Some Secrets are Stronger than Family
Ok, I’m going to try not to rant about how terrible almost all tv shows are at portraying academics…although, they did get one thing right – we are pretty sexy and probably up to no good. But I think the reason this new prof is so intriguing to me is because of the potential he bears for Bonnie’s storyline. We’ve been begging for Bonnie to get better narrative arcs since this show began, and it might just be about to happen (although we’ve wondered this before). Just what is this mysterious something that can restore a witch’s power? And has the prof used that power to bring back The 5? Is he actually a witch, or will he need a witch (a restored Bonnie?) to keep pulling off whatever it is he’s doing with these hunters? And will we need to watch all the tattoos return to the Hunter’s body to get the map or are they littered around the prof’s office like the one on the wall we saw that mirrored the Hunter’s shoulder? While I’m a little disconcerted by how much the lineage of hunters, with one arising each time another dies (at least, that’s what I’m guessing – that the other soldier from Iraq died and passed his power to our new Hunter) seems to be ripping off that story from Buffy – nevertheless, it leaves me curious to see if, when this Hunter bites the bullet, Jeremy will step into his place. If we have Bonnie primed as a protege of hunky professor, then we all of a sudden have our B-team supes assembling as the central characters we’ve longed for them to be! So I’m going to make my prediction for the season finale – or better, mid-season finale, if these series is doing that new trend – now:
Elena kills someone and flips her humanity switch (because seriously, just how many times can they insist that’s what would happen without it being a warning that it’s going to?!) just as “The Cure” surfaces, just as Bonnie, Jer and the prof form their crackerjack team.
The second half of the season will then be spent with Stefan trying to cure Elena – in a way that tries to lure him back to her – while Damon helps her be wild with her new-found self.
Indeed, while we’ve been a bit annoyed with all the boring Elena vampire stuff in the first few weeks of this season, I found the idea that accepting the fun – reveling in it, even – was the key to self-control. Of course, I’d rather not watch awkward scenes of Damon and Elena dancing to figure this out (and just where did they get those costumes and find a place to get changed on a one-day visit to campus where they just happened to stumble upon a surprise flyer inviting them to a Hallowe’en party?). But this idea that there’s a connection between the tactic of “Snatch-Eat-Erase” and the deep instinct to “Hunt-Feed-Kill”struck me as an interesting domestication of desire. Yes, there are deep urges, things these vamps can’t resist – the very things that make them who they are that have to come under some playful – even desirable – discipline to even be possible. To feel or live the desire in its purest form – to actually hunt, feed and kill – means not being able to feed at all. But if you can turn that instinct into a form of play, a controlled form of play – then the violence becomes safe.
And this makes the 50 Shades of Gray reference at the beginning all the more brilliant! That Klaus has a Red Room of Pain is brilliant, not least of all because I didn’t realize until that moment how much I was picturing Christian Gray as something very much like Klaus while I was reading that book (and yes, I’ve read it). And so the sideways BDSM reference entailed a double joke – once again, because 50 Shades started out as Twilight fan fiction (and is utterly drenched in the Twilight template from start to finish), we have a playful stab at Twilight – yeah, we’ve got the dangerous version of your childish games! We’re the darker, steamier you. But it also seemed, to me, to reference how much controlled, sexualized violence is at the heart of all these vampire stories…and yes, I’m trying to get you to read 50 Shades here so that we can write about it together 🙂
Oh, and any thoughts as to why Grams was into Cujo? That seemed random…is it a werewolf reference – a Stephen King joke?
Wondering if perhaps all Elena needs is a safeword – yellow, anyone?
I am right there with you on Professor Shane – while no academics I know could get away with an occult research agenda or fund Indiana-Jones-esque adventures (did you see that McSweeney’s satire: “Indiana Jones is denied tenure“?), we are all pretty much super-sexy and often embroiled in intriguing mysteries. I also always make it a point to attend my student’s orgiastic frat parties.
I am also entirely willing to buy your predictions for a mid-season finale: Elena on the dark side, with Damon, just as the possibility of her ever-after in innocent boredom with Stefan is about to be secured. I also love the idea of Bonnie and Jer stepping up as major players, though if they take over for Shane and Conner, doesn’t that pretty much make them the “bad guys” – if the good guys are the vampires we love? That sounds like it could help move things along a lot.
I am definitely frustrated by the “humanity switch” over-explanation, along with the idea that Elena is so much more driven by love and compassion than anyone else whose ever been made a vampire, that she will turn evil after one kill with virtually no chance of return. First, as you mused a couple weeks ago, what proof do we have that this is/has ever been true of Elena (more so, say, then of Caroline or Matt or Jeremy or Bonnie, all of whom have displayed serious chops in the love and compassion department)? Second, haven’t we actually seen many of the characteristics she’s displaying with Damon in her behavior with Damon before she became a vampire? Their hot and heavy make-out session on the crappy motel porch was way sexier than their funky blood dance at the frat mixer and Anna basically told Jeremy (from the beyond – and aren’t dead people supposed to know these things) that Damon was a better match for Elena because he understood parts of her she wanted to deny. In fact, given how much last season we saw the “who will Elena choose” drama play out, how can the writers now expect us to believe that what she is feeling a vampire is really so foreign to her natural self and not just the expression of that long-bottled self emerging? Or maybe they are aware of this and Stefan’s version of Elena is about to be shattered?
The idea that these vampires do not immediately become their vampire selves, but sort of grow into them as they feed, is an interesting twist on the vampire mythology. Aren’t most vampires trying to hold on to their human natures in the face of undeniable vampire natures? That Elena can insist so strongly that she is still the same person she was before turning bothered me immensely for the last few episodes – if you get to be exactly the same after you become a vampire, why shouldn’t ever one want to be one? This idea that there is a dark side to vampirism that threatens to, slowly, with practice, undo your human self is fascinating. Of course, this explanation seems at least partially in conflict with the idea that Elena is just discovering a darker, less inhibited side of herself. Does she love her party-time with Damon because Elena the human would really love this if she just let herself, or does she love it because of her vampire nature, which is somehow foreign to the “love and compassion” Elena? I agree that the idea that reveling in the chaos instead of just denying it is a fascinating look at the nature of desire and discipline, but I am curious how they play with these inconsistencies in Elena’s character so far.
I do love the idea of The Cure as a possible way to re-introduce the vampire vs. human debate. So far, vampires are winning hands down. Did you buy Stefan’s little speech about having kids, growing old, dying with Elena? Or was it all part of a master plan, which, lets face it, would be very un-Stefan?
I’m a true believer. Don’t tell anyone.
p.s. oh, and I didn’t even touch your Fifty Shades of Gray reference. I haven’t read it, but you are well on your way to selling it!