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The Vampire Diaries: "The House Guest"

Illustration for article titled iThe Vampire Diaries/i: The House Guest
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If I had to pick one word to describe The Vampire Diaries’ storytelling style, it would probably be “more.” More plot, more romance, more schemes, more forward movement, more deaths, more angst, more, more, more. Handled poorly, this philosophy could be disastrous. Thankfully, the writers have somehow managed to make this path of excess work in their favor, and tonight was no exception.

After last week’s jam-packed episode featuring the death of the series' most charismatic villain to date, most shows would be content to take things easy for a week or two and save any big events for later down the line. The Vampire Diaries laughs in the face of such ideas, and in fact, uses that villain’s death to create the thrust of the action for tonight’s episode. Elijah’s death, while good for Elena and the gang’s safety, was not good for their relationship with his witch minions Jonas and Luka Martin. Stefan recognizes that they need to make some sort of overture towards the Martins, and suggests to them that they work together to kill Klaus, as it is their mutual goal. Jonas finds this far too impractical, though, and he and Luka set off to revive Elijah using some very cool witch astral projection magic. Inevitably, though, things go wrong and poor Luka ends up dead (by Damon, via flamethrower, which was sort of fantastic), and Jonas goes on a rampage to avenge his son’s murder, which eventually leads to his own death as well.

Due to the focus on the werewolf story for much of Jonas and Luka’s run on the show we never truly got the chance to know them as characters, and therefore, it is hard to understand exactly what we are supposed to feel from their deaths. Their backstory was set up to be sympathetic: a family desperately attempting to free their loved one from the evil Klaus. And this backstory puts their goals directly in line with the main characters. What, then, does killing them accomplish besides allowing for a crazy, fun, action packed story? At the time it happened, I was completely swept up in the action and enjoying every second. However, upon reflection, it is a bit more troubling. Yes, what they were attempting to do would have directly put our heroine in danger, and therefore, they needed to be stopped. Still, beyond Bonnie, no one seemed very affected by their passing. I don’t think the show should be full of angst and gloom, but these were humans. And now they’re dead, because of Elena’s vampire friends (and enemies). Eventually, if things like this keep happening, they’re going to have to deal with the emotional ramifications of these things, lest our characters cease to be sympathetic.

Aside from the Martins, nothing else really happened in this episode, did it? Oh, wait. Matt got stabbed in the jugular, Caroline had him drink her blood to save his life, and then capped it all off by telling him she’s a vampire. Just that old thing. One of the main discussions we’ve been having, both in these reviews and in your very thoughtful comments, has been Matt and Jenna’s ignorance to the supernatural world around them and the implications of that situation. Tonight, both of them took big steps towards knowing the truth, with Matt becoming fully aware of Caroline’s undead status. Unfortunately for Caroline, Matt immediately remembers Vicky’s talk of vampires and automatically jumps to the conclusion that Caroline had something to do with her attacks, putting the brakes on their newly rekindled romance.

As for Jenna, she has indicated she wants the truth, and poor lovesick Alaric has told Elena he wants Jenna to know the truth, but apparently, Elena was too busy running away from killer witches to give her blessing for Jenna to find out quite yet. This becomes more complicated when supposed-to-be-dead Isobel shows up at the Gilbert doorstep. Will Elena finally let her aunt in on what’s going on, before she invites Isobel inside? One can only hope. Interestingly, however, if Jenna finds out, there will be no main characters that aren’t in the supernatural loop. While it gets frustrating to see people naïve to their surroundings, it will be interesting to see how the storytelling changes without that crutch to fall back on.

Finally, Katherine. She’s back from her entombment, and she’s as bad as ever. But why is she sticking around? She keeps telling Damon it’s because they both want Klaus dead, but knowing Katherine, she is up to much more than simply that. She does admit to working with John and Isobel to get Stefan and Damon out of Elena’s life. In fact, John offered Katherine a deal: stay and help with Klaus, or John would kill Stefan. I’m not sure how any of these things are revelations, especially the part about Katherine choosing Stefan over Damon, as they’ve been playing that beat since the pilot. Katherine’s end game might be hazy, but things are sure to heat up now that Isobel is back. We’ll find out what the next step is… on April 7th, when the show returns. Most agonizing hiatus ever, no?

Stray observations:

  • I must admit, Caroline singing to Matt to woo him was not my favorite part of the episode. Candice Accola has a fine voice, but the whole situation felt very “Other Joey” to me, and not fresh. (Bonus points to anyone who understands my now-dated Other Joey reference.)
  • I can’t lie; when Matt got stabbed, I might have written an entire paragraph of notes in all caps. Without using the caps lock key. Who knew I cared so much about Matt?
  • Damon finally got a chance to show some stones toward Katherine this week. Enjoyable: him stabbing her. Extra enjoyable: him kicking her out of bed. He is Damon, hear him roar.
  • Bonnie has her powers back and knows how to kill Klaus. Does this mean she knows Elena has to die?
  • “It’s getting really easy being you.”
  • “You’re the unwanted houseguest, go feed yourself.”
  • “Tonight was very weird.”
  • “Katherine, there are six other bedrooms in this house. Go find one.”
  • “Hi, you must be Jenna. I’m Elena’s mother.”
  • “Isobel.”

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