Arabian (arabian) wrote,

3.01 - 'The Birthday' (The Vampire Diaries)

I have to get the obligatory OMG!!VAMPIRE DIARIES!!SQUEE!YAY!OMG!!out of the way.

Phew. Okay, deep breath. Thinky think thoughts time.

I am very happy my show is back, and I do think that this was a great episode. It's just ... well, for The Vampire Diaries, great is kinda subpar. Fair or not, it's human nature to compare and so like many compared season 2's finale to season 1's and found it wanting (I wasn't one of them, but still, I know and understood why a lot were), I couldn't help but compare this to the season's 2 premiere, "The Return." In my opinion, "The Return" was the second greatest episode this show has produced. And this is a show that produces a helluva lot of jaw-droppingly awesome episodes. (Literally jaw-dropping!) So comparatively, well, this one didn't live up to its predecessor. To quote sarcasticcheese, it didn't underwhelm, but it didn't overwhelm either. It just ... whelmed.

A perfect example were the last two scenes: Stefan gets all misty-eyed over Elena, Elena reassures Stefan of her undying love (excuse the sound of my gagging). Followed by Caroline creeping out of Tyler's room, and then getting wood-shot by Carol Lockwood.

Number two first, was it really that shocking? As soon as Caroline said that Tyler's mom kept looking at her funny, I knew she suspected her of being a vampire, and so this just wasn't ooh!shocking! as most of their cliffhangers are. Especially compared with last season's premiere. You had OMG! Katherine telling Damon she never loved him. WHAT?! Damon kissed Elena! HOLY SHIT!?!? Damon killed Jeremy!?!? OH WAIT, THANK GOD! He has a ring! WHAT THE FREAKING HELL!?!? KATHERINE JUST KILLED CAROLINE AND SHE WILL NOW BE A VAMPIRE.

All of that compared to ... Caroline was sussed out as being a vampire by Carol Lockwood. Okay, then. Oh, yeah, and Stefan and Elena still have the twuest wuv that ever wuved! Yes, let's look at number one.

Stefan and Elena and their never-ending declarations of the overpowering strength of their love (that strength, that, let's get real, hasn't done much of anything to save either one of them beyond waking Elena up from her post-parental-death fugue state way back in early season 1). Bottom-line, we've so beyond been there and done that. DO NOT CARE. And judging from the lack of enthusiasm from anyone beyond their minority fanbase -- yes, I'm basing this on the numbers, the polls, the articles, the buzz, the, oh, I don't know EVERYTHING that one can base this upon -- not many people care. They are the epitome of tell/don't show, stupid, epic teenage love and they make me groan and roll my eyes. Which brings me to my big (only) frustration with the show that this episode sadly did nothing to alleviate.

This show has based their promotion on a triangle from day one. DAY ONE. Of the two halves of that triangle, one is INCREDIBLY popular, sweeping polls left and right, getting buzz and article write-ups left and right, the questions are asked about them constantly. One has also been featured steadily and consistently since day one, and whose fandom has been given handouts of 'here, take this and enjoy and revel in the awesomeness of your couple' every single episode since day one. That first incredibly popular couple -- that would be Damon and Elena -- is not the one with the handouts -- that would be Stefan and Elena. No, that incredibly popular couple and their fandom pretty much have gotten crapped on quite a bit, and quite, quite consistently most of last season. This episode, the first of the new season, did not help in that regard.

I am so glad that I did not expect any major Damon/Elena moments in this episode. Because other than a few sweet moments, we didn't get any. Yet! The Stefan/Elena fanbase sure got theirs. Elena's loyalty to Stefan ringing through every scene, and that final scene with yet another twu wuv declaration that really pissed me off for non Damon/Elena reasons. (More on that later.) Look, I do get that it made sense. Nothing that happened with Elena, her feelings for Stefan or Stefan/Elena's phone call was out of character, it all made perfect sense. It just, well, it wasn't necessary to end (or near-end) the show on. Had we gotten that scene after Stefan left the bar the first time, or even after he killed Andie, I would have rolled my eyes, but I wouldn't have been annoyed.

I was annoyed because, once again, the writers chose to shower Stefan/Elena fans with more gifts, and the Damon/Elena fans? Got snarky, asshole-ish Damon. (More on that later too. Spoiler? I LOVED IT!) Got Damon keeping secrets. Had every full-on Damon/Elena scene ALL. ABOUT. STEFAN. Including the one softer scene where Damon gave her a gift. (Damnit, we should have at least gotten that one.) Instead, we got one moment in that scene (albeit wonderful), and one on the balcony. And that's it. It's not fair; and it's not enough at this point.

Am I keeping score? Damn straight. Because we are soooooooooooo beyond losing, and it's ridiculous. You sell this show on a triangle, you spent the first two years focusing so completely on one half of that triangle, with just a few dips here and there, few and far between for the other, the imbalance is blatant. Come season 3, you need to start sharing the wealth. This episode didn't look very promising in that direction. It may change; I actually expect it too. I do expect more Damon/Elena this season, no question. However, they lost 600,000 viewers over the course of last season, nothing will convince me that pissed-off Damon/Elena fans and/or bored non-Stefan/Elena fans weren't a big enough part of the cause. People -- and I know this for sure based on comments I've been reading since the finale -- will stop watching if Damon/Elena aren't clearly, obviously represented. I don't know if they'll even show up next week. I hope so. Taking the couple aspect out of it, this is still a fantastically awesome show. But, this is a business, and spitting on and/or neglecting half of your selling point -- especially the most popular half -- is NOT a good business move. That's all I'm saying.

Okay, about tonight specifically. One more bitching bit and then I'm onto the squee -- because despite all of the above -- I did really, really, really like the episode.

I mentioned above that the final Stefan/Elena scene pissed me off for non Damon/Elena reasons. Damn straight! Here's Damon wrecking Stefan's room, clearly torn up to shreds about his brother. Cut to Stefan, walking out in the dark, clearly torn up to shreds about what he did to his brother, especially after Klaus' little speech. And my heart was all breaking for my beautiful Salvatore brothers. And then Stefan pulled the phone out and I went 'oh, hell, no.' Then it went to Elena and Stefan fucking called her and his whole emo-act outside wasn't about Damon, but about Elena. FOR REALS?!?!?!? FOR FUCKING REALS?!?!? It's bad enough you give me practically zero Damon/Elena real moments, but you take away what I thought was going to a be a deliciously angsty Damon/Stefan emo-brothers-across-the-distance moment. I am sorry, but that pissed me off. Grrrr.

Okay, other than that ... EVERYTHING ELSE WAS GREAT!!! WHEE!!! And going into bullet-points here now!


- "Hello, brother." I died with glee over this. SO VERY AWESOME. Now THAT was a wonderful callback to a premiere -- THE premiere. So freaking awesome. LOVED. IT!

- Damon searching so hard for Stefan, going out on leads, tracking him all over, and getting close enough that Klaus wants him shut down. Oh, Damon! And Stefan's all, you know I'll come back because he's got to keep Damon safe. :sobs: at the brotherly love! And hopefully, this will put to rest (once and for all) this stupid fantasy that Damon hasn't really cared to look for Stefan because he's going to use this opportunity to get into Elena's pants.

- Also, so we do know for absolute sure now that Damon has seen Stefan's work before. And I had to be almost sadly amused at Elena's assertion that it wasn't Stefan, as if she knows better than Damon. Because she doesn't, she really doesn't. Damon knows his brother a lot, lot better. And it was killing him, this knowledge.


- Love, just so, so, so much love. I just love how they are so in synch with each other, sharing, caring, joking, serious. AWESOME BROMANCE FTW!!

- Heh, after Damon described the reason for "the ripper" nickname, Alaric so had this look of: I'm not gonna throw up. Not gonna lose my cool in front of Damon.


- Speaking of the ripper stuff, first of all, I'm wondering if the show is dropping the idea from the original side that all out-of-control vampires are called rippers, and making it just a Stefan-nickname. Sure sounds like it from the way Damon described Stefan's M.O.

- And, damn, what an M.O. The show really went balls to the wall from the get-go. Having Klaus walk out, and hearing the girl's screams that could have only been caused by Stefan. And, then of course, the aftermath, blood handprints everywhere, hell, *blood* everywhere, and then the neatly re-aligned body parts, and Damon's descriptions of the why. Oh. My. God. Seriously? I got full-on body shivers of UGGGGHHHH! from that. Well-done, show! It was quite horrifying.

- Also horrifying? That Stefan compelled the bar of patrons to be totally chill to the torture of Ray Sutton. I mean, dayum! So chilling. They are throwing darts at him, chaining him up, forcing wolfsbane down him, feeding him, and killing him and the patrons are just kicking back, drinking their drinks, having a good time. WHOAH!

- Not so whoah? Yeah, sorry, Joseph Morgan isn't cutting it for me. I find Stefan more menacing than him. He just doesn't have the charisma or gravitas to make this role work for me. Sorry, lovely guy, but I think they dropped the ball on casting Klaus. Sorry. :(


- Candice Accola and Michael Trevino do have chemistry, it's just not overwhelming (or even whelming) to me at all. In fact, I thought there was more spark and chemistry in her two scenes with Matt than in any of her scenes with Tyler.

- And, FINALLY!, Matty is over Elena. When he came over and gave that over-enthusiastic kiss to her cheek, it was so not about Elena at all, but was all for Caroline's benefit!

- Going back to comparing the premieres ... I am sorry, ya'll, but you can't have a make-out scene between two characters, throwing each other around with supernatural strength in the freaking premiere and NOT have a recall back to the make-out scene between two characters, throwing each other around with supernatural strength from the last premiere. And, yeah, Damon/Katherine? WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYYY HOTTER!

- On a less prurient note, I did find it interesting that Tyler and Caroline had sex without any great declarations, any love, any BIG moment-ness of it. I do think that Matt/Caroline need not worry that their half of the triangle is done for (and Caroline/Stefan fans continue to have hope!!!!!!!!!!!!).


- I enjoyed most of their scenes a lot, and I think that introducing Matt back into the supernatural world via the Vicki-ghost is brilliant. I did think that his walking out all dopey with the ice cream, cut to ultra-serious, "what happened in the car" was lacking a bit more, uhm, transition, but still, I did really like their scenes.


- Okay, not all squee left, I am kinda annoyed. I don't like that they brought her back just to callously kill her off. (And I honestly think that it very well may have been done in retaliation for the actress leaking the Jenna-knows-reveal from episode 19 last season; other shows have "punished" actors for doing similar stuff in such ways. I'm not saying this is it for sure at all, I just wouldn't be surprised.) There was so much there in terms of the compulsion, Damon's treatment of her -- and no, if you read my episode review of "Klaus," you'll know, I personally don't consider it rape, it was made too clear that she was into him, chose to have sex with him pre-compulsion, not that it takes away how horribly he treated her though -- and we got ... nothing. I thought when she said that she wasn't his slave that we were going to find out that he wasn't compelling her anymore, but Alaric disabused me of that notion.

- I was frustrated with how the story played out, but this episode did confirm that, for me, Olivieri -- leaky leak or not! -- did do a great job, and actually made Andie more interesting than I think she was written.

- We knew from the promo that Andie was the one who fell (well, I knew it was, I kept saying so), but with Damon there, I was sure he would catch her and she wouldn't die. Clearly, so was Stefan! The way he zoomed him out of the way was chilling. And, yeah, I'll admit as well as I think the actress did, I really am not/was not up for more Damon/Andie sexytimes (and am THRILLED we got none in this episode, as I was soooo expecting them), so when she died I clapped and went "yay, she's dead." Oh, this show.


I must say I am proud of my bb, Damon. He was near the edge in this episode, pushed by Stefan, pushed by what happened to Andie -- because Stefan wanted to send him a message, pushed by Elena and yet he didn't break, he didn't explode, he didn't go off that edge. He tore apart Stefan's room a bit, but even pulled back and didn't go all ballistic on its inanimate ass. So, go, Damon. Definite progress, my dear.

And, on top of that, he was funny, naked, snarky, hot, jerky, gorgeous in blue, a total asshole, wet, caring, committed, soapy, loyal to his brother, and he's being so awesome with Elena. And did I mention that he was naked? :BIG GRIN:


Oh Elena. I know I bitched above about the whole Stefan/Elena thing driving me to the desire to spork my eyes (and ears) out, but I did feel for her. I do think this is totally in character. I loved Caroline calling her out on the fact that while no one wants her to give up on searching for Stefan (because he is Caroline's future true love!), neither does anyone want Elena to just let her life pass her by. She's 18, and Caroline's right, whatever crap is going on, she needs to experience life. After all, that's what she told Stefan, right? She wants to live, not be an undead 17-year old. Well, she's not now. She's 18 (ooh, older than Stefan. Hmmm...) and she needs to start living.

But she is still emotionally a wreck, and finding out that Stefan was the one with the victims, and it not be Klaus, finding out that Damon's been keeping all of this from her? Oh, Alaric, lousy timing, dude. Such lousy timing in leaving now, at this moment. Oy!


Ah, saved the best for last. Honestly, I don't know if I would have more to ooh! and aah! here if the CW hadn't decided to pre-air enough of almost all of their scenes, but they did, and so there just wasn't much. Even their most lovely scene -- him giving her the necklace -- mostly wasn't a DAMON/Elena scene because Stefan was VERY much there in the room, in the scene. Even his gift was all about Stefan canonically, I suppose. Personally, I associate that necklace much more with Damon/Elena now (1.14, 2.08, and now this), but judging from the way Elena clutched the necklace after hearing of Stefan's misdeeds, it's clear that we are supposed to associate it with her and Stefan's twu wuv. So, yeah, even Damon's gift for Elena was actually another boon for the Stefan/Elena fans. *sigh*

Still, {happy} *sigh*, there were a few moments that I adored in this scene. (Oh heck, about Stefan a lot or not, I still did love the scene -- I so squeed over the little touch of Damon rubbing his finger over Elena in the photo.) Ah, but those little moments, I did totally love. And I loved them in large part because it was on Elena's end, not Damon's. *She* asked him to put the necklace on her. And when *she* turned around so close to him still, that tense moment -- OOH! CHEMISTRY! -- between them that was broken by Damon, and not Elena. I did love, love that. Not only because whatever Elena may say, whatever she may believe, her subconscious does show that there is definitely *something* there. Also, this shows that Damon is not going after her, he's not trying to woo her, seduce her, take advantage of Stefan out of the picture. Awww. Finally, that smile on her face when she told him "I am happy." So sincere and real and one of only a few times where she genuinely smiled in the entire episode.

I also loved how she casually took Damon's drink, drank from his glass, and then just as casually returned it back to him. I also loved the quick look that flashed on Alaric's face when she did that. It really does bespeak of such a natural intimacy between them. Niiiice.

And, another Damon/Elena bit, even if Damon wasn't there, was also one of my favorite scenes: The Elena, Caroline, Tyler scene cracked me up SO MUCH!

Tyler: He's into you.
Caroline: Tyler!
Tyler: {Cautiously} Isn't he?... You did kiss him.
Caroline: TYLER!... Just because I tell you things doesn't mean you're supposed to know!

So funny. And, of course, it gave us the only mention of the events on Damon's deathbed. (Although, thank you, previouslies which DID heighten the Damon/Elena aspect of the triangle very much over the Stefan/Elena angle -- please be foreshadowing for this season!)*. I am disappointed that we didn't get Damon's jibe to Elena about remembering it (Ian Somerhalder mentioned it in a pre-air interview, but it obviously didn't make the cut. Wonder if we'll see it in the DVD deleted scenes? Nah. It's Damon/Elena -- those NEVER show up in the deleted scenes. Grrr.) Still, we did get this, and I thought that Elena's "it was a goodbye kiss," was her trying to convince herself there (deliberate acting choice, I think). I'm not really bothered, honestly, though, that we didn't get more, because I do think that we will get more on throughout the season. And it is something that should slowly build into a greater discussion, an explosive moment, real feelings coming out. I sure hope so, anyway!

* Also what I hope is foreshadowing is that unlike the past two seasons which ended next week's promo with the shot of Damon/Elena/Stefan on the grassy hill, followed by Stefan and Elena lounging on said grassy hill, the shots we got tonight were quick cuts from the trio on the bed in black, all sweaty. First Stefan/Elena, but it was quick, and then Damon/Elena on whom it lingered (and they were the last image). So, hope springs eternal. :)

Phew! Okay, random thoughts ...

- Haha, I loved Damon as the most inappropriate role model (sorry, Alaric, Damon so beats you). He had no problem with the underage drinking, just not drinking his good stuff. He had no problem with Jeremy smoking pot, just wanted to know if it was a good stash. HEE!

- Damn, underage drinking and pot smoking galore. Damn, show!

- Hee! Loved a drunk Caroline vamp-tossing that partygoer because he was in her way.

- Hmm, Caroline was casually in Damon's bathroom. Okay, then.

- Wow! Caroline's boobs looked fantastic in that dress.

- As did Elena's! Fantastic outfits overall with Elena actually. That red top was gorgeous, and Nina looked FABULOUS in it. And that lovely, lovely white dress. Oh, just so beautiful and she looked heavenly in it, as did her hair, and yeah, her boobs! :)

- So, wow, way little Bonnie. Just a brief conversation with Jeremy via a cellphone image? Really?!

- Aww, Jenna! Pretty Jenna. WAH!! WHY, SHOW! WHY!?!??!?

I know there's more, more I'll think of, more that I'll ponder on based on other's posts, but I will save that for the rewatch post coming Saturday or Sunday. :)

So, thus ends my first thinky thoughts of season three of The Vampire Diaries. I did love it; I do love this show. It didn't measure up to last season's premiere (but then nothing all season did, it was just THAT damn good). But it was a strong, solid, GREAT episode.

And it's baaaaaaaaaaaaaack!
Tags: alaric saltzman, caroline forbes, damon salvatore, damon/elena, elena gilbert, ep discussion-tvd, ian somerhalder, nina dobrev, the vampire diaries, tv

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