Friday, October 9, 2015

The Vampire Diaries 7x01 "Day One of Twenty-Two Thousand, Give or Take" (Back to Mystic Falls) [Contributor: Anne]


"Day One of Twenty-Two Thousand, Give or Take"
Orginal Airdate: October 8, 2015

The Vampire Diaries is back!

If you’ve read anything that I’ve written for Just About Write, whether for The Mindy Project, You’re the Worst, or anything else, you know that I am as big on tearing into TV as a vampire-slash-heretic tears into the necks of innocents. I love saying things like “character arc.” It is my bread and butter.

But there’s something about The Vampire Diaries that defies this sort of discussion. This isn’t because the show is incapable of being taken seriously or of adequately addressing the issues that I would otherwise delve into. I think this show is vastly underappreciated and has, time and time again, created interesting plots, interesting characters, and interesting relationships between those characters.

It’s just... there’s something about this show that delights me, all the time, always. Maybe that’s helped by the structure of binge-watching — you’re not able to really dwell on the things that bothered you in an episode because you keep moving on — or maybe it’s just that this show aims to please and to surprise, in each one of its episodes. This is fine enough by me, because I have a short attention span, but the fact that the episodes really do fit in well together in the course of a season makes this show that much better to me.

I know a lot of people are soured on The Vampire Diaries, but in my opinion, it has been pretty consistent in quality, with just a few unfortunate plot decisions that haven’t really detracted from my overall enjoyment of the show. I expect to carry this attitude throughout the entirety of the season, which makes this show very exciting for me to review — I’ll never be that upset by what happens, and always overjoyed by the good parts. What could be better?

CAROLINE AND STEFAN


Seven is a lot of seasons, and inevitably things begin to repeat themselves — except for when they don’t. The departure of Elena from the show shook up the dynamics, but, miraculously, this shaking-up benefited rather than hurt the show. Without Elena, the show doesn’t have to focus on her primarily anymore, and can widen its scope to better reflect characters who were once secondary or tertiary.

Caroline and Stefan make so much sense to me. I think that the show kind of botched them getting together in the sixth season*, but I still am happy that they find each other at the end of this episode. I’m increasingly grateful that shows don’t waste time in the “will-they-won’t-they”; there’s something so much more compelling and satisfying in talking about feelings in the open, and seeing Caroline throw caution to the wind after 42 minutes of nonsense was a welcome change of pace for me. (Also, what a romantic scene, and so romantically shot; the camera peering in from outside, and the couple cozily fitting in the windowpane, was beautiful.)

I’m also happy that Stefan and Caroline are together because the scenes prior to their kiss were just as strange as what the sixth season showed me. For example, why would Stefan make such a big deal about having a splinter in his neck while Caroline is talking about how many people have straight-up died? Or why are they flirting over a bomb? I get that both moments were meant to show how much chemistry they have together — the lingering looks, the proximity — but what a strange juxtaposition between plot and relationship.

But, I mean, I get it. Stefan and Caroline look so good together, and they do have chemistry (probably as the result of being the two best characters still on the show). And as I said, they make sense — their personalities are both courageous, compassionate, heroic (often to a fault), moralistic, but not necessarily doormats. That’s why their negotiation with the heretics worked for me; I couldn’t imagine any better way that these two pacifist characters would approach such a major threat.

BONNIE AND DAMON


Which is why Bonnie and Damon’s opposing force was also so, so welcome — and made just as much sense to me. Why would Bonnie have any patience with these people, especially considering the hell she went through last season? (And why would Damon ever do anything pacifist?)

Bonnie has been redeemed in such an amazing way since the beginning of the show. In the beginning, she was the absolute worst: self-righteous, judgmental, and unwilling to interact with the world she was a part of. I mean, I totally get why she was like that, but that still did not make it easier to watch. And because Bonnie hated what she was doing, but continued to do it, she was the show’s way out of everything, with no satisfying character development in return.

But the prison world was the best thing that ever happened to Bonnie. When she got out of there, she decided that she wasn’t going to just insist against the parts of her world that she didn’t approve of — she was going to fight against them, act contrary to what people expected or wanted of her, and demand that she get what she deserved. Immediately, she became so much better than what she was.

It’s hard, then, to not want Bonnie to get together with Damon. I mean, if she can be so incredibly reversed, then why can’t Damon, a character who almost always is spinning his wheels or pining over Elena? I just get the strong feeling that these characters make each other better — Bonnie makes sense of Damon’s badness, and Damon gives spine to Bonnie’s goodness.

And they have chemistry. Good grief, did you see the way he grabbed her? Or that beautiful “three second” speech at the end? As this episode (and its title) makes clear, their biggest obstacle is that Damon has decided that his love for Elena is eternal and that Bonnie is not... so it’s fighting against the current, but still.

(P.S. What if he coffins himself because he kisses Bonnie and he feels guilty about it?!)

ALARIC


How do you order tea without Damon noticing? For months? Like, c’mon, disbelief, suspend me more.

Whatever was going on with Alaric was fine. I get it. I feel like Elena kind of did the same sort of grieving whenever Damon was presumably dead, so it didn’t feel that new. But a) I loved Alaric beating up the psychic who was trying to screw him (can’t believe his ring is gone, though!) and b) I am very curious what is going on with Jo’s body, though we haven’t seen the actress yet, so I’m not convinced she’s coming back. I kind of hope she does, though — I don’t know what else Alaric would do (other than fake-drunkenly hang out with Damon! I love that relationship so much).

HERETICS AND LILY


In my opinion, this had too much focus, and not interesting enough of a plot. Hear me out — heretics are practically Originals in their infallibility and their family drama, except neither of these components are performed as well as they were in season two and three when we were being introduced to the Mikaelsons.

I will say that I appreciate the lack of emphasis on werewolves, as they are the least interesting component of the trifecta. But while Lily is pretty interesting to me, the heretics fall flat. I was being asked to be sold on them hard during the episode — the selfie with the dead girl, for one — but I’m not there yet. Hopefully they will become more interesting and distinct in what they are looking for so that I can root for some over others rather than rooting for an amorphous collective.

ENZO


What a character with great potential who is mostly a mess. I’m not interested in his relationship with Lily at all, and feel like I am as confused as he is about his allegiances and what he wants.

MATT


Cute!... But so sad. If I were Matt, I would have left Mystic Falls long ago, as all of the action in Mystic Falls has hurt him more than anyone else. Everything he does is shot down by the more powerful forces around him, and it’s so tragic to see that this small, human accomplishment of his — his deputyship — is ruined by the heretics looking for blood.

BASICALLY...


The heretics are less interesting than the two sparring forces on how to handle them (Bonnie/Damon vs. Caroline/Stefan). But this episode made me very excited for what’s to come this season for that reason; there doesn’t seem to be a specific focus on one character or villain as much as the entire cast is being treated with care.

Also, WHAT’S UP WITH THE TIME-JUMP? (Does that make the show in the present-day, considering the first four seasons took two years and the following two took more time as well?)

Stray Observations:
  • * It was bad how everything was framed in Liz’s death, especially Stefan’s weird reaction to Caroline at her mother’s funeral.
  • I’m surprised how much I miss Elena, despite the fact I think her departure was for the best. The thing about becoming more ensemble is that you lack one anchor, and the ways the show tried to fill in that absence — with the diary-writing of about a billion different people, as well as their respective voiceovers — was a bit much.
  • Episode MVP goes to Bonnie, I think, who was just so great at calling Damon out and taking a stand against the heretics.
  • So is no one in the town on vervain?
What did you think about The Vampire Diaries' premiere? Let us know in the comments below!

4 comments:

  1. Wow. This is so true. With elena gone, they can devolep others caharcter that left behind orbnever been developed before. Like bonnie bennett. And its so hard to not agree anout Damon Salvator. If other characters can developed to more unteresting, why still let Damon stuck onnpining over the coffin. Both Bonnie and damon really make a interesting couple in the series. They are the most healthier because they start from enemies n learn slowlybto be frenemis then turn to be bff. Soon gfbf. Its go on to stefen and Caroline. Its great to see stefen chasing someone who didnt give a damn anymore about others feeling. Its been a long fight for care bear try to catch her attention. When she started to give up, this time for stefen to cahse him to prove him worthy to her or not. So far. We hope season 7 did not stuck on elena plot anymore.

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  3. Well great to see that vampire diaries TV series are back and i think that this time they would come with the better stories and the star cast would also be changed. Elena Gilbert Jacket

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