TV Diary | The Vampire Diaries: “The New Deal”
TV Diary | The Vampire Diaries – Episode 3.10 – “The New Deal” – Original Airdate: 1/5/12
Episode Grade: A-
Editor’s note: New feature time here on the blog. I’m kind of shamelessly stealing from The AV Club’s format from their episode reviews, but I’m going to start doing some mini-reviews that I’m calling TV Diary. As we enter the digital age, DVRs have become much more prevalent in the past five years and many people tend to keep up with their favorite shows on their own pace. Many, like myself, rarely watch anything live so the stockpile of shows on the ol’ TiVo can get rather large. TV Diary will give you a look at what I’ve been watching – may be a show that aired months ago, or it could be a show that aired just last night. My hope is that maybe I’ll turn you on to something you haven’t been watching or warn you off of something that’s terrible. Onto the entry.
Yeah, I get it. “Vampires are so gay.” First, shut up, homophobe and choose a different way of expressing your disagreement, and secondly, you’re dead wrong. Having not written about The Vampire Diaries extensively in the past on the site, I feel compelled  to note that in my Top 13.5 Shows Of 2011 list I called TVD “the best drama on network television.” Scoff if you will, but it’s true. There’s no drama currently airing on the Big Four networks  that’s as entertaining or as well-constructed as TVD is. With that said, if you’ve never watched the show before, A) You really should, and B) There’s a bit of a steep learning curve as, ten episodes into its third season, it’s developed a bit of a deep mythology that could prove daunting to newcomers. If you have access to Netflix Instant, I’d recommend checking out its first two seasons which are both available on that platform. It takes a bit for the mythology to begin presenting itself – stick with the show through such ridiculousness as vampire football – but when it does, believe me, you’ll be rewarded for it. “The New Deal” was TVD’s first 2012 episode and a return from a typical CW hiatus , so there was a cliffhanger to be addressed with formerly good-guy vampire Stefan Salvatore  thwarting his brother Damon’s  plan to kill Klaus in order to save Damon’s life  while also abducting the bodies of Klaus’s family . So, yeah… exposition-heavy there. Speaking of exposition-heavy, it’s not like TVD is deep with allegories and themes, necessarily. It’s mostly pulpy plot twist after pulpy plot twist so let’s just take a look at the two biggest plot points of “The New Deal” which, in typical TVD fashion, intersect quite nicely. First, the advancement of the Stefan/Klaus war and the continuing evolution of Stefan into Damon and vice versa. As mentioned, Stefan is in possession of the bodies of Klaus’s families and Klaus, murderous psychopath that he is, decides the best way to smoke Stefan out is to threaten the lives of Elena’s loved ones. Stefan, as he reveals in a conversation with his brother, is purely out for revenge because of the psychological warfare that Klaus has employed on him throughout this season and, in order to gain his revenge, he’s willing to sacrifice anyone and everyone as a means to his end. Even when presented with the possibility of Jeremy (Elena’s brother) dying as a pawn in the war between he and Klaus via a heartfelt plea by Elena (his former girlfriend), he turns a cold shoulder to it, earning him a slap in the face from Elena. If it wasn’t apparent enough already, TVD has fully turned Stefan into Damon circa-season one – a sociopathic monster who doesn’t really care about anyone or anything. Anyone or anything that is except, in this case, his brother as he lets Damon know that the reason he interfered in Damon’s plot to kill Klaus in the previous episode (“Homecoming”) was because he’d made a deal with Klaus to spare Damon’s life . In turn, we’ve seen Damon shed his own sociopathy (his defense mechanism) this season as he’s grown closer to Elena in Stefan’s absence, fully planting a passionate smooch on her at the episode’s conclusion. Watching both Paul Wesley as Stefan and Ian Somerhalder as Damon embrace the role switch in these first ten episodes has been one of the season’s highlights thus far. The second major plot point involves Elena’s younger brother, who in the series’ run has (DEEP BREATH) gone from drug-addled clueless outsider to wannabe vampire who watches his vampire girlfriend die to enlightened member of Mystic Falls’ supernatural denizens to boyfriend of a teenage witch to seeing dead people to breaking up with the ghost of his dead vampire girlfriend to breaking up with his teenage witch girlfriend because she was jealous of the ghost of his dead vampire girlfriend to skipping school and getting fired as a result of his sulking over his breakups . Oh, and he’s hanging out with a hybrid werewolf/vampire shooting shit in the woods with a crossbow in his spare time. No big thing. Elena and Alaric  voice their mutual concern over Jeremy’s downward spiral and his hanging out with Tyler (the hybrid from the woods), concern that is proven true when Klaus uses Jeremy as a pawn in his conflict with Stefan by compelling Jeremy to stand out in front of traffic. After Elena and Alaric realize what’s happening, Alaric shoves Jeremy out of the way just as a car driven by one of Klaus’s henchmen is bearing down on Jeremy. Alaric takes the full brunt of the blow but ends up being fine , but not before Jeremy is forced to crossbow and then use a meat cleaver to chop the head off of the henchman – I SAID USE A MEAT CLEAVER TO CHOP THE HEAD OFF OF THE HENCHMAN  – to save Elena and Alaric. After Jeremy remarks to Alaric that, “I shot a hybrid and chopped his head off with a meat cleaver. Typical Sunday, yeah?” Elena and Alaric realize that *maybe* Jeremy’s been taking too much on so they enlist Damon to do a sort of mind wipe on him to make him forget everything that’s been happening essentially in the series’ run to date. I’m not sure if Steven R. McQueen (Jeremy) is being written out of the show or if the producers are putting him in their back pocket for later use, but this is the type of thing that TVD does regularly and does so well – seemingly game-changing moves that work expertly nine times out of ten. Again, first time writing about TVD on the site so there was some heavy lifting in terms of backstory involved. Hopefully future posts will be a little less obtuse but this really is a show that deserves some attention and “The New Deal” was definitely a strong return following a two-month hiatus.
 Vampire term, yo.
 Plus The CW, which, let’s face it isn’t much of a network.
 The CW will typically show its serialized shows in chunks, meaning that when it’s repeat time, it’s usually for an extended period. In the case of TVD, this is was the first new episode in two months.
 Stefan had, for much of the series’ run, been the “vampire with a soul” archetype but as a result of the second-season cliffhanger has been forced to hang against his will with Klaus, the show’s big bad, and renounce the humanity that’s kept him as close to human as a vampire can be.
 This season has seen a role reversal between the brothers in that Damon’s previously bad-boy brother has switched to a kinder, gentler version of himself, due in large part to the growing relationship between he and Elena, Stefan’s human girlfriend who’s ostensibly the show’s protagonist.
 A wrinkle that Damon, as of now, is unaware of.
 Klaus is what’s known as an “Original Vampire,” meaning that he’s really, really old in vampire years. As he’s also the spawn of a werewolf and a vampire, he’s a super-strong hybrid as well. His family is dead, but in a sort of state of suspended animation and he’s waiting for the right time to bring them back. I promise this plays better on the screen than I’m making it sound.
 Again, really, because saving Damon’s life was what got him into the mess with Klaus in the first place.
 Let me reiterate that this DOES really play better on screen than it does on paper. Really.
 Elena and Jeremy’s semi-legal guardian, Alaric is the high-school history teacher who dated Elena and Jeremy’s former legal guardian, their aunt who was killed in the season two finale. Have I mentioned that a lot of people die on this show?
 I’ll explain why some other time. I feel like there have been enough ridiculous mythology mentions for one review.
 This show doesn’t fuck around.
*One of the reasons that I love this show? The use of Yuck’s “Shook Down” as Elena’s out jogging. Great show, great band. It fits.
*So it looks like Crazy Nanny Carrie from One Tree Hill is starting an arc as Ric’s doctor/love interest. Yeah… I watch One Tree Hill. I’d say my wife makes me watch it but I’m as much at fault – if not more – than she is. Shut up. Don’t judge me.
*Somerhalder is really doing some fine work as Damon. It’s clear that he’s having the time of his life in this role and he makes a meal of every line that comes out of his mouth. “That’s the thing about younger siblings… (laughing) you just never know what they’re gonna do,” as a shot at Klaus and his problems with his own younger sister.
*As a note of caution, I realize there are rules with the rings that Alaric and Jeremy both possess (keeping them safe from death as long as they’re wearing them), but TVD might need to cool it on the fake deaths. They’ve done well so far to show that they’re willing to dispense with regular cast members fairly easily but death needs to be taken seriously and not reversed so often. Just ask Heroes how that worked out for them.
*I promise not all of the posts on TVD will be 1,700 words. For real. If you want to check out the episode, it’s embedded below via Hulu. Enjoy.