Review of THE VAMPIRE DIARIES – The Dinner Party (2011)

When a dinner party turns into a murder party, nothing goes as planned

The question of the evening was:  who was playing who?  Everyone had a plan of their own on this night of fun and games.  Yet none went according to plan and a whole lot of improvisation and surprises were in store.

Damon (Ian Somerhalder) plotted to kill Elijah (Daniel Gillies) with the dagger.  Stefan (Paul Wesley) plotted to keep Elena (Nina Dobrev) distracted and out of harm’s way with stories of his brutal past.  Katherine (Nina Dobrev) plotted a sneaky way to get out of the tomb.  John (David Anders) plotted to watch Damon die after Damon  used the dagger to kill Elijah.  Alaric (Matt Davis) plotted to keep the truth of everything going on from Jenna (Sara Canning).  And Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen) plotted a romantic date with Bonnie (Katerina Graham).

It all could have worked perfectly, if not for one small wrinkle:  Jonathan Gilbert’s journals.  While reading the journals found at the lake house, Elena not only uncovered the dark days of Stefan’s past, she discovered that the dagger would kill any supernatural being that wield it.  Thus, with one phone call, the perfect evening began to unravel.

Fortunately, with some quick thinking on everyone’s part, a few key goals were achieved:  Elijah was killed — twice.  Once by Alaric, but then they mistakenly removed the dagger which had to be kept intact or Elijah would revive.  The second time by Elena, who tricked Elijah into coming close enough that she could stab him with it.

Then, while Damon was alive and well in the end, much to John’s dismay — Katherine’s wish came true as the minute Elijah died, she was free of the compulsion to stay in the tomb.

Alaric also got to keep Jenna safe, but the price to pay was her realization that Alaric may be lying to her and is hiding a secret that he refuses to talk about.  Jenna is safe, but her heart was broken in the process.  Living in the dark only looks safe ; because in Mystic Falls, safe is not being kept in the dark, but knowing what is hiding in the dark.  Alaric may think he is saving her by not telling her about the true terrors lurking in Mystic Falls, but Jenna will one day find out and perhaps it will drive her even further away than knowing that he kept so much from her.

And Jeremy’s romantic evening was bust to pieces when Dr. Martin (Randy J. Goodwin) arrived and stole all Bonnie’s powers.

So as everyone breathed a sigh of relief knowing the Elijah was finally dead, it did not occur to them:  who is to say that dagger is going to stay put this time?  After all, Dr. Martin could easily locate Elijah’s body and simply remove the dagger and watch Elijah revive.  Therefore, it is much too early to be dancing on Elijah’s grave.

Points of Interest

1.    It is going to be hard to use Tyler (Michael Trevino) and Bonnie as part of the ritual to break the Curse of the Sun and the Moon now that Tyler has left town and Bonnie has been stripped of her powers.  It is starting to look like Luka (Bryton James) or Dr. Martin will be the more likely candidates — especially after Dr. Martin told Bonnie, “This is for your own good” when he stole her powers.  He may not have been punishing her, but trying to save her.  Klaus is coming and he is going to need a witch to complete the sacrifice.

2.  Damon now has the moonstone and may know the location of where the witches were burned that Elijah was looking for.  Whether Damon knows it or now, he is going to be perhaps the last man standing between Klaus and his doppelganger sacrifice.

3.   Alaric got in two of the better lines of the night when he told Damon, “I am your friend, damn it — and you don’t have any friends, so no more lying”; and when he gave John back the invincibility ring with the warning, “After what you did to Damon, you’re going to need it more than me.”

What Worked

Let’s start with the double take-down of Elijah.  Wasn’t that something?!  In a blink and you missed it moment, both Alaric and Elena got the drop on a vampire who has been around for centuries.  Because it was so unexpected and brilliantly orchestrated, this episode belonged to Alaric and Elena.  Neither showed any hesitation in killing Elijah the moment they had the chance.  It was swift and breath-taking;  and to be caught by surprise twice in one episode —  it was magnificent.  Not only was Elijah surprised, we were too.  Elena and Alaric are frequently perceived as two of the weakest winks, yet given an opportunity to strike and they were merciless.  It was a delicious surprise and one that we hope to see more of.

It was also nice to see a bit more of the makings of the Salvatore brothers in their early days of their vampire existence — particularly Damon’s anger and revulsion with the life that Stefan forced him into and how it fueled a hatred and self-loathing that would haunt him for over a century and propel him down the dark path to the point we met him.  We saw how Stefan learned to reject his base instincts and learn to embrace his humanity again — with the aid of his best friend Lexi (Arielle Kebble) — she was the light in his darkness and  who may have perhaps saved his soul.

With each page that Elena read of Jonathan Gilbert’s journal, we could feel Elena’s dismay discovering how animalistic and lost Stefan was before Lexi came along.  Once again, Stefan’s sins had come back to haunt him.

It was also interesting to learn that Stefan was the one responsible for the massacre of the Founding Fathers in retribution for killing Katherine; and that Stefan was the reckless and inhuman brother, while Damon was the one who clung to his humanity and initially rejected his vampire life.  Damon even turned his back on Stefan in disgust and left him in the care of Lexi with hope that she may repair Stefan’s shattered soul.  Learning about Stefan’s early days, Elena sorrowfully noted, “It sounds like you were Damon.” To which Stefan was forced to admit, “I was worse.”

The fact that Stefan felt shame when Lexi first walked into his house and saw the bodies he had left lying about, that was the first inkling that he had a soul worth saving.  So when Lexi told Stefan, “There are good parts about being a vampire and bad parts — you’re the bad parts — well, we’re going to have to change that,” and Stefan was willing to let her teach him, that was the beginning of Stefan’s journey to reclaim his humanity.   Lexi was Stefan’s salvation.  She taught him to be human again, which meant he had to flip the switch and let his emotions back in.  When he curiously asked,  “Why would I want to do that?”  Lexi merely smiled and said,  “Because what you can hurt, you can love.  Love, Stefan, that’s the point.”

Thus, as Stefan explained to Elena, “Lexi showed me that there was another way — and from that day forward, I started fighting for it for my own survival.”  It is time for Elena to start fighting for her survival.  Life is not about sacrificing yourself for those you love — it is about living and to live you must love.  Elena must choose both.

Later when Damon asked Stefan how he persuaded Elena to kill Elijah, Stefan replied, “I told her a love story — about when I was making the wrong decisions and somebody showed me there was a better way.”  Knowing exactly who Stefan was referring to, Damon sadly said, “Lexi.”  To which Stefan firmly replied, “Yeah, you remember her.”  As Stefan angrily walked away, Damon looked remorseful.  For he recalled the day he met Lexi and how she warned him that the hate he felt for his brother would one day consume him.  Damon may have been more human at that time, but in order to cope, he turned off his emotions.  It was not until he met Elena that he chose to flip the switch and feel again.

For as Lexi revealed, a vampire feels everything more intensely — both the agony of pain and the ecstasy of love.  If Damon wants one, he has to take the other too; and for a man who was just last week looking perpetually lovelorn, Damon now has way too many women in his life: Katherine, Andie (Dawn Olivieri) and Elena.  Alas, none of these women truly want Damon for who he is.  Katherine just wants to use him and to play another round of manipulation.  Andie only pretends to care for Damon because he compelled her too.  And Elena may worry about him, but she still chooses to be with Stefan.  So there may be a lot of women in Damon’s life, but he is still truly alone.

Though there was one glimmer of hope, as the first time Elijah was killed, Stefan only told Elena that Elijah was dead, for a half second Elena looked terrified at the thought that Damon might be dead too — that they had not reached him in time to stop him from using the dagger to kill Elijah.  It was significant that Stefan did not immediately tell her who killed Elijah and had paused before saying, “Alaric did it.” That pause was telling. It was perhaps a test on Stefan’s part to see if Elena truly cares for him.  And if it was not a test, then why did he phrase it that way?  Why the deliberate omission of telling her straight up that Alaric killed Elijah.  It is that omission that reveals Stefan’s deepest fear: that Elena does not truly love him.

What Didn’t Work

After having had Caroline (Candice Accola) so integrally involved this season, her absence was keenly felt at the dinner party — or at least help spring the trap at the lake house.  Caroline could have at least provided bodyguard protection for Bonnie and Jeremy, or kept an eye on Dr. Martin and Lucas to make sure the dinner party plans were not interrupted.  For in a game of chess or vampire-games, it is never a good idea to sideline a key player.

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

‘The Dinner Party’ was written by Andrew Chambliss 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. ET on the CW.


2 thoughts on “Review of THE VAMPIRE DIARIES – The Dinner Party (2011)

  1. Your article was well thought out and you posed some very interesting questions regarding the after effects of this episode. The character of Bonnie was changed entirely in this episode, she has proven to be a strong main character in the past and without her powers she is now a liability. Bonnie hasn’t exactly played nice with vampires and she is now VERY vulnerable. I must admit the most shocking part of the episode was when Elijah was killed the second time, it was very unexpected. My main concerns following this episode I suppose are whether or not Bonnie gets her powers back, and how this effects Stefan and Elena’s relationship. Honestly I am hoping to see something romantically significant happen between Elena and Damon before this season is over.

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