Friday, April 8, 2011

The Vampire Diaries "Know Thy Enemy" Review

I'm back, writing about television in the good ol' blog. I cannot promise that I'll return to my daily postings quite yet because, well, I just can't. When I'm ready to insanely blog again, you will know it. I plan to write about No Ordinary Family's final three episodes but my current state of mind won't help make the reviews as entertaining and endearing as they were in the past, so I will wait to write about NOF. The Vampire Diaries returned with new episodes last night, so I want to continue writing my regularly scheduled reviews of the episodes.

Expectations for the show to remain as intense and exciting as the final 3-4 episodes of February sweeps was absurd. "Know The Enemy" kept the intensity and excitement but the writers dedicated the episode to set-up for the final five episodes of season two. The season has been a seemingly never-ending string of Big Bads that the band of good-intentioned characters needed to dispatch, like the werewolves, Elijah and the overly-zealous warlocks. The Big Bad looming in the shadows for the majority of the season is Klaus. He's been the driving force behind every bad guy besides the werewolves. Above all, Klaus needs to be killed because his death is the difference between Elena's life and death. With that in mind, the writers sort of treated their characters like chess pieces on a chess board, strategically moving them into place for where they need to be for the final five episodes.

"Know Thy Enemy" picked up from where "The House Guest" left us with the arrival of Isobel on Elena's doorstep. Turns out, Isobel was compelled by Klaus to do his bidding. His bidding included the forced kidnapping of Alaric, deceiving Katherine and the abduction of Elena from the party. Beyond that, Klaus' plans remain murky. Isobel only existed a plot device disguised as a character. Her role in "Know Thy Enemy" was to move the various chess pieces into place before she killed herself at her tombstone, in front of her daughter. She apologized for her behavior in her vampiric life, and explained how her human self disappeared once she became a vampire. Isobel emphasized how badly her old self wanted to meet her daughter. Isobel represents the sadness and loneliness of a vampire. Season 2 briefly mediated on such truths about vampiric life but they haven't dwelled on it. Hopefully, the writers devote a portion of season three to that theme. There was deep sadness in the final scene between Isobel and Elena, as Isobel wondered how she transformed into a woman who would betray her own daughter, which in itself raises an interesting question about free-will in the supernatural world because, after all, Isobel was compelled.

The death of her mother made Elena re-think John's place in her life. John was murdered by Isobel at the luncheon but his supernatural ring restored his life. Upon waking up, Damon pounced, ready to inflict more harm onto John Gilbert but Elena told him to stop. Father and daughter had a conversation about his place in her life, and he offered to leave Mystic Falls if she wanted him to. Elena's willing to give her biological father a second chance to make up for the mistakes of his past. With one living parent on earth, Elena wants some type of bond. Of course, the show's about a group of young people without stable families and they've created a makeshift family like Joss Whedon's Scoobies did in Buffy. I'm doubtful Elena gets what she wants from John.

Isobel tried to make peace with those she hurt before she died. She told Elena that some part her loved her daughter once upon a time. Isobel also told Alaric that she loved him before the henchman kidnapped him. The next time we saw Alaric, he sat comatose in a chair while the unnamed henchman worked some kind of mojo on him. The kidnapped Katherine awoke on the floor, puzzled that Alaric stood and identified himself as Klaus. The previews spoiled the mystery and intrigue of the situation. The important thing, Matt Davis gets to do more than simply stand around now. The dramatic implications of the situation are interesting as well. All I'll say is, the personal stakes continue to get raised. Elena and Bonnie aren't the only ones in danger of death.

Speaking of Bonnie, she and Jeremy traveled to Emily Bennett's house so she could get the power of 100 dead witches. With great power comes great responsibility but also the great risk of death if Bonnie uses the power all at once. Again, chess pieces and personal stakes. The dramatic tension is amped while the personal investment of the audience in the characters fate only grows. Williamson is the master. Later, Stefan and Damon realize that they possess the lone secret weapon of the situation. Klaus is in possession of important pieces except the piece that can destroy him. The brothers shared a knowing smile.

Overall, "Know Thy Enemy" was a good hour of television that successfully set up the denouement of the second season. The storytelling was strong (as always) as well as engaging and entertaining. I used to think that Joss Whedon was the master of the Arc but Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec are strong competition because the structure of the season has been masterful. Mike Daniels wrote the episode. Wendy Stenzler directed it.

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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.