Monday, April 25, 2016

The Vampire Diaries "Somebody That I Used to Know" Review

“Somebody That I Used to Know” filled in the blank space of the Enzo-Bonnie relationship. The title of the episode comes from a popular song from the 2010s. Bonnie and Damon developed their bond in a 90s hell loop (every episode borrowed from a popular 90s song). Bonnie and Enzo developed their relationship in similar circumstances. Replace the 90s hell loop with solitary confinement in a forest cabin and Damon for Enzo and one has the story of their (Bonnie’s and Enzo’s) relationship. Elena stopped Damon from escalating his bond with Bonnie to something more, and one may assume Bonnie fell for him during their isolated time together.

The Salvatore brothers shared a similar arc. Both wondered “what if?” What if Stefan came to Caroline after the Armory locked away Rayna? What if Damon didn’t give up and stayed to protect Bonnie from the Armory? Bonnie and Caroline moved on with their lives. Caroline fell into domestic normalcy with Alaric and his daughters. It’s not true love, but it’s a stable life. Bonnie and Enzo fell in love. Enzo and Alaric spat out what Damon and Stefan knew. They got the girl because they were there and the brothers weren’t.

Damon took flowers to Bonnie. She slammed the door in his face. Stefan tried to apologize for going Dawson on Alaric during his effort to re-integrate himself into his and Caroline’s life. Stefan stood by an open door when Caroline walked into frame. She glanced at Stefan, kissed Alaric on the cheek, and went to put the twins to bed, without acknowledging him. Damon hatched a plan to gain Rayna’s cooperation to win back Bonnie’s friendship and trust, a plan that will save her life. Stefan has no such plan for Caroline. Her and Alaric sleep in separate beds; they’ll be married by a Justice of the Peace; and Alaric knows he’s not the prize of her life, but he’s been more to her than Stefan was over the last three years.

The parallel stories about the girls and their damaged relationships depart from the seemingly never-ending brothers angst, though Stefan said he would’ve rather ignored Damon’s calls after his brush with death as Marty. Saving Bonnie brought the two together. Damon offered to kill Rayna’s list of bad vampires for her in exchange for her life. Rayna agreed because she wants to experience one day of her life free from vampires, complete with a cheeseburger. The old gang gets back together because it’s Bonnie. There’s a nifty montage of the gang going to various cities taking out the worst of the worst. Their mission allows Stefan and Damon to redeem themselves after bad choices made three years ago.

It’s a wonder that the writers haven’t been able to make the three year jump matter. The timeline jump was a bad choice. It worked because of the hook early in the season. The juxtaposition between the present and the future hinted at a narrative that would be freed and invigorated by the absence of Nina Dobrev; however, the flash forwards were allusions. The characters were in stasis. The actual changes have been nothing more but placeholders—characters settling because it’s better than the alternative. Caroline cried every night waiting for Stefan. Bonnie, it seems, would’ve fell in love with any character that kept her safe for three years in the cabin. Enzo happened to be in the right place at the right time. He watched Woody Allen films, bought a Billie Holliday record, and wooed her on New Year’s Eve. Bonnie didn’t even read Damon’s letter. Season seven’s been a placeholder season. The writers undid the end of last season (except for the Elena coma) and have spent season seven putting it back together because twenty two episodes is a lot to make. Few characters have grown or evolved. The arcs haven’t revealed new depths. Matt seemed to be an active vampire hunter—not officially—but he’s only anti-Stefan and entirely remorseful about his role in using Caroline as bait. All the stakes in the flash forwards were sterile. No character was in danger.

This episode returned to meaningful stories, which is why I liked it. Damon’s and Bonnie’s friendship matters. Stefan and Caroline share a history and bond worth saving. The flashbacks to Bonnie and Enzo didn’t work. Alaric’s continual antagonistic characterization is unfortunate. The brothers first have to reconcile with their respective girls, and then they’ll reconcile with each other—again. This season cannot be saved, but, perhaps, like Rayna, the writers can give fans a nice ending.

Other Thoughts:

-So, Beau returned in a different body and died more quickly than he did last time. The writers wanted to remind the audience of the superfluity of the Heretics.

-The difference between Bonnie three years ago and present day Bonnie was her hair. She curled it three years ago, and straightened it in the present. I used to make nonsense films. My friends played multiple roles. They used hats to differentiate characters. “Ah! You do not wear a hat; therefore, you are a different person!”

-I posted my review late because I traveled South for a Smoky Mountain experience. Road signs beckoned me to Asheville, but I resisted.

-Kat Graham looked gorgeous in the black dress. The Billie Holliday song was the best song TVD ever selected. My second use of a song in a scene was Anberlin’s Depeche Mode cover in “Lost Girls.” Maybe it wasn’t “Lost Girls.” It was an early episode. Caroline and Damon danced on a bed. TVD used Anberlin’s “Impossible” to great effect in a season four episode. Was it season four? Was it “Memorial”? Who can say?


-Holly Brix wrote the teleplay. Matthew D’Ambrosio received the Story By credit. Chris Grismer directed.

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Originally, I titled the blog Jacob's Foot after the giant foot that Jacob inhabited in LOST. That ended. It became TV With The Foot in 2010. I wrote about a lot of TV.