Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Vampire Diaries - The Descent & Daddy Issues

Storyline threads:
*Jules wants Tyler to join her wolfpack.
*Rose endures suffering because of Jules' werewolf bite.
*Jules and her boyfriend kidnap Caroline
*Damon is losing control
*Elena's father, John Gilbert, returns to Mystic Falls
*Rose threatens the life of Elena and others in Mystic Falls
*Caroline struggles with feelings for both Matt and Tyler
*Elena, Jenna, and Alaric have a hard time with John's return
*Damon's murder of Mason heats up the vampire/werewolf feud

The Descent *** / ****
Daddy Issues *** / ****


Caroline's Dilemma

I have been particularly pleasantly surprised with the strong development of and attention to Caroline. Yes, her difficulty deciding between Matt and Tyler is the usual love triangle soap opera (the love triangle between Elena and the Brothers Salvatore remaining obvious but on hold), but besides that I personally enjoy how the writing has strengthened her character since Katherine was responsible for her vampire turn. Caroline tells Stefan she’s no longer the little weakling who needs help all the time. When Jules confronted her before Caroline is kidnapped by her she was ready to go on the attack, incapacitated by holy water spray to the face and wood bullets later used when imprisoned in a jail cell inside a RV. Jules had been called by Tyler when Stefan stopped by to talk with him about a truce. Jules’ boyfriend is played by Arrow’s own Stephen Arnell, as the character Brady. All of this creates quite a conflict for Tyler who is being pulled on both sides, Caroline wondering why he would allow Jules and Brady (and their werewolf faction) to threaten her friends and Jules who tells him that he should be with his own kind. The vampires/werewolves war serves as quite the Romeo/Juliet type of forbidden romance as Caroline and Tyler kiss, leaving her torn between which of the guys in her life she should choose. Earlier Matt had kissed her and Caroline told him she loved him. But she avoids Matt, not entirely on purpose but actually even inadvertently. And then Tyler needs to know why she was there for him, risking her life, during his first werewolf turn, arriving at her doorstep. So Caroline shares kisses with both of them during the span of one day, absolutely overwhelmed by the conflicting feelings she has. It is always a mainstay on shows such as The Vampire Diaries, pulling from the soap opera formula that remains a go-to story arc. In fact The Vampire Diaries relies on the love triangle spectacle, often using it for dramatic effect. Caroline gets upset at Tyler, telling him to leave her, declaring them no longer friends since Jules and Brady initiates combat when Stefan and Damon bring Tyler to their RV. Caroline held prisoner and tortured by vampire-hating Brady, Tyler eventually does free her but not before she suffers quite a bit with wood splinters used against her (Brady takes particular pleasure in using wood-firing weapons to shoot into her while she can only wallow in agony).

Werewolf / Vampire Confrontation

Jules, reeling from the death of Mason and desiring revenge against his killer, arrives at Tyler’s home appealing to him to join her wolfpack. She realizes Tyler is a young, freshly-turned werewolf and could use guidance. Mason was supposed to be his mentor but Damon ruined that. As the series has pointed out time and again, Damon encourages violent retaliation when he takes it upon himself to impulsively attack, leaving those in his inner circle in danger by association. Stefan often has to fight alongside him and try to repair Damon’s errors, willing to protect himself and those he cares for if that is what it takes. When Jules and Brady conceal Caroline, demanding Tyler in a trade, Damon and Stefan demand the release of their friend. The fight does indeed ensue with Brady losing members of his pack but their weaponry does indeed subdue Damon and Stefan. When it does appear as if the Brothers Salvatore are on the verge of being vanquished, Jonas arrives with his magic, conjuring up a noise activated spell that serves as a type of dog whistle collapsing Brady and Jules to the ground. With Tyler releasing Caroline from the cell, she flees with Damon and Stefan following, Jonas reassuring them that Elijah is a man of his word, this spell proof that Elena would indeed be protected. I think you can just tell this is but an appetizer with a full course seemingly on the horizon.

Goodbye Rose
Rose took a werewolf bite from Jules meant for Damon. We finally get to see the effects of the bite when Damon and Elena are witnesses to Rose’s gradual deterioration, the infected bite worsening and her brain succumbing to dementia. When Damon goes to Jules with demands for a cure, she mocks him, using this as a way to get even with the torture and murder of Mason. I thought Damon’s victimization of Mason was unwarranted and disturbing, done specifically because (just like Brady, when tormenting a captured Caroline) he was a werewolf (and a vampire threat). It was quite hard to watch, so when Rose is equally suffering, understanding why Jules is okay with it is kind of understandable. Rose was a victim of circumstance, guilty by association with Damon. So when close to Damon it can be hazardous to your health. Rose just suffers, begging for the pain to stop, while Damon has a hard time witnessing what he was responsible for. Elena stays with her when he’s away, nearly a victim herself when Rose mistakes her for Katherine. Finding it harder to remain lucid and in control, Rose goes after Elena, only halted by the sunlight and claws to the skin infected werewolf bite. Damon happens to return when Elena trapped herself in a room, only opening her door after some time. Of course in my house we were shaking our heads at Elena’s opening of the door. She never fails to make us scream at the screen at her. Rose drinks from the Salvatore blood supply and ventures off in this rabid fugue, capitalizing on a festival in town through the attack of anyone that might unfortunately come across her. Damon and Elena get to her but not before a couple (and a janitor) are throat candy for Rose. No matter of blood will be enough to heal Rose of her infection…the bite works its way into her, with Damon “joining her in a dream” before staking her (the dream consists of an autumnal countryside before suffering the vampire bite). 

Damon, Tethered to the Darkness

Damon is in love with Elena, and there is nothing he can do about it. He had told her this before compelling it away in a memory wipe. Damon tells a reporter this before admitting he just wants to be bad, to kill because that is in his nature with her horrified at his admission. Damon compels her into ease, eventually feeding from her irresistible neck. Damon also feeds from an innocent woman who is just driving on the outskirts of Mystic Falls, surprising her as he lies in the middle of the road. This test to see if he would or wouldn’t kill her once again shows Damon out of control, first freezing her in place with his compelling, then allowing her to get as far as her open car door before seizing upon her with clinched teeth. Damon doesn’t like Elena appealing to his “good side”, trying to thwart feelings that would encourage him to work on behalf of others instead of obey his dark side that wants to so often come out and play. There will always be that duality within Damon…to behave badly or resist the dark impulsive desires. Elena is the instigator in Damon’s soft spot and Stefan is the brother often loyal to him so despite periods of discontent he can’t commit to hurting him. So Damon remains a tortured soul, unable to resist the urge to feed and kill while teetering occasionally in the opposite direction because Elena offers affection and friendship towards him, one person that seems to connect him to the humanity often buried intentionally deep inside.





John Gilbert Returns Uninvited


John Gilbert, Elena’s biological father, returns with only his daughter’s best interest at heart. But Gilbert’s past behavior has created such a discord among those of his deceased brother’s family that even if he wanted to extend help to Elena and a friendly olive branch to Jenna and Alaric, the bridges burned seem beyond repair. Gilbert does seem to somewhat ally himself to Damon, who is also obviously reluctant to trust him, by giving him a weapon to use against Originals, like Elijah. A certain kind of ash, if dipped by a sharpened weapon, can very well harm an Original. Gilbert gives Elena a necklace from Miranda, the woman who raised her as mother, in an attempt to secure some level of trust. Gilbert’s re-emergence stems from Stefan’s phone calls to an unresponsive Isobel. Isobel has remained out of the picture, but Gilbert seems to indicate she has did a lot of research which could assist in protecting Elena. That appears to be Gilbert’s dedication…keeping his daughter safe from harm. While Jonas uses magic to subdue werewolves, claiming that this is Elijah’s doing in keeping his word, Gilbert asserts that they aren’t to be trusted. But Stefan and Elena remain cautious. When Gilbert visits Katherine at the tomb, reassuring her that he is working to set her free, once again his intentions are considerably presented as suspect. How can he be protective of Elena yet aligned with Katherine?








Connective Tissue
Bonnie can't be convinced by Jonas that he's an ally and it does appear, for the time being, she'll be attached to Jeremy (ugh), the two an item. While they hang out, Matt realizes Caroline is lying to him, claiming she's hanging out with Bonnie. Bonnie and Elena do eventually arrive at Caroline's home to support her after her kidnapping, thanks to sympathetic Stefan. Caroline's life is complicated, to say the least!

Once again Elena and Stefan dedicate themselves to each other...but for how long? Gilbert seems to accept the Salvatores, but visiting Katherine's tomb would lead us to believe otherwise.

Damon and Stefan working side by side to battle werewolves, Tyler having to decide who his true friends are, Cohan bidding adieu to this show and soon to surface on The Walking Dead as Maggie, early Arnell before his Arrow stardom, Matt seemingly on the outskirts with Caroline, and Damon undermined by his demons after tearing it up when having to kill Rose; the gothic melodrama in full swing as familiar faces come and go.

And that body count continues to rise! Mystic Falls might not be a desired stop and anyone wanting to avoid becoming another number in the death toll should steer clear!

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