Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Vampire Diaries "All My Children" Review

And so Esther tried to execute the spell to kill all of her children in #315. All of the fan speculation went to hell in one fell swoop. Shouldn't we anticipate such rapid storytelling now? Indeed, the business of weekly reviews for a 22 episode of television is full of pitfalls. We fans aren't in the writer's room, surrounded by white boards and empty cartons of Chinese food; instead, we just watch and react to each episode without knowledge of how the pieces fit into the whole. The events in "All My Children" were but a detour, an episode more interested in how the characters change after the fireworks of the failed spell than in the successful execution of the spell. Spells have never been directly cataclysmic in TVD i.e. spells haven't changed anything in the grand scheme; but in a spell's failure, lives are changed or lost; relationships are broken or redeemed or formed.

The inciting incident of the episode happened when Elijah brought Elena to a forest and ran down a history of Mystic Falls when it was an Indian town. Elijah briefly soothed her soul with great descriptions about the Indian way of life in Mystic Falls, and then he confronted her deception. Elijah's the most perceptive vampire in the show, if not the most perceptive character, and he came across evidence of his mother's privacy spell. Elena confessed what she knew to Elijah and swore to help him in whatever way he could. Beforehand, Elena expressed regret about her blatant lie to Elijah because he saved her life during the sun and the moon spell. The Salvatore brothers, Bonnie, and Caroline reminded her that the Mikaelson children were simply collateral damage, a means to Klaus' permanent end. Elijah granted Elena's wish to help by stomping a huge hole into the ground. Elena spent the rest of the episode under the watch of Rebekah, who wanted nothing more than to kill the girl who literally stabbed her in the back.

The Salvatore brothers had until 9:06PM to stop the spell, which would ensure Elena's safety. The Bennett women were working with Esther to execute the spell. Esther chose the Bennett bloodline because of an old friendship with an old Bennett witch. The spell would cease if the bloodline broke because Esther drew most of her power from it. Stefan and Damon brainstormed ideas. Their initial idea to dagger one of the Originals seemed decent in theory, but Klaus' hybridity sets him apart from his siblings even when they're bound by magical blood. Klaus un-daggered Kol, which returned the Salvatore brothers to square one. Plan #1 didn't have dramatic tension. Plan #2 had plenty of dramatic attention. The only way to break a bloodline is by death, so Damon flipped a coin to decide which brother would kill one of the Bennett women.

The plan was simple yet complicated because of Elena. Damon remarked that Elena would hate whoever killed Bonnie's mother, but hoped she'd forgive in light of the act being for the greater good. The plan, of course, had a ripple effect. In season 1, Bonnie watched her grandmother die in front of her after a spell for Elena. Bonnie experienced deja-vu when Damon snapped her mother's neck to ensure Elena's safety. Damon didn't outright kill Abby--he merely turned her into a vampire. Still, Bonnie felt sad, and she felt angry at Elena for the measures taken to save her life. A theme of the season's been the constant danger the people in Elena's life are subjected to, which suggests something significant and game-changing will happen in the May finale; or, perhaps, she'll just gradually lose the people she cares most about as the supernatural world becomes more frantic and dangerous.

Elena spent the majority of the episode alone, not counting the revenge-driven Rebekah, which isn't a coincidence. Her isolation in the cave, complete with the imminent danger mere feet from her, was a microcosm of Elena. She was more alone tonight than she's been in a long time. Damon and Stefan's devotion to her didn't change. Sure, Damon was pissed about his conversation with her at the Ball. Stefan feels unworthy. Of course, their internal attitudes towards Elena affected everything in the episode. If Damon wasn't rude to her when she came to the house, she might've stayed with them; and, indeed, if Stefan weren't internally struggling with issues of self-worth and baseness, Elena could've had him by her side when Elijah approached her. Anyway, Damon and Stefan were as much to blame for Abby's fate as Elena, and I'd write that if Damon never snapped her neck and if Stefan hadn't distracted Bonnie. Their devotion to Elena is destructive, and Elena's importance in the supernatural realm's destructive to everyone around her. And so when I read Ian Somerhalder's opinion about Elena's steady feelings for the brothers, I initially disagreed, but "All My Children" made it clear that those three people need each other because, really, it is all about them.

The Originals scattered following the spell's failure. Elijah felt abhorred by his own behavior. He apologized to Elena and Rebekah for resorting to behavior he abhorred. With perception, he noted to his sister that 'mother might've made us into vampires, but we made ourselves into monsters.' Elijah left, presumably, to atone for his actions. Kol, too, fled, as did Esther and Finn. Only Klaus and Rebekah remained in Mystic Falls. Rebekah showed her brother the footage of the runes of the cave walls. The dreaded white oak tree that could kill the Originals burned down, but a new one's grown in town, and Klaus dislikes such news very, very much. The side of good has spent so much time plotting to kill Klaus that the existence of another magical white oak tree is a bit of a letdown. But nothing is as it appears in Mystic Falls. I'm just glad the endgame's still all about eliminating Klaus, and it should be fun to have Klaus back in the role as prominent villain.

Other Thoughts:

-Alaric successfully daggered Kol, which was a triumphant moment for him. A less triumphant moment for Alaric happened in the final scene when he found out that Meredith Fell is the woman who killed Bill Forbes and her ex-boyfriend with a knife. Lest we forget she also tried to kill Alaric. She had an alibi. I hoped for someone different as the killer, but the Meredith reveal makes sense. Anyway, Meredith shot Alaric before the episode smashed to black. Is Alaric actually dead? I doubt it. TVD's killed off Alaric 56 times already THIS SEASON.

-There were two lingering shots on a glass of blood, as well a scene in which Stefan held a bag of blood. Damon's observations that Stefan's trying to return to his old self wasn't surprising given the evidence. Stefan admitted that he hadn't had human blood since he nearly drove Elena off of the Wickery Bridge. I'm a fan of stable and good-hearted Stefan so I've no qualms with this.

-New episodes won't return until March 15. The previews were for the much anticipated Damon flashback episode. I'm looking forward to it.

-Evan Bleiweiss & Michael Narducci wrote "All My Children." Pascal Verschooris 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.