16 September 2010

Vampire Diaries S2 E2 "Brave New World"

Spoilers Ahead

I know I've said many times that Caroline sucks, but now she really does; in fact, she's a bloodsucking fiend! And suddenly the character is a whole lot more interesting. Not only that but I have a brand new theory about Katherine and Elena. Can you tell I enjoyed "Brave New World"?

The episode starts with Caroline waking up after Katherine smothered her with a pillow last episode. For a minute I wondered if she was actually one of the undead, or if maybe Katherine's smothering skills aren't up to par. But pretty soon it's obvious that Caroline won't be sunbathing anytime soon. Her transition from human to vampire is pretty impressive. She goes from being drawn to, but disgusted by, blood to enthusiastically chomping on neck (for which she later apologizes). There's definitely a lot of fear and despair as she gets burned by sunlight and vervain, wants to feed on Matt, and sees her vamped-out face in the mirror. But it's also obvious she's already a formidable vampire. She compels a nurse by accident, a skill she then uses with ease, and--even more impressive--throws Damon across the room. She even rocks a new vampy look (thankfully not going overboard on the goth--I'd like to think vampires are a little more creative than that). Of course after killing her first human (the hapless Carter, this episode's bitch) she's overcome with remorse and self-loathing.

While Caroline is attempting to come to terms with the monster within, Elena keeps busy pretending to be normal, ignoring all things vampire, and channelling Caroline (how is that normal, exactly?) as she takes over running the school's annual carnival. Stefan's focused on worrying about Damon and teaching Jeremy how to incapacitate and kill vampires (this doesn't strike me as the brightest idea). And Damon is occupying himself with trying to figure out the Lockwood family secret (as well as accepting the mayor's widow's offer to spearhead the vampire-hunting council).

Interestingly, Ty is also trying to figure out the Lockwood family secret. Bonding with cool Uncle Mason slowly grinds to a halt as Ty realizes that Mason is hiding something important. He catches Mason rifling through his dad's desk (Mason claims he was looking for a family artifact--a moonstone--belonging to his mother, which has a lot of sentimental value but is otherwise completely worthless--really). And later, when Mason comes to Ty's aid after Carter (compelled by Damon) picks a fight, Mason pulls a really nifty move where he jumps over Carter in a rather inhuman way. When Ty confronts him about it (and his wolfish eyes, which Ty got a good look at), Mason claims he studied Brazilian martial arts and that his glowing eyes must have been a reflection from a nearby light. Ty's not buying it for a second. Assuring Mason that they're "good" Ty then makes a beeline for the secret safe under a floorboard in his dad's office, where he quickly retrieves--and pockets--the moonstone. I was wondering why Mason wouldn't just tell Ty what they are (he was hinting, but definitely evasive), but it's clear he's more interested in the moonstone than in instructing his nephew. I'm guessing the stone has something to do with who gets to be alpha. Hope Ty holds on to it.

By the way, Mason could prove to be a major problem for the Salvatores. In a bout of friendly arm-wrestling at the carnival, Mason trounces Stefan, who confesses to Damon that he actually had been trying to win. Don't you hate it when vampires start out as the strongest, scariest monsters only to later be eclipsed by other supernatural types until they're about as scary as kittens? And the de-fanging begins...

Starting with Damon, apparently. Other than seeming a little subdued, he's back to his normal self (that is, not unbalanced or enraged). He's decided that since Katherine is back to declare her undying, eternal love to Stefan, he can deal with her himself. As for killing Jeremy, well--no harm, no foul, right--the kid is fine. Of course when Jeremy gets tetchy with him and threatens to expose what Damon is, Damon puts him right back in his place. But even then Damon is kind of...mild. He gets his point across but I don't sense that he's inspiring mortal terror in Jeremy. And of course later he gets knocked on his ass by Caroline. When he then tries to stake Caroline (not for revenge but as more of a mercy killing) Elena gets in the way and he backs down. And when Bonnie decides to blame him for everything bad in the world, he's helpless as she causes him head-splitting pain and then sets him on fire. (When a grown man is brought down repeatedly by teenage girls, you know he's in trouble.) Luckily Elena (who seems to not really hate him anymore) steps in and stops Bonnie; they walk away leaving Damon lying defeated on the ground. WTH?

Even when Damon gets home and finds Jeremy waiting, stake in hand and vervain-spiked whiskey at the ready, he doesn't get angry. Instead he has more of a big-brother chat with Jeremy, kidding him about his nonexistent stake-whittling skills. Maybe if Jeremy had decided to go through with his attack or was better prepared, Damon would have reacted differently (thankfully Jeremy seems to be more open minded about vampires than his uncle or father were). But you'd think Damon would be a little peeved. Something about this just isn't right (and it's not limited to him, either--there's something off about the way everyone seems to have so easily gotten over Damon killing Jeremy. Ring or no ring, that kind of action has to provoke something more than "I don't want to talk about the D-word" and half-hearted threats).

Maybe they're simply preoccupied with Caroline. While Damon think she needs to be killed to avoid another Vicky situation, Elena refuses to even consider it. Outwardly Stefan agrees with Elena but he admits that Damon is right. Bonnie's in shock over the whole thing. Ultimately Elena prevails and Stefan begins acting as mentor to Caroline, teaching her how to control the need for blood, to not let it overwhelm her. He promises he won't let anything happen to her (you'd think he'd be more worried about what she's going to do to other people). But by the time she's cleaned up she's well enough to go home and act normal (never mind how she got into her home, especially since she mentions to Matt that her mom is out). There's a nice moment after Matt's shown up when he tells Caroline he's in love with her. As they embrace, she starts vamping out, but she gets herself under control and the vampire recedes again. I think I'm going to like Caroline a lot more as a vampire--as long as the character actually grows from it and isn't her usual shallow self, just with (blunted) fangs.

Now, as to that theory of mine re: Katherine and Elena. Twice in this episode characters make off hand comments that turn out to be true. Elena jokes with Bonnie that Caroline isn't human (unaware that Caroline's been turned). Stefan kids with Damon that the Lockwoods might be werewolves. Neither of them take it seriously, and technically it isn't confirmed, but all evidence points to that being the case. And then Elena says in passing that Katherine is her doppelganger, meaning her lookalike. But what if Katherine really is Elena's doppelganger, in a more traditional sense (or maybe Elena is Katherine's doppelganger in reverse--i.e., not evil). I don't know but the episode made a point of emphasizing that Katherine and Elena are way too much alike for it to be mere coincidence or simply a matter of genes (no one resembles an ancestor that much). I'm really curious to see where this is going.

Overall, this is one of the better episodes. There's some good potential future conflict and storylines involving numerous characters (and mostly centred around Katherine). The writers just need to remember the title of the series when they're deciding which monsters to keep at the forefront.

Fang Files

Appearance: Human until the vampire emerges, and then dark eyes and facial veins, as well as sharp, prominent fangs.

Strengths: Super speed, strength. Heightened sense of smell. Ability to compel (hypnotize) humans. Ability to fly.

Weaknesses: Sunlight, stakes (if properly whittled), vervain, blood lust.

Mythology: In order to be turned a human needs to die with vampire blood in their system. A transitioning vampire has intense and wild mood swings and a nearly uncontrollable hunger for blood. Vampires need an invitation to enter a private residence (except when the writers get a little sloppy).

Sound Bites

Damon: (responding to Stefan's comment that he just fed) Are you worried that all the forest animals will band together and fight back? After all, they talk.

Stefan: Ah-hah, you're lurking.
Damon: I'm observing.
Stefan: You're obsessing.

Caroline: (to Damon, after throwing him across the room) You suck.

Bonnie: I can't believe this is happening.
Damon: (arriving with shovel) Come on, don't pout about it--we have a body to bury.

The Vampire Diaries, Season 2 Episode 2 "Brave New World." Written by Brian Young. Directed by John Dahl. From The CW.

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