The Vampire Diaries: The Reckoning (Review)

The Vampire Diaries: The Reckoning

I’ve pretty much run out of superlatives when discussing The Vampire Diaries. Though it’s been my second favorite show behind Supernatural but has been consistently closing the gap over the last season.  “The Reckoning” has only strengthened that claim, coming in as the best episode of any television show to date for this season.

Save for Alaric (Matt Davis), all the major players are involved and it’s truly difficult just where to begin. Unlike most episodes there are no real secondary stories. Everyone has been sucked into Klaus’s (Joseph Morgan) end game—finding the solution to his hybrid problem. “The Reckoning” showcases Klaus at his finest; sardonic, cruel, ruthless and, above all, cunning. Top all that off with a healthy dose of scary intelligence and he’s not a cardboard baddie. Joseph’s portrayal contains a dangerous charm, not unlike Ian or James Marsters’s Spike on Buffy that makes it difficult to truly hate him, despite his nefarious actions towards our protagonists, though I’m sure Stelena fans (Stefan/Elena ‘shippers, for you rookies) have more than enough ammunition after he compels Stefan to fully embrace his vampiric nature.

Speaking of Stefan (Paul Wesley), tonight’s episode title is quite apropos for him. All summer long at Klaus’s side, he’s been going through the motions, playing the good ripper, to keep the two people he loves safe.  For Elena (Nina Dobrev), he fights against his baser nature…well, until Klaus gives the order of orders. “Turn it off”, he commands Stefan, and like that, Stefan is truly a vampire without a conscious. It’s quite ironic that the man responsible for Stefan saying goodbye to his humanity is the same one who shows, for the first time, just how much humanity remains inside of him.

Klaus is not happy with Elena...

I’ve always thought Klaus’s plan to create a hybrid army had more to do with his plans to dominate than anything else. When Michael (Sebastian Roche) was introduced, a chink in Klaus’s indomitable persona was discovered; there was someone he feared, so the building of an army was understandable. Though the threat Michael brings to Klaus, someone that could possibly kill him permanently, Klaus let slip to Rebekah (Claire Holt) his biggest fear; being in this world alone, the only one of his kind. As surprising as it is to his sister, Klaus’s admission has to be one of the more shocking revelations from “The Reckoning”. A ruthless predator who has killed thousands in his quest for immortality, has the same fear so many others who are different have. It’s another layer peeled back to view a more complex character than he first appeared.

But the master of complexity remains everyone’s favorite bad boy. Far from his emo days of last season, Damon (Ian Somerhalder) continues being the unpredictable character we’ve come to know and love. It started at the end of last episode when he agreed to take a field trip with Katherine, his fight with Elena driving the need to get away. It’s a short lived, though a productive, trip. With Jeremy’s help, Damon finds out about Michael a vampire hunter who just so happens to be a vampire. Soon after, he realizes Elena’s in danger and when chided by Katherine about it being uncharacteristic of him, Damon simply replies “I wouldn’t have done it for you.” The line is delivered with such honest conviction and none of the snark Damon usually displays that it cuts Katherine. The pain on her face is undeniable. For his part, Damon doesn’t make it back to Mystic Falls in time to save Elena but his announcement to Klaus about Michael is enough to make the Original hybrid clear out of town with Rebekah in tow.

The final segment between Damon and Elena was what I’d call a calming high for this fantastic episode. It seems like the chemistry between the real-life couple has funneled more into their scenes together on the show, more so now than last year. Part of that is Ian’s tempering down a bit on the googly eyes when talking; he’s working with a bit more subtlety now and it pays off. Yes, physical attraction has always been there between the two but now there’s an emotional bond, one that’s not predicated only on the friendship aspects of their relationship. His promise never to leave her and Elena’s ensuing reaction was more telling than any passionate kiss they could share.

The next question has to be how much time the not-couple will have together with Stefan now keeping an eye on them for Klaus. In full-ripper mode, his presence will have quite an interesting effect on, not only Damon and Elena, but all his allies in Mystic Falls.

“The Reckoning” was a stellar episode. Though there was quite a bit going on, things never seemed crowded or rushed. This is the type of episode that can springboard a season past its previous heights and, if the quality continues to rise, this season might just find The Vampire Diaries posted up in the number one slot in my DVR.

Rating: A

Rewatchability Factor: 5 (out of 5)

Vampire Bites:
      • Despite being a favorite character of mine, it was pretty cool to see Klaus visibly afraid of someone. It makes me wonder just how much of a bad ass Michael is to instill that type of fear in the hybrid.
      • Speaking of hybrid, just how much mojo is Tyler working with now? Is that new found power going to go to his head? Methinks it’s not going to be hugs and wolf cubs as he adjusts to the new spark.
      • It’s so intriguing just how similar Stefan’s transformation mirrors that of Angel/Angelus. Though the normal Stefan’s quite a bit more likable (and practical) than Angel, his ripper persona is every bit as fun as Angel’s soulless side.
      • I still wonder why Anna was so against Vicki speaking to Jeremy. Also, now that she said goodbye to Matt, will Vicki still be around? As long as Anna is still a part of the show, I’ll be happy.
Killer Lines:
      1. Damon: “I wouldn’t have done it for you.”
      2. Elena: “Where were you, Damon?”
      3. Damon:  “I shouldn’t have left…I promise you, I will never leave you again.”
      4. Elena:  “You don’t have to hurt anybody.”
      5. Klaus:  “C’mon, luv. Of course I do.”

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– Darryl (follow @djasper07 on Twitter)
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