Elena is in peril. It must be Thursday.
Magic, for a long time in The Vampire Diaries world, acted as the magic elixir, the deux ex machina. “Woke Up With A Monster” establishes parallel magical storylines. In another storyline, Caroline rejects the limits of magic while Stefan, the wise old vampire, offers cautious optimism that’s really skepticism. What are the limits of magic in a world dominated and upheld by magic laws? It’s tricky writing and plotting. How does one benefit from magic healing other natural causes for death but resisting others? The idea that cancer’s too powerful and deadly for even magic is sort of incredible. Jo struggles to maintain a cloaking spell. Kai struggles to control his magic. Magic won’t save Sheriff Forbes’ life.
Stefan responds to Sheriff Forbes’ question about whether or not he’s seen a stage IV cancer patient by telling her he hasn’t and that the benefit of being an immortal vampire is he could start anew every couple decades and skip past the sad parts of life, and he’s startled by the intrusion of real life. Supernatural series will make an episode or two about the reality of lived life that’s far from super and sadly very natural. Buffy’s mother died from an aneurysm, which was part of the saddest episode Joss Whedon wrote, and Angel, Wes, Gunn, Lorne, and gang, couldn’t stop Fred from dying. Angel and Spike go to The Deeper Well as a last resort. What they find is by saving Fred they’ll kill thousands. Angel remarks, “To hell with the world.” But he’s Angel. He won’t sacrifice thousands for one girl. What Spike finds is more nihilistic and hopeless: a hole in the world. “It feels like we should’ve known,” he flatly says. Indeed, there’s a hole in the world. Caroline senses the hole in the world. Her impassioned speech to her mother near the end of the episode centers on why she needs her mother around because she’s her mother and without her there’s a hole. So, Caroline uses her blood to save her mother’s life, and her mother doesn’t want to die. Of course, magic has limitations, unpredictably and inexplicably so; Caroline’s test patient, a man whose condition parallels her mother’s, except that he tried treatment (which the body rejected), whose full of vampire blood that temporarily restored him to life, restored him to a point wherein he could joyfully buy food from the hospital vending machine, vomits blood and crawls on the floor, in agony until he dies. Magic has limitations.
Elena’s in peril because Kai decided to use her in his attempt to control his magic. He overloaded on magic. For example, he tries to snap Elena’s neck, but he overturns a cafeteria table. He accidentally brutalized The Grille manager to death while merely trying a cloaking spell. The brutal murder of the manager further motivates Matt. He only internalizes his anger and growing resentment for Mystic Falls’ more insane and sadistic inhabitants. The kidnapping of Elena allows for another hero Damon moment. He rescues her. She plays nearly dead. They bond and fall more in love with each other. Damon shows concern for Jo, and Alaric swears she’ll beat her brother when the merge arrives.
Stefan traveled with Caroline to Duke University for the second opinion, but he went his own way to check on his niece at the university. She’s an artist who paints angels. Enzo followed him. The two vampires engaged in a brief impotent mental chess match. Stefan left. Enzo hung around to tell the curator of the student art exposition his elaborate plan for revenge in a monologue. His elaborate plan consisted of vagueness, of revenge succeeding when a person least expects it, and then he flirted with the curator. The Stefan-Enzo plotline is weak and more an instance needing Enzo involved in something. He’s the character the audience loves to despise, but he’s yet another iteration of Klaus. Kai is Klaus as he would’ve been before Joseph Morgan stole the writers’ hearts, and Enzo’s Klaus-lite. His purpose is entropic.
Liv and Luke, the wonder twins, represent another instance of magic’s limitations. It is limited when love is limitless. Their father wants Luke to bring her to Portland for the merge spell, but Luke tells his father no. The father-son scenes happen off-screen, but he’s been established as a psychopathic warlock father in a previous episode. Liv and Luke have shifted allegiances more than The Big Show and Mark Henry since their introduction into the story. Liv worries about her brother’s strength. Twin magic isn’t equal magic. He’s stronger.
The early part of the New Year always seems a more reflective stretch of The Vampire Diaries. Characters are in a rush to do things, but they stop for a second to cry, to smile, to laugh, to reject family tradition, and etc. Alaric describes Kai as ‘on ice while the magic drains from his body, which will allow Jo to have enough strength to beat him when the merge happens. Until the merge happens, the characters may cry, because Sheriff Forbes will probably die. Magic has limitations.
-Steven R. McQueen mostly looked super masculine throughout the episode. The width of his chest is comparable to the state of Nebraska. He offered to help save Elena, and everyone ignored him.
-Paul Wesley directed the episode. Critics tend to comment about the directing only when an actor directs. Nothing changes because of the actor. It’s as if Joshua Butler or Chris Grismer directed. I will only comment that Wesley shot a lot of coverage in the scene at the Forbes’ house.
-Melinda Hsu Taylor wrote the episode.