter, and in terms of who Elena is as a person, to be killed off. And with Tyler and Klaus’ exits, Jeremy’s death would mean only Elena, Damon, Stefan, Caroline, Matt and Rebekah (who might eventually follow Klaus to the spinoff, who knows?) would be left. Yes, the show has a decent sized ensemble, but that mix of characters doesn’t necessarily produce enough drama (LOL, Damon and Stefan produce enough drama for three shows). With Klaus departing, the show’s resident villain spot is up for grabs, and it’s likely that Silas and/or Katherine will fill that void, but they can only hold it for so long. It just makes sense that Jeremy will be back.
There, I hope I’ve quelled your fears. I know this was a difficult episode, but it was one of the best the show has done in a long time. It was a return to form, if you will, and it managed to bring the mythology to the forefront in an interesting and (possibly) satisfying way. I can’t wait to see how the results of tonight’s events play out.
Some stray observations:
- Why is it never Bonnie who bites the dust? Vaughn good and stabbed her in the back tonight, making her weak enough that her spell to contain Klaus in the Gilbert living room wore off, but she’s still alive. From what I can tell, there are a ton of witches out there and they’re all related to Bonnie, so kill her off and get on with it!
- Much as I suspected, Silas is the show’s equivalent of ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer”s First Evil. It can take the shape of dead people and manipulate people into doing its bidding. You know I love me some Jasmine Guy, but I was sad to see the show go down a road so heavily marked with ‘Buffy’ similarities again.
- I still wish there was a way to bring Alaric back. I miss him greatly and I stand by my declaration from earlier this evening that the show can’t hurt me any more than it did when it killed him off. That episode had me curled into the fetal position drunkenly bawling my eyes out, so no, there’s not much else they could do to hurt me.
- Damon did something selfless! Rebekah did not! Klaus was kind (for Klaus)! Vaughn was kind of a huge douche!
- In my head Silas is played by James Marsters.
So what did you guys think? Are you sad to say goodbye to Tyler? Do you think Jeremy will live? Why is there so much light in those underground caves/tunnels? Who’s lighting them?
Note: Photo courtesy of The CW.