I do wonder how The Vampire Diaries will weave in stories about the high school prom and graduation this season. Right now the characters are 200 miles off of Nova Scotia, on an island populated by some witches, some hunters, a crazed professor that believes in ghosts, with a trap set to make them the third massacre that'll usher in the rise of Silas and all who've died. Yes, The Vampire Diaries is playing in quite the narrative playground.
I should've known "Into the Wild" is the first part of a two part story about finding the cure. I just assumed the story would move as fast in "Into the Wild" as a MagLev train moves in China. The story would be resolved for good or ill--bada bing bada boom. The whole cure/Silas thing is sort of frustrating to watch. TVD can get frustrating when it seems to build so much plot that it seems like it won't be untangled in a coherent way. Shane's plan is less Sun and the Moon curse nonsensical. The Sun and the Moon curse may or may not have been retconned because of the writers throwing their hands up in the air as a show that they are out of ideas. Tonight's episode totally crystallized Shane's plan. For a villain who doesn't get his hands dirty, he's pretty smooth. I never liked Shane more than his scene in which he told Damon why he taught Bonnie expression. It's pointed out that he turned Bonnie into a bomb. Shane knows this which is why he put himself in position as the only one who can dismantle the bomb. Elena's friends can't kill him once they find the cure unless they want Bonnie to die, too.
Damon shines in "Into the Wild." I'm a bit of a hypocrite because I rooted for Damon's bad behavior I bemoaned in past reviews. Damon watched Shane like a hawk and waited for his moment to strike. Damon cornered him in a barn and began picking away at Shane's plan, his reasons for doing what he's done, and so on. Flashbacks to Shane's previous trip to the island a year ago are interspersed throughout the episode to show exactly where Shane's motivations came from. Shane's wife appeared to him through the blood he spilled in the magical well on the island. His wife, a powerful witch herself, died using expression in an attempt to raise their dead son from the dead. Katie (it's Katie, right; I'll assume its Katie) instructs him on how to bring her and Sam, their son, back to life, and how to raise Silas, the one who'll raise all the dead. Shane's damn sensible initially, questioning his wife's insistence on the use of non-natural magicks, the dark arts per se, and flatly refusing to orchestrate three massacres to bring about the resurrection of Silas. Shane reminds her he had trouble serving meat at their wedding. Katie persuades him. Damon's the wildcard for Shane. Shane successfully manipulated Elena's friends, especially Bonnie, but Damon catches Shane off-guard by telling him he doesn't care whether or not Bonnie dies.
Elena stops Damon from snapping Shane's neck, which sets the other part of Shane's plan in motion. He hired a witch to kidnap Jeremy, led Bonnie to him, and stole the tombstones. Meanwhile, Damon and Elena get into a fight about their feelings. The cure's meaningless to Damon, even dreaded. He'll lose Elena to humanity again, and she won't love him anymore. Caroline actually taps into the redemptive quality of the show's more violent characters, Damon and Klaus specifically. The ability to love can save the most monstrous of vampires. Elena swears she'll love him as a human. Elena asks him to take the cure with her so they can grow old together. Stefan's not the Salvatore for her. Damon thinks the life of a human is miserable. He wants no part. So, he wanders off in the woods and is taken captive by one of The Five.
"Into the Wild" builds tension really well. Take, for instance, Klaus' story with Caroline and Tyler. Klaus bites Caroline and refuses to save her because Tyler's been mean to him. Klaus saves Caroline, of course. Caroline reaches into his guts to make him feel something. Klaus saves her out of love, because Caroline thinks love can save him. The idea of saving Klaus is simplistic and cheap, and a poor lesson to young girls watching in that saving someone is sort of a myth. It's been nurtured by Hollywood. The romantic idea of taming the beast or changing the beast is just that--a romantic idea. Dries' script did a terrific job of building tension on the island--between the disappearances, Shane's insane story about his wife in the well, as well as just the contrast of light and dark, it's really well done. Plus, "Into the Wild" is just the thirteenth episode of the season, so it makes one wonder where the story's going from here, when the cure, and Silas, seemed like the endgame.
Rebekah and Elena's feud is played up for half of the episode, until Rebekah saves Elena from a trap. Stefan is silent during their squabbles. The girls agree to a temporary truce. Rebekah freaks out in the last act after the tombstones disappear, thinking she's being played again. Stefan tells her being human's what he wanted for 146 years. Elena looks at him for a long beat after she hears her former boyfriend's admission. I loved Rebekah's blunt honesty in a scene with Stefan as she defended herself. The reason she killed Elena was for her family's safety--the same move any of them, i.e. Stefan/Damon/Caroline/Bonnie, would've made for Elena's safety. Elena was involved in the murder of two of her brothers whereas Elena's death was but once and she came back as a vampire anyway. Stefan made the same point Rebekah made a few episodes ago when he noted the similarities between himself and Klaus. Rebekah points out the similarities between her siblings and Stefan's friends. Whether or not these moments of clarity mean anything going forward remains to be seen, but I hope it does go somewhere.
"Into the Wild" is a slick and stylish episode, tightly written, and I'm quite intrigued to find out what happens next week now that the pieces are basically set. I'm really fascinated to find out where this season's going. There's a more story left to tell.
-Amazingly, the Klaus/Caroline thing works for me. Klaus is a son of a gun, but Joseph Morgan and Candice Accola's chemistry is amazing, so it's easy to forget the character stuff and just focus on what's happening between the two actors. Michael Trevino and Candice Accola never have spark in their scenes.
-Tyler wants to kill Klaus. He'll want to kill him more as he watches Klaus and Caroline get closer. Characters forgive easily. Caroline's eventually going to kiss the hybrid who killed Tyler's mom, and the audience will forget about that nasty bit of Klaus' past.
-Caroline Dries wrote the episode. Michael A. Allowitz directed it.