Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Vampire Diaries "Break on Through" Review

"Break on Through" is one of the show's more obvious titles. The three stories tonight were about 'breaking through' to an individual whether it be a parent, a dangerous vampire, or someone who has a psychopathic alter-ego but doesn't know he has a psychopathic alter-ego. The common thread, besides breaking through, was about personal responsibility to oneself and to the others. "Break on Through" was clearly a transitional episode as well, designed to move the narrative into a certain place. Two of the three stories were more filler than not, and the third only became interesting in the last scene; but the filler quality didn't diminish the episode. As a whole, it was quite satisfying, with effective and heartfelt moments, moments that were truly moving.

So far, Sage hasn't been the character I thought she'd be. Originally, I imagined a truly transcendent vampire, someone who differed entirely from the vamps we've seen before. The only difference we've seen is her ability to access the minds of other vampires, including originals, and beat men in prizefighting. One must remember, though, that one might not have seen all there is to see about Sage. Sage returned to Mystic Falls. Damon and she soon conspired to figure out Rebekah's plan. The disappearance of all but one original made Damon suspicious, but he had no way to find out what plans Rebekah made. Sage, though, reminded Damon of her ability, of all she taught him 100 years ago, and he devilishly smirked--the way into an Original's mind is through weakness. Rebekah's weakness is Damon. Despite her years on earth, she's still a teenager, though she can destroy folk with her vampire strength. Damon slept with her, which allowed Sage to access her mind and inform Damon of the existence of the second White Oak Tree.

The plan didn't progress smoothly after the mind mojo nonsense. Sage has a 900 year old love for Finn, the most boring Original of the bunch. Her love for him completely screwed up Damon's plan. Rebekah burned down the Wickery Bridge (probably should've mentioned that the white oak tree IS the Wickery Bridge). Damon sold his anger about the turn of events. Sage made it clear she wouldn't let him kill a single Original if it meant Finn would die with them. The bond of 100 years ago burned just like the Wickery Bridge, leaving nothing but ash. Damon, though, got away with the sign made of pure white oak, which is good, because if the principal characters had to think of new ways to kill the originals only for the plans to be foiled, I would've written a strongly worded paragraph about that.

The temporary insanity of Alaric Saltzman was the most problematic thread from last week's episode. The possession angle made me want to tear out my hair in frustration. Patience, of course, is a virtue. One week later, matters were clarified. The price of a ring that grants immortality is costly. Samantha Gilbert didn't possess Alaric through the ring (unless I'm mistaken). However, the ring gradually brings a character to a dark place. The number of deaths a character endures has devastating effects on a person's mind. With each death and subsequent resurrection, a piece of the mind is lost to darkness, to impulses buried deep within a person's soul, the darkness no one wants to confront. Alaric's evil other self hates the Founder's council with a passion. Among his belongings is a thick binder with instructions for Jeremy, who owns the second ring, to complete the work of murdering council members and then eradicating the vampires. According to Other Alaric, or Sam Gilbert, the Founder's Council is guilty of looking the other way; in other words, the status is more definitely not quo. Like Dr. Horrible, Alaric took drastic action to change the status quo.

The writers brought Alaric to a dark, dark place. The scene between him and Meredith reminded me of ANGEL's "Billy" in which the touch of the demon Billy transformed its victims into misogynistic psychopath. The most memorable sequence in the episode is when Wesley chases Fred through the Hyperion--it's horrific, creepy, unsettling and disturbing. Alaric's attempt to murder Meredith isn't as dark, horrific, creepy, unsettling and disturbing as Fred-Wes in "Billy" but it's effectively dark and horrific. The writers used the scene to show an active and courageous Meredith just like the ANGEL staff showed what kind of stuff Fred had in her. I don't know what the future holds for Meredith and Alaric, but I doubt things return to normal any time soon.

The C story focused on Abby. Caroline helped her adapt to her new life as a vampire, but couldn't stop her from abandoning Bonnie for the second time while Bonnie was off cleaning up the mess of Alaric's. I wanted to hug Caroline when she told Abby, "No one is better off without a parent." The pain keeps coming for Bonnie. Bonnie and Elena, though, reconciled in a genuinely moving scene of friendship. Nina Dobrev nailed her last two scenes. In one, she tried to say what was impossible to say, and Bonnie understood her friend's remorse without needing a long speech. In the other, Elena checked on Jeremy to make sure the ring hadn't transformed him, there were tears running down her cheeks and Dobrev expressed so much emotion in a few lines.

"Break on Through" brought the narrative to a place where the Originals should slowly come into the story. The weapon is in the possession of the good guys. The distracting serial killer arc is over. The complete focus of the characters will be on the bad guys. Even Stefan found a measure of self-control after struggling to recover from the Ripper days early in the season. There aren't many episodes left in season three, but we're set up for a truly phenomenal endgame.

Other Thoughts:

-I wrote one sentence about Stefan. Stefan took Alaric down but spent much of the episode attempting to control his blood lust. Stefan is one of my favorite characters. Ripper/Dark Stefan is a fun for awhile. Paul Wesley is at his best when portraying good guy Stefan. I wasn't surprised by his ability to give Meredith his blood to save her life, but it didn't hurt the meaning of the scene. It's good to have the real Stefan back.

-Similarly, I didn't write much about Elena. It's rare that I don't write two long paragraphs about Elena-Stefan-Damon.

-I was stunned when The CW previewed an all-new episode next week. I screwed up the episode order last season. I know, for a fact, that "Break on Through" is #117, which means only five episodes remain in the season, and March isn't over yet. I assumed the show would break until April 6 and return with five weeks of new episodes. The season could conclude on April 26; but the season could conclude in the first or second week of May. The sweeps period doesn't matter for The CW. The majority of the shows perform horribly in comparison to the other four networks (yes even NBC). Google could tell me the answer, but I prefer to speculate and guess.

-Rebecca Sonnenshine wrote the episode. Lance Anderson 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.