Friday, October 19, 2012

Vampire Diaries Post Mortem Memorial


With "Memorial," The Vampire Diaries is back and firing on all cylinders. I'll be the first to admit as thrilled as I was with the return of the show, episode one was a transition episode in more ways than one. We capped off some open storylines from the end of last season and launched new ones. Frankly, I think "Memorial" earned a high spot on the top ten episodes of the series of all time. How?

Well, let's talk about that.

Not All Blood is Equal

From beginning to end, Elena's transition provided a counterpoint to the new danger in Mystic Falls. We see her hunting with Stefan and the argument between Damon and Stefan over Stefan's insistence that Elena has to drink animal blood. Stefan lives on an island of denial, he wants to deny that Elena is a vampire with hunger, impulses, and a hunter's need. He wants to help her avoid ever killing someone and living with that angst—but you know, denial didn't really work out for him and when he goes off the wagon he kills a lot of people. Damon, as usual, is right. It's better for Elena to learn to control it by embracing her nature rather than run from it.

Unfortunately, a hot and heavy make out scene between Elena and Stefan is interrupted when she flees to throw up the animal blood. She can't keep it down.  Damon offers her his blood in one of the sexiest scenes ever at the Grill and despite how much they both enjoyed it—she can't keep that down either. Damon brings her bagged blood and no dice.

The young vamp needs human blood from the vein or off the hoof as Lynsay Sands' would say and nothing anyone does will be able to help her—except Matt. In a scene that paid off the taut tension in the church, Matt offers to let Elena drink from him while he 'hugs her' comfortingly. It was beautifully filmed from the other vampires' reactions to keeping her safe from the hunter overhead.

And that's just the beginning of what made this such a great episode…

Someone Blew Up the Town Council and Damon Didn't Get a T-Shirt

Sitting in the Grill, Damon is keeping the chair next to him free of other people—because he's saving it for Rick. He's drinking alone and missing his buddy when Liz shows up to ask him if he killed the council. Damon, in true brilliant fashion, snarks, "I own up to who I kill, wasn't me."  Cue the arrival of the new guy Connor. He's very pushy with offering his gloved hand for a handshake to Liz and then the two excuse themselves to talk.

Next up is Elena and Damon makes her get out of Rick's seat and talk to him on the other side. She confesses she can't keep blood down and needs his help. He offers to pull someone out of the Grill for her, but she doesn't want to hurt anyone. So he takes her in the bathroom and bites his own hand and offers it. She's confused, but Damon says she needs it so try, just don't tell Stefan. Blood sharing is too personal and Stefan won't like it (and nope, he really didn't). 

As hot as that scene was, it was also very true to Damon—who always takes care of Elena and tries to give her what she needs as opposed to what she asks for.  Later, when she throws up blood all over the church bathroom, she calls Damon for a change of clothes and help. And Damon comes face to face with Connor—the hunter right outside the door to the bathroom. He holds out his hand for a shake but already aware of Connor's earlier encounter with Tyler (more on that later), he demurs with a "Damon Salvatore, germaphobe."

Elena changes, cleans up and Damon gets her away from the hunter. He gives her the bagged blood and she again spits it up and Damon covers for her. When she goes inside, Stefan arrives—furious that Damon did that, but as Damon points out—Elena asked him to help. Him. Not Stefan. She can't keep the blood down—not even Damon's (ouch for Stefan) and they all enter the church.

Stefan's furious, but Elena's starving and when Connor sets a trap by stabbing newcomer April Young (the Pastor's daughter from the previous episode and the little girl Elena used to babysit), it looks like Elena may lose it then and there. But Stefan gets her back to sit with he and Damon. Damon murmurs that "no one react. It's a trap." Because all the vamps can smell the blood. When Elena starts to freak, Damon tells Stefan he has ten seconds to come up with a plan and then Damon is going after the guy.

Stefan tells him to go, and that's when Matt offers his blood. Even Damon ripples to the reaction and they buy more time.

Taking It for the Team

Tyler and Caroline remain two steadfast favorites of mine. They have come so far from their narcissistic petty ways in season one that I am THRILLED they remain together from their sexy romp at the beginning of the episode that Caroline interrupts because so many people have died, should they be having sex? And Tyler points out if they didn't have sex every time someone died in that town they'd never have it again.

Meanwhile, newcomer Connor pushes his way into Carol's house and asks a lot of questions about the council deaths and presses her for answers. Tyler comes down because he hears the strain in mom's voice. But when Tyler shakes Connor's hand, he reacts to the vervain soaked gloves as they burn him. Connor shoots him three times at close range and Tyler lurches up and out the glass window.  Yes, Connor is definitely a vampire hunter with a lot of secrets. (And yes, lovelies, I have theories!)

Caroline and Tyler go to Stefan who pulls out the bullets. They burn Stefan's fingers and have weird markings on them. He tells Tyler if he hadn't been a hybrid, he'd be dead. Stefan takes the bullets to Bonnie, but she doesn't recognize them. Bonnie is locked in pain over what happened to Grams and the spirits are blocking her magic—when she tries to do it, she sees what happened to Grams all over again.

At the funeral, Stefan wants to know why Tyler's there with a hunter already knowing what he is, but Tyler refuses to hide when people are mourning. This is their home. Caroline quips "and I'll kick his ass." When Connor's blood trap nearly turns Elena inside out, Tyler walks up to interrupt the singing and tell a story that Pastor Young got him engaged in sports and made a real difference in his life. He learned that sometimes you have to work together as a team and that means making sacrifices for the team—and that's what Tyler does—he takes the stake to the chest from Connor's high powered rifle.  Screams erupt and everyone flees the church, Caroline pulls the stake out of Tyler and Carol calls an ambulance. They will play it up that Tyler was shot, but survived.

Damon faces off against Connor in the parking lot, but the hunter shoots him several times and nearly stakes him before getting away. Stefan shows up and offers a hand to his brother and then sucker punches him (and Stefan goes on my shit list) because he's jealous of Elena turning to Damon.

The Core Triangle

This episode clearly defined the triangle from a fresh perspective that relied heavily on what we've learned about all three of these characters in the last three years. It is not just her love that pulls her to each brother, but their opposing philosophies. Elena still feels the need to protect Stefan—even from herself—and when she needs help, it's Damon she calls. Damon she trusts. Because Damon won't turn away from the uglier side of her—something she fears in Stefan. It's also worth mentioning that Stefan's obsession with her drinking animal blood is also because he fears Elena's compassion. 

She feels so deeply that her pain will be so profound—he doesn't want her to turn off her humanity and when he confronts her about her dalliance with Damon, she starts to come apart before his eyes and Stefan's fears about Elena being exactly like Damon prove true. I said it last week, and I've said it for years, Damon and Elena are very much alike. They are both older siblings, they both feel everything deeply, they both bottle it and keep it away from those they love to 'protect" and they are both deeply lonely souls.

For All the Loves We've Lost

To help Elena, Stefan calls everyone together (minus Tyler who was likely at the hospital) and they have a private memorial. Remembering everyone they lost:

  • Uncle Zach (died first season after Stefan locked Damon up and Damon had to escape)
  • Lexie (killed by Damon to cover the vampire tracks in first season)
  • Alaric (final death last season after Elena's car accident cut his unlife short)
  • Bill Forbes (Caroline's father who died after refusing transition)
  • Tyler's father (Caroline mentions his dad who died at the end of season one when Gilbert device made the others think he was a vampire)
  • Grams (Bonnie's grandmother died in season one after opening the tomb)
  • Vicki (died season one after being turned by Damon and later staked by Stefan)
  • Grayson and Miranda Gilbert (Jeremy and Elena both remember their parents died before season one began)
  • Jenna Sommers (Elena and Jeremy remember their aunt, died during the sacrifice after Klaus turned her to kill her)


But when it's Damon's turn, he tells them no. And he walks away. He is not sharing his pain with them.

Noticeably NOT mentioned: John Gilbert who died for Elena at the end of season two's sacrifice to keep Elena from waking a vampire.

I Miss You Too, Buddy

The final scene of the episode took place in the graveyard with Damon drinking at Alaric's grave. He vents about being left to look after all the children and that he should be gone, because he didn't get the girl (he and Stefan agreed whoever lost Elena would leave Mystic Falls), but he can't leave because they need him. She needs him. And in the most heart wrenching turn, we see Alaric's ghost listening to him, sitting next to him and he misses Damon, too.

Tears.

Perfect.

Alaric really was Damon's best friend and the scene in last year's finale when Alaric collapsed in his arms and a crushed Damon whispered "You can't be gone." Reminded us that he lost Alaric and Elena in the same moment.

My only quibble with the whole episode is that CSI Mystic Falls should be fired for leaving their evidence markers and evidence in Pastor Young's house—and the explosion should have left more damage. Why they didn't find the letter to April—the ominous one warning of the darkness coming—I have no idea, but I'll forgive them for that. Because in every way, this is the return I hoped for last week and they delivered in spades this week.

As for Connor? Jeremy admired his ink at the Grill, but Matt didn't see it and Connor freaked a little that Jeremy did. I'm betting Connor was a turned vampire who was brought back from the other side rather than transitioned – ala what Bonnie tried to do for Elena and the ink is the black magic holding him together.  (Almost the Mystic Falls version of Blade the Daywalker)

But hey, that's just my theory.

Also worth mentioning, no Originals were seen in this episode and the lack of Klaus was FANTASTIC. I didn't miss Rebekah either. 

What did you think of this week's episode?

Six days and counting to episode three!

2 comments:

  1. I thought the same thing about Connor!!
    Also, I totally forsee Jeremy hooking up with the minister's daughter. As my son said, "That means she's gonna die. All Jeremy's girlfriends die."

    I don't feel too bad for Damon. Although he thinks he lost the girl, her transition means he has one heck of a shot. I also think Alarick isn't down for the count. I also wondered where Katherine is. She is NOT gonna be happy her last living relative now is vamped out and she MUST have some advice for our transitioning vamp baby.
    Baby vamp was quite the train wreck this episode. Can't WAIT to see what happens to her next!!
    LOVED the blog and the teeshirt comment. LOL

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  2. I believe that both Uncle John and Isabel were remembered during the lighting of the paper lanterns. Elena mentioned 'her mom and her dad', not 'her parents'. The seperation between the two implies two individuals and not a couple. I think she was referring to her bio parents as Jeremy had already covered the parents she grew up with.

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