Thursday, May 14, 2015

How the 2015 Vampire Diaries finale is like a flawed novel

I don't ordinarily blog about TV shows. I tweet about them, and occasionally post on Facebook or Instagram or even Pinterest, but I tend to write only about writing novels and screenplays, maybe occasionally a short story.

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But since January I got really hooked on a CW show called The Vampire Diaries.  I discovered it by accident on Netflix.  I was catching up on a few episodes of Reign that I had missed early on, and a bunch of episodes of Blue Bloods that I started watching late in the game. I had seen two or three parts of episodes of TVD before, and it seemed interesting, but it was difficult to follow because it's serialized and I hadn't seen the earlier episodes.

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Vampires are Sexy
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Damon and Stefan Salvatore
So I watched the first episode and kind of liked it.  I particularly liked the evil character, Damon Salvatore, who they brought in at the end of the series premiere.  I decided to watch the second episode and at the end of that, I was hooked.  I binge watched like crazy until I had caught up to the middle of season six, which was just coming back on after a brief hiatus.

Since then, I have been an obsessed viewer.  Although it's really a supernatural melodramatic nighttime teenage/young adult soap opera type of show, it has a lot of elements that I love in novels. 

It has a lot of suspense and mystery.  It has its share of really well-written characters, and a few of the characters get some really exceptional dialogue. More than that, and near and dear to my heart, it has a lot of double crosses that you just don't see coming.  I love an unexpected double cross.

So I was happy with my new TV show, although the writers do occasionally recycle the same plot lines.  But since I really loved most of the characters, it was a forgivable sin.  And then I found out, along with all the other fans, that Nina Dobrev, the actress who plays the protagonist, Elena Gilbert, was leaving the show at the end of the season.

Now the show centers primarily around Elena and two vampire brothers, Stefan, her former love from seasons 1-2 and part of 3, and Damon, Stefan's brother who started out evil but changed a whole lot to win her from his brother.  So it was difficult to see how the show was going to continue without her.

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Damon and Elena
The big issue was how they were going to write her off of the show, particularly since the focus of much of the last two seasons has involved her volatile relationship with the evil brother who is now halfway good.

So tonight was the season finale. Everyone pretty much thought next year was going to be the last year of the show because ratings are falling dismally, although on the CW the ratings are never that high to begin with, and it still may last only another year.  But the issue remains how do they go another year without the leading lady and was there a chance she would come back on for a series finale in the future.

I expected a lot from the show. It should have been phenomenally sad with Elena telling everyone goodbye (from a coma, no less) while she is put pretty much in storage until she can wake up again. It's kind of like a Sleeping Beauty spell was put on her. 

Ultimately, I was left disappointed.  The plot devices felt cheap and full of holes. A lot of the logic and continuity of the show was lacking, which is not good for a show in the supernatural genre which has to rely on the consistency of its mythology in order for the viewers to buy into it.  The entire episode felt sort of schizophrenic and disjointed, and I felt disconnected to most of the characters for the first time.

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Elene and Jeremy
It made me think of some novels I've read where there's a good story in there, but then there's a lot of extraneous stuff that isn't necessary to push the story forward, not even for character development or as a red herring.  It also reminded me of novels I've read where the story is kind of all over the place and then the ending is rushed just to tie up the loose ends.

Maybe this should have been two episodes, one containing the actual plot, and the other all of the goodbyes.  And even the goodbyes didn't draw the emotional response they should have, with the exception of two-- one scene with her guardian whose pregnant (with twins) wife had just been murdered during the episode, and one with her brother, who will likely be dead by the time the spell is broken.  (Nearly everyone else is a vampire, so they'll be the same when she wakes up regardless.)

So while I don't normally blog about TV shows, this particular finale was so similar to a poorly crafted novel I felt a need.  And I'm pretty sure my obsession with The Vampire Diaries has ended for the time being.  Of course, that doesn't mean I won't watch it next year. Maybe.