|bookgazing (bookgazing) wrote,|
@ 2012-12-22 12:01 am UTC
After finally settling down to watch my DVD box set of ‘The Vampire Diaries’ series three and burning through the first disc in a day, I discovered I might have quite a lot of opinions about this series. Amy and Iris both watch the show. And though they’re a series ahead of me, I want to share my feelings with them like I did when I watched the first two series. So every time I finish a disc I’m going to throw thoughts about those episodes up here. All TVD discussion encouraged :D
Episode One: ‘The Birthday’
• Time lapse series beginnings are always a bit of a gamble I think. They allow creators to skip straight to the most relevant part of the story, but they also risk distancing the audience from the characters’ development. It can feel like you’re being cheated out of the chance to watch that development and that you’re being forced to accept things that don’t feel like they’ve come about naturally. Although I love Caroline and Tyler together, I thought that Caroline’s sudden love for him felt really forced. Last season we saw chemistry and the beginnings of something forming between them, but having the show bring them together right at the start of series three just felt weirdly fast. I could have done with a few episodes of glances and tension before they got it on.
Rick’s transformation into ‘lost cause’ also felt hard to connect with, even though that development made total sense. I mean he lost one of the best ladies of all time and is basically a relationship jinx. Who wouldn’t think they were beyond redemption? It’s just that I missed seeing all his angst and sadness, which left me unable to really get what he had been through. I think I’m actually asking for additional man pain here…
• I know that everyone, including Damon, kept calling Andy Damon’s fake, compelled girlfriend, but when she says she’s not his slave and he gets out of the bath I wondered whether their relationship had changed slightly. Some form of compulsion is probably still in place, because she’s not running away screaming, but it looks like he’s dialled back his disrespect for her and she’s not wearing a scarf so I don’t think so perhaps he’s not using her as a perpetual feed bank any more. And he does seem upset when she dies. Which all means we can be less worried about her being in that toxic relationship than we were in series two, I guess.
Sidenote: None of the other characters are genuinely concerned about her are they? They treat her compulsion as a joke almost, which, just no. Compulsion removes free will and all agency; it is creeptastic. I feel like we’re supposed to accept that no one can stop Damon from doing anything, but no one ever even tries to free Andy, almost like Andy is the sacrifice they make in order to keep all other girls safe?
I am gutted about her death, because I think if they’d kept her alive that relationship could have raised some really interesting questions about Damon’s humanity. You can’t look at Andie and feel like he’s really a good guy, but the show obviously wants to paint him as a developing character who is slowly regaining his feelings/human aspect through his love for Elena. So, the direction of that relationship would have told us a lot about who Damon really is right now.
Also, Andie was the last older woman in the cast (aside from Katherine who is frozen in perpetual youth) which makes her death seems like part of a suspicious pattern. Issues with women’s age TVD?
• Can we talk about the brothers? I would have expected Damon to be just a little bit excited about Stefan going back to being a ripper. After all, now they can be drinking buddies! I know that when the program started, he wanted Stefan to drink because he hated him and I guess also wanted to show he was powerful enough to break his will, but I seem to remember that later on he seemed to want them to have a whole brotherly relationship, bonded by drinking together right? It makes sense that he would give up on Stefan so easily (he wants Elena to give up so he can swoop in and he’s a terrible, self-centred person in general) but I would have expected him to try and hang out with Stefan now he’s gone back to drinking. Perhaps he knows that if he takes that path Elena is lost to him? Perhaps he’s just too afraid of Klaus? Idk, it just seemed weird that he wasn’t a little bit pleased to see his brother go back to the dark side.
• Maaaaaan the scene where the dead girls who have been ripped and reassembled by Stefan, start to fall apart is really grisly. It looks like it was meant to be both absurd and horrific, with the absurd emphasising the horror. And it succeeded! I think bringing the meta of living in a culture where women are so often reduced to body parts in visual media to this scene made it feel especially bad to me.
• I loved the fact that Stefan was still holding on to his feelings, even though he’s doing so much horrific stuff. When later on Damon says he’s a martyr, I was like ‘Yes, that’s exactly right’, because he won’t willingly deny himself the pain of feeling and remembering. Stefan, you are an excellent role model for reforming vampires thrust into complicated situations. I mean apart from the dismemberment…
Actually though, that’s a really interesting reaction now that I think about it. I’m placing such strong emphasis on Stefan holding on to his feelings and maybe allowing it to obscure the fact that he’s busy killing a lot of people (including a lotta, lotta ladies) despite knowing it’s wrong. Which is kind of what Elena does too, as while she remains convinced that Stefan still feels she kind of allows herself to blot out how many he’s murdered until she’s confronted with his victims. Even then, as long as he feels, she can kind of let all the dead people go. Does the fact that he knows what he’s doing is wrong and holds on to the fact that he’s evil, really make his actions better than if he just embraced the ripping? I mean, those people are still dead. Does repentance really deserve forgiveness, if you keep on murdering while repenting?
And how many people will he sacrifice for the individuals he cares about? His storyline brings up that scary moral question about whether the life of one is worth the lives of many.
• But the phone call erases my interest in all of that, because So. Many. Feelings!
• I remember hearing that the show runners started backing the Jeremy/Matt ship over the Jeremy/Tyler ship/bromance in this series, which…stop trying to make Fetch happen guys; it’s never going to be a thing! I can see the change in bromantic focus happening (Jeremy seeing shirtless Matt at the Mystic Grill, getting stoned together and eating ice-cream, the subtext behind their conversations about ghosts) and I am uninterested.
• I am so glad Anna and Vicky are back for a while, even if they are ghosts. But I am suspicious, because I grew up with a feeling that ghosts are never to be trusted. ‘Ghost Whisperer’ did nothing to change my feelings on this issue. And it seems like the program wants Anna to seems like she’s the one to be trusted, but this is TVD so I am automatically convinced that this is a red herring and Anna can’t be trusted at all. She was so devious when she wanted the journal, after all.
Episode Two: ‘The Hybrid’
• Amy, I agree, this episode was really dull. It was all just repeated werewolf death and people trekking through the woods looking for someone they never find *snore*. It feels like a filler episode that just provides someone with the opportunity to pump out meaningless, eye bleeding and slaughter. Also, yes, not enough Caroline!
• I guess, the relationship between Klaus and Stefan, is interesting in this episode. I love how even though they’ve spent so long palling around together killing people, Stefan has no interest in being friends, which reminds me a lot of Angelus and Spike. The characters aren’t comparable, but the relationship dynamic is similar (acquaintances that are thrown together and have a lot in common, but hate each other with a passion).
Shall I move on to a more exciting episode?
Episode Three: ‘The End of the Affair’
• Oh vampires in period settings, I will never be over you! I just love these kinds of episodes, although they’re usually full of very selective history. I always liked the past-Angelus episodes of ‘Buffy’ and ‘Angel’.
• And flashback structures are my favourite, whether they hand over teasing little glimpses of the past or lots of big revelations. TVD goes the big revelation route and the biggest is about Stefan and Klaus being as close as brothers, which :O I was suitably shocked by.
• Katherine is back and I am intrigued! Why was she at the club in Chicago back in the 20s? Was she following Stefan? Was she keeping abreast of Klaus’ movements? Did it just kill her to see Stefan and Rebekah together? I’m still so impressed that Nina Dobrev manages to believably maintain two totally different characters.
• Rebekah seems excellent and British (go British lady vampires). I like how Klaus has this particular, flawed vision of what his sister is like, which I would guess is based on all the history they have together. I think it’s pretty common for siblings to find it hard to let go of what their sibs were like earlier in their life, which causes conflict (no one likes it when their self-image is contradicted). I feel like the comment that she will inevitably get tired of Stefan because that’s the kind of person she is, comes out of that kind of place. And then when they’re escaping she proves him wrong by waiting for Stefan *hearts*, although that ultimately comes to nothing because Klaus exerts his whole uber-powerful, big brother knows best strength.
• Dorky fannish moment: Caroline’s father is Clare’s father from 'Heroes'. Save the cheerleader, save the world! How interesting that he’s reprising the role of a father whose daughter has a supernatural secret.
• Can we talk about how Caroline’s father’s treatment and beliefs feel like they have a broad link to that weird (and totally ineffective) ‘therapy’ bigots try to push on LGBTQ people? You can train the mind into not wanting blood? Oh rlly? Caroline remains adamant that he can’t change her... It all seems to connect to a certain kind of LGBTQ coming out narrative (where the parents are less than supportive. I think this subtext comes out more in the next episode when Caroline talks to her mother and again in her last conversation with her father. Ok so, question – why do you think the program had the only gay character administer sub-textually homophobic treatment? And will there ever be an actual LGBTQ romance on TVD?
• Argh the whole bit with Matt and Tyler, where he offers to help him at the full moon even though you know that would totally freak him out. Aw. But presumably they will never be BFFs again? I’m not sure; Matt has proven extremely forgiving in the past - the whole mother make out situation.
• But my favourite Tyler related thing has to be the way his mum reacts to finding out he’s a werewolf. Considering that she’s only ever seen an evil supernatural world, she’s so quick to accept him and to promise she’ll try to help Caroline. I liked her unconditional love here, which really contrasted with the way both of Caroline’s parents reacted to finding out she was a
Episode Four: ‘Disturbing Behaviour’
• Another black, female witch is dead. Great job TVD. This is the worst trend in the whole show.
• I hated that ‘all women now dress like prostitutes’ line from Rebekah when she’s trying on clothes. It’s reasonable to say that a historical woman transported to the future might say something like that (although the last time she was awake was the 20s when fashion was changing dramatically, so there’s that) but *sigh* let’s say it again – it’s a problematic line considering the culture we live in. Also there are these things called jeans now and tops that cover more than that dress does. Considering that she says she wore trousers back in the day, we might expect her to pick up some jeans. I guess we should assume that the boys picked that dress for her, because she seems surprised by how little the dress covers. All that taken together, this is a huge moment of female objectification by the creators of the show. She seems to adapt to the style of dress remarkably quickly anyway – how convenient. Good to know that male gaze never dims.
And the choice of such a sexy dress is a little bit of a creepy choice, considering that Klaus is her brother, y’know, just by the way.
• I’m excited to see how Rebekah’s character development progresses. I would say she’s going to be yet another romantic rival for Elena to navigate, which, ugh please stop making the vampiric ladies be all about competing for the vampiric dudes TVD writers. But she’s different from Katherine, or Isabel, in that her power doesn’t seem to be aligned with her sexuality yet. She isn’t using her powers to compel people to be her sex slaves, or to trick men into things through her womanly wiles. Instead she is a supernatural lie detector and it’s going to be nice to see a female antagonist whose sexuality isn’t tied to her evil.
• I felt so sorry for Anna when Jeremy shut her out. Also, good going program - giving a male character control over whether a female character can appear and make herself heard; nothing problematic about that at all.
• Caroline’s whole bit with her mother after she’s rescued = coming out subtext to me. Seriously this program feels like it is full of stuff that can be interpreted as GLB subtext this series. ‘We grew up with certain beliefs’, ‘I really thought he was the one who got me’, all smack of a coming out conversation gone badly. Even though we still don’t have any main characters who are LGBTQ, I’m glad that we now have lesbian subtext as well as gay subtext (although the lesbian subtext doesn’t yet contain any of the eye-flirting with characters of the same sex, the way the gay subtext does). Knowing that TVD is a show which actively shapes itself around fan response sometimes, I do wonder how much of what I’m seeing is down to me projecting traditional criticism onto the program and how much is being put in to catch the viewer’s eye.
• It’s interesting that Damon is so offended by Elena trying to turn him into Stefan. I mean…does he really think she’s going to be into him as he is? She disapproves strongly of the murder of innocents, as any good girl should. I know that ‘love does not alter what it finds’, but there are some obvious limits on that. And it was weird how the program seemed to endorse the idea that Elena was being unkind to try and ask him to change. Sure, it’s unrealistic, as Caroline points out. And it is kind of weird to try and make someone into their brother because you fancy them but don’t want to be in love with someone whose morality is so non-existent. But, it’s perhaps not as big a deal as oh I don’t know, being a psychopathic murderer.
• Alaric stepping forward to stand up for the mortals in town, after Damon kills him is so interesting! I really hope they’re going to take that thread some places and can’t wait to see how he represents/how this draws him into conflict with Damon.
Episode Five: ‘The Reckoning’
• This is easily my favourite episode so far. I like the ones that are set in the high school, because those episodes provide such an explicit mix of supernatural and contemporary. It really forces the bizarre nature of being a teen and dealing with the supernatural into the viewer’s face. Senior prank day and murderous vampires in the gym!
• The main plot is about the creation of a hybrid and the whole Stefan/Elena sad times, but I probably enjoyed the sub-plot about Matt and Vicky more. This is the second, obvious suicide attempt on TVD (I know, I know Matt is just trying to reach the ghosts, but don’t you feel like there’s something hopeless about him this series, like he could be going under?) and I kind of wish they’d examine depression more deeply on this program, not just use it as a plot device. Jeremy was really sad when he tried to take his own life. And Matt, like I said, seems like he’s been broken a little by his sister’s death and what he sees as desertion by everyone in his life. The whole bit where Tyler says he probably doesn’t have anyone to talk to brought home for me just how alone he must be. These issues should be explored, not just swept away when these characters attempted deaths have served a plot purpose. Everyone on this show has reason to be seriously depressed, or traumatised, but like most supernatural programs TVD isn’t interested in focusing on that for more than a few episodes because it gets in the way of the plot.
• Vampire road trip :D I like that this is a recurring plot device, because it amuses me no end to think of vamps going road tripping. I still like Katherine and Damon, I ship them, but I wish Damon didn’t have quite so much of the power in their relationship now. He just keeps casting Katherine aside, because he truly is over her and has Elena to obsess moodily over. I get the feeling that she’d go there again if it could just be for fun and giggles, no strings, physical stuff, but he blocks it in a way he would never have been able to a few series ago. It feels like he’s in control, when we all know Katherine should be in control (she’s just such a damn awesome queen vampire).
• Poor Jeremy, he is so abused by Damon and the other vamps. He has had a rough life, please be kinder to him for a little while program.
• Ok, really Tyler, you think everything is going to be fine now that you’re a hybrid? And you have no other questions about this new state of yours? There are no other hybrids beside Klaus and he is not exactly providing a great example of hybrid living. Do you even know if you’ll have to start drinking blood? No, you don’t care about any of that? Just happy to feel so physically amazing? Ok then.
• And on a related note, is this ‘I make monstrous hybrids because I am lonely’ going to be the key to Klaus’ sympathetic development? I don’t think it’s going to fly with me, because…it is psychopath logic. And it’s consistent that Klaus might feel this way and justify making hybrids because he is sad, ignoring that he has imprisoned his whole family – he’s a psychopath; his logic is screwed up. However, if the program starts to ask us to agree that this logic is reasonable and we should empathise with Klaus because his situation is genuinely sad…I’m not going to like that.
• Wow, Elena gets over the whole privacy of diaries issue fast. But compared with other characters’ crimes, it’s a relatively small lapse.
• Gah, everyone keeps mentioning Lexy this series : ( Still not over it. Why did she die so fast? OMG imagine a Lexy/Mason partnership. Why are so many of my favourites dead : (
• I need some clarification on this whole ‘flip the switch’ issue. I thought that last series it was established that vamps couldn’t really switch off their emotions totally. Doesn’t Isabel mention that it can’t be done in the way Damon says he does it? But this series Klaus compels Stefan to turn off his human emotions. It’s time for a ruling on this part of the world building.
• Also, I still find it fascinating how much free will these vamps have compared with the vamps of the Buffy verse. It’s really interesting to think about how the writers keep their favourite vamps sympathetic in this program, compared with the way they did it in Buffy.
• Elena waking up to find her blood being taken by compelled nurse was
creeeepy. Can we all agree that compulsion is the worst?
On a side note: why is everybody’s blood magical? What is the biology behind this? Is this one of those times I should just let it go and be like ‘because magic’?
My ships this series so far
It goes without saying that I’m backing Caroline/Tyler right? And Bonnie/Jeremy is another obvious one. As for the whole Salvatore conundrum, I think I want Damon/Katherine as always, or Damon/Alaric (although the power balance there would be scary unequal) and I’m still into Stefan/Elena. I don’t care what happens to Klaus romantically and I want Rebekah to escape his clutches, which she can’t do if she’s distracted by romance.
On to the next five episodes I go.