1) Aw, man, season 3, and I still have to say this: MEREDITH SULEZ, STILL AMONG THE MISSING.

2) UGH ALARIC SALTZMAN WITH WEAPONS HELLO COMPETENCE PORN. Seriously, Alaric training Elena in steampunk vampire-killing weapons in the woods before school? I have literally seen actual porn that is not that good.

3) Bella Swan loses her boyfriend and sits alone in her room for three months. Elena Gilbert's boyfriend goes evil and she trains to be a vampire killer, just in case shit goes down.

4) "They will take whatever they want." "You can just say 'Stefan'." Elena, honey, not that Caroline's not right and that entire town does revolve around you, but I'm reasonably certain Alaric isn't actually talking about Stefan, this time.

5) That said, it is delightful to see that Alaric's treating her like an adult. Not like this impossible love object, like Damon does, and not like Elena the best friend or older sister: Elena the human being who wants to know how to defend herself, because it turns out that monsters are real.

6) Have I mentioned how much I fucking love that this show keeps track of callbacks? Damon traipsing across Stefan's effed-up game of Twister is basically exactly like Stefan's parlor games in 1864, except Damon's stopped making that "OH MY GOD SERIOUSLY I JUST CLEANED" face every six seconds. Externally, anyway. I'm pretty sure as soon as Stefan went to school the first thing he did, after getting bombed, is start cleaning.

7) Yeah, Matt! Help your dead sister use a witch's power to come back from the other side! Because as the previous two seasons have shown, something like that won't end poorly at all.

8) A bonfire! In the woods! At night! In Mystic Falls! ...you know, if you guys aren't even going to pretend to listen, don't come crying to me when people get killed by mountain lions.

9) Ahahahahaahahahaha I would totally start calling Rebekah "Barbie Klaus", except it's easier to type her actual name.

10) Dear Tyler: you are fast approaching creepy levels of excited to be a hybrid. Tone that down to 11, stat.

11) Like I've said previously, the only reason people still worry about Stefan is that they've never seen evil Stefan. Evil Stefan is basically Damon if he were coked-up and slightly less crazy. Aaaaaaaand yet we all still hate Damon, like, four times worse. No, no, no. It's not that Damon's a hero; it's that neither of them are heroes.

12) Seriously, Stefan Salvatore is every creepy boyfriend from a Lifetime movie right now. I feel like Tori Spelling or Jodi Sweeten is gonna show up and look imperiled.

13) Rebekah! Good to see you aga--wait, no. Even better? Alaric's "goddammit, why is my AP History class loaded down with vampires?" face. They are going to mess with the curve something fierce.

14) "You've got no business in the stoner pit." I missed the stoner pit! What is wrong with me? Also, ahahahahahahah Jeremy looking for his lab partner = win.

15) Aaaaaaand now I hate Rebekah, though I'm sure at some point the show will give her sides and I will be forced to admit I no longer hate her. (See: Rose, Elijah, John Gilbert the last ten minutes he was alive, etc.) You know what's even faster than smacking around Elena to make me hate you? Fucking with Caroline's shit. STOP THAT ORIGINAL LADY YOU ARE NOT CAROLINE FORBES.

16) "I want to lock Stefan up." Sadly, this will turn out to go nowhere near as well as when Stefan gave Caroline a vervain roofie and Damon got peckish.

17) I like that Damon's straight-up saying that getting Stefan back from Klaus isn't like rehab, though it's got at least one thing in common with it: neither works unless you want it to. You can physically lock someone up and not let them out 'til they're fixed, but if they legitimately don't want to change, they'll just keep doing what they've been doing.

18) Goddammit, why is Damon teaching Elena about how to punch through someone's sternum hot? I could punch Ian and Nina in the face just for that.

19) So tonight's vampire-hunting cabal is comprised of Damon, Elena, Alaric, and Caroline. It's not going to be effective; I just like to keep track in case we figure out a pairing that doesn't cock things up royally. (So far, hilariously, Damon and Bonnie do best. I mean, considering they hate each other.)

20) "--and I'm going to use my charm."
"Be better off with the dagger."
"Are you ever not gonna be mad at me for a day?"

Mommy, Daddy, I hate it when you guys fight! It makes it really uncomfortable when you drop me off for visits!

21) So: apparently, when Klaus turned Tyler, he "sired" him--TVD code for "making a beholden blood-slave". He's capable of making his own decisions, but under the general heading of "What Does Daddy Klaus Think?" It is extraordinarily creepy, especially coming from Tyler, who's already dealt with one overbearing dad in his life.

22) Vicki's grand plan? Get Matt to use a spell to bring her back to the land of the living long enough to fulfill her bargain with the unnamed witch (presumably the one who cast the spell): kill Elena so Klaus can't make any more hybrids. Vicki, being Vicki and having weird Elena issues, goes after this with gusto.

(For those of you keeping track, yes, I was wrong about that not being Vicki. I get one-third points, though, because she does not want anything good.)

23) I can only assume vervain doesn't work the same on Elena, being that she's the doppelganger, or else why wouldn't she load up on it and poison/murder baby hybrids as soon as they drink?

24) "Matt's trying to resurrect his dead sister. I think I'll go deal with that instead." Two things: 1) You totally should, and 2) I do not want to be that person, but Bonnie Bennett, you can do better than The Littlest Gilbert. As I have always said.

25) Seriously, they didn't have 'smores in the 1920s? I call shenanigans. I'm pretty sure they had camping, graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows, and they didn't have iPhones or portable DVD players to distract them from making weird woodland food.

26) Rebekah stabbing Damon officially makes this Part Two of the Damon Salvatore Mutilation Hour (Vol. 3). Yes, I am actually keeping track this year. (Also, I sort of love that except with Elena--you know, when he's actually trying--Damon has absolutely no game.)

27) Tyler doesn't want to be the old Tyler! I don't want him to be either, because the old Tyler was a dick!

28) "Everything I like about me...is you." Which is when I started the countdown clock on him breaking Caroline's heart, because for real, God forbid anyone in this town get a happy ending, least of all Caroline Forbes, despite the fact that Caroline Forbes deserves it most. (Well, her and Bonnie. And Ric.)

29) Drunk Elena is kind of great.

30) So Elena falls off the bleachers, Stefan catches her--and BAM! Alaric vervain-darts him like three times. GILBERT-SALTZMANS, HOW ARE YOU SO GREAT.

31) So, of course, Vicki logically sets fire to Alaric's SUV. Like that man hasn't been through enough in the last couple years.

32) I know we're supposed to buy into Vicki legitimately not wanting to kill Elena--and I do, sort of. But then she grabs Elena's foot when she's trying to get away, and her face--yeah. Some of that's still the baby vampire who kicked Elena's ass and threatened to eat her if she got in her way. There's rage there, on a lot of fronts.

33) So Bonnie sends Vicki away, possibly forever--and God help me, I hope not, because I love Kayla Ewell a ridiculous amount. Vicki's maybe the saddest story in that town, because she always saw herself as stuck in her role--small town sad girl, liked to party, good for a good time but not for a relationship--because everyone else did, or damn near everyone else. She got the same second chance Caroline did, but she burned out fast; she let power go to her head, or the idea of power, and it killed her. (Well, it and Jeremy.)

And now she's stuck alone, in the dark, and she misses her brother so much--and I don't want her to be there. I want better things for her. But one of the things this show is really, really good at is showing us that we don't always get what we want. It's like a modern version of Grimm's Fairy Tales, almost: yeah, Snow White lives, but she got raped in her enchanted sleep and woke up because her baby was nursing. Things lurk in the dark. Things eat us. People die. People stay alone in the dark.

I don't want that for Vicki. I hope she can come back, somehow. Or move on. Or--something.

34) "Sorry about the car, man. Bummer." --okay, look, I don't want Alaric to forgive Damon easily; I'd pay good money if it was half a season and involved a shouting match and a hard-won life lesson. (Extra points for makeouts.) But it's all on Damon's face: he legitimately feels bad, and misses Ric, and doesn't get why he's still mad. Which...is precisely why Ric is mad, and until one or both of them moves, both the samurai are gonna be stuck on the bridge, you know?

(Yes, I used a metaphor I first read in an X-Men comic when I was a kid. Because I am old, and a nerd.)

35) "You have to earn the overnighter." Goddammit, show, don't you break Caroline's heart again. NO. NO. BAD SHOW.

36) Rebekah brings Tyler a snack! Oh my God, Rebekah, I hate you so much right now.

37) --which Tyler promptly eats. You're on the list too, Lockwood, don't pull this shit with me. We are six episodes in.

38) Mikael's been off human blood "as long as [he] can remember." This is good, right? Yeah, unless you're Katherine, because OH SHIT YOU GUYS HE EATS VAMPIRES. Sebastian Roche, can you stay forever? And bring Daniel Gillies back with you? And maybe your other, hopefully-awesome-because-Klaus-staked-'em kids?

39) "I think [Damon] kind of misses you." The mental image of Damon Salvatore sadly scuffing his foot and wishing he had his friend back is just fucking awful. I mean, not bad enough that I think Ric shouldn't hit him with his car a few more times--also, oh my God, now he's out a car! An apartment and a car! And no one ever calls him when shit goes down, or notices when Klaus moves into his head for two days! Jesus Christ, you guys had better start appreciating him.

40) "Do you have any idea how pathetic that makes you?"
"No, Stefan. It makes me strong."

The accompanying WHAM! isn't as great as when Buffy kicked Angelus in the nards with the sprinklers going crazy around them, but it's close.

41) Aaaaaaand now Jeremy is emotionally cheating on Bonnie with his dead girlfriend, and--look, I am not Jeremy's biggest fan; I'm pretty up front about that. But Bonnie clearly loves him, and he makes her happy, and I thought she made him happy, so what does he do? Start making cow eyes at Anna. WHO IS DEAD. Oh my God, the face I am palming right now, Littlest Gilbert, for real.

42) Possibly my favorite thing about Damon is his poorly-concealed OCD. Yeah, strew corpses about the boardinghouse, but Jesus Christ, don't leave a mess. He has to pick that shit up by hand, you guys.

43) OH SHIT HI DEAD WEREWOLF UNCLE MASON. That Lady Gaga video really agreed with you. "This is gonna be fun." YEAH IT IS.

Next week: Mason Lockwood's back from the dead! As are, apparently, a bunch of other people! This will end great, right? Yeah, great. Have I mentioned that by the end of S2, counting nameless victims and incidentals, this show had 48 KILLS TO ITS NAME? Motherfucker. "Ghost World", next Thursday, 8 PM EST.
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