The Vampire Diaries 3.16 "1912"A tv review article by: Shawn Hill
The recent murders in Mystic Falls remind Damon of a similar string of killings one hundred years ago. Through flashbacks to 1912, Damon remembers a beautiful vampire named Sage, from whom he learned a whole new lifestyle. Sheriff Forbes warns Damon not to get involved in the murder investigation, but Damon thoroughly believes that the sheriff is pursuing the wrong suspect. Elena and Matt have to break the law as they seek evidence that will help them prove that Dr. Fell is the killer. For reasons known only to her, Rebekah tries to find one of Mystic Falls' oldest landmarks. Elena comes to a new understanding of the path her life has taken, and Damon makes an emotional confession to Stefan.
The Vampire Diaries airs Thursday nights at 8:00 on the CW.
This episode was curiously disjointed. There was way too much going on. It was definitely a "1st installment after Winter Break" sort of affair, with lots of chess-piece shifting and reminding us of who all the players are and what they've been up to. There were sepia-toned flashbacks (thus the title); there was a new character introduction (Sage, whom Rebekah finds kind of trashy, but who is old enough to have had a fling with Finn, senior sibling of all the Originals); there was a lot of Salvatore Bro-bonding, mostly consisting of Damon emoting and Stefan pretending not to emote; there were a few deaths, and there was a fair amount of Sherriff Forbes and Matt (our resident humans) being exasperated with all the undead shenanigans. That's a lot to cram into an hour, and I'm tempted to dip below the dreaded 3-star average … except there were a few moments deep enough, important enough on an arc-level, to keep the momentum of the season going, if in fits and starts. The engine was a bit rickety this week, but they just don't build 'em like they used to.
Elena's gets reality checks wherever she goes this episode, and thankfully not from nemesis Rebekah, who's back to following Damon around (a trick that never works for any of his girlfriends). First the new schizophrenic doc (who is either trying to save Alaric or destroy him) calls her an idiot for dating vampires and for accepting loose cannon bad boy Alaric into her immediate family. You really can't tell why Meredith is so annoyed with Elena in this scene, I mean, it's before she catches Elena and Matt having broken into her apartment to figure out she's evil (at which point she turns them into Sherriff Forbes, who's had just about enough of her humans getting into more trouble than the vamps today).
Let's stop and consider Sherriff Forbes for a moment. Caroline's mom, Bill's ex-wife, Damon's ally even after he stopped compelling her … she's a complex character with an unusual role in this town, and Marguerite Macintyre always makes her tough as nails without losing her motherly, caretaking vibe. She's appealing, even when she's doing the wrong thing, and lately she's been doing the right things, most of the time. She covers for Matt and Elena when they could really be in big trouble.
Elena next stumbles onto Damon helping Stefan feed on an innocent victim, with extra blood just drooling from his mouth, which is pretty awful for all involved (not least the girl whose night is ruined, though Damon does bother to save her life) and another way of letting Matt witness what Elena has gotten herself into. Matt later nearly admits he still loves Elena, but his loyal concern leads her to see that her attraction to Stefan had something to do with the fact that he's immortal (unlike her parents, and most of the rest of her imperiled family).
And later, while reading the Gilbert diary they took from Meredith's hidden room (which they new she'd have, because, Founder), Elena begins to realize what's been going on with Alaric and the serial killings that took Caroline's father, the medical examiner, and almost Alaric himself: seems the revival ring he wears that can reverse supernatural death … also drives the wearer crazy with repeated use. Oops. How many times has Alaric died already?
The new character, Sage, is played by Cassidy Freeman, who almost made being a member of the Luthor clan sexy on Smallville (uphill battle there, considering how sniveling Luthors usually are), and while she gets a nice showcase beating on men in the Suffragette era in sepia tones, apparently she'll get a better showcase next week when she shows up in color. This show doesn't have a habit of keeping interesting female vamps (other than the unkillable Katherine) around as long as we might like, but the casting is a positive sign in this case.
In other news, Rebekah is the only Original still hanging around (which is fine since she's by far the most interesting one), but Damon had better stop screwing with her affections, as her bite is much definitely far worse than her bark. But that's also a story for next week's episode, "Break on Through." As it's been written by the author of two of the previous high points of the season ("Our Town" and "Ghost World"), Rebecca Sonnenshine, I have high hopes for a return to glory in my scoring.
Shawn Hill knows two things: comics and art history. Find his art at http://cornekopia.net.