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The Vampire Diaries 2.06 – Plan B


 

What? It's good?!

 

Grade: A-

Too Long, Didn’t Read: One of the highlights of the series, “Plan B” delivers on almost every level for a completely satisfying hour-long that shows signs of things to come.

Remember how in my recent Supernatural review, I lamented the wussification of vampires? How is then that I enjoy a show such as The Vampire Diaries whose entire purpose seems to be feeding off of the energy of the vampire craze? I’ll admit, it’s hard to rectify these two beliefs and a part of The Vampire Diaries will always be a guilty pleasure if just because of the inherent Twilight-esque premise. It’s a bit too tweeny and a bit too restrained in its scope and I often wish it would push itself just a little more with its storylines and take more risks.

Regardless, The Vampire Diaries is a huge surprise on multiple levels. I know I’ve reviewed it here once before, but I’ll state it one more time: the show doesn’t suck. It’s not “so bad, it’s good” and if it’s considered a guilty pleasure, then I’m alright with admitting it. See, The Vampire Diaries has a fairly impressive pedigree of writers: both Julie Pec of Kyle XY and Kevin Williamson of Dawson’s Creek serve as showrunners, with Andrew Chambliss (Heroes season one and Dollhouse), Caroline Dries (Smallville), Mike Daniels (One Tree Hill), and Elizabeth Craft & Sarah Fain (Angel, The Shield, Dollhouse) all on the writing team. It’s quite the crew, especially for what could have been a tweeny Vampiric mess under different leadership.

“Plan B” is written by the always impressive duo that is Elizabeth Craft and Sarah Fain. With credits like “Release” from Angel and “Echoes” from Dollhouse, they aren’t afraid to take risks that other staff writers might shy away from. “Plan B” is another example of Craft and Fain at their best and provide The Vampire Diaries with one of its best episodes ever. The Vampire Diaries has lacked, up until now, any cohesion between its characters on a grand level. Each exists in their on realm within Mystic Falls, only lightly flirting with the supernatural and each other when necessary. “Plan B” was one of the first episode where the gang (reluctantly) all came together against a common adversary – namely, Katherine and Mason Lockwood. It’s definitely refreshing, especially now that their group (gang? family? team? Name ideas in the comments, please) is ready to face the supernatural adversaries of Mystic Falls head on. Each character’s self-indulgence begins to fade as they start to care not only about each other but also the town. Wonderful.

This week’s winner is easily Candice Accola. Say what you want about Caroline, but tonight’s episode wonderfully exhibited Accola’s acting abilities. Caroline is usually a one-track character that Accola plays well, but the pain and honesty when talking to her mother and finally gaining her acceptance is crushing. Even worse, Caroline knows the actions she must take to keep order within Mystic Falls. Instead of looking out for her best interests, she makes a decision that helps everyone, even if it destroys the one thing that she has looked for over the course of the series – a true friendship with her mother. Not only is it wonderfully acted, but Craft and Fain create a gripping and pivotal moment that will most likely haunt Caroline for some time.

A welcome change to genre shows as a whole is that The Vampire Diaries isn’t afraid to say what’s what. Instead of having characters keep secrets from each other in order to prolong storylines over multiple weeks, the series lays most of it on the table from the get go. In many shows, Caroline’s new teeth would have been kept from others for an extended period, building unnatural tension when the audience is well aware of what is happening. Not only is this frustrating, but it makes for poor television. The Vampire Diaries tells it how it is, and then kills who it needs to kill. It’s hard not to become emotionally invested in the recurring characters only to see them staked/burned/have their heart ripped out. I don’t doubt that the moonstone’s mystery and its importance to Katherine will be revealed in the next episode or the following.

“Plan B” also succeeds when viewed in a feminist context. It’s Elena that realizes the dangers of her relationship with Stefan and its effects on her friends and family. Instead of making a selfish decision, she makes the very pragmatic decision to end her relationship with Stefan. Obviously this is temporary, but it’s refreshing to see Elena make these decisions rather than have the man, in some sort of Edward Cullen-like move, break it off because their love is “forbidden”. Even though Caroline tries to make her think otherwise, Elena and Stefan are perfectly capable of making their relationship work. The only reason it’s not going stellar is because Katherine is kind of a bitch.

That’s not to say that “Plan B” is perfect. The gratuitous product placement elicited more than a few eye rolls during the course of the hour. Tension building techniques like placing snakes in the well were silly. And… that might be it. There hasn’t been an episode of the series that has been this consistent in its quality. Bravo Liz and Sarah.

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One Response

  1. The Vampire Diaries has been consistently great this season. I definitely hope that Caroline will continue to stick around – and not meet the same fate as pretty much every other female vampire on this show.

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