Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Vampire Diaries "Today Will Be Different" Review

Today wasn’t different, was it? The phrase implies that different means better, and the challenge facing Stefan, Caroline, and Bonnie only grew with the passing of a day, and became worse. “Today Will Be Different” introduced the Siren in the flesh. Her name is Sybil. She’s one of the most stylish women I’ve seen on television. Like previous TVD villains, she seems impossible to defeat. Stefan snapped her neck, but she bounced back a second later. She has a nigh impossible-to-break grip on the minds of Stefan and Enzo. True love keeps a percentage of their will free, as established last week, but Ms. Sybil the Siren broke Damon’s tether to Elena, and she’ll soon break Enzo’s tie to Bonnie.

Saving Sarah Salvatore was the central problem of the episode. Sybil seemed to think this woman was responsible for the difficulties she had corralling Enzo’s mind totally. She’s not, but she dies anyway because Damon refused to kill her for two reasons: Elena loyalty and Salvatore loyalty. The Siren stopped Stefan from saving Sarah (all he could do was offer an apology to her), and he watched the third to last Salvatore pass on from earth. By the end of the episode he considered himself the last Salvatore because he believes he has lost Damon forever. Once Elena’s gone from even the periphery of his mind, he’s gone.

“Today Will Be Different” unintentionally resurfaced one of the secret themes/patterns of the show, which is the villainy of its heroes. It’s not a deliberate, hateful, vengeful villainy, but it stems from the group’s inherent selfishness. Caroline scolded Bonnie for going rogue to take Enzo away somewhere safe with her, a departure from the plan that led to Sarah’s death. Bonnie defends her action by saying she’s mourning a life she wants that she watches play out in front of her every day between Caroline and Stefan. See, it’s self-indulgent, self-absorbed, and selfish shit.  Hell as a final place of suffering eternity is a major part of this season’s narrative weave. Stefan stops Damon from snapping Sarah’s neck with the argument that his destined path to hell isn’t fixed—he can change it by sparing her life. During the car ride exposition dump about Sarah and how Damon killed her mom while pregnant with Sarah, Caroline remarked that it was one of the worst things Damon did. Bonnie’s too defense about Enzo’s role in the Sarah thing to care about anything else. The scene in the car misses the part where they acknowledge their own part in committing horrible, horrific acts, which they could atone for, in their lives.

The central narrative, though, continues to frame Damon as the worst. Sarah remembered that Caroline tried to kill her in season six, but Stefan dismisses it as “out-of-character”. The humanity switch has always been Julie Plec’s way of letting her characters be bad without any consequence. If a major part of the season is this idea of hell, of final, eternal punishment, even if the eternal crime was an accident, as it was for Alaric’s intern’s when she crashed her car and killed her best friend that sent her to hell, and it is the theme, as evidenced by the teaser in the season premiere wherein the audience learns that Sybil wanted the most evil of humans, then each character should confront their worst parts and choices. They may yet in this final season.

Sybil’s probably only a prelude to the Biggest Bad: the devil. The sirens are messengers for the devil. It’s a variation of Buffy’s First Evil storyline from its last season. The First Evil controlled Spike and made him do terrible things again. The same has happened to Damon. Along the way The First tried to use each character’s past against them in an attempt to kill that character. Depicting a first/original evil allures writers at the dusk of their story because their characters have defeated different kinds of evils throughout the story, so defeating the evil that begat evils, in the end, is basically a no-brainer. This storyline is way more interesting if the writers focus on all their characters sins instead of only Damon’s.

Other Thoughts:

-Speaking of Buffy, Sybil has a bit of Glory thing about her.

-Stefan and Caroline got engaged. I dread the wedding related hijinks. You know what’s interesting about weddings or wedding planning on TV? Nothing.

-We have a new mystical symbol this season in the form of a tattoo. I assume the university allowed Alaric to become leader of The Armory because of his insistence on scholarship and research. I’d like to see a scene when Alaric presents his research to his department chair, or whatever, like he told the babysitter about his research, and they fire him for wasting resources. Of course, I don’t remember the university being involved in The Armory. At least Alaric’s an active character again.


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-Melinda Hsu Taylor wrote the episode. Longtime TVD director Pascal Verschooris 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.