I have to wonder if it's some sign of a psychological defect that I prefer the bad vampires to the good ones. I like Angelus far better than Angel, soulless Spike over soulful Spike, and Damon over Stefan. Actually, I do prefer Vampire Bill to Eric so I guess I haven't completely crossed over to the dark side (yet). But one thing I never could tolerate is poor writing (and its evil cohort sloppy editing). That's why I like Damon but not The Vampire Diaries.
If you'll recall my last review, much was made of Pearl and the escaped vampires' plan to take Mystic Falls back, as well as Damon's lack of interest in Pearl's offer to give him Katherine. Hold that thought for a bit...
"Let the Right One In" starts off with Elayna being woken by a storm, and Anna in Jeremy's room talking about vampires and asking Jeremy to give her one good reason why she should turn him. He can't think of one. But that doesn't stop him from spending the entire episode pestering Anna to turn him. She finally agrees to it after she realizes he likes her. He really likes her (and not what she can do for him)!
Meanwhile, after showing off his whittling skills, Frederick starts scheming behind Pearl's back. So much for him being the next big bad on the show--I'm just going to tell you now that he's dead by the end of the episode. Is it just me or is the body count on TVD a little too high? At this point it's not so much shocking when someone gets killed as simply annoying. Anyway, Frederick initially tries to get Pearl onside, but she responds with the baffling "We can't live our whole lives about revenge." She also claims that vampires don't hold grudges, and that it's all about patience and self-control. Um...okay...so her big plan to take back the town is somehow not about vengeance and isn't motivated by a big-ass grudge? And did she mean self-control like gouging Damon's eyes out when he didn't agree to help her after she broke into his house? I might have missed something, but I think it's more likely that the show's writers and editors definitely did--like the meeting they should have had to sort out continuity. Seriously--it was only the last episode--pay attention!
So anyway, knowing that Frederick is a loose cannon who wants some serious revenge for being starved and left in a crypt for 150-ish years--and for the death of his girlfriend (Beth-Ann)--Pearl decides to head to town to scope out the vervain situation. It doesn't take Freddy long to take advantage of her absence and the sunless day (finally--a vampire who doesn't have a magic ring!) He stabs and kidnaps Stefan, who's weaker than usual from the fight the previous night.
Did I mention that before Stefan was kidnapped, as they were planning how to deal with the escaped vampires, Damon suddenly mentions that this is his chance to get Katherine back? Maybe he should have thought of that before Pearl dug her thumbs into his eye sockets. Sigh. These 180s sure do keep us guessing! Moving on. By the time Damon and Elayna realize Stefan is missing, he's already well-ensconced back at Miss Gibbons's house. When Damon heads there to confront Frederick, all he can do is helplessly watch Stefan get tortured inside while Frederick taunts him. Damon does not have the all-important invite to enter the house, and Frederick compels Miss Gibbons to make sure he never does.
After Damon leaves, Stefan is tied up (shirtless, of course--that one's for the ladies) and tortured even more. Apparently vervain burns vampires (it's TVD's version of holy water) so the ropes holding Stefan are soaked in the stuff and Frederick pours some into Stefan's eyes, as well (again with the eyes). When Harper tries to help our hero, Frederick has him pinned in place with stakes.
Back to Damon... realizing he needs a human to get into the house--and not willing to let Elayna do it--the two of them approach Alaric Saltzman (who seems to be in fine shape after being resurrected by his magic ring). Saltzman is understandably reluctant to help the vampire who turned his wife (Isobel) and then killed him, but after Damon claims the vampires know where Isobel is, he has a change of heart. Elayna still wants to help, but Damon absolutely refuses, saying the whole thing will backfire if he has to worry about her safety. Saltzman is to get in, get Damon invited, and then get out again as quickly as possible.
While all this is going on, Pearl picks up Anna at The (creatively named) Grill. As they start heading out, Mayor Lockwood warns her not to go out in the dangerous weather. When she realizes who he is, Pearl is suddenly interested in hanging around. And he's equally enthusiastic to spend time with an apparently wealthy constituent (and her hot ass doesn't hurt, either). His son, Ty, and I were about equally impressed. And what does Miss Pearl do with the man whose ancestor had her locked in the tomb? Why, talk history, of course! You'd think someone in the anti-vampire cabal would be a little leery of newcomers with an in-depth knowledge of local history. I'm just saying...
At this point I'm not too fond of Pearl anymore. I enjoyed her in the flashbacks (maybe only because she was tolerable in comparison to Katherine). Felt sympathy for her when she first got out of the tomb. Now I'm wondering why this character is so confused. She was going to leave town, then she suddenly decides to stay. She wants revenge, but maybe not. She's vicious but also reserved to the point of being boring. It's not because her character is multifaceted, either. And it also annoys me to no end that she still treats her daughter, Anna, like a teenager. Even worse, Anna lets herself be treated that way! Anna might look young but the character is supposed to be a couple of centuries old and has been taking care of herself just fine for the last 150 years. And yet they still have a mother-teen dynamic. I know a child is always a baby to their mother, but this is kind of ridiculous. Anna's decision to turn Jeremy probably has as much to do with rebelling against Pearl (who has particular issues with the Gilberts) as anything else. An eternity of teen angst--I'd stake myself.
Back to the reconnaissance mission (and where's Bonnie, by the way? A witch might be helpful about now...), Elayna stays in the car while Saltzman approaches the house and Damon lies in wait. Using the standby excuse of "my car broke down, can I use your phone?" Saltzman is led to the kitchen where he promptly dispatches his escort and tries to convince Miss Gibbons to invite Damon in. That's a no-go, so Damon tells Saltzman to bring her outside. After making sure she's the only human who lives in the house, Damon snaps her neck. So maybe being a vampire's roommate isn't the best option. Once in, Damon starts killing vampires as he searches for Stefan, and Frederick remains clueless in the front room (gee--those guys sure have been gone a while...)
After being absolutely forbidden to go near the house for the sake of her safety and the success of getting Stefan back, Elayna takes the first opportunity to sneak into the house. Well, she doesn't sneak so much as make a hideous amount of noise breaking a window. Lucky (and convenient) for her the vamp on guard is listening to his newfangled iPod. Then she sticks her head around the corner to give him a good look at her. Also lucky and convenient is Damon's timing as he shows up at just the right moment to save her from her own stupidity. At least they find and release Stefan and Harper quickly. Damon sends Stefan and Elayna back to the car while he takes off to settle the score with Frederick (at which point Harper disappears--you'd think he might want to get in on it).
I should probably mention that while all this has been going on, Caroline's car has been stuck in wet mud and she can't get a signal on her phone. Brain trust that she is, she decides to try getting a signal by heading deeper into the wilderness, then turning her back on a steep embankment while moving around heedlessly. Take a guess what happens next. My hope that this would finally be the end of her is dashed when she manages to stop her fall by grabbing on to plants. As she starts dragging herself back up the embankment, what looks like a branch turns out to be a badly decomposed body.
At the house, Damon and Saltzman (who for some reason decides to save and then help Damon) fight Frederick and his buddies. Frederick takes off in the confusion and Damon goes looking for him as soon as he has a chance. Too bad he doesn't think to check on Elayna and Stefan, who Frederick has, of course, followed. After continuing where he left off with Stefan and on the verge of staking him for good, Frederick is stabbed with one of Saltzman's vervain-filled darts by Elayna, who finally does something useful. Frederick's out for the time-being, but so is Stefan. Elayna manages to revive him and convinces him to drink some of her blood.
The blood-drinking scene is so-so in my opinion, but then again nothing compares to "Graduation Day Part 2" where Angel feeds on Buffy. If you haven't seen it, go watch that scene and you'll know what I mean. (And if you haven't seen Buffy yet, what's the matter with you?)
Hopped up on human blood, Stefan goes into overkill mode--literally--as he stabs and stakes Frederick multiple times. When Elayna tries to snap him out of it, he nearly turns on her, shocking them both into silence. He comes back to his senses, though, and ultimately apologizes to Elayna, reassuring her that none of it was her fault. She doesn't seem entirely convinced but they make up anyway.
Meanwhile, Damon and Saltzman are trapped in the house surrounded by hostile vampires, with only one-vervain dart and Damon's scrappy attitude left. Too bad the standoff ends in one of the biggest anticlimaxes ever. There are the guys, ready to fight to the end, when Pearl suddenly returns home and realizes the other vamps have gone rogue (and yet her mere presence seems to bring them back in line). Damon tells her off for what was done to Stefan, Pearl apologizes and says whoever was responsible will be punished. Then Damon and Saltzman walk out. If you couldn't fit a decent story into one episode, then at least leave it on a cliffhanger. I mean that was just sad.
And what better way to celebrate the major battle that never was than to go out for drinks? At the bar, Damon is jubilant and effusive while Saltzman is surly and silent (in no small part because Damon lied about knowing where Isobel is). Saltzman punches Damon, who is completely nonplussed. At least they're getting along now.
While all this has been going on, Matt's been having a pretty good day. Things are going well with Caroline. He even returns home to find his mother has *gasp* cooked a casserole! And she even swears she'll make an effort to be a mom; a real effort this time. So who can be surprised that the good times are shattered? Caroline shows up at Matt's house along with her mom the Sheriff. Turns out that decomposed body is Vicky. Everyone is stunned at the news; even Ty, who didn't exactly treat Vicky like he gave a damn. This also provides Caroline with another opportunity to pout when Matt tells her he needs to be alone and then immediately falls weeping into Elayna's arms as soon as she shows up. I almost feel bad for Caroline here. Almost.
Jeremy probably takes Vicky's death hardest of all. Despite being compelled to be okay with her leaving, he obviously still loves her. On top of that, once he figured out she was a vampire he was sure she was alive and well somewhere. Which tips Anna off to the real reason he wanted to get turned: so he could be with Vicky again. Oops--he really did only like Anna for what she could do for him. As he turns to apologize to her, she's already gone. Now this could be a bad breakup.
The show ends on an interesting note. Damon returns home and notices bags of plasma littering the house. And there's Stefan, crumpled on the floor, mouth smeared with blood, looking every bit the pathetic junkie. Now we know why he was so adamant about only drinking animal blood. I just hope this will be a proper storyline and not another major issue that ends up getting resolved in an episode or two. I wonder if they'll hold an intervention for him. I also wonder if this is going to give Damon and Elayna the opportunity they need to get really close (they already have better chemistry than Stefan and Elayna). Could be fun. Hey, maybe I'll start liking Stefan more now that he's crazed on human blood.
So we've got a potentially decent storyline in the works, angry vampires, and an extremely enjoyable character (Damon, obviously). Now if only the writers and editors could get their act together...
Strengths: Super strength, speed. Fast healing. Power of compulsion over humans.
Weaknesses: Vervain, sunlight, stakes. Vampires who subsist on animal blood are weaker than those who feed on humans.
Mythology: First rule of vampires: don't believe everything you read. Some vampires have magically charged rings that protect them from the sun when worn. Stakes in the heart kill vampires, but anywhere else in the body they merely immobilize.
According to Anna, vampires only turn humans for three reasons: (1) to do their dirty work; (2) out of boredom (usually doesn't end well); or (3) you love them so much you want to spend eternity with them.
Elayna: (re: Stefan) You don't understand.
Damon: Oh I understand, I understand. He's the reason you live. His love lifts you up where you belong.
Saltzman: (after Damon kills Miss Gibbons) She's human.
Damon: And I'm not, so I don't care.
Jeremy: (texting Anna) I'm bored.
Anna: Suck it up.
Jeremy: Turn me and I will.
Damon: (to Saltzman) That was fun. [Saltzman glares] Oh, don't look at me like that--I know you hate me. [leans in and whispers] Everyone hates me. [normal voice] But you have to admit we were bad ass! [Saltzman punches him. Damon recovers] Happens.
The Vampire Diaries, Season 1 Episode 17 "Let the Right One In." Written by Julie Plec (teleplay) and Brian Young (story). Directed by Dennis Smith. From The CW.