The Vampire Diaries is a very well written, acted and directed television show. It just has one very big problem right now. It’s in stasis. The driving force of this show has been the idea of romance, love… love of family, love of friends, love of community, yes, but the threaded theme that has been the main force has been romantic love. And that was fine the first six seasons because you had the triangle in seasons 01 through 03 with Stefan and Elena on one side, and Damon and Elena on the other. Then in most of seasons 04 through 06—although some will (wrongly) argue the triangle continued all the way through season 05—you had the lead couple of Damon and Elena, along with the secondary couples in various stages of Jeremy and Bonnie, Stefan and Rebekah, Stefan and Caroline, Rebekah and Matt, Klaus and Caroline, Caroline and Tyler, Tyler and Liv, etc.
Now, however, we no longer have Damon and Elena. Except we do. Damon and Elena are still the lead couple of The Vampire Diaries. Which as a Damon/Elena fan I love because I love them, but as a fan of The Vampire Diaries, this is an issue and this is why there is no buzz, there is no heat, no build-up and why I think they are shaking things up right now. I say that we have Damon and Elena as the lead couple because the show is still treating them as such, six episodes in; Damon is still the only leading male character on this show.
I think that Paul Wesley is great, as well, Matt Davis, Zach Roerig are and I like Michael Malarkey. However, regardless of where Wesley's name is in the credits, as Stefan, he is not a leading man. Davis' Alaric is not a leading man. Both are supporting characters to Ian Somerhalder's Damon. Possibly Roerig's and Malarkey's Matt and Enzo could be leading (Enzo more than Matt) since they've never really tried with either character, but right now, Damon is really the only true leading man this show has. And there is only *one* leading lady that the majority of the viewing audience will accept with him and she isn't here right now. So The Vampire Diaries doesn't have a lead couple together on screen right now. That's a problem.
I love Candice King; she's not a leading lady either. At least not as Caroline. The character of Caroline Forbes was written and conceived as a supporting character and it shows. It doesn't matter how much screen time she has. She's a supporting character. Now, Bonnie on the other hand, can step out of that supporting role. I think of how many times I’ve said that she and Damon get shit done, or how when I did my central character breakdowns and Bonnie was the only other character (aside from the main three) who had multiple 3-episode arcs that were driven by her character. It’s because Bonnie, as a character, can drive story, does make her own moves, is not a follower enough and is a leader. The only reason that Bonnie falls into the supporting character role is because of a screen time. And, in my opinion, Kat Graham is a strong enough actress and is charismatic enough to warrant the more screen time. And maybe, just maybe, this move with Michael Malarkey's Enzo will pay off. I hope so because I want The Vampire Diaries to succeed beyond Damon and Elena and this season.
And it will only do that when the show has a strong, lead couple that actually has *both* actors/characters on screen. Again, Damon and Elena are still their lead couple with Stefan and Caroline as the secondary because, yeah, that's what Stefan and Caroline are... a secondary couple on the show. An adorable, squee-worthy, I ♥ them so very much, but still, secondary. The way their romance has been written over the last five seasons just has not been designed as one that a show can be written around. They're simply not a lead couple.
Maybe that's why they're trying to mix things up. This brings us to… Caroline and Alaric? OK, then. So someone in my comments had mentioned that Alaric might be Caroline's fiancé and I'd kinda glossed over that, and I wasn't sure why I had. Now that we know he is her fiancé, I know why I did... because I think it's kinda gross. I mean, Alaric met Caroline when she was 16. Yeah, people, she was a junior in high school when they met, and he was her teacher. It's just... ewww. I'm not down with it. I dunno, maybe they're going for Stefan and Caroline break up over him keeping secrets from her when Caroline has been so completely cool about this Valerie thing. And then Valerie and Stefan re-connect. And then Caroline and Alaric start to bond and wind up falling in lurve during the pregnancy? I guess. I dunno, we'll see. I suppose it could work depending on how they write it and how the chemistry and all that is, but... the whole 'she was a junior, he was her teacher when they met' thing kinda is an issue for me.
As for the other side of the mixer, Stefan and Valerie—I am open to this, simply because, well, what I said above: I want this show to continue and succeed. I don’t know that it will with the character of Caroline (not a knock against Candice King—she’s wonderfully talented and beautiful, and I adore Caroline, but see above: supporting character), but the possibility is there with Stefan. No, I don’t think that Stefan is a lead; he’s in support of Damon. But he wasn’t always. In season 01, he was a lead. At various points, we’ve seen Stefan take the leading role alongside Damon and Elena. It’s just that far too often the strength of Damon’s character, the power and beauty of his journey, the vitality and dynamism of Ian Somerhalder’s performance, and yes, his chemistry with Nina Dobrev’s Elena have managed to wrest that leading status away from Stefan and relegate him to the supporting role.
However, by focusing on the relationship of the brothers, and by focusing on Stefan’s journey, and building on the Stefan and Valerie story, we met get somewhere. Elizabeth Blackmore, who plays Valerie, is excellent. She and Paul do play well off of each other, and Stefan was always so much better off of the naughtier girls than the good ones. If they can create a believable love story here where Valerie is torn between the sweet girl she was, trying to find her way back to that, alongside the disintegrating Stefan and Caroline new love and the chemistry is really good among all three, this could work.
What could also work is Bonnie and Enzo. As I said above, Bonnie could be a leading lady, the character has the potential and I think that Kat Graham does. Enzo is such a clean slate with so much untapped, the sky’s the limit. I do wish they’d introduced the idea of them differently because I thought their chemistry in this episode was a lot more intriguing without the forced set-up from knowing “Three Years From Now." But on the other hand, would have felt that way without the “Three Years From Now?" Who knows? I do know that the tie fixing scene had a lot of chemistry, and it was very promising.
With all of the above said, it may seem like I had issues with this episode. I actually didn’t, like at all. I just was thinking on the fact that the show has like zero buzz at all. The ratings aren’t great (although the SD+ are good), but they’ve remained very steady all season, which is good. I just want everyone to love my show because I love it so, I guess, which is silly, I know. And I miss hearing from so many people in the past who loved the show with me. Anyhoo, moving on.
My favorite thing about the episode, of course, was my brothers Salvatore. This is the main thing I really wanted to see explored this season with Elena out of play: The Salvatore Brothers getting their ducks in a row. And it’s happening, slowly, but surely. The slowly is, of course, mostly courtesy of Stefan being a dick. Geez, Stefan! Why you gotta continue to be such an ass to Damon? Really? You honestly think that Damon is going to be making a glib comment about you losing a child once upon a time? *sigh* I get it, it’s Stefan’s own fears and projections, blah, blah, blah, but dude, so needs to get over this shit and like now! How many times does Damon have to prove him wrong at this point? Stefan, Stefan, Stefan.
On the other hand, Damon's whole speech about leaving the evil to him, and the good to Stefan, and lines being drawn between good and evil, and all that was brilliant and so beautifully Damon. It's just so obvious how much fun the writers (pretty much every writer on this show) has writing for this character. Damon is not evil; he never was evil, but he did bad things and the best thing about him is that he doesn't hide behind those bad things he did. He owns up to it, and in such a deliciously snarky, poetic way. And now he's a good guy, but he's a good guy in such a pragmatic way that he is still a vampire and thus willing to do still kinda bad things if he has to. And then you have Ian Somerhalder and his absolutely wicked delivery that just adds the icing to the cake. It's awesome.
And the awesomeness of Damon and who he is, knowing so completely who he is allows us to have Damon listen to Stefan whine and moan but it just rolls off his back now so we can have scenes like that glorious scene on the porch between the two where we got some long-needed discussion about Giuseppe. It’s not like we went all deep or anything, but still hearing the boys talk about dear ole dad without it turning into resentment about one another was pretty awesome. Plus, it also brought up an interesting point about Mommie Dearest. Lily has a type and she doesn’t even realize it. She hated Giuseppe so much and doesn’t even see that Julian is just like him. Wowsers! That was interesting.
Also interesting? OK, it may have meant absolutely nothing, and we have no clue when Lily met Julian, buuuuutttt, when Damon walked in on Stefan’s post-murder-Julian attempt and tried to skedaddle with his bro, Julian said, looking at Damon, “Sit down, son," but then flashed a look towards Stefan. Now, sure, older men call younger men “son" all the time, but still… it was interesting. And it was Damon who he sure appeared to be talking to more specifically since Damon said they should leave, and Julian was looking at him first, and you know, Giuseppe, hated him so much. And, yeah, you all know where I’m going with this. Uh huh.
Julian is totes Damon’s daddy. This would be why all the talk of daddy-dom is coming up. I wondered what the point of Valerie was being pregnant if she lost the baby. I mean, Stefan didn’t have any daddy issues. But Damon did! Well, I mean, hmmm… Stefan could be Julian’s son and be conflicted about killing him, but that wouldn’t fit the narrative of rebuilding him and Valerie, would it? Nope, if Julian is any of their daddy’s, it’s Damon. Yup, it’s Damon. That way it drives fresh Elena-related “conflict" without Elena being there. Yeah.
Oh, yeah, specking of Damon and daddy issues. Can I just say how much I love that Damon has turned his daddy issues into a positive and it is the *one* thing he has decided to not have self-esteem issues about and he’s going to be a good father. Oh, wait, see above paragraph! Yup, that’s gonna be all shot to hell now. Boy just can’t win.
But, but, but… you guys, I know was all wah!wah!wah! the show needs to figure out how to have a lead couple with both lead characters on the show, blah, blah, blah, but that was my rational brain talking. Screw that! I still just so very much love the fact that even six episodes in (and you know it ain’t ending yet), Damon and Elena, and talk of Damon and Elena and their love, and how very present and future Damon and Elena are, permeates the show so completely. Damon and Elena are THE couple still. And I love it SO HARD! The talk of Damon remembering him and Elena playing their ‘five years from now’ game (thank goodness it wasn’t ‘three years from now’ right?!) was just a sweet reminder that it’s going to happen… eventually. Damon spoke not in the past, but in future tense: "If anything I just want to be a great dad…"
*sigh* My Damon/Elena loving heart. It’s coming.
And on that happy note, randoms …
- Yup, I was wrong about the tragic, beautiful romance that could have played out for Alaric and Not!Jo... and I'm a bit disappointed by that. I think we could have had an episode or two of that and it could have been really lovely. I actually do not have a "YES, JO (or rather Not!Jo) is dead!" here because I really did think there was a possibility for a sweet story here. Oh well. So I guess Jo coming back was mainly a way for Alaric to say goodbye AND to deal with Candice's pregnancy which I called (even if I didn't quite get the specifics down pat). And Caroline made sense as being the recipient of the embryos as all the other females were dead or going to die and Elena had been zoomed away by Damon.
- So who hurt Caroline and who is after Stefan? Dundundundun...
- OK, did anyone else have a thought of... hahahah! Is The Vampire Diaries implying that Florence Nightingale was a vampire and that is the vampire soul that jumped into Jo's body or just me?
- Damon, Stefan and Matt in suits? Yum!
- LMAO! At Matt knowing exactly how to knock Damon out. Just pretend to drink his good stuff. (Yes, yes, he was in league with Stefan, but only Matt could have pulled off his end of it. Hee.)
- What the hell is going on with the compelled, IV'd up peeps in the Mystic Falls high school? Inquiring minds want to know.
- I'm still not completely not sold that nothing won't happen with Matt and Bonnie. They're still sharing plenty of scenes. But I'm fine with nothing if it means that Matt lives!
- On one hand... really, Lily? You have to ask your sons what have you done to deserve them coming after you??!?! REALLY!?!??! On the other hand? At least there's a teeny bit of the milk of mother's kindness in that there breast of hers since she stopped Julian dear from trying to kill her boys. That's something I guess. :shrugs:
- Damon discovering the changes to his bedroom was funny, but the best bit was him waving the sword with his mother's peignoir on the end at Stefan. Bwah! Oh dear Lord, that was hysterical. (Thank goodness though that the bed *was* removed. Who would want to think of Damon and Elena sexytiems tainted by his mother having *ewwnasty* sexytiems in the same bed! Gross!)
- I know, I didn't talk about Nora and Mary Louise above in my couple-talk. There was a reason. They just aren't working for me and Lord knows I've tried. Sigh, honestly, at this point, they just feel completely superfluous and we're on episode six and I really like one of the actresses (Teressa Liane) and don't mind the other (Scarlet Bryne), so it's not on them. Plus, Beau remains a complete cipher. I had high hopes for the Heretics because early press used the Originals as an example of what they could do with them. But I ain't seeing it.
In comparison, I may have felt that Kol was played by a subpar actor (paging Nathanial Buzolic), but Kol was a complete character within a few episodes, I knew who he was (if shallow--I actually started to describe him, but it was too long!). Heck, even Finn was. And, of course, Elijah, Rebekah and Klaus all could have been lead characters in their own shows, they were so fully-drawn. Now to be fair, Kol and Finn (and Elijah when first introduced) were only in a few episodes and briefly at that, but still... I expected more. Especially because Nora and Mary Louise come fashioned with somewhat of a backstory, and have been in more than a few episodes and have been talked about, have a family, and a home. They should be more fleshed out, not less. (Not to mention the fact that they are played by stronger actors in some cases.)
- Valerie continues to be the only true win of the Heretics. (With Oscar gone. Boo! Hiss!)
I know I spent more time talking about the show in general than the episode, but I had thoughts. I did like the episode a lot (duh, Caroline Dries), and I am beginning to see the set-up of where they are taking things. I continue to really enjoy the season; I like where things are going. As a Damon/Elena fan and TVD fan, I am happy, but that oomph! factor, yeah, it is missing.