Friday, October 15, 2010

The Vampire Diaries Post Mortem - Bad Moon Rising

In which Damon and Elena go on another road trip, but this one does not have the same bonding effect as the first one.   Thanks to Damon's compelling of the poor roadie/handyman character in the previous episode, Stefan and Damon are putting the clues together about the Lockwoods.

Damon's obsession is partly a distraction from the Katherine issue, but I do think it's also about understanding potential threats to the Salvatores and to Mystic Falls. 

Road Tripping to Duke

Alaric, Damon and Elena head to Isabel's office at Duke in order to check out her research.  According to Alaric, Isabel was officially employed by the anthropology department because the supernatural and paranormal are rooted in folklore and mythology.

At her office, they meet Vanessa Monroe, Isabel's research assistant and graduate student in comparative folklore.  Alaric spoke to her about looking at his "missing" wife's office.  She gives Damon and Elena an odd look when they first walk in, but walks them into Isabel's museum like office which is populated by dusty tomes, skeleton bits and a skull or a two.  When she slips back out, Damon wonders where she has gone.

Elena turns and finds Vanessa pointing a crossbow at her, as she gasps, Vanessa fires it and Damon flies across the room to shield Elena, taking the bolt in the back.

This is one of those significant moments that Vampire Diaries like to brush off, but Damon took a wooden crossbow bolt to the back, he could have died - for real - and he didn't hesitate to put himself between Elena and the danger.  He could have gone for Vanessa or the bolt itself, but he didn't.

While Damon can be calculating at different points in the game, this is not one of them.  Elena was in danger. He protected her.  It's not enough. Not after snapping Jeremy's neck last week.  Elena's cold anger is still in full chill, but Vanessa's reasons for attacking are definitely worth exploring.

She recognized both Damon and Elena (although with Elena she was seeing everyone's favorite psychotic: Katherine).  Vanessa also knew enough of Isabel's research to have put the pieces together (probably a big reason why Isabel never returned to her office or her life).  

Damon and Elena's interaction was fun though.

"Just pull it out. I can't reach it, Elena. Just pull the damn thing out.  It hurts."   Damon is braced for it, but you can see the pain flicker across his face when Elena yanks it out.  Her concern whittles away once he is safe too and she just drops the arrow in front of him.  Damon is already feeling better. "That bitch is dead."

"No," Elena protests. "You won't touch her."

"Watch me."

"If you do that, I'll never talk to you again."

Elena -- really?  How is that a threat? I love my Elena Gilbert, but that's reaching, even for her.

"What makes you think that has any power over me? Because I took an arrow in the back for you?  You are severely overestimating yourself."

"I forgot I was speaking to a psychotic mind that snaps and kills people impulsively. Fine. Do whatever you want."

"You're starting to manipulate me."

"If you mean by manipulate, tell the truth. Okay. Guilty."

Alaric has Vanessa contained when Elena and Damon come out of Isabel's office. Elena explains who they are and introduces Damon as "This is Damon Salvatore, the one you just shot."

Damon pipes in with a grim grin of "I'd be EXTRA nice to me right now."

Eating Bunnies

Caroline and Stefan's time together is spent working on Caroline's control and need to hunt.  Her determination that hunting defenseless bunnies is the first step towards becoming a serial killer is offset by Stefan's dry remark that she's already skipped serial killer and gone straight to vampire.

Thanks to Bonnie, however, Caroline now has a ring that allows her to walk in the sun.  Unfortunately, Bonnie's judgy little attitude has her and Caroline at odds.  I feel a bit bad for Bonnie here, sure, she's being "judgy" - but - I think she also blames herself for Caroline:

  • Caroline was in the accident because Bonnie didn't remove Emily's enchantment
  • Caroline had Damon's blood because Bonnie insisted
  • Caroline was killed by Katherine because Bonnie wasn't strong enough to take out Katherine
See -- in a warped way, Bonnie's harboring an ocean of guilt for her own actions and they all contribute to her "judgy" attitude and yes -- Caroline did kill the cute carnival roadie in the last episode.

But her time with Stefan is well spent. She's getting a grip on herself, she's getting some small measures of control. But she is very new and it takes time.  Becoming a vampire enhances all of a person's natural personality - the fact that Caroline was a high maintenance control freak is showing through.  Her ability to control herself is a gift.

Unfortunately, it doesn't last.  Stefan's reward of going to the swimming hole resulted in Caroline nearly killing Matt.  Stefan manages to stop her, but not before Mason the werewolf catches their scent.

Researching Werewolves

With Vanessa's help, the erstwhile trio turns up some interesting data about the mythology behind Mystic Falls werewolves and even a little something about the vampires.  The records come from lesser known legends:  The Curse of the Sun and the Moon.  It is an Aztec legend that traces the roots of vampires and werewolves.   600 years before, the Aztecs were plagued by werewolves and vampires. They terrorized the countryside, made farming and hunting impossible until an Aztec shaman cursed them by making vampires a slave to the sun and werewolves servants of the moon.  As a result vampires could only come out at night and werewolves could only turn on the full moon.   The werewolves cannot control their shift -- if they could, it wouldn't be called a curse.

Werewolves will attack humans, but instinct and centuries of rivalry have hard-wired them to hunt the prey of choice: vampires.   Damon is skeptical because he's never seen one, but Vanessa says that over the years vampires have nearly hunted the werewolves to extinction to protect themselves.  The bite of a werewolf is fatal to a vampire.


Elena is able to warn Stefan who along with Caroline actually run into Mason in his wolf form.  But when Tyler shows up and yells "no" to the wolf breathing into Caroline's face, Mason withdraws.  While Mason has no control when he is shifted, Tyler had control which begs the question - is Tyler an alpha and is that why he has so much trouble struggling with his nature.  If he is, then if he ever does turn, that could be a much larger problem for Stefan and Damon.


Their trip was fruitful on the werewolf front, but Elena is frustrated by the lack of information on Katherine.  Damon taunts her, but Elena seems adamant that they are still not friends. He finally hands her a book labeled simply Petrova. He tells Elena that Katherine orignally came from Russia and her family name was Petrova.  He hopes that Elena will share what she learns.  Alone at the car, Elena probes Damon for the truth about Jeremy - did Damon see the ring on his finger or not?

Damon seems genuinely contrite about his actions.  He regrets his impulsive act and wants to know if there is anyway, anything he can do that would ever earn Elena's forgiveness.  Elena wants the answer to her question.  Damon tells her no, he hadn't seen the ring and was grateful that Jeremy had it on.  Elena turns frigid on him again, revealing that she manipulated him to get the answer and Damon lashes out, hurt - that she is just like Katherine after all.

As much as I love my Damon, he is getting more than a little of what he sowed.  He is a passionate, passionate man who became a vampire and that has only increased his reckless, passionate nature.  I honestly believe he does feel bad about Jeremy and I think it will take time, but Elena will forgive him.

But getting there is half the fun.

Photo Credits: Bob Mahoney / The CW © 2010 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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