28 January 2011

The Vampire Diaries S2 E12 "The Descent"

Spoilers Ahead

Which is worse: a creature for whom killing is part of its nature (and at times is necessary for its survival) or one that has no control--or remorse--over its capacity to end lives? "The Descent" raised this question for me and, although no answer was forthcoming, the question is still on my mind. Welcome to the latest edition of Vampires vs. Werewolves.

After a long hiatus, the show picks up the morning after the events of "By the Light of the Moon," with werewolf Jules waking up in human form in the woods, her mouth bloody. It doesn't take long for her to find the campsite of corpses (or I should say parts of corpses). But rather than being shocked or upset at the discovery of what she did in wolf form she calmly steals (clothes) from the dead and starts piling up the pieces for an impromptu bonfire.

Suddenly a cop pulls up (we won't ask why a cop shows up out of nowhere in the woods) and Jules freezes. She's crouched in front of a burning pile of body parts and she's already been spotted. As he approaches, she starts crying and telling him that a wolf killed all her friends and miraculously didn't leave a scratch on her. As the cop (believing the pretty, distraught lady) heads to his car to call for help, Jules bludgeons him with what I hope was a large branch. What's another murder, right?

Elsewhere it seems as though things are back to normal for Elena and Stefan. Well, for Elena anyway. While she's convinced they can trust Elijah and that everything will be okay, Stefan's not so sure. He wants to find a way to get in touch with Isobel, reasoning that she can help them fight Klaus. Stefan has also started dosing himself with vervain in order to build a tolerance (as Katherine did).

Elena tries to enlist Damon's support against Stefan contacting Isobel, but Damon happens to agree with his brother. He's also slightly preoccupied tending to a very sick Rose. Although he gives her blood to drink, telling her "blood heals" the wound on her shoulder looks even worse. He asks Elena to watch over Rose while he goes out, but when Elena tries to talk to him about Rose he acts unconcerned and claims he doesn't care what happens to her.

After her busy morning of killing witnesses and destroying evidence, Jules decides to check in with the Sheriff (re: Mason) and get lunch at The Grill, which also happens to be where Alaric is. He gives Damon a call to let him know what's going on. It's a busy day for Alaric (does he even teach anymore?) because the next moment Stefan shows up asking for a way to find Isobel. Alaric relents and gives him an old, possibly useless, number.

Damon, meanwhile, has shown up and proceeds to have a highly unsatisfying exchange with Jules in which he promises not to kill her if she tells him how to cure Rose (whom he doesn't care about. At all. Really.) Jules tells him to bite her (I truly hope he does) before informing him that the only cure for Rose is a stake through the heart. I'm not sure why he doesn't follow her out of The Grill and rip her spleen out her back but, alas, she shows up again later, alive and well.

Back at Casa Salvatore, Elena is helping Rose as her condition worsens. And we finally get to see Damon's room! It's actually really nice, traditional but not fussy or old-fashioned (I approve). The book by his bedside is Gone with the Wind, which at first I found funny but when I thought about it more is actually pretty sad. Gone with the Wind is set in Damon's time and reading it would be like reliving his human life. Clearly he's longing for (or stuck in) something long past. Not good.

But as bad off as he is, Rose is even worse. She has fever and pain. She switches between lucidity and delirium. And she either can't keep blood down or she gorges on it. When she's lucid she talks about how she wasted her life in fear and urges Elena to fight Klaus and Elijah. When she's delirious she thinks Elena is Katherine and tries to kill her. After Elena locks herself in a sunny room, Rose gives up and wanders off, killing a couple of people along the way (when she's aware again she's horrified at what she's done).

This brings us to my big complaint about this episode: the pacing. Damon leaves Elena with Rose in the morning. It somehow takes him until noon to get to The Grill and confront Jules for all of thirty seconds. Elena calls him sometime in the morning or afternoon (once Rose starts behaving strangely), telling him to come home. He doesn't show up until after dark. Where has he been and what has he been doing for so long? I also like how he gives Elena an annoyed glare when he realizes Rose is gone and Elena doesn't know where. Stupid human--couldn't even watch an out-of-control vampire--pff. Also, does Elena not go to school anymore? These might be minor issues but they take me out of the story, and that's a problem.

Anyway, when they catch up with Rose after her sickness-induced killing spree, Rose is in a shambles, begging Damon to "make it stop." He, not caring about her at all, picks her up and carries her home. She's calmer when she wakes up later and she takes a moment to tell Elena that she knows she's scared but she has to fight. She also reminisces about being human, claiming the memory of it is the only thing that's kept her going and tells Elena that Damon wants to care but as soon as he does he runs away from it. Then she loses it, screaming in pain. At this point Damon kicks Elena out.

Alone with Rose, Damon cradles her against him and induces a pleasant dream (handy skill that) where Rose is human again and in the place she's happiest. In the dream Rose is happy, the pain is gone, she's unafraid, and she's excited about maybe seeing her family or Trevor again. She thanks Damon for all he's done for her. In reality, tears run down his face as he stakes her. Once again a vampire character I like ends up dead. It's uncanny.

While the other vampires and weres get their hate on, Ty and Caroline are bonding. He's grateful to her for helping him get through his first full moon and she's happy to have been there for him. She tells him about the results of a werewolf bite and he can't believe she would risk it. But before they can get too into it Matt arrives. He misses Caroline and it seems she misses him too as she returns the kiss he initiates. But when she pulls away she's distressed and runs off. Later he confronts her about it and she blurts out that she loves him. That only confuses him more, as does her disappearing act when he looks away for a moment. But the day isn't over yet for Caroline. Waiting for her as she returns home is Ty, anxious to talk about why she risked his bite. His incomprehension of her desire to help him sets her off on a rant about how she cares about him whether he likes it or not. In the middle of it he kisses her. And she returns it. And after she pulls away she's distressed and runs inside. It's hard not to feel sorry for Caroline.

We might be feeling even sorrier for Caroline next week, though. After leaving Caroline, Ty meets with Jules at her request. He doesn't seem impressed with her or her assertion that Caroline helped kill Mason. But when Jules informs him that Caroline's been lying about there being no other vampires in Mystic Falls, Ty might be willing to overlook his distaste for Jules. Meanwhile she also tells him that a bunch of her hirsute pals are on their way to help kick vampire ass. Perfect.

Cut back to Damon as he returns home after burying Rose. Elena is waiting for him and he makes it clear she's the last person he wants to see at the moment. It comes out that he feels guilty about Rose's death because Jules had been after him, but instead of dwelling on it Damon snaps at Elena and orders her to leave. She agrees to go but not before pausing to give him a comforting hug. The look on his face ranges from confusion to anguish to near-tears. If you're an emotional sap like I am it's pretty heartbreaking to watch. And if you're not you can still appreciate the acting skills on display here.

At her place Elena finds Stefan. He's been AWOL most of the episode and it turns out he's been trying to get in touch with Isobel (which we and Elena already knew). He didn't find her but he did get in touch with--ta da!--Uncle John/Elena's biological father. This is going to be interesting. Maybe Katherine will come at him with a knife again.

The episode ends with a woman driving at night and coming across a body in the road. She gets out to see if he needs any help and it turns out to be Damon--lost (metaphorically) and drunk (literally). He compels the woman not to move and starts rambling, claiming he has a secret, saying he doesn't know if he'll kill her, and generally wallowing in a world of hurt. The secret turns out to be that he misses being human more than anything and there's (obviously) nothing he can do about it. Okay, can someone please tell me what is so great about being human that vampires are eternally brooding over no longer being among the mortal? Yeah, who could possibly prefer eternal youth and health, superhuman strength, and hordes of teenage fangirls? Especially in this mythology where vampires can walk in sunlight and killing is optional. Sorry, Damon, but get over it.

Of course he doesn't get over it. Instead he tells the woman she can go. An instant later he's grabbed her and is tearing into her neck. This is a great scene. The fast cuts and the heavy music--very nicely done; there's no doubt that Damon really is lost. (Should I worry that I find him completely hot in this scene?) The last shot is of Damon looking up, mouth bloodied, eyes dark red. Can he come back from this? Probably, but let's hope he doesn't rush it.

I still haven't decided which creature is worse: the one that's out of control and doesn't care or the one that kills deliberately but feels bad about it. Maybe it doesn't matter. But if I had to choose sides I'll always go with the vampires. I'll just have to smack them if they start whinging about not being human.

Fang Files

Appearance: Pale humans until the vampire emerges, then dark, red eyes; dark facial veins; long fangs. A dead vampire looks grey and extra veiny.

Strengths: Super strength, speed (unless it's inconvenient to the storyline). Ability to move silently.

Weaknesses: Stakes, vervain. Sunlight unless wearing a daylight ring. Werewolf bites.

Mythology: Vampires have the ability to enter one another's heads and influence their dreams.

Sound Bites

Stefan: [warning Damon not to cause trouble] There's a lot of people here.
Damon: Damn--there goes my plan to rip her spleen out her back.

Rose: I'm sorry.
Damon: You went on a murderous rampage. It happens.

Damon: I feel, Elena, okay? And it sucks.

Damon: I can't be what other people want me to be. What she wants me to be.

The Vampire Diaries, S2 E12 "The Descent." Written by Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec. Directed by Marcos Siega. From The CW.

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