Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Vampire Diaries "Best Served Cold" Review

What about the classroom full of compelled attractive folk, show? What about that? Wait until next week, I suppose.

So, “Best Served Cold” serves up attempted vengeance, as well as more death, another gosh darn party, and a plot twist so bad I’m contemplating not watching the show anymore. First: Julian, Stefan, and Damon. Damon and Stefan want to kill Julian, but at different times. Damon wants to strike when Lily’s happy. Stefan wants to strike as soon as possible. Julian struck me as Klaus-lite. The brothers compared him to their father. Something about the actor reminded me of Joseph Morgan. Julian’s defined by others’ perceptions of him. For Lily, he’s her perfect man; for Mary Louise, he’s an enabler; for Beaux, he’s a sparring partner; for the Salvatores, he’s a villain; ditto for Valerie and Enzo. For Julian, he’s deranged, brutal, and psychopathic because of the spell, though all of his qualities in present Mystic Falls were consistent with his qualities in 1863. He asked Lily for help in eluding the follow-up attacks by her sons, help that would require cooperation from the entire family.

Season 7 of The Vampire Diaries has depended on the tritest tropes to sustain conflict and drama amongst the characters. Characters don’t communicate. Lack of communication leads to wrong impressions. Wrong impressions leads to relationship erosions. Stefan didn’t tell anyone about his lost child—he wanted to honor Valerie’s wish. Valerie revealed to Caroline she made Stefan promise to create drama between him and Caroline. I mean, she’s not that overt, but that’s the gist of it. Stefan refused to tell Damon why he wanted to go for Julian at the welcome party. Once Damon heard why Stefan had bloodlust all evening, he promised to help kill Julian whenever Stefan’s ready to try again. Secrecy’s not great for drama when the drama becomes tiresome, rote, a crutch,, etc. Now, Stefan and Caroline share baby drama. Stefan not telling Caroline about why Valerie stayed the night produces the most shallow of drama whereas Stefan communicating with her, while devoid of hack story choices, might produce meaningful development and understanding between not only them but also Valerie.

Caroline, via magic, learned she’s carrying the babies of Alaric and Jo. Not Jo died. Vampire souls in human bodies don’t go well together. Not Jo, named Florence, gave Alaric what he needed: a chance to say goodbye and the close that comes with the goodbye. It was a great scene. Matt Davis and Jodi Lyn O’Keefe touchingly played it. Unfortunately, more followed it. Valerie watched the wedding video and deduced the coven cast a spell to save the twins. Candice King is expecting, so Caroline became the surrogate for Alaric and Jo. It’s a horrible plot twist. I learned not to trust Julie Plec when she promises an awesome plot twist. I thought whatever nonsense would happen in the classroom would be a great twist that’d expand the series beyond the immediate narrative somnolence of Julian, the Heretics, Enzo’s feelings, the new terrible triangle, or something that’d move it forward to 2016. No; Caroline’s Cordelia. Whether it means she’s the future Mrs. Saltzman in three years, I do not know, but it probably means that. The flash forward showed that whoever hunted Stefan used Caroline as bait. Will the flash forward cohere? I’m doubtful. Will it be worth the vague dialogue, the 55 second teases at the start of each episode?

The setting for “Best Served Cold” was the remodeled Salvatore house for a celebration--specifically, the return of Julian. For reasons that one can explain through the device of metafiction only, those that don’t like the heretics show as guests with gifts. Lily’s the reason. Her 19th century upbringing won’t leave her. Also, the writers stopped trying long ago to think of any other way to bring characters together. The default’s the party.

Various subplots advanced at the party. Bonnie and Enzo continued to their destined path to loverdom in three years. Nora and Mary Louise experienced more relationship instability. Their subplot reused the beats from an episode or two (or three ago). Mary Louise needed blood—again—to ignite her passion for Nora, or her confidence, or to overcome her insecurities. I breezed past Julian examining his pectorals the way 1990s Lex Luger did. The scar disappeared during his resurrection. Julian felt ‘off’ because of the loss of the scar. The scar’s a vague something. I look forward to less passive-aggressive/ultra-aggressive Mary louise and more ‘how Stefan gets the scar.’

The lone thing that piqued my interest fell away at the end: the classroom. I want to know why 30 very attractive CW extras were compelled to sit in a classroom with an IV set up next to them. If the school exploded, will it move the narrative forward in time by three years? Is it The Incident the Dharma…ah wrong show.

The title “Best Served Cold” unfortunately reflects the episode. The story’s cold—not the Chekhov style of writing coldly. It’s cold as in cold. I’m not into season seven right now. Perhaps I’ll warm to it. Perhaps not.

Other Thoughts:

-Enzo and Bonnie shared a moment of sexual tension in an effort to make Lily jealous. They don’t even know, you guys.

-I don’t “ship” characters. If I did, I’d ship Matt and Nora. Nora’s underutilized. TVD recycles the same stuff every episode: parties, dances, formals, road trips, plans that go awry, etc. I want a Matt and Nora road trip episode.

-When Damon gave away Stefan’s plan to murder Julian to Julian during a game of billiards, I found myself frustrated that I didn’t think of that idea for a short story. Oh, well. There goes another thing someone else thought of before I did.

-Caroline Dries wrote the episode. I missed the name of the director.

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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.