The Moth Chase

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

Doppelganger Hijinks Ensued

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Dear Kathryn,

Yey Vampire Diaries is back!  And boy is it ever.  This was a fun episode, in which we actually got to see moments to prove that Nina Dobrev can act.  I mean, she’s no Meryl Streep, but transitioning between Elena, Katherine, and Katherine pretending to be Elena was no mean feat, and outside of Katherine’s awkwardly weird, overly exaggerated sexy walk, I think she nailed it.  How on earth did no one notice at the wake, though?  I mean, really – one Elena has super straight hair, and normally fitting pants, the other has big curls (with massive extensions) and the tightest pants, like ever (really, why is it that bad girls always wear tight pants and have curls? One day I want to see evil show up in sweats!).  I suppose I’m willing to suspend frustration at this type of silliness for now, so long as they don’t overdo it.  Even within this single episode, I got tired of the whole “is the person going to realize that’s not Elena or not?” gimmick – although Bonnie’s ability to figure it out for herself was a welcome change of pace and made it all worth while…and given that nothing makes one evolve more than threat, I’m hoping Katherine is going to help Bonnie kick up her powers a little more!  She’s cool right now, but not super cool.  Confident though she is now, I can’t wait to see where they take her.

Ok, so let’s talk the brothers: Stefan is on my last nerve.  So he’s kind of a bad boy now?  Is that to make him sexier?  Because, while I thought he was drippy before, his bad boy persona isn’t fixing that.  Slapping Jeremy, using the B-word (even on someone who deserves it), threatening John – he just seems childish in his strength to me.  He’s no Damon!  I find his attempts to be tough shallow and grating.  Of course, Damon took things way too far (i.e. he killed Jer! Totally cheeky fake-out there with the ring, though – that could have been annoying, but I actually found it funny).  But at least he’s taking things too far in an interesting, complexly motivated way – emotionally ripping apart, broody and continuing to drink up a storm (bourbon waited till minute 48 to come in this episode…that might be a record for Vampire Diaries – usually we see it within the first 10).  His heartfelt, desperate plea to Katherine was well done, and sad to watch, especially when immediately echoed by Elena.  Damon reminds us of the vampire’s longevity, one of the themes that takes this show a step above teenage melodrama – pair adolescent invincibility with too long to brood over a lost love, and you actually create something quite dangerous – the effects of which we’re going to see.

And whatever on Elena’s ‘no, no I’m virtuous’ – when we thought she’d kissed Damon at the end of last season, that was WAY more believable than her resistance last night.  She’s a teenage girl, for pity sake, and he’s a smoking hot vampire!  Unless they were trying to make some point about him not compelling her, I don’t buy it.  Sure she might hate him now, but I hope they don’t just erase the clear attraction she had for him last season.  Because that was fun!

For all the ways they differ, Vampire Diaries is already sharing one trait with this season’s True Blood – neither can keep up with the subplots in a meaningful way.  When you have the room in books for everyone to have a slow-reveal secret, that’s one thing.  Pack every character with something supernatural – woo hoo!  But in the shows, it’s tougher to pull off.  We’ve seen an unevenness to True Blood’s storytelling, and I’m worried the same is going to happen here – exhibit A, Tyler!  The scene with Uncle Mason ominously telling him to control his temper was quick and misplaced.  We know what’s coming here (or we have a sense-I mean, maybe he won’t actually be a werewolf, but it’s certainly something like that).  They need to speed up the big reveal and move the story along.  The current pacing is doing nothing for it and that makes it into a weird distraction from everything else.

Especially when we’ve got another fascinating minor plot brewing!  Caroline is going to become a vampire?!  Of course, we had numerous hints that the blood may have left her system….but come on, she’s not just going to get killed like that!  I LOVE the idea of her turning!  It was such a natural progression for Vicki, but Caroline turning bad girl – that would be awesome.  Bring on the tight pants and curly hair extensions – let’s see her hunt some blood!

The scene with Caro gave us another point of distance from True Blood (and as I’m watching Buffy on dvd right now, I’m refraining from making too many comparisons there – although the connections between all these vampire stories and the ways their worlds are set up is fascinating) – vampire blood is such a part of True Blood, but it’s still feared here in Mystic Falls.  That saving Caroline’s life with a little drop was even a debate was funny to me.  And it’s a way of marking the borders between human and vamp even as it makes the vamps seem more human.  Stefan doesn’t bite Elena, she doesn’t feel drawn to his blood – and so for all intents and purposes, they look much more like a regular teenage couple.  But as his anger builds this season, I wonder how long they can hold on to that appearance.  And as danger builds, will Elena need just a sip soon?  And will she get hungry for more?

Wearing sweats, but sporting curls, so it’s hard to know  just how evil I am –


Dear N,

Yes and double yes about the return of Vampire Diaries! It was very fun to be back in the world of teenage angst and supernatural mayhem. I was thinking all week about Katherine and I was not disappointed. I agree that Nina Dobrev really stepped it up and I was glad to see that her Katherine is not a super camp vamp, but a subtle mix of playful naughty and downright wicked.

Like, um, SHE KILLED CAROLINE! Or rather, I predict, she turned her. Since she told Caroline to deliver the message “game on” to the Salvatore brothers (about whom more later), does this mean that she is about to start a vampire-creation project in Mystic Falls? We heard hints last night from Stefan that this is what she did before (apparently most/all of the tomb vampires were her creation). Maybe she plotting a similar scheme this time round – one by one picking off unsuspecting residents and “recruiting” them for the life of the undead. Which raises the question, whose next? Not, apparently, Jeremy, since he is the only one who wants to be a vampire. Matt perhaps? What the end game in all this would be, I’m not sure, but it does raise the stakes of the vampire-human distinction.

I agree that the non-frequent exchange of blood does make the vampires on this show seem more human, but perhaps if the characters we love (especially like the all-too-human Caroline) turn it will help emphasize just what makes them distinct. We dealt a little with the lust for human blood in the last season when Stefan fell off the wagon and when Vicki was first turned. But watching Caroline deal with her new craven desires should be a new lesson in just what makes a vampire tick. It also helps re-focus the whole “good vampire/bad vampire” plot, which was starting to fade after Damon seemed like he’d turned to the light side.

So Damon. Ah Damon. How good it is to have you back, even if your sarcastic one-liners are a bit overwritten! Like you, I loved his raw moment of vulnerability with Katherine, his eager, wounded, desperate to be loved confession – the look of frantic hope in his eyes that after all this time he might just get what he has wanted most of all. To be honest, I am surprised he didn’t become more unhinged after Katherine’s stone cold rejection of him. That might have been the only moment that didn’t quite ring true to me – I wasn’t sure Katherine would ever been that nakedly honest about her feelings. Unless, of course, she is just trying to stir up trouble. If that is the case, though, why not string both brothers along, instead of so roundly rejecting one of them? I hope the next few weeks will help us understand these motives more. And I look forward to seeing just what kind of hijinks will ensue if Damon’s bad mood continues.

I am not so interested in Stefan’s bad mood. How often can a clenched jaw muscle signify frustrated anger, mixed motives, or protective jealously? One might think Stefan Salvatore is related to Edward Cullen. Sensitive, puppy dog Stefan isn’t necessarily anyone to write home about, but at least there was some integrity to his character there. Now Stefan just seems all over the place: sometimes angry and vindictive, sometimes macho and protective, sometimes sweet and coddling. It was fun when he almost went over to the dark side last season, but not so fun when he pretends to be a bad boy.

Speaking of bad boys, yes, let’s get to the werewolves (or whatever) or just let it go. Right now, it just seems like Uncle Mason and Tyler are eye candy (as my husband said, how many good looking men can populate one hour of prime time. And did you notice the way Damon was checking Mason out? Perhaps his supernatural hackles were raised, but he also looked a bit jealous of the competition). If they do introduce a new level of supes, I am curious to see how they will fit into the nice vampire/human mythology and its overlay on teenage melodrama.

Final thought in this too long response: Bonnie! Agreed – let’s bring on the badass Bonnie. She is really coming into her own and doesn’t seem scared or whimpy or dependent on others and I want to see her take center stage.

welcome to the fall season!

Written by themothchase

September 10, 2010 at 8:42 am

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