The Moth Chase

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

So This is Either Really Good, or Really Bad…

with one comment

Dear Kathryn,

With only one episode left to go, Vampire Diaries definitely recaptured my interest! I’ll say more in a moment about why Bonnie’s death sucks…but first, why it’s awesome. Bringing down the veil in such a limited way (really, only supernaturals who have an interest in being inside a small section of Mystic Falls are bothering to cross over…and, well, Mystic Falls isn’t the most exciting place!) doesn’t seem all that bad. By not completing the spell, it seems like we have the best of both worlds (pardon the pun). Every supernatural who would have made my tv viewing overly chaotic is held at bay, and those who make the show better have reappeared. Yeeyy Alaric! And woot, woot army of scary vampire hunters!

So what I’m left wondering is, with the veil open, what does Bonnie’s death actually mean? Can’t she, like the other supernaturals, still hang out in Mystic Falls? And really, where else was she gonna go?? Inexplicably, no one seems to want to leave that town. And then even if she does want to go somewhere beyond the triangle, she just becomes a ghost while she does so, which also doesn’t seem all that bad! I think it could be fun to have a geographically restricted human/free ghost in the show (although we’ll need to come up with a better name for it than that). And given that I’ve seen some promotional pictures with Bonnie in her graduating cap and gown, I’m wondering if this means the veil stays down long enough for her to get her diploma after all? (Man, these kids seem obsessed with graduating high school!)

So narratively, her death brings lots of possibilities – but here’s why it sucks: by finally stepping into the fulness of her power, the young woman has to die. Seriously?! This isn’t Buffy’s Willow, who goes to the edges of her power, screws up royally, and then learns to manage it and channel it, learns responsibility and care with it…and in that falls down but also finds redemption. This is pure punishment for being a strong woman. Maybe as a geographically restricted human/free ghost (still working on a better name), Bonnie will get a stab at redemption (resurrection?). But the fact that she had to die doesn’t feel like some empowering christological narrative so much as it feels like punishment for being an all too empowered black woman in a culture white (supernatural) men are trying to control. Don’t get too confident in your abilities ladies – in the end, the power always belongs to the dude…your power is only an illusion that will kill you. Sigh.

Some stray thoughts:

  • After a season in which there’s been an undercurrent of sexual tension between Stefan and Caro, I was bummed to have Lexi affirm their ‘just friends’ status – in large part because I assume this means Elena and Stefan are going to make their way back to each other now. Boo!
  • Why didn’t Jenna and Vicki show up when the veil opened? Are those actresses making it somewhere else? I don’t think they are…why not bring them back too?
  • And Matt, oh dear Matt – did it strike you as ominous when he said he just wanted to graduate as a human? The threat has been building around Matt in recent weeks, and given how bad of luck Rebecca has with men, I’m a little nervous our favourite quarterback isn’t going to make it to the end of the season.
  • And finally, I know I harp on this stuff – but the bodily nature of vampires in this show utterly confuses me! Why did Elena seem to be struggling with a set of pull-ups? Shouldn’t those be super easy? And why would she need to shower after a workout?! Do vampires sweat now?? Call me picky, but I’d like to see a little more attention paid to those details. These vampires – with their emotions and loss and frailty – are becoming just a little too human for my liking!

wondering what the line-up is at Ghostapalooza,
Natalie

——————–

Dear Natalie,

I too was re-energized by this episode, despite its very serious (moral and plot) flaws. I agree completely with your interpretation of what is up with Bonnie. We’ve talked all season about how Bonnie is always a cipher for someone else’s power. I thought I was going to explode when Silas gave her his whole “you are just a weakling in my power play” speech, worried that we were being told that Bonnie never had any power to begin with. So when Grams re-appeared and urged Bonnie to claim herself, I was thrilled. But then, of course, she had to die. And there wasn’t even any illusion that it wasn’t a punishment. She died not in spite of her power, but because of it!

Though you are right that what her death means for the veil between life/the beyond does raise interesting questions. Like, for instance, where is Qetsiyah? We know she continues to wield a certain kind of power on the other side. Is the other side itself the realm of dead powerful women? Now that the veil is down are they going to get to exert that power in new ways? I have to hope they plan for some kind of loophole, because it seems too cruel that we would lose Bonnie and Jer together for real in once season. But I have severe doubts about whether this show will redeem itself with regards to Bonnie.

It is interesting that you bring up the Buffy (or really, Willow) comparison again, because the whole episode felt like it was playing on Buffy tropes. Like putting the center of the expression triangle underneath the high school! There was something fun and playful about this – oh where is the center of mystical energy? I know, the high school! And the series has done just enough with the high school – especially all those school dances! – for there to be a cheeky subtext as graduation approaches (and yes, the general obsession with graduation given what else is going on in Mystic Fall is pretty hilarious). Even ossifying Silas under the high school and using that as the staging ground for all the shenanigans with the other side had a fun symbolism (though how many cavernous supernatural-ready spaces can one town have easily accessible under its major structures?!). But I am not sure what this symbolism is supposed to mean. In Buffy the high school centered over a hell mouth had all the symbolic irony such a situation suggests (just typing it out makes me giggle). But high school itself was also a very particular stage of moral development for those characters. They were clearly headed on a trajectory of “growing up.” I wonder if some of what has bothered us all along with character development in The Vampire Diaries (like the ease with which these kids torture each other or there constant effort to figure out what makes them human) is that it is not headed anywhere. And I don’t just mean they don’t have post-graduation plans. For all this talk of what it means to be human, what is the trajectory of human life for these kids? What does it mean to grow up? To come into one’s own? To make moral progress?

But I’m certainly intrigued by our super vampire hunters pack and what next week’s unique blend of chaos and melodrama will bring!

Any yeah, Matt’s odds of staying human seem pretty damn slim.

I thought you said you were going to look after the children?
Kathryn

 

Written by themothchase

May 10, 2013 at 10:38 am

One Response

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  1. “This is pure punishment for being a strong woman.” I would add “pure punishment for being a strong BLACK woman.” I missed this episode, have it on DVR, but i saw TVD fans celebrating, hoping that Bonnie’s death is permanent. um what? She’s one of the only reasons I watch this show. I quit OUaT after Lancelot did (the higher ups said he was gonna come back, um no). If this is Bonnie’s last ep, I’m done with TVD.


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