A Sashurai’s Review: The Originals – Season 4×12 (Witches need more abilities than just force pushing through windows)

TO 4x112

 

SUMMARY

Hayley avoids Elijah while contemplating how to raise Hope with the violent Mikaelsons. Meanwhile, Vincent attempts to locate Inadu’s mother in the afterlife for information on how to seal the hollow for good, but is attacked by more hollow acolytes. The hollow book is stolen leaving Klaus and Elijah to find it as Rebekah is staked by Hope. With Marcel’s help, Vincent momentarily dies to find Inadu’s mother and discover the spell to lock Inadu away for good. Together, Freya and Hayley discover Inadu is within Hope and subdue her but Inadu’s spirit releases and takes out everyone including Elijah and Marcel who are helping Vincent by distracting Inadu. Vincent arrives and traps her while Klaus enters the realm Hope is trapped in to help keep her fighting against the hollow. Inadu breaks free and again takes Hope, this time burning the book for good before returning to her acolytes. As the family recovers Vincent warns Klaus that in order to defeat the hollow they must prepare to suffer a grim fate.

 

INITIAL THOUGHTS

The Originals cash in on what may be a heartbreaking finale similar to last season when the family that tries to stay together may once more be separated through the worst of circumstances. As far as penultimate episodes go, this felt a little flat in that they had to focus on entirely too many people at once including Elijah’s return, Haley’s dissonance, Freya’s dark fear, the return of Sofya, and so many acolytes. It wasn’t a mess, but there was a rough way of telling this story and keeping Inadu in a state of advantage. Most of all we’re given Klaus’s reveal that he will return to his old personality if something bad happens to Hope. His growth is anchored by the love he can give another, in this season, it’s his daughter as last season is was more toward Camille and baby Hope. Vincent swears a heavy price with what’s to come and it’s a good foreshadowing, one I am certainly excited to see.

 

THE GOOD

I’m actually glad they didn’t overemphasize Elijah’s return or the impending doom of his relationship with Hayley. Too much was going on and we were only given a few moments between them. Elijah kept it short and simple that he’s on her side, but Hayley of course can’t settle on being around such a violent family even though it’s all she’s ever truly known. As for Elijah, he sees the problem at hand and tells Klaus to take Hope and leave when all is said and done. I do believe he understands what’s at stake with Klaus in that if Hope is lost, Klaus will become far worse than he’s been and that’s too high a risk considering the evil they’re already dealing with.

 

THE BAD

Too many acolytes, too many characters running around trying to make sense of the trouble their in. I don’t like how the stock of evil hollow worshippers is essentially endless. If we took count, it would be somewhere close to 75-100 which may seem small in comparison to the world, but for episodes like these, that’s still a lot of witch-like characters and unless all the witches in New Orleans turned to worship Inadu, it just doesn’t make sense to give us these stormtrooper style minions.

 

FAVORITE MOMENT

I think I really like Vincent’s words at the end, the kind of words to the Mikaelsons that really spells what a price looks like should they wish to defeat the hollow once and for all. I like his delivery and his emphasis. It almost works out in his favor ultimately which could always be something he fashioned as a means to kill all the birds with one stone. In any case, he remains one of my favorite characters because of that raw intensity he provides and seeing the look on Klaus’s face says it all, of course he’ll pay that price to save his daughter.

 

CHARACTER MVP

Again, I think Vincent played the bigger role here going as far as to let himself die to seek the answers he needed. He can keep a level head while still sounding completely frustrated and full of anxiety. Marcel comes in a close second for the one on everyone battle against the hollow acolytes. I wish we could have seen more of that devastating spree, but with what we were given, it was an excellent showdown. Though it should have been entirely more one-sided.

 

ENDING THOUGHTS

I think the amount of damage Inadu did on Sofya should have killed her. Sofya didn’t strike me as a particularly powerful character, at least in comparison to the others around her and it looked like her days were essentially numbered. But I get that we needed Rebekah to understand that Marcel isn’t in a state of mind to return to her because of his feelings toward Sofya, which, to this day I still don’t understand why he fell for her.

 

This was also one of those moments I thought Keelin would perish as well considering the heavy emphasis Freya took in keeping her safe. That much work usually means in storytelling devices that she’d like fail as an ironic twist or that she’d cause something that would lead to that tragic moment, but from the way they’re building up the relationship, they really do want Freya to have someone to hold onto that isn’t just another sibling she’s trying to keep alive. It’s still tough forgiving her for what she did to Davina last season though. Mostly.

 

When Hope was able to disappear after Klaus console her, it seemed like she was going to be able to take control of herself again, but that didn’t end up happening, so where in fact did she go? Was it so quick between her waking and Inadu possessing her again that we just weren’t given a chance to see it? Seemed like an odd transition and also the fact that the hollow and release and return to her at will. One would think a spell like that would infuse her a bit more securely except Hope is in fact the most powerful witch, in theory, so there’s that.

 

I can see how this is being built as a final episode of the series, but I wonder how it would have played out if season 5 wasn’t green-lit for next year. After this, it’s going to be hard to top a powerful character like Inadu but I’m sure they’ll think of something. We’ve pretty much covered the origin of all supernatural elements on this show and TVD, when season 5 does come around, will be more in-fighting with Klaus and his siblings or another test to see how they’ll band together once more against a common foe. And I’d also expect to see another TVD cameo from someone, other than Alaric since we already got to see him.

 

OVERALL SCORE

7 out of 10. The Originals create a lot of physical and metaphorical circles to trap their problems and deal with a common threat in their city. Klaus’s mental health and many other lives are on the line including a fair warning that stopping the hollow will disband the Mikaelsons for good. At least they’d have skype and cell phones, but will this in fact be the last time the family can be a single unit? Hayley’s dealing with issues on raising Hope that Elijah recognizes and insists Klaus be the one to make sure Hope is raised without the violence. In a way, this result may be exactly what the family needs to maintain a sense of normalcy. An enjoyable episode, but more toward the foundation of knowing that we’re nearing the end of the season and in a way it feels like we just started. One more to go before the long break. But at least we’ll get one more go after this. Thanks for reading.

 

 

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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 7×02 (When Matt crosses over a tenth time, he gets a free drink at the Mystic Grill)

TVD 7x02

SUMMARY

Family politics can be a tricky business to write and write well. However, when everyone is technically a villain, there’s little room for sympathy, even when you play the acoustic like a sad cowboy just trying to get with your old best friend’s mother. Tonight’s episode of the Vampire Diaries plays at in-fighting from both sides of the Salvatore line while Alaric continues with the subterfuge of resurrecting his wife. The Salvatore home is brought under a title dispute that involves Bonnie needing to kill Matt to relinquish ownership, and in the future, Caroline is attacked by an unknown assailant while reciting hateful remarks over one Stefan. All in all, it was a normal day in and away from Mystic Falls.

INITIAL THOUGHTS

One thing I say I’ll like as a whole about this series is the nature of unpredictability. Each plot per episode can get a little formulaic as most shows do and you can really spot the tells when the main characters act a certain way, but when it comes to season long arcs or even half season arcs, TVD can keep you guessing till the moment passes. Having said that, tonight was a little above average with a few moments that could use some fine tuning. Not an air tight premise, but mostly solid all around. Damon’s fragmented attitude was enough to push even Stefan into near violence with him. The biggest issue though is the alignment of the three sisters, Valerie, Nora, and Mary-Louise. Their game of “who’s the more evil of the three” isn’t one I’m that interested in seeing and in all fairness to Lily and her need for familial ties, one of them needs to abscond from the group.

RECAP

After Stefan finds out about Caroline’s kidnapping, he sends Damon to make right with Lily but finds out that their house is now under a new human’s ownership, keeping uninvited vamps out. They discover it’s Matt and Bonnie devises a plan to temporarily kill Matt to vanish the deed’s hold. Meanwhile, Alaric shows Bonnie the phoenix stone and hopes she can uncover its secret of resurrection. Bonnie encounters a horrible vision and tells him to destroy it. Alaric, attempts but ultimately refrains and visits the mortuary to test the stone out. He places it on a dead body and it begins to react with life. Alaric removes it and realizes it works. After Bonnie kills and resuscitates Matt, Stefan and Damon attempt to break Caroline out during the funeral of Malcolm where Lily has Elena’s coffin stolen by the siblings. Enzo uses a human maid to compel new ownership of the house and Stefan is removed from it leaving Caroline once more in Lily’s grasp. Later, Damon tells Stefan that Lily wants him far removed from Mystic Falls or he’ll never see Elena again. Damon uses this opportunity to find the sixth sibling, who has been sent elsewhere. At the Salvatore house, Nora gives Caroline an old journal of Stefan’s that recounts his meeting Valerie and essentially falling in love. And finally, 3 years in the future, Caroline is working as a floor director/manager at a tv news station and is someone’s fiance. When her aid mentions Stefan, she grows upset just as he is killed and she is shot by a stake just below the heart.

THE GOOD

Getting Elena’s body completely out of frame this soon is the best bet right now. There could be too many scenarios that revolve around saving her by some inexplicable means which we’ll know always end up in failure because of our knowledge of the future and a lack of contract in Nina’s name. Plus it gives Damon something to fight for which forcibly gives him the aura of fighting for love because if he’s not fighting for love he’s sure as hell gonna whine about it. We may know that eventually Damon gets Elena and her coffin back, but the how is still under wraps, assuming his trade plan isn’t the first success, and they never are.

Bonnie is showing more signs of life than ever with her plans and her accountability toward the actions she undertakes. Parting her from Jeremy was the best thing and it continues to pay in dividends. While some may play around with pairing Damon and Bonnie up, I think it’s best if she’s remains fiercely single to make room for independent growth. She’s fighting for her friends and so far doing a decent job at it. She won’t quit and she’ll make hard calls. All I have to say is poor Matt.

At first I didn’t like this concept, but using an old journal of Stefan’s against Caroline is actually a clever surgical strike. If Caroline were head over heels in love with Stefan, something like this probably wouldn’t faze her, but as it stands, their feelings are still new and reading something like this is bound to raise questions about what went on and how far it went. Maybe we’ll even get some flashbacks, this show could use a few.

THE BAD

Enzo going after Lily, romantically. Her surprised look with the small dimple of a grin at the end didn’t help this situation because as conflicted as they may be, Enzo is still a colossal prick and he gets no points for trying to do right by Lily. The strangeness is that she wanted him a part of the family but secretly may be ok with Enzo’s desire of her. This kind of drama can get really freaky especially when Damon finds out. Stefan will probably just shrug it off, but I always get the feeling that Damon will be resentful of it. My thoughts on it.

The sisters are all over the map in their alignment. They’re essentially loyal to each other yet they’ll play these games that will probably escalate into a war between them. That’s the end result of this and it’s the one path that feels very easy to understand. Is Valerie really the most evil of the three? Why does that even matter? They’ve all shown to be heartless psychopaths, and using Caroline as some sort of victim in their political tirade doesn’t feel like the optimal approach here. I think they should have held back with Valerie’s true nature until later, but that’s over and done with.

That horrible opening. Found footage and its cringe-worthy dialogue does not belong on this show. Had they made a Ghostfacers reference I’d have gave it a pass, but instead they went with Blair Witch and that dated reference makes this whole segment a bad start to the episode.

FAVORITE MOMENT

I’m really enjoying these future-tense scenes. They’re chalk full of mysterious twists and they’re able to tell these short stories really well. It may have been obvious that Caroline’s fiance wasn’t Stefan, but the fact that she’s so far removed from the Salvatore’s and Mystic Falls is very interesting. Is she seeing a human? Is it Matt? Probably not, but still. That’s the point, they’re good bumpers and so far I like the seasonal formula of them.

CHARACTER MVP

Bonnie gets it this week. She’s made a few interesting decisions, but again it goes back to her accountability and owning what she’s done. Her confession to Matt after nearly letting him die and her overall concern with what’s going on. She’s experiencing these crazy flashes of torture and knows something bad is coming. I’m looking for her to possibly take the lead on some hairy situations coming up.

ENDING THOUGHTS

Never tie a vampire to a wooden chair even if you use vervane in whatever capacity. Steel chairs that don’t break will do just fine.

All Alaric had to do was place the stone on the body to resurrect it. That is incredibly convenient, silly, and makes me wonder if he’s going to use duct tape to keep it on Jo.

Okay, so Stefan gets pulled from the back out the window and Caroline gets pulled from the back down the stairs in the opposite direction. Wouldn’t the path of least resistance work in this case? Shouldn’t Caroline have flown out the same window as Stefan? Or is it really based on the direction they’re pointed because it pulls from the back every time? Strange rules.

As it turns out, Lily’s comment about Elena being cloaked right next to Damon or a million miles away is essentially the same spot, relatively speaking. The planet Earth is roughly 25,000 miles around, which means if Elena was a million miles away and we’re not talking about space miles, she would spin around the world 40 times and pretty much end up back in Mystic Falls. Geography checks out.

Poor Matt. He went through a few death stints like this back when he was a medium for the other side back in season 5 I believe. Hasn’t the guy died enough already? We don’t want to have him end up psychotic like Alaric did, right?

OVERALL SCORE

7 out of 10. The anchored future scenes show good promise even though I still feel the time gap is a little wide. The heretic vampire family still has a ways to go before I think they’ve become capable and worthy villains. I absolutely don’t like Enzo hitting on Lily at all, and Bonnie continues to evolve impressively. Caroline’s capture and how it’s been handled could have been worse, but I get the situation and the need to put here there to help sow the seeds of dissention among the triplets sister-gang. The Valerie and Stefan connection was a little left-field but I’ll buy it for now provided we get some good flashbacks to tell this story. All in all, it’s holding steady as far as vampire dramas go. Let’s see what whacky adventure Damon rolls out with next. Thanks for reading!

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