Whee! New Vampire Diaries episode and it's only Friday morning and I've got my write-up done. WOOHOO!!!
Despite the fact that you will read some criticisms aplenty in this write-up (and some of them rather fervent), I want to begin with a very strong positive. I did like this episode. I thought it was a very good episode, and one that grew stronger and wherein many of the issues melted away upon a rewatch and with further thought. Two of my biggest issues, I wouldn't even have were it not the 100th episode and the first episode back from a long hiatus. Since they don't matter when looking at the season or series as a whole, I'll address them in a bit, but with less feeling than I would have after first watching the episode. Instead, I will address the one that matters regardless of its airing and placement and that would be the Saint Stefan vs. the Demon Damon dichotomy at play.
Katherine's final flashback just drove it home to the nth degree, contrasting Damon being mean to poor, dying Katherine (who, let's be honest, really did damn near destroy all of their lives at one point or another) with Stefan making everything sweet and wonderful for Katherine because he is just that swell of a guy. Give me a freaking break. I mean, really? Did they have to lay it on that thick? And it was just non-stop throughout the whole episode. Damon is bad. Stefan is good. OK, we get it. Lord, help me. And they had to turn around and bring it even into the one brothers Salvatore scene. I love those scenes, but not so much this time because of this nonsense. And that really frustrated me because I loved seeing Stefan genuinely seem to want his brother to be happy with Elena because he was good with her, but two things kept me from enjoying the scene. The first was Damon talking about winning Elena back. That just made no sense. Why would he have to win her bac? What horrible thing had he done that he'd have to work so hard at it? Didn't he just break up with her like the night before? So, wouldn't it take him saying 'Uhm, Elena, I was really upset about the whole Enzo thing and I'm sorry, I love you, I was an idiot' and then, they're good? What else is there to it?
Secondly, and this was really, really frustrating, was Damon saying that him ending things with Elena was his ONE SELFLESS ACT. ONE?!?? ONE?! So all the other selfless things that Damon has done over the seasons didn't count because Stefan and the others didn't know about them? Is that how it works? Seriously!?!?!? Come on! I mean, really? I just don't even know anymore. I can't defend the show when they feed me bs like this. I'm sorry, Vampire Diaries writers, but Damon is not the be-all and end-all of evil and selfishness in the universe. If you really think that, you need to rewatch your show. Especially when you have a character like Stefan Salvatore on it. Because of the two? Stefan is a helluva lot more selfish than Damon. And this idea that he's this saintly, selfless do-gooder hero is ridiculous and completely goes against what you have written for four and a half seasons. And you know what else? Damon is not this evil, selfish monster. So stop writing episodes that portray them as only Saint Stefan and Demon Damon because that's what this one did and it was quite frustrating. Yes, we had Jeremy, Matt, Liz, Elena and Stefan show they obviously care for Damon, but by making Katherine the centerpiece of the episode, showing how both Damon and Stefan reacted to her highlighted their natures and Stefan was the good guy, Damon was the bad. So, yes, it was very, very frustrating. I still believe (hope) that this season is heading somewhere with regards to Damon (and those who still believe the worst of him—i.e., Caroline) and the low opinion of him turning on its head, but I would prefer it not be so terribly heavy-handed along the way, and frankly I expect much better from Julie Plec and Caroline Dries.
My other two main issues, and these were the ones that revolved around the placement (the episode back after a long hiatus and especially being the 100th episode of the series). Why on earth would the show choose to center their 100th episode around a recurring character? I don't care how popular Katherine is. I don't care that she is played by the lead actress. She is a recurring character. If they wanted to build the 100th episode around just one character, pick the most popular character of the leads, i.e. Damon. But, really, it should have been built around Damon, Elena and Stefan, the show's leads, the three characters that the show has been centered around, sold on from day one. I honestly cannot, at all, in any way, shape or form, understand why they would have chosen to build their 100th episode around a recurring character, feature flashbacks of a recurring character, feature this recurring character more than any other. A recurring character… for the 100th episode. I'm truly and utterly mind-boggled. And Damon who is—not even arguably, he is indisputably—the show's most popular character had a smaller role than Katherine, Elena and Stefan.
And then it gets even better! In the 100th episode, there were plenty of Stefan and Elena scenes and wait for it… zero one-on-one Damon and Elena scenes... indisputably, again, not arguably, the show's most popular couple. Wrong. That's just plain wrong. First, the show barely gives Damon/Elena fans ANY happy, sexy, romantic scenes the first half of the season when they are a couple. And this is after teasing us with the knowledge of this magical summer of love they shared—which they only show us 30 seconds of and then taint by having Damon kill some innocent behind Elena's back—after waiting to see them be together for FIVE YEARS. THEN Damon dumps her, we have to wait during a six-week hiatus and upon the return we get exactly zero scenes with just the two and this is all the one-on-one interaction in the limited group scenes we get. Wait for it…
Yeah, that's it. That's all we get for Damon and Elena interaction. Yay.
Can you hear my cheering?
OK, and there ends my grumbling (for the most part—you know I'm gonna bitch about Tyler), now happy thoughts, including Damon and Elena happy thoughts! While we may not have gotten pretty much any interaction with them, while Stefan and Elena did, considering what actually happened with regards to all of the romantic entanglements, I actually found it very, very positive for Damon and Elena. First let's talk about the parallels in the first batch of scenes: Elena with Bonnie and Caroline, Damon with Matt and Jeremy (and excuse me a moment while I squee and flail in joy that Damon had Matt and Jeremy as his bros sorta there for him post-break-up, I mean OMG!)
Ahem… Anyhoo, I loved the fact that they went out of their way to create these parallels here between Damon and Elena and their respective threesome buddies (*sigh* Damon/Jeremy/Matt! SQUEE! *sigh*) to show that this is your couple, this is your root-for-OTP.
I mean, obviously Damon didn't go to Matt and/or Jeremy, they came upon him at the Grill, but they stuck around when they saw his suffering self. They tried to talk to him, tried to help him through it, and when the call from Stefan came, they did go with him as a trio. Damn, I loved seeing Matt and Jeremy be Damon's bros. :sniff, sniff:
Originally, I wasn't so much feeling the girl-trio which was in large part because I was a tad peeved that Elena was giving up on Damon just like that. And for her to say that once Damon decides something, that's it confused me because, uhm, really? No, it's more like, once Elena decides something, that's it for Damon. And it took *Stefan* telling Elena to not give up on Damon for Elena to not give up on Damon? Elena who, you know, never gives up on ANYONE? Like ever! Really?! It just felt like such out-of-character writing for Elena and, again, Julie Plec and Caroline Dries wrote this episode so I was wondering what crack they were smoking when they wrote this scene, and just thinking clearly that it was not the good stuff.
Then I rewatched it and I was watching Elena's expression and listening to her voice, and I was flashing back to season 01 when Stefan first broke up with her and it all seemed familiar. Back then, she pulled the same 'I am woman, I am strong' routine so, yeah, this is in character from that perspective. Yes, it's frustrating when she says, "I have to face reality, Damon makes up his mind about something, it's done," because, hey, she's not fighting for Damon, but well, she never really fought for Stefan whenever he broke up with her for reasons beyond external ones. However, then her phone rings and she obviously thinks it Damon and clearly very much hopes it's Damon despite her "strong" Elena face she's got going.
And note Bonnie's nodding 'uh huh' expression in the middle there that is totally full supportive and totally skeptical. She's knows that Elena doesn't believe a word she's saying and that Damon and Elena are a long ways off from done. As does Caroline. *sigh* I originally had a Caroline-rant in place here because I was upset with her, walking in with a smile, memorizing the break-up speech, etc. But, yeah, rewatching and gif-fing the scene, I can't hate on her and I'm happy to say that I can take back the denunciation of her that was going to take place in this paragraph.
I still wish that she would approach her issues with Damon and Elena differently because—seeing what happened with her and Klaus (sorry, just do not care)—she does get it. But, man, how she addresses it... man, she just comes across as a complete hypocrite. I would be perfectly OK with her having an issue with Damon and Elena if she talked to Elena about it from THAT angle. If she told Elena that she understood that she loved Damon, that she was drawn to him, that he had done good things and was there for her, but that she had to look at the damage he caused and was capable of causing and looked at the bigger picture. But she doesn't do that. All she does is "DAMON IS BAD! DAMON IS EVIL! BAD, DAMON, BAD! BAD, ELENA, BAD for being with BAD, DAMON, BAD!"
But at least she was trying to be a good friend here. Other than the speech memorization—which was bad—she was a good friend. She didn't even try and push Stefan onto Elena even though he called. She showed looks and smiles of sympathy and that's more than I expected. In fact, only watching it once, I had actually imagined she was all cheery and joyful about it before I went back and rewatched it and saw that she actually had been very sympathetic to Elena. So I can still ♥ Caroline.
Phew! Now getting back on track with my happy Damon/Elena tidings. While we did indeed have a bunch of Stefan and Elena scenes, they weren't romantic-based, like, at all. Even though Elena found out about Stefan sleeping with Katherine, she didn't seem upset from a jealousy point of view, but more from a ‘how could you do that with *her*!' angle that was the same as everyone else. And while I found it terribly annoying that she needed Stefan to point out Damon was pushing her away because he hates himself, tied in with what I realized earlier about Elena, it makes sense. She's putting on her ‘brave Elena face' right now. Damon dumped her, and let's face it, Elena doesn't know how to handle being dumped because that just doesn't happen to her. She kinda is the chosen one herself (like Stefan) therefore she doesn't know how to handle rejection, so she buries her head under her covers and then puts on a brave, ‘I don't care' face to the world.
She needs to be prodded. Stefan prodded her, and then he prodded Damon too. So we had Stefan basically giving both of them his blessing and urging them to go and make things right with each other. What we really saw with Stefan and Elena was two friends, and even though the doppelganger bond was brought up again, it wasn't romantic at all between them…
However, there was romantic bond between a couple of other doppelgangers, now wasn't there? Uh huh. Once again, we saw romantic angles, reminiscences and moments between Stefan and his original romantic doppelganger, Katherine Pierce. Which brings us to a key point about The Vampire Diaries and how they roll. They don't introduce arcs and then they're done. Just like the Travelers were brought back into the picture, so were the doppelgangers brought into play again. That story, the bond between them isn't over yet just because Silas and Amara are gone and I still say that Stefan and *Elena* are the red herring. Stefan and Katherine have got more story, folks, I'm telling ya!
Finally, with regards to Damon and Elena, I mentioned in my write-up for the last episode that one of the things I did appreciate about the break-up is how it was so beautifully character-driven. Alas, that is definitely not the case now. Stefan prodded Elena and Damon, and Damon made it clear that he was going to patch things up with Elena and I doubt that anyone thinks that she wouldn't have reunited with him. However, now that Katherine has taken over her body, we have a plot-driven, external obstacle. Ah joy. Well, there will likely still be some character-driven story here also, but we'll see how it plays out.
Speaking of… Katherine in Elena's body. What a shock. Uhm, not. As soon as I saw Elena alone with Katherine in the waning minutes (OK, I figured before then, but still had hope they wouldn't be *that* obvious), I knew they were indeed going with Katherine in her body since Nadia had told her all they needed to do was say the words. I wrote in my "Fifty Shades of Grayson" write-up after I had theorized (hopefully) that shockingly Katherine would wind up in Caroline's body:
I REALLY hope that it's not going to be the VERY predictable Katherine in Elena's body, Katherine as Elena gets back together with Stefan pronto, Damon goes off the deep end, turns off his humanity and starts vamping on people left and right. Because that would be really, really predictable. Like SUPER predictable.*sigh* However, I then added in the comments to someone else:
I hope that even if the predictable thing happens, it's written well and creates wonderful character dynamics and furthers the Damon, Damon/Elena, Damon/Stefan journey in a rewarding, enriching way.Now, I don't know that the other stuff will happen, but if it does, it's OK with me as long as it does create great character dynamics and growth. Plus, if Katherine as Elena does get back together with Stefan, doesn't bother me at all, because it's Katherine with Stefan, not Elena. And all of this basically just creates among other things, a honking obstacle for Damon and Elena, proving yet again that *they* are THE couple.
Still, it's so very predictable. Once we knew that Katherine was dying, everyone thought that Katherine would go into Elena. The only reason anyone thought she wouldn't was because it was too obvious. And when that's the only reason, well, that's not a good enough or shocking enough reason, writers. Still, again, I can only hope that the writers reward my faith and it is enriching and beautifully, brilliantly written.
And with that… randoms.
- Aww, seeing all the oldies pop up was nice. Jenna! John! Vicki! Alaric!! Alaric and Damon having a moment!! TEAM BAD-ASS!!!
- Nice Elijah/Katherine moment, proving that Katherine did/does love Elijah. Oh, and nice to know that Julie Plec values the continuity of The Originals more than The Vampire Diaries. Harrumph. Heaven forbid she screw up the Elijah/Hayley storyline and the Elijah/Celeste backstory she has brewing there by having Elijah show up here reminding viewers, oh right, he's been in love with Katherine since he was introduced. Yeah, but it was no problem messing with the Katherine/Elijah story over here on the mothership to establish a story for Elijah on Plec's new show. Me, bitter? Nah.
- Nice seeing Rebekah too, even if I still ship Matt/Human!Katherine now. I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Matt/Rebekah (who apparently had some funky times in the woods too), not that we got to see it. :Pouts: I would have much preferred seeing that over Klaus and Caroline, sorry, K/C shippers. I know, I know, you're happy. But, but, but, for me, pretty blondes smiling prettily at each other!
- I clearly adore Matt. (See extra smiling Matt gif above. :) I literally texted this to my friend during the show (all in caps) -- I SWEAR TO FUCKING GOD IF THEY KILL OFF MATT!!!!!! And I said to myself (aloud) "I'm done with this show, I swear I'm done if they kill him off. He never hurt anyone of all of them, except for Caroline, but I don't care about her right now, so whatever. I LOVE MATT! Damnit." And yes, I haven't forgotten how much I love Ian Somerhalder and Damon, I just love Matt so much, they better not kill him off. Damnit!
- I'm so glad they slipped Liz in for a scene or two with Damon to showcase their friendship. I do ♥ their friendship so. See, Damon, Liz loves you! You're not a monster!
- I know that the ‘Stefan cured of his Silas demons' was pretty quick and random, so I wonder if either (a) that's going to come back into play down the line, or (b) if it will turn out to be tied into the fact that Katherine, as a fellow doppelganger helped him with it? Hmmm…
- Another hmmm… So why did the Travelers need a bucket full of double-doppelganger blood?
- Thank god, Katherine was selfless for once in her life and didn't go into Nadia. Imagine the horror of Olga Fonda attempting to portray the awesome that is Katherine Pierce. I might have to spork my eyes and eardrums out.
- Yeah, Matt totes loves Damon. Instead of blaming Damon for Vicki's death even though, he, you know, killed her, he blames Katherine for messing with Damon's head and sending Damon back to Mystic Falls.
- And speaking of sorta misplacing blame (take the misplacing wherever you want), no, Elena, it's not Klaus' fault that Jenna's dead, it's your fault, yours and Stefan's because you two decided to go and look at waterfalls—fucking waterfalls—while all the sacrifice shit was going down. Never forget. I will never forget. Ugh.
- Speaking of ugh. Fucking Tyler. Why can't I have nice things? Like my favorite show without Tyler Lockwood? Ugh, ugh, ugh!
On a happier note… so one hundred episodes. Wow, we made it one hundred episodes. Pretty awesome! I ♥ my show. I may complain sometime, but mostly I just love it and adore it so like no other show ever. Like I said I had some issues, but they were mostly related to the timing and placement of the episode. I really did enjoy the episode and I very, very much look forward to what's to come in the upcoming weeks. If you're reading, please let me know your thoughts, share what you think, just drop a line and say you're reading, I don't want to do these in a vacuum, I want to know that people are reading. Here's to another, well, maybe not 100, but a whole bunch more!! :)
Once more for the road, please do not reference spoilers, upcoming episode synopses and stills (including your reaction—good or bad—to them), interviews/tweets with cast, crew, writers, etc. Basically anything about the show that hasn't aired yet. Thank you.