Review of THE VAMPIRE DIARIES – The Murder of One (2012)

Blood lineage discoveries foil a good vampire extermination plan

It had been tugging at the back of our brain for awhile, but it was not until we saw it with our own eyes, did it really smack us over the head. Of course all vampires are linked by blood; that’s how one becomes a vampire after all. But somehow it never really occurred to us that killing one of the Originals could be detrimental to all the vampires that we knew and love. How long have we cheered and schemed right along with Damon and Stefan to find a way to kill Klaus? Since virtually the day we first learned about him. Now in a fantastic symbiotic twist, to discover that killing Klaus could kill Damon, Stefan, Caroline, Katherine, Tyler and now Bonnie’s mom, it gives us pause. It is not known for certain that Klaus is the grand sire of them all – just Tyler. That certainly puts the brakes on the plan to kill the King of Evil. So what do you do with Klaus, when you cannot kill him? And what about his remaining blood-thirsty siblings? Do they all get automatic reprieves because everyone’s lineage has not been traced back to the point of origin – meaning which Original is safe to kill? It is enough to make one’s brain spin as we consider the possibilities. And it means that one remaining white oak stake which Alaric’s alter-ego hid is a huge problem. Should Alaric, in his “not self” state, choose to go on an Original killing-spree, that could be the end of vampires across the planet – effectively eliminating the threat once and for all.

Yet that would be heart-breaking. As many times as Stefan and Damon have offered and risked their lives for Elena and everyone else in Mystic Falls, to know with a certainty that their lives would be ended forever is hair-raising. For it would not be the loss of one, but the loss of them all. All Elena’s vampire friends and allies would be gone. That price is perhaps a bit too high and too tragic.

It’s time for Bonnie to come up with a witchy solution to ensure that the death of one Original does not exterminate everyone they know and love. Or everyone better get ready to make nice with Klaus, Rebekah, Elijah and Kol now that they are “untouchable” – at least until a more reasonable alternative way to circumvent the blood lineage ties can be found. We are just not ready to mourn the loss of all our vampire friends and heroes in one fell swoop. Our hearts would be irrevocably broken.

Points of Interest

1. When Caroline exasperatedly asked, “Why do I always have to be Klaus-bait?” Damon simply said, “Because he’s obsessed with you.” Klaus may always seem a bit invincible, but it always good to know that besides the white oak trees, there is one more vulnerability that they can exploit.

2. It was a bit overshadowed by the other events in the episode, but it was cool to see how eagerly and happily that Sage and Finn greeted each other after 900 years apart. It was a subtle reminder that some love stories do stand the test of time. Very touching.

3. How fantastic was it that Matt, a mere human, got to be included in the grand scheme to kill the Originals and he was the one who ended up staking Finn?! Gotta love it when the normal guy gets a chance to shine and be the hero.

What Worked

One of the more unexpected friendships that has really taken root and which continues to evolve is the one between Damon and Alaric. By all accounts, these two should be natural enemies and yet by choice and by circumstance they have found a way to be friends against the odds. It has been hilarious and fun watching them stick up for each other through the thick-and-thin times. This episode proved once again that they have each other’s back. Damon was not only keep an eye on Alaric, he had let Alaric in in the big plan to use the white oak to kill the Originals. That Damon included him in such a crucial strategy spoke not only to friendship, but trust. Like when Alaric tried to refuse the return of the invincibility ring and Damon forced him to take it stating, “You’re going vampire hunting, Rick. Wear it.” Despite the risks of the ring and the repercussions it could bring, Damon was more concerned for Alaric’s physical well-being than his fractured psyche. However, that may have come back to bite him a bit when Damon asked Alaric, “Are you telling me that your vampire-hating alter-ego has a stake that can kill an entire line of vampires, possibly mine?” and Alaric replied, “That’s exactly what I’m telling you.”

Another unexpected connection as a result of Alaric’s newly discovered Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde problem was Alaric bonding with Caroline. Prior to this point, that just was inconceivable. Alaric and Caroline just had very little in common. But now that Alaric has found himself guilty of taking innocent human life, he is conflicted about it and wants to do the right thing, like when he told Damon and Stefan, “I have a homicidal alter-ego. Unlike some people in this room, I’d like to take responsibility for the people I’ve killed.” The real difference is that Damon and Stefan have killed with intent. Alaric does not recall even killing anyone. His split-personality is condemning him to being a murdered and he does not understand it. Oddly enough, the one person who does understand is Caroline – whose father Alaric killed. Elena had broken the bad news to Caroline that Alaric was responsible for her father’s death, and yet Caroline handled it much better than expected. Perhaps it was Elena’s compassion that helped remind Caroline that not everyone is responsible for the deaths they cause. Thus, when Elena said, “None of you asked for this. But who would I be if I just turned my back on any of you?” Caroline ruefully responded, “Elena Gilbert, savior of the cursed and the damned.” So when Caroline was left in charge of guarding Alaric, their bonding over their mutual curse was tinged with more sadness and understanding, than anger.

Also interesting was the dichotomy between Klaus and Rebekah. Klaus always seems like he should be the rash, quick to anger and very blood-thirsty one. But in contrast, Klaus is the cool-headed, scheming and more manipulative one. Thus, making Rebekah and Klaus quite a pair. It is no wonder that they have stood by each other for over a thousand years. They complement each other and make up for the other’s short-comings. Their careful yin-yang relationship is complicated and fascinating. For example, when Rebekah advocated just taking what they want, Klaus responded, “Why force when you can persuade?” It revealed for the first time exactly how different and complementary they are to each other. This episode spotlighted both Klaus’ capacity for gentleness and Rebekah’s vengeance. Instead of using brute strength to get Finn to return to Mystic Falls, Klaus chose to use the incentive of Sage. It proved very effective and easy. Whereas, Rebekah opted for a more physical alternative in dealing with Damon’s betrayal. She simply stabbed him, took him back to Klaus’ mansion and then proceeded to slowly torture him and bleed him until the vervain was out of his system. Then she planned to compel Damon to kill either Stefan or Elena, all to watch him suffer and bend him to her will. There was nothing nice, pleasant or easy about it. She wanted to be brutal and impose her will upon him through a show of her superior physical strength. Then she added psychological and emotional torture to the physical when she entered his mind and had him imagine that Elena had come to rescue him. This is not to say that Klaus does not use his physical abilities and has not been outright cruel to get what he wants; it is just that Klaus has turned the art of manipulation into a forte. Rebekah still seems a bit oblivious to anything that subtle.

Yet when Klaus thoughtlessly mentioned, “Let’s all say a prayer for Finn, who lived longer in a box than he lived as a man. He was a love sick fool. He’s better off in death.” Rebekah curiously asked, “Is that how you would speak of me if I died?” And Klaus responded, “Well, you let the Salvatores loose with two stakes that can kill us. I guess we’ll find out soon enough. And since when did you have a soft spot for them?” It was Rebekah who noted, “The Salvatores may fight like dogs, but in the end they would die for each other. At least they know what family means. You destroyed ours.” To which Klaus retorted, “I wanted a family, they just didn’t want me.” This exchange foreshadowed another more detrimental breakdown of their symbiotic relationship. Rebekah has shown the capacity to change and learn, whereas Klaus is more set in his ways. She is learning to value the relationships that she has witnessed between our heroes in Mystic Falls and craves to be a part of it. So when Klaus expressed his desire to continue creating his hybrid surrogate-family and move away, Rebekah asked, “And if I choose to stay?” Angry, hurt and perhaps feeling rejected, Klaus snapped, “They you are just as pathetic as Finn.” It should be noted that with 11 stakes in Klaus and Rebekah’s possession, maybe they should take better care to not piss each other off. Never before has there be a way to effectively kill each other – just the threat of living eternity in a blasted coffin. Heaven forbid that there should be an outright war between these two now that each has the capacity to kill each other and everyone they have sired.

Looking beyond the dance of the Originals and their sibling rivalry, this episode also marked a shift in the love-triangle amongst our core triangle of Elena, Stefan and Damon. Given the choice of assisting Stefan kill Finn or going to Damon’s rescue, Elena was torn. Her first instinct was to help Damon. But it was not until Stefan reminded her that Damon would want them to go forward with taking down the Originals that Elena acquiesced. Not only was Elena’s first thought for Damon’s safety, she only agreed to help Stefan after she thought about what Damon would really want. Her thoughts and concerns were only for Damon. And Stefan noticed.

For the better part of this season since Klaus compelled Stefan to turn-off his humanity, Stefan has vacillated in his emotions with regard to Elena. Turning off his emotions does not mean that Stefan forgot how he used to feel for Elena, he just didn’t feel it. But in every episode since that soul-torturing command from Klaus, we could see that Stefan still felt something. He was not remorseless or without feeling. He still cares on some level and he still remembers that love and is trying to deny that he wants it back. He even admitted as much in “Bringing Out The Dead,” when he told Damon that he still loves Elena. But will he fight for her heart?

Consumed by anger and desire for vengeance, Stefan has allowed the darkness to claim his soul, even to the detriment of his relationship with Elena. This was perhaps the most insidious manipulation that Klaus used. It was not just compelling Stefan to turn off his emotions, but by stealing Stefan’s attention. Klaus admitted as much when he angrily told Stefan, “What is wrong with you? Do you really have no appreciation for me? I have given you someone to hate, to loathe. A target for all of your anger, so you don’t have to turn it on yourself. I have given your life purpose as your friend. I really think you should be thanking me.” Thus, Stefan has been so focused on his revenge, that he failed to work on reestablishing and rekindling his relationship with Elena.

Upon this revelation, Stefan was forced to reevaluate what he had been doing. He even admitted to Elena, “[Klaus is] not worth it. All this time and energy I’ve wasted hating him. It was for nothing. It’s done. It’s over. We lost. I’m right back where I started.” When Elena protested, “That’s not true. Yeah, Klaus dragged you through hell, but you came out the other side. You beat him by being better than him,” Stefan sadly asked, “And what did I lose in the process?” And Elena was not able to answer him, for she knew exactly what he had lost. With profound sadness and realization Stefan said, “Hating Klaus was easy. It allowed me to ignore everything that was happening around me. Everything I let slip away. Now I have to deal with that.” Finally, unable to bear Elena’s silence, Stefan demanded, “Just admit it to me, Elena. I know you don’t owe it to me, but I just need you to say it.” Finally Elena was forced to respond, “I can’t! Because it’s not true, Stefan. I never stopped loving you.” But that was not was Stefan was pushing her to admit, so he told her, “I know that. I know you didn’t. Even though I did everything possible to push you away. It’s my fault. It’s all my fault.” Uncertain what Stefan meant, Elena curiously asked, “What are you talking about?” and Stefan calmly said, “I’m talking about that you’re also in love with Damon.” Even as Elena tried to deny it by saying, “What? No.” Stefan softly said, “Hey, I love you. I will always love you. I just want you to look me in the eye and tell me that you don’t feel something for him.” The look on Elena’s face was confirmation enough, even as she tried to protest, “I don’t know what I feel.” Elena had admitted her conflicted love for Damon to others, but when forced to reveal it to Stefan, she could not do it. It would have meant that she had given up on their love – between her and Stefan – and she was not ready to do that yet. She may want to continue to fight for their love, but her heart had already begun to move on, and Stefan just needed to hear her confirmation before letting her go. This was not the definitive end, but it certainly foreshadowed that Stefan may be letting Elena go so that she is free to choose.

Funny enough, the one person they had forgotten in this equation was Damon. After Elena’s rejection of him in “Dangerous Liaisons,” Damon has been careful to guard his feelings for Elena. Perhaps he is not so willing to trust her with his heart again. Wouldn’t that be a monkey-wrench in Stefan’s sacrifice and Elena’s choice if Damon decided he was no longer interested in being a part of the love-triangle? But, for now, it would appear that both Salvatore brothers are still in the mix and the power remains in Elena’s hands to figure out to whom her heart belongs.

What Didn’t Work

Bonnie used to seem so empowered and strong. In this episode, she just seemed so vulnerable and incapable of going up against Klaus. That is not the Bonnie we know. Let’s hope that is an aberration and not a permanent state.

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

“The Murder of One” written by Caroline Dries and directed by J. Miller Tobin. ‘The Vampire Diaries’ stars Paul Wesley, Nina Dobrev, Ian Somerhalder, Joseph Morgan, Steven R. McQueen, Candice Accola, Katerina Graham, Michael Trevino, Zach Roerig, Matt Davis, Torrey Devitto, Claire Holt. ‘The Vampire Diaries’ airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on the CW.


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