Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Vampire Diaries "The Murder of One" Review

The good guys in Mystic Falls tried once more to kill Klaus. They were armed with eleven (actually twelve) white oak stakes and the knowledge that the Originals were linked by blood and magic. Elena, Stefan, Damon, Caroline, and Matt gathered in the woods to rehearse every scenario in which an Original could conceivably be cornered and killed. The best laid plans always go awry when Originals are around though. There's an old saying about the relationship between repetition and insanity, and I'm sure the writers and the fans were feeling a bit insane with each subsequent 'failure to kill the Originals' narrative. "The Murder of One" doesn't even tease the actual possibility of offing Klaus in the nineteenth episode of the season. The One in the title refers to Finn, the lone Original to die. The murder of this one Original changes the whole endgame. That's just what TVD loves to do as their seasons wind down.

Stefan is the only character who, lucid, is on edge throughout the episode. I used the word lucid to separate him from Damon because Damon would've been the second character to nearly lose his mind when yet another hurdle appeared out of nowhere in their pursuit to kill Klaus. Damon spent much of the episode having blood drained from his body to purge him of vervain. The Original killing duty fell to Stefan. Elena experienced several moments of unease as she watched Stefan furiously stick to the plan no matter the cost to other people. Elena suggested they save Damon instead of going through with their plan to kill the Originals, but Stefan wasn't interested. The source of Stefan's rage isn't complicated--Klaus removed his humanity once upon a time--and it's not worth analyzing at depth because he wears his emotions on his sleeves. In every other area of Stefan's life, he regained self-control. Klaus has the ability to bring out the crazy side of Stefan Salvatore.

Elena's fear, unease and worry aren’t unfounded. Earlier in the year she saw firsthand what Stefan the Ripper is capable of. Also, she just watched Stefan put himself through hell as he tried to stop drinking human blood. The man can be like a severe thunderstorm. The former couple engages in a heart-to-heart conversation in the penultimate scene of the episode. It's about Stefan's behavior, their past, their feelings for one another after everything, as well as the gigantic mammoth in the room called Damon. The conversation was necessary. Stefan and Elena haven't been on the same wavelength or page or whatever in a long time. Among the refreshing qualities of TVD are the mature scenes between characters--Elena, though 17, is capable of communicating honestly with other people--and she and Stefan are able to acknowledge their love for one another; but both can acknowledge the Damon factor without resorting to the behavior of one Dawson Leery when he's behind the wheel of a sailboat. Their dynamic changed, and it'd be silly if they fell back in with one another after all that's happened. The death of Klaus might 'free' Stefan, but their conversation clearly conveyed that a relationship won't be so easy to recover.

Stefan and Elena teamed with Matt to kill Finn when they weren't engaged in a heart-to-heart talk. As they were swarming Finn, Klaus forced Bonnie into undoing the binding spell. The death of Finn did not usher in death for the remaining Originals. However, Finn's death taught Stefan and Elena a valuable thing. Namely, the death of Original results in the death of his or her line, thus the death of each sibling would wipe out the vampire species as a whole. The stakes are high. Rebekah kidnapped Damon to torture and punish him for using her last week. Stefan exchanges the white oak stakes for his brother. Klaus compels Damon into telling him the complete truth about the number of stakes in existence. It seems as if Klaus has the absolute upper-hand over the others; however, another stake is in Alaric's apartment. Unfortunately, his psychopathic alter ego whom hates vampires hid the stake from sane Alaric, which means he's in possession of the lone stake that could wipe out every single vampire.

The expansion of the Original mythology is welcome. I forgot about Klaus' original plan to leave Mystic Falls with Elena to make more hybrids. Many lives hang in the balance now. The vampires’ existence is threatened by the death of the Originals. The death of Klaus isn't a black-and-white issue either. Tyler is a hybrid because of Klaus. There's mystery about who turned Rose, because the answer is the difference between the deaths of the Salvatores re the originals, and there's also a palpable sense that any of the characters besides the Big Three could die. Of course, this is TVD where characters are killed off willy-nilly, but, for some time now, the core group of characters seem safe. The season won't conclude without a major death or two.

"The Murder of One" became an engaging episode once Sage mysteriously died after trying to beat Stefan to a pulp for murdering Finn. The first half of the episode dealt with story the writers have told before but in different ways. There were great moments within the first half though, particularly the trio of Elena, Caroline and Matt hanging out and talking, as well as Caroline's scene with Alaric in which she forgave him for killing her dad because she didn't feel more moral than he considering she killed a boy on the night she became a vampire. Caroline told Alaric that she needed to believe he's still worth saving. Obviously, the redemption of Alaric will be a major thematic thread in the final four episodes. His complicated duality is problematic, but the roots are grounded in the mythology, so it isn't a major point for criticism. As for Bonnie and her role tonight, the character's been too underwritten during the series. She's, unfortunately, which is the fault of the writers, an afterthought.

Other Thoughts:

-I forget which part of Colorado Jeremy went to. Kol the Original watched Jeremy in case he needed to kill him. Jeremy was in a park, sans jacket, playing with his golden retriever. The winter was mild throughout the country. I'd perhaps need to research temperatures in Colorado. The timeline of the season is murky. It must be four months after prank night. Anyway, I just thought McQueen should've dressed like his character was in Colorado rather than Georgia.

-Rebekah freed Damon because of her admiration for the brothers Salvatore. She used the move to provoke a reaction from Klaus about his own feelings on her as his sister. Klaus said he wanted a family more than anything but they didn't want him. Rebekah is alternately worth rooting for and then worth despising. Claire Holt's consistently spunky in the role. Rebekah's plans for revenge were consistent with a very old vampire who's stuck with the mentality of a teenager--she wanted to drain the vervain from Damon to compel him to do whatever she wanted.

-Sage died tonight, ending one of the most unremarkable runs of a 'significant' character in recent memory. What a bust.

-Caroline Dries wrote the episode. J. Miller Tobin directed.

-TVD returns April 19 with the first of its final four episodes of the season. The finale airs on May 10.


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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.