Friday, May 13, 2016

The Vampire Diaries "Gods & Monsters" Review

“Gods & Monsters” hit the typical finale beats in its effort to tie together the major themes of the season before transitioning to next season, and the new problems created by the old. There’s a moment in the finale when Alaric and Caroline discussed using their three old twins to re-open the house imprisoning the ancient evil, and they decide to do it for Bonnie, because the Mystic Falls gang always choose who they love over the unknown evil to come.  The unknown evil always has to come as a consequence of the greater good so that the heroes are absolved of their involvement in unleashing the evil.

The epilogue/prologue absolved Enzo and Damon of their brutality streak across the western coast of the United States, as the episode absolved Bonnie of her actions while cursed, and as the series absolved its characters through the ‘switch’ in previous seasons. Bonnie nearly made a grave mistake under the Huntress curse by killing Enzo until Damon saved the day. The nick of time always arrives—unless an actress or actor declines to return for another season. Damon saved the day by burning the body of the final Everlasting. He saved Enzo’s life and Bonnie’s soul. She forgave him. Stefan experienced his brother asking him to walk out on him because Damon walked out on him enough—his way of making up for choosing the casket over spending the next fifty years with his family and friends.  He did good, but he’s still bad.

Damon’s selfless act to enter the vault alone gave Stefan a chance he lost three years ago when he took Rayna’s knife to the chest protecting his brother. Alaric recognized his place outside Caroline’s romantic heart. Before he let her go, he delivered a speech typical of characters in a melodrama: about how knowing her changed his life for the better and filled his heart forever of love for her.  The twins only opened the door because they thought about someone taking Caroline away from them. Alaric’s speech seemed to imply she would live a life separate from him and the twins. Stefan, then, becomes the villain in the twins’ eyes trying to take away their mother from them. Will the twins become Big Bads next season?

The Stefan/Caroline dynamic was great last season, but marred this year by narrative flaws and real-life. The writers chose to write in Candice King’s pregnancy, and they chose to introduce another True Love of Stefan’s life. The three-year time jump fractured the narrative and relationships. Alaric described a domestic life with Caroline unseen by the audience. Caroline told Stefan her feelings ‘thawed’ after he exited the evil mansion. They kissed and began a new life tracking down Damon and Enzo.

Bonnie’s last hours as The Huntress followed her struggle between her destiny to kill every vampire and humanity which wanted to spare and save her friends.  Her emotional centerpiece was the cabin scene with Enzo, in which she almost killed him. He believed in her humanity triumphing the curse, a tribute to his love for her and his appreciation of finding such love after over a century of torture and loneliness. It seemed the misery of Bonnie’s life would include reluctant murder of her truest love so far in her life. She hid in a psychiatric ward during The Armory’s search for her. Enzo rescued her from there, and he continued helping her hide from them. The tragic twist of things in her life would’ve been returning to the ward because she killed the man who saved her from it.

The central conflict of the finale was resolved two acts before the end of the episode. Damon saved the day. Bonnie forgave him before she lost him again.  “Gods & Monsters” was underwhelming, because of the aforementioned fractured storytelling in the season. Last week I described it as a ‘loose, baggy mess’, which I owe to Henry James. Henry James used those words to describe Tolstoy’s War and Peace (which was anything but). This episode lacked oomph and gusto because “Requiem for a Dream” reached the emotional zenith of the season. Unfortunately, tonight’s finale was bogged down by resolution to the curse plot, which had a half-heartedness to it.

I’d describe the finale as weary and tired. The writers may or may not have struggled writing a season without their heroine and heart. We’ll never know. Julie Plec will never admit it. Visions and a sense of Elena motivated Damon to return to the vault—a suggestion that Elena will continue to be central to the show, even if freeing the narrative from her would benefit the series. Next season may be the last, though.  We will see.

Other Thoughts:

-Season seven was a struggle for long-time fans, maybe for the writers, and for me. I made a few terrible blunders in my reviews this year. But everyone’s trying his or her best.

-Matt asked the ghost of his fiancée to take him with her to the hereafter. She said no, because he needs to find a better life for himself on earth. Matt finally left Mystic Falls, a Mystic Falls long since free of vampires. Zach Roerig’s always solid when asked to play heavy emotion.

-Alaric doesn’t seem to fit in the show anymore. Him and Matt probably will return next season. If not, it’s down to five characters, two of who have gone evil.

-Bryan Young wrote the finale. From what I read it was his last TVD episode. He’s off to, I’d guess, work with Caroline Dries on Kevin Williamson’s new FOX drama. Michael A. Allowitz directed.

-That’s it for season seven. Thanks for reading.

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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.