Review of THE VAMPIRE DIARIES – Friday Night Bites (2009)

Giving a new meaning to the phrase “walk of shame” this week’s episode opened with a classic horror movie scene: Caroline (Candice Accola) waking-up in her own bed, feeling the wound on her neck in horror and trying to sneak out without waking the sleeping vampire lying next to her — only to be caught and bit again. The horror-level is certainly not diminishing as we delve deeper into the series. If anything, it is more prevalent. For just when you think it is safe to breathe again, something jumps out and attacks — and all you can hear is your heart beating loudly as you jump with fright.

From the get go, Damon (Ian Somerhalder) has been a monster right out of your nightmares. He is sexy, seductive and lethal — and worse yet, remorseless. As he said, he will kill “anyone, any time, any place.” People are just food to him. When Stefan (Paul Wesley) tried to protest, “They are people. [Caroline] doesn’t exist for your amusement and for you to feed on whenever you want to,” Damon shrugged and said, “Sure they are. They’re mine for the taking.”

But Stefan wants to believe otherwise. “There must be a shred of humanity left in my brother, but how do I make him see it?” He even confronts Damon and tells him, “I was worried there was no humanity left inside you — that you may have actually become the monster that you pretend to be.” Stefan in trying to get Damon to admit that he still has human feelings gently, reminded Damon that he has had a life time to kill him and yet has not. The fact that Damon just wants to haunt him as punishment for Katherine’s death reveals that Damon still has human motivations. As he sorrowfully told Damon, “You torture me because you still do (love Katherine) and that, my brother, is your humanity.”

However, in the end after watching Damon so casually kill Coach Tanner as a demonstration of his lack of humanity, Stefan writes in his journal with dawning horror and sadness, “I was wrong, there’s nothing human left in Damon — no good, no kindness, no love — only the monster who must be stopped.”

But as Stefan writes these words, we see Damon in Elena’s (Nina Dobrev) bedroom caressing her cheek – perhaps Stefan’s instincts were right all along and there is a shred of humanity still left in Damon. Will the show be a battle for Damon’s soul?

What Worked

There were some wonderful moments of levity with the clever quip from Elena, “There’s more to me than just gloomy graveyard girl” as she was trying to explain to Stefan how it was possible that she used to be a cheerleader. Also, Caroline got in a nice jab by flippantly telling Elena, “I got the other brother. I hope you don’t mind.” (Though if she could remember what Damon is doing to her, she’d probably not be so cavalier about catching one of the Salvatore brothers.)

Also great was the amping-up of Bonnie’s (Katerina Graham) visions and trying to figure out what they mean. Her vision of the numbers 8-14-22, was prophetic in that it turned out to be the building number, license plate and parking space number of where Coach Tanner was murdered. It was also fun to see her testing her new-found powers and guessing birthday candles and then opening the drawer and finding that there were indeed birthday candles inside it. And Stefan’s remark that “Salem witches are heroic examples of individualism and non-conformity” was a nice way of embracing and encouraging Bonnie’s abilities.

Surprisingly, the scenes between Damon and Elena were a lot more interesting and sizzling than one would expect. The kitchen scene where he tells Elena about Katherine was more poignant, especially after Elena softly told Damon: “I’m sorry” and when he looks back at her puzzled, she explained, “ – about Katherine. You lost her too.” Damon looks utterly surprised and oddly touched.

Then later when Damon stops Elena at the football game and said, “I’m sorry if I make you uncomfortable. That’s not my intention,” Elena immediately called him on his insincerity and snapped back, “Yes, it is. Otherwise you wouldn’t put an alternate meaning behind everything you say.” Upon realizing that his human arts of persuasion weren’t getting very far, Damon then tried to “glamour” Elena into doing his biding by saying, “You want me.” To which Elena simply looked at him incredulously and said: “Excuse me?!” Damon then smoothly followed up on his gauche faux pas by saying, “I get to you. You find yourself drawn to me. You think about me even when you don’t want to think about me. I bet you even dreamed about me. And right now you want to kiss me.” With a resounding slap across his face, Elena furiously said, “What the hell?! I don’t know what kind of game you are trying to play with Stefan here, but I don’t want to be part of it and I don’t know what happened in the past, but let’s get one thing straight: I’m NOT Katherine!” (For Stefan had taken a preemptive approached and gave her a pendant infused with Vervain in order to prevent Damon from using his persuasion abilities on her.) Thus, the look of shock on Damons’s face when she slapped him was priceless!

What Didn’t Work

It is rather tiring that Tyler (Michael Trevino) continues to blatantly bully both Stefan and Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen). Thus, it was nice to see Matt (Zach Roerig) call him on such juvenile and unnecessary behavior. Also it is hard to believe that Vicki (Kayla Ewell) would be so shallow to stand by a notorious bully like Tyler. Surely she has better taste and judgment.

The other thing that didn’t fit was: if Stefan can avoid being hit from behind by a football, why can’t he move fast enough to prevent his hand from being cut? That did not feel plausible.

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

‘Friday Night Bites’ was written by Barbie Kligman and Bryan M. Holdman, and directed by John Dahl. ‘The Vampire Diarise’ stars Paul Wesley, Nina Dobrev, Ian Somerhalder, Steven R. McQueen, Candice Accola, Katerina Graham, Kayla Ewell, Michael Trevino, Zach Roerig and Sara Canning. ‘The Vampire Diaries’ airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on the CW.

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