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Review #2444: The Vampire Diaries 2.17: “Know Thy Enemy”

Posted on the 08 April 2011 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

As usual, more seems to happen in one episode of “The Vampire Diaries” than in any other show’s season finale. It may seem a bit ridiculous, as if there is a “one death per episode” quota mandated by the producers, but it keeps the series from falling into the kind of navel-gazing patterns that would make it nothing more than a “Twilight” clone.

Review #2444: The Vampire Diaries 2.17: “Know Thy Enemy”

This second season has been all about secret agendas, so coming back to the resolution phase of the season arc with even more of the same is hardly shocking. It’s time for the endgame to begin, and the ball definitely gets rolling here. That occasionally takes a bit of plot convenience to keep things moving, such as Katherine’s remarkably easy acquisition of the Moonstone. Why would the Salvatores think that was a good place to hide it? (Minor aside: Katherine was super-hot, as usual, throughout the episode.)

On the other hand, I loved their idea of putting Elena on the deed to their house, because it turns their little mini-fortress into a safe haven for her. Both of them can protect her without interference (they can’t be kept from entering their own home), and it doesn’t rely on Stefan and Damon trusting each other overly much. I’m sure it’s only a temporary measure, given how quickly things change on this show, but it was a smart plot point.

Isobel’s betrayal was always in the cards, given her history, but the writers played on our expectations well by adding a little compulsion from Klaus in the equation. Maybe it was all the various machinations at play, but I couldn’t quite tell how much of the deception was Isobel’s choice or Klaus’ compulsion, which is a bit chilling to consider. Especially when one considers that Isobel’s immediate response to being free of the compulsion was suicide; it’s not done for shock value, it’s there to make a point about Klaus.

The subplot involving Bonnie was definitely interesting, because it brings her up to the level necessary to be the “secret weapon” while attaching real stakes to her power-up. Of course, it also seems like this sets up Bonnie as the sacrifice in Elena’s place, even if she technically isn’t the ultra-special “doppelganger”. Damon’s presence helped to moderate what continues to be, for me, a cloying Bonnie/Jeremy romance. It really just feels like a way for the writers to keep Jeremy involved, when he doesn’t really fit otherwise.

Those were the major arc-heavy elements, but the writers included a substantial Caroline/Matt subplot as well. Caroline’s struggles as a newborn vampire have been a highlight of the season, truly making Caroline far more interesting than she was, and since I find Candice Accola ridiculously cute, I can’t complain. Matt’s betrayal of Caroline was a gut-punch, even for those of us who would like to pretend that pseudo-teenage angst is above us!

As it now stands, Klaus is possessing Alaric, which is going to cause all manner of strife and carnage, I’m sure. After learning about Isobel (at least on some level), will this be the straw that breaks Jenna’s back? Perhaps literally, given this show…and that’s only part of the reason why this plot twist works.

Writing: 2/2
Acting: 2/2
Direction: 2/2
Style: 2/4

Final Rating: 8/10

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