20 November 2009

The Vampire Diaries S1 E10 "The Turning Point"

Spoilers Ahead

Considering what I said about the last episode of The Vampire Diaries, this confession is verging on shocking: I actually enjoyed "The Turning Point." Yeah, I have no clue how that happened. I still think "History Repeating" should have been the season finale, with all events leading up to it being developed more fully (come on--the Vicki-as-vampire storyline could and should have lasted way more than one paltry episode), and Logan's sudden reappearance nicely filling the role of cliffhanger. Alas, the producers never asked my opinion on the matter, so no use crying over rushed storylines. Besides the pacing issues, "The Turning Point" also made up for lack of originality with high levels of predictability. And yet somehow it sucked me in. Guess they're doing something right (then again, I have the feeling if I watch it again a few months from now I'll wonder what the hell I was thinking. I suspect The Vampire Diaries has about as long a shelf life as plasma...)

Picking up where "History Repeating" left off, Logan--newly returned from the dead--all but begs Aunt Jenna to invite him in. Exhibiting backbone she didn't seem capable of, she refuses. He takes out his resulting frustration on a passing jogger. Sloppy corpse disposal ends up tipping the Sheriff off that the town's vampire problem isn't quite solved yet.

Meanwhile, born-again keener Jeremy is keeping busy reading the journal of his ancestor Johnathon Gilbert, whose writings about vampires and demons were thought by most to be purely fictional. Coming across a rudimentary sketch of a vampire in the journal prompts Jeremy to start drawing "again." Later, at Career Day, after seeing a similar sketch done by his recent rival Ty, Jeremy somehow gets the idea that the two of them should bond. Seeing as how they hated each other until about ten seconds before Jeremy saw Ty's drawing, this comes somewhat out of left field. Apparently Ty agrees, deciding he'd rather make derogatory comments about Vicki than make nice with Jeremy. This leads to a scuffle, followed by the Mayor (Ty's father) taking both boys outside, where he then gets weirdly aggressive and tries to push the boys into settling their problem like "men" (i.e., beating the crap out of each other). Neither Jeremy nor Ty are willing, which only angers dad further. Luckily the new teacher, Alaric Salzman, shows up to put an end to the would-be Thunderdome. The Mayor's not too impressed but he backs down quickly when Salzman points out that the two of them can always settle things like men. When Jeremy tries once more to bond with Ty, this time by sympathizing with him over his father's bizarre behaviour, Ty's anger flares out of nowhere and he punches Jeremy. When Jeremy asks what his problem is, Ty repeatedly says that he doesn't know. Meanwhile the camera closes in on the full moon behind them. Hmm... suddenly Salzman's comment about the mayor being an "alpha male douchebag" takes on a whole new meaning. Looks like lycanthropy runs in the family, and Ty is about to realize his legacy.

By the way, Jeremy's dialogue in these scenes leaves me feeling the need to comment on an ongoing pet peeve shared by me and my SO. We've reached the point where we cringe every time we hear a character exclaim that they "get it." It seems to be the hallmark of every teen show nowadays to include this phrase at least once (usually more) per episode. I first really noticed it in the later seasons of Buffy (I think we hear "I get it" seven times in one noteworthy episode), and it is incredibly annoying. Right up there with "gift" being used as a verb. As much fun as it is coming up with snarky suggestions of what I think it is they get exactly, the evidence of poor writing/editing is just too distracting. Unfortunately, I don't think this is going to change anytime soon. That being the case, I humbly suggest beleaguered viewers amuse themselves with a drinking game. You get a shot every time a character "gets it." Seems fair. At least until TV writers learn what that little thesaurus icon at the top of their screens is for.

Back to "The Turning Point," Stefan and Damon spend a cursory amount of time talking about leaving town but, as expected, end up going nowhere. The Sheriff shows up to tell Damon about the newly discovered victim and to ask his opinion about what to do next, since he's the only one in town who's ever killed a vampire. Nice. So much for the vampire hunters' cabal. Of course both Stefan and Damon stick around--they can't just let some new vampire run around killing people (Damon's apparently decided keeping a low profile is the way to go).

Damon tracks the vampire (getting Caroline to use the Gilbert watch/vampire-tracking compass for him, since his presence interferes with it) to an old warehouse (there's always an old warehouse). Inside he's shot multiple times with wooden bullets, leaving him temporarily paralyzed. It seems Logan is getting his revenge on, particularly since he knows Damon killed him and thinks he turned him, as well (all he claims to remember is passing out and then waking up in a shallow grave). Damon, however, didn't turn him, and demands to know who did. Logan rebuts by demanding to be told how Damon and Stefan can walk around in the daylight. Neither is forthcoming with answers. Hello, impasse. Logan ends up shooting Damon again before heading over to Career Day at the school.

I came to the realization as I was watching this episode that characters who annoyed the hell out of me as humans suddenly seem far more palatable once they're turned. Not sure if that says something about me or about the writing (the villains always get the best lines, after all), but I'm starting to hope Caroline gets turned. Since it doesn't look as though she's going anywhere, at least she could be made bearable. Maybe. At the very least I can live in hopes of seeing her staked.

While Damon is busy with Logan, Stefan goes to Elayna at school to warn her about the situation. Soon enough Logan shows up and Stefan sends Elayna and Jenna away so he can try to deal with him. Logan confronts Stefan, again demanding to know how he and Damon can walk outside during the day. Stefan hedges, but when Logan threatens him if he doesn't tell, Stefan warns him never to threaten him again. Stefan's brooding is really minimal in this episode and it suits him (not to mention that it's way more fun to watch). Stefan then lets Damon know that Logan's at the school. I'm not sure why Stefan needs Damon's help with Logan, though; is he that weak from animal blood that he can't even take on a neonate? Not really making the case for the ethical vampire lifestyle.

I'm also not sure where Damon's super speed has gone to. Logan has enough time to threaten the Sheriff (he's not happy with his post-mortem treatment by the cabal), lure Caroline with an offer of a ride, render her unconscious (by smashing her head into the window--nicely done), drive away with her, and call the Sheriff to gloat over what he's going to do with her precious daughter, before Stefan and Damon finally show up to save the day. After indulging in a little turnabout (Damon shoots Logan this time), Stefan gets Caroline home while Damon reassures the Sheriff who's still on the phone. He then demands again to know who turned Logan. It's not until Logan is about to be beheaded by a tire iron that he admits he does know who turned him. He claims there are other vampires who want to break open the tomb encasing Katherine et al, that these other vamps know a way to achieve this, and that they want to help Damon. Ever the opportunist, Damon agrees to meet with Logan at the church, first getting Logan to "attack" him as the Sheriff pulls up, in order to hide the fact that Damon is letting him go.

Unfortunately, Damon never does find out the identity of these mystery vampires (why they don't just approach him directly is another mystery). When Logan returns to the warehouse he's confronted by Salzman, playing the role of macho defender of the womenfolk (aka Jenna). Giving in to overconfidence, Logan vamps out only to end up staked. Just as I suspected, Salzman is a hunter. And yet, I'm not convinced he isn't also a vampire. This could be interesting. Anyway, while Damon's waiting at the church for Logan to show up, he gets a call from the Sheriff thanking him for killing the bad vampire, and letting him know that she and the town owe him "so much." Guess Damon's got a reason to stick around, after all. Like there was ever any doubt.

After getting Caroline to safety (never mind the head trauma--she'll certainly be fine at home all by herself), Stefan returns to Elayna to let her know that everything's okay. She offers him a ride to his place, which is then followed by a lecture on how he's leaving (which he still insists he'll be doing) for his own reasons, not because it's what's best for her--and anyway, that's her decision to make, not his. While the endless speeches/whining are annoying, Elayna at least deserves credit for standing up for herself. She ends by telling Stefan she loves him, which is apparently good enough for him. They kiss, they go upstairs (she's leading the way), they have sex. The scene is overly sentimental in my book, but I'm sure less jaded viewers will enjoy it.

Afterwards, as Stefan and Elayna cuddle there's some ham-fisted dialogue about how she's never been in his room before and how it's the repository of all his memories and everything important to him. Did everyone catch that? Was there anyone watching who didn't instantly figure out that Elayna would soon find Katherine's photo? Anyone? The second Stefan leaves the room, Elayna decides to go exploring. Before you can say "doppelganger," she's staring in horror at Katherine's picture. By the time Stefan returns, Elayna's gone, having left behind the photo, a note, and--stupid, stupid girl--the vervain-containing necklace he gave her. That'll learn him to leave pictures of old girlfriends lying around.

Upset as only a TV girlfriend can be, Elayna speeds through the night, not paying as much attention to the road as she should. She hits a dark figure standing there and flips her car. Dazed and hurt, she watches as the broken figure on the ground heals and gets up. Her panic rises as whoever/whatever is out there walks toward her. The last thing we see is a pair of legs standing next to her.

Not a bad ending there; I know I'm succumbing to major curiosity about what's going to happen next. It seems all sorts of sins can be forgiven in the face of an intriguing plot twist. Let's hope this time they don't show all their cards too soon...

Fang Files

Physical Appearance: dark, red-rimmed eyes; dark facial veins. Dead vampires look like dead humans, only with extremely prominent veins.

Strengths: Super hearing. Ability to compel (hypnotize) humans. Super speed. Quick healing.

Weaknesses: Wooden bullets (paralyzing), stakes (fatal). Vervain.

Mythology: Vampires need to be invited into a private residence by someone who lives there. New vampires suffer magnified emotions mixed together with--and complicated by--blood lust; they often want to return to people they cared about, as much to be with them as to bite them. Only Damon and Stefan--as far as they know--have rings that allow them to walk in the sun unharmed.

Sound Bites

Damon: (trying to convince Stefan they should stick together after leaving Mystic Falls) We could try out for The Amazing Race.

Damon: (after Logan complains that he can't get inside his own house) You have to be invited in.
Logan: I know. I live alone.

Mayor: Do I look like a student?
Alaric Salzman: No, you look like a full-grown alpha male douchebag.

The Vampire Diaries, Season 1 Episode 10 "The Turning Point." Written by Kevin Williamson, Julie Plec, and Barbie Kligman. Directed by J. Miller Tobin. From The CW.

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