Review of THE VAMPIRE DIARIES – Let the Right One In (2010)

Vampires are not the only things rising in Mystic Falls, a vampire vendetta is unleashed

Once the crypt was opened, we knew that a blood-bath was coming to Mystic Falls. We just did not foresee that it would be a vampire blood-bath. Who knew that the entombed vamps would be so blood-thirsty for revenge on their fellow vamps, Stefan (Paul Wesley) and Damon (Ian Somerhalder)? It seems Katherine’s (Nina Dobrev) little tryst with the Salvatore Brothers wreaked more havoc that previously thought. It was not just their lives that she left upside down, she abandoned her best friend and 25 angry vamps who blame her dalliances as the root of their agonizing captivity. Starvation for a vampire is the ultimate form of torture. So with only one goal in mind, the bullheaded Frederick (Stephen Martines) snatched Stefan so that he too could share in their agony. This in turn forced an unholy alliance between sworn enemies. So it was a night of terror and torture. But in the end, the good guys won – or did they? After all, Pearl (Kelly Hu) is still out there coolly calculating her plan of attack and, in her case, revenge is a dish best served cold.

What Worked

The men of Mystic Falls truly seem to be ruled by their hearts. We watched as Jeremy (Steven McQueen) fixatedly tried to convince Anna (Malese Jow) to turn him. We saw that Damon still wanted Katherine back even though she had let him think she was in the crypt. Alaric (Matt Davis) seems destined to pursue a woman who let him think she was dead. And poor Matt (Zach Roerig) and Tyler (Michael Trevino), both pining for girls that left them as well. In Stefan’s case, he has the girl of his dreams, but he futilely keeps trying to keep her out of harm’s way.

Jeremy’s quest to become a vampire to join his lost-love Vicki (Kayla Ewell) in eternal damnation continues to enthrall. He is literally playing with fire with Anna’s affections and now that she knows that the only reason he wanted to be turned was to be with Vicki, she will undoubtedly make his life a living hell. His confession that he wanted to be with Vicki is the turning point. It completely undermined the small gesture when he offered Anna his vervain filled bracelet. For when she had curiously asked, “Why would you give this to me?” he had said, “because you like it and I like you.” This seemingly innocent exchange had under currents so thick you could cut it with a knife. Their chemistry remains one of the more charming aspects of the series.

Also insightful was their debate as to whether Jeremy had a good enough reason to be turned. Jeremy desperately told Anna, “I wake up everyday and everything is okay, but there’s something missing, like a hole. Some people, they fit in life or whatever. I don’t. . . you should turn me because I don’t have anything else.” Anna then sadly replied, “Do you even know why we turn people? It’s not to give someone a one-way ticket out of loner-hood. One, we need someone to do are dirty work; two, revenge; three, boredom – but that never turns out well – and then there’s the obvious one, you love someone so much you would do anything to spend all of eternity with them. I’m sorry but you don’t fit any of those categories yet.” So it was heart-breaking when Anna finally found out about Vicki. Vampires probably do not have many friends and love is perhaps even more elusive. To have her hope of love crushed is going to spark another kind of emotion: wrath. This scorned lover will not be so cruelly cast aside.

Just as Frederick was turning out to be a fairly credible villain, he too got staked. He was deliciously creepy and evil, especially when he remarked to the other vampires about Pearl, “she seems to have it all figured out, doesn’t she” – all while twisting a newly-sharpened wooden stake in his hand. He must have learned something after she  staked him with a mere wooden spoon.

Also intriguing is the complexity of Harper’s (Sterling Sulieman) character as, at first, he seemed so foreboding, especially given his alliance with the scheming Pearl.  But Harper’s willingness to intervene and help Stefan shows a depth that is surprising. It will be interesting to see if Harper is friend or foe — and if he may be the ultimate undoing of Pearl.

As for Pearl, she is not up to anything good as she seductively culled favor from the Mayor in an attempt to regain her social stature, power and wealth. Though once Pearl caught on that there was something brewing between Anna and Jeremy – and that Jeremy is a Gilbert – she was quick to warn Anna to stay away from him. While initially it appeared that mother did not know best, she was right. For now that Jeremy knows that Vicki is dead, he has no reason to be turned and he will exact his own revenge on those he sees responsible for her death. Is Jeremy following in his ancient ancestor’s footsteps? Will he be the next Jonathan Gilbert, bane of the vampires – a vampire-exterminator?

On the lighter side, Damon is unparalleled in nailing the funny one-liners, such as when defending his docile submission to Pearl, he said, “It’s not like I had a choice. She’s scary!” To which Elena breezily replied, “I’ve accepted the fact you’re a self-serving psychopath with no redeeming qualities,” and Damon mockingly said, “Ouch!” Though Stefan got a moment of levity when he assured Elena, “I’m perfectly safe. I have Damon, the self-serving psycho-path on my side.” It is nice to see that Stefan has a funny side too.

The delicate alliance forged between Damon and Alaric was nicely played when Damon was forced to turn to his enemy for help. During the infiltration of the vampire-infested home, they proved to be an effectively lethal team, particularly when Alaric came to Damon’s rescue during the vampire fight. The look of understanding that passed between them was palpable. And later at the bar while nursing their wounds, it was great to see that male bonding has not changed much. For when Damon nonchalantly said, “That was fun. . . oh, don’t look at me like that. I know you hate me. Guess what? Everyone hates me. But you can’t deny, we were bad-ass,” Alaric simply punched him.  It would be great to see these two work together more often.

What was truly shocking was watching the downfall of Stefan. It was not the torture that did him in, it was Elena’s blood. After feeding on her, he was nearly unrecognizable. Satiated with blood-lust, he was like an animal. Elena, only beginning to realize what she had done, even admitted, “You were like this other person and it’s my fault. I made you.” But Stefan’s downward spiral is just beginning as witnessed by Damon who returned home to find Stefan drunkenly indulging in a blood-binge. Stefan was like a junkie on a high and Damon could only watch with horror.

I also just love the fact that, despite everyone’s fears and worries about whether Damon has a heart and cares for anyone, Damon did not even hesitate to rush to Stefan’s rescue – headless of the risk to himself. He also steadfastly protested Elena getting involved with Stefan’s rescue because it was too risky. It went beyond mere chivalry – we are beginning to see the depths of Damon’s capacity to love and care for others — though he hides it well.

What Didn’t Work

It made no sense that Stefan, who just survived a vicious vampire attack in his own home, went out hunting alone in such a weakened state. It was just asking for him to be attacked. It was beyond arrogant that he thought simply because it was daytime that the vamps would not be back, especially on such a dark and dreary raining day. It showed a level of ignorance that seemed out of character for such a worldly-wise vamp. It would have made much more sense if there had been a more clever method of attack when his defenses were down.

Also showing a distinct lack of survival skills is Elena who keeps insisting that she can help. Though it was rather funny when Elena admonished Damon, “now is not the time to be the Lone Ranger,” and he rolled his eyes and said, “Fine, you can drive the getaway car.” Despite this acquiescence, he reminded her, “I can’t protect you . . . I don’t know how many vampires there are. . . I have to get in and get out. I can’t be distracted with your safety, or this will be a bloodbath that none of us walk away from.” Yet Elena steadfastly refused to listen and still got out of the car to find Stefan. So it was only fitting when Damon caught her sneaking into the basement and angrily said, “Are you insane?!” Does this girl not have any sense of mortality?! Why does she believe she is invincible? Simply because she survived the car wreck that killed her foster parents? Surely, Stefan would have instilled in her a better sense of self-preservation around vampires!

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

‘Let the Right One In’ teleplay by Julie Plec with story by Bryan Young and directed by Dennis Smith. ‘The Vampire Diaries’ stars Paul Wesley, Nina Dobrev, Ian Somerhalder, Steven R. McQueen, Candice Accola, Katerina Graham, Michael Trevino, Zach Roerig, Sara Canning, Matt Davis. ‘The Vampire Diaries’ airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on the CW.

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