The Vampire Diaries Review, Season 3, Episode 20: “Do Not Go Gentle”
Written by Michael Narducci
Directed by Joshua Butler
Airs Thursdays at 8pm (ET) on the CW
This week, on The Vampire Diaries: Mystic Falls High continues its tradition of terrible Decade Dances, Ric pulls a Bill Forbes, and Bonnie can not catch a break
It’s that time of year again- time for the teens of Mystic Falls to dust off the frankly ridiculous stash of gorgeous vintage clothes they have lying around, put on their dancing shoes, and head over to the school gym for the Decade Dance. It must’ve been a fun episode for Jennifer Bryan, the costume designer for the series, as well as the hair and makeup departments, who dress the cast to the nines. It’s notable that they don’t neglect the men- Tyler in particular gets into it and rocks his fabulous ensemble. The set dressers also do a great job of transforming the gym enough to give it a lovely ‘20s-inspired atmosphere without putting it too far out of the reach of a particularly determined high school Dance Committee. If this were a different series, the clear path for Rebekah and Caroline would be to put aside their differences and open the best party planning company in the southeastern US.
They do such a great job, in fact, that one can almost understand why the students keep coming to these dances, despite the lousy track record they have for attracting murder and mayhem. This time, writer Michael Narducci does a great job of keeping most of the supernatural and other threatening moments offscreen, and a tossed away line lets the audience know that the other partiers have all left safely, allowing the series to maintain the façade that most of the town’s youth are oblivious to just how strange their home is. One can’t help but wonder, however, how the rest of the kids at school view our main characters. This is something Buffy the Vampire Slayer touched on occasionally, particularly in season 3’s fantastic “The Prom”- it would be nice to see The Vampire Diaries follow suit. All the town elders seem to know what’s going on, but what about the kids? It seems we’ll have to wait for that answer.
We no longer need to wait, however, to see the endgame for this season. Once again, the writers ladle out scoops of answers along with new plot twists and character turns. We find out that his Gilbert ring isn’t what prompted Alaric’s Hydian transformation, but the whispers of voices on the Other Side, specifically Esther. This allows the possibility for Jeremy to be A-Okay, but that assumes that Esther was the one corrupting Johnathan and Samantha, and this is a series it is usually foolish to make assumptions about. Also, seeing as death doesn’t seem to even slow her down, there’s nothing to stop Esther from starting on Jeremy should Ric fail (or, more accurately, when he fails- somehow it seems unlikely the series will kill off half of its cast).
This is perhaps the weakest element of not only this particular episode, but Esther as a villain and this entire seeming season endgame. Yes, there is tension about who will die, as The Vampire Diaries showed early they are just fine killing off major characters, but the Salvatores aren’t going anywhere, so it’s clear that Esther will fail and, by extension, that Malaric (thanks to twitter follower Matt for the nickname!) will die. There is some question about which of the Originals will die and who will get caught in the crossfire, but there’s absolutely no tension whenever either Damon or Stefan are in “danger”. Other similar genre series have found ways to address this, or to interestingly kill off and bring back their leads without it feeling like a cheat (Supernatural being the best example currently on the air). Hopefully the PtB for TVD will be able to come up with something to address this, but for the moment, the best answer is to not think about it, which is disappointing, to say the least.
After taking the previous episode off, Bonnie’s back in a big way and it seems much of the finale could hinge on her. It’s nice to see her happy with Jamie- if there’s one character who’s lost the most on the series, it’s probably Bonnie, and this doesn’t look to be changing any time soon. Matt Davis plays his scenes well as Ric waits to die, but unfortunately these scenes lose some of their power due to their similarity to the beautiful scenes with Jack Coleman and Candice Accola earlier this season, when Caroline’s father chose not to transition, and the clear foreshadowing that something would happen to force Ric to turn. After last episode’s Delena-fest, it’s nice to see not only Stelena get some time, but also to hear such an honest and understanding reaction from Stefan about Elena’s trip with Damon. It’s also a lot of fun to see Elena’s friends and acquaintances line up on various sides of the shipping wars.
Jeremy’s return to Mystic Falls works well and the decision to pair him with Matt makes a lot of sense and gives Matt a logical partner in crime (as well as friend- who’s the last person Matt’s had a one-on-one scene with who wasn’t an ex/love interest?). Alaric’s last look out at his de facto family hit home the fact that, at this point, the supers highly outweigh the humans- it’s good to have a couple characters who are good ol’ fashioned mortal, despite Jeremy’s nifty medium abilities. Hopefully this won’t change, as we move forward towards what is certain to be a high stakes, deadly finale.
What did you think of this episode? Are you team Delena or Stelena? Which of the Decade Dances is your favorite? Post your thoughts below!