The Moth Chase

Elevating the Art of Procrastanalysis – Academics wasting time on pop culture

How to Spike a Vampire’s Drink

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THE VAMPIRE DIARIES

Dear N,

So that’s what those rings are for! I can’t say that this episode was as explosive as last week’s, but it did a nice job clearing up some missing vampire lore and filling out back stories and relationships. Stefan’s cleverness in spiking Damon’s “drink” was also pretty fun – especially after the indulgent scene where Damon is reading Twilight in Caroline’s room. We see just how wrong Stephenie Meyer’s got it with her fangless vampires.

What I really loved, though, was the history repeats itself motif. Half the fun of vampire mythologies is trying to imagine what it would be like to live for hundreds of years with something like human consciousness. The “I’ve seen it all” world-weariness is part of the vampire’s angsty allure and there is something so fantastic about watching hundreds of years of history compacted in one memory (like Damon finding the crystal he hid 150 years earlier). Especially when this compressed memory in one mind is contrasted with the fragile process of communal memory keeping – uncle/nephew Zach growing vervain as part of an alternative family tradition (digression: I want to know more about Zach and the strange Salvatore family lore in general) and the big revelation at the end of the episode that the founder’s descendants have been keeping the anti-vampire flame burning. Obviously, handed-down communal memory is a shaky prospect, prone to gaps and holes and the ill-fated agency of many human actors (like Jeremy keeping the watch that is somehow necessary to rid the town of evil forces), whereas Damon and Stefan have the advantage of *actually having lived through the history that is being repeated.* But the fragility of humans in the face of nearly omniscient foes is what makes the struggle so great – the humans have to piece it all together in common if they stand a chance. Then again, the gung-ho human collective is always more prone to make speedy judgments and stake the good vampires along with the bad, so what do you want to bet we’ll see another struggle for individualism in the coming show-down?

I want to know more about Katherine too, if only to see if she really was as passive as the back story is making her sound. In which case, will history repeat itself with a twist by giving us a more powerful Elena who doesn’t just wait to be the pawn between the waring brothers or between the town and the vampires?

I’d drink to that.

K

—————–

Dear Kathryn,

Not as explosive as last week?  Really?  I think I liked this week’s even more – it was sexier; more tension built within the broader community; and overall it was just funnier than previous weeks.  You’re right, though: that Twilight reference was priceless!  Not only does Damon think Meyer’s got it wrong, but Bella ‘ain’t that special and Edward’s whipped – a pretty fun read of those texts, I’ve got to say. 

Memory and Class Structures
I’m excited to see that the townspeople are in on things too, and especially that the human resistance will involve the terribly dressed local news anchor/ex-flame of Aunt Jenna, Logan Fell (that’s a great soap opera name if I ever heard one!).  Which gets me to this question about memory.  Yes, communal memory depends on the consciousness of those who participate in the events and the shaky passing on of that consciousness to the thoughts of others.  But I loved how this episode connected the agency of memory to things other than human consciousness. 

Collective memory here is also connected to the ways in which human beings hold positions of power.  Because the ones in the know about the vampires are the current power players in Mystic Falls, and because the current power players are the descendents of the original founders, it seems that the survival of this small town will depend upon maintaining its class structure.  It will depend upon the families who pass around the positions of mayor, sheriff and perhaps (I hope!) even the lineage of witches.  And so such dependence on a class-based power structure like this makes me really eager to see how a social outcast like Vicky will fit into the ongoing narrative of salvation from vampire invasion.

Memory and Objects
And second, collective memory in this episode depends on objects – not just the way objects are remembered, but the power of objects themselves.  Last week I assumed that Elena’s necklace brainwashed her in a particular way; it turns out that it was actually weakening Damon’s powers.  We think that the family jewelry is being loaned to the heritage society because it bears the memories of the community (which in part, it does), but it’s also because they want to get their hands on this magical watch.  Zach’s vervain dungeon carries not only passed-down family wisdom for how to control unruly family members, but also creates a space that will exert that control for them.  These objects become characters themselves, exerting force, creating memory, bearing wisdom and shaping the narrative.  In other words, like human consciousness, they too have agency.  And it makes me wonder how much objects participate in our own daily networks of agency and power in ways we only recognize in the midst of fantasy stories like this one.

I’m with you – very excited to learn more about Katherine.  But right now I’m most excited to learn more about Bonnie, and I think that’s where the story might go next week.  That scene where she manages to light the candles of the whole dining room was great!  And I love watching her step tentatively into her own power, surprised at each turn how much she actually possesses. 

Generally, and totally hooked on this show now,
Natalie

To read this conversation on The Vampire Diaries from start to finish, click here

Written by themothchase

October 2, 2009 at 7:57 am

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