Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Vampire Diaries - "The Five" Review

"I've always had a thing for sorority girls..."

"The Five" was a significant improvement over last week's flawed "The Rager", as The Vampire Diaries got back to doing what it does best, particularly in expanding on the intrigue of its own mythology.

I've said this before, but again, one of the reasons it doesn't get old watching things like the Salvatore brothers argue is because they (well at least one of them), have conflict resolution skills, which is a running trope throughout this series.  Let me tell you, that does a lot to appease nit-pickers like me, and displays the writers' resourcefulness in that they don't need to rely on petty disputes to drive the drama.  In this episode, Damon is upset, and Stefan tells him rationally that it wasn't a big deal and to get past it.  Though they did seem to make it a point to show Stefan's reaction upon hearing about the five, and I'm wondering, given his history with Rebecca, if he may be holding out on some information, though I can't imagine why, he did flat out demand answers from Klaus, but therein lies some of the fun in the show.  It's always setting up potential twists.  And we did establish at episode's end that Stefan will keep a secret if it's in everyone's best interest.  Probably nothing...

The scene between Stefan and Elena in the woods, much like "Memorial", worked very well.  I think the biggest reason for this is that in these scenes we, more than at any other time, are learning more about being a vampire at the very same time as Elena is, which just serves to enhance our connection to the character, while also reminding us of why she fell in love with Stefan in the first place.  And again, there is an honest sensibility to the conversations between these two that make the relationship feel real and connected.

So TVD pulled a classic "out-of-ass" new rule, and Dopplegangers apparently find feline blood yucky, so Elena decides she must find a way to feed off of humans without going all rage-balls, and since that has been precisely Damon's idea from the very beginning, she feels he would make the most ideal chaperone for such a lesson.

Well would you look at that.  Last week I complain about how odd it is that these characters haven't either dropped out, been expelled, or entered college by now, and this week that's exactly where we go!  Sure, they're just visiting, but the fact remains, this is where the show feels like it should be at this point in its run.  It feels fresh.  It feels truly analogous to what is going on in Elena's un-life instead of treading water at her old stomping grounds.

While I'm on the subject of "out-of-ass" moves, instead of creating a second string Alaric Saltzman, I'd rather they just come up with an excuse to bring back Matt Davis, because if this new professor is going to be the new resident wise man for the group, I don't know if I'm interested.  Good thing he turned out to be in cahoots with Connor, because that is a much fresher way to introduce a new character, and I'm curious to see what they do with him in the near future.

The entire scene at the frat house was a whole lot of fun, as Elena could finally learn her craft relatively guilt free.  As always, Damon's fair-weatherness allowed things to tiptoe just barely across the line, but his explanation of how you need to be able to revel in the short term and how it's the only true way to control vampiric instincts made a whole lot of sense.  As the character always does in his best moments, he takes the mansion of vampiric existence and introduces a whole different room, which only enhances our desire to know more regarding what it actually takes to be a vampire in the Mystic Falls universe.  Thats why I want a vampire family!

It was nice to see Jeremy once again involved in the main narrative, and the whole "potential" thing seems to be taking a backseat, though I assume their going to have to pay it off sometime.  Then again, since Jeremy is a sympathizer, maybe Connor was wrong after all.  Either way, Jeremy's involvement was definitely a plus.

It was nice to get more backstory with our favorite original vampires, and it was especially nice to see Elijah again.  This show moves so fast, you almost forget what you've lost.  Usually, when this show delves into flashbacks to expand its mythology, great success results, and this episode was no exception.  It gave us insight into The Five, an already intriguing stable, enhanced the interpersonal relationship between the Original family, and gave us vital plot information while adding new mysteries that just expand the web of intrigue.  This is classic Vampire Diaries.

The flashbacks were also designed to illustrate yet another of Rebecca's doomed relationships.  A lot may have went down, but this was Rebecca's episode through and through, and Claire Holt rose to the occasion.  In fact, I submit that Rebecca is the most fully realized of any of the characters in the show.  Any character with whom the writer's have the ability to exude hatred and sympathy from its audience in rapid succession is the best kind of character: a fully three-dimensional one.  Last week, we wanted to kill her, and just a week later, we feel inconsolable grief for her.  A poor girl who just loves too hard and lets her broken heart and heightened vamp emotions get the best of her, betrayed once again by those she trusted and those she holds most dear.  Stefan speaking to her about the life he wishes for he and Elena was a final act of mercy, a restoration of hope before it's all stripped away.  Brilliant, and the unquestionable highlight of the episode.  I'm sure that her being daggered is temporary.  She's too good a character to be left in a coffin.

All of this culminated in the fascinating revelation that there may actually be a cure for vampirism.  I'd be lying if I said I saw this coming, but it was going to eventually.  It usually does in vampire stories, and rightfully so.  Dangling the promise of true happiness and a normal human life is a vital challenge to present your characters with, a natural progression, and I'm excited to see how this turns out.  It also kind of affirms something I've been thinking all along.

The Vampire Diaries has always seemed to deal less with your traditional "Vampire" and more with Vampirism.  The characters in the show have often retained their human qualities, and essentially remained exactly who they are, albeit with heightened emotions.  It feels less like they straight up died, and more like they were infected with a disease.  I've been thinking of this ever since we really found out how the Originals first came to be.

Sure, you have to die technically to vamp out, but with vamp blood already in you, which takes the wheel from there, so you could argue that you never actually perish, given you complete the transition.  This feeling is compounded for me with the introduction of a cure.  I mean assuming it is something physical and not mojo, there's no serum that can just bring someone back to life, but it makes a whole lot more sense if it cures vampirism by restarting the heart, cleaning the blood, etc.

Perhaps I'm going way too sciencey on this, but I feel it's worth mentioning.

The epilogue was also great for providing an unlikely partnership between Stefan and Klaus, and (even better), affirming that Elena does not want to be like or be with Damon.  Glad they nipped that it the bud.  Hopefully it stays that way.  Elena's latest moment of overwhelming doubt now increases her White Knight's resolve to find a cure for his love before her own compassion consumes her.  If done correctly, this could turn out to be The Vampire Diaries' best season yet.

In a lot of ways, "The Five" felt like the true successor to "Memorial" a couple of weeks ago.  It advanced the plot much more considerably than last week, it highlighted the philosophical tug of war between Stefan and Damon, had potent character moments that added to the narrative, put Connor back out in the wild, and gave us a great plot twist which blows the doors of possibility open for the future of the series.

We're cruising now.

84% = ***1/2 = "Amazing"


No comments:

Post a Comment