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31 October 2016 @ 11:05 am
8.02 - 'Today Will Be Different' (The Vampire Diaries)  
Much better, huh? Here I am with the write-up for the next episode of The Vampire Diaries. Not many left now, huh. Yeah.

Let's start at the end, a rare Vampire Diaries outing that ended on a happy note… a very happy note and one full of squee for the Stefan/Caroline shipper in me! Was there a teeny part of me that was a wee sad that we never got to see this literal moment with Damon and Elena? Yes. But we saw all but the literal moment and Damon and Elena were never the simple, ring in a drawer, proposal kind of couple. That's part of what makes them truly epic by every definition of the word, while Stefan and Caroline are (with the exception of their vampire selves), this sweet, no-frills, drama-free couple. So that little bit of sighing over what really isn't Damon and Elena was really just a mere twinge that passed quickly. By the time the screen went black, I was smiling so big and was a very happy camper indeed. I loved how the entire set-up of the scene was one that began in the beginning of the episode with Stefan tearing down walls in the boarding house.

In that early scene it played like a scene of frustration, but of course, we found out that it was one of love. Stefan showing Caroline that he'd made a place for the girls to stay. His showing such complete inclusion of what's important to her is important to him was a beautiful way of showing his absolute love for her without words, with unthinking action. And then on top of that was the ring and then we got quintessential Caroline and how Stefan responds to her (unlike her previous boyfriends) with such loving joy. She wanted to hear the words, had to hear the words, and so he asked, and even as he did he was sliding the ring on. And in between the words, there were the sweet kisses, and Caroline's impatience, and her "Yes!" and more kisses and their happiness. And it was just so, so beautiful. As has been the entire Stefan and Caroline love story from beginning to end. Perfection.

That has really been one of the hallmarks of this show. Well-written love stories, the only flaws have been intended as in couples not meant to be, lack of chemistry between actors (beyond the fault of writers), and changes behind the scene… (sigh, my beloved Matt and Rebekah). I bring this up because of not only how well the Stefan/Caroline romance has been written (not to mention Damon and Elena… sigh), but also the Bonnie and Enzo scenes in this episode.

Yes, yes, I've made it clear I'm not exactly a big fan, but I've also made it clear I put that down to chemistry. I just don't personally think that Kat Graham and Michael Malarkey have sparkling chemistry to write home about. I wish they did; I really do because I loved, *loved* their scenes in this episode. And, as I mentioned in the write-up for the last episode, I enjoyed how Enzo was leaving clues for Bonnie and I did like their episode last season where they fell in love. (Although, I still think ‘falling in love' in that kind of atmosphere can be questionable… but it can work.)

My point is that writing-wise, I've been more than willing to be swept away by Bonnie and Enzo's story because firstly I want Bonnie to be happy. I LOVE Bonnie. She has been one of my favorite characters from the very beginning. And if the writers have decided that Enzo is *it* for her, then OK, Enzo is it for her. And I like Enzo; I think he deserves some happiness too. Plus, I do think that the characters mesh well together. Secondly, overall, I do like the writing of their love story. It does have a poetic beauty to it.

Sure, I was open to the idea of Matt and Bonnie but that was because I adore me some Matt, I really want him happy and I saw the possibility. And the chemistry isn't there for me with Bonnie and Enzo… still the writing of their love story is. But hey, look at Alaric and Jo. The writing of their love story was beautiful, but it was more than the chemistry factor that sank that. There was the lack of greater integration of Jo into the cast. The *one* non-issue with Jo and Alaric was the actual love story, it was everything else surrounding it that was the problem. With Bonnie and Enzo, the only issue (and that is *entirely* subjective) is whether a viewer thinks they have chemistry or not, and how much.

I'm on the less than scale, but it doesn't take away how beautiful their scenes were in this episode. Because they were so beautiful, and sad, and heartbreaking. And, God, what a brilliant narrative choice to have the final scene between them play out through Sybil's eyes. Terrible, awful and just painful, but so, so brilliant. Enzo has been fighting so hard to protect her because he loves Bonnie so much; he loves her so much that he won't even look at her to keep his distance, keep his control.

However Bonnie just sees it as him pulling further and further away from her, she can see it only as the opposite so she pushes and she pushes. She needs to see him look at her; she needs to know that he feels as she does. She needs to hear the words, needs to know that he wants to be with her as much as she wants to be with him. And so he breaks, admits all he can and brings her into his arms for a passionate kiss. And his control is broken and Sybil sees all.

And Sybil hears all. Oh, Stefan, you had to mention Elena right then, right there. Of course he did. How could he know? Ugh! And that would have given Stefan such hope, such, such incredible hope had he been able to get Sarah away, having saved her, having stopped Damon by appealing to his humanity, to his love for Elena. For him. (Oh, Stefan! He just wants his brother to love him!) And it worked, it really did! Sarah was able to walk away… but then Sybil walked in.

Damnit! Took Sarah out with one stab, had Stefan under control within a few seconds and then, sigh, "Who's Elena?" We got that hint last week when Damon told Elena in his little bubble of control that he couldn't hold on much longer that it wasn't going to last, but damn that was tough. Once Sybil asked him that question, of course, we knew that Damon's little bubble was going to be popped. Oh, Damon.

Seeing Sybil get into his head like that so easily when weakened… how do they win? In that moment, where like Bonnie had weakened Enzo, Stefan had just weakened Damon, she was able to just slip right in. It was painful to watch. And seeing her replace Elena in that memory... guh, that was heartwrenching.

And it had me wondering… was that it? And if it's not that brings us to her final scene with Damon and her conversation with Stefan. When we last saw Damon he seemed much more like the humanity-free Damon of yore so is his final refuge of humanity gone now and will we start to see more of the bad-ass humanity-free Damon from before? Or has he fooled Sybil again and we'll continue to see the mind-controlled humanity-free, resigned Damon that we've seen thus far? Was Stefan or Sybil right? Is Damon stronger than she thinks? And if he is, will she realize that and continue to peek into his mind now that she has the key (Elena) and then will she continue to replace other memories? If that happens, could there maybe—like when Ric was searching for that one specific memory where Elena realized she loved Damon—be one memory that will either do the ultimate trick OR be unable to be replaced? Hmm, I wonder.

I also wonder about one of our other new characters: Seline, aka HotNanny. We aren't learning much about her. Her name is similar to Sybil. She was the first person that Virginia went after. She's ridiculously accommodating. Georgie doesn't like her, and yes, you can say that it's just because she's jealous because she has the hots for Ric, but I don't think Georgie's at that stage with Ric. She just thinks he's the hot Professor. She's not OMG!Ilovehim!, but Seline rubs her the wrong way and there's no reason she should. But… Georgie's been to hell, so it would make sense that she would sense something off about a messenger of the devil, right? I don't know, there's something about Seline I don't like.

On the other hand, I really, really like Georgie. I commented that I liked her last week (although it did take a rewatch), but this week… yeah, I really, really like her. Show, please don't kill her! (They're so gonna kill her.) I loved the depth they gave the character in this episode. Her whole backstory, you know, the whole drunk/texting while driving, killing her friend, going to Hell briefly so she knows she's going back. Her flirting with Ric, which just skirts the line, but doesn't cross it for me. Her smarts, her sassiness, her just overall-ness. I really, really like her.

I also, uhm, like (?) Sybil. OK, I don't like her, I mean, no, of course, I don't like her. But I think the actress Nathalie Kelley (who I do remember from Body of Proof and I liked her on that too) is doing a really good job. Now, the beginning of the first scene with Sybil, I was... kinda maybe-ish about her, not quite sure what to expect but by the end of that scene, she had sold me. I think I was not sure because I was expecting this sultry, over-the-top sex-bomb. But that is not how she's played. Kelley is having a LOT of the fun with the role, and there's a touch of innocence to the portrayal that I really enjoy.

The other thing that I really, really enjoyed was the full-blown return of friendship-palooza! The Bonnie/Caroline scene was just wonderful. I think back to season 06 and how I had such issues with the lack of any friendships shown (other than Damon and Bonnie—which, yes, I loved so but that doesn't take away from my disappointment about the lack elsewhere). One of my favorite things about The Vampire Diaries has always been that along with the romance, character depth and oomph!moments we got these wonderful friendships with scenes really getting to the heart of the characters in platonic ways.

Now while we didn't have it much last season (other than with Bonnie and Matt, and to a smaller degree, Damon and Bonnie), it made sense because everyone was so spread out and there was a deliberate disconnect. Therefore not only was it not as noticeable as it had been in season 06, but again, the characters were also all deliberately divided. That is not the case this season. While there is a separation (Damon/Enzo, Matt, Elena in her coffin), the remainder are together and trying to bring the rest back into the fold if possible. So having that scene between the two friends was just such a wonderful, amazing return to the friendship form that I expect from this show.

And how the scene played out was so beautifully in character, I could have cried. Caroline was completely self-involved, seeing the situation from her point of view but all the while she was looking at the big picture. And, self-involved or not, she *was* looking at the big picture. She wasn't wrong there. Caroline was pissed because their plan failed on every level because Bonnie selfishly just thought of her own (undisclosed) plan to get her boyfriend back. What Caroline didn't take into account at any point was what Bonnie was going through and why Bonnie would go rogue.

And she didn't do that because once again Bonnie kept it all to herself. She's so miserable and has been for so long and, as usual, she'd kept it locked inside, playing the martyr role and wanting her friends to be happy. But she was upset because she was working with an in-love and happy Caroline and Stefan and Bonnie has to sit and watch this up close and personal day in and day out. So it's hard for her. And now she's facing Caroline with the knowledge that, on top of this, she just got to Enzo and then lost him AGAIN! And the big picture plan failed because HER rogue plan failed and Caroline is rightfully pissed at her and, of course, Bonnie is pissed at herself and she just wants to die. She means it, even if she hates herself for it.

Some good at least comes out of these awful failed plans. Some truth-telling from Bonnie to her friend. Some eye-opening from Caroline about her friend. And now Caroline feels awful because (so perfectly in character) she's been so wrapped up in her world, her kids, her job, her boyfriend, being "selfless" by trying to get back her boyfriend's brother and her best friend's boyfriend that she hasn't stopped to really think about what her best friend is going through. Which, really, is obvious even without Bonnie saying a dang word.

All of that was conveyed so beautifully by both actresses, by the dialogue and it was just so, so great. Still I have to give a special shout-out to Kat Graham who is knocking it out of the park with Bonnie's devastation. Even with her moments of hope, there is just an air of despair hanging heavy over her in every moment. It's palpable.

OK… randoms –

- Firstly, I tend to have a caveat whenever Melinda Tsu Taylor writes an episode. Not this time. There were no out-of-character boners this time around. Nope. This one was A+ all around. Loved it.

- No Matt. {{Pouts}} Not cool!

- I had such an incredible amount of fangirl squee in the opening scene there are no words! The actor opposite Ian Somerhalder was Rick Hearst. In the early 90's he played Alan-Michael Spaulding on Guiding Light and I ADORED him, and he and Lucy Cooper (Spaulding) were my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE couple. So seeing him and Ian Somerhalder on-screen together had me hand-waving and squealing with absolute delight!

- Damon attacking Caroline and Sarah... obviously I want Damon to get control and be his better self again. OBVIOUSLY! But damn, Ian Somerhalder plays bad!Damon so, so, soooo good. So sexy.

- Sarah Salvatore has come back just to die. Of course. This is The Vampire Diaries. Of course. No more human Salvatores left. (For now.)

- They couldn't have gotten a better body double for Nina Dobrev in those memory scenes? Really?! So beyond not her. SO, SO beyond not her.

- Oh, Stefan... I swear, he gives up on Damon every other Friday. Dude.

- Yeah, when Nina Dobrev left, the show would forget ALL about Elena. Pfft. (Yeah, I'll never get over that lunacy. Hah!)

This was a great episode, if depressing… except for that ending. Such a wonderfully happy ending for such an overall heartbreaking episode. Guys, I can't believe there are only 14 episodes left. Wow. I'm in denial.
 
 
 
Matt: Ghidorahghidorah15 on October 31st, 2016 03:29 pm (UTC)
*blink* Am I the first to comment? Huh.

Again, don't have much to add. I admit I had a hard time with this episode due to Sybil's cruelty (replacing Elena in Damon's memory is just evil, and stopping either him or Stefan from healing Sarah, whom she stabbed, is no less nasty). I know rationally that it's by design, that she's supposed to be evil (though I must say that Nathalie Kelley is a total hottie and has quite the charming accent - maybe Damon should've been talking about her instead of Enzo on that bench ;) ). I'm just tired of all these obstacles being thrown in Damon and Elena's way. Hopefully, this will be the final big one, seeing as this is the final season and all. And poor Sarah... *sigh* I feel you, Stefan. I really do. Having a hand, however inadvertent, in the death of your last living relative has to be hell.

Fortunately, he's learned better than to let it get in the way of his happiness with his perfect partner. Caroline really does mean the world to him. And even if Bonnie and Enzo don't have red-hot chemistry, I like them together enough to root for him to break free of Sybil and fight his way back to her. Now we just need to bring Matt back and find him a nice lady. I don't think Ric's going to have too much trouble when he's ready to date again.

Sooo yeah - an episode by Melinda Hsu Taylor with no wrong notes to be found? Even if it was a sad episode save for the ending, that's still cause to rejoice. :)
Arabian: Stefan & Caroline12arabian on October 31st, 2016 03:54 pm (UTC)
Well, I just put the review up, so yup, you are the first to comment! Go you.

Hmm, I don't really consider this an obstacle for Damon and Elena considering that Elena is still in her coffin after all. Rather it's about Damon's story and the others fully accepting that he's worth saving, and that is something that *does* need to be done seeing as how prior to this season it was only Stefan and/or Elena who ever cared and/or tried to save Damon. Or even more so, it was Damon who was doing all the saving of everyone else and he was saving himself because no one else bothered to save him.

RE: Sybil's cruelty, see, that's why I think I liked Nathalie Kelley's performance so much because I didn't think of her as being cruel at all. I just think she's wired that way and has to do what she has to do and there's no inherent thought to be cruel in it; she's just doing what has to be done.

As for your thoughts about Stefan and Caroline, AND Bonnie and Enzo, I agree.
(Anonymous) on October 31st, 2016 07:55 pm (UTC)
Great review as always.

I personally have no problem with Bonenzo's chemistry, but I agree that that's quite subjective. I, too, thought they might have been rushed a bit last season, but I liked them as a couple so I was ok with it. And considering that it actually took them three years to become a couple (though we were not privy to it) it's actually fine with me. (Though I would have loved to see more of their story and how their love developed and am lucky we still get flashbacks of them of that time now.)

This season I really love their story. It's so reminiscent of Odysseus and Penelope and I just love it, the deep love, the drama and tragedy (and hopefully happy end).

This myth is also what leads me to my thoughts on how this whole siren-plot may be solved (don't worry it's just speculation, I'm as spoiler free as you are): According to myth and in sync with what we've seen on the show so far, sirens can only manipulate men. So I predict a heroines-story-arc with Bonnie, Caroline (and hopefully Elena) saving their boys and the world. And I especially hope Elena kicks Sybil's ass for messing with her boy - and Bonnie is welcome to assist her.
Arabian: Bonnie05arabian on November 4th, 2016 01:16 pm (UTC)
You can sign in with Twitter or just create an account (it's really easy!)... just saying. :)

Anyhoo, re: Bonnie/Enzo... Though I would have loved to see more of their story and how their love developed Yeah, this is kinda key. My main issue (aside from the chemistry factor--which, yeah, subjective) is that they fell in love in a vacuum and spent about two days in the "outside world" and that outside world was with Damon killing vampires. So, how do we know it's even real? That they can actually work as a couple? I mean, they've never just been a normal couple, dating, dealing with any kind of regular stuff. And without seeing them on a regular basis, growing, episode-to-episode that hinders the ability to draw in other potential fans who could grow to enjoy their chemistry as well. So, yeah.

That is a TOTALLY awesome idea with regards to the Sirens and mythology. I know a bit of Greek mythology myself (not majorly in-depth), but I recognized this as soon as I began to read what you wrote and I think you may have a point. And since, despite what some silly critics--who clearly don't actually pay attention when they watch the show--say, the female characters on this show DO have agency and kick ass. Having them play such an important part of the final season (AND Bonnie doing so WITHOUT her witchy powers*) would be amazing.

* I say that because so many complain about Bonnie being used as just a witch crutch. By the way that's something I've always found RIDICULOUS! I mean, how do people not get that they clearly DO NOT need to come up with all of these situations where they *need* a witch to come and save the day. No, they WRITE these situations specifically FOR Bonnie (the witch) to highlight Bonnie because SHE is a witch, not BECAUSE she is a witch.
tj2013tj2013 on November 3rd, 2016 08:41 pm (UTC)
I don't have much to add - thanks for your great post!

I didn't really understand whether Sybil has erased Elena totally from Damon's mind or if she simply erased the feelings Damon has for Elena. If th latter was the case, it would be a twist of the compulsion thing Elena had going in Season 6. She forgot all good things about Damon. But since she later said "I always find my way back to you", I hope this will be the case again the other way round. Maybe there will be - as you mentioned - one specific memory that can't be erased.

The anonymous commenter above made an interesting point. Sirens could only influence men. So yes, maybe Caroline and Bonnie are immune to Sybil?
Arabian: Damon & Elena48arabian on November 4th, 2016 01:19 pm (UTC)
Oh, it never crossed my mind that Sybil had erased Elena completely nor that she's erased his feelings completely, just that she's found a way to creep into his little bubble world to gain complete control. Both things would be awful. Gah! We'll see.

I agree that was an AWESOME point by anonymous above.
Bogwitch: TVD - Stefanbogwitch on November 19th, 2016 10:33 pm (UTC)
Er... It didn't take me long to get behind. But I have an excuse, I had a horrible ear infection and I couldn't concentrate.

>>I just don't personally think that Kat Graham and Michael Malarkey have sparkling chemistry to write home about.

I agree. That and their relationship came (to us) out of nowhere. We have never really caught up. That said, I am more than happy for the writers to go the Bonnie/Enzo route.

I thought it was an interesting touch that Stefan proposed in (more or less) the same way he did to Elena in the Traveller hallucinations. No original ideas, Stef?
Arabian: Stefan03arabian on November 23rd, 2016 01:57 am (UTC)
Oh, I'm sorry... that's terrible. Yuck! Glad you're feeling better.

That and their relationship came (to us) out of nowhere. We have never really caught up. That said, I am more than happy for the writers to go the Bonnie/Enzo route.

I'm not, I just ... I love Bonnie so much and I want to love her endgame couple. Oh well, I mean, I don't dislike them, I just don't love them.

I thought it was an interesting touch that Stefan proposed in (more or less) the same way he did to Elena in the Traveller hallucinations. No original ideas, Stef?

Shockingly enough, I totally forgot that--blocked it out is more like it, LOL! Stefan is just a fairly simple guy.
Florencia: DE (The Wreck of Our Hearts)florencia7 on March 14th, 2017 01:54 pm (UTC)
RE: 8.02
“Was there a teeny part of me that was a wee sad that we never got to see this literal moment with Damon and Elena?” - I'll always argue that 6x21 WAS the proposal moment. Or even the wedding moment. Damon's “I'm taking it” speech sounded very much like wedding vows (“I'll love you until I take my last breath on this earth”) and we also had this beautiful wedding setting in the background. As for the proposal, we saw how overjoyed Elena would be had it happened with the ring and all. We saw it in that scene when Lily left the cure for her to find. And I know it's very generous of me to make it count as anything, but I think it should count, I mean the expression on Elena's face should. She looked SO happy for those several seconds when she thought it was an engagement ring in that box. So... there is that. AND... um, does you staying spoiler-free includes rumored deleted scenes that may or may not be put on the DVD??? lol

“That's part of what makes them truly epic by every definition of the word” - That's so cool that you said that here :) I'm pretty sure at that point the finale title hasn't been released yet, which makes you clairvoyant once again!

“And it worked, it really did! Sarah was able to walk away… but then Sybil walked in.” - I'm really glad that it was Sybil and not Damon who did it, buy yeah, still SO SAD.


“And seeing her replace Elena in that memory... guh, that was heartwrenching.” - It was really painful to watch.

By the way, this whole thing got a little confusing over time, didn't it? At first it seemed that Sybil was replacing Damon's memories, which was showcased in the scene on the bridge when he said that he has never met Elena Gilbert (*sobs*). But THEN it started to look more like Sybil erased/was trying to erase Damon's love for Elena, not the memory of her, because he clearly knew, later on, that there was an Elena, it's just that he *couldn't feel* anything (well, almost anything ;) for her. But if that was the case... why the whole show with replacing Elena's face with Sybil's face? What was that supposed to achieve? It wasn't like Damon suddenly seemed to be in love with Sybil at any point because of those altered memories. I just thought the logic of it all was ultimately a little blurry.

“I don't know, there's something about Seline I don't like.” - Here you go again! You called this one very early on :)

“Bonnie is pissed at herself and she just wants to die.” - I love how this ties so wonderfully to the “now you're finally ready to live?” in the finale.

“Of course. No more human Salvatores left.” - There will be more! There will be more! ♥ ♥ ♥ lol
Arabian: Bonnie01arabian on May 2nd, 2017 02:19 am (UTC)
Re: 8.02
“Was there a teeny part of me that was a wee sad that we never got to see this literal moment with Damon and Elena?” - I'll always argue that 6x21 WAS the proposal moment.

Oh, I agree completely. That was Damon proposing to Elena. (And 4.13 was Elena proposing to Damon.) I just... I'm greedy, I wanted an actual proposal. *sigh*

Or even the wedding moment. Damon's “I'm taking it” speech sounded very much like wedding vows (“I'll love you until I take my last breath on this earth”) and we also had this beautiful wedding setting in the background.

True.

As for the proposal, we saw how overjoyed Elena would be had it happened with the ring and all.</i>

Also true.

nd I know it's very generous of me to make it count as anything, but I think it should count, I mean the expression on Elena's face should. She looked SO happy for those several seconds when she thought it was an engagement ring in that box.

No, I do think it totally accounts. It was intentional absolutely, and it's something that I agree with (and even referenced in my finale post).

“That's part of what makes them truly epic by every definition of the word” - That's so cool that you said that here :) I'm pretty sure at that point the finale title hasn't been released yet, which makes you clairvoyant once again!

If it had, I wouldn't have known as I tried to not even see the ep titles. (Although I did find out the first 3 by accident, and I did see the last two a few episodes before they aired.) Uhm, but this is only episode 2? So, yeah, no the last 4 episode titles, I remember based on conversation with a friend, didn't come out until a few episodes before they aired.

By the way, this whole thing got a little confusing over time, didn't it? At first it seemed that Sybil was replacing Damon's memories, which was showcased in the scene on the bridge when he said that he has never met Elena Gilbert (*sobs*). But THEN it started to look more like Sybil erased/was trying to erase Damon's love for Elena, not the memory of her, because he clearly knew, later on, that there was an Elena, it's just that he *couldn't feel* anything (well, almost anything ;) for her. But if that was the case... why the whole show with replacing Elena's face with Sybil's face? What was that supposed to achieve? It wasn't like Damon suddenly seemed to be in love with Sybil at any point because of those altered memories. I just thought the logic of it all was ultimately a little blurry.

Let me make it make sense for you: It made no fucking sense. (Thank you, Julie.)

“I don't know, there's something about Seline I don't like.” - Here you go again! You called this one very early on :)

I was so proud of myself when that one came out. They really made it seem like she would be a love interest for Alaric so that was cool. Now to be fair, you know I don't go to other sites, tumblr, twitter, so maybe it was a widely-figured out theory because a love interest thing was too obvious. Who knows? LOL!

“Bonnie is pissed at herself and she just wants to die.” - I love how this ties so wonderfully to the “now you're finally ready to live?” in the finale.

Yeah!
Florencia: DE (Let There Be Light)florencia7 on May 12th, 2017 03:02 pm (UTC)
Re: 8.02
"I just... I'm greedy, I wanted an actual proposal." - Don't think I didn't. I'm just trying to rationalize why we didn't get it, so it won't hurt that much ^^

"They really made it seem like she would be a love interest for Alaric so that was cool." - I was hoping Georgie would be the love interest! Which of course didn't happen and didn't happen in a very sad, death-included, way.
Arabian: Alaric03arabian on May 14th, 2017 05:21 pm (UTC)
Re: 8.02
I know, I know.... we gotta rationalize and just be happy with what we got, which was a lot.

I was hoping Georgie would be the love interest! Which of course didn't happen and didn't happen in a very sad, death-included, way.

ME TOO! {SOBS}