The Vampire Diaries: “The Murder Of One”
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The Vampire Diaries: “The Murder Of One”

Now that was a great episode of The Vampire Diaries. So great it’s hard to believe it was only last week that the creative tidings seemed so dire and without hope. The second half of this season has at times felt like a wandering, scattered mess, but “The Murder Of One” immediately snapped the entire show right back into focus. Sure, the road to get here may have been littered with a few too many detours, but this episode definitively proved there was a plan for this season all along. And it might turn out to be a great one.

Last season, TVD pulled the rug out from under its own season-long arc by revealing very late in the season that the sun and moon curse was all a lie. It takes a show with serious stones to torpedo the main plot thrust of an entire season. It takes a good show to do it in a way that feels revelatory to its audience instead of insulting. It takes a great show to do the exact same type of thing again the next season and do it in a way that feels not only essential but inevitable. This is exactly what TVD has done with the reveal that if someone kills an Original, every vampire sired from that bloodline will die along with them. That’s right. If Klaus and his siblings die, so does every vampire on Earth. If only we could figure out how to do this with roaches.

The beauty of this twist is it allows the Originals to stick around in a way that feels natural, instead of just marking time until the gang figures out another way to kill them. Of course, everyone will still work on a way to get the Originals out of the picture for good, but at least now it won’t feel like the obvious time waster it has for the last few months.

Not only were the particulars of the twist fun, but the mechanics of the reveal were fantastic as well. TVD is always best when its characters are working together to accomplish a goal (even if their plans all do inevitably fail once or twice along the way), and tonight was a stellar example of teamwork at its best. The first plan is to take out Rebekah, but the opportunity slips away, leaving the option to go after Finn as well. What the gang doesn’t know is that Klaus is forcing Bonnie to perform an unlinking spell at the exact same time the gang is moving in on Finn. In a nifty, perfectly paced and edited sequence, Bonnie manages to unlink all of the siblings just before Matt (Matt!) kills Finn with a white oak stake. A short while later, a heartbroken Sage and a vampire she recently turned die completely out of the blue, revealing the big twist. It’s beautifully plotted stuff, simultaneously building on the events of the entire season and sort of cavalierly tossing them out the window at the same time. Sage being dead is just a bonus.

Because that’s the thing: Although there has been a loss of focus in the second half of the season, all of the seeds for this great twist come from those episodes. This doesn’t excuse any of their mistakes, of course, but it certainly makes me feel a lot better about the future of the season and even some of the past. It even set up lovely scenarios for the rest of the season: Klaus is after the rest of the white oak stakes, one of which Alaric’s evil alter ego seems to have hidden under the floorboards or something, in case he needs to use it on a Founder later. Also, even though the Originals can’t be killed lest they kill one of the vamps we know and love, there’s obviously yet another twist or reveal on the way to ensure at least some bloodshed can happen. Perhaps Elena will discover a newfound love for genealogy research?

After some really confusing weeks on the love triangle front, it felt like the season-long Stefan/Elena/Damon story also took some significant steps forward this week. Stefan seemed as close to his “old self” as he has in a long time, which was the perfect time to seriously examine where he and Elena stand. In a very good scene, he finally comes completely clean with Elena, telling her he still loves her and knows she still loves him, but forcing her to admit she definitely has similar feelings towards Damon. It’s sad, and it’s inevitable because it’s true; she and Stefan aren’t in the same place they were at this time last season, and Stefan rightly takes the blame for this. The subtext is what makes it more interesting: Stefan started his whole journey with Klaus to save Damon, and now he is potentially losing the girl he loves to Damon because of it. No matter which couple you root for, this is a heart-tugging bit of sad irony. I don’t have a preference for one couple over the other, but I do hope the show gives Damon and Elena a shot, because the dramatic consequences for all of the characters involved would be interesting to see.

So here we are, only a few episodes from the end of season three, and things finally feel like they are going somewhere again. All I can say is: It’s about time.

Stray observations:

  • Caroline forgives Alaric for killing her father, continues to be perfect.
  • Kol is in Denver with Jeremy? This can’t be good.
  • Bonnie has officially lost it. The next arc of this show is dark magic with Bonnie at the helm, I’d bet my winning Mega Millions ticket on it.
  • The Damon/Elena rescue scene was obviously filmed like a dream, but I can see how some people might have strong feelings about it one way or another. I’m not a huge fan of that device with romantic triangles in general, honestly.
  • Klaus writing out “I Will” on his product placed whatever the hell kind of phone that is instead of just TEXTING IT like a NORMAL HYBRID was a low point of product placement on modern television.
  • Alaric: “I mean, did you learn nothing from the moonstone and the soap dish?”
  • Klaus: “You’re going to have to excuse the mess. Apparently Damon hurt her feelings.”

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