This review contains spoilers.
3.10 The New Deal
After a long wait, The Vampire Diaries is back with a vengeance, and it seems as though the writers have taken their time out to do some much needed reflecting.
My criticisms of season three have been predominantly about pacing and not seeing enough of certain characters, but most of those kinks have been worked out here, and what’s on offer bodes very well for the rest of the year.
First of all, no one could criticise this tenth episode for being too slow or ponderous, as it manages to pack in a main character departure, an epic kiss, a couple of near death experiences and a lovely cliffhanger all in the space of an hour. In other words, it’s the show back to its best, and one that seems to have taken the viewers’ opinions on board.
The episode centres around the danger that a perturbed Klaus still poses to the Gilbert family, most notably for Jeremy. He’s hell-bent on recovering the lost family members that Stefan stole before the break, and has no qualms about offing a few cast members in pursuit of that goal. Stefan plays a surprisingly small role this week, as I assume the writers are wisely saving his redemption/further descent for a later date.
Alongside him in the supporting character list is Bonnie, and she can stay there as far as I’m concerned. Our resident witch is seen having some conveniently accurate dreams in this week’s teaser, but following that she’s not even deemed important enough to say goodbye to an ex-boyfriend. The pairing was never that popular with fans, so it’s no surprise that it has now been skimmed over in retrospect.
One pairing that has been popular is that of Jeremy and Tyler, and the slash-happy friendship gets another (possibly final) outing here. His scenes with Jeremy are actually the only coherent thing the show has managed to do with Tyler for a long while, as I get the impression that no one knows what to do with him as a hybrid. It was an interesting idea that I’m sure will become more of a focus in future episodes, but for such a loved character to become so convoluted and unsympathetic is a shame.
Anyway, we have to talk about Jeremy.
I, for one, was expecting him to die via car crash, only for him to survive at the last minute. Then, in true Vampire Diaries style, the rug was pulled once more and the kid brother has been relocated until an undisclosed date. I felt it was actually a very nice way for him to go, as it leaves the door open while still proving poignant and sweet. For a show so flippant about killing its characters as this, the fact that someone was able to go gracefully was actually a nice surprise.
And it doesn’t hurt the show that this act of compassion from Elena’s current vampire squeeze paved the way for a long-awaited smooch between them. It was a source of resentment that the promised exploration of the Elena/Damon pairing was nowhere to be seen in the first chunk of episodes but, in another demonstration of writer awareness, fans are finally being awarded for their patience.
A cracking episode, then, and a promising kick-off for the rest of the season. I’m looking forward to how this week’s kiss is dealt with in the coming weeks, as well as Stefan’s master plan to defeat Klaus. My only quibble is with Tyler’s place in the ensemble, as well as the mythology, but I’m confident things will be cleared up in no time. For now, I’d like to bit Steven R. McQueen a fond farewell.
Read our review of the last episode, here.