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Naughty or Nice? – A Recap of The Vampire Diaries’ “Fifty Shades of Grayson”

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A Very Merry Christmas from your friends at Augustine!

Seasons Greetings, Fangbangers!  In this month of fat men slithering down small chimneys and giving you presents, while stealing your cookies and milk . . . a time when elves (I believe the appropriate term now is “little people”), work tirelessly, without the benefit of vacation time or a health care plan, to build Little Janey her iPad or Kindle Fire, much discussion will inevitably be had over the concept of “Naughty or Nice.”

so naughty

Were you a good girl or boy, this year?

bad girls

How exactly is something like that measured?  Does “Santa” take an average of all of our deeds, and draw up some complex mathematical computation, where the difference between good or evil is merely a hundredth of a decimal point?  Is it merely enough that you’ve been well behaved, this week?   This month?  That even if you’ve been naughty in the past, you promised to do better next time, and really meant it?

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Or are there actions in this world that are considered to be so evil, that they will land us irredeemably on the Naughty List for life, no matter how hard we try to repent?

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Vampire series (and, really, shows starring antiheroes as the main protagonist, in general) grapple with this issue all the time.  How far can a writer push the misdeeds of her main character, before fans find themselves simply unable to empathize with him or her?  Let’s see, over the course of TVD’s five season history, we’ve seen . . .

Damon murder Jeremy, because Elena rejected his romantic advances . . .

damon dont judge

Katherine feed Jeremy to Silas, just so that she could steal the cure to immortality and use it as a bargaining tool with Klaus.  (Poor Jeremy, are we noticing a pattern here?)

dead jer 2

We’ve seen Klaus murder an entire line of hybrids he, himself, sired, stake his siblings countless times just because they were kind of mean to him, kill Useless Aunt Jenna, Tyler’s mom, and that annoying female werewolf whose name I no longer remember . . .

santa klaus

And we’ve watched Stefan eat his own father and murder thousands of innocent humans as the Ripper of Monterrey.

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And yet, season after season, we forgive these monstrous vampires.  We invite them into our homes.  (A very bad idea, as vampire lore will tell you.)  We root for them to fall in love, get the girl, vanquish their enemies, and live Happily Ever After.

damon eternal stud

But if these were our real family and friends, could we be so forgiving?  If those were our relatives who they bludgeoned?  Our lovers who they remorselessly slew?

forgive me big

forgive me

Maybe . . . but probably not.

life sucks get a helmet

“Fifty Shades of Grayson” delves into that concept wholeheartedly . . . the idea of being completely and utterly beyond redemption.  And by the end of the episode, some of our favorite characters find themselves stuck on the much-despised Naughty List (Do not Pass Go.  Do not collect a MacBook Air.) possibly for . . .  ALL ETERNITY.

big bad vampire out here

Let’s review, shall we?

Damon . . . SMASH!

True story.  When I was about 9 years old, I was cast as the Wicked Queen in my day camp production of Snow White.  During the scene where (SPOILER ALERT), the Queen learns from her Magic Mirror that the Huntsman didn’t really kill Snow White, and her Highness is still not the prettiest girl at the party, I had to say the line, “I’ve been cheated!”

queen grr

In our first rehearsal, I lent all my energy to this single line.  I stamped my foot.  I clenched my fist.  I scrunched up my face like I was constipated.  I jumped up and down like a raving loony.

The whole cast cracked up laughing.  The problem, of course, was that it wasn’t supposed to be a funny scene.  “The Wicked Queen wouldn’t act like that,” my Drama Teacher lectured me.  “She’s mature, dignified, and cunning.  She’s . . .”

Well . . . she’s Regina from Once Upon a Time, basically.

evil queen 2

But try as I might, I just couldn’t say the line “I’ve been cheated,” without sounding like a nine-year old who just had her Barbie doll taken away from her, because that’s what I was!  Eventually, the Drama Teacher gave up on me entirely.  So, on the day of the performance, I huffed, and I puffed, and I stamped, and I screamed, and I gave the temper tantrumiest “I”VE BEEN CHEATED,” of my VERY, VERY short-lived acting career.

(The next summer, in our camp production of Grease, I was given the role of the school custodian.  I stood in the back of two scenes with a mop.  I had no lines.  Not sure why . . . )

stefan shrug

So, why am I telling you this?  Because that’s what Damon reminds me of, whenever he gets angry and starts taking out his aggression on harmless pieces of furniture . . . You guys all remember the Soap Dish Incident, right?

soap dish smash

“I’VE BEEN CHEATED!”

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not denigrating Ian Somerhalder’s acting in any way.  Crazy Temper Tantrum Damon is super hot, while still being kind of hilarious!  And my Drama Teacher was totally off base about my interpretation of the Wicked Queen .  . . just saying.

And that’s precisely where we find Damon in the cold open of “Fifty Shades of Grayson,” hulking out on his poor defenseless Augustine Vampire cage . . .

smash 2

Eventually, he manages to break a piece of rock off the wall.  He uses that rock to “chisel,” Aaron’s forgotten vampire bullet from the previous episode into the lock on his cage door, busting it open . . .

ian says awesome

The idea is so clever in its simplicity that it kind of makes you wonder why neither Damon nor Enzo bothered to think of it at any time during the many, many, many nights they sat together in their cell with nothing to do but await their daily dose of torture and STARE AT WALLS.  I mean, think about it, we saw two Escape from Alcatraz Augustine plans in action here.  The first one involved HANGING OUT FOR A YEAR, and then being faced with hundreds of party people, any of whom could possibly kill you dead (or light you on fire), as you tried to escape.  The second one involved, five minutes of wall punching that might hurt your fingers a little bit . . .

Which would YOU choose?

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Anywhoo . . . Damon escapes Chez Augustine with both his humanity and his pretty face still refreshingly intact.  Huzzah!

The Morning After Bitter Pill

I’m not going to lie.  Katherine’s post coital wake up scene may very well have been my favorite one of the entire episode, which is odd considering it was also probably the least tangential to the ongoing plot.

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There’s a scene in Bridget Jones Diary where Bridget wakes up after a night of earth shatteringly brilliant sex with Darcy, only to be faced with the harsh reality, that being in a real relationship means that your boyfriend will eventually have to see what you look like in the morning naked . . . There she is staring at herself in the mirror, as she really is . . . without all the makeup, the hair product, the perfume, the cute clothes, and the spanx to hide her “wobbly bits” . . . without the benefit of a liquor-induced haze, or the moonlight, or the passion that drives us human animals to screw first, and think later.   She sees her image, and is terrified that when Darcy sees the Real Her, he’ll fall instantly out of love.

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We’ve all experienced this type of insecurity at one time or another.  But Katherine Pierce never had.  She always had the perfect figure, was disarmingly sexy, perpetually youthful, in stellar shape, and the object of every man’s desire.  And on the rare occasion when a man she coveted didn’t willingly throw himself into her bed, Katherine had the power to snatch his free will and make him do it, anyway.

the kat monster

For the first time in 500-some odd years, Katherine is finding herself in the rest of our shoes.  She wakes up in the morning next to Stefan Salvatore and is positively thrilled with her good fortune, that someone like him, a vampire, young, strong, hard in every sense of the word, would want HER, a mere human.  But all that happiness comes crashing down, when she finds a grey hair on her pillow.  Suddenly, she’s Bridget Jones . . . petrified that Stefan will see her in her grey-haired vulnerability, and discard her, not because she’s selfish, manipulative, and kind of evil (That, she could handle.), but because she’s OLD!

find grey hair

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Cue the usually graceful Katherine merely falling over herself, as she drapes herself in a comforter, and tumbles out of the room, like a child dressed up as a ghost for Halloween . . .

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It’s little moments like these that remind me why I first fell in love with this show . . .

At the door, Damon runs into the fleeing Katherine, and feigns nausea over the fact that she just boned his brother.  But we all know Damon would (and has) totally hit that . . .

flirt with damon

The Bride of Damon-stein

Speaking of girls who look like Nina Dobrev, Elena’s morning after is far more bitter and far less sweet than Katherine’s.   She awakens strapped to a gurney to find Dr. Death, draining all the blood out of her body while babbling on about it into that annoying dictaphone of his.

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You know as Big Bads, the Augustine Folks were pretty decent . . . locking up vampires . . . torturing them  . . . turning them on one another as weapons of mass destruction?  Scary.

ahhh

But as Mad Scientists?  These guys kind of suck . . .

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Before Elena passes out again, Dr. Death proudly informs her that he’s been performing the exact same experiments on her that her father performed on vampires, back when she was a little girl, and that Dr. Whitmore performed on Damon back in the 50’s.  70 years of experimentation . . . and they are still repeating the exact same experiments over and over and over again.

Damon eye roll

Take blood from a vampire, see how long it takes for them to pass out . . . OOOH!

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Electrocute a vampire, see how loud he screams . . . AAAH!

3 4 stef tort

Cut a vampire, watch that vampire heal . . . YAY!

3 3 sun torture

And all of this to discover what teenyboppers who read Twilight figured out on page 10.  Vampire blood can heal human ailments . . . pretty much all of them.

it healed

In other words, Augustine is basically the scientific equivalent of a cat chasing its tail, and a hamster running on that infernal wheel . . . mental midgets with mean streaks, wearing lab coats.

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No wonder Damon wanted to fry all their asses . . .

wake up kill you

But poor Elena!  Her gene pool just keeps getting murkier and murkier, doesn’t it?  Now, it seems like her Adoptive Father (actual Uncle?) may have sucked as a human being just as badly as her actual father did . . . torturing vampires in a basement for years, all in the name of pseudo science.  At this rate, I wouldn’t be surprised if, by Season 8, we learned that Elena is somehow related to Hitler too . . .

In which Katherine Pierce endures the HORRORS of exercise . . .

Speaking of mean people distantly related to Elena, Katherine has decided that the cure to sickness and inevitable death is not medicine or science, but drinking Kale and exercising!  (Since when did Katherine Pierce become a Scientologist?)

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Once again, Katherine’s mortality brings a refreshing dose of comedy to the hour, as Personal Trainer Matt wryly (but politely, as always) gets personal pleasure out of Katherine’s workout pain and general lack of physical fitness.  To add insult to injury, Matt even calls Katherine’s “long lost” daughter, i.e. the person responsible for getting Matt temporarily possessed by the dude who sounded like the bad guy from Rocky and Bullwinkle to slap Mommy Dearest around a bit for trying to kill herself, without even bothering to send her baby vampire girl a Hallmark card.

you killed me

But fear not, Doppelganger Lovers!  Mini-Katherine has a plan!  If Katherine’s own body is dying, why not simply “borrow” someone else’s?  It worked for Rocky and Bullwinkle Villain guy, right?  I mean, he lasted an entire two extra episodes before someone killed him again, didn’t he?

gregor

This sounds like a truly excellent, fail safe plan, right?

shakes head

Katherine’s not quite buying into the possession idea, either.  She likes looking like Nina Dobrev, dammit!   Even if it’s “old” Nina Dobrev with a bit of grey food coloring in her hair!  And if the choice is between (1) dying a horrible painful death, and (2) living, but looking slightly less attractive while doing it, we all know which option Katherine’s going to choose.

im a survivor

 . . . but only if survival = looking pretty and f*&king Stefan . . .

Besides, Katherine just started boning Stefan again!  She’s not going to let a little thing like her impending demise keep her from getting a few more rides on that Wild Stallion .  . . No sir.

“Nice knowing you, Mini-Me,” Katherine says,  more or less.  “See you in Hell!”

the kat always look out for myself  petrova-gifs

Hostage Aaron Hangs with Hungry Vampires . . . Hilarity Ensues

Having left baby bro Stefan in the dark for 70 years about the whole “Augustine” thing, Damon is forced to be a bit cagey with his brother regarding the missing Elena’s whereabouts.  Fortunately for Damon, Stefan and his hero hair are always suckers for a damsel in distress, and are willing to come along for the ride with pretty much no questions asked.

my hero

You know how I know Aaron is going to fit in just fine on this show?  Because literally a few hours ago, the character learned that he (1) comes from a long line of vampire torturing mad scientists; (2) that a vampire has been systematically killing everyone related to him; and (3) that pretty much all the friends he met at college are either vampires or were murdered by vampires (sometimes both).  He also just shot a vampire, who he presumed to be dead.  That’s a lot of information for any normal human being to absorb.  And yet, when Damon and Stefan find Aaron he’s . . . chilling out listening to some tunes and reading his Chemistry textbook, like its just another boring day on campus.

hanging with dam

“Um, do you think you could wait about two minutes before you kill me?  I was listening to a really good song.”

Even when it becomes pretty clear that Salvatore Squared are holding him hostage, so that Dr. Death will turn over Elena.  And they will very likely kill him whether Dr. Death complies with this request or not, Aaron just takes it all in stride.  “I thought I killed you.  Why aren’t you dead?”  Aaron asks boredly of the murderous vampire who he shot in the head with a bullet.

“You shot me in the head.  You should have aimed for the heart.  Aim for the heart, next time,” Damon scolds, playfully wacking his would-be murderer on the noggin.

smirky damon

Aaron just shrugs off his botched attempted murder of the guy who brutally savaged both his parents.  “Oops.”

I want to learn what kind of anti-anxiety / anti-depressant medication this kid is on . . . and I want a prescription.

pills for depression

Dr. Death agrees to make a trade of Aaron for Elena in some abandoned classroom.  But when the threesome arrive there, they find no Dr. Death, and no Elena. (The trouble with having no personality and being emotionally vacant, Aaron, is that it makes people who supposedly love you kind of ambivalent about saving your life . . .)

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The rendezvous is not a total bust, though.  At least it gives Damon the opportunity to “reconnect” with blast from the past, Enzo.

Enzo’s Ill-Conceived and Ultimately Ineffective Revenge

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Good ole, Enzo!  When we last met him in flashback land, he was jolly, hopeful, and downright bromantic.  He loved Damon in the way a dude loves the only other dude he gets to speak to in 70 plus years, who isn’t repeatedly cutting him open on an operating table and electrocuting him for sh*ts and giggles.  He was also pretty darn easy on the eyes, as is the requirement of every male with a speaking part on this show . . .

sex enzy

Personally, I liked that the Enzo we met in present day, was a bit less charming, and a bit more unhinged.  Unlike his fellow guest star, Aaron, this guy is seriously PISSED OFF at the sucky hand he’s been dealt.  And it’s totally understandable.  I mean, who wouldn’t be a little wackadoodle after spending almost a century as a mad scientists life-sized version of the game Operation?

doctor-bot-operation

They have pretty much the same haircut.  But Enzo has much better abs . .  .

It’s Enzo who finally fills in both Stefan and Aaron into the specifics of Damon’s betrayal at the Augustine compound, while standing at the podium of the otherwise abandoned classroom, like a frustrated professor whose students just don’t give two craps about his lecture.   Poor Enzo!  He doesn’t realize he’s rehashing the exact same flashback we all saw last week on The Vampire Diaries.  Dr. Death should really considering getting ole Enzie a cable hookup in his cell.  Problems like this could be avoided.

in class

“This class sucks.  I’m totally dropping it next semester.”

Having given up on educating his “students,” Enzo dismisses both Stefan and Aaron to go back to Aaron’s dorm room in search of information that might be helpful in locating Elena.  Damon, however, is given detention!  No Save Elena Games for him!  Not today.  It’s time for the Elder Salvatore to accept his punishment for being such a sh*tty friend to a fellow hot person . . .

elena ahhh

You see, when Dr. Death set Enzo free, it was with a pretty significant catch.  He injected the vampire with a dessication agent.  So, Enzo was dying and could only get healthy if he returned to the compound to get the antidote.  And he could only get the antidote if he killed Damon.

Ruh-roh!

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Sucks for you, Enzo!  Damon’s the main character on this show!  It looks like you’ve been set up for failure.  (See, a little TV viewing would have gone a long way in this instance.  Damon has just enough time to kindly inform Enzo he’s “just not that into him,” before the sexy broody vamp goes all stiff and veiny.

Elsewhere on Campus . . .

Aaron is having slightly better luck at weaseling his way into the heart of a Salvatore Brother.  When Stefan gets the idea, that Aaron has dishonestly lured the younger Salvatore Bro back to his dorm room, just to break free from his clutches, Stefan pulls the ole homoerotic Slam the Other Hot Boy Against the Wall trick that all the teen shows are trying these days.

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ep 9 wall slam bitten by salvatores

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“Just kill me,” Aaron challenges.  “I’m basically already dead.  Damon has been murdering my whole family.  And, assuming I don’t have another long lost relative out there somewhere to carry on the Whitmore name, he’s probably going to kill me too.  So, do it first, and don’t give him the satisfaction.”

Clever boy, that Emotionally Empty Aaron!  He somehow intuited that Stefan Salvatore is a sucker for the pathetic and suicidal.  And that little piece of psychoanalytics ended up saving his life.  “We aren’t all like my brother,” Vampire Civil Rights Activist Stefan explained before removing his hands from around Aaron’s neck.

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How very Season 1 of True Blood, Bill Compton, of him!

As it turns out, Aaron wasn’t lying about having information in his “diaries” that will save Elena.  And so Savior Stefan runs off to the evil lab to rescue his princess.

And just in time too (maybe).  You see, Dr. Death had just stabbed Elena with an elixir that would basically turn her into a Ripper for Vampire Blood, rendering her an instant danger to pretty much her entire Scooby Gang.  Elena then knocks Dr. Death unconscious, moments before Stefan saves her.  But as she leaves, she stupidly grabs her father’s medical diaries instead of the syringe itself, so we have no way of knowing whether she ingested enough of the vampire eating drug for it to have an impact on her.

draco malfoy facepalm

To add further insult to injury Enzo too, may or may not have been turned into a Ripper for Vamp Blood when Damon “rescued” him by stabbing him with every syringe in Dr. Death’s office, until one of them woke him up.  (You would think an anal retentive guy like Dr. Death would have a better labeling system for his vampire pharmaceuticals.

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Life saved or no life saved, Enzo is still not quite ready to forgive and forget Damon’s humanity free abandonment of his ass back in the 50’s.  “You will always be a monster,” says the vampire who killed Elena’s adorable guest star roommate with glasses.

you are a monster

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Well, ain’t that the pot calling the kettle a fanger?

In which Damon once again decides Elena is “too pure” for him (Shower, Rinse, Repeat) . . .

Here we go again . . . back at La Casa de Rich and Awesome, Elena excitedly tells Damon that, even though her father was a sadistic vampire torturer, he wasn’t so bad because, at least according to his diaries, he used vampire blood to save Elena’s roommate from immediate death, as a result of congenital heart failure.  (Instead, she suffered horrifically painful, eaten alive, and subsequently tossed out window death, by Enzo the Hungry Vampire, eight years later.  HOORAY!)

megan and dad

meg

(I kind of see a resemblance?  Same name too . . .)

Damon thinks Elena is being a pain in the ass Pollyanna, because she consistently sees the good in all people, even when they do things that make them irredeemably sh*tty.   And so for the 85,000 time since the series started, Damon dumps Elena “for her own good,” because “he’s a bad person, who is incapable of redemption,” and “he’s tired of her having to make excuses for him,” and “fate says she should be with Saint Stefan, blah de blah blah.”

stop defending

wont change

choosing to

OK, OK . . . now, I know I sound like I’m just being sour grapes, because I’m a Delena fan, and I’m pissed that the writers went and sank my ship.  But that’s not it, really!  You see, the thing is, I loved Damon’s “you’re too good for me” speech, back when he said it in Season 2, and compelled Elena to forget it shortly thereafter . . .

And when he said it again, at the end of Season 2, when he was dying and Elena was caring for him in what she truly believed would be his final hours on Earth. . .

Or in Season 4, where Elena FINALLY chooses Damon, not because of some creepy sire bond, but because she loves HIM, in spite of all the crappy things he said about himself just moments before she excitedly and romantically raped his face with her tongue . . .

I loved all of these scenes.  And I suspect I would have loved this one too, in spite its inherent sadness, in spite of it spelling the death knell for my ship, if I hadn’t seen it in its different (arguably better) iterations, at least three times before.

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Yes, we get it, Damon is a “Bad Guy.”  He’s done “Bad Things.”  He believes himself to be “Bad for Elena,” despite the fact that he loves her wholeheartedly, and has, pretty much, since the middle of Season 1 of this series.  We know this.

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What I don’t understand is what is it about Damon’s recalling that he screwed over Enzo, of all the millions of bad things he’s done (and Stefan has done too, mind you) that made him decide to break things off with Elena, despite the fact that the plot dictated that it was “Stefan’s turn” to have her.  What did the season finale change fundamentally about Damon’s relationship with Elena?

no one tells me who i love

Nothing!  There’s no longer any sire bond.  Damon and Elena both currently have their humanity in tact.  Neither of them is dying, or racing for the cure, or running from Klaus.  So, basically, Damon dumped Elena because  . . . what?  He is tired of her justifying his bad behavior . . . just like she justified the bad behavior of her father . . . just like she justifies the bad behavior of Stefan and everyone else on this show . . . just like all the fans of this show (myself especially) do, every week?

nodding oh yeah

It just seems like a pretty crappy reason to break up with someone you supposedly love more than life itself.  But that’s just me . . .

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But hey, maybe I’m being too harsh.  Maybe I should trust that the writers know what’s right for this ship . . . for these characters . . . for this show . . . in the long run . . .

NAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

no no on

Why the Dying Should NEVER Wear High Heels on Steep Staircases . . .

In other rejection news, despite her fantasies to the contrary, Katherine’s impending Date with Death is not enough to make Stefan forgive her for breaking his heart, pretty much ruining his relationship with his brother for 100 plus years, and being the series’ Big Bad for a Season and a half.  “I’m sorry you’re dying,” Stefan tells an increasingly grey-haired Katherine, as he holds her hand like it’s a consolation prize.

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Yikes.  Talk about “He’s just not that into you.”

When not even  IMPENDING DEATH garners you an ounce of sympathy from your crush, you just know wedding bells are out of the question.  And so Katherine decides that a little body swapping might not be such a bad idea . . .  She calls her Mini-Me to tell her the good news.

Annnnnnnnnnd then she has a heart attack (?) and tumbles down the steps . . .

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Here’s hoping her next body owns at least one pair of sensible shoes.

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Until next time, Fangbangers!

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Jailbait – A Recap of The Vampire Diaries’ “The Cell”

angry damon

Cannibalism never looked this good  . . .

Greetings Fangbangers!  This week’s installment of The Vampire Diaries explored the many ways in which humans (and vampires) can be prisoners . . .

drowning stef

“Is it Friday yet?”

They can be literal prisoners, locked in jail cells and deprived of freedom, like Damon, Sexy New Latin Lover Enzo (played by newcomer Michael Malarkey . . . mama like . . . . A LOT), and later Elena, were to those wackjob sadists fondly referred to as “Augustine” . . .

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“On the bright side, conjugal visits just became much more convenient.”

They could be prisoners of their own bodies and mortality, like the supposedly-rapidly-decaying-and-dying-but-still-looks-frustratingly-stunning-sexy-and-wrinkle-free Katherine Pierce . . .

eating kat

Wait until she learns that humans actually gain weight  . . .

They could be prisoners of their sorry fate and unfortunately evil legacy, like that eternal sad sack, who makes Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh,  look downright cheery,  Aaron Whitmore . . .

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“It’s not like my day could get any worse.”

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And they could be prisoners of their own minds, like good ole “my girlfriend dumped me for my brother, and my face twin, locked me in a safe at the bottom of a river, hence all the screaming, hyperventilating and crying I’ve been doing lately,” Stefan . . .

brain fried stefan

“Dear WebMD, does Aspirin work on Vampires?”

Whatever your personal prison, you didn’t need to have vampire blood running through your brains to relate to at least one of the storylines of “The Cell,” which, as a refreshing change from the uber complex mythology and whiplash fast repeated plot twists of “the Silas Storyline” actually worked pretty well as a standalone episode, with a focus on character motivation and basic interpersonal relationships that we haven’t really seen since the series’ heyday back in Season 2.

happy elena

So break out your favorite trusty old safe (hopefully, you’ve sanitized it first), choke down your daily blood rations, and turn up the radio on that old classic 50’s tune,  because it’s time to “go a-walking after midnight” with this latest TVD recap . . .

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La Casa de Rich and Slimy

No wonder, Damon never had any qualms about offing his ancestor Zach Salvatore back in Season 1 of TVD!  It seems these Salvatores have a pretty long history of familial betrayal . . . one that dates back at least as far as the early 50’s, when Some Random Salvatore used the now infamous Boarding House (where Damon and Stefan have been drinking, sexing up numerous women who look like Nina Dobrev, and brooding for the past five seasons) to lure a very James Dean-y version of Damon into a life of captivity and torture, all for “the good of science” and a bit of cash, of course.

When Damon found out about this betrayal (upon receiving a neck full of vervain for his trouble) he was less than pleased.

soap dish smash

And so, he found a rather creative way to seek vengeance on his less-than-trustworthy relative: death-by-whiskey-glass.  Granted, this form of death is not quite as visually appealing, as a good old-fashioned heart-extraction-from-chest-and-subsequent-tossing-of-heart-on-floor-like-it’s-a-piece-of-lint-on-your-shirt, but it will do in a pinch.

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This whiskey tastes funny.  Perhaps, it has something to do with the rim of the glass having just been inside my great, great, great grandson’s carotid artery . . .”

Enter Dr. Whitmore . . .

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Psycho sadist by day, douchebag who wears a pocket square by night . . .

He’s thrilled that Death-By-Whiskey resulted in a surprise discount on his Vampire Pin Cushion purchase, but bummed that his test subject is still awake.  Fortunately, a bit more vervain will fix that right up .  . .

Back in  the present day, Damon finds himself once again, a P.O.W. (Prisoner of Whitmore).  Only this time, fashions have changed (he’s wearing a black shirt instead of a white one), and vampire jail is much lonelier without a super sexy guest star in the next cell with which to shoot the breeze.  Fortunately for Damon, company is on the way . . .

jail cell

“Black is the new black.”

“Sorry all your friends and family died.  But let’s talk about me for a change . . .”

It appears that one of the unfortunate side effects of being on a show where everybody’s sole point of interest and topic of conversation is you, is that you tend to become a wee bit self-absorbed . . .

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“But enough about me, let’s talk about me.”

And because she is a victim of her own circumstances, I guess we have to cut Elena a bit of slack for KILLING JESSE one night, and popping up at his MASSIVELY DEPRESSED TO THE POINT OF BEING SUICIDAL former roommate’s dorm room the next morning, and asking him to come frolicking with her in search of her errant boyfriend.

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Someone needs to get her priorities in order.

Fortunately, for Elena, Sad Aaron is so desperate for non-brutally murdered people to befriend, that if he spotted a cockroach on his window sill, he’d probably invite it out for beers, and offer to be its wingman while it tried to pick up chicks . . .

aaron in tux

noticing me

And so he gallantly invites the only person on the show who is a bigger Grim Reaper than he is, over to his family mansion where, unbeknownst to him, his “guardian” is using Elena’s boyfriend to play a live action version of the beloved childhood game “Operation.”  (Just don’t remove his funny bone, Mmm-kay, Doctor Death.  We like our Elder Salvatore Brother sexy AND snarky.)

doctor-bot-operation

shirtless damon 4 sleepy baby

If you recall, the last time Elena was here, she had to hang out outside, because the owner of the house wasn’t around to invite her in.  This time, she dances around awkwardly, waiting for Aaron to do the polite thing, and let the female bloodsucker cross his threshold.

It’s at this point in the story that we learn (1) Aaron is a Whitmore, which means his dead family like TOTALLY owns the college; (2) Elena’s dad may or may not have been in league with the nefarious Augustines; and (3) Doctor Death became Aaron’s legal guardian, after the death of his last living relative Useless Aunt Jenna Aunt Sarah.

aunt jenna

We interrupt this trip down Plot Twist lane, so that Elena can get stabbed in the neck with a vervain syringe . . .

(Personally, I prefer the good old fashioned neck snap for characters who need a “temporary time out,” but I guess this will do, in a pinch.)

Another Fail “Safe” Plan

Back at La Casa de Rich and Awesome, Stefan thinks writing about her problems in a diary will make Katherine want to kill herself less.

3 16 dear diary fearisforthewinter

(Yeah, Stefan, because that worked SO WELL for you!)

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But Katherine has never really been much of a writer (or a reader) for that matter.   So, she tells Stefan he should stop focusing on Katherine’s suicidal tendencies and start trying to figure out why the same guy who ate his own father without flinching, now goes into girly hysterics every time he pictures an itty bitty box .  . .

I mean, I thought vampires were supposed to like coffins?

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Katherine invites her new bestie Caroline over to shock Stefan out of his PTSD, by locking him in a safe, until he’s not afraid of  being there anymore.

She even brought her own trusty safe to use in Stefan’s treatment.  “But don’t worry,” she tells the seriously freaked out younger Salvatore brother.  “I sanitized it.”

smirky

put windex on it

Yes, Caroline, because germs have always been a vampire’s worst enemy . .  .

Stefan’s first run-in with the safe doesn’t exactly go well, in the sense that he’s throwing a full-on temper tantrum within minutes of getting inside.  (Can you imagine this guy in a tanning bed?  It would not be pretty.)

Katherine wonders out loud whether Stefan’s problem is not the safe at all, but rather, his pen*s.  This logic inspires in her a rather brilliant idea.  (Katherine not be particularly literary.  And she may never have enrolled in Psych 101, like Caroline.  But if she’s an expert in anything it’s Vampire Pen*s . . .)

you two ever

great in bed

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“This one time .  . . in Augustine Vampire Jail . . .”

Finding themselves reunited in Vampire Jail with a sturdy wall of bars between them, Elena and Damon find themselves with a bit of time to kill.

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more fun if naked

And so, Damon decides to regale Elena about his zany prison adventures with a hot European soldier Vamp named Enzo.   You see, this isn’t Damon’s first time at the rodeo.  He’s been a vampire test subject once before.

never told

(By the way, over 50 some-odd years of experimentation with the undead, and these guys are still doing things like testing vampire light sensitivity, and their ability to regenerate limbs?  Any teenager who has read Twilight  could tell you that.  Worst Medical Researchers EVER!)

surrounded by idiots

Damon discusses how Enzo and him developed a friendship through the bars of their personal vampire prison, while chugging down a single shot glass of blood each day to keep themselves from desiccation.  While they took turns being brutally tortured by that icy cyborg Dr. Whitmore (charm cleary runs in this family), the two bonded over lost lady loves (Enzo’s was a benevolent researcher named Maggie), music (“I go a-walking . . . after midnight . . . out in the moonlight . . .lalala”), and their mutual hatred for all things Whitmore.  Time passed, until finally, after one New Years, the vampire bromantics finally devised a plan for their inevitable escape from Torture Town.

sex enzy

The plan involved Damon drinking both his and Enzo’s rations, and secretly growing stronger, over the course of a year, so that when the two were let out for the annual New Year’s party, Damon would be strong enough to free Enzo from the pokey, and the pair could live happily ever after . . .  literally . . . you know . . . because they are immortal and stuff . . .

long story wait for movie

A whole year, comprised of doing nothing but regularly submitting to torture and drinking shots of red stuff . . . talk about a LOOOOOOOONNNG CON.  (Though, honestly, it seems strange that Enzo wouldn’t have desiccated during that time, seeing as he was drinking nothing for an entire year, and the whole point of the rations was to keep both vampires alive and weak.)

kind of dead

Because Katherine Pierce is just kinky like that . . .

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When this box is a rocking, don’t come a-knocking  . . .

Stefan opens his eyes in the Evil Box to find Katherine right next to him, sweating it out with him.  (Geez!  It’s a good thing Stefan isn’t claustrophobic.)  He freaks out, of course, threatens to kill her, gently chokes her, makes a big show of breathing heavily on her neck.  It’s supposed to be scary, but it’s kind of hot, and you can tell both parties are totally turned on by it . . .

shock therapy

Katherine explains to Stefan that his fear of safes is really just a sublimation of the feelings of abandonment he experienced when Elena dumped him for Stefan.  It’s some pretty high brow talk for a girl who’s used to speaking almost entirely in sexual innuendos!  Then, in a voice that’s oddly Elena like, Katherine gently reminds Stefan that she’s there for him.

3 4 happy to know stefan

This has the impact of giving Stefan a major boner, and making him temporarily forget that he’s locked in a death trap of a safe with a dying human blood bag.

 “Wakey, wakey!”

Caroline pops open the safe,  unfortunately cock blocking the hundred plus year-old flames before they have a chance to let the REAL healing begin.  But Stefan isn’t mad at his gal pal.  His PTSD is cured!

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Now if he could just find a remedy for these . . .

blue balls

A little while later, Katherine confronts Stefan in the study, and lightly teases him about an ugly chair he broke, while in the throes of PTSD.  Stefan admits that he finally has to make a point to move on from Elena.  Katherine is uncharacteristically demure when she admits that sometimes she isn’t quite sure what she’s doing.   They move closer to one another slowly,  like boxers circling each  other, eyes locked, wondering whose going to be the one to make the first jab.  “My Superman” by Santigold plays in the background, reminding both characters that they’ve “got to live.”

study chest

macky

Annnnd the, next thing you know they’re sucking face .  . .

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Part of me wishes we actually got to see a bit of the good stuff, rather than merely implying that the two characters were boning, by zooming in on Caroline’s horrified and disgusted face, as her vampire hearing picked up the sound of their sex moans,  while she was leaving a telephone message for the kidnapped Elena.  And yet, I guess there is something to be said for leaving a bit to the imagination.

sex noise

After all, this “coming together” of Stefan and Katherine was actually much less about sexual tension (though they have it in spades, for sure), and more about them both being precisely what one another needed in that moment.  Stefan needed to recognize that his pain over Elena’s abandonment of him was keeping him metaphorically trapped, emotionally suffocated, and afraid of moving on with his life.  Katherine’s willingness to be there for him, when he needed it most, literally allowed Stefan to breathe inside that safe, and, subsequently feel freer than he had in a long time.

elena free stefan

As for Katherine, her mortality and impending death were making her feel weak, old, and frail, sapping her of her usual survival instincts and will to live.   Seeing how much Stefan needed and wanted her, brought Katherine back to herself.  It made her feel, strong, sexy, and virile.  It gave her the desire to fight for her own survival.

im a survivor

Also, let’s face it, these are two people who REALLY like sex,  and haven’t been laid in a few episodes . . . so there’s that . . .

New Year’s Cleave

Back in flashback land, it’s New Year’s Eve and Damon and Enzo are prepped and ready for their great escape.  Everything starts off as planned.  Damon, emboldened by his extra shot of blood each day, breaks his own bones upon minutes of being let out of the cage, heals them, and then proceeds to pop out Dr. Whitmore’s eyeballs, just as Dr. Whitmore did to him early on in the episode.

You know, because no one gets between Damon and his darling baby blues . . . NO ONE.

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Then he, takes the keys to the cages from Dr. Whitmore’s pants, frees hot Enzo and dashes off into the sunset.

Just kidding.  That would be the SMART thing to do.  Instead, Damon proceeds to kill all the party guests, knock over a candelabra, and set the entire place on fire.  Then, the bars are all hot, and Damon can’t save Enzo without becoming fried chicken in the process.  So, Damon does what any self-respecting antihero would do, he turns off his emotions, and walks out, leaving his buddy to chargrill.  Catch you later, Hot Enzo . . . who is now literally hot . . . as in BURNING TO DEATH HOT.

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“Cool guys never look back at explosions.”

And so yet another clueless human learns about the existence of vampires is and changed forever . . .

Back in the present day, Doctor Death gives Aaron an impromptu lesson in vampires . . . explains that vampires killed his parents  . . . and gives him a vervain watch and some lame vampire research journals as a belated birthday present.  Traumatized Aaron travels down to vampire jail to find out which member of the Scooby Gang killed his parents and possibly Megan.  He accuses Elena, at first.  WRONG!  (Though Elena DID kill Jesse, Aaron never quite gets around to asking her about that.)

jesse vamp

“Et tu, human version of Eeyore?”

Damon admits that while he didn’t kill any of Aaron’s roommates, he did kill Aaron’s parents, and pretty much all of his ancestors, along with a boatload of Augustines.  In a brief flashback, we learn that Damon’s plan for vengeance against the Whitmores had been to kill everyone in their family but one, in each generation, to ensure that he would continue having Whitmore’s to kill for all eternity.  He better hope Aaron’s not sterile, because he just killed his last living relative Sarah, a few months back . . . when Damon and Elena had just started dating.

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full of surprise

Ruh-roh . .  . it looks like, while love heals all wounds, it may not be strong enough to satisfy one’s thirst for vengeance . . . just ask Amanda Clark from Revenge.

EMILY VANCAMP

What’s worse, many fans are speculating that Damon might very well have been the one to cause Elena’s parent’s accident, seeing as he was present moments before the accident occurred, and Elena’s father is currently presumed to have been a member of the Vampire Torture Fraternity.  Is there a Hallmark card out there that reads, “Sorry for maybe killing your parents, and for going on killing spree road trips, when you and I were supposed to be at home having mind blowing sex?  If so, Damon better start shopping for it now . . .

Aaron thanks Damon for his confession, by shooting him in the head.  Nighty night, Damon.

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He wakes up a few moments later to find his girlfriend missing from her cell . . .

elena ahhh

Someone needs to get more music on his iPod . . .

When you think about it, it’s a bit ironic that the haunting oldies tune “Walking After Midnight,” of all tunes, was the one that played in the background throughout most of “The Cell,” especially when you consider how little walking our Scooby Gang did during this episode.  I mean, seriously, this might very well have been the least ambulatory episode of TVD of all time!  Everyone seemed to be either, locked up in jail cells, or lying down in safes, strapped down to examination tables, or dumbfoundedly watching others lay around, sit around, or lie around in those places.

sad bored hobby

How does that old saying go?  Something about idle hands being the devil’s playthings?

Well, the same thing could possibly be said about idles minds and mouths, if Enzo (Welcome back, Enzo!  We just knew you were too damn good looking and charismatic to be a one-off flashback character on this show.) and his creepy crooning of what may very well be the ONLY song he’s been listening to nonstop since 1953, while strapped down next to Poor!Elena on an examination table, waiting to get his weiner chopped off or some such nonsense in the name of pseudo-science-as-an-excuse-for torture.  Let’s all invest in an iTunes gift card for this guy for Christmas, what do you say?

That said,  it does appear that Doctor Death at least took the time to get Enzo a modern day haircut, and update his wardrobe.  (Though, to be honest, I was kind of partial to his greaser duds.  They were sexy.)  This, of course, begs the question: why bother to play dress up with a guy you only let out once a year to be your dancing monkey at parties?  Could Enzo be THE Augustine Vampire to which Doctor Death has been referring all this time?  The one who has become allegiant to the same society that tortured him for over half a century?   The one that killed sweet Megan and her adorable glasses?

what one

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Only time will tell . . .

Next week, on The Vampire Diaries mid-season finale, Sad Sack Aaron learns that it’s hard out there for a relatively wimpy human on a show full of vampires.  Just ask Matt . . .

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Also, next week, Katherine dabbles in some cardio . . .

See ya then, Fangbangers!

waves

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