Saturday, March 24, 2018

The Vampire Diaries - The Sun Also Rises / As I Lay Dying



The final two episodes of the second season of The Vampire Diaries work as a kind of two parter. Despite functioning as connective tissue to the overall season, these two also function as definite detonation in all that Elena holds dear. Think about the departure of Sara Canning and David Anders, Aunt Jenna and biological father John Gilbert respectively, at the end of the second season as it pertains to the character of Elena (and Jeremy, too). Jenna turns into vampire (temporarily) and tries to stop Klaus and his witch, Greta, and is unsuccessful. John sacrifices himself for Elena through the use of a witch’s spell. Both adoptive parents died before the beginning of the series. It appears by the end of the episode, As I Lay Dying, Elena will lose Stefan, too. And the true help Elena stood in need of, Elijah, is stupid (I considered REALLY STUPID) to trust a dying and vulnerable Klaus, willing to listen to his claims that family wasn’t left as bodies to be found in the ocean as once told. Klaus would have been willing to do anything—say anything, right?—to halt Elijah from plucking his heart from his chest. Elijah has lived long enough to know this, but we are supposed to just suspend disbelief. How has Elijah lived such a long time to be so gullible, so na├»ve? Klaus is the main antagonist, though. Without him, at the end of the season finale, who would be the antagonist, if not Klaus? And so why not even go further? Have the sympathetic and soft Stefan be gradually coerced towards the ferocious “ripper” he once terrorized village after village as…the sadistic side he abandoned in favor of finding love and humanity again. What you have is not only Klaus, a hybrid of werewolf and vampire (his bite can infect, his blood heal), and Stefan, the re-emerging ripper potentially his tool of violence in order to perhaps “bring about a new order” going into the third season. While The Sun Only Rises allowed Elena to avoid the darkness of vampirism, killed off regulars like Jenna and John Gilbert, provided an emphasis on Damon needing a cure for the werewolf bite or else, and Elijah sparing Klaus; As I Lay Dying proposes an even worse scenario: how will a world of humans stand against a hybrid and ripper?


Elijah understanding what must be done, knowing the kind of scum Klaus is, later the delay after full transition resulting in betrayal sure does him no favors. Elijah just doesn't come off well here. Klaus drinking from Elena right in front of Stefan, who is staked and left to watch in a weakened state, shows no level of regard for anything. Trying to reason with him is futile. Stefan later trying to save Damon just leads to his own ruination as well. Klaus has no scruples. He does what he wants and has no qualms making others suffer.

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The Sun Also Rises *** / ****
As I Lay Dying *** / ****

As the second season was reaching the end, the development of a young romance between Bonnie and Jeremy left me with certain pangs of indigestion. I give credit to the writers for trying their best, though, with the final two episodes, The Sun Also Rises & As I Lay Dying as evidence of their dedication to get that romance over. The end of As I Lay Dying offers quite a twist involving Jeremy “seeing dead people” after he himself was resurrected thanks to Bonnie’s witch magic (with definite help from the spirits of the witches, particularly from Emily). Consequences when asking the assistance of witchcraft can be a bit sticky, as Jeremy experiences. But at least Bonnie saved him, so if you were a Jeremy fan that was a relief. The creative team are able to link two separate sub-stories in the finale while the main story arc receives its superior attention.

Caroline and Matt, in The Sun Also Rises, are trying to prevent Tyler, in wolf form, from getting in to attack them. Matt shoots him, wounding him. This gives Caroline a chance to get her and Matt out of the area, to home. Matt, though, just can’t take anymore of the vampire/werewolf interruption in his life. So he ends the on-again/off-again, tumultuous relationship with Caroline. Perhaps for the best, and it does close that one door for the preferred room: Tyler. I think most viewers will see that coming, though, right? The preferential treatment towards Tyler during Caroline and Matt’s troubled romance was obvious. But with Matt still there and Caroline still devoted to him, Tyler was a third wheel. So how to get Matt out of the way, ay? Insert Caroline’s mom, raised all her life to hate vampires and Matt is coerced into continuing with her daughter until there is a time when the hunt for vampires commences. Being the sheriff for Mystic Falls, the pressure is on to halt the bloodshed. How many bodies must pile up in her town? Tyler’s mom sure confronts her with orders to do her job or else someone else will!

So Caroline ends up at the Grille, as does Jeremy and Bonnie, with Damon helped along the way. Shooting at Damon, he speeds away and the bullet hits Jeremy direct to the chest. Bonnie will need to summon the power of the witches in order to rescue the young man she loves. Caroline, meanwhile, talks to Tyler (again) about his leaving, requesting him never to do so again. The two have their moment, and I guess you see the path cleared for their difficult romance. What about Matt, though? That the second failure in a row…Matt needs a bit of stability. His sister dead, mother “absentee”, and love life under constant turmoil; Matt could use some shine his direction. The vampire and werewolf in love story certainly does give the creative team great dramatic ammunition to work with. Matt is out of the way, it seems, so Caroline and Tyler appears to have substantive melodrama rift with opportunity for them. If anything, this triangle served as a secondary angle to Elena and the Salvatores (well, with Katherine added, a quadrangle). And a third angle never really materialized completely between John Gilbert, Alaric, and Jenna…or was that John Gilbert, Alaric, and Isobel? It all gets a bit convoluted and complicated. Nonetheless, Caroline’s mom can breathe a sigh of relief when the witches save Jeremy, and a warm mother/daughter hug could undermine the vampire hunting sheriff’s department’s dedication.

As far as Jeremy goes: seeing and speaking to two former loves, who are very much dead, could only worsen his already rather tragic situation. And Elena losing Stefan to Klaus (both body and seemingly soul) doesn’t help her own situation, either. The second season certainly piles it on these two, that’s for sure.

Matt is not in the best of moods

Elena didn't forgive him so he reacts in typical Damon fashion

That is Elena, although Damon thinks she's Katherine

Katherine gives him the cure.

Klaus plucked the heart from a subdued Jules

Jeremy and Bonnie going through journals together

Bonnie shows Klaus who's boss.

Caroline getting onto Tyler for leaving Mystic Falls

Circle of fire

Not about to end well for Jules

Tyler still smarting Matt's gunshot to his leg during his werewolf spell

Jenna and John Gilbert's burials

Chilling at Mystic Falls' Gone with the Wind outdoor picnic.

Jeremy dying from a gunshot wound thanks to the sheriff.

Mother/daughter hug

Jeremy feels *different* after his resurrection.

The sheriff realizing what she's accidentally done.

John writes his daughter a goodbye letter
My family had a discussion about Elena and Jeremy. They have really lost a lot in the first two seasons of The Vampire Diaries. An entire adoptive and biological family, gone. Stefan potentially gone, two girlfriends of Jeremy's gone, two sets of parents gone; so much loss for the Gilberts. John provides his resurrection ring for Elena after submitting his life for the witch spell Bonnie applies so when Klaus feeds from her his life would be exchanged for hers. Damon needs Elena to accept his apology so that when the infection ultimately takes him, it isn't on his conscience. She can't right away, later realizing his werewolf bite, as Damon submits to the sun without his ring. And before this can kill him, in rushes Stefan to save him. Damon remarks annoyingly to Alaric that Stefan is always saving him. Stefan, to his credit (and detriment), once again gives himself up to Klaus in favor of Stefan's rescue. Damon won't be as happy as he might have been in the early first season that Stefan sacrificed his happiness in favor of his brother's health. Lots of sacrifice, while Klaus makes out of the finale like a champ. It was all coming up Klaus.
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Damon has fits and starts. That comes with “turning it on”, feeling everything at a much grander scale. When we first are introduced to him, Damon is all violence, feeding, leaving behind carcasses drained of blood. Then he met Elena, and that fire he cut off is alive and awakened in him something that can only go away if Damon once again denies his emotions. When bitten by Tyler in The Last Day, Damon realizes that time is running short. As irony would have it, because Klaus doesn’t die the blood he has, due to the hybrid nature he now inhabits in full form, can cure Damon. Yes, it is a dark irony, but, nonetheless, Damon needs the cure and Klaus has it. Speaking of dark irony, Damon’s cure also comes with a heavy price: Stefan must surrender to Klaus and give in to what was hopefully lost in order for his brother to be rescued. Elena lying at the bedside of Damon while Stefan is away trying to save his brother has an irony all its own.



This is not lost on Katherine, arriving with the cure just as it appears Damon will die. Katherine had spent her majority of As I Lay Dying watching Damon reduced to a monster. Klaus, of course, not long after burying the dagger with white oak ash into Elijah, revels in seeing a good soul corrupted and that is what happens to Stefan. So Katherine finds Damon, in sweats and agony, kissed on the lips by Elena while Stefan is left behind to succumb to his darker nature. That darkness is proven especially when Klaus presents a pretty girl with a neck just ready for a healthy feeding. And Stefan, after a steady diet of blood bags plopped before him by an insistent Klaus, has the uncontrollable hunger in dire need of sustenance. So Damon gets the cure and kiss while Stefan joins Klaus in a neck feast. Katherine, obviously, gets to rub all of this in Elena’s face. Katherine, understanding exactly how it is to love two men, is sure to tell Elena. Elena can only recognize her feelings even if she won’t admit them out loud. Well, with Stefan on a bender, Damon might just emerge as a better candidate for her affections! Irony, it can be such a vampire.


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The juxtaposition between Katherine and Elena within Damon's werewolf infection delusional state was perhaps my favorite part of the end of the season. What makes the brief conversation between Elena and Katherine all the more potent is how both understand the conflict in having feelings for Damon and his own for them.
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Can Klaus be stopped?

Although I felt Greta was a rather underwritten character—and her demise is rather lacking in any real chutzpah—it was satisfying she got her dismissal for the misdeeds caused during her association with Klaus. Still, there is this back story that never really gets all that much elaboration. Her father and brother are dead, and Greta finds no remorse for their loss. She just brushes it off. Greta, instead, sets up the circles of fire that surround Jules, Jenna, and Elena as Klaus emerges with great pride in her. One remaining dance partner is there to help Klaus…until she was no longer needed. Damon snaps that neck like a twig and this entire family is gone. You’d think that would have more emotional gravitas. It just feels like a single thread of the second season scissor-cut when no longer of any consequence. Klaus was still around and Greta’s work in the show felt complete. Kind of disappointing that her willingness to help Klaus was treated so insignificantly. These side-plots within the overall arc often fail to truly get much care or cultivation on The Vampire Diaries. I think that is a certain weakness for the show. The characters off to the side that arrive within the arc just appear, do their part, and leave…the revolving door, so to speak, of the writing team.

Greta

Jenna has been a character I thought could have been so much more had the devotion to Elena, Stefan, and Damon not been so much more important. The engine of the show is what opposes this triangle, and by association those close to them. Jenna rarely got even the attention of Caroline or Tyler. When you don’t have supernatural entanglements or factor in a story arc love triangle (or love triangle(s)), being the adult within a show emphasizing youth—ridiculous since I personally thought Jenna was as much a babe as any of those younger than her—can be detrimental. Granted, Damon and Stefan are centuries-old in story line, Jenna’s shelf life as a side-bar didn’t seem to have much fruit. That said, I feel it was a disappointing failure to an actress and character that rarely got the storyline attention she richly deserved. She does try to stop Greta but Klaus, the evil sonofabitch with no qualms at destroying so he can release his inner wolf in the cell, plunges in the stake slowly as Elena can do nothing to help her. It is an insidious route towards being the hybrid he so desires. All Elena can do is watch. Alaric and Jeremy lose someone they love, and Elena has no ability to stop it. It is the kind of demise that purposely exists to gut its audience. Not only does Jenna die, but Klaus makes it slow. But if the show is to make Klaus a vile, twisted, wicked scumbag, this is way a beloved character like Jenna exits. He must take from Elena those she holds dear so that when (if) he suffers it is much more cathartic.





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