Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Vampire Diaries "Death and the Maiden" Review

Impressionable teenagers who watch the show and so of course read my reviews of The Vampire Diaries weekly, do not think love works the way you saw with Tessa, Amara and Silas.

“Death and the Maiden” puts the button on a season and six more episodes worth of convoluted mythology. Tessa and Silas ruined lives in the quest of eternal life with their respective beloveds. In a way I think the ancient triangle served as a cautionary tale for the triangle of Stefan/Elena/Damon, the heart and soul of the show. Obsessive attachment, which is misunderstood as love by very old supernatural beings, led to death and destruction. Beloved characters died and were resurrected. Plot points revolved around these ancient and powerful supernatural beings. Bonnie’s resurrection was the goal of our favorite characters. Her story served as the emotional anchor for a tiresome and badly told story of obsession and love, betrayal and nonsense.

Fittingly Bonnie becomes the anchor to the other side. Bonnie sacrificed her life because of her love for Jeremy. Jeremy didn’t do much to bring Bonnie back except act as messenger when Bonnie figured out how to come back to the physical side of existence. Their bond came out of nowhere two or so seasons ago. The writers seem to struggle writing Jeremy’s. He’s been an idiot teenager, died a bunch of times, and then became a soulmate of Bonnie’s—quite literally connected to her after death. I felt little emotion watching Jeremy tell Bonnie the third thing, which was an admission of his love for her. I felt less watching Steven R. McQueen romantically kiss Bonnie in front of a large fire.

Stefan’s desire for revenge was another anchor for the story, a way for the audience to feel invested in the characters. Silas put Stefan in a box and drowned him, which seriously messed with Stefan’s head. Stefan experiences flashes of the stabbing, the drowning, and the drowning some more, over and over. He’s confronted with the truth of Elena and Damon not finding him, not pulling him out of the water, and not looking him in the eye when he was saved. Instead, Tessa used him in her elaborate plan for eternal happiness. Paul Wesley played another part of Stefan. Stefan’s defined by his selflessness, but he doesn’t care so much about restoring Bonnie to life as he does about killing Silas. Stefan’s tortured mind is distinguished through its direct connection to a person. Stefan’s idea that killing the virus will heal him is sound, but one can’t kill a memory easily.

Elena’s conflicted around Stefan, desperate to see him happy and healthy. Damon’s consumed by saving Bonnie from the other side before Amara dies. The ticking clock of the episode is Silas, who takes take returning from New Jersey. Damon’s motivated by the very real chance Elena’s feelings will turn if Bonnie’s gone forever. Ian Somerhalder’s best acting of the scene comes in the scene when Amara stabs herself after watching Silas die. The scene’s sort of like the tragic ending to Romeo and Juliet, but let’s remember Romeo and Juliet were 13 years old. Damon’s reaction to Amara’s really well played by Ian. He’s repeating, “No, no” with a desperate look in his eye. He’s helpless. The way Damon reacts makes it seem like he’s watching what he has fall away from him, because Elena will disengage if Bonnie passes on forever.

The presumed end of the endless Silas, Amara and Tessa storyline involves self-mutilation and unhealthy attachments. Tessa’s the most disturbed and schizophrenic supernatural character since Glory. Tessa’s master plan was separating Amara and Silas in the afterlife so that she could kill herself to be with her beloved forever. Witches make for uninteresting narratives. I’ve written about this in the past. Simply, witches can do anything. The power of witches removes the stakes from a story. Bonnie would do a spell and all would be well. Tessa and Silas are so powerful that the Salvatores, Elena, Caroline, Jeremy, Matt, etc., can’t do anything. These characters sit around and watch. Action depends on Silas, on Tessa. The dependency on those characters does add dramatic stakes. Can the witches be trusted? No. Once the trust is broken, the true motivations revealed, the characters can act. Agency is returned to them. Passivity on television is bad. Buffy would’ve been worse if she couldn’t slay, if she had to wait for some plot device to do anything before she could.

The characters’ dependency on villains has been an issue for the show since the end of season two. The writers create these vibrant villains with too much power—original witches, original vampires, etc. The focus should shift to Dr. Max and the secret society at Whitmore. Bonnie will endure the consequences of the anchor transference. Tessa explains that the anchor feels each supernatural death. The deceased supernatural being passes through Bonnie’s body. Stefan is enduring his nightmares. Elena and Damon have to accept Stefan’s feelings about them. They didn’t try to find him and now he’s broken.

Presumably, Silas and Tessa never return to the narrative. I do think that all the time and investment in the story was not worth it. Nina’s portrayal of Amara was amazing, though.

Other Thoughts:

-Who in the TVD writers’ room dislikes Philly? Also, no bus stop in Philly looks like that bus stop. How dare you, TVD. I know that’s Georgia.

-The writers forgot about Matt. Please forget about Gregor, too. Nadia’s gone back to Prague. I’ve got my fingers crossed for a complete dropped plot.

-Katherine’s dealing with a quickened aging process. She’s also without a place to live since Bonnie’s back and headed to college.

-Rebecca Sonnenshine wrote the episode. Leslie Libman directed it. Libman directed the coolest ghost story in Alphas “Gaslight” episode.

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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.