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'The Vampire Diaries' Recap: 'Fifty Shades Of Grayson'

Christopher Monigle Christopher Monigle
December 13th, 2013 8:36am EST

The Vampire Diaries

Season five of The Vampire Diaries has aired ten episodes without any theme, narrative, plot, arc connecting one episode with the other. In other words, this season lacks cohesion. Things happen each week. Characters have changed, yes. Character pairings changed. Character dynamics changed. I suppose what holds each up and together is what’s missing from the season. Bonnie’s dead arc mattered because her friends wanted to bring her back, and would once they found out she could (after finding out she died). Damon’s revelation about the Whitmore murders matters because of its affect on Elena, and however Elena is affected affects Damon. Stefan’s psychological trauma post drowning and Silas nonsense mattered because of his brother and Elena. I dig continuing character stories. I’d like for the character stories to be consistent with the characters, though.

The diabolical experiments performed by Dr. Wes were a long way to break up Damon and Elena by the hiatus. That’s the entire reason for everything Whitmore, right? Enzo was introduced last week to vividly remind the audience of the kind of person Damon was and still is. The confessional about the murderous rampage through decades of Whitmores further cemented Damon’s monstrousness. Damon’s monstrous side was a major part of the first two seasons until the writers decided to redeem him through his love for Elena. His good acts, I guess, made up for his bad acts. Damon developed into a decent person, and so Elena chose him over Stefan. Last week’s episode suggested Damon hadn’t changed, had only feigned what Elena perceived as change. Essentially, the episode suggested one cannot change, that who one is will forever remain. It’s an interesting angle to continue in “50 Shades Of Grayson” considering the emphasis on change and redemption, as seen in Katherine’s scenes, as well as in the scene wherein Stefan lets Aaron live.

Elena witnessed Damon at his worst when he killed her brother twice or thrice times, when he threatened Bonnie’s life a dozen times, when he used Caroline as his plaything, and when he made her life hell in general. I didn’t think Elena would’ve chosen him after he snapped Jeremy’s neck in season two. Damon’s actions against the Whitmores resulted in a higher body count but his actions in seasons one and two hurt characters we care for and invested in. Enzo’s an example of the detachment one feels for the Whitmore plot. Enzo tries to tell his heartbreaking story in which Damon betrayed him and left him for dead, only to survive and get picked apart day after day for over fifty years. The Salvatore brothers don’t care to listen. Damon knows the story, and Stefan cares about finding Elena. Caroline Dries, who wrote that scene, is telling the audience, ‘Enzo’s story doesn’t matter, don’t invest in this whole thing because it doesn’t matter, what matters is the brothers’ investment in Elena.’

Together, Elena and Damon aren’t interesting. In two seasons, the writers did not bother with them together. Compared to the epic portrayal of Stefan and Elena, it’d odd, but tortured love makes Elena and Damon beat. Conflict drives teenage soaps, especially this one with immortal vampires vying for one’s girl’s eternal love. My least favorite scene of the season was Damon’s admission of his monstrousness and subsequent decision to free Elena from him because he doesn’t want her to change for him, to accept what he’s done out of love for him. Damon forgets he pulled her to him through the sire bond, initially, along with the other horrible stuff he did to people she loves. Whatever, though; I’ve covered that. Elena chose him and would’ve continued to stay with him. Damon’s choice is an expression of selfless love, delivered coldly to drive her away and to send young girls into convulsive fits their parents won’t know how to treat.

Elena’s doppelganger, Katherine, experiences guilt, remorse and a desire for someone to see her as redeemed before she dies. In Stefan she sees an opportunity for redemption: for someone to absolve her of the wrongs she’s done to people in her life. Stefan can’t absolve her. Katherine hears, “I’m sorry you’re dying” from him a scene before she dies. Nadia returns to town to help her mother, though she leaves town right before Katherine changes her mind about the traveler idea. By that time, Katherine’s heart fails and she falls to the ground, presumably dead. Characters don’t so much die on TVD anymore, though. Katherine’s relationship with Nadia showed a softer side of Katherine, but Katherine’s the best when she’s unapologetically Katherine.

So, at the end of the mid-season finale, Katherine is dead, Elena lost Damon, Stefan lost no one but displayed restraint in his scene with Aaron, Aaron cut Wes out of his life, the lab remains, as well as Enzo. The terrible Whitmore storyline continues. Elena learned her father experimented on vampires so he could help people heal. Damon wonders why she didn’t focus on the 100 pages of torture. Sometimes life comes down to how we look at things.

-The flashbacks of little Elena walking down the stairs reminded me of the loop in the penultimate episode of Buffy’s fifth season. Buffy’s flashbacks in “The Weight of the World” were brightly lit unlike the lowly-lit black and white flashbacks in tonight’s terribly titled episode.

-“50 Shades of Grayson”? Really, Julie Plec and Caroline Dries?

-Ian Somerhalder is doing his best to make Damon’s arc work. Paul Wesley’s still the best actor on this show. This episode is bad. Wesley’s acting was the only enjoyable part. Nina’s amazing right now as Katherine, but those scenes with Nadia drag.

-Caroline Dries wrote the episode.

-The Vampire Diaries returns wih new episodes on January 23. Everyone watch Community’s fifth season on Thursdays, beginning January 2.

 

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