The Moth Chase

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

Utterly Irredeemable

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Dear Natalie,

Well, my DVR worked just great and I was finally able to watch the episode this morning while the babe dozed peacefully. I really hope the CW posts it soon so you can get caught up in Isobel’s evil machinations! What is up with these awful mother figures! We’ve already discussed the utter absence of real adult supervision in this teenage fantasy land. The adults we do have are either too caught up in their plans to save the town to notice what their adolescent charges are up to, or they are part of the vampiric underworld and therefore not really adults, just side kicks with cars and the ability to drink in public. Then we have Mothers. Given the U.S. holiday tomorrow, perhaps it is a good moment to be thankful that these Mystic Falls girls don’t have too much maternal influence. Caroline’s mother is OK, but as I said a bit preoccupied with vampire hunting and clearly estranged from her daughter for reasons we don’t really know. Bonnie seems to be motherless. Matt has a mother, but she is a piece of work only to be rivaled by Isobel, Elena’s long lost vampire mother. Given just how shitty all these mother-child relations are, it makes you wonder if any of our characters will ever have the gumption to procreate themselves. Much less wonder how they aren’t substantially more screwed up then they are.

But focusing on Isobel in particular… what I loved about her return was the continued revelation of what it means to be a vampire in this mythology. Damon explains to Alaric that vampires by nature don’t feel anything. Their default is apathy and detachment from human emotion. This is pretty par for the course in vampire world. In fact, since vampires appear to be human on so many levels it is usually the key thing that is meant when they proclaim (in wicked glee or existential despair): I am not a human. Namely, I don’t feel or think like a human does. I don’t form attachments like a human does. I don’t value human life. This is a difficult thing to portray – the non-human who looks, sounds, and seems just like a human but isn’t. Of course, different mythologies spin this out differently. The Cullens of Forks, Washington have preserved something of their human emotions because they refuse to drink human blood. Bill Compton (and occasionally others) in Bon Temps, Louisiana is remembering his humanity by refusing to nest with other vampires and trying to mainstream in human society. And Stefan is some kind of mix of the two: both refusing human blood and trying to mainstream in Mystic Falls. In all of these cases, and in other vampire stories too, what distinguishes humans and vampires (besides the physical stuff, like super senses and hypnotizing capacities) is an emotional life, or better, the ability to form proper human attachments. It also means, especially as we saw with Isobel (and also with Stefan during his addiction and recovery), that their is no redeemable quality to pure vampire nature. Giving oneself over to the vampire nature is to become cruel, sadistic, and predatory, with, as Isobel warns Elena, no redeemable qualities.

Except that they the show gives us one: her confession of regret and loss to Alaric, albeit while she is compelling him to forget the very conversation. Does this mean that it is actually impossible (or at least highly improbable) to give oneself over to vampire nature entirely? Do those all-too human emotions keep forcing themselves into one’s consciousness such that the entire “vampire gone wild” routine is just an act to mask a deeper sorrow for a choice that can’t be undone? In which case, humans and vampires are much closer to each other than all the vampires want to acknowledge in their constant reminders that they are not human. It is also what makes me love the vampire as my favorite nefarious supernatural being – so like us, so unlike us, so useful for helping us figure out who and what we are!

OK, the babe is starting to fuss so I have to wrap this up. A moment, however, for Bonnie! The moment she set the lights flickering and the wind blowing and the device spinning I knew the game was up: it was just too much of a show to be real. And wow, it really drove home to me how much she knows what she wants and just how powerful she is. I have loved watching her come into her own – no longer the scared and immature little witch, she is well on her way to joining the ranks of her Grams and her anscestor Emily. Also, Jeremy in the know – I love it! I doubt they will be able to do all that much with only one episode to go, but I am very excited to see what happens next season now that Jeremy and Elena are on the same team. How much longer before Matt and Caroline get in on the act? And what about all those werewolf hints with Tyler? Will next week be a full moon or do we have to wait for season 2 for that as well? My prediction for the big finale: Stefan is going to appear to die, leaving a mourning and confused Elena in Damon’s arms. And then, when Stefan returns, oh my!

I hope you can watch the episode this weekend and I can’t wait to discuss the finale next week!


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