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Friday, April 15, 2011

The Vampire Diaries has "The Last Dance"

     CW's The Vampire Diaries is a fantastic show. It has been having a wonderful year. The cast is great, plot twists come fast and heavy, the threat of death permanently hangs in the air, character growth continues, and twists abound. Yet, last night's episode, "The Last Dance," is definitely a weak point of the season and the series. SPOILER ALERT. If you have not seen last night's episode, do not read this until you do, unless you don't mind spoiled surprises.

     Elena (Nina Dobrev), who is afraid of Klaus (actor not yet seen), an elder vampire supposedly coming to kill her, decides its worth the risk to go to a school dance. This is before Klaus sends her a message that he is attending, and thus necessitates her presence, lest he harm others in her stead. It is easy to understand after she gets the message why she must go. But before that, why even consider taking such a dumb chance? She's certainly smarter than that. Once she gets to the dance, she actually dances, instead of remaining constantly vigilant for the extremely dangerous murderer lurking around. Stupid, stupid, stupid!

     Klaus does eventually reveal that he has taken over Alaric's (Matthew Davis) body. He forces a showdown between himself and Bonnie (Katerina Graham), a witch he knows has the power to kill him. From Klaus's perspective, this makes total sense. Force the witch to use too much power and die while taking out Alaric, and then the real Klaus is free to come into town and do whatever he wants without the threat of Bonnie interfering. From Bonnie's viewpoint, though, she obviously wants to stay alive so she can fight another day. She knows it would be a waste to die here and now.

     So Bonnie and Damon (Ian Somerhalder) come up with an 'ingenious' plan that Bonnie will cast a spell making it look like she is dead, and then Klaus will leave town thinking he has accomplished his goal. Though viewers are not let in on this plan until Bonnie 'awakes from the dead' later, it's very clear that she is smarter than to waste her life on such a foolish feat. Thus, all of the tenseness is taken out of the equation, and it's hard to believe for even a second that she has bitten the dust. So why does Klaus believe it? Is his ego really that huge? Is he so arrogant to believe he has won so easily? If so, he isn't as much of a scary danger, as he has been made out to be, as he carries a huge vulnerability.

     The episode isn't all bad. Damon once more shows that he chooses Elena over anyone else. He is willing to let Bonnie die to save Elena's life, and it is the reason he can sell the Bonnie trick so easily. More and more of Damon's soft heart keeps coming out, and it's almost to the point where one can root for Damon in getting a little of Elena's affection. He is willing to let Bonnie die, but he doesn't want to. He wants to protect the entire little band as much as possible, just prioritizing Elena first.

     Elena is stuck in a very delicate position. She knows that some of her friends may soon die in order to save her. Sure, there is more at stake than just Elena's life, but she is just as willing to sacrifice herself to save the day as anyone else is. Which is probably why she takes the dagger out of Elijah (Daniel Gillies) at the end of the episode. Elijah is dangerous, but Klaus is more so. True, she should have told someone so that she has protection from Elijah, but anyone strong enough to protect her would also have stopped her, so of course she has to go into the dungeon alone.

     Where has Jenna (Sara Canning) gone? She left angry at the end of last week's episode, upset that Alaric and Elena have been lying to her. She seems on the verge of being brought in on the secret world, unless she is killed first. But now that she's become interesting and involved, her presence is sorely missed in this episode, and wonder is sparked about what exactly she is up to.

     How will Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen) contribute to the upcoming showdown with Klaus? While he has no natural supernatural abilities, just a ring that keeps him alive, it is certain that he will be a part of any big confrontation. And what's more, he's finally strong enough to lend a helping hand in some way, even if that way isn't completely obvious yet. The way he hides with Bonnie is incredibly sweet and noble.

     Right now, the biggest unknown seems to be what Matt (Zach Roerig) has told Sheriff Liz Forbes (Marguerite MacIntyre). It looks like Liz now knows that her daughter Caroline (Candice Accola) is a vampire, but has not said anything to her about it. She also knows the M.I.A. Tyler (Michael Trevino) is a werewolf. But has Matt told her about Damon, Stefan (Paul Wesley), Bonnie, or anyone else? What Liz knows will determine if she continues to trust Damon, or what the town council will do. Which means she could interfere at an inopportune time, either hurting the good guys or herself in the process. Liz's reaction has been very different than the first time Caroline was outed to her (Liz's memory is wiped of that incident), so it's very curious what her plan is now.

     The Vampire Diaries continues its second season Thursday nights at 8 p.m. ET on the CW.

Article first published as TV Review: The Vampire Diaries - "The Last Dance" on Blogcritics.


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