Saturday, February 8, 2014

Vampire Diaries, Season 5, Episode 13: Total Eclipse of the Heart

Katherine, after 500 years of running and hiding is now free, young and healthy to do anything in the whole wide world. So she’s going to pursue Stefan Salvatore.

Of course she is. Because leaving town and all the many people who will very very quickly realise something is up and try to get Elena back (for some bemusing reason, they like her) INCLUDING Stefan, the man she is pursuing, is just out of the question.

To college – yes, we’re back in college – with Caroline rhapsodising about being free and single and fresh starts etc etc (which involves a party. Of course it does) while Bonnie continually reminds them that she’s not actually single or bitter or broken hearted (keep that up Bonnie and they’ll drop you back in the plot box). Rather than listen to Caroline’s babble, she’s more interested in the girl next to her using rather obvious telekinesis.

Stefan goes home to find a car full of dead Aaron Whitmore, the house trashed and Damon crashed on the sofa. Stefan isn’t impressed by Damon’s killing spree (c’mon Stefan – one body is hardly a spree), is surprised that Damon and Enzo are such good buddies and is further unimpressed by their plans to slaughter all things Augustine. Personally I’m totally on board this plan. Stefan makes an attempt to save his brother from being all evil and sexy but Damon is much happier with his murdering self.

Kathlena (yes I’m going that) is still using Matt as her guide to imitating Elena and Nadia as a Matt keeper – which is vexing for Nadia who thought she would actually get to spend some time with mummy dearest. Surprise Nadia! Your mum’s not a nice person.

Over to Dr. Wes who has kidnapped some random guy called Joey to continue his evil experiments (and evil exposition) and turn Joey into another vampire-feeding-vampire while moaning about Aaron cutting off his funding. When in drops mysterious lady Sloane with some mysterious blood that needs analysing – she has money, she offers protection and before Wes gets all snippy, she also knows Aaron is dead and Wes may be next on the list.

Cut to the murderous twosome – Enzo and Damon have kidnapped Diane, head of college security, so they can drain the vervain from her and ask her pointed questions about why she’s covering up for vampires. Unfortunately she can’t point them towards Wes so she’s dead (and lo, another POC dies on Vampire Diaries, the list is rather stunningly long).

Stefan makes another attempt to save Damon – this time by menacing Enzo and trying to drive him off since he’s a bad influence (hah, like Damon needs a bad influence). Of course, having been tortured for decades, Enzo isn’t giving up Damon’s help on his quest for revenge (or mayhem afterwards) nor does Stefan driving a shovel into his chest bother him unduly: he’s suffered through far far worse. He gives Enzo a death threat which, on the whole, isn’t all that menacing.

Kathlena is still floundering around with Caroline when Stefan calls with his Enzo worries - Kathlena has no idea who that is but at least uses the excuse to drag Stefan to the party with her.

At the bar Nadia gets a question from Kathlena about Enzo and Tyler shows up wanting to drink – and wanting to drink with Nadia despite Matt’s warnings. Frankly I think “she said she’s sorry” isn’t really a good way to make up for locking Matt in a safe and burying him alive. But hey, Vampire Diaries, absolutely no-one is held responsible for their actions on this show. Anyway they have a who-has-the-worst-mother drinking game and when Tyler steps away to go to the toilet (which, apparently, hybrids have to do), Nadia takes the opportunity to ask about Enzo; except Tyler’s super-hearing hears the whole thing.

When they’re alone, he gets Matt back on vervain

Bonnie grabs Jeremy to go to the dance with her (though he isn’t sure why they have to go to the bitter break up party when they could go have actual fun) when Damon shows up – to kidnap Jeremy. He wants a witch to cast a locator spell to find Wes – which means Bonnie needs to find a witch to cast it for him. Neither of them take Damon’s threats seriously until Enzo arrives and makes it clear they are very very very serious.

At the party Kathlena dances with Stefan and manages to turn the conversation about Damon going off the deep end to make it all about her (wow, Katherine’s really good at imitating Elena) until Caroline notices how close Kathlena and Stefan are getting and drags her off to the shredder (bitter singles theme of the party – you get to shred old momentos of past loves: Caroline shreds photos of Tyler and Klaus’s nifty artwork) where she can make a not-very-subtle point about how rebounding to past relationships is a bad idea hint-hint-you’re-getting-awfully-close-to-Stefan-hint. Kathlena makes it awkward so it’s quickly dropped

Next Caroline gets to talk to Stefan about Damon falling apart and Stefan’s theory that Damon is revelling in the hatred of others out of some kind of need to confirm everyone’s worst opinion of him (my personal theory is he’s playing a game where he sees what shit people will overlook this time)

Which is when Damon shows up with a very worried Bonnie – who has already identified Liv (the witch she saw earlier) as one of the caterers. Damon explains the whole threatening Jeremy thing to everyone much to everyone’s shock and Kathlena’s irritation that she has to pretend to care. She calls Nadia to question whether she can just, y’know, let him die since it would be so convenient and Stefan would give her so much pity love. Nadia is shocked and appalled and really quite angry that her mother is, well, evil and outright orders Kathlena to save Jeremy since she actually knows where he is – especially since that’s Whitmore house where she has been invited in unlike Stefan and Caroline.

Kathlena has to agree – but she gets Nadia to check with Matt whether Caroline is competition for Stefan – Nadia asks Matt about it before trying to compel him into forgetting and leaving. Except the compulsion doesn’t work and Matt prepares to tell Tyler everything; when Nadia comes back and breaks his neck

Guys, vampires, super hearing, remember?

Bonnie goes to see Liv who is pretty hostile and has an added bonus of not knowing anything about her grandmother or witches. Or, it turns out, witchcraft or magic, she has no idea what she’s doing. Caroline arrives to motivate her with a death threat which really shakes her since she didn’t even know vampires were real. Bonnie talks her through the spell – unfortunately all she does is short out all the electrics. Bonnie tries to get her to try again but Liv cracks – apparently she has accidentally done all kinds of terrible things with her out of control magic.

Enzo gets impatient and Damon says the delay is due to “lack of motivation” (which is an awesome evil phrase) and decides to put Jeremy’s head in a plastic bag. Wow, Enzo, decades of being tortured and this is the best you can do?

Bonnie talks Liv round and Stefan and Kathlena arrive to rescue Jeremy. Stefan pins Enzo while Kathlena gives CPR to the suffocated Jeremy (who apparently has the lung capacity of a squirrel). She’s actually gagging because she finds the whole thing so disgusting which is several kinds of ridiculous and her CPR is so inept it’s almost funny (amounting to pounding on his chest in frustration which would surely pulverise his chest given the givens)

Jeremy lives though Enzo manages to stab Kathlena when Damon arrives. He has the location of Wes – road trip. Stefan tells Damon not to return (a statement that really needed more drama) and is outdone by Damon who tells him he wasn’t planning on returning (with a much better drama level).

Tyler wakes up after the necksnap and Matt assures him everything’s totally fine. He then gets in the car with Nadia having guessed the truth about Kathlena since he once played host to Gregor. More death threats and Nadia planning to drain the vervain from him.

Which leaves Stefan and Kathlena alone for more clumsy flirting from her. And Stefan pulls out the one piece of heartfelt acting I actually believe this episode: Stefan has waited for Damon to do something evil and drive Elena away, but as he waited and watched Damon do endless evil things that Elena continually forgive he came to like the person his brother became – he doesn’t want to lose new Damon. Kathlena uses the excuse of Damon threatening Jeremy to say how not in to reforming Damon she is (hah, Damon has murdered Jeremy before now and no-one cared!) but she’ll help for the sake of Stefan

And Caroline walks in on them hugging

Enzo and Damon arrive at their destination with Damon edging in a bit of angst – but when they reach Wes they find him with Sloane and a lot more Travellers. More Travellers? They chant away and this time their powers are apparently sufficient to drop both Enzo and Damon to their knees (never mind that the last time Damon faced Travellers he was quite capable to tearing them into ickle pieces – power fluctuation is a thing on Vampire Diaries) – and Wes injects Damon with something.

Damon and Enzo wake up apparently alone in the building (an abandoned hospital) until they hear movement. They explore and find Joey, still tied up. Damon rescues him because of sudden altruism, but Joey is cut from his chains. Damon vamps out and not only drains Joey dry but actually rips off the man’s head.

Stefan is worried that Damon may go dark again. Y’know what kind of annoys and kind of amuses me about the whole Augustine-isn’t-Damon-evil storyline? It’s that out of all the many many many evil things Damon has done that he should be judged and shunned for, killing the Augustines isn’t one of them. Wes is continuing his evil experiments, Damon and Enzo have huge understandable grudges and the world would genuinely be a better place without the whole Augustine society. I’d jump on board and just try to police their methods than their actions. Stefan’s running a whole intervention long before he knows just how far into the deep end Damon has lept.

By the way, does anyone remember that Jeremy is actually, technically a hunter and probably shouldn’t go down all that easy? Anyone? No? Ok, just me then.

Ok, I could go with a lot of things I don’t like about Vampire Diaries – everything revolving around Kathlena, the excess plot lines poking up etc, but that’s standard. My main irritation this time is that nothing felt natural – I’m not saying that Vampire Diaries is the pinnacle of acting or writing, but this episode really broke things. I can buy Damon’s descent and wish to kill the Augustines, but even with Stefan’s little psych lesson I don’t buy him jumping this far into attacking the group. Kathlena’s acting has been appalling – unable to give CPR because it’s so nasty, the terrible fake imitations, whining because she can’t leave Jeremy to die.

And I don’t buy that the Travellers are constantly skulking around them with endless nefarious purposes and NO-ONE feels the need to follow up on that. There was a vampire kill on campus and Elena and Caroline decided to play detective – but the Travellers repeatedly getting involved in their lives doesn’t need any attention at all?

It’s really clumsy – it’s not just poorly plotted, it’s poorly executed.