Friday, November 18, 2016

The Vampire Diaries "Coming Home Was a Mistake" Review

I read a comment on the TVD Previously TV message board about last week’s abysmal episode regarding Seline’s evil timing. She acted good up until Sybil explained her backstory to Stefan, and then she waited until the moment Matt told Caroline and Alaric the truth about to kidnap the twins so she could raise the not-quite-the-devil-but-close-enough Cade. I laughed with the comment because it poked fun at the writers’ reliance on lazy plot conventions. The plans of Sybil and Seline run parallel not because of any mind link between the sisters but because both act with incredible slowness. Sybil wanted to own Damon’s mind. Seline waited until Alaric was preoccupied, I guess, but she had plenty of opportunities to take the twins because him and Caroline are never around their kids.

Season eight continued its plodding pace. The end of the episode rushed to a mini-cliffhanger with Matt recognizing Seline as the second siren, Seline taking the twins, and Damon deciding that he’d like to quit humanity forever. Before that, Bonnie saved Enzo by making him realize his worst fear, which was losing Bonnie forever. Elsewhere, we watched the same old story between Stefan and Damon. The other characters were in standby mode.

Tyler’s death was the emotional anchor of the episode. Damon believed murdering him meant he couldn’t come back from it. Stefan decided to put Damon down for awhile in an effort to spare him from an eternally damning crisis. Their conversation at the carnival repeated the same brotherly beats. Damon felt that he’s beyond redemption. Stefan believes that Damon will find redemption when he quits feeling sorry for himself and tries to be good again. Sybil granted him permission to brighten his soul with Stefan to make it hurt, I guess, more when he decides to go all evil at the end.

You know that old line “I’ve been to hell and back”” Writers always give that line to the hero or heroine of the story in the third act after he’s been to a figurative hell and came back. TVD is about to make that line literal. Damon’s third act hero turn is coming soon in 2017.

Other Thoughts:

I think that Jeremy’s death would’ve resonated more. Elena, of course, forgave Damon for killing him once. I don’t know what happened between, if anything, Steven R. McQueen and Julie Plec, but he seems unlikely to make a cameo this season. Tyler’s funeral would’ve been the time for such a cameo.

-I couldn’t recall what Elena said to Tyler in her last episode, so I used TVD’s wiki to remember. I thought their last scene together had direct bearing on why Damon murdering would be unforgivable. It does not. She told him to leave Mystic Falls and live an extraordinary life. So, yes, Damon denied him an extraordinary life, but she’ll forgive the bugger. She always does.

-The carnival recalled the spectacular second season episode “Brave New World”. Stefan remembered his ferris wheel ride with Elena, and Caroline remembered that great scene when she freaked out after losing control as a vampire and Stefan helped her cope with her new nature. Season two was TVD’s best.

-I appreciated Damon reminding Caroline, Alaric, Bonnie, and his brother that they, too, will go to hell. It’s true. They will.

-Alaric's intern works all the time. He had the line of the night about the tuning fork.

-Celine Geiger wrote the episode. James Thompson III directed the episode. It was his directorial debut. I wonder if the two fire scenes intimidated him. Probably not. He did a great job.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Vampire Diaries "An Eternity of Misery" Review

This episode felt like an eternity of misery. Holy moly.

TVD flashback episodes always rank among the worst in the series, and this flashback episode was no different. Sybil droned on about her origin story and slowly—so slowly—revealed more of the mythos of the season. She has a sister (Seline, the nanny). Cade’s the devil feasting on the souls of the damned. Stefan will need to kill the devil to save Damon. I needed three sentences to sum up those plot points. Williamson, Plec, and the writers needed 41 minutes. It’s clear that the show doesn’t have enough story (not even stories) for sixteen episodes. TVD always avoided ‘stand alone’ episodes. Buffy and ANGEL benefitted from the ‘stand alone’ episodes, but TVD never steps away from their serialized storytelling, no matter how grating and boring and frustrating it is to watch. Their resistance to any ‘stand alone’ storytelling has really affected the show in its later seasons.

“An Eternity of Misery” tried to throw in a double-twist, but Seline as the second siren was clear from her first scene in the episode. The last image of the episode shows Georgie being sucked into the abyss like Katherine was when she went to hell in season five, and it’s treated as a momentous reveal, but if Nina doesn’t return for the series, who really cares? There’s an opportunity for Stefan to journey into TVD’s interpretation of Hades wherein he passes old, dead characters from the past, including Katherine, but I doubt such an episode is made.

The whole episode’s about Sybil’s story and the little reveals about Seline and the existence of a physical hell world. Caroline is barely in the episode. Enzo is off-screen verbally abusing an off-screen Bonnie. Matt Donovan returned. The audience met his father, Peter Maxwell, and together they found the dead body of Tyler in the trunk of a car. Matt repeated Tyler’s words that Damon’s murder of Tyler would make him irredeemable. Again, Tyler’s not that important. Damon’s totally redeemable and will be redeemed either by his brother or by a Spike-like sacrifice in the series finale. As for Matt and Peter, Damon took an important heirloom from Peter’s shop for the Sirens’ nefarious plans.

Season 8’s been incredibly dull through four episodes. For instance, the parallels between the sisters and the brothers was laboriously spelled out and connected for the audience despite the plain truth that the viewer would get it without an expository monologue serving as the soundtrack to the flashback scenes. Watching TVD now is like slogging through thick Siberian mud outside Tomsk circa 1890. The good thing is that the last flashback TVD will ever make is over, but the stalling for the endgame has only begun.

Other Thoughts:

-I think Paul Wesley won this week’s “Which cast member(s) has clearly checked out?” I wonder what the man thought as he continued clanging the tuning fork against the wall. There’s a metaphor somewhere in that.

-Neil Reynolds & Brett Matthews wrote “An Eternity of Misery”. I forget who directed!

Friday, November 4, 2016

The Vampire Diaries "You Decided That I Was Worth Saving" Review

The CW couldn’t make this final season eight episodes instead of sixteen? Nothing’s happening. Sure, it seems like things are happening. Sybil forced Bonnie to choose between Enzo and Damon. Stefan had to choose between Damon and Enzo. Bonnie doesn’t like Stefan for choosing his brother over the guy who used his second-to-last remaining relative against him in a weird revenge plot, and her feelings conflict with Caroline’s feelings because she, Caroline, is so in love and ready for a June wedding. It’s as the world turns on The Vampire Diaries.

By the end of the episode Sybil’s locked in the Armory after a less-than-action packed episode in which she followed the many villains before her by using the characters’ precious emotions against them, and they fell for it, but in case one thought Sybil would disappear from the narrative, Damon lets the viewers know that she’s “just getting started” after her capture. Great.

The episode hangs on Bonnie’s choice, a choice that doesn’t matter because Sybil’s a big bad and as soon as she gets what she wants she breaks her promise and orders Damon to kill Bonnie. Her desire for Bonnie’s death was the episode’s inciting incident, but “You Decided That I Was Worth Saving” was a distracted episode in places, like the out of nowhere ‘fight to the death’ plot point between Damon and Enzo. Bonnie’s Enzo choice wants to break hearts, and it probably broke the hearts of a certain demographic, but none of it matters. Mind control is about as bad as the humanity switch. It affords the writers a cop out. Bonnie chose Enzo and immediately explained to Damon that she knows a small part of his true self remains and that she’s sorry. Sybil has altered his most fundamental memories—the building blocks of his self—and we’re to think he’ll never return to himself without them. He will, though. No writer puts this much effort into protecting characters without a plan for marvelous redemption.

Of course, Damon seems irredeemable. Sybil made it so he never met Elena (she died in the crash). She replaced Bonnie in the 1994 loop world. For whatever reason the writers brought Tyler Lockwood for Damon to kill. Killing him, Tyler argues, means that Damon gave up. (He likely turned Tyler into a hybrid).  I don’t know why Tyler’s that guy for Damon. He’s barely a tertiary character now, but he is a character Damon could kill that fans would react to by saying, “Actually, yeah, that’s okay by us.”

I’d like TVD to ‘get on with it’, if you will. It’s the last season. This episode teased a return to the olden days when they beat a threat fast. Alas, the siren storyline will continue. I presume flashbacks will accompany her interrogation scenes next episode. The writers might cycle through the same themes and stall until the winter finale. The siren storyline’s not bad. It beats last season’s villains by far. I’m weary of villains talking and playing psychological games. Active storytelling beats the passive kind. Mind control eliminates action from almost all but the controller of minds. Alaric or Stefan, one of them, said if they mess up with the magic weapon then they’d lose their free will too. So, this story’s okay, but not great. Sybil mentioned hell and reminded Bonnie that Enzo’s headed there with Damon when they die, but Damon’s the only one terrified of it. It’ll fail to be an overarching issue for the others.

Other Thoughts:

-I forgot to check in on which cast members look checked out. Paul Wesley and Ian Somerhalder looked half-asleep.

-I didn’t know about the fan campaign for a Stefan/Caroline June wedding until I read a message board. The writers give fans that damn June wedding yet they ignored my polite request to write #218 six years ago.

-Alaric’s kids have a little mythic siren about them, eh? His intern saw the supernatural fight outside the high school.

-Chad Fiveash & James Stoteraux wrote the episode. Mike Karasick directed.

About The Foot

My photo
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.