Sunday, November 20, 2011

VAMPIRE DIARIES: Season 3 - A Humbly Disgruntled Mid-Season Review

I still love the show, but I have to confess I’m extremely disappointed with Season 3.  The mid-season finale was, however, one of the better episodes of the season.

They’ve flooded the show with a whole new cast of characters who’ve reduced the characters we’ve known and loved for two seasons to the level of bit-players, and some characters, like Jeremy Gilbert, have disappeared altogether.  True, Jeremy is one of the more annoying characters, but I think he has great potential.  They’ve subordinated character and romance to plot—which they never did during the first two seasons—and suddenly it’s Klaus’s show, even to the extent of his destroying, at least narratively, what launched the show in the first place: the love of Stefan and Elena.

We were just getting drawn into the relationship between Tyler and Caroline, when they made Tyler Klaus’s puppet and completely sidelined the growth of this character in his own right.  I actually preferred Alaric as Klaus to Klaus as Klaus; Alaric was actually chilling; Klaus comes across as more of a pouty, super-powered brat than a true monster.

Then there were the cave paintings—à la Smallville—containing secrets of ancient sorcery, but, lo and behold, there’s a stake that can kill an original after all, so why did we need all of that backstory to lead us to the cave paintings?  Season 2 slowly enriched the characters, built the narrative carefully to a great climax that involved all the chief players.  Season 3 is going for quick thrills and snappy plot-twists that have no depth, and the characters are constantly spinning around this narrative mælstrom, never settling into an individual arc story long enough to grow.

Everything started off so nicely, with Stefan torn between Klaus and Elena, and that was promising, but in the worst episode of the season, “The Reckoning,” which played like an incomplete slasher movie thrust into the middle of larger and more complex narrative arc, all that was destroyed; and where true and dangerous intimacy could have developed between Damon and Elena, all we got was tepid pathos.  And after the song and dance Jeremy led everyone trying to protect Bonnie at the end of Season 2, he just turns around and dumps her and goes back to Anna in Season 3.

Okay, this is only halfway through, or slightly less than, and I’m mainly talking about the things I disliked, but here’s hoping the show goes deeper into character relationships and leaves the slash-happy thrills on the cutting-room floor.

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