Thursday, October 1, 2009

I do this for you guys, you know that?

Yes, I realize that this is a week late. But other stuff, stuff relating to my books that I need to sell to make money and not die on the side of the road, came up. So, you're getting it now, and you'll be grateful for what I give you, damnit!

Episode three of CW's never ceasing campaign to destroy all that I love The Vampire Diaries aired last Thursday, and I have to admit, it was no where near as embarrassingly bad as episode two. That's not to say that it wasn't just ass-end awful, because it was, but not as bad as the series has proved it can be.

After the "previously on" updates the viewer on what name goes with what face ("I'm Elena." "I'm Stefan." "I'm Damon, Stefan's brother."), we see Caroline waking up in her bedroom. She goes through a silent moment of vaguely remembering having sex with the guy who is arguably the hottest character on the show, and checks her mirror to find out, oh, wow, he really did bite the hell out of me and also he's still in my bed. What surprised the hell out of this viewer, because I had totally pegged Damon for a fuck-and-run kind of guy. But nope, he's still there, sleeping peacefully, and she decides that now would be a great time to sneak out. Damon thwarts that attempt using yet another monster cliche, disappearing from the bed and OH MY GOD CAROLINE LOOK OUT BEHIND YOU! Instead of killing her right off the bat, Damon decides to let her freak out and break shit. You'd think that the screaming and the loud breaking noises would alert Caroline's parents, but nope. They didn't hear her having sex last night, and they don't hear her getting roughed up the next morning. They're "cool" parents. Damon picks up a pillow and tells Caroline that this entire scenario could have gone differently, and it seems like he's going to smother her to death when the title card breaks in. But why would he smother her? He's a vampire. Couldn't he have, I don't know, just eaten her?

As Bonnie and Elena arrive at school, Bonnie tells Elena to take things slow and maybe reconsider the whole Stefan thing, now that she's actually hooked up with him and they're totally boyfriend/girlfriend. Elena is confused, because Bonnie and Caroline were practically ordering Elena to have sex with Stefan in the last episode. Bonnie explains that since she got a bad case of the wiggins from accidentally touching Stefan, and Elena reassures her that nothing bad is going to happen, and she's really happy, and that she finally feels normal since her parents died.

Vicki, still sporting an impressive neck bandage, catches Jeremy brooding away on the bleachers and informs him, totally casual, that she has tickets for some band I've never heard of because I'm super old or possibly they're fictional. Jeremy calls her on her bullshit, and asks if the only reason she slept with him all those times was because he gave her free drugs. And while the correct answer is, "Yes, Jeremy, duh," Vicki can't come up with an answer.

Meanwhile, Stefan greets Elena and Bonnie, the latter of whom runs off with a very definite, "I think you're probably a vampire" vibe to find Caroline, who is probably dead and not at school. Stefan picks up on that vibe, but Elena assures him that Bonnie just needs to get to know him, and so he should totally come over for dinner at her house that night. While this conversation is taking place (and Stefan is probably wondering what kind of boring high school girl invites her boyfriend over for a dinner party), Tyler gives Matt a hard time for not asserting caveman dominance over Elena. He demonstrates his technique to Matt, intending to impress Elena with how well he can hit Stefan in the back of the head with a football, but Stefan's super fast vampire reflexes don't let him down. He catches the ball and fires it back, making Tyler look like a totally a-hole in the process.

Instead of walking over to Tyler and shouting, "OWNED!" into his face, Stefan takes the high road and walks to class with Elena, while we are treated to the most boring conversation about football ever. Stefan explains that he used to play "a long time ago," and instead of finally catching on to all the cryptic mentions of periods of time that high schoolers don't usually have to deal with, Elena tells him that he should totally try out for the football team.

Now, you may be wondering what class Elena and Stefan are going to. Wonder no longer! They're going to Mr. Tanner's class, because he is still the only teacher at Mystical Falls high school. While he lectures, Elena stage whispers to Stefan about the total suck that is the football team, which is pretty insensitive because Matt is totally eavesdropping on their conversation, and he's on the football team. Mr. Tanner, thinking to catch Elena not paying attention, asks her a question and Stefan answers it. Stefan and Mr. Tanner then duke it out in some kind of history nerd dick measuring contest, with the latter spitting out American historical events like a mini gun fires off rounds, and the former totally wasting him with the power of his mental calendar. Of course, we're meant to take this whole, "I'm good with dates" thing as another clue to the other characters that they're dealing with a vampire here. Why are we all supposed to assume that knowing when the Korean war ended means you lived through it? Isn't that kind of the purpose of history class, to make you learn about stuff that happened before you were born?

Now, of course Mr. Tanner is the football coach. For one, he's a history teacher, and everyone knows that if you coach something on a high school level, you're a history teacher. For two, he's the only adult in Mystic Falls, besides Stefan's creepy nephew who is missing from this episode. Elena decides that it's time to get back to normal for real, and shows up to practice with all of the other barely clothed cheerleaders. Bonnie mentions again that Caroline is missing, because the other times she's mentioned it, no one seems to care. Mr. Tanner tells Stefan that there is no way he's getting on the football team, but he can attend practice anyway, because he wants to see him get beat up on by the other players. So, basically, Mr. Tanner is a dick in his non-teaching hours, too. Matt makes a whiny remark about Stefan joining the team. Damon pulls up with Bonnie and makes creepy eyes at Elena, and no one asks Caroline why she's wearing a scarf all Roman Holiday style when she's dressed in underwear work out clothes. Elena can't get it together. Dance wise, she is definitely not a part of the Rhythm Nation, so Caroline asks her to sit out and come back when she gets her citizen ship papers together.

As you might expect, Stefan is THE BOMB at football. So much so that even the White Knight, Matt, engages in a little rough play against him. Stefan gets knocked down by Tyler, and his finger jams, but we see it heal before our eyes. This is probably going to be a good skill to have on a football team where you teammates want to kill you.

When Stefan gets home, he finds Damon reading his diary. OMGWTFBBQ?! Doesn't he know that the number one rule in girl world is to not read someone else's diary? Damon apologizes for acting like such a megadouche for the past century, and tells Stefan that he wants to make amends, bridge the gap between them. Of course, Stefan believes him, because his picture is next to "gullible" in the dictionary. If gullible was even in the dictionary. Which it isn't. Go ask Stefan, and he'll look it up for you. So, when Stefan is like, "Oh, that's great, let's be BFF like we used to be!" Damon goes, "Psyche!" and then says a bunch of sexual stuff about Elena. Which is where everyone needs to remember that, cute thirty-year-olds high school students or not, these guys are over a hundred years old. So, basically, Damon is a dirty old man who spends way too much time watching the cheerleaders practice.

Es la noche a Casa de Los Gilberts, and Elena and Bonnie are making dinner. Putting aside the fact that Bonnie is physically different from her book-self, she's really the only true-to-book character in the show. She also reminds me of my friend Cheryl, because they're both into reoccurring number theories. Bonnie keeps seeing 8, 14, and 22, and she'd obsessed. When Elena doesn't believe Bonnie's boasts about her psychic powers, Bonnie tells her the location of the spoons and birthday candles in the kitchen drawers. Which is kind of a lame way to prove that you're psychic, as we will see later.

After Bonnie's spoon-psychic episode, we get to see the most weirdly tense high school dinner party of all time. Bonnie, Stefan and Elena sit around the table, and everyone seems about two seconds away from the "Please pass the asparagus" scene in American Beauty. To break the ice, Elena outs Bonnie as a witch. A witch descended from... wait for it... the original Salem witches. You know, the Christians who were persecuted by hysterical, land-hungry religious fanatics in the seventeenth century. Stefan tells her that this makes her very powerful, despite the fact that if he were as big a history buff as he claims to be, he'd be screaming, "BULLSHIT!" and smashing the asparagus plate against the wall by now.

Caroline and Damon show up, and boy, does the next minute, minute-and-a-half make Stefan look like an idiot. When Elena tries to invite Damon in, Stefan tries his best to make sure she doesn't say the words. Look, Stefan, nothing screams, "Hey, we're vampires," like trying to prevent someone from inviting another vampire into the house. Of course, Elena thinks he's crazy, and totally invites Damon in. They all get comfy in the living room and Caroline expressed her disbelief at Stefan making it onto the football team and Elena being so bad at cheerleading. She puts the cherry on top of the shit sundae by saying that Elena was much more fun before her parents died. So, why is Elena friends with this person again? Because the conversation isn't awkward enough, Damon brings up Catherine, and insinuates that she died. Because nothing says "successful dinner party" like comparing your dead loved ones stories, am I right?

At the bar in town that mysterious lets minors hang out and work there, Vicki is still the ball in the failure ping-pong that is her love game with Tyler and Jeremy. Matt offers Jeremy some pity, which Jeremy rejects by basically calling Vicki a whore. Tyler isn't content to just, you know, get the girl. He has to pick a fight with Jeremy, too. Actually, fight is kind of a strong word; what they really do is shout at each other about how much they want to fight, until someone breaks it up. Matt approaches his sister. At this point, should he:

  • A: Tell her that Tyler is a d-bag and not worth her time?
  • B: Tell her that Jeremy is a drug dealer and not worth her time?
  • C: Tell her that both guys are lame and don't care about her or respect her enough to stop fighting over her like two hungry dogs on a juicy steak and let her choose who she would be happy with?
  • D: Tell her that her slutty ways are what cause all these fights and she better knock it off?

If you said A, B, or C, then you're not a misogynistic asshole writing a show for teenagers. If you said D, you write The Vampire Diaries for the CW, and may God have mercy on your soul, if she feels like it.

Elena and Damon are in the kitchen, cleaning up from dinner, and they have more chemistry than Elena and Stefan do when they're together. She asks Damon about Catherine and how she died, and he tells her that it was a fire, and, oh, there was just a teensy bit of rivalry between him and his brother where Catherine was concerned. Before Bonnie breaks up the moment, Damon advises Elena to quit cheerleading. At this point, he's either confident in his ability to get Elena to strip down to her panties outside of cheerleading practice, or he's suddenly realized he's allergic to nubile, half-naked teen girls. When he realizes that Stefan is interrogating Caroline about her scarf, which she can't take off, Damon has to put another whammy on Caroline. There are some boring, heated words between Stefan and Damon, the same kind they always have when they're together, and then we're off to a new scene.

Elena has boys up to her room! Shocking! She and Stefan are making out, and he's rounding second when suddenly, Elena realizes that OMG HE'S REALLY DAMON THIS IS JUST LIKE THE SCENE IN THE CRAFT WHERE THE PREPPY GIRL ENDS UP BEING THE GOTH GIRL IN DISGUISE! Then, OMG SHE'S REALLY DREAMING HOLY CRAP I DID NOT SEE THAT COMING! The next morning, she walks around her room in a towel, contemplating cheerleading. Will she put that uniform on? Won't she? We don't know.

Stefan is still writing in his journal, which is kind of stupid, considering the confidentiality aspect has been kind of breached. Elena shows up to school sans cheerleading uniform (but fully clothed, at least) and admires Stefan in his new uniform. He gives her an ugly necklace that stinks like herbs, and she wears it, but she's probably being polite because did I mention the thing is ugly? This was the most baffling part of the show for me. Stefan tells Elena that she has suffered "a great loss," but that's just my guess. I have no idea what he's really saying. But it sounds an awful like "you've suffered a gay loss." I rewound it three times, and finally decided that he was probably saying great. Because it totally sounds like he said, "gay loss." No one in post noticed this?

Now, Mystic Falls apparently takes this football shit for serious. They're having a pep rally with a bonfire and they're burning someone in effigy. I'm not actually sure this is a football related thing, or a satanic ritual, but at this point in the episode, I'm up for both. Actually, I started praying to Satan right around the five minute mark. I asked him to give me strength to do yet another write up of this shit. Mr. Tanner apparently loves Stefan now, and practically reads a poem about his prowess on the field to the raging, chanting crowd. In fact, he's so confident in Stefan's abilities that he's starting him, despite him only being on the team for a day now. I'm going out on a limb here to say that this kind of coaching is probably why the football team has a reputation for suckage.

During the pep rally of the damned, Jeremy gets tore up from the floor up and Tyler decides that this is the perfect time to fight him. A very Romeo and Juliet scene ensues, in which Jeremy's liquor bottle is broken and Stefan, trying to break up the fight, is stabbed in the hand. The sight of blood calms the combatants, while Elena freaks out about Stefan's practically severed fingers. His wound heals up, and this does not escape her notice, even when Stefan tries to play it off like he didn't get hurt. He tries to tell her that he didn't get cut, the blood is from someone else, but Elena is pretty clearly thinking, "Are you sure you're not a vampire? Because I think you're a vampire."

Somehow, Bonnie and Elena end up alone together, and Bonnie tells Elena that even though Stefan has completely won her over and has permission to date her best friend, she's still kind of wigged out by him. Elena wants details, and Bonnie reluctantly admits that when she touched Stefan, she "felt death." No big deal. He's got great hair, he's good at sports, and, oh, one small thing, he feels like death.

Damon follows Elena to her car and starts bitching about what a drag Caroline is, and how he's probably going to have to ditch her. Elena makes some comment about Caroline being about the same age as him, and the look on his face makes it clear that even Damon knows he's about to clear thirty and he's playing a teenager on the CW. Elena is a smart cookie and knows what Damon is trying to do. She tells him that her loyalty lies with Caroline, and with Stefan, but Damon insists that she secretly has a thing for him. He even knows about her sexy dream. Damon tries to kiss Elena, and she slaps the pretty clean off him.

Matt decides that he likes Stefan, now that he's helped bring down the pain on the two stray dogs sniffing around Vicki, and he apologizes for being a dick. Stefan is about to join him on the field when Damon confronts Stefan. He knows that Elena's herb-smelling necklace is what kept him from putting on the whammy and getting some sweet, sweet barely legal, but it won't stop him from killing her. Stefan isn't afraid of Damon hurting Elena, because he knows that, deep down, Damon longs for humanity. Mr. Tanner shows up in the wrong fucking place at the wrong fucking time, giving Damon the opportunity to call Stefan's bluff. He chows on Mr. Tanner, tells Stefan, "Anyone, any place, any time," and then disappears, leaving Stefan alone with the corpse.

While Mr. Tanner shuffles off his mortal coil in the parking lot, Matt finally stands up to Tyler for treating his sister like property. And wait, why isn't anyone playing football? The crowd is cheering. What are they cheering for? The players are just running around, watching their coach get killed or airing their grievances. Oh, right, the dead coach. Matt finds him, and Stefan is no where to be found. Basically, they're going to have to close the school now, because the only teacher has been vampire murdered. As the police clean bits of Mr. Tanner off the parking lot, Bonnie comes to the terrifying realization that the numbers she'd been haunted by are all present in some form on the scene of the crime. Matt looks like someone killed a puppy, not a dickhead football coach, and Tyler isn't a good enough friend to put aside their differences in the wake of tragedy to comfort him.

Just about the only people in town who aren't contaminating the crime scene at this point are Jeremy, who is still drinking, and Vicki, who comes by to tell him that no, she didn't just sleep with him for the drugs. It seems that for the moment they are back together, at least, until the next episode, when they'll break up fifteen more times.

Stefan walks Elena to her car, while she talks about the absurdity of the same animal that attacked Vicki in the woods attacking Mr. Tanner outside a crowded, rowdy football field. She also brings up Stefan's miraculously healed hand, but has apparently never seen a vampire movie in her life, because she still doesn't put two and two together. When Stefan gets home, he writes in his diary that he's wrong about Damon, there isn't anything human or tender left in him. But oh, snap! we see Damon in Elena's room, watching her sleep, and he doesn't kill her like he threatened. And then the The Vampire Diaries title card comes up again, so that you can tell the show has ended and it doesn't just blend seamlessly into the Gossip Girl and Melrose Place commercials that are going to follow it.

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