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The Vampire Diaries Review: 'Bring It On'

Christopher Monigle Christopher Monigle
March 15th, 2013 10:02am EDT

TVD

Pop-culture websites interviewed Julie Plec a couple of weeks ago for reaction about the important plot developments in the last episode. One question Ms. Plec was asked was how the she and the writers made Elena different from Katherine. One major difference between the doppelgangers is the hair style. Elena continues to wear her straight while Katherine wears her hair in sultry curls. Katherine conveys a myriad of emotions in her facial expressions and in her body language. The character is a ball of energy. Humanity-free Elena doesn't smile, doesn't emote, stands very still, and speaks in a mostly flat delivery. She doesn't inflect her words because whatever she says is meaningless to her. No word, no thought, is important enough to inflect. Elena's rigidity and flatness is essential to her non-humanity characterization. She's numb. The Vampire Diaries will play up Elena's bad decisions and poor choices, and she'll bite and, possibly, kill. Elena won't turn on her humanity without committing a regrettable act, because it'll be good for the narrative. Elena's whole non-humanity arc is really about how she's depressed, i.e. this is a metaphor for depression. By depression, I mean the serious clinical kind, not the kind of depression folk mistake for sadness because their relationship ended. Elena's seriously sad, and she's chosen not to feel anything rather than feel everything.

"Bring It On" offers a decent beginning for Elena's lack of humanity turn, as we watch her feed in public, turn heel on Caroline, and seduce Damon by telling him what he wants to hear. Elena uses Damon's trick of lying in the road to lull a good citizen into getting out and helping before she attacks, which causes Stefan to look at her disapprovingly. Stefan's concerned because he knows what'll happen once a turned-off vampire goes too far down the hole, and Caroline's concerned because she doesn't want to see her friend numb and despondent. They want to help Elena because they love her. Elena can't feel love. She reminds Stefan about her lack of love after he 'grounds' her. Stefan's rather open about his reasons for helping her: he's responsible for bringing all the pain into her life the day he saved her life and then fell in love with her and her with him. Elena, since she's mean now, tries to hurt him by telling him she can't love him, though she reminds him of the good sex they had ("It was good," she states).

As always, though, the triangle becomes the centerpiece of her arc, which is a shame because Elena's arc could be free of the Salvatore brothers. The writers chose to explore Elena's darker vampire side. I would've liked an exploration of a Salvatore-free life even if it means she becomes Angelus for a few episodes and feels overwhelming guilt afterwards. But no, Elena and Damon become a pairing again---sire bond be damned---in a scene that's bound to be edited into a fan video set to the music of Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On." The search for the cure continues, meanwhile. Damon spent the episode tracking down a vampire because he wanted to kill. Rebekah shows up to help, not realizing Damon's going to kill the vampire.

Elena addresses Damon's inner-most thoughts to him in a scene that's been a long time coming. What Damon felt but never said to her was that he liked her as a vampire and never wanted her to have the cure; however, the sire bond messed up their thing the first time around. Damon didn't want Elena just because he told her she wanted/loved him. The sire bond's been broken by Elena's Krusty the Clown doll switch. Elena tells Damon what he wants to hear not because he told her to and that changes everything. She asks him to admit her likes her 'this way'--drinking from cheerleaders, trying to kill Caroline, etc. Damon drives off to New York City with her, leaving the mystery of the missing blood bags to Stefan.

"Bring It On" is relatively free of Silas. Bonnie's off-screen recovering. Stefan theorizes Silas came to town and took the blood bags from hospitals. The B story of the episode involves the search for Katerina Petrovna. Damon's a horrible choice to pursue leads. Rebekah accomplishes nothing. Klaus spends an evening with Hayley trying to learn about the whereabouts of Ms. Petrovna. The hybrid couldn't find her for centuries and centuries, and he basically fails to get any information out of Hayley. Hayley's tethered to him for her safety. Inevitably, the pair have sex. Hayley's Caroline's sort-of nemesis, so Klaus and Hayley's copulation should lead to a dramatic showdown. Caroline learned that Tyler won't return to Mystic Falls as long as Klaus is looking for him. Doing so would be dangerous. Caroline is crushed by the news; she'd been leaving him messages, but now Matt owns the deed to house, which shows the finality of Tyler's choice. What better time than now for Caroline to see what sensitive Klaus is all about?

The title is a nod to the 1998 cheerleading movie Bring It On and it's also an affirmative statement about the rest of the season--bring it on. The episode is mostly set up for the last episodes of the season. Hayley mentions she went to New Orleans. Klaus sees a mark on her shoulder blade and notes it's a mark of an old werewolf pack that used to roam Louisiana. TVD's setting up the backdoor pilot, "The Originals," which will air next month. Rebekah's comment about Prof. Shane's death is dismissed by Damon, so no one else hears about it. TVD needed a breather after a string of intense episodes. TVD doesn't do filler episodes per se, but "Bring It On" was as low stakes as TVD gets. That isn't a criticism.

Other Thoughts:

-I know the TVD writers take the story one step at a time. Plec said the prom and graduation would happen this season. I'm beginning to think the fifth season will still have a high school setting. The high school setting doesn't even matter. None of the characters attend school. How is Caroline still cheer captain? I suppose Caroline spent her time with cheer in the episodes she didn't appear in.

-Elena crumbled Jeremy's memorial flyer. Oh, Elena.

-Phoebe Tonkin's Australian accent came out a little bit in her scenes with Klaus.

-Elisabeth R. Finch & Michael Narducci wrote the episode. Matt Wren directed it.

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