Review of THE VAMPIRE DIARIES – Miss Mystic Falls (2010)

Beware the temptation of buried desire, for nothing is sweeter than forbidden fruit

Following last week’s scary introduction to Bad-Stefan (Paul Wesley), this week’s episode continued along the same vein as Stefan’s walk on the wild side under the influence of the newly awakened blood-lust continued. He was out of control, stealing, lying, and thinking only of his next fix. His insatiable hunger got the best of him and he ended up in the one place he thought he never would be: in the dungeon. The role reversal is nearly complete as that was where Stefan tossed Damon (Ian Somerhalder) when Damon first came to town acting like a drunken frat boy with no regard for others. It is an odd turn of events to see that Stefan is now the bad brother. He is consumed only with finding his next blood fix, regardless of the consequences to himself, Damon, Elena (Nina Dobrev) or anyone else. Last week he scared us with what he could do at any moment. This week, he just sickened us with what he was doing. His animal instincts dictated everything he did. He thirsted and he took what he wanted. This time we were not only scared of Stefan, we were heart-broken. This is not the Stefan we knew.

In the meantime, the forces of evil were drawing their net tighter as Uncle John (David Anders), Pearl (Kelly Hu), Jeremy (Steven McQueen) all danced around each other in assessment of what their next step would be: John revealed that he was looking for a device created by Jonathan Gilbert; in a surprising move, Pearl gave that very device to Damon as a gesture of good faith to make amends for Stefan’s torture; and Jeremy dropped hints that he knew more than he was telling to Uncle John and cozied up to Anna (Malese Jow) for some yet unknown reason.

It is surreal when Damon appears to be the only one telling the truth these days: he just wants to find Katherine (Nina Dobrev) and keep everyone safe and prevent a vampire witch-hunt. Damon definitely has his hands full. The saying is that “there is no rest for the wicked,” but as Damon is finding out, it is even more exhausting being the good guy. The dark knight is wearing the white hat and wondering how the hell he ended up with it.

What Worked

Continuing to ramp up the mystery involving Uncle John, Jeremy inadvertently sparked John’s laser-sight interest by mentioning Jonathan Gilbert’s journal. It was cool to hear that there are more journals, and who knows what nuggets of information and clues they may contain. So, while John described Jonathan Gilbert as a crazy inventor, we are getting the sense that he was something much more than that.

Also tipping his hand perhaps too much, Jeremy confided to Anna that he had read Elena’s journal. His self-righteous proclamation that, “She keeps things from me, I’m going to keep things from her,” sounded so young and naïve. He is telling the whole world that he knows something and does not expect any negative consequences will come from it? Despite his good intentions, Jeremy needs to be wary as John is watching he and Anna with a bit too much great interest, even before he found out that Anna was Pearl’s daughter. Plus, if Jeremy has hatched another scheme to use Anna, she is not going to take it well at all. These are dangerous people to be toying with.

On a sweet note, it rang true when Jeremy said that part of him was glad his memory was erased as he does not want to remember Vicki (Kayla Ewell) like that – and when Anna tentatively asked, “As a monster?” He thoughtfully replied, “As someone who wanted to hurt me.” It says a lot for a young man who wants to remember the girl he loved in a better light than she may have actually been — he saw the woman and not just the monster within.

Then showing some distinctly admirable big brother qualities for a change, Damon continued to keep watchful-eye over Stefan. It was good that Damon called Stefan on his behavior right away by suspiciously noting, “You seem awfully chipper lately. Less doom and gloom.” To which, Stefan retorted, “And you think it’s because I drank human blood again. . . Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but I’m clean.” Damon simply responded, “Not possible. . . .You’re lying,” and Stefan angrily said, “Believe what you want.” Damon was clearly unsure what to make of it and perhaps wondered if Stefan was more dangerous than he suspected.  Later, when he caught Stefan red-handed with his blood stash, Damon asked, “What does Elena think about the new you?” To which Stefan lashed back, “Nothing’s changed! I’m the same person. . . Elena doesn’t need to know anything,” prompting Damon to warn him, “You’ve been off the human stuff for
years, Stefan. You’re having trouble controlling it.” Damon had every right to be worried about the Jeckyll-Hyde side-effects that Stefan was exhibiting as he could not afford to have Stefan put them on the Town Council’s radar.

Fearing that Stefan was more out of control than he thought, Damon also warned Elena, “[Stefan] spent all his time fighting [his vampire nature] when he should have been learning to control it, and now it’s controlling him instead.” Elena tried to dismiss it saying, “This is Stefan we’re talking about,” but Damon quietly explained, “Stefan on human blood. He’ll do anything. He’ll say anything because he’s not going to want to stop.” Unfortunately, Damon’s dire prediction was all too true. Stefan, deep in denial, cut a sad figure of an out-of-control vampire, and he was simply not someone anyone should be around. Stefan tried to tell Elena, “The blood doesn’t change anything,” but she could see that it had and sadly said, “It’s changing you.”

It was only after Stefan was caught wantonly feeding on Amber (Spencer Locke) that Stefan was forced to see that he was a greater danger than he thought. So, when Elena came to find him at the mansion, he tried to push her away by saying, “You shouldn’t be here.” But she only softly replied, “I know. That wasn’t you.”  Stefan then angrily said, “That was absolutely me! A monster, a predator. It’s who I am!” Yet Elena sadly said, “That’s what the blood makes you.” Ashamed Stefan hung his head and quietly said, “All you did is expose me to who I really am.” But as a surprise move, when he moved to embrace her, she injected him with vervain, and after she and Damon then locked Stefan up in the dungeon the role reversal was complete. The story has come full circle with the good-brother having gone bad and the bad-brother becoming the responsible hero.

Finally, one last assessment. While beautiful watching Stefan and Elena at the dance rehearsal practicing the art of “nearly touching, but not touching,” it was much more erotic when Damon came to Elena’s rescue at the Founder’s Day dance and escorted her to the dance floor. While trying to capture the intimacy of a “near touch,” Damon and Elena’s dance revealed a surprising hidden desire.  The look of surprise on Damon’s face as he reacted to it and stepped back as if to step out of the range of danger was priceless – especially as Elena only reacted with a hint of smile. It was mesmerizing. Damon is just beginning to realize that, not only is Elena a woman worth winning, she is also forbidden fruit.

What Didn’t Work

Stefan seemed so obvious in his addiction: stealing from the hospital blood bank, hiding empty blood packets in the trunk of his car, having a stash on ice in a cooler in the basement, driving his hot rod car to school, and nearly crushing Alaric’s throat. Surely 162 years of being a vampire taught him to be a bit stealthier than that.

Also, as nice as it was to have Bonnie (Katerina Graham) back, it felt disjointed whenever she was around. No longer the bouncy, excitable girl that she was before her grandmother’s death, she is but a shadow of her former self – though clearly, she is still very powerful as she stopped Stefan dead in his tracks. It will be nice to see her more fully integrated back into the storyline. Otherwise, she’s another loose cannon running around Mystical Falls with a murky personal agenda.

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

‘Miss Mystic Falls’ was written by Brian Oh and Caroline Dries and directed by Marcos Siega. ‘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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