Friday, October 21, 2011

The Vampire Diaries "Smells Like Teen Spirit"

"Smells Like Teen Spirit" resembled the series' pilot. Last week revealed that only one year passed between the pilot and "The Reckoning." The confirmation of that passage in time blew my mind because so many things have happened, and so many characters have changed. As our characters began their senior year of high school, they recalled where they were last year. Elena remembered meeting Stefan just one year ago, Matt remembered dreading the thought of facing Elena in the halls, and so on and so forth.

The characters' entire world is different one year later, though. No one's the same. People have died or become vampires or werewolves or both. Stefan's the villain now, not Damon. Damon's the hero, not Stefan. As the characters remembered life one year ago, Julie Plec and Caroline Dries wanted the audience to remember the pilot. So, we had a bonfire in the woods complete with murder attempts, football and cheerleading practice, as well as Vicki trying to hurt people--not even death corrects her flaws.

I've begun nearly every review with verbose musings on the dramatic events in the lives of Elena, Stefan, and Damon, so I'll wait a few paragraphs before more verbose musings. Instead, I'll begin with Vicki Donovan, the ghost who’s desperate to exist in the physical world again. The sixth episode of season one was the one in which Vicki the Vamp met her demise. How fitting, then, that #306 is the episode to bid farewell to character for good. The ghost arc hasn't gone the way I thought it would be. The arc seemed directionless and meandering for a decent part of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" until Matt performed some blood magic that allowed his sister to physically touch and hug things. Blood magic has a price though: one life for another. On the other side, Vicki became friends with the all-powerful witch who tried to trick Klaus into killing the source of the hybrids. The witch failed, so she promised Vicki another crack at life if she'd just kill the doppelganger. Vicki was never someone who could reject temptation. The girl was an addict in life, and an addict in death.

Vicki used Matt because they're joined by blood. Matt loved his sister with all his heart and tried to protect her. He died last week just so he'd be able to communicate with her. The tender moment between brother and sister was interrupted when she bludgeoned him with a tool. When he woke, he realized the mistake he made and sought Bonnie's help. Vicki, meanwhile, walked the grounds of the bonfire with a confidence and swagger only the invisible possess. The ghost stole a joint and smoked it before lighting Alaric's car on fire, hoping that Elena would burn inside. Stefan helped Elena escape before the fire killed her. Bonnie's spell worked before Vicki could try again. The spell brought her back into the school and into the room where Bonnie performed the spell. Bonnie informed Matt that he's the only one keeping Vicki around, so Matt had to say goodbye. Vicki apologized, swore that she wouldn't hurt anyone if he let her stay, and cried as Matt let her go. Matt told Vicki that she shouldn't be here anymore, that he needs to let her go no matter how painful it is. Vicki disappeared into the world she was so desperate to leave when he said goodbye.

The Other Side's a profoundly sad place. The dead are isolated, unable to find the peace or contentment that they found in life. I have questions about the other side in The Vampire Diaries universe. Vicki and Anna barely talked about the other side except to comment on how lonely and sad it is. I wonder if the Other Side is a place where the damned supernatural folk go whereas the humans go to the afterlife. I doubt that, though, because TVD's a show about acceptance and the writers wouldn't damn characters to an eternity of pain, sadness and isolation because they became vampires against their will. The emphasis with Vicki was on her destructive personality to herself and those around her. Lost in that story was the fact that she was a victim. Damon was bored so he turned her and effectively wrote her future; however, she's the villain of "Smells Like Teen Spirit." Matt's goodbye seemed like a courtesy because Bonnie was casting her out of the physical world and damning her to this terrible place. The writers think through each scene, each piece of dialogue, and each choice but the conclusion of Vicki's ghost arc seemed rushed with little thought about the character and what happened to her. I'm a disappointed in how the story concluded.

Anna's still tethered to the physical world (without the ability to physically interact with it of course) because Jeremy constantly thinks about his old girlfriend. Considering the timeline, it's not surprising that Anna hadn't left Jeremy's thoughts. The courtship with Bonnie seemed like a decision made because the writers had two characters without much to do with. Anna wondered why she's allowed to stay after Vicki was cast out with magic. I feel like Anna's story will be told with the sympathy and thought that was absent from Vicki's story. There isn't much more to write about Anna's ghost because she and Jeremy were on the sidelines; however, Matt's blood magic seemingly brought the ghost of Mason Lockwood to Mystic Falls. The ghost isn't too happy as evidenced by his thorough beatdown of Damon Salvatore. Ghosts can tough and fight now. Uh-oh.

Meanwhile, Elena confronted another day post-Stefan's-loss-of-humanity. Her day begins at 5:15AM with a training session, in the woods, with Alaric. Elena felt weak and down because of Stefan. Alaric assured her that she's the strongest person he knows. Soon, she'll be equally strong, physically. Stefan's lost humanity turned him into a jerk. The combination of zero humanity and a major blood high produces a Stefan who’s less likely to woo the hearts of women with his stoic heroism and brooding habits. There isn't much meat to their story this week. Stefan reminds Elena that he's her protector. Elena tries to blow him off, then she, Damon, Alaric, and Caroline conspire to lock Stefan in one of the many cells in Mystic Falls.

The plan involves plenty of acting. Elena acts drunk and Damon acts interested in Rebekah. Elena's successful whereas Damon isn't; however, Stefan's never locked away inside one of the many Mystic Falls cells because he saves Elena's life in the fire. The story's about whether or not Elena and Stefan still have a cosmic connection that not even compulsion can erase. Elena falls from the top of bleacher and lands in the arms Stefan. They gaze at one another like they always have, a sign that Stefan hasn't lost his love for Elena no matter how controlled he is by Klaus. The tender moment's short because Alaric shoots him with vervain darts. Later, Elena tells Stefan that she'll never give up hope. Stefan remarks, "Do you know how pathetic you sound?" And she said, "No, it makes me strong" and she punches him in the stomach with weapon Alaric taught her to use in the teaser. Damon called her Buffy as she lifted weights. The punch in the end was such a season two Buffy moment that it made me want to re-watch the Angelus arc again. And anytime a show's compared to Buffy, that's a very good thing.

Additional Thoughts:

-Katherine waited patiently for Michael to restore. As soon as she undid his chains, he bit into her like she was an apple. Michael is a vampire vampire hunter who feeds only on vampires. Quite an interesting character.

-Tyler’s pro-Klaus because Klaus sired him. Rebekah fed him a teenager girl after Caroline left. The hybrid thing won’t work out well for Tyler.

-Julie Plec & Caroline Dries wrote “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Rob Hardy directed it.


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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.