Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Vampire Diaries, Season 8, Episode 12: The Lies are Going to Catch Up with You

Noooooooooooooooo, oh my gods no. I hate this show’s morality so much. It’s definition of redemption, forgiveness et al – gah. This episode. Oh this episode.

Ok, take a breath and dive into this.

So, Kai is back because ringing the hell bell actually does open the door to hell which gave several evil evil evil souls chance to escape and come to Mystic Fall. After 8 season there were so many people who could have come back from Hell (because everyone is evil in this series, yes, everyone) we end up with Kai

Damon, being the amazingly self-centred person he is, instantly realises that this is his key for waking Elena early so is quick to stop Alaric from murdering him savagely and agreeing with Kai when he claims he can help them kill Cade. Ultimately it’s Damon deciding yet again to pursue his own goal, his own desires.

Along the way they realise that Kai is only halfway in the real world (he can’t feel anything or taste anything) and he is being pulled back into hell. Clearly killing more evil people will help with that – which Damon, grudgingly does

At least we get Kai mocking Damon’s rather feeble attempts at redemption – because, really, he’s in such karmic debt that sparing the odd life here and there doesn’t even begin to cover it. Damon finally decides to try and convert Kai to the redemption pathway by claiming Kai needs to do a big selfless act to prove to Cade he’s not evil – wake Elena. And then Damon will forgive him

Uh, Alaric won’t for killing his wife and trying to kill his children. Or what about the gazillion other deaths Kai left in his wake? One person forgiving him does not in any way make up for everything. And, for that matter, I hate this very recent fixation of The Vampire Diaries on forgiveness – that you are redeemed by your victims forgiving you and can then guilt them into it. Most of their victims are dead and they have no clue who their surviving relatives are - if at all. For that matter, most of them died en mass or died so long ago that there’s very few people they can actually seek forgiveness from. It’s a cop out – one which allows them to focus “redemption” on proximate guilt and a clear path to redemption: by foisting it on one victim who is obliged to forgive

This is especially true now we have the reality of hell. That victim is now obliged to forgive or literally send you to hell – that’s a guilt trip for you.

In other Damon self-servingness, he checks in with Bonnie to see if she’s figured out how to save Enzo – not for her, nor for Enzo or for her grief. It’s just about Damon getting his own way so they can save Kai and he can resurrect Elena.

But Bonnie can contact Elena now – because she’s  psychic just like Cade. Apparently. Hey she has powers back which would be a good thing if it doesn’t mean she isn’t going to be instantly pressed into service. And, like Cade, she’s created her own afterlife dimension – in which she’s stashed Enzo. Cade isn’t a fan of this because he’s decided Enzo’s soul is his so expect lots of him chasing Bonnie around

Cade baffles me – I mean he’s owed all the evil souls in the world so why spend so much time and energy with Stefan and Damon and now Enzo. He must be getting thousands of souls a day and could easily reap more – so why waste so much time on these singular offerings?

Time for the next broken mortality: one of the side effects of Stefan being human is that all of his compulsions wore off. This means we have lots of people in Mystic Falls remember his attacks and massacres; Matt calls in Caroline to help reapply the compulsion

Which means Matt continues to annoy me – he already attacked and shamed Caroline for being a vampire but still draws upon her power, making my point again that if you want to stop supernatural shenanigans you need supernatural shenanigans of your own. The Vampire Diaries continues to make Matt the worst by having him rightly point out how terribad awful vampires are – but making Caroline the one who has to put up with it when she is a virtual saint by Vampire Diaries standards (very very very very low standards indeed). One part I do love about this is how it examines the consequences of all that compulsion. That guard you tell to look the other way while you kill/steal/rampage is going to lose his job. That watch man who you told to fall asleep is going to carry a lifetime of guilt around from his apparent negligence. These are victims every bit as much as the bodies and families and loved ones. This would have been an awesome thing to analyse several seasons ago when Vampire Diaries still had the time and capacity for an actual moral discussion

Stefan himself has been kidnapped by Dorian who has him dig a hole, drop himself in it – and then he shoots him. See, it seems Stefan killed his parents. That’s it? Sorry, I hate to be callous, but I was vaguely hoping that all of Dorian’s secrecy would point to an actual involving storyline rather than another stepping stone on Dorian’s passage to redemption.

What does emerge during all this is Stefan briefly digging up another moral point: vampires have an endless thirst for blood AND the ability to turn their humanity off. On top of that, what he doesn’t mention, is that vampires have hugely heightened emotions (which is why they’re such drama-llamas). This is brushed off but this is another hugely moral question – the thirst makes lethal accidents highly likely, both the guilt of that as well as the standard emotional ups and downs of living make turning your humanity off very very tempting which puts vampires in a place where it is, indeed, very hard not to be trapped in a terrible spiral of killing and guilt. Again, this would be an amazing thing to explore if Vampire Diaries still had the capacity and time for an actual moral discussion! Too late!

Instead we get lots of Stefan warning Dorian he’ll end up going to hell too and generally trying to be all noble about his impending death. In between Dorian angrily pointing out how little his redemption means and him trying to make amends actually makes a different to the gazillion people he’s killed especially since he has faced no consequences for his actions. Of course Dorian changes his mind and gets Stefan medical attention.

We then get Stefan’s redemption moment: he lets Dorian see the full file of all of his crimes and he gets to decide whether Stefan should go to prison or not.

Fine, but Dorian isn’t the only victim of Stefan. Again, this is the get out clause. Stefan’s redemption goes from being something which may be meaningful, to just resting it on one man. So now Dorian has the duty to forgive Stefan or doom him to hell or take responsibility for Stefan’s actions/guilt/punishment. Redemption doesn’t mean creating work for your victims. Nor can you get the forgiveness of one victim and call it good.

Anyway, Caroline is pretty much done with Stefan now – his moping, his willingness to give up without taking a grasp of what he wants or his new life. She’s also looking at her new life with the aging Stefan and rather than declare the classic “I don’t care if you get all wrinkly” she’s more having severe second doubts about living with hi angstiness especially since she’s just spent all day giving

Go Caroline. You go – get away from his mopiness. You run off with Bonnie and have your own spin off show.

Oh and Alaric’s girls are using all their scary magic and he doesn’t know what to do so he turns back to Caroline despite dumping on her about how dangerous it is around her and Mystic Falls.

Hey, notice this pattern? Humans shame Caroline for being a terrible, evil, shameful vampire and then abandon her. Then come back when they need her help with woo-woo.