Friday, April 29, 2016

The Vampire Diaries "Kill 'Em All" Review

Nifty twist, Vampire Diaries.

The season of ‘Hate Damon’ seemed headed for reconciliation. Stefan told him to continue with the good deeds. Enzo felt tempted to make the deal with The Armory that Damon ultimately made. The deal involved Bonnie opening the vault in return for murdering the rest of the vampires. Of course, Rayna still hates Damon for what he did to her, which was trying to end her lives before she sent Stefan to hell. Julie Plec and Caroline Dries once had a habit of redeeming villains until Kai went out a true villain last season. Rayna seemed headed for a redemptive end. She worked with her enemies to rid the world of her blasted vampires before finding peace in eternal sleep where the unconditional love of her father awaited, only she used her last moment to wreak vengeance on the crew that tormented her over the last three years of her life.

TVD’s twists used to be their hallmark. The early seasons were all about twists. Season seven’s been a dull season, a mostly pointless and filler bunch of episodes full of tiresome storylines with the heretics and why everyone hates Damon. The hate will continue. Bonnie the Huntress will want Damon dead, and she’ll want her other vampire friends dead. Stefan, Caroline, Alaric, and Enzo will hate Damon more.

Bonnie the Huntress has promising potential. The storyline won’t be a laborious retread like The Heretics earlier this season or the seemingly never-ending stretch of Stefan/Damon issues. Rayna didn’t work as a badass villain outside of 56 second teases, but Bonnie could because of the investment factor. The gang will want to save her, the audience will want her saved, because everyone loves Bonnie. The audience loves the gang, and no one wants anyone to die.

“Kill ‘Em All” circled around the same narrative angst as last week’s episode. Bonnie’s mad at Damon. Damon’s trying to kill all the bad vamps. Enzo and Damon can’t kill ‘em all because of that old bastard time. Damon makes a dubious moral choice. You know how that old beat goes. The moral choice backfired. Bonnie opened the vault. Rayna gave Bonnie the Huntress powers. “Kill ‘Em All” ignored the incomprehensibility of Rayna’s vampires’ souls finding dying vampire bodies to hijack when the Marty story clearly showed most of the souls, like the one that inhabited Jo’s body, would soon die.

Stefan and Matt shared a side story in Spartanburg, South Carolina that added to Matt’s tragic life. He thought Stefan murdered Penny, but Matt accidentally shot her as she chased Stefan through the woods.  Zach Roerig can cry well when asked. Penny was a plot device. She had no defining characteristic besides ‘only other cop in town’. But the moment Matt remembered what happened was effective. That moment and Rayna’s rumination about the freedom of her death were two stand-out moments in the episode. Matt still blamed Stefan. If he hadn’t returned, Penny wouldn’t have chased him and….The storyline cast Stefan in a lot of Damon’s light. Stefan returned to Mystic Falls for Liz’s anniversary, hoping to find Caroline there. The storyline synthesized the dangling threads from the time-jump: Matt’s disdain for Stefan; the passive effort made by Stefan to reconcile with Caroline; the mystery of Penny’s death; how Matt knew Caroline would be effective bait. Paul Wesley plays tortured Stefan well.

Elsewhere, in the C story, Caroline and Alaric solidified their relationship in an instance of the writers hoping the audience would run with it. We’ve seen them bond during the pregnancy and labor, but Candice King’s real life birth took her away from the show, and we haven’t seen any part of their Dallas life together. Caroline said, “We’ve tried to live a normal life the last three years” as if they can’t anymore ‘cause it didn’t work for them. Alaric wanted to find historical artifacts. I guess Caroline missed supernatural nonsense that leads to fun such as her best friend being magically turned against her.

The Alaric/Caroline/Stefan triangle was never an anticipated triangle. A CW show, though, must always have a love triangle. It’s an odd one, an instance of the show telling more than showing. Caroline used the vamps she helped slay with Alaric to work through her issues with Stefan. The lady vamp abandoned her lover during the raid like Stefan abandoned her. Despite her platonic declaration to Alaric, significant reconciliation with Stefan will come. Maybe Alaric will take the girls on a search for historical artifacts.

Besides the nifty twist, “Kill ‘Em All” acts as a busy filler/transitional episode to the last two episodes of the season. The show needs a summer reset.

Other Thoughts:

-I’ve been badly wrong about many aspects of the story this season, so I won’t bother speculating about the future of the force in the vault. I groaned upon realizing a flashback opened the episode.

-Frankford, Delaware, eh? I want a Julie Plec EW blog about how the writers chose random small towns. I’ve driven the entirety of Delaware many times in my life and never came across Frankford. It exists. Google Images shows a map of Delaware. No photos of the town.

-Chad Fiveash & James Stoteraux wrote the episode. Kellie Cyrus directed.

-Damon counted three times that Bonnie died. The mean is probably three for the characters, right?

-Bonnie trapping Alex and The Armory in the vault house reminded me of Angel locking the lawyers inside the wine cellar in ANGEL’s second season. Matt/Stefan reminded me of Angel/Wesley in “Origin”. Wesley thought his true memory contained in the magic box would change things as Matt did, but the true memory made life worse for both. ANGEL rocked.

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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.