Friday, January 20, 2017

The Vampire Diaries "The Simple Intimacy of the Near Touch" Review

“Miss Mystic Falls” got a sequel seven years later in “The Simple Intimacy of the Near Touch”—yet another season eight episode to mine the past. I wonder whether Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec asked challenged themselves and their writers to rewrite parts of season one but only if they could make it worse. Miss Mystic Falls remains a touchstone of the narrative because the season one episode dealt with Stefan’s blood lust and it brought Damon and Elena together in that famous dance scene. Stefan’s blood lust hasn’t resolved itself years later nor has he, apparently, forgiven Damon for “stealing” Elena. So, the brothers sparred for much of the episode, in between Damon’s sparring with Sybil over mind control.

This episode repeats many of the beats we’ve seen in season eight, last week’s episode included. Damon’s “not in it”, and Stefan feels held back by the Elena of it all. The necklace has broken into Sybil’s control of Damon’s mind. It leads to Sybil confronting Damon with the same choice regarding his humanity. Will he confront what he’s done or will he hide from it? After he bludgeoned her in the head with the striker, she forced his humanity, and all the repressed guilt, onto him, finally freeing him from her. Of course, neither character mentions the whole ‘Damon ripped her heart out of her chest and placed it beside her on a bench’ (I know the superbell can kill her, but she treated being hit in the head by the iron ball as the worst thing he did to her when not more than 3-4 weeks ago he ripped her heart out) but whatever. I’ll drop it. Damon’s entire arc has been about showing how his ‘magical’ love for Elena will overcome anything.

Stefan, now that his humanity’s off and it’s the final season, has revealed some of his truer feelings about the Elena’s and Damon’s epic love. He told Damon that Elena wouldn’t have thought twice about him at Miss Mystic Falls if he had been there, and he mentioned to Sybil that Damon ‘stole’ from her. The writers never made Stefan’s feelings about Elena and Damon a dramatic part of the narrative. Human Elena’s best and truest love is Stefan; Vampire Elena’s best and truest love is Damon. That was, evidently, the decision made in the writers’ room. Stefan’s issues with it are tacked on like Buffy finding out about Xander lying to her about what Willow said before Buffy’s showdown with Angelus in “Becoming, Part 2”. Stefan didn’t care about it the last time he went Ripper, so why does he suddenly care now?

One of the many defects of season seven was the prolonged and forced renewal of the issues between Damon and Stefan because they achieved a wonderful and natural resolution to their strained history when they realized they were the most important part of each other’s life in the season six finale. The last two episodes renewed this tired Salvatore brother nonsense. Now, Stefan has abandoned Damon, like Damon abandoned him last season. Future show runners who have no doubt bookmarked my blog and read my posts over the years, don’t let your show continue past its natural endpoint. Season seven and eight of TVD should serve as the cautionary tale.

Stefan affirmed his commitment to kill for Cade until he no longer has fun doing it, which upset Caroline. At least the writers hit that obvious plot point before the year commitment ended when Stefan would’ve made the same intention clear to Caroline. Damon’s the one person who can bring his brother back from the edge, so his leaving him behind is an attempt to continue having fun in his Ripper ways. Caroline, meanwhile, relived the past. She would’ve killed to win Miss Mystic Falls in season one, then she did kill when she became a vampire in “Brave New World”, and then Stefan turned Victoria Fell into a vampire because he’s a dick, and Caroline becomes her guardian. Some of our characters are actively reliving the past and repeating the same mistakes (Stefan and Damon) while others aren’t (Caroline). Perhaps that’s the crux of the season.

Other Thoughts:

-“The Simple Intimacy of the Near Touch” continued the superbell subplot. Matt must ring the bell once it’s together. Seline is working with Dorian and Matt (most likely). Sometimes, my mind wanders during the superbell scenes.

-Enzo and Bonnie were off on an emotional island. Enzo wanted Bonnie to drink his blood as a safeguard in case she died. Bonnie refused on account of Elena relying on Bonnie’s natural passing from life 60-70 years from now. Bonnie, instead, proposed taking the cure to Enzo. I don’t see why he wouldn’t take the cure. His vampire life has been miserable.

-I dislike most everything about the Miss Mystic Falls stuff, but it reminds me of The WB and, specifically, Dawson’s Creek’s Miss Windjammer pageant. That's a positive.

-Sybil must’ve known the dance from the memories she hacked in Damon’s mind. Nothing in the mind-control arc made any sense, by the way.

-No cast member stood out for this week's "Which cast member has clearly checked out?" award.

-Neil Reynolds & Penny Cox wrote the episode. Geoff Shotz directed it.

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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.