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TV Diary | The Vampire Diaries: “Our Town”

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TV Diary | The Vampire Diaries – Episode 3.11 – “Our Town” – Original Airdate: 1/12/12

Episode Grade: B+

You’ve gotta respect The Vampire Diaries’ willingness to blow things up. All season it’s seemed like the show has been merely toying with a temporary switch of personalities between Stefan and Damon. Something to bide the time and make the beginning half of the third season a little more interesting. It’s like the creative team said, let’s take the series’ hero (Stefan) and paint him as a soulless monster first following orders from the series’ big bad and then, reveal him as someone focused solely on revenge for what the big bad has made him do. Also, we’ll make him willing to do anything and hurt anyone as a means to gaining his vengeance. Meanwhile, we’ll take the show’s antagonist (Damon) and begin humanizing him [1] to the point where he becomes a viable love interest for the series’ heroine (Elena). Ultimately, Stefan would come back around and there would be a battle between the two for Elena’s affections with good (Stefan) winning over evil (Damon) in the end. And truthfully? That may be where things end up at some point in the future but for now, it’s completely clear – Stefan is this show’s number one villain. TVD’s main creative combo of Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec have gone further than I ever expected them to go. Stefan’s desire to toy with and exact a pound of flesh from Klaus has left him devoid of almost any bit of the Stefan that we saw in TVD’s first two seasons. That guy’s completely gone now, a fact that was driven home by the scene leading to and on Wickery Bridge – the site of the death of Elena’s parents. Stefan’s decision to strike at Klaus by taking on his hybrids [2] leads Damon to warn that, “The only way to call someone’s bluff is to be able to lose everything if you’re wrong.” After seeing the events of “Our Town” unfold, it’s clear that Stefan is. Knowing that Klaus’s weakness is his family, Stefan threatens dumping the body of Klaus’s brother Elijah into the ocean, to which Klaus warns that killing Damon would be his response. But the true measure of just how far Stefan has moved from what we saw in the show’s first two seasons comes on the bridge with Elena. After some machinations involving the town council, Klaus promises that his hybrids won’t harm anyone else in Mystic Falls provided that Stefan returns the bodies of Klaus’s family members to him. As everyone tries to convince Stefan that it’s the right and safest thing to do, he instead abducts Elena and calls Klaus’s bluff in the strongest way possible – he threatens to drive he and Elena off of the bridge, which would kill Klaus’s ability to create more hybrids [3]. He’s not willing to lose her entirely – he feeds her his blood against her will [4] – but he’s willing to use Elena, previously the most important thing in his life, as a means of beating Klaus. That’s a pretty big statement in the series’ history, one that’s driven home when Klaus does relent and agrees to kick the hybrids to the curb. Clearly Elena is wrecked by Stefan’s willingness to use her life as a pawn in his war with Klaus as she calls Stefan on the fact that he used the same location that’s haunted her since her parents died. When she asks why he would do that to her, he says that he knew that he actually lost her when he left with Klaus [5] at the end of season two and says chillingly, “I really don’t care what you think about me anymore, Elena.” While this may not be entirely true – The AV Club’s Carrie Raisler posits in her review of “Our Town” that Stefan’s main reason for revenge against Klaus is that Klaus took Elena from him when he made him leave – TVD seems to be strongly shifting towards Stefan as the show’s main villain [6] and I’m very, very interested to see where things are headed if that is indeed the case. It’s a fearless move for the show – and one that opens any number of storyline possibilities – but that’s actually the type of thing that TVD does on a regular basis. And it’s all the better for it.

[1] Relatively speaking.
[2] One such strike involves cutting a hybrid’s head off with a saw blade. In fairly graphic fashion, for The CW.
[3] Elena’s blood, in her capacity as the doppelganger for something or someone that’s not entirely clear as of yet, is the key ingredient for Klaus’s ability to create stable hybrids. If she’s dead, so’s his ability to make more minions.
[4] TVD rule: If you die with vampire blood in your system, you come back as a vampire.
[5] He left in order to save Damon’s life.
[6] Stefan to Damon: “No, to beat the villain, Damon, you have to be the better villain.”

Miscellany:
*”Our Town’s” other main plot point saw Klaus use Caroline in much the same way that Stefan used Elena – ordering Tyler to bite her and, since hybrid bites are lethal to vampires, that would be kind of a final solution – only to show some remorse and possible romantic interest in Caroline by episode’s end. Just as the show seems to be moving in the direction of Stefan being the villain, it also looks like we may be headed towards a Klaus/Caroline pairing which actually adds more weight to the “Stefan as main villain” theory. Romantic interest – and Klaus’s final words of the episode in describing why life is worth living to Caroline – inject some vulnerability into Klaus which isn’t something we’ve yet seen. While Stefan tells Elena that he doesn’t care what she thinks anymore, Klaus saves Caroline through poignancy and <gasp> human emotion. Again… it’s another interesting shift for the show.
*Not lost in the Klaus/Caroline storyline – as Raisler also points out – is that Tyler has absolutely no free will anymore. Early in the episode, Klaus commands him to bite Caroline but Tyler strongly refuses only to absent-mindedly do it later as he and Caroline are kissing. Having a character who has no free will whatsoever is not only terrifying, but could provide some interesting storyline possibilities as the season progresses.
*Looks like Jeremy is indeed gone for now, though I’d be surprised if we didn’t see him again before season’s end.
*Another interesting development? The rings that protect Alaric and Jeremy seem to have a shelf life and may be wearing off. Could this be an impetus for Jeremy’s return down the line?
*Again, loving TVD’s music supervisor. This week we get the Naked And Famous’ “Punching In A Dream” and Coldplay’s “Up In Flames.”
*”These hybrids are really bringing the neighborhood down.”
*”Can’t a council meeting ever just be a council meeting?” That’s a nice meta nod to TVD’s propensity towards lavish get-togethers as jumping off points for its plotlines.
*Episode embedded below via Hulu, as usual.

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Written by jeremylikestv

January 30, 2012 at 11:08 pm

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