Friday, April 29, 2011

The Vampire Diaries "The Last Day" Review

Damon's actions toward Elena in "The Last Day" felt like Spike's attempted rape of Buffy in Buffy, The Vampire Slayer. Both tortured vampires were driven by their undying love and passion for the woman they could never have. Both decided to violate the woman they love (but differently). Fans universally hated the attempted rape scene. I haven't scanned the TVD message boards to get a feel for the reaction to Damon's decision. Stefan attempted to justify Damon's actions by telling his girlfriend that he forced vampire blood into her system out of love--a truth that Stefan hardly wanted to admit. Stefan's first reaction to the incident was more apropo--he kicked his brother's ass until Damon drove a wooden beam through Stefan's chest. Who wouldn't in Stefan's situation?

Damon clearly violated Elena. What he did's worse than anything Klaus would've done. Damon removed choice from Elena's life. For his own selfish reasons, he carved out the girl's fate as a future vampire in three seconds because he couldn't bear the thought of losing her. For whatever reason, the other characters shrug the incident off as "Damon being Damon." The problem is, last week he resembled a wife-beater and the majority of the season he's been an out of control character who would've been locked up by the authorities in real life. The writers of the Vampire Diaries are sending a bad message with Damon's arc. He's surrounded by enablers. Damon killed Elena's brother? Oh, that's fine because Jeremy wore a supernatural ring that brought him back to life. The writers seemingly tried to amend Damon's decision in "The Last Day" in a scene in which he admitted to Alaric that he screwed up followed by his mission to remove the people Klaus needed to successfully perform the ritual to become a hybrid. The tortured and damaged vamp received a piece of karmic justice when Tyler bit his arm as he transformed into a werewolf. But Ian Somerhalder's too valuable to the show, so Damon will probably be a-okay.

Following the controversial (at least in my opinion) inciting incident of the episode, Stefan took Elena to a beautiful part of Mystic Falls for some peace before her night began with Klaus. Stefan wanted Elena to open up on her last day as a human. Stefan explained to her what it's like to be a vampire--the heightened emotions. A vampire's sadness becomes crippling despair, love is hard to remember let alone feel. It's like the vampire mythology was written by a mediocre 19th century English poet or William the Bloody from Buffy. Regardless, Stefan's bout of exposition felt like the writers trying to justify Damon's actions. Vampires and werewolves are treated like wild animals (well the werewolves ARE...vamps are wild beings), thus their actions are somehow justified. This is troubling because of the horrific actions vampires commit because they can't control their emotions. Buffy covered this subject in a season three episode. Maybe the TVD writers need to watch that. I digress...sort of. Anyway, Elena confesses that she doesn't want to be a vampire, that she looked forward to growing up, having children and eventually dying to end her natural life cycle. It's a sad scene that Nina Dobrev nailed because the heroicness and (for lack of a better word) and awesome-ness of Elena's gone once she dies and transitions into an undead creature of the night.

I have one small complaint about the last day concept: it'd be more effective if it happened earlier in the season. Of course, the writers would've needed to commit themselves to the actual curse rather than a fake one for 18 episodes. I wondered, during the scene, the effectiveness of the scene if these feelings had been building and building rather than rushed into the narrative. As is, the scene moved me. With more time, it could've been one of the most tragic scenes in the show. But, of course, I have other thoughts on how this will unfold but that's for later.

Damon tried to right the wrong following his violation of Elena. His entire plan, though, hinged on whether or not Elena went to Klaus. Damon worked his tail off to prevent the ritual from happening but Klaus was ahead of him. Klaus kidnapped Jules and vamped Jenna as his back-up plan. Klaus didn't do much in the episode. He doesn't have much personality. It's difficult to feel extreme resentment for the oldest vampire on Earth. He's benefiting from the stupidity of the core characters of Mystic Falls, after all. Klaus doesn't strike me as a brilliant Big Bad--just opportunistic. Also important about Klaus, he has everything he needs for the ritual.

With two episodes left, and the ritual set to happen next week, what in the world will happen in the season finale? Evidently, I had the wrong episode numbers attached to these episodes for a long time. "The Last Day" felt like a penultimate episode except it's not. Maybe TVD goes "Restless" on us May 13 or maybe Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec watched too much True Blood and we're in for the worst finale since TB's season three finale. The series keeps me guessing though.

Also, this episode was awesome--just to be clear.

Other thoughts:

-Meanwhile, Tyler Lockwood returned to Mystic Falls. He and Caroline were kidnapped by Klaus' warlock but they eventually escaped thanks to Matt and Damon. Caroline and Tyler's brief scenes showed that their feelings for one another hasn't disappeared. If Matt finds this out, his reluctance to join Sheriff Forbes is some half-baked "let's kill the vamps!" idea will probably disappear but he'll get a decent ass-kicking. I continue to wonder how Caroline will respond to this betrayal by her mother and boyfriend. Sheriff Forbes might not make it to season three.

-Now, I'm somewhat foggy about what happens when a vamp's blood is in a human's system at the time of death. Jeremy tried to vamp himself with Anna's blood in his system but he failed. Maybe Elena eludes becoming a vampire. I doubt Elena actually becomes one in the series. I just don't remember enough about that particular mythology to explain what I'm thinking. So, anyone reading...please enlighten me in the comments.

-Many fans speculated that Jenna would be one of the sacrifice in the ritual. Good job. I wonder, if she survives, will she be that character in a genre show who finds herself in peril nearly every week.

-I'm still suspicious of Elijah but less so. In the teaser, there was an interesting shot of Elijah in which he made an expression that hinted he successfully fooled the gang. Maybe it was a choice by the actor. There has to be one last plot twist involving the quarter-throwing vamp.

-TVD was renewed for a third season. It's well-deserved. TVD's terrifically entertaining on a weekly basis. I'll be reviewing the show when it returns in the fall.

-Andrew Chambliss & Brian Young wrote "The Last Day." The Anibal Sanchez to TVD's Josh Johnson (Marcos Siega), J. Miller Tobin, directed the episode.


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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.