Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Vampire Diaries, Season 5, Episode 5: The Monster's Ball

Dr. Maxfield has Jessie chained to a table, having killed him with vampire blood in his system. He now has to drink human blood to complete the transition. Why? Apparently for some kind of experimentation on the baby vamp – perhaps more disturbing is that he calls Jessie “Subject 62547” which is both dehumanising him down to a number, but also suggests that he’s burned through 62,546 other subjects. I’m sure someone would have noticed 62,000 people going missing. He runs through various observations before saying that Jessie is a “perfect candidate.”

At college, Elena is using her diary to treat us to a big info-dumpy recap. Bonnie’s ghost is hanging around Elena because even when dead she has to orbit around her –talk about a hellish afterlife. And Damon shows up to point out Elena is avoiding him and to accept her invitation to the Costume Ball. The Whitmore Historical Ball

Are you serious? ANOTHER big social event? Yes this one at least cleaves to an actual tradition – but we’re 5 episodes in and they’ve already had 3 of them! How does anyone in Mystical Falls actually get anything DONE?

Caroline and Tyler don’t seem to be as sunny as Caroline and Elena think – since he doesn’t want to talk about anything to do with College and doesn’t even seem all that thrilled about the Costume Ball (and he’s a native of Mystic Falls, he should be used to parties every second Sunday).

Elena spots a guy clearly upset over Megan’s little memorial and hurries over to intrude on his grief. He grew up with her, doesn’t think Megan committed suicide and doesn’t really want to talk to Elena.

Meanwhile in actual stuff happening, Silas wants Katherine, Nadia doesn’t want to give up Katherine, Silas isn’t happy at losing his super-mind-powers but still intends to follow them and Katherine gets the not-very-shocking-news that the immortality cure in her blood will take every last drop of blood she has.

On the road and getting Katherine something to eat, Nadia decides to play Q&A with Katherine – giving Katherine chance to run down the many awful things she’s done over the years. Nadia reveals she’s been following Katherine for 500 years, she is a vampire and she even became a vampire so she could follow and match Katherine. Sound super-stalkery? Well Katherine killed her mother – when Klaus’s minions caught up with her in the 17th century in Paris, Katherine threw Nadia’s mother to the wolves to escape. Katherine responds to this revelation by stabbing Nadia in the chest with a walking stick and running away.

Nadia staggers around a little, unable to remove the stick and Katherine returns – she deliberately missed the heart because she wants to know what’s going on – she knows Nadia’s story is bullshit. Nadia calls it a test and is cryptic for a little while before revealing Katherine DID kill her mother – but in England in the 15th century. She killed her mother by hanging her… hanging herself. Yes, it’s Nadia Petrova and Katherine is her mother. SHOCK!

Later Katherine asks Nadia where she was in 1498 (naturally she can’t remember since she was 8) – because by then Katherine had ducked the people chasing her and returned to Bulgaria to look for Nadia in “every village, every cottage” (in Bulgaria? All of Bulgaria? All of the Bulgarian province of the Ottoman Empire?). Nadia is surprised Katherine came looking for her

Damon has a new plan he conferences with Jeremy and Bonnie’s ghost – Silas wants to die, nature requires a death for a life (hence the reason Bonnie died to bring Jeremy back) so why not use Silas’s death to bring Bonnie back? And we don’t need to tell Elena about this because, well, she’s Elena. Jeremy is shocked and appalled Damon wants to work with Silas. Bonnie raises the point that dying isn’t Silas’s only plan – Silas probably wants to destroy the whole Other Side which Qetsiyah created. And to create something that powerful and long lasting she must have linked it to something that has lasted as long –like the moon or, say, dopplegangers (just for example but how shocked will we be when the Other Side turns out to be linked to Elena and Stefan? On a scale of zero to not-even-slightly?)

The only person who knows what the anchor is Qetsiyah who is going to the Costume Ball because it’s the freaking Vampire Diaries and EVERYONE goes to these ridiculous, weekly grand social events because this show loves crowd scenes and the wardrobe department starts vomiting blood if they don’t get everyone to dress up at least every other episode. And, after all, if you’re a 2,000 year old witch after revenge on your ex, wouldn’t you go to a costume party dressed as Cleopatra!?

Bonnie thinks it’s possible for Silas and her to swap lives, but she’s not eager to work with the guy who killed her father and she doesn’t trust him because, y’know, diabolical evil and all that. Oh bonnie, get with the programme, I do not think there has been a single big bad on the Vampire Diaries that “our heroes” haven’t climbed into bed with at one time or other. Jeremy, in the habit of completely and utterly ignoring everything Bonnie says in favour of making up her mind for her, tells Damon she’s backing the plan. Great, now we just need to know what Silas wants to go ahead with the deal – Stefan’s death. DEAL!

Jeremy doesn’t get the difference between lying FOR Bonnie when covering her death and lying in the name of Bonnie when deciding what Bonnie supports or doesn’t support. But in another of those this-is-funny-it’s-so-lampshaded, Bonnie protests she brought Jeremy back because Elena needed him and he responds that Elena now needs Bonnie.

The discussion on whether to resurrect Bonnie –and Jeremy  for that matter - from the dead or not has to consider what Elena needs. Seriously.

They thankfully find a more personal reason – Jeremy being able to see and hear Bonnie but not feel her is painful and hard and he wants to bring her back.

To the Costume Party (wow those costumes are pretty poor – Wardrobe, keep this up and you won’t get your fornightly dress up games) with Caroline dancing with Stefan and then Tyler (and lots more awkward tyler-is-definitely-not-hanging-around hints. Yay more angst, just what the show needs) and Elena avoiding Damon; she’s guilty about having fun while Stefan was drowning over and over and Bonnie was dead while she was having fun – so now she must concentrate on Megan’s death and have no fun at all ever. Because… reasons. It’s Elena, she doesn’t have to make sense, it would break a 4 season habit.

To implement this, Elena decides to go harass the grieving guy who doesn’t want to talk to her – because stalking is an excellent grief councillor. He tries to duck her and she glamours him – he’s acting “shady” because he thinks everyone around him dies – apparently all his friends and family are dead and he is wallowing in survivor’s guilt. She gets his name – Aaron.

Qetsiyah/Tessa arrives at the party and tries to get Stefan an “I’m sorry” drink but Damon hustles Stefan away on the rather sensible understanding that Tessa is a dangerous person to date. And because he wanted to lure Stefan into a back room, with Silas, and break his neck. Therefore killing him (albeit temporarily) which severed the link which meant Silas got his super powers back.

What, all it took was a neck crack? And whoa this is a bad bad idea – Damon check the fine print first! At least it’s temporary – because Damon has to keep Stefan dead. Now Silas is going to pretend to be Stefan and root around in Tessa’s head – relying on the fact that Tessa honed in on Stefan in the party – whether she hates Silas or not, she’s still attracted to him. He makes an unnecessary note about women never forgetting their first love – I think Tessa’s attachment is rather more than that.

He drinks with Tessa and we learn that one of the best things of the modern world is bacon, to which I heartily agree. They dance but Silas quickly drops the pretence because he’s pretty bad at keeping his story straight anyway and asks about the Anchor – apparently Tessa doesn’t know where it is either. The Travellers hid it after they killed her and she now needs an amulet to activate a locator spell to find it he then wipes her memory in time for him to collapse in pain again because Stefan’s woken up. Stefan and Damon snipe a little bit before killing Stefan again – and Damon’s motivations? Bringing Elena her best friend back!

Elena continues her investigation by confronting Dr. Maxwell about the faked death certificate and he reveals he knows about vampires, that people are watching her and asking questions about her and her friends and she needs to pack her bags and run for the hills.

And Tyler and Caroline have a talk – Tyler is leaving. He doesn’t want to have a relationship with Caroline because Klaus gave them permission – especially since Klaus killed his mother. He’s here to say goodbye before going after Klaus to destroy his life (really? Why is it no-one in this world can recognise that Klaus is an Original and Not To be Messed With? Stop poking the angry god-man already! And does this mean we have to have Tyler whining around trying to kill Haley in The Originals?) Caroline is not impressed.

Tessa finds her amulet and casts her finding spell – Silas appears to watch but just as he’s beginning to read her mind, Stefan wakes up and he is in agonising pain again (hey, Damon, keep this up – it’s fun). Alas my fun is interrupted because Stefan feigns death before leaping up and snapping Damon’s neck. These vampires need to invest in neck braces or something, so much neck snapping all the time. Stefan then goes through to the next room and reveal to Tessa that fake!Stefan is Silas.

Tessa, remember, has a few issues with Silas and without his mental powers he’s fairly helpless in front of her. She decides to stop his heart – so his blood doesn’t flow, his body will dry up and rot from the inside out, all while still being alive. I have to admire her imagination.

Next twist – it seems Dr. Maxwell is Aaron’s legal guardian and manages his trust – he warns Aaron away from Elena (take his advice Aaron, she’s bad news).

Elena and Damon find Silas all dried up and laid out which Elena thinks is good – but she doesn’t know the full plan. Or that Tessa may be kinda pissed at him now.

Later, away from the party, Caroline and Tyler talk and she asks him to stay, to “love her more than you hate him”. Caroline gives him an ultimatum – he leaves, they’re done. And he leaves.

Elena tell Damon about Maxwell’s warning “the wrong people will start asking the right questions”. There’s a quick recap of various issues when there’s a knock at the door: Damon invited Katherine and she’s very very happy to see Silas all desiccated and nasty. She celebrates until she sees the not-pleasant (but yummy – he hasn’t looked like that since season 1) look on Damon’s face. Damon bites her – but she desperately tells him that Silas needs all of her blood and how she doesn’t want to die – Damon presses her bloody neck to Silas’s teeth, slowly healing Silas while Elena looks on all shocked and horrified. Silas eventually drops her and Katherine collapses to the floor – still alive and conscious.

I’m actually totally backing Damon’s plan. More Bonnie, Silas dead, Katherine dead, you can probably restore Stefan’s memory without restoring Silas’s super powers, it’ll foil Nadia’s plan and I don’t know what that is but I’m guessing Not Good – where’s the downside here? Except possibly an angry Qetsiyah. (Don’t even try to pretend anyone on this show gives a damn about the sanctity of life and the horror of killing Katherine, I will laugh in your face). Even the whole Otherside must be an unnatural badness that seems to sentence all supernatural dead to some kind of unpleasant limbo which should probably end.

Awww, do I have to pretend to care that Stefan will also die?

Do I even have to rant more about the parties, balls, festivals, dances and everything else that are so constant on the Vampire Diaries? And how everyone, absolutely everyone goes to them?

So the Travellers are not just witches – since Nadia was a Traveller and a vampire. Does that make Traveller a political or social organisation more than a specific set or subset of supernatural?

Elena labels this poor Aaron as “shady”. This would be the Elena entitlement complex: why is he shady? He’s shady because he doesn’t want to answer questions from a complete stranger about a good friend who has just died – and said complete stranger is following him. That isn’t “shady” – that is a display of Elena’s lack of boundaries and respect for other people.

Speaking of disrespect – Jeremy needs to stop making decisions for Bonnie. And can we make Bonnie’s resurrection a little more about Bonnie and a little less about Elena? This is almost comic in its awfulness.

Tyler back just for more angst? Was it just to say goodbye so Caroline’s love interest slot was clear for Jessie and/or Stefan? And moment of complete “I don’t buy it”? Why would the Travellers, who killed Qetsiyah in Ancient Greece (or similar Mediterranean culture) move her super-special amulet to somewhere-near-Mystic Falls?