Review of THE VAMPIRE DIARIES – Blood Brothers (2010)

Is the price of love too high and does one have to suffocate beneath the weight of it?

This week’s episode revealed how Stefan (Paul Wesley) and Damon (Ian Somerhalder) became tortured creatures doomed to walk the Earth for eternity together. It was a sobering lesson that too much love can be a bad thing. Stefan and Damon loved the same woman and she loved them too much to let them die a mortal death. It is the ultimate love triangle – except with a vampire twist: a vampire falls in love with two mortal men and compels them to drink her blood so that if they die, she will have them with her in life forever. Yet with Katherine (Nina Dobrev) still MIA and roaming loose for the past 162 years, one has to wonder what type of love she has for them. Does Katherine subscribe to the belief that: if you love someone, set them free and if they come back to you, they are yours forever? Or is she simply a casual lover that loves them and leaves them – particularly if they have a father hell-bent on eradicating all vampires? Without Katherine stepping forward and explaining herself, we do not know. But what we did witness was that for these tragic figures: love is the root of all evil — and Katherine’s love is a curse unto itself.

 And what about Stefan’s love? He professed that he loved Damon too much to let him die? Or was Stefan merely too weak to live through eternity alone? His first thought after miraculously reviving after being shot was not of Katherine, but of Damon. Was that because he knew that Katherine was lost, supposedly burned in the church, or because his love of his brother was simply stronger?

 Damon’s love is the easier of the two to figure out. He loved Katherine and only wanted her – and he was willing to do anything to be with her. He willingly drank her blood and wanted to die when he thought she had been burned in the church. Then, once he found out that she was alive and trapped the tomb beneath the church, Damon made it his mission to find a way to release her from her eternal imprisonment. Astoundingly, in spite of everything, now that he knows she was not even in the tomb, Damon is still fixated on finding her. She is his obsession and his sole reason for living.

 Ah, what we do for love. People say they would walk on hot coals for love. But when put to the test, would they really? The price of love might be too high. Love is a greedy emotion. Most pursue it for all the wrong, selfish reasons. Thus, can we truly say we love selflessly? Love can be the most selfish emotion there is. We will do anything for love. A parent will die for a child. A lover will kill to protect their lover. And in Stefan’s case, a sibling will drag another sibling into hell just because they love them. Stefan may have thought he was giving Damon a gift, but that gift came with an unbearable price tag – for is an eternity of guilt worth living for? Does any amount of love make up for that albatross of emotion weighing down upon one every second of their lives? It is no wonder that Damon is constantly trying to inebriate himself with alcohol. His brother’s love has crushed the life out of him.

Damon is both blessed and cursed all at once. And worse yet, in a world where the entire human population should be theirs for the taking, they are the ones being hunted down mercilessly and killed. It is their emotions being toyed with, played and manipulated. Frankly, now that the truth is known, one can sympathize with Damon and understand his rage against both Stefan and Katherine. Both loved him so much that they selfishly used him for their own ends – and he cannot escape it. It is not enough to be cursed with eternal damnation; he is cursed with being crushed under their suffocating love. And there is a thin line between love and hate. The depths of Damon’s anger, rage and hatred are now revealed. It is not because Stefan forced him to turn into a vampire; it is because Katherine turned Stefan too. As Damon told Stefan, “It was just supposed to me, Stefan — just me.”

 What Worked

 It was haunting when Katherine whispered, “I love you, Stefan,” as Stefan and Damon both lie dying. It revealed that she may have actually loved Stefan and was only toying with Damon. For Damon drank her blood willing, whereas Stefan had to be compelled to drink her blood. Katherine was clearly not willing to give up her lover, Damon, or the love of her life, Stefan. The fact that Katherine, like Elena (Nina Dobrev), ultimately chose Stefan over Damon is fascinating. Was it because, as Emily (Bianca Lawson) speculated, that Stefan is pure at heart? What significance does that hold? The answer is sure to be intriguing.

 It was also interesting to learn that Stefan did not have the willpower to resist drinking his father’s blood and that he was responsible for Damon becoming a vampire. With just one taste, Stefan was addicted. He was intoxicated by his newfound power and abilities. As he said, “The guilt, the pain, I can turn it off like a switch. Katherine was right. There’s a whole another world out there.” But Damon did not have quite the same reaction. He loved the power of being a vampire, but he was intensely angry at the fate Stefan had condemned him to. As Damon angrily told Stefan, “You got what you wanted: me and you for all eternity. But hear this brother, I will make it an eternity of misery for you.” It was as Emily had explained to Stefan, “But that does not mean that I would wish her curse on anyone.” To which Stefan naively responded, “It feels more like a gift,” and she prophetically had replied, “That will change . . . because even in death, your heart is pure, Stefan . . . that will be your curse.” Emily was ultimately right: 162 years later and Stefan is consumed with guilt and despondency. Stefan did not want to survive and just wanted his eternal damnation to end – and he wanted to show Elena that he had the strength and courage to do what he should have from the beginning. But it was Elena who reminded him, “our actions are what set things in motion, but we have to live with that.” That is the burden Stefan must bear no matter how crushing and suffocating as it may be.

On a different note, loved how John (David Anders) and Elena were able to so casually call each other on what they knew about each other, but were not admitting. So when John appeared in Elena’s bedroom doorway and said, “I know you know. . . What do you think your mother would say if she knew you were dating a vampire?” and Elena tartly responded, “Which mother?” it was a nice razor-sharp repartee like any smart-ass teenager would have with a prying relative.

 Another fun exchange was the one between John and Pearl (Kelly Hu). It was mesmerizing to hear John tell Pearl from the start that he would charm her as she had a weakness for the Gilbert charm, and then fooled her into believing that Jonathan Gilbert (Joe Knezevich) had written lovingly about her in his journals — for Pearl so desperately wanted to believe that she had been truly loved. Uncle John hit it right on the nose when he bruisingly told her, “good god, you vampires! You’re so emotional. Jonathan Gilbert hated you. His only regret was that he didn’t drive a stake through your heart himself.” But, angry at being tricked, Pearl scathingly told him, “Mr. Gilbert, may you rot in hell.” Astoundingly, John was absolutely right: vampires do seem to eternally searching for love. They crave it almost more than their thirst for blood. Blood may be their sustenance, but love is what motivates them in their actions.

 A good example is Anna’s (Malese Jow) clear infatuation with Jeremy (Steven McQueen). She even enrolled back in high school just to be with him and, when he curiously asked her, “Why would you want to go to high school? It blows,” she coyly responded, “Do I really need to answer that?” Jeremy then just stared and slowly said, “So you’d suffer through all that just to hang out with me?” and Anna replied, “Yeah, I would.” Astonished and flattered, all Jeremy could say was, “Awesome.” Later when Anna also fought with her mother — the same mother who she had worked so hard to free from the tomb about leaving Mystic Falls – it was all because of Jeremy. So when Anna told Jeremy about her mother’s fears, “You’re Uncle John wants us dead. . . He’s a hater, Jeremy,” and Jeremy then softly asked, “And what am I?” Anna then  said, “You’re something else entirely — my weakness.”  In this dark tale, it is not sunshine or vervain that the vampires must fear, it is love.  It weakens them all.

 We have seen how love enslaved Stefan, Damon, Pearl and Anna are. Another victim of love is Alaric (Matt Davis) who also found out that he had been cruelly used and abused by the woman he loved.  When he finally realized that he could not keep chasing after a woman who not only left him as she willing chose to become a vampire – a choice he could not fathom – he insightfully said, “I can’t keep searching for her. . . No answer is enough. I keep thinking I want to know why, when — you know, the precise moment when my wife decided that life with me wasn’t enough.” It was a heart-breaking realization, but the cold hard truth is she had decided that her life with him was not enough. Thus, it was a wise decision when Alaric said, “I just don’t want to waste any more of my life searching for answers I really don’t want. I’m through with Isobel. I’m done with all this.” So, while Damon is still caught up in his obsession with Katherine, Alaric chose to stop pursuing a woman who did not want him. But given the fact that the moment he decided to stop chasing Isobel (Mia Kirshner) at  the exact moment she chose to reappear, it remains to be seen how strong his resolve is to give her up.

 Finally, as has become the norm as of late, the scenes between Damon and Elena continue to delight. Like when Damon asked Elena if she would be staying the night again at the mansion, she tartly replied, “Is that a problem?” To which Damon sarcastically said, “Yes, you are a complete nuisance.” It was also revealing when Elena asked Damon if he and Alaric are becoming friends and Damon pointedly said, “I don’t have any friends, Elena.” She was clearly started by the harshness of this statement and must have then wondered about it, for in her mind, she and Damon appeared to be friends. But in a complete reversal, it was even more telling was when Damon advised her to stay out of the dungeon when he was not there.  He warned her, “You’re very trusting of [Stefan] — given the circumstances.” To which Elena sharply replied, “So are you — otherwise, you wouldn’t be leaving.” With that reminder, Damon thoughtfully replied, “Won’t be long.” Later, when Damon returned to the mansion, he playfully groaned, “Oh god, you’re still here?” and Elena archly said, “Were you expecting anyone else?” In response, Damon sat down next to her on the sofa as he put her feet on his lap. It was a casual display of domestic normalcy emphasized when Elena asked, “So how was the errand?” and Damon quipped, “Futile, although I think I witnessed a teacher having an existential crisis.”  It is an interesting relationship developing between them.  Damon may say he does not have friends, but his actions around Elena say otherwise.

What Didn’t Work

After feeling touched by a spark of desire for Elena last week during the Founder’s Day dance, Damon seemed to go out of his way this week to provoke her and needle her at every opportunity. While understandable, he crossed the line with the puppy remark. Surely many viewers were just as appalled and sickened by the image it brought to mind. Perhaps the writers could refrain from using puppies as a way of eliciting revulsion for the show’s Dark Prince.

Also, the deaths of Pearl and Harper (Sterling Sulieman) felt unnecessary. Just when there was developing an interesting angle about the history of Pearl and Katherine and how Pearl would react once she found Katherine who had abandoned her, Pearl was eliminated before that story could be told. Pearl had also proven to be an excellent sparing partner for Uncle John and to have her taken out so easily felt like we were cheated.

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

‘Blood Brothers’ was written by Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec and directed by Liz Friedlander. ‘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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