Well, I am in the market for a new phone – and the last few weeks of Vampire Diaries has got me thinking some version of a Samsung, LG something or other might be the way to go. Have you seen the cool things these phones can do! But seriously, overly-done – and, by extension, kind of awesome – product placement aside, these past few weeks have been AMAZING! If last week’s locking up of Katherine wasn’t enough (the equivalent of a season finale mid-season!), this week got even better. Let’s start with the opening up of a deeper vampire mythology than the show has previously seen. The Originals – what a cool, badass name. And for what sounds something like Twilight’s Volturi, but which I think is going to be cooler (I mean, Elijah can come back from the dead after a few hours rest!). So these guys trusted Trevor to deliver Katherine – but not because she’s Katherine, but rather because she was some version of this Petrova doppelganger. I got the sense here that the doppelganger is actually something older than Katherine herself, and that she was just one version of it. So Trevor was trusted. He failed. Now he’s dead. And Rose is left behind, fearing Claus – but who is Claus? How many are in this ancient family? If they are “original,” how were they originally turned? And while we’re asking questions, I’ll ask it once again – what the heck is a doppelganger?!?!? Elijah’s reference to Katherine’s bloodline made it sound like the doppel is just family resemblance, but I still feel like it’s something more – something spiritual or supernatural or, I don’t know what…but it can’t just be an uncanny lookilike to one’s great aunt! I’m dying to find out.And while we’re on this theme of family – that was really the thread that held this episode together: family, friendship and the ongoing threat of loneliness. I love it when Vampire Diaries picks up an adolescent theme and blows it up fierce! We’ve got Rose and Trevor, bonded across the years as friends and, it seems, some form of sibling loyalty. We’ve got Stefan and Damon working out their junk (and thank God – it’s about freaking time Stefan apologizes for his dickish past behaviour!). We’ve got Bonnie and Jer left out in the cold, finding each other in their vulnerability (I’m worried about Bonnie and her nosebleeds, but excited about the hook-up potential brewing with Jer!). And we’ve got Tyler and Caroline bonding over their shared, fresh exclusion from the human world.
Much as I’m pleased to see the Salvatores patch things up, it’s the Jer/Bonnie and Tyler/Caro storylines that intrigue me the most. Finally, these more minor folks are getting fleshed out, and the results are fantastic. They’ve all experienced exclusion from the larger storylines, and now their finding each other in their own ways of connecting to them. It was heartbreaking to see Caro’s mum finally proud of her last week – but that confidence continues to grow, and I’m genuinely impressed with the acting that’s keeping it moving. The same can be said of Tyler – and as the two experiment with their powers with each other, I have to wonder if we’re headed in a direction that will leave poor Matt the loneliest of all.
I chose the picture above because I continue to puzzle over why on earth these ladies all love Stefan so (I was pleased to hear Rose once resisted him). And it’s not just Damon’s piercing eyes! When it comes down to it, as Stefan admitted in this episode, the original selfishness was his – he started the mess that made Damon who he is. And, indeed, Damon shows an amazing capacity to forgive, a depth of loyalty to those he cares for unparalleled by any other character on the show and, actually, at times, a selflessness that Stefan certainly can’t rival. Sure, he’s a blood-thirsty killer – but, um, he is a vampire…what do we expect (as you noted last week, Bonnie constantly reminds us)? And he’s not even that blood-thirsty (we only see him drinking juice boxes stolen from the hospital now). I loved the insight we gained from Caro tonight that alcohol is what they use to calm the inner storm – I thought Stefan was going to be our broody, angsty guy, but Damon is going to be so much better at that complexity. Which leaves me wondering how his admission of love to Elena will surface again. Sure, he compelled her – but I think/hope somewhere deep within she’ll resist. How will that memory surface later, I wonder? How is it planted in a sub-conscious to be accessed at a time when its needed most? I don’t think it’s over – I just wonder what it will begin.
I’ll close by noting that the aesthetics of this episode were fantastic. That old house in the middle of nowhere managed to avoid some of the steampunk cliches it nevertheless toyed with. The look was more interesting, I thought. And the fight scenes were fully compelling, summoning gasps from me at the appropriate moments. I’ve loved this show all along – but perhaps in a type of ironic way. Between this episode and the last, I think that irony has slipped away a little and now I’m just loving it.
Can’t wait to hear what you thought!
I agree completely that this episode and last week took the show to a new level of coolness. I was so sorry not to write on last week because it was such a great episode, but I loved this week even more. The dip into vampire mythology is awesome and a perfect balance to the hot and heavy teenage angst and emo themes, more about which in a moment.
The Originals – yes, let’s have some more history soon. If I remember the Sun and the Moon myth we learned during the quick foray to Duke and Isobel’s old office, it was an Aztec myth, whereby the original vampires and werewolves were cursed with daylight aversion and subservience to the moon, respectively. I don’t remember anything in the story about a female sacrifice, but I gathered from this episode that the even if the blood of a maiden (metaphorically speaking, since we know Elena is not a virgin) was not needed to seal the curse, it will be needed to undo it. And not just any blood, the blood of a Petrova Doppelganger. The introduction of a Russian name (Petrova) doesn’t quite fit with the Aztec story, but it does fit with the part of the world we associate with our Western notion of vampires. And it makes sense of Rose’s and Trevor’s comments that the Originals are Old World, probably meaning Euro-Asia. I’ll roll with it for now. Like you, I think the doppelganger is a kind of supernatural thing – not just a coincidence look-a-like, but almost like a supernatural copy. My guess is that Katherine was one of these (maybe the first and presumed to be the only?). I think Trevor saved her by turning her [and did you get hints that Elena will be offered vampiric life as a way to get the originals off her back during the “next week on?”]. It definitely seemed essential that the doppel be human, meaning Katherine is off the hook herself now, but was in danger when she was still human. The real question is, if doppelgangers are some kind of supernatural copy, what/who was the original? Was there an original Petrova girl that was somehow the only one who could undo the curse? Thinking down this line makes we wonder if that girl’s blood was used to seal the curse. I really hope they take us a bit deeper into the mythology and answer some of these questions.
And, um, yes, I agree completely that the greater mystery is why in the world is Stefan supposed to be so attractive? We might disagree a bit about Damon. I think he is incredibly compelling, but in a weird, hyper-campy way it is hard to define. He plays his camp so straight it almost becomes a parody of itself, which always leaves me wondering if he knows what he is doing or if he is so caught up in the bizarre character he has created he can’t even see it anymore. But either way, I can’t take my eyes off him and I find him far more interesting than Stefan, who as he gets cleaner and straighter becomes less interesting by a long shot. Even Elena seems to kind of know this is true, what with the longing, slightly catty looks she gives Damon while hanging over Stefan’s shoulder in a fond embrace. It was entirely possible she would have run into Damon’s eager arms after he staked Elijah if Stefan hadn’t popped up off the ground and into her path instead. Here is a thought: she does eventually become vampire and then Damon’s compelling wears off and she remembers his confession and realizes she is with the wrong brother.
But if that doesn’t happen, we can at least hope that Bonnie and Jer move past the weird brother/friend hangup and give into the sweet chemistry that is brewing between them. I love it! And likewise with Caro and Tyler, though not so much the chemistry there. I like that these two – the stereotypical airhead and jock – are the ones vested with supernatural powers and having to lean on each other for support in the midst of their crazy new lives. And poor Matt! I have been bemoaning the degree to which he is left out in the cold, and I am still hoping that this season won’t end before he is made aware of the supernatural world around him, if he doesn’t somehow join it.
Final thought: do you think there was any significance that Elena was being held somewhere near a small town in North Carolina named Eden? Which, by the way, is where my husband was born.