Friday, October 21, 2011

Vampire Diaries Post Mortem: The Reckoning


Vampire Diaries Post Mortem:  The Reckoning

You know, when you're just five episodes into a season and you get a title like this, you just know it's going to be a game changer.  In all fairness, The Vampire Diaries does very little that isn't game changing, even their 'slow' episodes are not slow.  But make no mistake, The Reckoning was anything BUT slow.

Senior Prank Night

Lest we forget against the backdrop of epic battles, hybrids, bloodsuckers and unrequited love, a good chunk of our main characters are in high school and it's time to head back for senior year.  Caroline's inner cheerleader is determined to make the best of it by having the best senior experiences ever, starting with Senior Prank Night.  

As a total aside, Caroline Forbes has to be one of the best characters ever.  Her control-freak narcissim from the first season may have been brittle and catty, but that deep control is a force of nature and serves her well as both vampire, friend and girlfriend. (Dear Tyler please don't screw this up).

Unfortunately for Elena, Tyler, Matt, Caroline and Bonnie, their senior prank night is invaded by none other than Klaus.  The audience didn't have to wait long for Elena to walk around a corner and bang right into the Original who left her for dead at the end of last season's sacrifice.  Morgan played it beautifully, Klaus' bemusement at Elena's survival and his puzzlement over the whole issue. 
Caroline just wants to have fun

But that was just the beginning.  In short order:

  • Rebecca took down Tyler and Caroline
  • Klaus dragged Elena into the gym where he compelled one teen to stand on her leg and the other to kill her if she let it go
  • Stefan arrived to see Klaus contemplating what to do with Elena
  • Rebecca dragged Tyler into the gym
  • Elena confessed that Katherine stole the necklace
  • Klaus ordered Bonnie to figure out why his hybrids weren't working
  • To give Bonnie a little inspiration, he force fed his blood to Tyler and ruthlessly snapped his neck -- tick tock.

Out of breath yet? That was just the first fifteen minutes

On the Road

Meanwhile, Damon is road tripping with Katherine.  She teases him with a seductive kiss.  Damon plays along before shoving her away.  Katherine wants to know what he is doing and Damon responds with one of the great lines of the night. 

"Thought I'd give it a shot.  Truth is, you just don't do it for me anymore."

Katherine and Damon's adventure was good for two things: it got Damon out of town or he would have been all up in Klaus' business and likely killed and it illustrated just how far Damon has come.  Much of his disdain is an act, Damon has one mission and he's remaining true to it. 

At a rest stop, Katherine reveals she has Jeremy Gilbert in the trunk.  He can talk to his dead girlfriend Anna. Anna has information Katherine wants. Ergo, she wants Jeremy to reveal it.  A bemused Damon plays along and even smacks Jeremy (I'd rather Damon hit him anyway, Damon won't kill him, Katherine would). 

You remember Katherine's old friend Pearl, the one she wanted John Gilbert to kill? It seems Pearl had dirt on Michael, that vampire hunter after Klaus. Pearl never told Katherine because Pearl wasn't stupid. She knew Katherine was a backstabber.  But Pearl told Anna.  So now Katherine wants the skinny.  Ghost Anna reveals all to keep Jeremy in one piece.

With Michael's location secure, Katherine wants Damon to go with her ASAP despite Anna's warnings that they really don't want to wake Michael up.  Damon demands his phone back.

Bonnie's been texting like mad.  Time for Damon to go home.  When Katherine tells him he's stupid and will get himself killed, he just smiles.  He wouldn't put his neck on the line for her.

But he is going back for Elena.

Broken Necks, Broken Hearts, Broken Vampires

Vicki pops up again.  Matt knows she's there, but he can't hear her.  Bonnie and Matt are at wit's end to figure out what to do.  So Matt takes a risk and chains himself up, throwing himself in the pool to drown. If Bonnie can resuscitate him, it will give him a few minutes to get Vicki's message.

It works.  Matt gasps back to life, chest hurting with the message: "Klaus can't make hybrid's because Elena's alive. Kill Elena and all will be well."

Back in the gym, Klaus puts a time clock on the wall and orders Stefan to kill Elena when the clock ticks down.  Stefan is beside himself, he's compelled and as a ripper, once he starts biting he can't stop.  When the buzzer goes off, he orders her away and sends her running.  He's fighting the compulsion with everything he's got.  Even as he chases her, he keeps throwing himself into walls.

Klaus is annoyed. Apparently the only thing greater than his blood lust is his love for Elena.  So Klaus orders him to shut it off. Turn off his humanity.  Let it all go.  What remains is a cold, bloody cruel Stefan and he bites into Elena cheerfully.

Bonnie races in with the message, but she doesn't want to give it.  Elena has to die.  It will be all that saves Tyler.  It's a horrible position to be in.  Rebecca is happy to do the deed, but Klaus stops her. 

As an aside, Rebecca playing with Caroline's phone and seeing that "doppelganger bitch" wearing her necklace was priceless.  

Matt is willing to sacrifice it all

The Original Witch

The message, it seems is from the Original Witch (I still think this is going to be a Nina Dobrev role).  Crafty little thing not only bound up Klaus' hybridism in the ritual sacrifice with a doppelganger, but for his hybrids to survive, they have to have Elena's blood.  It's a beautiful symmetry.  The doppelganger was supposed to die. If she had, he would have been stymied forever.  Because face it, no more curse, no more doppelgangers. 

Unfortunately, Klaus figures it out.   He takes a sample of Elena's blood to Tyler and makes him drink it.  Problem solved.  Tyler makes the final step of the transformation and becomes the first successful hybrid.

I know some people may see this as a copout to keep Elena mortal, but I think it's just another delicious piece of irony.  So much of the curse was revealed, layer-by-layer, that it makes sense despite knowing what he knows, Klaus didn't know it all.

I also love that the original witch HATED him.  Hated him hard enough that she is coming after him from beyond the grave.  But I digress...

I Will Never Leave You Again

Damon arrives at Mystic Falls hospital.  It seems Klaus is lurking in the parking lot while Elena is doped up inside, her blood being drained into blood bags by a compelled nurse.  Damon doesn't even slow down going after Klaus and name drops Michael.  Klaus ran like a little girl. 

Of course, if big bad Klaus is terrified of Michael, I should think the rest would be a little more worried because the enemy of my enemy is not always my friend.

Damon finds Elena in the hospital.  I know a lot of it was lighting and setting, but damn Nina looked smaller somehow, more fragile than Elena usually looks.  She opened her eyes and said "Damon."  He unhooks her from everything and carries her out of the hospital.  The relief on Elena's face when she sees Damon is palpable, she knew he would come.

Back at the Salvatore boarding house, Damon nurses her and even offers to remove her memories, to let her forget any memory she doesn't want to keep and take away the pain, but she refuses. 

Damon gives her back her necklace, he stole it away from Katherine for her.  She tells him she has to face the fact that "after everything we went through to help him, now he's just gone. Where were you Damon?"

"I shouldn't have left. I promise you, I will never leave you again." - Damon to Elena

Nobody vows like Damon does, it comes right up from his soul (kudos Mr. Somerhalder).  Damon hates to see her in pain, but he isn't taking choices away from her.  This is also a key scene because Elena admits that she and Damon are a 'we'. 

Too bad the beautiful moment was interrupted by the arrival of Stefan.  Turns out, the cold ripper has been left behind to babysit Klaus' blood bag aka Elena.  He waves them off airily to go back to their intimacies and disappears up the stairs, leaving Elena and Damon flummoxed.

Overall, I think this episode ranks up there in my top five.  It was filled with snark, it was filled with love, it was filled with OMG moments, but most of all, it reminded me why I root for Damon and Elena so much and sorry, not happy to see Vicki 'back' -- that chick is nothing but trouble.

Next up: Smells Like Teen Spirit

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