Know thy enemy
The Vampire Diaries may make use of the hiatus a bit too often, but when they come back, they come back with a bang! Last night was a delicious reminder of the double-crossing, keep you guessing nature of the show, and it had just the right dose of fabulous melodrama to keep the emotional stakes preposterously high. Let’s start with the strange way the show is dealing with absent parents. We’ve already talked a great deal about the bizarre absence of any real adult authority in Mystic Falls and last night drove home the fantasy of parental authority flipped on its head. Elena suffers from too many parents – dead adopted parents, a vampire biological mother, a scheming uncle turned biological father, and a flighty more like a friend substitute mother aunt. If your mother is using you as a pawn in a supernatural showdown and your aunt moves out of the house when she feels betrayed, your probably are better off without parents.So why does Elena feel the need to hold on to John and mourn Isobel? Isn’t this a kind of overblown analogy to how must older teenagers feel? They wish their parents would get out of their way – they imagine them as incompetent and clueless and not respectful enough of the just how grown up they feel as teenagers – and yet they crave some parental figure, some safety net in an adult looking out for them. Elena isn’t the only one dealing with these mixed emotions. I probably felt it most last night with Caroline and her mom. Watching Matt and the Sheriff share their grief over Caro’s death reminded me just how much Caroline craved her own mom’s motherly affections – and compelled her to forget so they could get on with being a “normal” family. But in taking away her mother’s memories she held all the power in their relationship and now we are going to see what happens when her mother starts plotting against her.
But let me back up a moment – Matt isn’t taking the news of his town’s supernatural presence too well, is he? Do you think that if Vicki hadn’t been a factor, would he have an easier time? Or is he supposed to represent the normal reaction to this kind of news? I mean not everyone can assimilate to dating a vampire overnight, right? Even though I know it won’t end well for Matt if he keeps this up, it is kind of refreshing to have someone stake a claim for anger and confusion since last night was all about betrayal.
Isobel betrays John and pretends to be in cahoots with Katherine. Katherine, always the self-preserver, betrays Stefan, Damon, and Elena, only to learn she is being set up by Isobel. Isobel was compelled by Klaus to betray Katherine and Elena, and when the compulsion is lifted self-immolates in the sun beside her human gravestone. All the twists and turns kept the episode completely intriguing, but it also served to reshuffle the deck and refocus attention on fewer, more interconnected plots.
The biggest revelation at the end, of course, is that Klaus is somehow channeling Alaric’s body. Why Klaus needs to channel a body is not made clear nor is why Alaric, if there is any rhyme or reason or just a kind of poetic justice to set his enemies against the body of their friend. But the showdown has come to Mystic Falls at last. Damon and Stefan have given Elena their house as a way to make it safe and Bonnie is their secret weapon. Of course, Bonnie has a secret of her own – if she uses the full power of the dead witches to kill Klaus she will die. Meanwhile, Caroline will need to be brought up to speed and none of these friends have any idea that they are also up against an informed Sheriff and a betrayed Matt. How Jenna will respond is another question, if she ever comes home again.
I love this set up – sweet, simple, and deadly! I do have a lingering question about all these young women’s willingness to self-sacrifice. First Elena and now Bonnie are adopting martyr language as their main form of self-determination and I find it totally creepy. I am not against the idea of self-sacrifice absolutely nor do I want to deny women that kind of heroic gesture. But hyper thin, attractive young women talking about their own deaths so blithely is deeply disturbing. They could use a dose of Katherine’s selfishness if that is what it takes to prevent them from taking their own lives so lightly in a misplaced effort to be serious and grown up. Then again, I really didn’t like the scheming toast the Salvatore brothers shared when they talked about Bonnie like she was just another possession – a moonstone no one knew they had. Maybe if that is your fate choosing your own death is power.
I can’t wait to hear what you thought and any predictions about what might be next. Do you think that Klaus is going to be able to use Alaric’s own memories and voice to trick people or is the transformation totally complete?