Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Vampire Diaries "Prayer for the Dying" Review

“Prayer for the Dying” is a topsy-turvical episode in which the writers managed to write off the least developed and essential of the Gemini coven siblings. No one prays for the dying. The closest thing to prayer is the incantation of the spells. The Vampire Diaries is totally secular. Miracles come from people, not from deities, from magic seen and rendered by flesh and blood and undead folk. A prayer for the dying in Mystic Falls is atheistic; it’s a gesture, a thought, a gentle kiss on the hand, an adieu, a kindness, a social nicety; however, the Mystic Falls gang wants a miracle. Vampire blood does not magically cure cancer, and that truth does not send any of the characters into a philosophical exploration about why. It is. It is unexplainable. The characters know spells, know ways around supernatural death by using supernatural rings or incantations, but they don’t know a way around Death.

The death of Liz Forbes seems inevitable at episode’s beginning, but she lives past “Prayer for the Dying.” Timely magic from Kai extended her life, however briefly, but it did not extend it infinitely. Kai’s magic prevented an agonizing death after her transition to a vampire that would grant her immortality but not a termination of the tumors in her body or the end of the pain of those tumors. Caroline listened to her mother ask Stefan to be there for her when she’s gone because she’ll need help moving on in her life. Stefan will help her smile and feel less sad, Liz thinks. Stefan stood stolidly, listening, grasping her hand. He reflected on the death of his mother and his absence during it when he convinced Caroline to leave the flower shop, to quit preparing her mother’s memorial, and to be with her while she still lives. That kind of guilt, Stefan’s story suggests, along with his face, lingers. It lingered with another fictional character that had nightmares about his dead mother, whose vomit mimicked the green sea.

Kai’s magic syphon sent Sheriff Forbes into cardiac arrest. The doctor tries to revive her. The scene alternates between the attempts to save her and her letting go and saying goodbye. Liz packed a suitcase and asked her daughter to say goodbye to her. She turned to her mother, her face burned and deadened by the sun, and it shocks Liz back to life. The scene may forebode an ending for Caroline, or it represented to Liz that she’s still dying, and her life will continue to disappear and burn away.

Long stretches of the episode happen without Caroline and her mother and Stefan. Another character has to die. The Vampire Diaries’ peak years had exciting storytelling that didn’t stall. The problem of the 22 episode network season for a show is that the production team burns out. The story stalls. The writers push out a bad filler episode. TVD didn’t burn out. It didn’t stalled. It moved. “Prayer for the Dying” moves. The 1 month wait for the merge? Damon decides he doesn’t want to wait and that he wants Liz to survive more. He wakes the comatose Kai. Kai demands a merge. The siblings’ father, the insane father from the Thanksgiving episode andyet another insane father in The Vampire Diaries, will kill one of his kids to ensure Kai does not merge and become the most powerful witch (warlock). Luke decides to become an active character about his fate. He challenges Kai to merge. Kai accepts. Luke loses. Damon breathes a sigh of relief: Alaric won’t punch him for contributing to his girlfriend’s death.

Luke was the Jeremy of the new witch characters, underserved, irrelevant, a nuisance, and purposeless. He was an antagonist in season five. This season the writers decided he’d be a quasi-sacrificial selfless hero. He helped Elena cope without Damon by giving her magical psychedelics. Finally, he offered his life to save his sister’s. The look he gave to her before he left confirmed his inevitable death. Jodi Lyn O’Keefe wrung emotion from the death scene. She cradled him in her arms like she did Kai wanted to kill him and Liv in their Portland home. She channeled 1997 Kate Winslet when she pleaded with him to wake up, to open his eyes. He did not. Poor Luke was not in love with anyone.

Love’s the great cure in The Vampire Diaries. Sheriff Forbes’ near death in Elena’s arms leads to a passionate kiss with Damon. Death on television, or a tragic event that’s not the death of someone, invariably leads to two characters that had preexisting sexual tension engaging in passionate intercourse or makeout sessions. Only the romantically uninvolved don’t stand a chance. Kai won’t win. He says he always wins, but he won’t win.

Other Thoughts:

-Damon planned to repeat a date that worked with Elena. Elena accused Damon of cheating. Damon accused Elena of having cheated. Something terrible will happen. She’s ready to experience love with him. She doesn’t want to waste time not being without him. The writers essentially moved her through multiple seasons of falling for Damon in six episodes. Seven? Who knows.

-Julie Plec promised the episode would break my heart. Did it break my heart? No. I forgot to watch the end of the Flyers game because I wanted to begin my review.

-Jeffrey Hunt directed the episode. I missed the names of the credited writer or writers.

-Alaric went off for a magic thing. Will he return with a magical plot device?

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About The Foot

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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.