A Sashurai’s Review: The Vampire Diaries – Season 8×01 (Any more meta and this universe will implode)

tvd-8x01

 

SUMMARY

For the last few months, Damon and Enzo have been bringing the bodies of “evil” humans to the entity that controls them for feeding. Damon turned off his humanity while Enzo struggles to maintain his. After leaving clues for Bonnie and Stefan to track, they find an abandoned slaughterhouse with Damon and Enzo inside but are threatened to leave. Meanwhile, Alaric and his interns discover a hidden tunnel within the armory that leads to a crypt of artifacts that have been perfectly preserved. At night, Virginia who escaped a mental facility attacks Caroline’s nanny but is subsequently stopped by Caroline herself. Virginia then dies after attempting to tell Caroline what is waiting for them and Alaric’s children. After Bonnie and Stefan leave the slaughterhouse, Bonnie discovers the clues that Enzo left for her point to the identity of the entity, a Siren. After feeding on another evil human, the siren emerges in the form of a human for Enzo and Damon to see.

 

INITIAL THOUGHTS

So begins the final act of CW’s cherished vampire brothers and the world they inhabit. The 8th season begins to unravel the next villain and at least teases the concept that the devil himself may be the final boss of this show. Damon once more plunges into self-loathing and inhumane acceptance but not before supplanting a world of guilt onto his brother who isn’t sure he can save his brother this time. Oddly enough, Enzo is the fixed point that’s helping thread the plot along which in my view gives him a bit of a clean slate this season, so let’s hope he doesn’t waste it. The idea of the siren is interesting because it has no real ties to vampire lore and can be made to fit any form that puts it far above the darkened landscape of vampires, werewolves, and witches. But where there’s one siren, there’s bound to be others. So far, so good.

 

THE GOOD

I think it’s fascinating that I assumed all the bodies Enzo and Damon killed were just innocent victims, but by keeping them at least “sinful”, it somewhat lightens the dark load that these two have been carrying since being controlled by the Siren. Damon is being A-typical with his attitude jumping to the quickest solution which is to flip his switch to deal with the consequences of his actions. He also has no current love to look out for and with Elena still in under her sleeping beauty spell, he has all but given up on reuniting with her. This is the best kind of Damon we’re going to get because it allows him to flourish in his own isolated hell, something he hasn’t truly graduated from since his love for Elena became apparent. Enzo on the other hand is doing the best he can with what he has available to him and if he can keep this up, he may in fact redeem past seasons of sheer non-sense he put us through.

 

Bonnie and Stefan remained fixed on their path to save both troubled vampires but were also there for each other in a few instances where each lost enough hope to question their ability to both find and save them. If this show remains consistent in its message then this season will be that of hope in their darkest hour. Stefan needs to be an anchor for Damon regardless of the guilt that’s consuming him and hitting rock bottom at least twice will likely happen before things get back to normal. If I were a betting man I’d say this situation with Damon should last at least through the winter season before he becomes “normal” again.

 

THE BAD

No students hitting on the teachers please. I’m a huge fan of Allison Scagliotti, and her character, Georgie is already a fan favorite for me on this show mainly because of where she came from on Warehouse 13, but I don’t think it was necessary to put her in a position to hit on Alaric just to showcase that he’s in “daddy” mode and only seeks to be isolated with his kids, we actually got that message earlier through Caroline’s exposition. If it was done earlier then maybe it would have worked, but we get it, he’s not seeking lady friends including the nanny, Seline, who is way too eager in her role and probably should have been left dead but instead revived by Caroline. I suppose getting a newnanny every few episodes would seem like a gimmick.

 

While keeping with the mystery of the Siren’s identity, I don’t find the reason why the spell would go so far as to kill Virginia to keep from exposing her. Knowing the entity is a Siren only suggests that there are ways to defeat her and are written in ancient scripts are even located in a hidden crypt in an armory. And in this case it’s preventing anyone from knowing because if you don’t know then you won’t figure out how to stop her. Right now it just seems a little out of the way and only serves to keep us in the dark instead of being practical.

 

FAVORITE MOMENT

When the Siren emerged. The build up to her reveal I think was actually done rather well and the flashbacks of Enzo’s story may seem entirely coincidental but at least it keeps with a theme and tries to merge both a mythical piece of lore and some kind moments between star-crossed lovers who are trying to find each other. The Siren should be exquisitely powerful and furthermore, be just a Lieutenant for the real threat on the way, because knowing this show, they’re going to go full Armageddon this season, and they’ll have to do outweight whatever The Originals has planned for his bow out this next season.

 

CHARACTER MVP

While Enzo has been doing a crisp job at trying to fight against the Siren’s control and his clues to Bonnie were heartfelt and meaningful, I have to give it to Stefan for the one moment he showcased emotions outside a furrowed brow and a 1,000 yard stare. In the car with Bonnie, he explains how even though he’s heard Damon guilt him before that this time it was different and then his face just exhibits that sheer amount of anguish he’s feeling and for the first time in the long time, I actually believed it. Normally Stefan is a cardboard cut out with words that come out every so often, but here I have to extend him the courtesy and say he did a fine job of quivering and tearing up that really sold the pain he’s feeling over the potential loss of his brother, great job.

 

ENDING THOUGHTS

I’ve played guitar for over 15 years and no amount of soft strumming on an acoustic will just bust a G string like that unless it was strung too tight. It’s more about the metaphor and the sorrow she’s feeling, but that was just not an accurate portrayal of guitar playing. Yes, I know she’s a bad player, so bad she busts strings, but she was barely strumming it.

 

At first I thought the idea of an optical illusion leading Alaric and his interns through the cave was a novel concept, it didn’t actually lead them out of the cave, just into another room. So the mystery remains, how did Damon, Enzo, and the Siren in fact escape?

 

The first scene with the couple in the car ranting about superhero films and teen dystopian movies really made me cringe. I want to believe that this was put in place because with the CW owning it’s share of DC superheroes that they need to poke fun at the MCU every now and again, and I just won’t touch dystopian franchise comments, I’ve written enough of them to feel obligated to support such things until I see my own on the big screen.

 

Do the Gemini twins have any special powers that can subdue or destroy the siren? And if so, is that the reason why Virginia was trying to find them? I think it’ll be relevant to keep the twins in the plot because they were born of extraordinary circumstances and should be utilized in a consistent way so that their powers can manifest and help save the day when needed. For now it’s a mystery as we know nothing about the siren’s strengths and weaknesses.

Fifty shades…Damon…really?

 

OVERALL SCORE

8 out of 10. Not a particularly strong start, but the premiere managed to find its bearings and finish with a stable plot and a new supporting cast that could work if maintained appropriately. Damon and Enzo have different struggles and people wanting to help them, Allison is a great addition to the cast, Caroline and Alaric are parting ways that makes sense and allows her and Stefan to take their relationship logically to the next stage and Siren’s entrance gave us a clear indication that all villains in this show will always be in their late 20’s and be provocative because everyone’s a model on this show. Stefan’s acting improved a bit and Elena has not been forgotten, but the question remains, will she appear in the final episode, or is she truly gone from this show? We will hopefully find out this final season. Thanks for reading.

 

 

No more words

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A Sashurai’s Review: The Vampire Diaries – Season 7×21 (That was clearly Elena’s doppelganger behind the window drapes)

TVD 7x21

 

SUMMARY

Bonnie remains in a deep sleep and dreams of killing vampires including her friends. Caroline, Enzo, and Damon each enter Bonnie’s dream in an attempt to both wake her up and stop her from going on a murderous rampage against vampires. While Caroline and Enzo fail, Damon succeeds but only in waking her up. As the three are now marked, Bonnie goes after Damon first with Stefan convincing Caroline to leave town. Matt briefly helps Bonnie set up a perimeter to trap Damon as the two clash in the forest near Bonnie’s memorial. As Damon tries to convince Bonnie to forgive him, he fails but is subdued by Matt who wants to see Bonnie well again. Enzo returns and tells Damon the only way to cure Bonnie is to find the original tribesman’s body that’s located in the armory where the sinister wind-apparition escaped which has caused everyone trapped inside to go crazy and kill each other.

 

INITIAL THOUGHTS

The penultimate episode delivers a sparking performance as Bonnie is uncontrollably bent on destroying all vampires marked by her. We get a rage-filled opener that sees Enzo and Caroline get completely decimated only to find out its part of the dream, but had it been real, it would have been exquisitely shocking. Turning Bonnie into essentially the replacement villain of the remaining season is interesting as it put everyone at risk and gives Damon more than enough grief to contend with as he prepares to do what it takes to save her. It’s also especially important to see that Bonnie is connected to those she’s marked and knows when Damon is and isn’t talking nonsense. We’ve come a long way in this season that has been Elena-absent since the beginning and though the heretic plot has had its tremendous ups and downs, the resulting mess of Rayna’s curse has now affected one of the most developed characters on this show and she’s effectively playing the role to its bloody conclusion. Though I’m surprised she hasn’t presented much in the way of magic while she’s enraged, It’ll be fun to watch how this all plays out.

 

THE GOOD

Damon and Bonnie clearly have more than enough issues to work out and it’s even more accelerated now that Bonnie hates all things with fangs that crave blood. All the dream sequences had parts to play in Bonnie’s mind and it was important to showcase that none of her friends were able to talk her out of trying to kill them. She has absolutely no resolve or way to stop herself and though Damon came the closest it still didn’t work. We want to see Bonnie be relentless but I doubt she’ll actually end up killing any main cast member. Maybe Enzo, but we can only wish for so much.

 

THE BAD

Stefan high-tailing it out of Mystic Falls with Caroline seemed like more of the same thing we’ve been seeing from him since he bailed with Valerie 3 years ago. The chemistry between him and Caroline is about as dead as it can get. While her relationship with Alaric isn’t fairing any better because of it’s root in the children, Stefan’s is even more idiosyncratic given his one-track mind with saving her at all costs. I’m not certain she could be convinced to leave town even as Bonnie is an unstoppable witch-vampire killer. It’s not Caroline’s style and frankly it shouldn’t be Stefan’s either. Fearful vampires don’t make for an entertaining program.

 

FAVORITE MOMENT

When Damon nearly convinced Bonnie not to kill him at the stump. Damon can get real when he has no other choice, it’s always his last resort tactic because he is allergic to revealing his true feelings about himself and with others. But he said he loved her and though he added the “same way Elena loved you” you could still hear that gap in silence that was long enough to make you wonder if he added Elena because without adding her it would have been awkward. In any case, the point is even after all he said, he still failed and she nearly killed him and he was prepared for it as unfortunate at it was. Good scene that had me convinced it was going to work.

 

CHARACTER MVP

Bonnie was on fire tonight. She managed to derail every friend and while Matt was able to fool her because he pretended to take out Damon, she is portraying an excellent antagonist who’s ability to fight against the nature of the spell is impossible. Maybe if she had more time, but that’s not something she has at the moment.

 

ENDING THOUGHTS

It’s interesting that after all these years, one can still bring back Damon’s dirtiest deeds from season 1, specifically when Bonnie reminded Matt that Damon killed his sister because he was “bored” which is 100% true, yet Matt still didn’t let her kill him. He’s had years to cope with that loss and it’s good he didn’t keel over and relent to that old anger like some might have had they been in his shoes.

 

I’d like to think a major character is going to bite it because at this late in the series, not having a huge death would probably spell for worse ratings, but the promo didn’t specify the event like other shows have been doing recently. Enzo is always at the top of my list, but Alaric and Valerie are close seconds even though there’s no sign of Valerie being in the finale at the moment. We’ll see.

 

The promo also teased Damon possibly seeing or “thinking” he sees Elena inside the armory where the brothers will likely face this threat together. Is Nina Dobrev scheduled to cameo in the finale. I have no idea, but I’d wager at the moment that it won’t happen and such a return would be saved for either the series finale or something crazier that involves Elena’s character coming back permanently. If she does show up somehow I think it would be fine and welcoming.

 

OVERALL SCORE

8 out of 10. Bonnie gave a stellar performance as the vampire gang scrambled to understand what’s happened to her. Looping back to the murderous-inducing wind helps wrap everything up in a nice little bow as the final episode of season 7 ends a crazy run involving heretics, phoenix-stones, and crazy wind. They’ve sold us on several occasions that Damon truly cares for Bonnie not just for her connection to Elena but because of the time they’ve spent together in the real world and in limbo. He needs to feel connected to someone and she’s definitely doing the job as much if not more than Stefan is and that’s saying a lot. With one more episode remaining, we can expect some kind of fancy cliffhanger as TVD will return for one more season. Let’s hope they get completely bonkers but not enough to jump the shark. Thanks for reading.

 

 

No more words

A Sashurai’s Review: The Vampire Diaries – Season 7×19 (They answered my question. Yes, Beau escaped)

TVD 7x19

 

SUMMARY

Damon and Enzo broker a tentative deal with Rayna that involves them killing all the vampires that escaped the phoenix stone in exchange for Rayna giving her life to save Bonnie. They enlist the help of Stefan and Alaric who are at odds over Stefan’s actions with leaving Caroline. During several flashbacks, Enzo keeps Bonnie safe away from Alex and the armory and over the years grow to love each other. In the present, Damon and the others travel and kill several vampires including the heretic, Beau, who Damon kills personally against Bonnie’s wishes. As Bonnie’s condition worsens Caroline returns home but ignores Stefan as Damon discovers Rayna’s list of vampires grows even larger than anticipated as she becomes more catatonic.

 

INITIAL THOUGHTS

Discovering how Bonnie and Enzo grew to love each other is likely the final piece of flashback we’re going to see unless there’s more to be learned from Caroline and Alaric or another character hiding in wait for the right moment to strike. Our knowledge of Alex’s need to open the vault has once more blurred the conditions of good and evil with everyone playing the part of the jilted and vexed friend or lover who has been twice scorned over by the Salvatore brothers. There’s a bit too much intensity that is mirrored between Caroline, Alaric, Enzo, and Bonnie, who are more concerned with ignoring and punishing Stefan and Damon than for understanding what they went through. It’s because of these plights that seeing everyone make good with each other hardly seems like a fitting end to this season and if anything, they should be permanently separated from here on out. Still, there’s a lot to be said about the road of vampire killing and what the team will go through to save the life of their friend. One way or another, that vault is going to open. Mostly an entertaining episode with a few moments that stood out and painfully awkward. Caroline’s dismissive stare by far the most chilling.

 

THE GOOD

Relationship drama angst are the heart of this show about vampires and sentimental soundtracks with impeccable timing on heartfelt moments. Regardless of the atrocity that is Enzo and his inconsistency with being moral, Bonnie’s strength and happiness have been a key note in the last few seasons. I expected less of an explanation, but was still given one even though the pieces don’t seem to naturally fit. I wasn’t appalled by the flashbacks mainly because for once Enzo “seems” genuine. Maybe in the present he’s not telling her the full story on Alex, but being self-absorbed isn’t something you just cure over night. They do all the right cute things together at the expense of Damon’s sanity, which is ironic since Damon isn’t in love with Bonnie, he just wants her friendship back, or anyone’s at this point. As unbelievable as their relationship is, at least Bonnie was in a state of happiness that no one else could afford to give. I’d say if Enzo pulls through without betraying her, then maybe they should stick together.

 

THE BAD

Alaric and Stefan may be dealing with one of the stranger problems on this show, a problem I wonder if anyone who watches can relate to. Stefan has every intention of winning Caroline back and through trying to prove Alaric is potentially living a lie with Caroline tries to exploit that, an act Alaric gets rightfully upset over. The horrific underlining factor here is that there’s no clear winner. Alaric stands more to lose if Caroline decides Stefan should be back in her life and though it’s corny to see him play the frustrated house-husband who subtly lashes out at the brothers, he’s technically in the right with everything he’s done. Stefan at this stage is just being a trumpet-blowing a$$h0le who only “deserves” Caroline because Valerie told him so. He lost his chance with Caroline and he should stay lost.

 

FAVORITE MOMENT

When Enzo went out of his way to give Bonnie a New Years Eve dinner. It had the flair of altruism and when he refrained from kissing her really showed he had the intentions of a gentleman who, up until now rarely showed he had the charm for it beyond a superfluous accent. More importantly, Bonnie sells the infatuation better than almost anyone save for Elena.

 

CHARACTER MVP

Though Bonnie treated Damon like a teen-brat with her stubbornness on talking to him, there’s still real pain she has to work through and it shows all too well. It’s a shame Caroline has to follow up with her own rendition of being broken and hurt because Bonnie is sailing with her attitude and likely having fun with it at Damon’s expense. She’ll eventually read the letter, or burn it for posterity, either way, she’ll make sure Damon works for his right to befriend her again, which will probably come when he saves her life a few more dozen times. Then again, she did give him back the letter with a thrust of anger, maybe she won’t read it after all.

 

ENDING THOUGHTS

The vampire at the golf course…did he wear a daylight ring or is that rule just thrown out the window that sunlight kills vampires? Was he a mortal man who just enjoyed drinking blood with capped teeth?

 

Now that we know Alex has a sister who is trapped and alive inside the vault, there’s a few ideas on where this could go, one of which is the sister is a vampire or worse, a creature held alive by something worse that’s trapped inside. With one sister trying desperately to get in and one sister pleading to keep the vault locked, it’s a wonder whatever is in there will be the next big bad, but for how long?

 

I actually feel bad for Beau, he’s was the most benevolent of the heretic group and in a way he got the worst punishment of all, being forgotten and killed by Damon of all people who could care less what he went through. This could lead to other vampires who knew the Salvatore’s to be recognized and cause friction in this attempt to keep Bonnie alive, but I doubt it would hold any long term effect.

 

Now I want to see Rayna enjoying a cheeseburger at the beach watching the waves and in happy blissfulness. I don’t really buy the vampire duo with appealing to Rayna’s sense of anguish that she’ll accept death because the visions are too much. She’s not that broken, but alas it’s not for us to deem acceptable behavior when all you’ve done for several lifetimes is kill the undead and nothing else.

 

Oklahoma, Georgia, Montana, Alabama, North Carolina, and Kansas. That’s a lot of ground to cover and I have no idea how many days they’ve been doing this. Is it weeks? Months? Hours? You’d think these vampires getting back to the real world after experiencing eons of hell would be more traumatized and in hiding rather than eating everything in sight. Well, hunger is hunger and when you’re evil, there are no rules.

 

OVERALL SCORE

7 out of 10. It was entertaining discord as we seldom get to see montages of death on this show and since all these vampires escapees were relative pushovers, no one was in any real danger including Bonnie and Alaric who are essentially human. Both Bonnie and Caroline have immense grievances to deal with which begs the question on whether Damon and Stefan deserve such forgiveness and I think it’s arguable that they don’t considering everything they’ve done and with those around them. Mystic Falls is losing it’s point as the anchor holding everyone together and if the show is bent on splitting everyone up, then by this season’s end, it should be so with another significant death. Enzo and Bonnie’s coupling works because they’re trying to make it cute and annoying for Damon who can’t help but endure the irritation guided by Bonnie. With Rayna’s days numbered as the vault soon to be opened, it’s probably time we flash-forwarded to that final act. This one has run its course. Thanks for reading.

 

 

No more words

A Sashurai’s Review: The Vampire Diaries – Season 7×18 (Shouldn’t Beau have escaped the stone when it exploded?)

TVD 7x18

 

SUMMARY

Damon confronts Ambrose (Evil Stefan) at the fraternity and agrees to kill Rayna in exchange for Stefan’s soul who is being looked after by compelled EMT’s in an ambulance. Meanwhile, Enzo apprehends Rayna in hopes of finding a cure for Bonnie’s condition after taking pills meant to subdue Alex and the armory from locating her. Rayna’s blood is in the pills and there is no cure currently available. Tired of waiting, Ambrose kills everyone in the fraternity and moves on, intercepting the ambulance carrying human Stefan. Stefan retreats to a house as Damon and Alaric find and capture Ambrose. At an institution while undercover and in hiding, Bonnie locates a family member of the armory who tells her that Bonnie is being pursued due to her bloodline being the only witches able to unlock a mysterious vault in the Armory that must remain closed. Valerie successfully returns Stefan’s soul to his original body and Alaric tells Damon where Bonnie has been. As Valerie recovers, she tells Stefan to find Caroline as she is his true love. At the institution Enzo tells Bonnie the damning effect of the pills but swears to let no harm come to her. Damon arrives but Bonnie shuts the door on him, still angry at his choice to leave her 3 years ago.

 

INITIAL THOUGHTS

It seems every step Damon makes forward he stumbles several yards backward down a hill, into a ditch and the ditch is on fire. What began as an interesting trek through the mindset of a murderous vampire turned into a bleak afterthought with more interest in showcasing Bonnie’s agenda and Valerie’s presence as a hindrance to Stefan’s love-life. Damon attempts to build bridges with smoke and mirrors and ends up the victim of a backlash by those he abandoned, justifiably. It’s a harsh lesson to be learned when you make decisions that affect friendships, in that regard this it’s a good message to witness, but the same time, Damon could inexplicably be pushed back to those old ways if there’s no one left to care for him. They don’t call him Dignity Damon for nothing, or at all, but all in all most of what took place had the average bite with some seasoning of veritas.

 

THE GOOD

I wish it didn’t take this long for us to find out what Bonnie has been up to. She’s not really crazy, but in fact under a guise to find out a mystery involving her bloodline being able to access a vault that the armory don’t want opened. That means in the next episode or two, it’s going to be opened and until then we’re all going to wonder what’s in the vault. Since Bonnie has been becoming more relevant on the show as a whole it’s important to weave her back into the plot but have it make sense and though I think it’s a cheap ploy by saying only a “Bennett” witch can perform this task, I like that she’s becoming more central again. The armory seem to be a faction filled with very dubious intentions, but like all curious witches, we won’t know their true alignment until it’s too late.

 

Damon is having to swallow some serious pills of humbleness which won’t help him until he can really prove his worth to those betrayed by his leaving. Alaric stood his ground, but gave him the chance to try at Bonnie, who had a much louder reaction toward Damon. This could get very frustrating for everyone watching because Damon sees her as a good friend and Bonnie may see him the same way, but since Caroline and Stefan got together, one can wonder if Bonnie maybe felt something more and directed those feelings to Enzo who was the only person who didn’t abandon her. It’s a tough triangle but at least Damon is trying, how long he’ll try remains to be seen.

 

THE BAD

Ambrose tried but was a lost cause of evil. There was a real shot at creating a persona that could have brought Paul out of his three-degrees of acting, but sadly it looked like same ‘ol evil-Stefan running around with a bored sense of killing. There were plenty of moments to throw in some eccentricities that could have made this Ambrose character a likeable villain, but the goal was to just shove bodies in his direction and show how “brutal” he was with killing. That’s not a lot to build on and we’ve always been in the impression that everyone in that stone more or less goes insane.

 

FAVORITE MOMENT

As we’re discovering Bonnie’s importance with the armory and the vault. It helps bring characters back into light and hopefully this will turn into an epic reveal of some sort though we’re once more threatened with Bonnie dying which isn’t new for us and pretty much shouldn’t be. But it was good to know she hadn’t actually been reduced to a broken down character who was too distraught by Damon’s leaving to maintain herself.

 

CHARACTER MVP

Valerie made a bold decision to let Stefan go in the hopes he gains a more lasting happiness with Caroline, who right now I can’t see as getting back with Stefan, in fact there’s so much of a mess about to unfold for the Salvatore’s that the popcorn will just keep popping for the last 4 episodes. In any case, Valerie let Stefan go, an act that she wasn’t ready to do for the last three years because she wanted him and for the most part had him, but she’s not a villain and as such did what she thought was the more sensible thing to do. Personally, she’s more of a fit than Caroline is but that’s no longer the avenue the show seems to be going with. Shame.

 

ENDING THOUGHTS

I feel we trailed off a bit on Ambrose and whether or not there would be some comeuppance with Valerie’s attempt to purge him from Stefan’s body. I guess not. Very run of the mill bad guy who deservedly got what was coming to him, again.

 

Speculations will arise now that there’s something big and scary lurking behind a vault door, but what is it? A person, a thing or a thing attached to a person? Why specifically a Bennett witch? Are they more unique or is the pattern woven so specifically for a reason, to keep worse Bennett witches from getting out? But it is an “armory” which suggests a totem, object, or artifact of some kind that maybe can give witches power undreamed. At this point, it’s too early to tell.

 

With Caroline still looming around New Orleans, how will Stefan play his next move especially with Alaric who wants to marry Caroline and raise the Gemini Twins? I have no doubts Caroline will tell Stefan to shove off, but more importantly, is she safe where she is right now even though we haven’t heard from her in a few episodes?

 

Damon also has his work cut out for him now that Bonnie knows he’s back. This will be an even worse train-wreck because Damon tries very odd and sometimes juvenile things to win back those he “cares” about. And Enzo won’t make it easier. Damon will catch on to this vault storyline and lend a hand by probably trying to annihilate the entire armory cult. Odds are he’ll be responsible for getting that door open or for at least getting some kind of cure in check for Bonnie to take. That might work, maybe.

 

OVERALL SCORE

7 out of 10. Mixed with a paper-thin villain, TVD brought the Salvatore’s back on the playing field in front of old friends that want nothing much to do with them. They’ve fallen off the map with good intentions and lovelorn adventures that culminate with others suffering as much as they do. Bonnie’s new plot is a ray of hope that things will get stranger but better as the armory will be more of a focus from here on out. The brothers have their work cut out for them if they expect to come out on-top in their endeavors but in all likelihood, their moments of reconciliation have long past. I’m fine with that so long as the pair don’t pine away for the wrong women in their lives. Now is the time for them to band together and rock the next villain who I bet is hiding behind that vault door. Here’s hoping.

 

 

No more words

A Sashurai’s Review: The Vampire Diaries – Season 7×17 (Blizzards in Arkansas? How high above sea level are they?)

TVD 7x17

 

SUMMARY

Stefan wakes in a body and after saving people trapped in a burning bus, he comes to the realization that he’s not in hell but in the body of a deceased man who hit the bus. Damon comes across the body of Stefan and immediately begins to suspect the mind within it isn’t his brother. Valerie captured Rayna, finds Alaric, and the two help piece together what happened to Stefan when the pheonix-stone was destroyed. Stefan escapes custody from the police who believe he’s a D.U.I and eccentric. As the town searches for him, Damon converses on the phone with Valerie that Stefan’s body doesn’t have Stefan in it. After realizing who Stefan might be, Damon leaves with evil-Stefan but then when the two share the truth about Stefan, evil-Stefan flees from the car and heads toward Tennessee. Damon searches for Stefan on his own in Arkansas during an incoming blizzard. Meanwhile, Rayna escapes Valerie and Alaric and disappears. After succumbing to the effects of a human body going through alcohol withdrawl, Stefan begins withdrawing from reality. Damon eventually contacts him through a phone a woman left behind after fleeing from Stefan and finds him nearly dead on the road. Having only a few days to find Stefan’s body before Stefan dies in his human form, Alaric tells a story that the vampire inhabiting Stefan’s body belonged to a serial killer who became a vampire and massacred fraternities in Tennessee. Evil-Stefan is later seen returning to a fraternity to pick up where he left off.

 

INITIAL THOUGHTS

If Elena knew the troubles the Salvatore’s were going through, she’d be very cross with the two of them, but as it turns out, our recent debacle involving Stefan’s out of body experience and Damon’s continued trek through self-deprecation has brought this episode into a perfect storm with snow and all. Alaric’s encounter with a vampire trapped in Jo’s body was just an example with how Stefan and Damon must deal with the dilemma only this time, their resident vampire hitchhiker is very much on the side of murder and ill-intent. There’s plenty of classic Damon to showcase his consistency to narrowly hold himself accountable for his actions, but there’s a higher selling point here that I think helps really flesh out the issue these brothers have. No longer concerned with flashbacks, we’re given a very crisp and linear storyline that plays on the sympathy of anger and forgiveness much more than we’re used to seeing. Maybe the backdrop itself was a refreshing look into the psyche of these vampires, but a lot of elements worked in their favor this time around. Let’s hope the consistency proves true as we settle in on our season’s last arc.

 

THE GOOD

Some of the more successful elements of the past come from Damon and Stefan experiencing the kind of fear that they’re not always equipped to handle. Putting them in very human situations has more than once brought them to a deeper understanding about their lives and tonight, their struggles worked in the show’s favor. With the exception of Bonnie, Stefan is the only suitable character who can cut to Damon’s core and make him more than just a ranting vampire who bitches about his flaws with no solutions in mind. It’s never easy to make him see past the shroud of Elena, but the more they can do it, the more human Damon becomes. Collectively, their conflicts were aligned this time and how they helped each other worked in such a way we can still stand learning about their characters even after seven years. The brothers were in top form even though one of them was in a brittle state.

 

Transitioning off of Rayna as the villain wasn’t an easy manuever, but considering what her terminator-like goals were, it’s not hard to imagine that the bulk of her actions in the past were essentially justified ones. Whether this means we’ll encounter more than one evil vampire in other supernatural bodies remains to be seen, but they can’t just kill Stefan’s body without serious repercussions and time isn’t graciously on their side. I would expect this evil-Stefan is here to make a short impact, but I wouldn’t mind keeping this going until the end of the season.

 

THE BAD

Like all shows with overlapping subplots, it’s not always about what they tell you., but sometimes what they don’t and until now, we still have no clue what’s been happening to Bonnie and how Stefan is involved with Penny’s death. Caroline is still missing in New Orleans absent Klaus and his siblings, and the problem with the armory is still somewhat present and it’s easily the weakest link by far considering Enzo’s connection to it. It would serve the remainder of the season well if the minor storylines surrounding the brothers were solved in sensible ways rather than casually written off like Nora and Mary-Louise were. The last thing we need is for an evil-Stefan to acquire some ancient armory trinket and assume phenomenal-scale power threatening mankind and the world. We’re not quite there yet.

 

FAVORITE MOMENT

The conversation leading Damon to find Stefan in the blizzard. That was probably one of the most endearing and sentimental moments this show has ever produced that didn’t involve setting a house on fire or a crying Elena. If they continue producing moments like those, this show would be exceptional as a consistent quality product. When Damon can force Stefan into a positively angry state of mind, that’s powerful. Stefan is notably known for his oak-like stature and stone of the brow and though I think his physical deterioration was a touch more critical than it should have been, the effect was  crucially magnificent. It’s not every day they can reminisce about being kids and it not involve horrific tragedy.

 

CHARACTER MVP

The brothers were nearly tied, but I’d say Damon narrowly collects the spot tonight. He had a certain reservation that kept his personality in check in favor of evil-Stefan’s villainy and terrible antics and how he eventually Stefan really told a great story from his point of view. When forced out of his element, he adapted without resorting to malicious methods or egotistical desires beyond his sense of solitude. He needs his brother and being evil in any way will always jeopardize that relationship even after all these years. Stefan might have won this round, but his evil-Stefan personality just didn’t sell me in his acting range, he was channeling more of what Stefan is like when he turns his emotions off.

 

ENDING THOUGHTS

If logic is sound, then most of the vampires who found dead bodies to inhabit after the stone’s destruction will likely die out in that three day span Alaric mentioned. I’m sure one or two more will locate sustainable bodies of some sort, but then we really have to turn up the villainy and make Rayna’s capture of these monsters very necessary. I’m glad the lingering heat is off of her for now.

 

If there was a category for best scene with a character emotionally dumping their thoughts through a cell-phone, this show would be nominated each and every year. And tonight’s episode would be the moment they finally won.

 

With Valerie the last of the vampire-heretics, I can safely say that it’s likely she’ll be the last to die this season. I don’t particularly want to see her go, but considering how each member has been taken out methodically this season, it stands to reason she won’t make it to season 8 mainly as a staging ground to keep the Salvatore’s grief stricken and battling on. I’d like to be wrong, but that’s one of my predictions among many I throw at this show on constant basis.

 

Very minor note here, but have you ever wondered how hungry you have to be to take a food product and stuff if in your mouth as if such speed and ferocity were necessary to keep you conscious and alive? When Stefan crammed the donut in his mouth I just laughed at the motion. He should have went further and put all the donuts in his mouth homer-style and tried talking through it. It would have made the moment more lighthearted.

 

With the stone destroyed, what will Rayna’s motivations be outside of being the walking Wikipedia for evil vampires she’s slain? Will she be neutral or does she have an agenda even though she’s down to one life? There isn’t anything wrong with keeping her character around for another season, but that also means she’d need a love interest and problems fitting into society as she was an old lady who probably wasn’t in touch with current technology and pop-culture. Then again, she could be super adept and we just don’t know.

 

OVERALL SCORE

8 out of 10. Given the write screenplay and effort to maximize the location and dilemma, a captivating episode can be born of good intentions. Tonight’s episode saw to that and brought some much needed sentiment that has been lost as of late. Complex plot-driven arcs are one thing, but character driven pieces are often the better approach as a vampire-drama can only get so fantastical before it drift into lunacy. Keeping the brothers grounded in real human relationships helps produce a successful season and as long as that is kept aware, this show will do fine. The mystery of the future has been solved and now it’s time to move forward and capitalize on Rayna’s legacy as her evil spirit vampires have returned to reality for another dose of murderous intent. Now is a great time to root for the brothers who must battle more cynical and devious vampires than they used to be. Thanks for reading.

 

 

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A Sashurai’s Review: The Vampire Diaries – Season 7×16 (Even vampire-hybrids are allowed the Thelma and Mary-Louise ending)

TVD 7x16

 

SUMMARY

In the present, Damon helps Stefan escape Rayna at the news station, but she later escapes Damon. When Valerie arrives and helps Damon recover from werewolf toxin, Damon abducts her and gets her to admit that she held off telling Stefan that she could switch the pheonix scar between them because she wanted see the world with Stefan. Various flashbacks show her and Stefan running around the world. Rayna converses with Stefan on the phone multiple times about how she is psychically connected to him through the scar and while being held by Alexandria and the armory found Stefan to be a nice guy but has to follow through with killing him due to the blade’s purpose. Meanwhile, Nora and Mary-Louise are being held by Alex as Nora is shown Mary-Louise is being experimented on with pills that are fatal to witches. Given no choice but to help Alex for a cure, she’s sent to retrieve Enzo who Alex believes helped Rayna escape. Enzo meanwhile captures Matt and realizes he’s the one who let Rayna escape because at some point in the past, Stefan was responsible for Penny’s death. Nora intervenes but Enzo convinces her that they’ve been set up. Matt escapes as Stefan nears their location having thrown away the blade to buy time from Rayna’s pursuit. Damon, realizing he can’t fix the problem his own way relents and allows Valerie to use a spell to switch the scars but Rayna catches up to Stefan and stabs him, absorbing his soul once more. Nora and Enzo attempt to foil Alex’s prisoner exchange and are told that there is no cure for the witch pills and Mary-Louise will eventually die. The two flee with Rayna giving chase and throwing the blade into their car. Nora and Mary-Louise perform a spell to destroy the phoenix stone and sacrifice themselves knowing they’re doomed. Damon and Valerie arrive to find Stefan’s body and Damon swears he’ll make things right.

 

INITIAL THOUGHTS

This episode was in serious disarray from a storytelling perspective. From beginning to end, there was no cohesive sense between the motivations of several characters and everyone appeared to have the wit of a turnip. On a whole, we were introduced into too many plot points that overlapped in the strangest ways, barely giving conclusion and killing off characters that, while might be good on paper had little to offer in sentiment considering they were evil to begin with. With only a few bright spots to consider and Stefan being the most blindsided of the bunch, tonight’s episode of TVD launched itself into a frenzy of drama that alleviated hardly any original plot from before the break with the only saving point being that we’re finally caught up to the 3 year mark.

 

THE GOOD

It may sound harsh but Nora and Mary-Louise had to go. Their sudden departure reminded me of Jin and Sun from Lost toward the end of season 6 with Mary pleading for Nora to continue on but Nora finding she couldn’t without her. There’s tragic heartbreak there and it’s recognizable and noble that they tried to end their lives on a good note, by inexplicably helping destroy the phoenix stone, an act no one was sure was possible until now. With the exception of Valerie, the heretic plot is essentially extinguished and considering how long it took for us to get there, it couldn’t have happened any sooner. Nora might have been redeemable, but Mary certainly wasn’t unless she was on her deathbed, which she was. Whether their final act truly helped the Salvatore’s remains to be seen.

 

THE BAD

Too many overlapping plots with no sensible connection or conclusion. Every character seemed to have a purpose but for characters like Enzo, Matt, Alex, and Stefan, we really didn’t get the whole picture and are left still wondering why anything is happening. Enzo is hung up on these pills that hurt and kill witches. That will somehow connect to Bonnie, but for now we don’t know if she’s affected or what. Stefan had some flashback part to play with Penny’s death, but we don’t know why yet which is very annoying because it’s a very loose plot that really doesn’t need to fit with any of this. I have no earthly clue was it is that Alex is trying to do, if she’s really gathering artifacts and experimenting then what is her end goal? And how did Stefan end up at the landing field along with everyone else? It was a mess, it felt like a mess, and no repeat viewing is going to clear this up because it’s fruitless.

 

I also don’t think it’s necessary to now do flashbacks of the last three years because we spent the last 16 episodes doing flash-forwards and now we’re switching roles. It’s too disjointed and there’s apparently more mystery to unravel with Stefan while he was gallivanting across the world with Valerie. Moving forward, the plot should remain linear and focused on a few major arcs, not six.

 

FAVORITE MOMENT

Nora and Mary’s sacrifice at the end. It was more or less a logical conclusion that the stone would be smashed or destroyed at some point to render the blade inert and it finally happened. It cost the lives or unlives of two heretic vampires but might have bought time for Damon to devise a plan to save Stefan who at this point could be existing in some ethereal plan beyond the stone’s prison. Kudos to the two for having enough power to accomplish that task.

 

CHARACTER MVP

There really weren’t any good-natured characters showing up tonight aside from Stefan. As always, it barely goes to Damon because he went through once more a selfless moment that came too late when he decided his brother was worth losing Elena for. These two are practically the Winchesters of the vampire world, always redefining and rediscovering how important their brotherly bonds are. Damon simply can’t exist on his own, either Elena or Stefan need to be there to help him cope, exist, and understand how not to be evil. What little progress he’s made thus far, it’s always just enough to earn him the continued spot as MVP.

 

ENDING THOUGHTS

Damon really sold the look on his face when Rayna told him that switching the scar would inevitably damn him from every seeing Elena again when Rayna died of old age, taking Damon with him. Truly priceless scene considering he usually thinks of everything.

 

Looking back, I have no earthly clue how Stefan will be or is responsible for Penny’s death. Clearly Matt is vengeful and more than usual. He’s turning into the one human who exists to be a thorn in the main character’s sides and it’s unfortunate because he’s been filled with as much tragedy as anyone on this show.

 

We’re still vaguely glossing over the fact that Enzo and Bonnie ended up in love and with Enzo hard-pressed to discover the root of Alex’s agenda and the endgame with those witch pills, I’m left wondering why any of this is important at all and who the villain(s) are on this season. Everyone has a sob story and a reason to perform evil acts, but no one is really taking the mantle of “Villain of the season.”

 

In the present, we were last left with Caroline in New Orleans. Does this mean she’ll eventually run into Klaus or anyone on The Originals, or will we next see her back with Alaric or somewhere else entirely? I don’t expect nor want to see Stefan and Caroline mend their ways. He belongs with Valerie, until they decide to kill her off, which is certain to happen by this season’s end.

 

With the stone destroyed we’re now left wondering what happened to Stefan and every vampire trapped within it. Does this mean the souls are free to inhabit other people or are they trapped in a new dimension of chaos and hell? Rayna may not be linked to Stefan anymore but we did get a glimpse of him in pain through her eyes. This is definitely the most interesting result of the entire run through this kaleidoscope.

 

OVERALL SCORE

5 out of 10. The Vampire Diaries thrives on overlapping drama and character tragedy, pushing the limits of our “heroes” with how far they’ll go to save those they care about and themselves. Here, we have too many incidents happening and not a lot of breathing room with the exception of a few flashbacks that aren’t really relevant to begin with. The plot was never truly cohesive and it’s a complete guess as to where it will go next. That could be a saving throw because in creating upheaval of that caliber can only mean either a clean slate or an even more complicated one, but with Stefan a focal point for saving, I imagine it will go one of two ways: More awkward flashbacks detailing the motivations of supporting characters going rogue, or a fresh take on Stefan’s inner turmoil that could help settle what path he needs to take should he survive this ordeal. Thanks for reading.

 

 

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A Sashurai’s Review: The Vampire Diaries – Season 7×15 (So Stefan flew from Mystic Falls to Texas, right? In that one night?)

TVD 7x15

 

SUMMARY

Rayna regains her life, finds her sword and resumes her search for Stefan who flees with Valerie to locate herbs for Freya’s spell to cloak himself from Rayna. Meanwhile, Rayna saves Matt and Penny from the last of Julian’s vampires in Mystic Falls but is later captured by Damon who tries to find a solution to stop her from killing Stefan. Bonnie returns to the armory where she learns from Enzo that Rayna only contains 8 lives and texts this to Damon prompting him to kill Rayna again. Enzo explains that Rayna’s last life will extinguish all who bare the mark and Damon is forced to keep Rayna alive. After fighting, Rayna is captured by the armory group as Stefan learns that the herbs he’s looking for are finite and stolen from the place he was sent to. Matt is given encouragement from Penny to take control of his town as Damon begins preparations to desecate himself with Elena. Matt threatens Stefan to leave town and he chooses to continue on the road with Valerie after witnessing Caroline and Alaric enjoy their roles as parents to the Gemini twins. Bonnie confronts Damon and laments how him leaving is hurting her but Damon still locks himself away. 3 years later, all events play out to the present where Rayna informs a captured Stefan that she intends to switch the mark to Damon. Stefan refuses to abide as Damon appears and tells him it was his idea.

 

INITIAL THOUGHTS

A lot had to happen to catch everyone up to speed and as such, I found tonight’s episode lack-lustered and full of disappointing segments that built up little to no payoff. Most of our assumed relationships in the future are figured out by the circumstances of the present mostly attributed to Damon and his self-realizations that constantly get him into trouble. Most of our characters were off, handling their own messes and when it came time to bring that back together, there simply was no reason to. Alignments were shifted and off most notably Matt who took entirely too long to finally come to the conclusion that vampires were bad. While not particularly a fan of what transpired tonight, I will say the future could still be looking bright.

 

THE GOOD

Out of the complexity of overlapping themes and a mish-mash of happy and sadly betwixt characters, I think we’re finally caught up to the future. I don’t know if this means we’ll get more explanations with how Rayna escaped the armory again or how Bonnie and Enzo found reason to be together, but if there’s nothing left to tell in that 3 year arc I’d say good. No more wasting time, let’s push forward and see how these three years have further affected the team. Is Matt forever a vampire enemy and is Enzo truly more gentle of a vampire? We’ll see.

 

THE BAD

The major issues I think best outlined tonight revolve mostly around Rayna and Damon. Not together, mind you, I actually thought their scenes together were more of the positive highlight of the show. Separately they were committed to rationalizing their states of mind and in doing so pushed characters into unrealistic directions, somewhat unintentionally I might add. When Matt and Penny encountered Rayna, Penny is further immersed in more vampire lore prompting her to give Matt the push he needed to expel his vampire friend Stefan from his home. This was nonsense and didn’t need reasoning. Matt has been a bit of a third wheel on this show this season and there’s been more than one occasion when he made up his mind about vampires but this time it’s supposed to stick? I’m surprised Stefan didn’t laugh it off if he weren’t such a broody oak. The idea that he’d care that Matt would expose them is to me a piss-poor excuse to get him to leave on his own. Matt’s ownership with keeping the town safe just isn’t reaching the heights of importance I thought it would.

 

As for Damon, he’s mucking things up again, this time with Bonnie. His letter to Alaric is a last ditch reminder that he and Alaric are “best” friends. At this point, I haven’t seen any real evidence of their friendship this entire season. Maybe in the past it mattered but Alaric has been so distracted, this gesture of a voice-over goodbye was less than empty, it was pointless. Alaric is seen in the next shot being happy with his kids. Who cares if Damon is going away? Alaric certainly doesn’t. Bonnie is different, but with her its more justified. While I do like how she treated the situation in the end, it still felt forced. She defines friendship differently and even considers him her “best” friend which insinuates that Elena no longer has that position. After what they went through in that prison dimension, how she feels makes sense, but Damon, as always, pushes it off because his feelings for Elena matter more. He doesn’t learn from watching Bonnie’s pain and it’s more than sad, it’s pitiful he can’t learn beyond stating what his issue is.

 

I have other problems with this episode but I’ll add them into my ending thoughts section.

 

FAVORITE MOMENT

I did enjoy Damon and Rayna fighting. I was intrigued that Rayna would have had a former vampire lover, something Damon made fun of, but I want to know how that ended up considering her disdain for them all. I have to hand it to Damon for standing his ground against her considering the power level she was currently at.

 

CHARACTER MVP

Damon’s selfish decisions kicks him off the list. Instead I give it to Stefan for how he chose to handle his departure from Caroline. Also, his expression when Damon turned form him spoke mountains more than Damon’s ever-goofy eyebrow-raising expressions he paints when perturbed. And I’m normally unimpressed with Stefan’s performance. I think how Stefan internalized his emotional fatigue was well-presented for once.

 

ENDING THOUGHTS

I knew they were going to skip over it, but Damon never once mentioned his detachment from Klaus’s bloodline. I know it happened, it shouldn’t matter how close or far away he was from him, they just didn’t bother to mention it and I very much disliked that dismissal of continuity.

 

Speaking of continuity flaw, while I’m fine with Rayna being dumped outside New Orleans to reform, I find it hard to believe her sword would be left right next to her. She didn’t stay dead in the bayou when Klaus killed her, she found and murdered all but one of the Strix. This means, someone else had to have dragged her body outside and the only person I can remotely imagine it being would be Elijah. Again, very poor use of keeping these plots aligned.

 

Not a blip on the radar for Mary-Louise and Nora. Not that I truly care what happens to them, but all of the heretics have been written/killed off with the exception of Valerie who couldn’t care less if she was forced to about them. I guess I should be surprised they lasted as long as they did on this season.

 

Self-desecation can’t be a quickly transforming ability. I have to assume that was a fast-forwarded segment and not something Damon just “turned on” the second he closed the coffin. The amount of restraint he’d had to endure to put himself in that state would be catastrophic to his psyche and I think they just skipped the typical rule set to just get us to the point of his re-awakening.

 

I think Caroline should have given Stefan more benefit of the doubt. I guess it all depends on whether Stefan got together with Valerie before or after he and Caroline “broke up”. It was always in the cards to give Caroline and Stefan just a few moments of happiness together before all hell broke loose, but at this stage it makes more sense that he and Valerie remains as a couple. Vampires are the worst at emotional commitment sometimes.

 

 

OVERALL SCORE

6 out of 10. This episode was all over the map. Characters jumped head first into their new roles to quickly wrap up and match up to their future counterparts. Rather than detail more on their gradual shifts we were given some assumed cliffs-notes on how character A became character B. I can’t expect Rayna will be the closing arc to this season but for now I gave to expect it so. Getting Damon into his coffin meant sacrificing relationships and he did so with barely the best of intentions. Nothing felt real beyond Bonnie’s closing conversation to Damon and Stefan’s reaction to Damon leaving. Everything else felt manufactured and quick to the point. Moving forward I’m glad we’re caught up to the future, but there’s also the possibility we’re not. In any case, Rayna holds all the cards as the current villain and it’s time we wrapped up her plot too. If Damon continues to remark how much she looks like Elena, we’re going to have to have a plot that details why. Thanks for reading. TVD will be on break till April 1st.

 

 

No more words