Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Vampire Diaries - "The Rager" Review

Wait... you mean these guys are in high school?!

Honestly, the moments where we see our favorite Mystic Falls students actually inside a learning establishment are so few and far between these days that the whole concept is kind of laughable at this point.  I mean, haven't their lives really transcended that minor subterfuge by now?  When battling unspeakable evils hundreds of hears old, history class doesn't really cross the mind.

Why are they even still in high school?  Wasn't Elena & co. seventeen years old when the series started (I have not the time nor the energy to confirm)?  That would've made them at least Juniors and likely Seniors, and it's been four years since then.  I guess they just don't feel like college, then?

Is it because they've undoubtedly missed an inordinate amount of class?  Probably, but how does that even work?  I don't know about you, but all high schools I know of give you a day's detention or even suspension for playing hookie even one day.  Elena must be pencilled in for after school punishment from now until the bicentennial!  I'm sure she was given a bit of leeway given the death of her parents... and then her guardian... and then her next guardian... but still, at one point must you take administrative action toward a collection of students who couldn't possibly be attending classes more than twice a week?  They're obviously just wasting valuable desk space at this point.

Even if you tried to convince me that somewhere in this show's downtime these people actually attend high school, there's no way you can convince me that any studying goes on whatsoever.  Not with the labyrinthine mythology and over-the shoulder-looking and double crossing that these people must endlessly percept.  It's just not possible.

"The Rager" is one of those seasonally obligatory episodes to remind to the tweeners that, "No, were totally still a hip high school show.  We're just like you!  Social commentary?  Yawn-o-rama!  Look how hot everyone is!  Partyyyyy!  Oh that Rebecca is such a super BETCH, PLEASE DON'T LEAVE US!!!"

It's not that it's a bad episode.  Far from it, but at the same time, watching these characters, particularly original vampires, blend seamlessly into the high school lifestyle seems a bit regressive and, well, beneath everyone at this stage of the game.  The allegory doesn't feel so much like an allegory at this point, and more like a supernatural vampire story trying to be something it's not.  This kind of stuff made more sense when the majority of the cast was still of the living, but now it seems oddly anachronistic.  In fact, the series only really got off the ground after it abandoned its more sophomoric elements.  The writers realized that they have better characters and better stories and better mythology than their peers, and decided it would be a good idea not to focus their energies trying to be the ninety-fifth reiteration of Melrose Place with vampires.  

Remember square peg in a round hole?  Yeah.

Perhaps it's best not to nitpick and judge the hour on its merits.

So Connor's understandably confused that Tyler appears basically invincible, and extracts venom to get to the bottom of things.  Meanwhile, Stefan and Damon argue, Elena feeds off of Matt, and its time for history class!  Much of the remainder of the episode consists of Elena and Rebecca having a prolonged cat fight.  Clearly the point of this episode is to further display the difficulties Elena is having with her transition, which it does serviceably, but the method with which they accomplished this was much too childish for my tastes.  I get that Rebecca, after all these centuries, is still very immature and self-involved, but when she risks her own neck in the middle of a high school with a banner that might as well say, VAMPIRES HERE, HUNTERS WELCOME (again, why are they here?), it just starts to lose its plausibility.

The only thing that significantly made up for this was Stefan's desire to protect Elena and tell her she needs to have fun.  It's clear that Stefan wants to be the best, most complete man he can be for the woman he loves.  One of the best qualities TVD has is the foresight and sensibility that it bestows on its most wise characters.  Too many shows create drama from miscommunication, which is cheap and I often get turned off by it, but this was another shining example of everyone's hearts and heads in the right place, which made the journey to the party far more satisfying and reasonable than the journey to school.

So Jeremy's a potential.  Mehhhhhhh.  Didn't work for Buffy, won't work here, even if Jeremy's double agent status was one of the better parts of the episode, I'm skeptical it will last as a satisfying plot line.  Though I have to say, I feel reassured that they're at least giving him something to do.  We'll see how this plays out.

The best aspect of this episode was probably Klaus & Tyler.  It's good the writers are taking my advice and utilizing Klaus as a secondary annoyance rather than the big bad, and his insertion into the Tyler love triangle is intriguing.  Again, I'm all for love triangles if it's in the supporting cast, and the way this is presented is sensible and good for Tyler & Caroline.

Speaking of Caroline, her conversations with Stefan seemed a little too friendly.  I really hope were not setting up for a love switch, because that would be a terrible idea.  Friends?  Fine.  Great, even.  I say that because this episode had much more sexual tension between Damon and Elena in it, culminating in a moment I very much didn't care for, where Elena saw Damon instead of Stefan during sex.

I don't like this at all.  You are treading on very thin ice with this, The Vampire Diaries.  She chose.  We're supposed to be over it.

Damon's hunt for Connor was a solid portion of the episode, and probably should have taken up more of it, while Elena's rare moments of happiness (motorcycle cheese!) were a good way to infuse some lightheartedness into a very somber show, and to once again prove how great she and Stefan really are together.

Rebecca's development got much better as the episode progressed, and her "moment" with Matt was probably the best the hour had to offer.  She's quickly becoming one of my favorite characters.

And that new girl... she was there, too.  And she's very composed.

There was a lot of talking and ruminating this week, and it was indeed the sole savior of the episode, but there didn't feel as if there was much focus or purpose behind it.  Everyone was all over the place, and not a lot of it really went anywhere, which made the episode feel much more plodding than I'm used to.  At least we're left with some promise given that Klaus seems to know much about Connor, and the mysterious "Five" he apparently belongs to.

Overall, this was an entertaining episode, though it lacked many of the qualities that makes The Vampire Diaries must see television.

64% = **1/2 = "Decent"


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