Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Vampire Diaries "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me" Review

“We need to talk” may be the worst line uttered in any television show. “We need to talk” guarantees several scenes revolving around the talk. Caroline needed to talk to Stefan about her mystical pregnancy, but they didn’t talk about it until later, which meant “We need to talk” only acted as dramatic intrigue. “We need to talk” is a crutch for writers scrambling for suspense. It delays progression. It acts as a placeholder. Valerie told Nora and Mary Louise that they needed to talk. Their ‘we need to talk’ ultimately led to the temporary death of Lily. “We need to talk” works better when the audience doesn’t know why one character needs to talk to other characters. In this episode the audience knows why Caroline and Valerie need to talk to other characters. Caroline shared her anxiety with Matt about talking to Stefan. Valerie knew her talk would change the hearts of her family and align them all against Julian.

Usually, “we need to talk” signifies, to the audience, that the actual talking will happen off-screen. The audience knows the what. The reaction of the other characters to the talk matters more for the narrative and for the character that told the catalytic story. Caroline’s scene with Stefan breezes past the detailed explanation of the coven, and Stefan reacted by fleeing to help murder his mom’s abusive spouse. The writing in Valerie’s scene repeats the beats of her story with the baby and Julian, but Valerie needed to convince her family with the details and the support of Lily. Valerie succeeded in re-bonding the family, though one of the heretics needed to act as the plot device. It’s not a bad or a wasteful scene, but I’d prefer (and no one cares that I prefer this or that) getting to it any other way besides “we need to talk.” Valerie and Caroline could’ve said “we need a transition” and TVD emerges as network TV’s bold meta-fictional show. Caroline Forbes becomes Caroline Dries. I don’t know. Ignore me.

The title is either “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me” or “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me.” My TV guide displayed the latter while Wikipedia displayed the former. The brothers Salvatore tried to kill Julian for a second time. They hatched a plan with Lily and Valerie to break the linkage between Lily and Julian. The plan goes so well that Stefan stops to have a heart-to-heart with his mother and a heart-to-heart with Caroline. Meanwhile, Mary Louise went rogue, freed Julian, and then Julian decided to make Lily choose between Damon and Valerie. Damon and Lily seemed to make progress in “Mommie Dearest”—at least a quiet understanding of each other occurred. Damon, though, returned to telling his mother the cruelest things. The flash forward showed her approaching him in the news studio. He said, “It’s been a long time” or something to that effect. The narrative then returned to the present day.

By the end, Lily’s essentially redeemed for the terrible choices she made. She gave Kai the idea for Elena’s sleeping beauty spell that broke Damon’s heart. The first act of season seven portrayed both sides of Lily: the emotionally distant and cold woman that abandoned her children and the regretful mother trying to make amends. “Mommie Dearest” was the lone episode where her characterization worked. The moment of redemption happened when Julian forced her to choose. Damon always felt she chose someone else over him. This time, Lily sacrificed herself; however, Mary Louise broke the spell linkage. Julian survived. Lily did not. I think Hollywood types refer to that as a twist.

Damon, when with his mother during her last moments, quietly rubs her fate in: “You made your bed; enjoy your nap.” His last words to his mother haunted him. Perhaps Damon becomes TVD’s Stephen Dedalus. He befriends a Buck Scruffington in the first episode of 2016. Buck will constantly remind him that he didn’t even forgive his mother before she turned to stone. Damon then meets a father figure. No, no, no, TVD won’t become the Ulysses of network TV. Damon carries a lot of pain and regret. The two most important women in his life are gone. Exploring what that means for him in the time before the narrative jumps to Damon’s imminent death in a Dallas news station could be good. Damon deflects, though, and he drinks. So, instead of reflective Damon thinking about what it means to barely forgive despite existing for close to two centuries, he’ll drink and celebrate Santa with Stefan.

Lily’s temporary death means something different for the next bunch of episodes. Next episode will mark the end of the first act of the season, I think. Lily’s death set up dramatic nonsense. Nora and Mary Louise broke up. Matt’s gang of badasses kidnapped Enzo. Julian’s even more psychotic after Lily staked herself. Stefan’s split between caring for his mystically pregnant girlfriend and mourning the death of Lily. For reasons that no one may ever know, Nora’s goodbye to Lily very briefly filled me up.

A lot of “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me” repeated stuff from earlier season seven episodes. The repetition demanded a change in the formula. The brothers want to kill Julian? Yes, they already tried. Damon can’t forgive Lily? Yep. Enzo and Matt verbally spar? That goes back to last season’s ill-thought lost Salvatore storyline. Season 7’s largely been a sludge. It has come together in this episode and the last. It’s an aging series, though. Stories are difficult to sustain for years. It wasn’t a great episode, but it wasn’t static and stuck like other episodes this season. So, that’s a plus.

Other Thoughts:

-Enzo got his kiss, but he didn’t get the girl. Now she’s gone, and he doesn’t know. Matt’s men took Enzo. Matt’s choice of Enzo as first abductee seems personally motivated. The heretics represent the real danger for mass violence in town. I thought Tyler and Jeremy would appear with Matt. I was wrong.

-The CW announced the show will move to Fridays at 8PM, beginning January 29, 2016. I think the show will do fine in the Friday timeslot. Supernatural moved to Fridays 5-6 years ago. The Originals will compete with Grimm. I think Grimm will beat The Originals. TVD will compete with Sleepy Hollow and two mediocre ABC comedies.

-No Bonnie or Alaric. The writers didn’t bother explaining why they missed the Julian assassination party. Couldn’t Bonnie have helped with the magic part? Ah, it’s best not think about it.

-Brett Matthews wrote the episode. Leslie Libman directed.

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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.