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Review #3078: The Vampire Diaries 3.6: “Smells Like Teen Spirit”

Posted on the 21 October 2011 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

This episode makes it very clear that the show is back on its infamous blistering pace, as plot elements that might have lasted a long time are explored and resolved within the hour. Two cases in point: Matt’s ploy to bring back Vicki, and Alaric/Elena’s plan to capture Stefan. Perhaps in a bid to be tidy, the writers had both plot threads interweave.

Review #3078: The Vampire Diaries 3.6: “Smells Like Teen Spirit”

The pace of the series allows for an organic reversal for Stefan and Damon. Stefan is now the bad boy, taunting everyone about his cruel intentions, and making it very clear that Elena exists to serve a selfish purpose. Damon, on the other hand, feels a lot like an American version of Spike from “Buffy”, tossing out insults and sarcasm while undeniably pining for the female lead. It’s a combination that really seems to work well, improving on the second season Salvatore status quo.

It’s good to see Elena finally recognize, after yet another round of examples, that Stefan is not going to come back to his senses from her love alone. He’s been compelled by a higher power, and this isn’t the kind of show that often relies on the “power of love” as a solution to every problem. Instead, it’s just another factor in the equation: it’s not enough to break Stefan from his compulsion, but it’s enough to convince Elena that Stefan should be saved, rather than allowed to burn.

Love is definitely part of the equation for Tyler and Caroline. Tyler’s survival seemed to be a good thing after the previous episode, but his devotion to Klaus complicates matters in a major way. Tyler is not his own person, despite much Caroline might wish him to be. In a way, this reinforces the point regarding the compulsion on Stefan; Stefan wasn’t sired, per se, but it demonstrates Klaus’ degree of power.

Tyler’s status underscores the uncertainty that the regulars must feel now that Stefan, Klaus, and Rebecca are in Mystic Falls, apparently to stay. They really don’t know what to do. They try to contain Stefan, but it all comes to nothing, thanks to an afterlife-driven attempt to kill Elena and end the threat of hybrid creation.

Speaking of Vicki, the previous episode seemed to indicate that Vicki was trying to find a way to influence the “real world” in order to help Klaus. In this episode, Vicki goes to great lengths to convince Matt to give her enough corporeality to make an attempt on Elena’s life. That threat is now already over, but it raises even more questions about Anna and her endgame. And is Vicki really done with Matt? These ghosts continue to be a wild card, and an element that needs to be clarified sooner rather than later.

Of course, the return of Mason would seem to indicate that Bonnie’s decision to force Jeremy back to life is spilling out into all kinds of unforeseen areas. Then again, given how crazy things are in Mystic Falls, he could be back due to completely unrelated circumstances. Whatever the case, this is not going to make things any easier for Damon.

Finally, there is the not-so-small matter of Michael (or is it Mikael?), the vampire who hunts other vampires. For someone usually far more clever, Katherine stepped right into that trap. Hopefully she will survive, since there’s no such thing as too much sexy, decadent Nina Dobrev, but it does seem like only a matter of time before Michael is free and launching his attack against Klaus.

As much as I like the velocity of the series as a whole, I do think that they ripped through some of the plot points a little too quickly in this episode. Vicki’s true goals could have been delayed a bit, in favor of expounding on the nature of the conflict between her and Anna, for example. On the other hand, it’s hard to know, since the relative strength or weakness of this choice will only be clear in the context of the full season.

Writing: 2/2
Acting: 2/2
Direction: 2/2
Style: 1/4

Final Rating: 7/10

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