Monday, February 27, 2012

Five More Things I Really Like About The Vampire Diaries

NOTE: This post contains mild to major spoilers for the first two seasons.

1. Sheriff Elizabeth Forbes
If you've ever seen any other vampire show in the history of television, you'd probably expect the local sheriff to be completely unaware of the supernatural and/or totally incompetent when she has to deal with it. In that case, prepare to be pleasantly surprised.

2. The Siblings
I know this is technically more of a "romance" show, and I suppose there's not exactly anything wrong with that, but my favorite relationships are those between brothers and sisters, or characters who think of each other as family: Elena and Jeremy (the scene where he tells her to "chill herself" in the pilot was one of the biggest reasons I started to love the show), Matt and Vicki, Elena and Bonnie and Caroline, Stefan and Damon (their complicated relationship with each other is infinitely more interesting than any whatever either of them have going on with Elena at any given time), even Klaus and Rebekah.
I guess I didn't really explain that one, but it sort of explains itself, yeah?

3. The Heartwarming Moments
So when the writers try to tug at your heartstrings, they either get it really wrong or really right.  Some of the most noteworthy times they got it right (in other words, some of the most memorable scenes that made me cry like a little girl) include Elena's complete breakdown when Bonnie dies in "The Last Dance," Liz and Tyler to the rescue in "The End of the Affair," Elena's attempts to comfort Jenna in "The Sun Also Rises," and Matt's reunion with Vicki in "The Reckoning."
Also, special mention goes to that one silent scene in "Ghost World." You know the one I'm talking about.

4. Elena Gilbert: The Anti-Bella
Long story short, Twilight makes me afraid to ever have a daughter for fear that she will one day grow up to be anything like Bella. On the other hand, The Vampire Diaries gives me hope that she might be a little bit like Elena.
To break it down a little bit:
Despite meeting a totally hot vampire who's completely in love with her when she's seventeen, Elena actually has goals for her life that have nothing to do with him!
Despite meeting a totally hot vampire who's completely in love with her when she's seventeen, Elena DOES NOT WANT TO BE A VAMPIRE. The thought literally drives her to tears.
When Stefan doesn't call her for a few days, she says she doesn't want to be one of those girls who falls apart without a guy in their lives. OH SNAP.
She actually has friends.
I could go on, but I don't want to spoil season three.

Okay, so Bonnie may have a knack for forgetting that, oh hey, she can move things with her mind. And her friends might have a knack for not asking her to help them deal with vampire problems even though she's the only main character (and probably one of the only humans ever) who has managed to hurt an Original Vampire . . .
. . . but, other than that, there are so many things that this show gets spot-on, such as:
* Bonnie tends to do "big" spells (for example: activating Caroline's daylight ring) in total silence, no chanting whatsoever. Unfortunately, as the show goes on, they seem to be getting more and more inclined to have her chant in order to do just about anything; fortunately, she never chants in any language other than pseudo-Latin (or is it just straight-up real Latin? I'm not that much of a linguist).
* So far, we haven't met any witches who worship any sort of goddess. Not that there would be anything wrong with that, thematically speaking, but I personally prefer witches who are crazy powerful just because, you know?
* The whole "witches hate vampires" thing, best summed up in 3x8: "A witch is nature's servant; a vampire is an abomination of nature. You can either be one or the other, never both." Which FINALLY confirmed a theory I've had since practically forever.
* When a witch wants to set something on fire, she does not conjure a cheesy CGI fireball and throw it. She just points at whatever it is and, boom, fire. Or she sets fire to water, which I could not figure out for the longest time, until it hit me that, in real life, that's not actually water -- it's clear and it's liquid, but it's totally flammable. So my point is there's a remarkable lack of horrible special effects, and that's nice.
* I really like how witches are born, not made (or, technically, I guess they're born and then made). They exist because nature needs help maintaining the balance or what-have-you. Vampires and werewolves, on the other hand, exist because witches abused their power. They shouldn't exist. Which I suppose I should've mentioned two points ago, but I don't know how to use backspace.
* More often than not, when a witch does magic, the only thing about it that's supernatural is that there's a witch doing it.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

TVD 3x11: Some Spoiler-Free Thoughts

(Well, um, this may contain something like half a spoiler if you don't have a passing familiarity with season two . . .)

So, last episode ended with a fairly big moment. I enjoyed it much more than I ever thought I would (much like the show itself, amirite), but I was distracted by the music, which sucked out loud. And I do mean LOUD. If they absolutely had to use that particular godawful song, couldn't they have abruptly stopped it so that the sudden silence would've made the fairly big moment even more dramatic? I mean, that just makes SENSE. It was especially jarring because the music on this show is usually so so so bloody good . . .

. . . and then this episode kicked off with "Punching in a Dream" by The Naked and Famous, and my faith was restored.

Bonnie made me laugh so hard that I had to start the scene over after I regained my composure, which I'm pretty certain has never ever happened before in the entire history of the show. Ever.

This episode is called "Our Town," which is a reference that I would've loved even if the episode itself had sucked -- as a recovering theater geek (our motto, obviously, is: "One Play at a Time"), that is still, and always will be, one of my favorite plays ever, whether I'm watching it or acting in it. Love love love. (Actually, I love it even more because most of my fellow theater geeks hated it.)

Caroline just turned eighteen. Which means she turned seventeen sometime in season one. Which means that, when Damon compelled her to have sex with him and let him bite her, she was still only sixteen. I mean, not that there's that much of a difference between sixteen and seventeen -- the whole thing is disgusting no matter how you slice it -- but that just makes it even more horrible. Although I do have to grudgingly admit that he has come a long, long way since then. He's arguably had more character development than anyone else.

Something tells me I'm gonna have a whole heck of a lot to say about whatever the flaming hell is happening between Caroline and Klaus, but I'll wait and see how that develops.

Because I just can't help myself, I've been mentally comparing Elena to Buffy, Bonnie to Willow, and Caroline to Cordelia since the pilot. This episode REALLY made me draw parallels between Elena and Buffy. They are both determined to protect their loved ones from supernatural forces no matter what -- which is even more of a badass trait in Elena's case, since she doesn't have superstrength to back it up.

The more I think about it, this is how I see it: Bonnie and Caroline are my favorite characters on the show (usually), and Caroline is my favorite vampire ever, but . . . Elena is one of my favorite characters in all of fiction. Period, the end. I didn't expect to like her very much at all, but I like her more and more and more the longer I watch. She makes my soul happy. I know how cheesy that sounds, but I don't give a fuck.

I've been saying for a while that vampire-Caroline is a much better person than human-Caroline, right? In this episode, her best friends said pretty much the same thing. I'm blown away that they actually acknowledged that in-universe.

In order for there to be any conflict whatsoever, the heroes often need to act dumber than dirt. (For example, two episodes ago Damon and Elena concocted a "secret plan" to kill Klaus. It was actually a pretty decent plan, but it still failed miserably -- probably because THEY DIDN'T ASK BONNIE TO DO ANYTHING EVEN THOUGH SHE'S THE ONLY PERSON WHO WE'VE EVER SEEN HURT HIM AT ALL.) That is once again the case. I'm sorry, but how obvious is it that the fourth coffin, the one that's sealed by magic, is holding Mama Witch? So bloody obvious.

So I can't really go into detail since I said this would be "spoiler-free," but this episode really changed my perspective on some stuff and made me want two things:
1. I want Stefan dead.
2. I want Elena to kill him.
So really, I guess that's just one thing.
Seriously, he has crossed a line. There are no words to convey the depths to which he has sunk. I am appalled.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Stupid Dreams I've Had Lately

  • Sailor Moon and her friends discover the Thunderzords and use them to defeat someone or other. Someone particularly unpleasant.*
  • I don't know, something about my dad.
  • My little sister dies. (I've had this dream at least six times since New Year's.)
  • Tiffany Aching visits Bonnie Bennett and explains that, when you're a young witch with an ancient evil you need to defeat, duh, sometimes the very best thing you can do is ask older witches for help. And then, in a moment of uncharacteristic snark, she teases her because her "ancient evil" is only a thousand years old.**
  • I'm in a strange city and desperately need a cab. I'm holding a page from a phone book that's full of nothing but numbers for cab companies, but none of them work. I begin to get really frantic, and then I remember that I have the number for a reliable cab company in my phone already. THIS IS ONE OF THE DUMBEST DREAMS I HAVE EVER HAD.
  • One of my best friends marries her boyfriend, has three daughters, and kills somebody who tries to hurt one of them (and by "hurt," I mean "rape"). She kills him with a kitchen knife. A really big, really shiny kitchen knife. This one was interesting because all I actually saw in the dream was this image of her standing there holding the knife and letting the blood drip down all over her hands and onto the floor; then I sort of asked her what had happened and just kind of knew everything.
  • Storm of the X-Men - who, by the way, is rocking her leather and mohawk look from the eighties - saves a little girl who's been stuffed in a trunk.
  • The Animorphs have superpowers related to their personalities - Cassie's an empath, Rachel is superstrong, etc. - and they can all teleport, but nobody can morph. There's basically no point to this dream (although it is obviously pretty cool), which I have now had about three times in about six years.
  • My mom calls me and initiates a screaming match that ends with me getting really quiet and throwing this at her: "So, Mother, since you're throwing so many stones around today, I guess you're 'without sin,' huh? Golly, you're like the second sinless person in history. Why aren't you famous?"
You can analyze any or all of these if you want, but I am really not in the mood.

*Okay, that one was less "stupid" and more "made of awesome."

**Tiffany's foes tend to be so old that trying to figure out their exact age would require the sort of math that makes a normal person's head explode. For example, when she's thirteen (and therefore at least four years younger than Bonnie is when she fails to kill "the oldest vampire in the history of time") she butts heads with THE PERSONIFICATION OF WINTER.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Six Things I Really Like About The Vampire Diaries

NOTE: This post may, and probably will, contain mild to major spoilers for the first two seasons.
(Although, having said that, I started watching season one more than halfway through the original airing of season two; I went in knowing full well that Character A becomes a vampire, Character B and Character C hook up, etc. . . . and that did absolutely nothing to spoil my enjoyment. So I'm just saying.)

1. Supernatural Hierarchy
In the first two seasons, we meet vampires, witches, werewolves, Original Vampires, and ghosts.
Ghosts are a bit of a mystery, so let's focus on the other four.
Actually, you know, I was going to examine this a bit more in-depth, but here's what it boils down to: Witches are vastly more powerful than vampires, werewolves, or Original Vampires. They're naturally immune to compulsion, they can hit vampires with a mind whammy that hurts them far more than vervain, novice witches can throw people around with their thoughts. And so on and so on.
As for werewolves: This has so far not even been hinted at in the show, but it is my personal belief that a werewolf bite is fatal to vampires because the witch who came up with the curse (when are we ever going to get around to hearing that story?) specifically made it that way. "Nature demands balance" and all that.
So yeah, long story short, witches are the bitches in charge.
Which is interesting, when you think about it. Vampires and werewolves have been around in Story for centuries and centuries, and they're basically nothing more and nothing less than metaphors for some of our most primal fears. Witches have been around even longer, in real life and in Story, and they were originally just people who knew things other people didn't. And yet, in almost every fictional universe you've ever heard of, they're the ones you go to when you need to stop vampires or werewolves or unspeakably evil forces who are older than time.
All I'm saying is, that's pretty cool.

2. The Humor
It doesn't happen very often, but occasionally, this show makes me drop everything and laugh so hard I fall out of my chair. Usually due to a deadpan line uttered by Caroline or (much less frequently than you would think) Damon. For example, that time in "Masquerade" (one of my favorite episodes, by the way) when he tells her to "skip the teen drama."

3. Vervain
Compared to Buffy, vampires on TVD are - I don't just want to say "more powerful" - FUCKING SCARY. They're so fast you'll never see them coming; they're so strong they can shatter your spine with two fingers; they can use MIND CONTROL on you (for example, to make you forget that they had sex with you and then drank your blood); if they've ever met a witch, chances are she's created a piece of jewelry that lets them walk around in the sunlight without bursting into flames; they almost instantly heal from things like being stabbed in the gut, and having their eyes gouged out only takes a few hours until they make a full recovery; they're not affected by holy water or garlic or religious symbols of any kind; and they're more or less impossible to kill.
So thank goodness they're so ridiculously susceptible to vervain.
Drink just a little of it and drinking your blood will debilitate them long enough for a stake to the heart.
Hold it in your hand, or wear a locket that contains a little, and they won't be able to compel you.
Dilute it in water and it basically turns into Vampire Acid.
Touch them with it and they burn.
Along with the whole invitation thing, this little herb is probably the only reason anyone in Mystic Falls can sleep without nightmares.
Best part? It ACTUALLY EXISTS. The writers did not make it up.

4. Caroline Forbes
When Bonnie's busy forgetting that she can move things with her mind (even though that's THE VERY FIRST THING SHE GOT THE HANG OF after finally learning about her heritage) and Elena's upset about her epic vampire romance love triangle woes (gag me with a spoon), she is always there to step up and say something awesome or do something awesome and make my soul do a happy dance.
I've loved her since that scene in the pilot, but my love for her really skyrockets during season two. I find it very interesting that becoming a vampire seemingly turns her into a better person.
Also-also, believe it or not, but I tend to hate vampires as a general sort of rule (drinking blood = icky). Caroline is hands-down my favorite vampire in all of fiction.
Also-also-also, I love how the writers felt the need to insert a vampire-werewolf love triangle into the show (because that's always so FASCINATING, am I right?) . . . but in this case, the vampire is the girl. The human is one of her would-be suitors.
And, speaking of romance . . .

5. Despite it being a "romance" show, pretty much every female character eventually becomes a total badass.
'Nuff said.
Elena deserves special mention, though. She finds out that her boyfriend is a vampire and becomes MORE capable of looking after herself. Remember that time, right after she figured everything out, when that crazy vampire attacked her at the school dance and she STABBED HIM WITH A PENCIL?

6. Music
There was a moment in the pilot where I threw up my hands and said (out loud), "Alright, that's it! I give up; I'll stop fighting; I LIKE THIS SHOW, OKAY?" That moment happened when one scene ended with "Kids" by MGMT playing in the background and the next scene started with "Running Up That Hill" by Placebo.
Since then, I have rarely heard a song that I'm familiar with, but I have frequently come across new songs I have to track down and listen to a thousand times because they are just that good. Examples include, but are in no way limited to . . .
"Help I'm Alive" - Metric
"Fire in Your New Shoes" - Kaskade featuring Martina of Dragonette
"Young Lovers" - Love Grenades (Sam Sparro Remix)

More later.
Much love,

Sunday, February 12, 2012

7 Bits of Buffy Headcanon

So I've been watching The Vampire Diaries a lot lately (and I mean A LOT - as I write this, I am waiting for the third episode of season three to download*), and it's got me thinking about Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Now, to be fair, there aren't a whole lot of things on this Earth that don't get me thinking about Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but The Vampire Diaries is an especially egregious example, as both shows contain healthy helpings of vampires, witches, werewolves,** girls who kick ass, and the ominous feeling that ABSOLUTELY ANYBODY CAN DIE AND THEY MIGHT OR MIGHT NOT COME BACK. Yes, even main characters!

So anyway. What in the world is "headcanon"? Basically, it's, um, canon that happens in your head. It may outright contradict actual canon (for example, you may wish to pretend that a certain episode or a certain scene never happened); it may, technically, "work" within established canon (for example, Darla could have totally been a Slayer - think about it), but the actual writers have never officially confirmed it, and probably never will.

I do hope that made sense. Canon for a TV show is usually much more difficult to pin down than it is for a book or a book series - if J. K. Rowling says that only wizards and witches can become ghosts, then that's the way it is; if Damon spends the first few episodes affecting the weather and using a creepy crow as his harbinger, but the writers later decide not to do that anymore, then . . . okay.

Anyway. Buffy. As anyone who's known me for longer than two and a half seconds can tell you, it's my favorite TV show of all time. I've been obsessed with it for about a decade now, and there are MANY MANY MANY MANY MANY things that were never addressed because, well, there's only so much time to explore things in a 144-episode series, and so much of that time is taken up by a) saving the world from unspeakably evil forces or b) the horror that is growing up or c) both of these things at the same time that fans like myself have plenty of room to play around and let our imaginations wander.

Sooo yeah, that's why we're here.

7 Bits of Buffy Headcanon

1. Xander's parents were verbally abusive.
Sadly, this is just shy of being out-and-out canon. We never actually get to spend too much time with them (although, now that I think about it, did we finally get to meet them in season six? It's been quite a while since I sat down and actually watched the series for any length of time), mostly hear them holler at him from the top of the stairs, but the signs are definitely there: They are not nice people. They're not exactly Vernon and Petunia Dursley, but they have treated him like crap. It's amazing that he grew up to be such a good person.
(If you want proof of this one, watch "Restless" and pay attention to his dream.)

2. When Oz came back in "New Moon Rising," he lost control because Willow was with someone else - NOT because she was with a girl.
Apparently, he went off to learn how to repress his wolf side and convinced himself that she'd just be keeping her legs crossed and waiting for him to come back to her INDEFINITELY even though he never so much as called her.
(Also, you know, when he reveals that he has learned how to stop himself from transforming, he says something about how she's probably stopped paying attention to when the moon is full.
Because that's not at all interesting to a witch.)
All of that being said, believe it or not, but: Oz is actually one of my favorite characters. I was (obviously) psyched when Willow and Tara got together, but I genuinely felt bad for him when he came back and was clearly still in love with her; my reaction was something along the lines of GOD I LOVE THIS SHOW AND HOW TRAGICALLY DELICIOUS IT IS.

3. In the first episode of season six, when Dawn tells Spike that she's not the Key anymore, she's wrong.
Just because, with Glory out of everyone's hair, it would be pretty cool if Buffy's annoying kid sister had the power to unlock portals between dimensions.
And hey, speaking of Glory . . .

4. Giles never told anyone about killing Ben.
Which I mention mostly because, in the commentary for "Lies My Parents Told Me," David Fury says that he considered having him tell Buffy in that episode, but decided not to because, since it takes place a season and a half after the fact, he figured no one would care.
Which I heard and went, "Are you kidding me?! That scene would be awesome!"

5. Witches cannot be turned into vampires, and

6. Witch blood is debilitating to vampires. It will, in fact, burn them from the inside out if they drink it (much like holy water).
Mostly just because these would be cool.
We never got to find out for sure, though, because no vampire ever tried either of them*** - basically, attacking a witch who's grown into her power is a really good way for a vampire to commit suicide.

7. Willow was not supposed to happen.
Let me explain . . .
When we meet her in the pilot, Willow is a shy, awkward, bookish girl who (along with Xander) quickly becomes Buffy's best friend. In the last episode of the series, she casts a spell to turn every Potential in the world into a Slayer. That shouldn't be possible, and she herself doesn't think she'll be able to do it.
Basically, after her power surge in the last half of season five, Willow Rosenberg quickly becomes one of the most powerful forces in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer universe (which probably should not come as a huge surprise to an attentive viewer, considering that her first foray into witchcraft was to restore a vampire's soul****): She's the only person who doesn't need a divine weapon to hurt Glory, WHO IS A LITERAL GOD; she brings Buffy back from the dead*****; she nearly destroys the world after Tara is killed; and The First Evil (who is basically the closest thing to Satan we ever got on this show) tries to convince her to kill herself because his plan would be much easier to accomplish with her out of the way.
But, as I say, she was not supposed to happen.
On Buffy, we got to meet several witches, but the only two who we got to know nearly as well as Willow, Amy and Tara, both inherited the craft from their mothers. Willow did not, and that is why I think she was an accident. I mean, living in Sunnydale, anybody with half an inkling can attract the attention of otherworldly forces without meaning to, so it's quite easy to be a "Wanna Blessed Be" - but, as Amy points out in season seven, it doesn't matter how hard natural witches like herself study and study and study: Willow has the kind of power the rest of them dream about. And she makes using it look easy.
The way I see it, her power has something to do with Buffy. She first did magic in the last episode of season two, and kept studying it in season three, but she didn't really start to become ridiculously powerful until after the penultimate episode of season four, when she and Giles and Xander joined their essences with Buffy's. A witch had never joined herself with a Slayer before, and that did something. I don't know. Maybe the Powers That Be had some idea what Buffy was going to do by the end of the series and figured she would need some extra protection. Maybe Willow is like Tiffany Aching - not born with a knack for witchcraft, but she found it and made it work for her, and had a lot of power because she needed it. I'm not sure. All I know for sure is that Willow went from being the most vulnerable character on the show to being (arguably) a demi-goddess . . . and she wouldn't have gotten there without Buffy.

Okay, that's all I've got for now.

You may be wondering why, if I've been watching it so damn much lately, I'm not writing about The Vampire Diaries. All I can tell you is, don't you worry.

More later. Much love,

*How the hell did I ever survive without iTunes? Heh.

**Interestingly, both shows introduce us to vampires, witches, and werewolves IN THAT ORDER.

***I know, I know, Spike tried to drink Willow's blood on more than one occasion - but not after he got his chip, which was before she really started to get powerful.

****Which, as you may recall, had only ever happened once before in the history of vampires - and she was the only human who ever did it a) by herself or b) TWICE.

*****As I said before, Willow and Xander both become Buffy's best friends in the very first episode. So it's pretty interesting that, both times she's died trying to save the world, one of them has brought her back to life.