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TV Diary | The Vampire Diaries: “Break On Through”

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TV Diary | The Vampire Diaries – Episode 3.17 – “Break On Through” – Original Airdate: 3/22/12

Episode Grade: B

If you’ve been reading my entries on The Vampire Diaries lately, you’ll know that I’ve not exactly been thrilled with the show’s direction lately. So, an episode like “Break On Through” – while far from perfect – is definitely a step in the right direction. It essentially focused on three plot threads, with two of those being fairly engaging. “Break On Through’s” main focus was on the side effects of Alaric’s ring and what those effects are doing to his psyche. We learned at the end of “1912” that Dr. Fell believed that Alaric was committing the slasher murders [1] but was doing so because of the aftereffects of dying on multiple occasions and then being brought back to life thanks to the ring’s powers. After initially hooking him up to a CAT scan to determine what was causing his blackouts [2], Alaric hands over his ring to Elena saying he doesn’t want it anymore. Elena, as things are wont to go on TVD, immediately rushes to one of the Salvatores – in this case, Stefan – for help in understanding the case of Samantha Gilbert, one of the last to suffer the wonky effects of a supernatural ring. His answer, having had experience with Samantha which was established in “1912” is that Alaric’s essentially a goner if the same thing is happening to him. Because Elena is Elena and is unable to let things go, she brings Bonnie into the fold to try to cast a spell to reverse the ring’s effects [3]. While Elena and Stefan are off retrieving Alaric’s wedding ring [4], Stefan informs her that his research has shown that the psycho effects of the ring can carry over even when it’s not being worn and, right on cue, back at the Gilbert house where Meredith is tending to a spent Alaric, he’s switched into crazymurderdeath mode even without the ring on his finger. It’s revealed both through Elena and Stefan’s discovery and Alaric himself in a bit of exposition to Meredith that he’s targeting council members because their original intent was to fight vampires yet they’re now working with them and aren’t eradicating them from the town like they were supposed to. Crazy Alaric believes that by cleansing the council of vampire sympathizers, he can create a new one that won’t be so liberal with their vampire love. Elena also finds a file in Alaric’s apartment with information on his victims and a note to Jeremy telling him to carry on his “work” if anything were to happen to him. Realizing this, Elena and Stefan rush back to Elena’s house, subdue Crazy Alaric, and tend to an injured Meredith in the bathroom. After the dust has settled, Elena calls Jeremy to check in on him and – in a bit of foreshadowing – the camera catches that he’s still wearing his ring, making me think more than a little that whenever Jeremy returns to Mystic Falls [5], it’s not going to go so well. Again… not perfect (for reasons I’ll get into in the Miscellany) but it’s definitely an encouraging step forward.

[1] Full disclosure: I hate calling them that. If anyone has a better suggestion, feel free to chime in.
[2] And, not that anyone would ever accuse The Vampire Diaries of being the most artistic of shows, the oddly framed shots of Matt Davis’s face while he waited nervously for the scan to start and saw his own reflection conveyed the sense of dread and uncertainty in Alaric’s head very nicely.
[3] This will also lead into the one of the three plot threads that kinda suck, but we’ll talk about that in a bit. A little hint: The big problem rhymes with “Blabby.”
[4] Bonnie’s spell requires a personal effect of the afflicted in order to work, necessitating Elena and Stefan taking a trip to Alaric’s apartment. This show sure loves rings.
[5] Presumably by season’s end.

Miscellany:
*Another small positive step came in the Mystic Falls vs. The Originals storyline. As I’d speculated upon her arrival in “1912,” Damon’s old friend Sage has appeared in the present day and – surprise! – has a connection with the Originals by virtue of her love for oldest son Finn. She also has some raging hate for Rebekah and is all too willing to help Damon attempt to pry whatever secret he knows that Rebekah is holding in her head away from her. The plan – of course, since Damon is involved – includes an implied ménage a trois between Damon, Sage, and Rebekah where Sage will somehow sneak in and jump into Rebekah’s head after Rebekah and Damon, er… do their business. What they find is that the oak that can be used to kill Originals has been repurposed into the Wickery Bridge – and good on TVD for that retcon – which is something that Rebekah is aware of. In the end, Sage and Rebekah double-cross Damon thanks to Sage’s discovery of the pact where the Originals are bound and one’s death equals all of their deaths. She and Rebekah torch the bridge, rendering its wood useless, but do we really think that our guys aren’t going to get the upper hand? The final reveal is that the bridge’s welcome sign – which has not been destroyed – is made of the same wood. And Damon has it. A lot of the Originals storyline has bored me this season. Klaus was a good bad guy but the introduction of his family has been kind of a bore, so positive forward movement such as this is very welcomed. Bonus points for making the Wickery Bridge a crucial plot point yet again.
*The episode’s downside that I’ve been hinting at? More Bonnie/Abby nonsense. Nutshell – Abby’s struggling with the transition to vampirism, Bonnie’s helping her, Abby’s depressed because she can’t “feel” her garden or some such, she tries to feed on the stepson, Bonnie thinks they’re going to get closer, and Abby bails. That’s essentially it. Hopefully now that Abby, perhaps the most boring character in the history of the show, is gone this storyline won’t drag things down anymore. Seriously, if you want to get some use out of the Bonnie and Abby characters maybe loan them out to The Secret Circle or something. I’m pretty sure TVD’s producers know a few people over there.
*Observation: Sage seems almost like Damon’s version of Lexie. Albeit a much less loyal version of Lexie, but still.
*Vampire Diaries song of the week: The Kills’ “Future Starts Slow.” Gonna need to put Blood Pressures back on the iPod again.
*”I didn’t kill Brian Walters, I didn’t kill Bill Forbes, and I sure as hell didn’t shove a hunting knife into my stomach. Or I did, and I’ve gone insane.”
*”Ric, the world can’t stop just because you’re an accidental psycho killer.”
*”We’re vampires, not puppies.”
*”God, I hate that elitist Original bitch.”
*”The thing that started all this ring stuff was me being angry enough to think I could take on a vampire.”
*”I just can’t be who you want me to be right now, Elena. I’m not in control.”
*”What are you doing here?” “Just making sure the witch didn’t turn you into a toad. Or a block of salt.”
*”Why are you in such a good mood? Sage double-crossed you. Tree’s a pile of ash. Alaric’s got a psychopathic alter ego.”
*”Game’s back on, brother. Let’s go kill some Originals.”

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