Review of THE VAMPIRE DIARIES – Daddy Issues (2011)

In a battle between vampires and werewolves, better choose the right side

The last time daddy-dearest came to town, his intent was to eradicate all the vampires from Mystic Falls. This time it appears that John (David Anders) is only intent on killing one vampire, Elijah (Daniel Gilles) — for it is the only way to set Katherine (Nina Dobrev) free. Once Elijah dies, the compulsion he forced upon her to remain in the tomb will be lifted.

So while the vampires were distracted with the looming werewolf war, John tried to ingrate himself with Elena (Nina Dobrev), Stefan (Paul Wesley) and Damon (Ian Somerhalder). It was a familiar charade of “I will align myself with you to protect Elena.” How often have we heard that particular line before? It is how Elijah managed to get into their good graces, as well. Everyone has a secret agenda. This time, it is another scheme to get Katherine out of the tomb.

The werewolves were just a smoke screen — a deadly one, but very effective. So with Caroline (Candice Accola) stuck in a cage, Stefan and Damon distracted rescuing her, Dr. Martin (Randy J. Goodwin) busy watching everyone’s backs, and John supposedly on baby-sitting duty with Elena, no one thought twice about who was keeping an eye on Katherine. But surely Elijah was prowling around in the darkness too. It seems imprudent for him to not take notice of nearly a dozen werewolves arriving in town and the fact that Katherine was left unattended; particularly if the only thing keeping her in the tomb is his compulsion and not a witch’s spell.

Thus, it seems that everyone needs to work on their communication skills. Each of them has only a piece of the puzzle and that piece is proving to be useless. Because Tyler (Michael Trevino) was kept in the dark, he fell prey to Jules (Michaela McManus) and Brady’s (Stephen Amell) nasty influence. Because Caroline was not forewarned about her vampire vulnerabilities, she was not ready for an abduction. Because no one ever doubled-checked to see if John was still aligned with Katherine, it was only too easy for him to walk in with a plan to get her released. And because no one has told Matt (Zach Roerig) what the hell is going on, he thinks his girlfriend is cheating on him when she is in fact she spent the night being tortured by werewolves. So the lack of communication and crucial information is proving lethal to all of them. It is only a matter of time before someone ends up dead simply because they did not have all the information.

Points of Interest

1. After seeming to fall by the wayside, it was good to see that the moonstone was brought up again and for someone to wonder what became of it. It is after all the key to breaking the curse and without it, there is no need for Klaus to come to town — well, unless he wants to reclaim Katherine. Which is probably why Katherine will do anything to get out of that tomb before he does?

2. It is fascinating that John is preying on Damon’s love of Elena to get him to do the dirty work of killing Elijah. By giving Damon the oak ash and the dagger, John has virtually handed Damon a loaded gun. He knows that Damon will not hesitate to kill; whereas Stefan would probably be more interested in talking to see if Elijah is really on their side. John knows that Damon’s killer instincts will win out and wont stopping him like Stefan’s conscious would.

3. It was nice to have a tender moment between Matt and Caroline when Matt said, “You’re avoiding me a little,” and Caroline replied with a smile, “Maybe a little.” It is a reminder that their love affair is not over and is merely on hold until things settle down; as if that is even remotely possible in Mystic Falls. But having a little hope amidst the hopelessness is a good thing.

What Worked

If anyone was ever hoping for a vampire-werewolf smack down, this was it. It was chilling how easily Jules and Brady captured Caroline and then tortured her. All it took was a little vervain water and some wooden bullets and suddenly vampires look rather weak in comparison; though it did help that they kept Caroline in a nasty cage too. It is just a shame that Caroline did not get the opportunity to share the pain, once released. So, while Stefan and Damon did take out a few of the big bad wolves, it was ultimately Dr. Martin would came to everyone’s rescue with an dog-whistle spell. Cheer-worthy as it was, Caroline did deserve to have a special moment with Jules and Brady to repay their generous hospitality.

Another question that got lost in the shuffle was: why does the werewolf pack want Tyler so badly? Is there a significance they have not yet revealed to him of his lineage or destiny?

So while Caroline did not get her kick-ass moment, she did a nice job of reminding Tyler that he has aligned himself with the wrong side. When Tyler tried to protest that he did not know the pack would come after her, Caroline angrily told him, “Do you know what they did to me? . . . [And] you just stood there when they were going to kill us. You just stood there. You didn’t do anything!” Then, as Tyler tried to apologize, Caroline coldly said, “It’s too late ’cause we’re not friends anymore. What happened to me tonight — that will never happen again. So you take that back to your little friends and you get the hell out of my house.” It was a cheer-worthy moment of a different kind. Caroline did not claim her pound of flesh, but she certainly gave Tyler a verbal lashing that he deserved. And Tyler’s disloyalty and uncertainty may have cost him the only woman who could have loved him for who he is. He has yet to learn that the choices we make can haunt us for an eternity.

Just ask Damon, who is still trying to figure out when and how he lost the girl. But, in Damon’s case, it was a case of mistaken identity — or rather choosing the wrong girl. Damon thought he was in love with Katherine, only to discover that there had never been any love there to begin with. He had been merely in love with the idea of being in love. It was not until he met Elena that he first felt an inkling of what he should have felt for Katherine — real love. That was when he finally discovered that he wanted to be a man — and not the monster he had become. For Katherine, Damon had been content to be the monster. But for Elena, all Damon wants is to be the man worthy of her — and that is now what haunts his every waking moment.

In allowing himself to feel emotions, Damon could finally feel true love. But it has led him down a dark path. He even knows that Elena manipulates him as she goads him “to be a better man.” Yet even with that awareness, Damon is still helpless against it. He will do anything to protect her — and just about anything to please her. But Damon is not a loyal dog. He will not just do her bidding. He will not heel and fetch as she commands. Thus, he is rebelling and indulging in his vampire-nature as a way of simultaneously punishing both himself and Elena. Damon is trying to inoculate and distract himself from his desire and love for Elena — whether it be through alcohol, wanton sex, or senseless killing — and the self-flagellation is only taking him deeper into a pit of despair.

So when Damon angrily reminded Elena, “You need to stop doing that … assuming I’ll play the good guy because it’s you who’s asking,” it was not merely to protest and put up boundaries, it was a warning. But Elena, heedless of the power she has and how hard Damon struggles against his instincts, had to goad him further, but saying yet again, “Be the better man, Damon.” If only Elena only knew what Damon has been up to. She would not be so quick to believe he can be a better man. He has not been a “man” for 140 years. Thus, what is the incentive now?

Plus, if Elena would stop pushing and manipulating him, Damon would gladly be a better man for her. But in defiance he is acting out in order to prove to himself that he has some control in his life. Damon admitted as much when he told Andie (Dawn Olivieri), “I have a problem I need help with. It’s really messing with my mind — I’m in love with a woman I can never have. . . It’s driving me crazy. I’m not in control.” After he confessed that to killing people, Andie softly asked, “Why do you kill people?” To which Damon angrily said, “Because I like it. It’s in my nature. It’s who I am. But then I have to keep it together to protect her and she wants me to be the better man which means I can’t be who I am. Do you see the problem I’m having?” Damon recognizes his problem, but does not understand it or what to do about it.

Astoundingly, Andie offered him the perfect advice, “Well maybe this is who you are now. Love does that, Damon. It changes us.” Even with the answer staring him in the face, Damon refused to acknowledge it. He instead chose to abandon himself in the abyss yet again. So he forlornly murmured, “Be my distraction,” and he bit into her neck. As the blood dripped down her back, one could see that Damon ultimately chose to embrace his vampire nature and defy the edict to be a “better man” that Elena wants him to be. For, to Damon, there is no reward in being a better man without Elena as the prize.

What Didn’t Work

If going to rescue a friend from some werewolves, why didn’t either Stefan or Damon think to bring along their own secret weapon? Surely Bonnie would have been happy to help. Rushing in head long to deal with a few werewolves without a back-up plan is not a good idea. Our heroes need to show a bit more strategic planning.

Also, it is hard to believe that Tyler would be so quick to side with some unknown werewolves after Caroline stood by him during his first transformation. She was there for him when no one else was. It is sad that he so casually abandoned her. Perhaps he has not yet been bitten by love as we had all hoped.

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

‘Daddy Issues’ was written by Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec, and directed by Joshua Butler. ‘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. ET on the CW.

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