Arabian (arabian) wrote,

8.01 - 'Hello, Brother' (The Vampire Diaries)

Sorry, this took a few days to get up. I really have no excuse. I'm not working (I was let go--it sucks), I'm just in a vortex of everything sucks right now so, uhm, yeah. Except my show. I love my show. With that... onto my beloved show.

I know, I know, I brought this up over and over again last season and here I am starting this season's review with it, but I just can't help it. Pfft! And people thought that The Vampire Diaries (and subsequently, the cast of characters, especially Damon Freaking Salvatore) would forget all about Elena Gilbert when Nina Dobrev left the show. Hah! And let me repeat and add to that… Hah, hah, hahahahaha! Can this show prove them anymore wrong?!

I mean last season was a smorgasbord of Elena mentions, Damon still drowning in his Elena-love-feels, characters were introduced who had never met Elena and they knew who she was and that she was the absolute love of Damon's life. And here we are the next season, the very first episode and the previouslies have a shot of Elena in her Sleeping Beauty pose detailing that curse, as well as Damon being caught in the Armory's evil because he heard Elena's voice. Then whaddya know? The episode begins and ends with not only the gang continuing to write diary entries to Elena, but also a Damon flashback to when he first met Elena, but also with additions to that memory. More on that later, though.

I just have to once again sigh in such joy over how this show has rewarded my faith, and thrill in how Elena Gilbert remains such an integral part of The Vampire Diaries… as she should. And TVD gets that and I love that. Of course I do, it's The Vampire Diaries and I love The Vampire Diaries. Alas we only have one more season left. {{Sobs}} Still, I'm glad they are going out on their terms and I'm going to enjoy the hell out of it, starting with this episode. Wow!

What a great way to start the season, huh? And what a great return from Kevin Williamson, missing in TVD-action since season 03's premiere, "The Birthday." What he brought back with him was especially noticeable in four specific areas. Firstly, erm, the violence-quotient was upped a tad bit and I'm thinking mayhap that was a crossover from The Following? I dunno, but, yeah, I mean, I know, The Vampire Diaries has its moments of violence, but yikes!

Secondly, and more enjoyable, were those moments of oomph! that truly did seem more like a trademark of Williamson. We had the shocking moment of Virginia St. John showing up behind Seline and slicing her throat. I mean, yeah, we totally knew something was going to happen with that knife once we saw the Nanny holding it. And, of course, we knew that Virginia was going to show up as soon as Caroline mentioned that we didn't know where she was… but, her showing up like that, in that moment, going sliiiice was an OOH!moment that we really don't have very often on the show anymore.

And that was just one of them. We also had that oooh! moment when Alaric found the opening out of the cave. I expected a hidden crevice or something, but when he just walked through, I literally went: "Ooh!" Also, Enzo being dragged into the bloody water and those fingers grabbing at his face was another moment that jolted me. Maybe it was just me, but I wasn't expecting it or the others, and it was nice having these little moments again in the show.

Another Williamson-touch (more so I think than another callback to season 01's episode 03, "Friday Night Bites," which he also co-wrote with Julie Plec… which I'll touch upon later) was Bonnie having a realization about something and then flashbacking to the pieces of the puzzle. I liked that here actually more than I did "Friday Night Bites," maybe because I like (hah, like… as if!) the show more now than I did then. But Bonnie picking up on the clues that Enzo left behind for her from The Odyssey was in and of itself pretty cool, but Bonnie thinking on it, I actually did think was a good narrative device. I remembered the candle wax in the ear bit, but I didn't recall the victim against the grill of the car/tied to the mast as easily. So I thought that worked well.

Finally, my favorite Williamson-bit, hehehehe: In early season 01, when Damon still had his switch off, he was able to tolerate Taylor Swift music. Now with his switch off, he reads (and enjoys) chick lit! LOL! Hah, I love it! (And, of course, only with his humanity switch off could he enjoy Fifty Shades of Grey. And, uhm, can those shout-outs end now? Please.)

Speaking of Damon with his humanity switch off, this is really not what I expected. Two things: the first is that Damon really has changed. The last time he turned his switch off was in the 1950's and that was to save himself. He couldn't save Enzo without dying himself and feeling that pain of leaving his friend to die, so he switched it off. This time, he obviously turned the switch off in order to protect those he loves. He knows that if he doesn't care about Stefan, Bonnie, etc. that he won't lead them to where he is and "it" won't be able to hurt them. That is so incredibly selfless of Damon. He's giving up himself, his chance at being saved to keep those he loves safe. Oh, Damon.

The other thing is that this is not humanity-switch off Damon enjoying himself, having a blast and just living vampire life to its fullest. He's somber, resigned. He's just going through the motions. If there was ever any doubt that he is *not* in control, this episode and just about every word out of his mouth made that clear. He is completely under "it's" subjugation. He has no control and is just doing what he has to do, and turning his switch off was the only way to keep his loved ones safe because otherwise, he would be fighting. And he knows that "it" is so powerful that a fighting Damon is reckless and would put his loved ones in danger.

He just has his one escape: Elena, his little bubble of love. Oh, my heart. And that was the other callback to "Friday Night Bites," but with a beautiful twist. In that episode, Stefan wrote in his journal to himself that he didn't believe there was any humanity left in Damon, and he had given up hope, meanwhile we glimpsed Damon looking longingly at Elena as he reached out to caress her hair and face. In this one, Stefan is writing an entry to Elena about his hope that Damon still has a sliver of humanity tucked away, and we see that Damon does, and it is Elena. He's holding onto that memory of their first meeting, but this time there's more, he reaches out and caresses her hair, telling her he needs her, he can barely hold on. Gah! My heart, this show! Geez!


Also squeezing my heart in the best way possible? Stefan and Caroline are right on track. Sweet and sunny and just perfect. In love and in synch. Telling each other things, talking each other down from their individual neuroses. Caroline in her OCD control freak ways in the beginning and Stefan calmly, casually in a joking way talking her down, but not in a mean way. (The way Matt and Tyler both did.) And in the end, Caroline there for Stefan to comfort him in his emo, can't-see-the-forest-for-the-trees, 'I just want my brother to love me!' angst.


And the rolling around in the bed, post-coitus snuggle time was sweet too! All in all, this Stefan/Caroline fan is a very happy camper.


And words I haven't written in a long, long time… this Alaric fan is also a very happy camper because glory be! Alaric Saltzman was Alaric Freaking Saltzman again! I think what I figured out regarding the character towards the end of last season was in fact correct based on this episode.

I think [the show] wanted this great tragic love story for Ric with this woman he met and she was the perfect woman for him and they meshed and it was just beautiful and fabulous and viewers were supposed to fall in love with her and them, and AHHH! It's so perfect and wonderful and then it all ended so horribly and tragically. Oh, noes, so sad, we all wept over the pain and misery of it. And had Matt Davis and Jodi Lyn O'Keefe had chemistry, had O'Keefe's Jo worked really well as a character that story *would* have worked beautifully and all of the above would have happened exactly as I now think it was planned and it *would* have set [season 07] up for what I now think the writers did plan.

[Season 07] was set up for him trying to recapture "normal Alaric that worked with Jo" before the real "Indiana Alaric" came busting through. Alas, Jo and Alaric didn't work. They didn't have this sweeping, beautiful romance that took our breath away. And we needed that to make Alaric's arc last season to work, leading into the [season 07] arc. Jo didn't work. We *really* needed her to work, to make the change in Alaric (and their love story) work to make last season's arc and season [07]'s arc work. So, basically it all boils down to… sorry, show, bad casting on Josette last season. Bad casting screwed up two seasons worth of a character's arc. *sigh* However, I can now see (if I'm right) what the plan of season 06 and season 07 was/is for Alaric Saltzman. So that gives me hope the real Alaric is coming back and we'll have him for the last season at least. Yay!
Again, based on this episode… I do think that's the case, because the Alaric Saltzman we saw in this episode was so, so, sooooooo Ric. So completely, totally Ric. Every second, every single moment was Ric. 100%. Ric excited about artifacts and history and stuff. Ric in caves where he belongs. Ric being hit on by smart, sexy women and responding with a wry, gentlemanly response. Ric worrying about his kids, but still wanting to be around the supernatural action. Ric wanting to be happy someday! That's Alaric Freaking Saltzman! It made me so happy. Squee!!! :) And hopefully once Damon (and maybe even Enzo) is back in the picture, we'll get that real friendship back.

Although, I don't think they'll ever be BFFs like Damon and Bonnie because too much has happened in between, I think. And Bonnie is still there searching for Damon, feeling the loss of Damon. I mean, the hurt on her face when Damon threatened to kill her was so devastating. Oh, Bonnie. My poor Bonnie. I mean, she has to deal with what's going on with Enzo, but at least he's leaving her clues so she knows he's still there, but Damon just seems lost to her right now. But, hey, she's got Enzo. Yay?

I mean, yeah, I guess. I don't dislike them. I thought the flashbacks with them were good. They're certainly no Stefan/Elena or Tyler/Caroline… ugh. I like them; I do. I just don't think that Kat Graham and Michael Malarkey have chemistry. They're just kinda there. So I can watch them and go, 'oh, that's nice,' but I don't feel anything special about them. I'm not moved by them. But, hey, good for Bonnie. (I still would have preferred exploring Bonnie and Matt, but hey, that's just because, sigh, I didn't get my Matt and Rebekah honestly.)

Speaking off... yes, I missed my Matty Blue-Blue, but I'll be patient. And back to Bonnie's actual boyfriend, Enzo, I did find it interesting that he was going a different route than Damon: trying to hold onto his control. He thinks they can be saved? Or not. Because as soon as Bonnie and Stefan showed up, he didn't show any sign at all… I don't know. I'm not sure what Enzo is going for here. Is it because he has so little control that he's just grasping for straws here? Throwing a Hail Mary pass?

Still his efforts certainly did the trick with Bonnie and I did love how it gave us those two Stefan and Bonnie scenes. I've always loved how well Kat Graham and Paul Wesley play off of each other going back to season 01, so I'm enjoying this opportunity to see these two opposite one another. That first scene with Stefan trying so hard to keep up Bonnie's hopes was pure Stefan when his best human traits are amplified. The sincerity, the desire to help, to truly bring out the best comes to the fore. And then in the reverse we saw the Stefan with his blinders on blocking out all reason. He's had his humanity off and knows that Damon saying what he did about blaming him was, well, Damon with his humanity off. Of course, he'll forgive you, Stefan. Oh, boo. So, naturally, this time it was up to Bonnie to inject hope and bring up his spirits. I just loved both scenes bringing out the best in both characters and balancing them out beautifully.

Another balancing act they are doing nicely is Alaric and Caroline. I mentioned in the finale write-up that I wasn't quite pleased with how abruptly they handled that and that we didn't get a flashback episode with them. I still stand by that, but I like what we are seeing with them here. They're talking; they're honest with each other and they are co-parenting really well (so far). Alaric has his crazy job taking over the Armory, and Caroline is working at the news station at Mystic Falls (awesome!) and yet they are still there for the girls. And I like how they're showing them as parents still so far. And, Caroline as Mama Bear is pretty durn awesome. Cracking Virginia's head against the wall, calmly opening the twins' closet door and smiling down at them, telling them to stay put and then taking care of business. Go vampire!mommy Caroline!

Too bad she didn't get any answers from Virginia, because she could bit her tongue off (ewww!) and died first. So, one has to wonder (one being me!), what does "it" want with the twins? Really, seriously… what could a thousands-year old being who wants to eat bunches and bunches of evil people want with a couple of innocent toddler twins? This inquiring mind wants to know.

Speaking of "it…" So I know that we're supposed to believe it's a Siren (especially with the hot, naked chick… really, I know it's the CW, but… geez) what with the Odyssey story and all, and the 'control your mind,' and the singing. I get that, I totes get that. However, could they possibly, maybe, potentially, am I crazy… leading to the possibility that it's NOT just a Siren, but in fact the Devil itself? Because they do talk about how sirens are the messengers of the Devil, and "it" is going after people who have committed evil acts. Damon is philosophizing about Hell and bad choices made. I mean, think about it, in the mythology I know of, sirens are always presented in multiples and this one is just that: One as in singular. Now, if they go this route, how cool would that be? The Vampire Diaries saying the Devil is female. That would be pretty cool. I'm just saying. I dunno, maybe it is just a Siren, but… I dunno. My brain went there.

Alrighty then, time for randoms…

- I supposed I should have mentioned this in last season's finale, but it didn't hit me then. I thought of this during the previouslies. Uhm, how come they couldn't ask another witch to do a locator spell on Damon and Enzo? Bonnie is not the only witch, and certainly not the only one they know. Damon hasn't killed all of them.

- What is just me or did the dead man walking in beginning look a little like an older Zach Roerig (Matt) and sound a lot like him?

- So Caroline's red & white top didn't totally go with her black skirt, I am sorry, but it drove me crazy upon my first viewing. Then I rewatched it and saw that there was just black edging on the shirt, so it kinda worked, but pairing the shirt with the white sweater really, really threw it off. That's what made it so wrong. Show, Caroline would know better fashion-wise. She just would.

- On a better, shallow note… both Bonnie and Caroline's hair looked good.

- Aww, when Caroline was showing the twins' the video of Enzo and Virginia she described Enzo as "Aunt Bonnie's friend." Aww, "Aunt Bonnie." That just made my heart smile.

- Damon (as in Ian Somerhalder) is so hot, especially in the 'hello, brother' scene. Rrowr!


- I have to admit I found the twins' game of hide and go seekhide rather amusing.

- Hah, Stefan making it so clear he gives zero fucks about Enzo once he thought he had Damon cracked me up. I mean, it's not like it isn't perfectly in character. After all, Stefan 'killed' Enzo in the past (or rather Enzo made Stefan kill him), Stefan tried to kill Enzo and Stefan set up Tripp to kill Enzo, so definitely no love lost on Stefan's part. Still, it was kinda hilarious how completely obvious Stefan made his complete lack of care for Enzo. He was all, 'I got Damon, let's hit the road, Bon! Enzo, eh, whatevs! I got who I came for.'

- The literal vampire diaries theme continues and I continue to find that awesome.

- Until that final scene with Caroline and Alaric, I did not realize that was the Forbes house, talk about major redecoration, plus we've never seen the kitchen. However, upon rewatch, I really paid attention and that is clearly the front door/hallway and I'd recognize that box-y ceiling for sure.

- I like the three new characters so far. The nanny, Seline, seems cool, total fodder down the road, but still, nice. Georgie, like I said above, comes across as smart, sexy and I like her. Dorian too was fun, nice bit of casting. Still, all three (especially Seline and Dorian) all but scream, 'I will be dead soon,' in fact I thought either Georgie or Dorian were going to die on the way to the cave room, but, hey, they lived through the episode! Yay, them!

- Speaking of… hmm, lots of rich, old stuff in that cave room. And skeleton dude, I wonder who that is. Inquiring minds want to know.

- Yes, yes, whatever, that was a stand-in for the added stuff in Damon's little bubble of Elena hope… I don't care! It was meant to be Elena and that is what matters. And my heart soared!

*sigh* So there we have it, the first episode of the final season of The Vampire Diaries. I really enjoyed it (well, you know what I mean). And I look forward to what they have in store for us. :D

Remember... I'm still flying happy and spoiler-free!
Tags: alaric saltzman, bonnie bennett, caroline forbes, damon salvatore, damon/alaric, damon/bonnie, damon/elena, damon/stefan, elena gilbert, ep discussion-tvd, ian somerhalder, stefan salvatore, stefan/caroline, the vampire diaries, tv

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