Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Vampire Diaries "The Hybrid" Review

The CW promo department always cut TVD trailers terribly. I watch the 15 second trailer after each new episode and wonder if next week will be the week when TVD produces a dud of an episode. The dud episode never comes. I'm riveted by each episode, and on the edge of my seat during each act break. I'll advise The CW to find new editors in the promo department because these trailers are atrocious.

"The Hybrid" was an exciting and riveting hour about duality and a person's true nature. Klaus and Stefan found the home of Ray's werewolf pack. Elena, Damon and Alaric embarked on a search-and-rescue in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. The groups seemed destined to collide but they never did. The series has plenty of time for that, though.

Klaus failed in his mission to turn an entire werewolf pack into hybrids because he failed to kill the doppelganger i.e. Elena. Klaus doesn't know that. Stefan stared, with dread in his eyes, as Klaus tried to figure out which part of his plan went wrong. Klaus read something from the stare but his loyal comrade stated he looked like hell because of the werewolf bite that was killing him. Klaus gives Stefan his blood, saving his life, more focused on transforming Stefan into a fervent follower. Klaus is bothered by Stefan's depressive nature. The experiment with the werewolves is symbolic of the themes I mentioned in the previous paragraph. By nature, vampires and werewolves resent one another. Vampires nearly wiped out the existence of werewolves. They prey on another. Klaus forces these two natures to merge and, naturally, the werewolves resist the change. The transformation's a torturous process in which the people bleed out or go insane. The latter scenario forces Stefan or Klaus to murder the insane person because the werewolves are more dangerous with vampire blood in their system. The scene's gruesome by the end--a group of people murdered senselessly because Klaus wants an army of hybrids. Stefan's literally in the middle of it--metaphorically and physically, as the last shot of the A story's of a lone Stefan standing in the middle of the corpses with Klaus' blood in his hands.

By nature, vampires are monsters; however, they're incredibly human in The Vampire Diaries. Stefan, Caroline, Lexi, Rose, and even Damon have been more humane than some human characters in the series. Season 1 saw the watcher's council attempt to eradicate vampires from Mystic Falls. The adults behaviors have been more monstrous than the vampires and werewolves. A vampire's humanity takes practice and discipline. Stefan used to 'coach' new vampires during their transition so they could avoid the death and destruction of vampiric life. He saved Caroline and tried to save Vicki. Elena remembers that quality, how Stefan never gave up on anybody, so she doesn't plan to give up on him. Damon, though, feels like he lost his brother to his true nature. He resists Elena's attempts to rescue him because Stefan's a lost cause in his eyes. Damon, Elena and Alaric wind up in the Smoky Mountains hours before a full moon and the promise of active werewolves. The mission's search-and-rescue but Elena never comes near Stefan. The trio stay well past sun-down. They tried to question a rabid Ray but fled when they witnessed his odd and extreme transformation. Ray found them eventually, as the wolf, and Damon saved Elena's life by running far from her and Alaric. Klaus ordered Stefan to retrieve Ray if he wanted his life saved. Stefan ripped Ray's heart out seconds before the sort-of-hybrid tore into Damon. Stefan reiterated his wishes to be left alone and Damon obliged.

The incident offered a truth Damon was blind to after the death of Andie--that Stefan's true nature hadn't disappeared because of the blood. Stefan still saved the life of his brother despite the darkness he's succumbed to, so Damon feels obligated to return the favor. Damon's nature is sometimes more complicated but he's simple at the core--a vampire whose loyalty and love supersedes his monstrous nature. The conflict between a vampire's monstrous and humane nature poses interesting questions about the fundamental nature of vampires. The evidence of the previous two seasons suggests that a vampire's more humane nature's most natural. Vicki was doomed as a vampire because her flaws and addictions as a human were magnified. The girl could never control those feelings and impulses in life, much less in death. The blood's an addiction, no different than drugs and alcohol for a human, and the makeup of a vampire determines the depth of blood lust more than their vampiric nature. Elena's right in her desire to save Stefan's life. If he's considered a lost cause then it's the equivalent of giving up on an alcoholic or drug addict, which doesn't damn Stefan as much as those around him. The stoic and heroic vamp's not a lost cause because he never considered anyone to be a lost cause, not even his brother.

The duality of the supernatural surfaced in the B story, where Tyler decided to reveal his other self to his mother after he learned about Caroline's abduction. Carol wanted to save her son from the monster she considered Caroline to be. Caroline, though, is one of the sweetest characters in the series. Her transformation into a vampire didn't turn into a monster because she controlled it with Stefan's help. Tyler can't communicate with his mother through words about the humanity of supernatural person so he shows his mother. Carol Lockwood watches from behind bars as her son transforms into a werewolf during the full moon. Tyler's no more a monster when in control than Caroline, which Carol soon learns without a single word spoken between them. She vows to fix the situation but her mysterious accomplice is set on doing something to Caroline. The accomplice's name is Bill, and he happens to be Caroline's father.

The nature of someone wasn't limited to the supernatural folk of Mystic Falls. Alaric left the Gilbert residence because he doubted his ability to care for Elena and Jeremy, to be the role model they need. In the premiere, he told Elena that he can get it together for school but he's a mess within the walls of his own home. Elena delivered a terrific pep talk to help her friend believe in himself and his ability to care for her and Jeremy. Alaric moved back into the house and kept the eternity ring. The former shows Alaric's willing to endure his wounds rather than run while the latter suggests Alaric feels committed to living. He resisted the ring in early in the episode but wanted it in the final act.

Elena, of course, is who she is. The girl's an open book--loving, loyal, trustworthy, caring, and a whole bunch of other flattering adjectives. Like Stefan, she doesn't give up on the people she loves. She urges Alaric to re-consider his decision for Jeremy as much for herself. She decided to quit the search-and-rescue because she worried about Damon's life. Elena's a wonderful character and admirable heroine.

The C story was separate from the themes of duality and a person's nature. Jeremy and Matt planned to communicate with Vicki from beyond the grave. Jeremy received two entirely different messages from his former girlfriends. Vicki insisted there was a way to bring her back while Anna instructed Jeremy to ignore whatever Vicki said. I wonder: is it a love triangle beyond the grave or something more intriguing? Matt's involvement suggests the story will be deeper because he dealt with the reality and pain of his loss for much of the C story.

Overall, "The Hybrid" was a thoughtful and interesting episode. The action happened in spurts. The TVD writers continue to lay the foundation for the third season. I'd like to mention Tyler's scene with Elena in which he helped her find werewolf spots because he felt responsible for the situation (he bit Damon). I often forget how a plot point sets off a string of chaotic events. The line reminded me of George R.R. Martin's style of storytelling. Martin's more impressive with his intricate plots because he's one man while TVD has an entire room. Also, Nina Dobrev's so damn pretty.

Al Septien & Turi Meyer wrote "The Hybrid" and Joshua Butler directed it. I noticed that Mr. The Event, Nick Wauters, is a consulting producer this season. His last series was a train wreck so hopefully Williamson and Plec reined him in.

THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK


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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.