Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Vampire Diaries "The House Guest" Review

Photo Credit: listal.com (I wrote about a paragraph comparing a scene to Cruel Intentions...that's why the photo is here plus the photo is fantastic)

The truth doesn't really set anyone free in The Vampire Diaries.

In "The House Guest," various characters wanted to tell the complete truth to another character. Bonnie confessed her feelings about Jeremy to Elena. Caroline revealed her true nature to Matt in order to save his life. Damon experienced harsh truth when Katherine confessed she chose to save Stefan's life rather than his. Katherine confessed her reliance on the people she once tried to murder during various points in the season because she wants to kill Klaus and live in peace. Alaric's the only character who refuses to tell the truth to the person he cares about the most. Unfortunately, for him, his skeleton in the closet arrives at Elena's door AND Jenna ANSWERS said door. Uh-oh.

The importance of truth is the main theme in "The House Guest." Thankfully, there are zero characters left who remain in the dark, which only opens the storytelling more. This episode moved many pieces of the narrative into place for the endgame of the season (the final six episodes in other words). More characters were killed. It's astounding how fearless the show is on a weekly basis and how much story the writers have left to tell in the second season. Kevin Williamson, Julie Plec and the rest of the writing staff never short-change the audience with forgettable villains. Earlier in the season, I complained about how lame Elijah was then Elijah became a badass villain. If only every series currently in production took as much care with developing interesting villains then it'd be a happier place.

The werewolves, the father-son warlock duo and Elijah figured to be involved in the endgame of the season because audiences in America have been conditioned to that kind of structure. Shows dangle various cards throughout the season but the writers won't unleash the full deck until the end of the season. The werewolves and the warlock/Elijah arcs were very important in the grand scheme of the show. Elijah and the warlocks informed our heroes how to kill Klaus. The werewolf arc provided needed character development for Tyler. Now, the pieces are set for the final act of season two. Besides a few so-so to bad episodes, the second season of TV has been a clinic in excellent storytelling.

"The House Guest" continued TVD's streak of insane oh-my-goodness-THEY-JUST-DID-THAT. It's the funnest show on network television, friends and well-wishers. Stefan and Bonnie tried to arrange a deal with Jonas and Luca to work together to kill Klaus and rescue Britta. Jonas rejected the deal and tried to resurrect Elijah with the help of his son (because they only trusted Elijah to successfully kill Klaus). The plan backfired (literally). Damon and Katherine figured out the psychic witch attack and handed it. Luca died. Jonas went crazy with revenge so the vamps needed to take care of Jonas as he was a wild card and untrustworthy. In his last seconds, he gave Bonnie her powers back and instructions for how to kill Klaus.

The first half of the episode had weird tonal issues. The girls-night-out felt like something out of the fifth season of Dawson's Creek--right down to Caroline singing. Meanwhile, Damon, Katherine and Stefan were involved in dark supernatural activities. After Luca burned to death, the episode cut to a five minute scene that featured a cheering Mystic Grill, Caroline's singing debut, uninspired CW-montage full of characters gazing meaningfully at one another and equally unoriginal romantic reunion between Caroline and Matt. The second half of the episode cleaned up those tonal issues as it became a chaotic display of supernatural insanity but every now and then the series reminds someone like me that they are a CW show pre-dominantly watched by pre-teen and teenage girls.

Overall, "The House Guest" delivered an awesome viewing experience. New episodes won't air until April 7 so the end of the season is nigh.

Other thoughts:

-Damon's seemingly emerged from his emo phase. The truth that Katherine wanted him dead over Stefan didn't send him searching for the first helpless girl he could find. Damon simply found out where the witch massacre site is, exchanged the information with Stefan and kept Katherine in the dark.

-Why bother with a scene in which the characters comment on how they never go to school? Why does Stefan continue to attend high school? He's over 100 years old. No one cares about the high school aspect of the show.

-I wonder if the director, Michael Katleman, instructed Nina Dobrev to play her final scene as Katherine in the episode like Sarah Michelle Gellar in Cruel Intentions and Mia Kirschner in Not Another Teen Movie (well Mia's just imitating SMG in that movie) because Dobrev essentially copied Sarah Michelle Gellar as Katherine tried to seduce Damon. Ian Somerhalder even channeled Ryan Phillippe during that scene. The point: Katleman might be obsessed with Cruel Intentions. Maybe it was a weird foreshadowing of Isobel (portrayed by Mia Kirschner) return to Mystic Falls.

-Caroline Dries wrote the episode. Michael Katleman, of course, directed it.

THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK

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About The Foot

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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.