Thomas Galvin
Purveyor of Fine Pulp Fiction

keep at it until you get lucky. -Joe Konrath

Welcome to Paradise (S06E03)

Previously, on The Vampire Diaries…

Greaser Joe’s Grim Garage

Stefan Salvatore: Hi Greaser Joe! I need a few days off, and someone to take my recently-murdered girlfriend into the woods, bury her body, and leave his fingerprints all over the crime scene!

Greaser Joe: Yeah, no, that doesn’t sound like something I want to do at all!

Stefan Salvatore: ~~~look into my eyes~~~

Greaser Joe: On second thought, Holy fucking shit did you just admit to murder for no good reason?!?

Stefan Salvatore: Of course not! I have a very good reason. That reason is exposition for everyone who missed last week’s episode. Also, I’m kind of lonely and you’re the only person I have to talk to.

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Previously, on The Vampire Diaries…

May 10 1994

Damon Salvatore: Oh no! I’m trapped in an empty hell dimension, forced to live out eternity with no company except my own dark thoughts!

Bonnie Bennett: But Damon, I’m here!

Damon Salvatore: You’re right! It’s even worse that I imagined!

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Previously, on The Vampire Diaries

I, uh … huh. Hmm. Let’s see. Elena and Caroline went to college, and so did Ghost Bonnie? And Elena’s roommate got murdered super quick, because being anywhere around Elena is terribly dangerous? And I guess the college was run by Elena’s adoptive daddy’s bad-guy buddies, and they went around torturing vampires and stuff? And Damon got turned into a bigger monster, but then he got better? And he also found his long-lost best friend, who then killed himself by getting fisted by Stefan? And Katherine was aweseome went to Hell? And then there were a bunch of Gypsies Travelers who did a whole Invasion of the Body Snatchers thing and took over Mystic Falls? And then they used Elena’s and Stefan’s blood to make magic not a thing anymore? And then everyone died? Except Blondie the Albino Witch did a spell, and Bonnie brought them all back? Except Damon, because he was super tired of this shit? I guess?

Whatever. Alaric is back, so your argument is irrelevant.

Camp Ground of Chaos

Cute Young Guy: Hey there cute young girl, can I interest you in some underage alcohol, followed by some illicit sex!

Cute Young Girl: You sure can! But first we should totally go check out that strange noise!

Cute Young Guy: That sounds like a totally reasonable and not at all dangerous plan!

Cute Young Girl: I sure hope it isn’t a vampire or something! Tee hee!

Sheriff Forbes: Nope! It’s just me, the friendly neighborhood murder hider!

Cute Young Guy: Awesome! I thought we were in real trouble!

The Shadowy Form of a Fanged Former Cheerleader: Rawr!

Sheriff Forbes: Oh well, you guys are on your own! Tee hee!

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I love how often this show starts with all of the main characters talking about how much smarter Katherine is than any of them. They hate her, and they hate themselves for never being able to beat her.

There was a lot to like about this episode. It’s nice to see the fangs making a comeback on this show (and The Originals). For too long, this show has forgotten the first word in its title. Tyler is adorable when he pretends to be good at things. The moment he walked into that cell, it was only a matter of time before Damon kicked his ass. Jeremy is on the fast train to Threewayville. And it’s cool that Bonnie is still a repository of magical knowledge, even if she can’t use it.

I love what’s happening with Damon. He’s always been a few steps over the crazy line, and his infection has pushed him ever further into badass, chaotic territory. He could have just ripped the good Doctor’s heart out, but no, that wasn’t quite enough. Damon has a long memory and an overdeveloped sense of poetry.

It’s cool to see Katherine occasionally, genuinely rocked by emotions she can’t handle. She does generally care about some people. She loved Stefan, in her own twisted way, and she genuinely felt the loss of her daughter. I wouldn’t say that it redeems her, but it does humanize her.

And that was her downfall. She’s survived for five hundred years by shutting off her humanity and doing whatever she needed to do. The moment she walked back from that, the moment she let her compassion for someone else trump her sense of self preservation, it was all over. The Gilbert Gang defeated her by making her like them.

Katherine walked into Castle Salvatore like the boss she is, and she went out the way she always had to: confronted with how terrible she’s been for the past five hundred years. No sympathy, no support. She doesn’t need that. She’s Katherine Pierce. She just reminded them that she was the best, worst thing that ever happened to them, and then …

And then Stefan reminded us why he, more than anyone else on this show, is not to be fucked with. Because when you take away the hero hair and the honor and the self control, when you take away his mask, Stefan is the Ripper. There’s already a bucket of blood on his hands, and yours won’t trouble him at all.

But Katherine got the last laugh. Even when she loses, she wins. It might be a pyrrhic victory, she may not have won, but she prevented her enemies from winning. Always bet on Kat.

It was fantastic storytelling, a perfect set of character moments. It would have been a fitting end to the legend of Katherine Pierce.

But Katherine’s story? It isn’t over yet.

All hail the queen.

Katherine has long been the best character on this show, and it’s fantastic to watch her steal Elena’s life.

She’s one of the few characters who isn’t critically blind to the weak spots in her plans. Matt is a former Traveler-host, and knows about body jumping? Bang, he’s compelled. Elena is fighting for control of her own body? Boom, Kat imported an actually competent witch to shut that whole thing down.

Watching Katherine destroy Damon was beautiful. It’s no secret that I love Damon, but as I’ve said time and time again, drama comes from making the characters you love miserable. And that was proven true when Damon left the party and went right back to his old, murderous ways. This is the Damon I want to watch, the fun-loving bastard who’ll kill you as soon as talk to you. He’s been neutered for at least a season now, and its great to see him back in form.

To all those who’ve asked, no, Bonnie hasn’t mentioned that Katherine didn’t pass through her, but I am 100% certain that she will bust out that information at a plot-appropriate time. Another thing to note; Elena hasn’t passed through Bonnie yet, either, so she’s still in play. Sadly.

Because Elena really is too dumb to live. Huh, I just woke up in the Magic Tomb of Not Leaving, staring at Katherine’s corpse, while her daughter looks on and a Traveler mutters Romanian death curses over me? Well, they’re probably not trying to steal my body from me, so I’d better let them all live!

Seriously, Elena has killed plenty of times in the past, and she knows how dangerous Katherine and Nadia are. There is absolutely no reason for her not to off everyone in that room and then burn Kat’s body. Except for the fact that that would be the end of the best character on the show.

I’m curious to see if and how Katherine let’s Stefan know that it’s really her in Elena’s body … and if Stefan will fight to keep Katherine around rather than Elena. Katherine is his One True Love. Even fate wants them together. It’d be a shame to pass up that opportunity.
It was also fun to watch Katherine wreck the S.S. Cyler. Okay, sure, Klaus murdered Tyler’s mother, but Tyler seems to have forgotten that time he let Oliver Queen lock her in a cage and torture her.

That’s the thing about this show: there is absolutely no room for anyone to take the moral high ground, because all of them have done terrible things. And that’s part of why I love this show.

I said god damn.

That felt like a mid-season finale, not the first episode off of a hiatus. It was without question the best episode of the season, and for one single reason:

Katherine Fucking Pierce, ladies and gentlemen.

The latest TVD drinking game, “take a shot when Katherine Pierce was awesome,” is a microcosm of what makes this show awesome. On the one hand, we have a vulnerable girl being comforted by her rejected and reconciled lover, and in the living room … everyone is talking shit about her.

“Katherine pretended to be stuck in a tomb!” “Katherine murdered my sister!” “Katherine murdered me! But I Guess it kind of worked out.” And you know what? They’re right. Katherine is a terrible person. She’s a bitch, a backstabber, a schemer, and a murderer.

And that’s why we love her.

Let me tell you a little secret, friends. TVD isn’t about heros. It’s about bad guys that makes us love them anyway.

Damon is the first person to admit that he’s evil. He’s a goddamn serial killer! And his sometimes girlfriend jokes about it! And Saint Stefan, he of the Hero Hair and Martyr Misery? He’s killed so many people other vampires think he’s off the rails!

The vampire legends have always been about forbidden desires and shameful indulgences, and that’s what TVD gives us. But unlike a lot of past vampire tales, TVD doesn’t stop with dirty, dirty sex.

Anyone who’s ever stood in line behind someone that can’t figure out how to work the goddamn self-checkout has wanted to snap a neck or two. Who hasn’t wanted to tell their boss, or the cops, or anyone in authority, to fuck off? Who wouldn’t want a pair of hot [insert your preferred gender here] fighting over you?

TVD lets us indulge all of those fantasies. Our “heros” can skip class, do all of the sex, and murder their way through college, and they never face any consequences.

Damon used to be the epitome of this self-indulgent fantasy, but that crown now firmly belongs to Katherine Pierce. This episode was a celebration of that fact, and it was entirely appropriate for the rest of the cast to reminisce over how she’s done that wrong.

And it was entirely appropriate for Katherine to once again fuck over Elena Gilbert.

This is what TVD was meant to be. Who cares if Klaus should have been in New Orleans and Stefan should have broken every Traveler neck in the old Witch House. It didn’t make sense, but it was fun.

The Mikaelsons are some of the best characters to come out of The Vampire Diaries.

Klaus is a formidable, virtually undefeatable villain, scheming and crafty, charismatic and chaotic. He can go from loveable rogue to bloody psychopath in the blink of an eye. Elijah is noble and tortured, reserved but powerful. And he looks damn good in a suit. Rebekah, well, she finally banged Matt.

The Originals are fantastic characters, so it’s kind of disappointing that their own series is kind of lackluster. I had fully intended to recap the series, but when I sat down to watch it, I just couldn’t find that spark that carried me through the first four seasons of TVD.

I’ve spent some time pondering this, and here are the things I think The Originals needs to improve:

Klaus has absolutely no valid threats

This is the big one. Klaus is the series’ main character, and in any drama, you have to put the main character through hell. You have to throw threat after threat at them, complication after setback, until they’re at their wit’s end, until everything seems lost… and then, when the hero pulls out a victory despite all the odds, the viewer celebrates.

You can’t do that with Klaus, because he is literally immortal, and pretty close to the most powerful creature in his universe. Look at some of the “threats” he’s faced this season:

Marcel is supposed to be the main antagonist, but he’s Klaus’ scion (or whatever term TVD uses). He would be weaker than Klaus even if Klaus was a normal vampire. Katherine, before she was defanged, was always able to toss around the Salvatore brothers, because she was that much older. Klaus has somewhere around eight hundred years on Marcel. It’s no contest.

And his minions fare no better. “No Originals at this party” Marcel ordered, and when the Originals decided to crash, Marcel and his followers… looked the other way, because there is no way for them to enforce Marcel’s ban. And when Marcel’s minions tried to gang bang Klaus into submission, well, that was just more cannon fodder from the Klaus meat grinder. It was a fantastic scene … or it would have been, if there had been any kind of doubt as to the outcome.

Tyler. The original Hybrid Henchman came to New Orleans, and the commercials touted the epic battle that would break out in the bayou. But when Klaus and Tyler actually went at it, Klaus whipped his ass handily. It was even more unbalanced that Klaus v. Marcel. The only reason Tyler is still alive is that Klaus wants to play around with him. Klaus doesn’t see Tyler as a threat, he sees him as a toy. And he’s absolutely right.

The Witches. The group with the most potential to harm Klaus. Marcel directed Davina to figure out a way to kill an Original, which had the potential for dramatic conflict, but that storyline seems to have been dropped. And aside from Davina, the rest of the witches are either powerless or brainless. And they’ll all be powerless in a few episodes, unless someone ganks Davina and satisfies whatever blood god or angry ancestor grants them their magic. Klaus has nothing to worry about.

The Humans

LOLOLOLOL. It took Klaus roughly ten seconds to murder the fuck out of everyone that thought they had the right to an opinion. Klaus built New Orleans, Mister Mayor. Sit your ass down and shut up.

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- Mystic Falls – Gathering of Honestly We Just Needed a Crowd To Die -

Bonnie Bennett: Dead diary: today I learned that being a non-corporeal spirit isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be, especially when you’re watching your father get murdered.

Jeremy the Vampire Slayer: I’d totally give you a hg right now, but you know, non-corporeal spirit and all.

- The Lost Woods -

Katherine Pierce: Wow, running through the woods wearing nothing but a slinky bathrobe is way less fun now that I can actually get hurt and run out of breath.

Tessa Tattle Tale: Hi Katherine! I’m gonna give you to Silas! Pepper spray!

Katherine Pierce: Hi Tessa! I’m going to pound your head into the asphalt! Asphalt!

Matt Donovan: Hi Katherine! I have a shotgun and a death wish! Make my day!

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Once again the Dark Times came, and joy fled the land like a Bulgarian princess fleeing the wrath of a Jewish Viking angered that her suicide prevented him from murdering her himself.

Not that joy was a constant, nor even common, companion in the enchanted Falls. No, this was a land where a single year stretched out across four seasons, and the bonds of love and loyalty stretched to the breaking point and beyond. A place where motives were murky, sympathy was a switch, and evil enticing.

Once again a villain rose to challenge our heroes, and once again the Teachers spun a tale of bravery and cowardice, of heroism and treachery, of life and death and all states in between.

And that was just Katherine.

The battle raged as fierce as the howling winds. Champions fell and villains were vanquished as the war rocked the ever-dwindling community. The price paid was steep. Immortals fell from grace. Hunters bowed their knee. Progenitors fled to New Orleans. Sorcerers succumbed to the siren song of death. And a lover spurned learned that his unrequited was not the only creature entangled with a soul from the past…

Darkness closed in and air grew scarce, until finally, there was nothing.

But once again the Teachers spake, bidding us to heed the lessons of the past, reminding us of what happened…

Previously, on The Vampire Diaries

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The entire Love You To Death series stands as an entertaining, exhaustive bible of the character arcs, plot lines, mythology, and the behind-the-scenes happenings of a TV series made by people who are crazy in love with their work.

-Julie Plec, Executive Producer of The Vampire Diaries, destroyer of joy, and frequent target of internet rage

Love You To Death Season 4

I know what you’re saying. “Thomas? Shouldn’t you be using this valuable blog space to pimp out your own books?”

Well, yes, probably. And don’t worry, I’ll get back to that soon enough. But I wanted to take a minute to introduce you to the latest book in the Love You To Death series, written by two friends* of mine, Crissy Calhoun (@crissycalhoun) and Heather Vee (@dieslaughing). In addition to tolerating my presence, Crissy originated the LYTD series, and Heather is the co-owner of, the number one TVD fan site in the world.

Julie wasn’t kidding when she said these books were exhaustive. Not only does LYTD4 recap each and every episode of TVD season four, it also includes insights from the cast and crew (director Pascal Verschooris became my favorite person ever when he said “it was a lot of fun to bring candy canes to the screen, but more so (and this is gonna sound creepy), it was really cool to kill the mayor with Christmas in the background”), facts and trivia, a running commentary on The Rules (compulsion, the sire bond, et cetera), continuity, and a discussion of the points that weren’t quite clear. If you like my post mortems, you’ll be wild about Love You To Death.

Confession: I originally wrote “you’ll love Love You To Death.” I’m paid to write, people. Jesus.

LYTD is available from ECW Press, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. Get your copy today, before Jeff Bezos destroys books forever!

*Friends here defined as they wouldn’t run me over if they saw me walking down the road. Probably.