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Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Vampire Diaries- The ways to make it good again (and whether this new season is taking advantage of said ways)

The Vampire Diaries used to be one of the most shockingly good guilty pleasures ever to suck us in and force us to start defending it. Then the last season amped up all its worst elements, ditched every aspect we liked and bored us to death. The three biggest culprits? 1) The cure and the search for it. 2) The Sire Bond and 3) The Originals. Why? Because the cure was less of a mystery and more of a search for something, and this is a show that thrives on mystery. Plus, we were sitting there thinking that Elena was going to be cured and the twist of the last season finale would be moot. Fortunately, the show saved itself by humaning Katherine instead. 

The sire bond sucked because no one wanted Elena to get with Damon because of a supernatural compulsion. We wanted her to choose him, to fall, to finally be fed up with Stefan, and for Damon to actually deserve her in that moment. Instead, we got a cop out. Perfect Elena couldn't choose Damon…she had to be forced too. Plus, it was all a little rape-y. Chicks don't dig rape-y (we're chicks). The show pulled it together by breaking the bond and having Elena still choose Damon in the end. But it could have been so much more delicious. See: The Killing Dance by Laurel K Hamilton (you have to start with Guilty Pleasures in that series and stop after Obsidian Butterfly, but when you see this situation handled with no sire bond, you'll see how great Delena could have been…and weep). 

The Originals were not only whiney and boring, they did nothing but mull around and threaten to do bad things. Two seasons with them were seasons of inaction, for the most part. They were too busy backstabbing each other, drinking, and teasing people to really get down to evil plans. Th sonly reason we are tuning in this year is because they are gone. Will we watch their new show? Never.

Since they are gone, we will give TVD another chance. How is it going after five episodes? Have the writers fixed the problems? Let's see.

  1. The Fix: No more fake deaths. Has it been fixed?: No, the show hasn't fixed this. Think to yourself: who on this show hasn't fake died only to not really be dead or to be resurrected? Almost fucking no one. And it takes the stakes away. Now, every time someone dies, we can't mourn in the moment or be shocked because we are too busy knowing that they will probably back. We sit there wondering how rather than crying. We knew Bonnie was coming back this entire time, and now we know how. Silas can trade his life for hers. Ho hum, snore. Her funeral scene was actually really touching. But it's ruined now. Still, we're pretty glad Katherine is still alive. To fix this annoying problem, the show needs to have some character (like a witch) tamper with the veil so that no one can ever come back from the dead unless they are being turned into a vampire. No more resurrections; no more ghosts. Then when a character gets their neck cracked, viewers will sit up and take notice. 
  2. The Fix: More human characters. Everyone on the show is supernatural, but we need moments of every day bravery and friendship. We need humans to be shocked at what is going on and for the good supernatural characters to protect. Matt is not enough. Has it been fixed?: Yeah! Well, it's starting to get fixed. We have the creepy college professor, who we love. Katherine took the cure and was seen fighting a sinus infection (ha!). And Elena is making friends with a student whose life is as depressing as hers. Aaron. Jesse was a good one, until he got turned. At least he's still hot as hell. College is full of potential human love interests, victims, and friends. By widening the potential character pool, the show is promising us new life.
  3. The Fix: Proactive heroes. Has it been fixed? Not really. Elena seems to care only about her own circle of friends and loved ones. We want characters who go hunting for evil and who actively protect their town. Where is the vampire neighborhood watch? Jeremy is a vampire hunter who never seems to go on an actual vampire hunt. Caroline and Elena are more focused on having a fun, typical college experience than putting their super powers to good use. Instead of waiting for baddies to go after them, we'd like to see the characters start hunting some baddies, vigilante style. Elena has the physical strength to be a bad ass FINALLY, and yet she was more bad ass when she was a human? Questionable, show. Questionable. 
  4. The Fix: Break up Delena. Has it been fixed? No, but at least an episode had Elena remembering how great Stefan was before he started ripping heads off. Amnesia is usually lame, but Stefan's memory loss gave Elena a reason to go over the way they met and remember what she gave up. Stelena was one of the most healthy, supportive, equal relationships in TV history, and we don't think Damon earned Elena yet. He's not far enough away from the serial killer he used to be. Elena should ditch both guys (after Damon does something awful and makes a huge mistake) and date someone who has never serial killed anyone for a while. A real contender too, not just a red herring. We'd like to wonder, "Hey, could she actually end up with someone who isn't one of the Salvatore brothers?" Not Aaron…he's not hot enough. Someone human. A college senior. Then have both Salvatore brothers in agony trying to win her back. That's the tension we need.
  5. The Fix: Better baddies. Has it been fixed? Sigh. A little. We don't like doppelg√§nger baddies. Just hire a new actor! The doppelg√§nger crap barely worked with Terry O'Quinn on LOST, and that was TERRY O'QUINN. Sorry, but no one on The Vampire Diaries is strong enough of an actor that they can't compete with Terry on the plane of "let's create another character for them, because we love having them around" except for Nina Dobrev. Nina is by far the best performer on the show. Also, the show is still giving the bad guy the same personality as Klaus. A slow-moving, threatening whiner. Silas is Klaus 2.0, but we don't even have the fun Klaroline subplot. Silas needs to go. The "little bit" that has been fixed, villain-wise is a) Qetsiyah and b) the college prof. We like them and think that they can take the show places whiner baddies can't. 
  6. The Fix: Institute some kind of panel of authority. Has it been fixed? No, but having a secret society of (we think) college professors guarding the school from vamps is a start. Just read the Harry Dresden books to find out that the White Counsel of wizards is probably the most fun aspect of the series to read about. There is something about the heroes rebelling against authority and having the authority misjudge them that hits a good note with the audience. This show just has random transients with powers running around and getting into conflict. A government can provide more tension. 
  7. The Fix: Widen the supernatural pool and don't introduce the most powerful of their kind for a long time. Also, move some of the focus out of Mystic Falls. Has it been fixed? Well, we have the travelers. Not a new concept in this genre, but we will take it. We can't be scared of vampire enemies ever again, because the Originals were the most powerful of their kind. They were brought in too soon. But there are several mythological creatures to choose from. We wouldn't even mind the show dipping into religious mythology. Supernatural had its best seasons once it brought on the angels. The Vampire Diaries could do a darker, sexier spin on that idea. (Wait. Never mind. Nothing is sexier than Castiel.) As far as the new locale, college doesn't seem like a forced new territory AND it's really working. The show has fully tapped the mysteries of the small town. It's time to move on. These characters are hundreds of years old, for the most part, and shouldn't be holed up in one area.
  8. The Fix: Get another mystery going and then bring on the twists that made the first few seasons so fun. Has it been fixed?- YES, and the pacing is awesome. We have Katherine's daughter, the reveal of Qetsiyah, and the question of what in the darn hell that teacher is up to. Unanswered questions keep us coming back for more (see: LOST), and this show is churning out the head scratchers again. Last season, the questions were a) when is Klaus finally going to make a real move and b) who is going to get the cure/where is the cure. And that's IT. Not enough. Now, we even have Elena's parents as part of the mystery. That worked for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, so it should work here too. 
  9. The Fix: More mature characters. Has it been fixed? No, and it's grating on our last nerve. These characters are teenagers with powers even when they are old as dirt. The writers need to sit down and watch Blast from the Past. The characters need to show their age instead of hold petty grudges and lack any amount of wisdom. Elena Gilbert and Caroline Forbes are 18 years old and have more maturity then any older character on this show. The Originals were so stupid! We needed some reminder of the age gaps. Sheeeee-it, they aren't even trying. Silas wakes up after 2,000 years. The last thing he remembers is ancient fucking Greece. AND HE SPEAKS AND ACTS LIKE HE'S BEEN IN OUR CULTURE FOREVER! Now, we know what you're thinking: He can read people's minds. He's been getting his behavior and speech from everyone else, and they are modern. Still. No.
  10. The Fix: More bromances/emphasis on non-sexual relationships. Has it been fixed? Yes. While nothing can replace Damon and Alaric, seeing Stefan calling Caroline his best friend is awesome. Elena might find a bro of her own in Aaron. Das goooooood.


Overall, the show has made significant steps in the right direction and the first five episodes of this season are enough to renew our faith that last season was a sad fluke. There are still some repeated mistakes, but it's so rare that a show goes uphill after a stumble that we are ready to forgive it. Keep it up, show. We're still fans. Just never ever ever bring the originals back, even when their show fails.

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