No Mazzy Star in “Fade Into You.” Season 6’s only gimmick is mid-90s nostalgia. Kai listened to the Gin Blossoms at his home, where he prepared a Thanksgiving meal for Bonnie. “Fade Into You” would’ve fit during the flashback scene to May 10, 1994, in which Jo tricked her brother and soon watched him disappear into a hellscape, orchestrated and executed by their father, a man with a salt-and-pepper goatee, Joshua Park, who disappears into thin air and lives in a cloaked house. The tragic history of that family, which includes Liv and Lucas, the other set of living twins from group of siblings split in half, is similar to The Originals--murderous parents, a psychopathic brother, other powerful family members, etc., etc. Along with that is a convoluted plan that takes an entire episode of exposition to set up.
The Originals, now its own series airing Mondays, were engaging, interesting characters for a dozen or so episodes. The story continued despite reaching an endpoint somewhere in season three. The Original family overtook the series. Characters revolved around Klaus and Rebekah rather than story happening for and because of Elena, Stefan, and Damon. Klaus always threatened Elena, Jeremy, her friends, and lovers, but The Vampire Diaries’ writers continued to write for him and his sister, and the rest of the Originals, because they loved the family, the history, the drama, the romance, the intrigue. Scholars say William Shakespeare told someone that, during the writing of Romeo and Juliet, he needed to kill off Mercutio lest he take over the play and take it from his Romeo and his Juliet. Perhaps the Gemini Coven family storyline is a way to re-invent or redo the Originals story before it spiraled into New Orleans and its own separate thing.
Kai killed his family because he wanted to make a statement. The convoluted history of the Gemini coven includes a thing with twins and merging those twins at the age of 22 to create a super person that becomes a leader of the coven. The stronger one lives while the weaker one dies. Liv’s sad throughout Friendsgiving because of her 22nd birthday and her perceived imminent death. The women seem to think the men will live while they die. Liv’s a stronger character than Lukas—more importantly, she’s a stronger witch. She went she-hulk on Bonnie last season during the poorly conceived Travelers arc. Kai’s motivated to return and merge with his sister, killing her, taking her power, and then destroying the coven. He’ll also need to kill his other siblings, I think. His father doesn’t want Kai to return and will kill his children to prevent it. Joshua created Kai’s hell because of Kai’s murders, but he’ll murder the rest of his children to prevent his escape. It’s not the greatest plot.
Plot devices abound in “Fade Into You.” Friendsgiving lacks genuine friendships. Alaric, Stefan, and Damon acknowledge they’ve experienced a plot device, in one of the niftier pieces of storytelling. A stoned John Barth may’ve allowed a begrudging smirk. Friendsgiving brings Jo, Liv, and Lukas together and they remember they are related and nearly murdered together by their brother. Liam’s there until he’s not and then he returns again only to finally disappear after he reacts to Elena’s vampire confession like Scott Hope reacted to anything-staring blankly ahead of him. Elena learned from Stefan she’ll know if Liam loves her by his reaction to her vampire truth. Liam fails. The revealed connection of the siblings reeks of bad daytime soaps. The siblings immediately exposit the hell out of the family history, the convoluted merging thing, the murderous father, the ascendant, et al. Liv’s plight brings her and Tyler closer. Her decision to kill for Tyler happened because the writers needed a character to give a damn for her besides Lukas, and because a character can’t die without someone in love with that character being destroyed (or turned into a werewolf again).
I sort of loved the unnecessary trip to Portland taken by the Salvatore brothers and Alaric. They went in search of the ascendant and failed. Jo has the ascendant in safekeeping. Damon meets Joshua. Joshua soon fries Damon’s brain and tries to kill his own daughter. They find Jo’s magic in a rusty, bloodied knife. Joshua disappears. They accomplish nothing. Stefan remarks that they traveled to a place for something they could’ve gotten at Friendsgiving. The writers essentially conveyed, through Stefan, that, ‘Hey, we need a B story, and we’ve done the new powerful character has what we want before to very mixed results; so, we’ll subvert it, make it clear we subverted it, and that’ll be that.” Alaric doesn’t want to find the ascendant for Jo’s sake, but Damon wants Bonnie back. He compels Alaric to do whatever it takes to take the magic object from his new girlfriend, which sets up conflict between lovers and between best friends.
“Fade Into You” flashes back some, moves the story forward a lot, is very soapy and melodramatic, and not a great set-up for the long arc of the season. The Vampire Diaries already struggles in its sixth season, and now they’re doing another type of originals story. Also, Elena trusts Damon now and wants him to help her find Bonnie-trust she has because he talked about her for four months. Maybe “Fade Into You” would’ve worked for that scene. “Strange things you never knew…” as Elena learns to love her guy again and the camera fades…out.
-Every house in this show looks similar to Leery Manor in Dawson’s Creek. Elena’s looked like Mitch’s castle and so does the home of Joshua, Kai, Kol, Liv, and Lukas.
-Matt and Jeremy didn’t join Friendsgiving because of the Tripp cleanup. The Friendsgiving device failed. It was a mess. It served multiple purposes, including the Caroline/Stefan separation. Stefan apologizes to her at episode’s end, and Caroline thanks him. She walks away, friendship not fixed.
-TVD cast a different actress for young Jo-a sobering moment for me. I remember younger Jodi Lyn O’Keefe in late 90s/early 00s movies.
-Nina Fiore & John Hererra wrote the episode. Joshua Butler directed it.