30 June 2011

Charlaine Harris in Toronto







Before I get into the details I want to give a quick wave to all the Blood Lines readers in the US, Canada, Germany, the UK, France, Australia, Italy, Romania, the Philippines, and Denmark! According to the metrics those are the top ten countries in terms of my readership. Hi, guys (and also hallo, alright?, allo, g'day, ciao, salut, kumusta ka?, and hej)--and thanks/danke/cheers/merci/ta/grazie/mulţumesc/salamat/tak!

But wherever you're from if you happen to be in Toronto on 18 July, stop by the Indigo bookstore at the Eaton Centre at 7 pm, where Charlaine Harris will be talking about and signing copies of her new book, Dead Reckoning. (By the way, you can read the first chapter of the book here.)

Harris will also be attending her first Canadian convention at Polaris on July 15 to 17, where she'll be signing autographs, reading, participating in Q & A and attending the blastoff party. Polaris is being held at the Sheraton Parkway Toronto North Hotel and you can find out more info about it here.

Besides Charlaine Harris other vampire-friendly guests attending Polaris include: Meaghan Rath (Sally, Being Human US); Armin Shimerman (Principal Snyder, Buffy); Adam Baldwin (Marcus Hamilton, Angel, but more importantly--Firefly's Jayne!); Melinda Clarke (Kelly Donovan, The Vampire Diaries); and authors Kelley Armstrong, Karen Dales, Keith R.A. DeCandido, and Nikki Stafford.

Maybe I'll see you there...

28 June 2011

True Blood Season 4 Premiere "She's Not There"

Spoilers Ahead

It's back, baby! I have to admit I wasn't looking forward to season 4 of True Blood. The show seems to have been going downhill since season 1 (and last season was a major disappointment). The sneak peek of the season premiere did nothing to convince me otherwise. And it's true--the beginning of "She's Not There" pretty much sucks. But the rest of the episode more than makes up for it. Eric fans: prepare to do a happy dance (Bill fans too, for that matter). I have a feeling season 4 might be the best one yet.

If you remember the season 3 finale, Sookie had just had enough. In a moment of weakness and despair she followed Claudine to the fairy realm. Once there she sees that there are plenty of other humans, including Barry the bellboy and her long-lost Grandpa Earl, whom Sookie last saw when she was seven but who swears he's only been in the fairy realm a few hours. Sookie also notices that the fairies are feeding the people "light" fruit. Sensing something's amiss she refuses to eat any herself and then announces (telepathically, although everyone hears her) that it's a trap. Well, that didn't last long. Mab, queen of the fairies, shows up then, acting all creepy and insistent. Sookie pushes her away with a flash of light and suddenly it all turns ugly--literally. The luminescent fairy realm becomes a hideous place devoid of colour. The formerly beautiful fairies are now, well, not so much. Sookie tells Granddad to run and everyone scatters, with the fairies lobbing deadly balls of light at Sookie.

Why did I hate this scene so much? It's predictable, over the top, cheesy (the fairy attack reminded me of some bad B movie--or maybe a segment from an early episode of Star Trek). The dialogue and acting are awful. It's a disappointing departure from the fairies in the books. And Sookie grated on my nerves until my skin crawled. If this was what season 4 was going to be like I was happy to skip it entirely. Luckily things start improving as soon as Sookie gets back to the human plane (with the help of a fairy who disagrees with Mab's policies).

Once back Sookie returns to her house only to find it crawling with workers. Workers who don't realize she lives there. Given what happened with Granddad's time perception it's pretty clear that Sookie's been gone long enough that this is no longer her house. Responding to a call about the crazy lady who invaded the house, the police arrive. Only the police is Jason (in full uniform) and he is amazed to see Sookie. It turns out that although it felt like ten or fifteen minutes to her she's been gone from Bon Temps more than a year and was presumed dead by vampire. (By the way, this fast forwarded timeline is a good plot device to finally get Sookie's house fixed after all it went through in past seasons. It also works perfectly for progressing the story; finding out how things have changed is half the fun.) Because he'd given up on her Jason sold the house to a real estate company (anyone want to hazard a guess as to who owns said company?)

Jason claims he believes Sookie's story of being in the fairy realm, but he doesn't stop laughing until she gives him the watch Granddad gave her to give to Jason. As Jason ponders this latest paradigm shift Sookie realizes it's getting dark. She steps out onto the porch and a moment later Bill arrives. Let me just take a moment to say that Bill looks good this season. Really good. I think it's the hair. In any case he's amazed and ecstatic that Sookie is back and safe. It seems he still loves her and, although it's been only a short while (for her) since she discovered his betrayal, she seems to be softening a little toward him.

An instant after Bill's arrival Eric shows up (he's looking particularly good this episode as well). There's an amusing bit where he and Bill bicker at each other but Bill finally tells Eric he has to leave. Funny enough Eric does as he's told. Since when does Eric follow Bill's orders? Hold that thought. Before Eric goes, though, he makes sure Sookie knows that he was the only one--including Bill--who didn't give up on her and who believed she was still alive. Interesting.

After Eric leaves the next to arrive is Andy Bellefleur. Instead of being relieved that Sookie is okay after all, he starts yelling at her for the effort they wasted investigating her disappearance and trying to find her. He also blames her for costing him some kind of 'safe community' award. He only calms down a little when Bill announces that Sookie was on "secret vampire business" for him and offers to repay the cost of the search as long as Andy publicly clears Bill's name. After Andy gets back into his car, Jason joins him and we find out the reason for Andy's irrational behaviour. It seems the former alcoholic is now a V user. And Jason's the one trying to keep him in line. A lot really has changed in Bon Temps!

And not just in Bon Temps, either. It turns out Tara is living in New Orleans where she goes by the name Toni, fights other women in cage matches, and is dating a chick. Well, she did say she wanted a whole new life. The problem is she seems to have cut Bon Temps out entirely. She doesn't even care when Lafayette texts her to tell her Sookie is alive (and she lies to her girlfriend about it). Not good.

In other news, Jesus convinces Lafayette to give a group of witches (which he insists is not a coven--but what else would you call them?) a try to help him develop his newfound magical abilities. One witch freaks Lafayette out after she channels vampire Eddie. The same witch freaks me out later when she brings her familiar back from the dead with what sounds like a rather unpleasant spell. The familiar (a bird) doesn't live long but strangely enough the witch still seems elated about her success. Hmm.

Hoyt and Jessica are living together and apparently the honeymoon is over. Jessica is still trying to hold on to the "normal" life she claims she wants but it's clearly just a matter of time before the whole thing implodes. Pity. As for Hoyt's mama, Maxine, after failing to kill Jessica she's apparently moved on and decided to adopt Sam's brother, Tommy. It's funny but bizarre to see formerly badass Tommy saying grace and playing dutiful son. But hey, maybe that's what he needs.

Sam, meanwhile, is paying for Tommy's physical therapy after shooting him in the leg. He's also taking part in anger management. Not sure it's helping much, though--he's pissed off at Sookie for leaving the way she did and isn't afraid to show it. Oh, and Sam's "anger management" group turns out to be three other shifters who all get drunk, talk about their issues, and then shift and frolic together.

And as for my least favourite storyline of all four seasons: Arlene gave birth to Rene's baby and is still convinced the kid is evil. What evidence does she have? Well, first the baby has Rene's genes, and second he beheaded a bunch of Barbie dolls. Better try him as an adult and throw away the key.

Back to the reason we really watch True Blood.... There's an interesting part in the episode where Eric--looking particularly pale and otherworldly--talks into the camera for a Nan Flanagan pro-vampire PR piece. The scene cuts to Bill, who is acting every bit the politician at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a seniors home. He also looks surprisingly human--has he been hitting the bronzer? The scene keeps cutting between the two of them as they talk: two sides of one coin. It's strangely unsettling.

One quibble I have with this episode (besides the beginning) is Portia Bellefleur. As Andy's sister she should be--at best--what could be called a "handsome" woman. Instead she looks like a movie ingenue. Does everyone (or at least every female under 60) on this show have to be completely stunning? It's not the least bit believable that this girl is Andy's sister. Fail. Incidentally she also has designs on Bill and isn't too fond of Sookie.

The episode ends on three interesting notes:

First, Jason is actually taking care of Hotshot and it's clearly wearing him out. Still he seems to be a good provider. So why do a bunch of the kids push him into a chest freezer and lock the lid?

Second, after the witches' ritual where the bird is brought briefly back to life one of the witches goes to see Bill. Still holding that thought about why Eric did as Bill told him? Bill is King. Obviously he killed Queen Sophie-Anne and inherited her title (I guess he's also King of Mississippi, since she was Russell's widow and heir). So does that mean Bill is an incredibly powerful vampire since he managed to best a thousand-plus-year-old vamp? That would explain why no one (Eric, for example) has challenged him. I wonder if any of this will be explained. In the meantime, from what we see of Bill in his lair he doesn't seem to be the humble ruler we would have expected.

Lastly, as Sookie is at home getting ready for bed (and having removed all her clothing) Eric is suddenly there. She rescinded his invitation in the last episode but she doesn't own the house anymore. In fact, he does. He tells her that he knew if he owned the house then he would own her. The episode ends with Eric declaring that Sookie is his and popping fang. Nice. I think this might have been the perfect ending to the episode (and beginning for the season).

I went from dreading season four to eagerly anticipating it. I say forget the fairies, never mind the secondary characters and storylines--let's focus just on the vampires. We all know that's were the real fun is.

Fang Files

Appearance: Pale humans with red-rimmed eyes and long snakelike fangs that descend or retract at will.

Strengths: Super speed, strength. Ability to sense humans who have consumed their blood.

Weaknesses: Sunlight.

Mythology: Vampire society is organized according to a strict hierarchy. Vampire blood (V) is a potent and unpredictable drug. A vampire needs an invitation to enter a private home and must leave if the invitation is rescinded.

Sound Bites

Eric: [to Sookie] Apparently I have to go. But understand this: everyone who claims to love you--your friends, your brother, even Bill Compton--they all gave up on you. I. Never. Did.

Lafayette: [about the magic shop] Smells like where old air fresheners go to die.

Interviewer: And do human families have anything to fear with vampire-owned businesses in their community?
Pam: No.
[pause]
Interviewer: Can you elaborate on that?
Pam: Human families have nothing to fear with vampire-owned businesses in their community.

Eric: Sookie, you...are...mine.

True Blood, Season 4 Premiere "She's Not There." Written by Alexander Woo. Directed by Michael Lehmann. From HBO.

13 June 2011

The President's Vampire by Christopher Farnsworth

Spoilers Ahead

If you've read my review of Christopher Farnsworth's first Nathaniel Cade novel, Blood Oath, then you know how much I loved it and how I couldn't wait to read the sequel, The President's Vampire. I was not disappointed. Well, mostly, anyway--but I'll get to that later. In the meantime let me say that TPV is just as well-written and compelling as Blood Oath. In fact it left me kind of wishing real life were like these books (I don't know if that says more about me or Farnsworth's writing skills)!

The big bad this time around is lizard people, or "Snakeheads," as they're called. Not only are they unnaturally strong and vicious but they keep evolving at an accelerated rate. But the really scary thing about Snakeheads is that they're created via virus--even minor contact with them can turn a human into a mindless killing machine (if they aren't turned into dinner first). Since Cade can barely handle one Snakehead at a time they're no small threat.

As with Blood Oath the fun doesn't stop there. Farnsworth weaves in the enigmatic Shadow Company; political conspiracies; H.P. Lovecraft; the occult (bonus points for the use of "Book," "Bell," and "Candle" as character names); espionage; and a lot more of Cade's frenemy-with-benefits, vampire Tanya. Zach is given a bigger role, as well, and the gradual cementing of his relationship with Cade is one of the highlights of the book. Speaking of Zach's relationships, he also finally gets to hook up (check out the end of chapter 14). The author does a great job with this scene--it's neither sappy nor clinical; there are no cheesy euphemisms in sight; and I didn't feel the need to roll my eyes once. Not an easy feat to pull off--well done. I was a little disappointed, however, that Cade's nemesis, Johann Konrad, didn't make an appearance, but leaving him out was the right thing to do from a storytelling perspective. It would get fairly dull if Konrad were featured in every book.

One aspect of Farnsworth's writing that merits further kudos are the glimpses into the minds of even minor characters, good, bad and neutral. Too often a character is killed off and the reader doesn't notice or care because they were so minor and/or one-dimensional. In the Cade novels you can empathize with these characters because you get to know them. It's interesting that a writer with such an impressive grasp of human intellect and emotion has created a protagonist with no emotions or humanity. Maybe that's why he's been so successful at inventing a unique monster amid a veritable sea of them.

Unfortunately Farnsworth and TPV did suffer from a major liability: monumentally bad timing. The book begins with Cade in 2001 tracking down and killing Osama Bin Laden. I cringed as I read this only a few days after Bin Laden's highly publicized death in real life. This is why writers should hesitate to include current events as part of their fiction. For me anyway, it destroys suspension of disbelief and takes me out of the story, not a place I want to be as a reader. The discrepancy kept needling me until I finally decided to pretend that the recently killed Bin Laden was actually a double. Not a perfect solution but it sufficed. At least I could go on to enjoy the rest of the book.

Cade prevails in the end (although he had me wondering). There are a few surprises along the way and a really satisfying conclusion. And once again I'm left waiting anxiously for the next Nathaniel Cade novel. At least I'm confident that it'll be worth the wait.

Fang Files

Appearance: Very pale human with long, needlelike fangs that are visible when mouth is open or smiling. Vampires don't breathe or sweat.

Strengths: Ability to jump great heights. Ability to move silently. Skin is tougher than Kevlar weave. Can ignore pain. Perfect memory. Enhanced senses. Sensitive to heat and warm-blooded creatures. Can crawl head-first down a wall.

Weaknesses: The sun. Christian religious symbols (cause pain). Simple human interaction. Deep water (vampires are not great swimmers and don't float). Can't sense cold-blooded creatures.

Mythology: Vampires are sociopathic, rarely feeling or displaying emotion.

Text Bites

It had all the hallmarks of a good compromise--it didn't look like it was going to make anyone happy

Book, the first man, was older than Zach--late thirties or so. He wore his hair cropped military-short and regarded them with dark eyes and a scowl. He kept his weight forward, on the balls of his feet, and looked hard and lean. If he was a data analyst, Cade was a vegan.

Cade knew this would have to be handled delicately. "You're being an idiot," he said.

The President's Vampire by Christopher Farnsworth. From Putnam.

08 June 2011

True Blood Season 4 Sneak Peek




It's a trap! They're harvesting humans! Yeah...I really wish the show had stuck with the books' depictions of the Fae.

02 June 2011

The Vampire Diaries Season 2 Finale "As I Lay Dying"

Spoilers Ahead

When I first watched the Season 2 finale I was less than impressed. Not only did it seem weak overall but it looked like the writers had chosen to blatantly disregard established TVD mythology. When I watched it again I happily discovered it wasn't nearly as bad as I'd first thought. Not that it was great, mind you--there were a couple too many convenient plot points and a new addition to the mythology that came out of nowhere. But it was okay. And for those of us itching to see Damon finally win Elena it was pretty damn good. The problem is what's going to happen when those two aren't onscreen?

"As I Lay Dying" starts at Elena's with a surprise visit from Damon. He offers her a heartfelt apology and (knowing he doesn't have a lot of time left) says he needs her forgiveness. Elena doesn't know about the werewolf bite so she doesn't accept his apology, pouting that she needs more time. Lots more time. Am I wrong in thinking Elena is making way too big a deal about this? So he fed her his blood without her permission--there are far worse things in the world. Not to mention that he did whatever he could to try to make it right and that it ended up working out in the end. But Damon is far more understanding about it than I am; he accepts her refusal to forgive and tells her to take all the time she needs.

When Damon gets home, though, it seems he might have less time than we anticipated. He has a drink, opens the drapes, stands in the sunlight for a moment, takes off his ring, and starts burning. Good thing Stefan's there to save Damon from himself. He manages to wrest Damon into the basement cell and lock him in. Stefan swears he's going to find some kind of cure for the bite but Damon is less than impressed. He's getting sicker by the minute and has resolved himself to dying.

After calling Alaric over to watch Damon, Stefan meets up with Bonnie at the witch burial ground to consult the spirits for a cure. The dead witches are getting tired of Bonnie's demands (I can't say I blame them) but although they refuse to help her she still gets a flash of the answer. Surprise, it's Klaus! Good thing they failed to kill him.

Speaking of the were-vampire, he's spent two days in the woods as a wolf while Elijah watched over him and cleaned up his 'messes' (read: corpses). Klaus is pleased that he can turn into a wolf at will not least because it makes him invincible. Elijah only cares about seeing the rest of their family. Klaus assures him he'll take him to them soon.

The young folks, meanwhile, decide to celebrate their continued survival with a day of normalcy, i.e., watching a screening of Gone with the Wind in the town square (I like how the teens keep trying to have "one normal day." You'd think they'd just give up already). Caroline is in perky cheerleader mode when they first meet up, which is as bizarre as it is infinitely annoying. I really hope she doesn't revert back to her season one persona; I only just stopped grinding my teeth every time she appeared onscreen. At least the movie provides an interesting visual background to the various scenes that take place around it.

Stefan and Bonnie soon join the others and Stefan takes Elena aside to finally tell her about the werewolf bite. He says he owes it to Damon to find him a cure so he's going to see Klaus but if Elena wants to talk to Damon she really shouldn't wait. Maybe she should have forgiven him when she had the chance. Just saying. At this point (still locked up) Damon has started hallucinating both Katherine and Elena.

Stefan starts his search for Klaus at Alaric's. He finds Katherine there still trapped there. She's been waiting two days to find out what happened and she's not happy about it. But they don't have a lot of time to discuss it because Klaus and Elijah walk in. Convenient timing, don't you think? Stefan announces that he needs Klaus's help but Klaus responds that he has a prior obligation to reunite his own brother with their family. That's when he stabs Elijah with one of the special daggers that work on Originals. Hmm--I thought any supernatural creature that used the dagger would die along with the Original (didn't they make a big deal about that and how John tried to get Damon killed that way?) And since Klaus must have done the same thing to the rest of his family you can't use being a hybrid as an excuse for why he's apparently immune to the dagger's dual effect. Big ugly hole in the story there, guys.

Anyway, Klaus then stakes Stefan, pushing the point of the stake right up against Stefan's heart. Stefan saves himself by offering to do whatever Klaus wants if he'll give Damon the cure. Klaus removes the stake but also accuses Stefan of being too "domesticated" to be of any use to him. He reminisces about Stefan's past as a "true ripper" and claims that's the vampire he can make a deal with. I'm not sure why Klaus would even want to work with Stefan, ripper or not--surely he could find a more amenable sidekick.

Plot hole number two comes when Klaus shows Stefan the cure. He partially wolfs out and bites Katherine. Then he reverts to his vampire form and bites himself before feeding his blood to Katherine. Miraculously the bite heals! But wait--Rose's bite also initially healed, which is why she and Damon believed fatal werewolf bites were a myth. Only later did the wound return and start killing her. So Stefan accepting the instant healing of Katherine's bite as a cure is short-sighted, to say the least. It's also sloppy writing and editing. Moving on--after filling a bottle with his blood Klaus tells Stefan he'll give it to Damon if Stefan goes on a decade-long bender with him (is it just me or does Klaus really need some buddies to hang out with?) He then starts feeding Stefan bags of human blood to encourage the return of the "ripper."

The complications continue when Acting Mayor Carol Lockwood goes to see Sheriff Liz and reams her out for not showing any results on the town's vampire issue. She threatens to hire someone else to do the job if Liz can't handle it. Of course Liz can't have that. What I find impressive about this scene is that women are running the town. That's got to be a first, onscreen and off. Way to go, TVD!

As Alaric watches over Damon (who first tries to goad Alaric into killing him, then begs him to do it) Liz shows up with a couple of deputies. After grabbing Elena on the doorstep they proceed to lock Alaric in one room while they go after Damon. He's looking harmlessly unconscious in his cell but when Liz enters the room he knocks her out and runs. Alaric calls Jeremy and fills him in on the situation, prompting Jeremy to go looking for Elena. A short while later Damon is in the town square hallucinating Katherine again. Jeremy finds him and helps him stumble to The Grill (which looks completely deserted so how did Jeremy get in?)

Somehow Liz catches up with them (what--it was only a blow to the head--I'm sure she can still move just as fast as Damon). As she points her gun at Damon he notices and gets out of the way. Jeremy, who was behind Damon, ends up with a bullet to the chest. Here's where things get iffy again. A moment later Bonnie and Caroline show up and start panicking. Caroline is reassured that Jeremy is wearing his resurrection ring but Bonnie pipes up that it won't work because "she" (that is, Liz) is human. Huh? Since when does the ring not work if the person doing the killing is human? True, every instance I can think of when the ring was put to use involved a supernatural being killing the ring-wearer but was it ever actually articulated as one of the rules? I don't remember anyone ever saying that the ring won't work under those circumstances. It might be a legit addition to the mythology but to bring it up out of the blue the way they did is lame. No, scratch that, it's Lame. Anyway, Caroline tries giving Jeremy some of her blood but he's gone. Just as Alaric shows up Bonnie realizes what she has to do. She and Alaric grab him and head to the witch burial ground. Sigh. After tears and pleading and general melodrama (including a warning from the witches that there will be consequences) Jeremy returns to the land of the living. And there was much rejoicing.

When Caroline gets the call that Jeremy is okay she and her mom are relieved, although Liz is also pretty damn confused. At this point Caroline gives a heartwarming speech about not wanting to lie to her mom anymore and not wanting them to be afraid of each other. At one point she even reassures Liz that she's still her little girl. First of all, ugh. What teenager would ever say such a thing? Secondly, if that's true then what are all the vampires complaining about not being human anymore? If you remain exactly the same person after being turned then what's the difference? Why not turn everyone? Why would some people (*cough*Elena) be so adamant about not wanting to become vampires? As far as I'm concerned this scene is a big fat fail and is clearly indicative of writers who don't get the concept of vampires or the show's own mythology. If this is how it's going to be with Caroline then they'd might as well not have turned her.

Meanwhile Elena has managed to break out of the sheriff's office and she and Damon find each other in the town square (this is one of those instances of a good use of the movie in the background: Elena and Damon meet as Atlanta's in flames). Unfortunately Damon is hallucinating again and thinks Katherine is offering him her blood. He bites Elena but she manages to get through to him before too much damage is done. Somehow Elena manages to get Damon back to his place, where she promises to stay with him until the end.

Back to Klaus for a moment. Satisfied that Stefan is well on his way to falling off the wagon, Klaus compels Katherine to take the bottle of his blood to Damon and come right back. Of course Katherine can no longer be compelled after sneaking vervain so she's out of there as soon as she's released. Stefan is devastated knowing she'll never take the cure to Damon.

Knowing he's going to die (and convinced there is no cure) Damon shares a few deathbed confessions with Elena, among them that he was wrong to blame Stefan for turning him and that he deserves to die. Elena finally forgives him. He also tells her that he loves her. Elena then surprises us by kissing Damon. Is it out of pity? Are there any romantic feelings behind it? There's no chance to analyze because a moment later Katherine has arrived with the cure (she figured she owed Damon one). Right away Elena's all about Stefan again. Katherine informs them that Stefan gave himself over to Klaus to pay for the cure and not to expect him anytime soon. Katherine also brings up the intriguing possibility of Elena loving both brothers. Those boys really should just learn to share. But in any case Damon is all better and now he and Elena have ample time to get to know each other without Stefan being underfoot.

Speaking of Stefan, we next see him and Klaus at a warehouse where Klaus is sealing Elijah into a coffin and putting him into long-term storage. Stefan gets a text from Elena saying Damon's okay and asking where Stefan is. He doesn't respond but he does tell Klaus that he won't be seeing Katherine again. But Klaus already knew she was on vervain and he's not concerned, confident she won't get far. Before he and Stefan take the next step and leave town, however, Klaus needs to be sure that Stefan's truly on board. So he brings out a frightened (teenage) girl. She tries to run. Stefan chases her down and drains her. As he's doing this there's some really odd, shaky camera work (reminiscent of The Blair Witch Project). If this is supposed to symbolize the staggering shift as Stefan crosses over to the dark side it's a really poor choice. It just looks amateurish.

The episode ends with Jeremy. Apparently he's been feeling "weird" ever since he was resurrected. Suddenly he hears something and heads downstairs to investigate. OMG--it's Anna and Vicky! Meh. I suppose they couldn't have Jeremy be an ordinary boy anymore so now he sees dead people (well, dead vampires). Woo hoo. Not loving this new twist, particularly in light of Elena also having come back from the dead yet suffering no such after-effects. And Jeremy, John, and Alaric have all come back from the dead before via their resurrection rings so why the drama now? I think what the producers should really do is kill off most of the characters and give Damon his own show. Now that would be worth watching.

Although it wasn't horrible TVD's season 2 finale was generally mediocre. Aside from the potential between Damon and Elena none of the setups for next season are particularly compelling. I have the feeling Stefan won't be with Klaus for too long and then it'll be a whole lot more melodrama over his human-blood addiction. Usually season finales leave you wanting more and wondering how you're going to make it through the break. This time I'm simply not that bothered. Pity.

Fang Files

Appearance: Pale human until the vampire emerges, then dark/red eyes, dark facial veins, prominent fangs.

Strengths: Super strength and speed. Ability to compel humans (Originals can also compel other vampires).

Weaknesses: Werewolf bites, sunlight (unless in possession of a daywalker ring), stakes. Originals can be "killed" by a specific dagger dipped in the ashes of a particular tree (but they only remain dead as long as the dagger is in their heart). Vervain (although some of the vampires dose themselves with it in order to build up an immunity as well as to reap its benefits, such as preventing compulsion).

Mythology: Once invited into a home vampires apparently have no compunction about coming and going whenever they please. Klaus's blood is the cure for a werewolf bite. Vampire blood is healing to humans.

Sound Bites

Damon: [delirious] Elena?
Alaric: Elena's not here, Damon.

Damon: I know you love Stefan. That it will always be Stefan. But I love you. You should know that.
Elena: I do.

Katherine: He [Stefan] just sacrificed everything to save his brother. Including you. It's a good thing you have Damon to keep you company. Goodbye, Elena. Oh, it's okay to love them both; I did.

The Vampire Diaries, Season 2 Episode 22 (Season Finale) "As I Lay Dying." Written by Turi Meyer, Al Septien and Michael Narducci. Directed by John Behring. From The CW.

Read my previous Season 2 reviews:

Episode 1 "The Return"
Episode 2 "Brave New World"
Episode 3 "Bad Moon Rising"
Episode 4 "Memory Lane"
Episode 5 "Kill or Be Killed"
Episode 6 "Plan B"
Episode 7 "Masquerade"
Episode 8 "Rose"
Episode 9 "Katerina"
Episode 10 "The Sacrifice"
Episode 11 "By the Light of the Moon"
Episode 12 "The Descent"
Episode 13 "Daddy Issues"
Episode 14 "Crying Wolf"
Episode 15 "The Dinner Party"
Episode 16 "The House Guest"
Episode 17 "Know Thy Enemy"
Episode 18 "The Last Dance"
Episode 19 "Klaus"
Episode 20 "The Last Day"
Episode 21 "The Sun Also Rises"