The Vampire Diaries: Let the Right One In

Usually when a cast member is quoted in an interview saying something like the new episode is “pivotal” and “it’s going to change, jolt and affect everyone in some way,” like Nina Dobrev did in this PopWrap interview, the episode in question can’t live up to the hype. (See: Gossip Girl promos, season 3.) But “Let the Right One In” changed, jolted, and affected. At the end of the episode, every character has been through hell, and there’s more coming.

Let’s start with Anna and Jeremy. She makes Dracula jokes to prove how little Jeremy knows about being a vampire, but he’s persistent. The two spend the episode testing each other’s resolve. Anna refuses to take the vervain bracelet Elena gave to Jeremy to protect him, showing us how much she cares for him, and her hope that maybe he’ll one day fit into category #4 of why vampires turn humans. Not for boredom, to be a minion, or for revenge, but for love. If she’s even contemplating turning Jeremy so he can be her eternal mate, it’s got to hurt bad when she finds out his real reason for wanting to be turned — Vicki. I hope this doesn’t bring out a vengeful streak in Anna; I do not want to see Jeremy turned, especially not now that he doesn’t want it. (Which I took to be the case from him tearing up the vamp-attack newspaper articles. His hope of being with Vicki is lost.) Of course, Anna is not filled only with pure intentions. She tells Jeremy she’ll turn him only after her mother slaps her across the face and tells her to stay away from him. Their mother/daughter dynamic is so strange — they clearly love each other but how weird would it be to have lived 146 without your mother bossing you around to have her return to that role?

Hats off to the writers for introducing the visual of a vampire feeding on a willing Gilbert in last week’s episode — with Anna and Jeremy in the kitchen — to pave the way for the much-higher-stakes moment of Stefan and Elena in the forest with Frederick about to rise and kill them. We’ve never seen Stefan hunt or feed before — something that happens much earlier in the books. To have Stefan captured because of his moral choice not to feed on human blood and then only be able to save his own life and Elena’s with the aid of her blood fit so perfectly with Stefan’s ongoing struggle to be more human than monster. I found Stefan scarier than Damon’s ever been when he was in the blood frenzy killing Frederick and snarling at Elena. So so sad and creepy and frightening at the end of episode, seeing him curled up with some empty soccer-mom blood bags. ::shudder::

A friend of mine who doesn’t watch The Vampire Diaries tuned into this episode for five minutes, saw Elena being fed on, and quickly judged the show to be Twilighty (argh) and just another show where the female character is defenseless. Which is, of course, the opposite impression you get from watching The Vampire Diaries from the beginning and seeing who Elena is and just how hard she’ll fight to protect those around her. She was so determined to save Stefan, regardless of the risk it posed to her. The scene in which Damon tells her (after mocking her and Stefan’s love) that he can’t be distracted from saving Stefan by worrying about protecting her was one of my favorite moments. Nina Dobrev’s reaction to that was just so perfectly layered — she’s hurt, she feels useless, she has that connection to Damon which felt like earlier it was lost, but above all she’s strong, she’s determined and she won’t lose her resolve — she doesn’t collapse into a heap of sobs even though her eyes darken with tears. She accepts her job as the getaway car driver . . . for the time being. And while I did NOT want her to get out of the car, her “insane” decision to do that proved necessary to Stefan’s rescue. She dealt with the vervain-soaked ropes, she helped Harper (who I love), she got Stefan out of the house, and she stabbed Frederick with a vervain dart, giving her the time to allow Stefan to feed on her blood. Her life saved his. (Oh my god, i love this show.) Buffy’s strength was impressive, she was courageous and wily, and I will always love her, but there is something so unique about Elena’s bravery. She’s a human, marching into the vampire nest, with no magic to protect her. Elena Gilbert is one badass character.

I loved the tension between the other badass rescue team members. Damon and Alaric have a great relationship: Alaric hates Damon but I bet he’ll never be able to kill him. And Damon can’t kill Alaric (unless he manages to get that ring off him first). The scene in the bar at the end with Alaric punching Damon in the face, and Damon’s “It happens” to the bartender, was brilliant. This episode was so dark and these moments of humor — and the fast-motion fight scenes — were just what I needed to break the tension.

More upsetting to me than the incredibly-hard-to-watch torture scenes was the Donovan family learning that Vicki isn’t out gallivanting somewhere, just not calling — she’s dead, buried near the falls in a grave shallow enough to be washed open with a heavy storm. Seeing Matt crumple into tears in Elena’s arms was probably the saddest moment in the show so far, for me. Beyond the grief of a brother losing his sister, we know that Elena is hiding the truth from everyone, carrying that burden, and we see the pain it causes Caroline to have Matt break down with Elena, again being pushed to the side no matter how hard she tries. Seeing Sheriff Forbes and Kelly Donovan united in grief, and Tyler and Jeremy together at the kitchen table, also broke my heart.

This show, man. Epic.

Questions:

  • What exactly is Pearl’s plan? When she met with Damon in “There Goes the Neighborhood,” it seemed like she wanted to destroy the townsfolk, get revenge, and take back the vamps’ land. But when she was talking to Frederick, she preached measured action, self-control, patience, and no revenge-seeking. Was I just so freaked out by her attack on Damon that I thought Pearl meant more harm to the humans?
  • What will the fall-out be from the discovery of Vicki’s death? The trailer suggests that Jer realizes Elena knows more than she’s let on. Will Matt and Caroline’s relationship survive him mourning his sister?
  • Is Stefan going all Angelus on us now that he’s back on the human blood? Will Damon continue to play the hero if Stefan is playing a more villainous part? Or did Damon mean what he said to Pearl, that he doesn’t have a good side?
  • When’s Bonnie coming home?
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