The Vampire Diaries, Ep. 3.15, “All My Children”: Reveals show viewers they’re in safe hands

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The Vampire Diaries Review, Season 3, Episode 15: “All My Children”
Written by Evan Bleiweiss and Michael Narducci
Directed by Pascal Verschooris
Airs Thursdays at 8pm (ET) on the CW

This week, on The Vampire Diaries: Elena can’t keep her mouth shut, Bonnie can’t stay out of vampire business, and Ric really does have horrible luck with women.

On a different series, the climax of this episode wouldn’t work. It wouldn’t be tense, there wouldn’t be drama. On a different series, when a character proclaimed they were taking down the season-long villain when they were still 7 episodes out from the finale, it’d be a forgone conclusion that the scheme would fail. On The Vampire Diaries, it’s a surprise.

This is one of the very few instances in the series’ run where a major character’s endeavor hasn’t succeeded, at least partially. Emily destroyed the pendant, Anna opened the tomb, the Founders identified and killed off (most of) the town’s vamps, Katherine got the moonstone, Ric daggered Elijah, Elena daggered Elijah (guy’s been daggered a lot, come to think of it), Klaus got his hybrid on, Bonnie opened the coffin, the list goes on and on. Then this week, just when the audience thinks they’ve figured out the show, the writers turn everything on its head. It’s great.

First there’s the abrupt end to the Originals, at least as a complete family. We barely get to know Kol and Finn before they’ve vanished to points unknown. Esther barely manages anything, beyond her totally rockin’ ball last episode, before she has to flee. Klaus and Rebekah have a new direction, but we have no clue where Elijah will come down in all of this. Sending Klaus and Rebekah after the White Oak is a smart move; revealing this wrinkle via previously known information is even better. Decisions like this give the viewer faith that the writers really do know what they’re doing and where they’re going, that this is a puzzle fitting together, not an extended improvisation.

Then there’s poor Ric, who can’t seem to catch a break- it’s pretty harsh for the lovely Dr. Fell to wait just long enough for him to heal from her mortal stab wounds before shooting him. The misdirect is very well-played. Sidelining Ric from the Originals arc minimized his screentime for a few weeks, but it also put Meredith and the initial mistrust of her far from most viewers’ minds. Saving the reveal for the final moments this episode allows the writers a great cliffhanger, as The Vampire Diaries will be in repeats for about a month, and it also gives the viewers a great OMG/”No way!”/”I knew it!” moment, depending on their theories on Dr. Fell and the Founders Killer going into this episode.

Outside of these plot developments, and Abby becoming an unwilling addition to Mystic Falls’ undead contingent (Seriously- is it worse to be Ric or Bonnie on this show?), there are a bunch of great character moments as well. Claire Holt gets to have a blast as Rebekah. Her annoyance at Elena’s seemingly unending list of protectors is a lot of fun, as is her intelligent response to Elena’s escape into the anti-vamp zone. Kol’s positively medieval reaction to her night out is also a telling and appropriate character moment, given the society they grew up in and how long he’s been daggered, and the relative ease with which he is taken out by Ric contrasts nicely with his bluster and desire for violence.

A particular improvement this week over last week’s <a href=””>entertaining episode</a> is the handling of Stefan and Damon. It’s great to see them interacting as brothers rather than solely as romantic rivals. Damon’s reveal of Stefan’s teetotaling makes his actions of late more understandable and interesting and though he should be much weaker than before, due to being off the sauce as it were, upon reflection, Stefan hasn’t had a significant throwdown with anyone since the bridge, four episodes ago. Presumably this weakness will come into play as we head into this season’s final stretch of episodes.

Another welcome surprise is the motivation of Elena’s anger at Damon’s night with Rebekah. Yes, it seems she’d rather he’d not slept with anyone, but by far more important to her is who he chose to sleep with. Had he slept with a random person, she would’ve been far more likely to shrug it off, considering they’re not together. The fact that he chose to sleep with someone who wants her dead, that he wanted to hurt her at least subconsciously, is her problem. The maturity of this is surprising and appreciated, particularly from someone who is still a high schooler. With Elena, Caroline, and Bonnie, The Vampire Diaries is doing its part to work against the stereotype of poor and/or weak characterization of women, and particularly young women, in genre fiction. Keep it up, guys! It’s appreciated.

The Vampire Diaries is on a tear this season, and it’ll be a long four weeks until its return with “1912”, presumably an at least partial flashback episode. Watching the series continually subvert expectation and genre convention is a treat. It’s just a shame more people aren’t watching them do so.

What did you think of this episode? Did you call the Dr. Fell/White Oak reveals? Who’s your pick as the first Original to get Oaked? Post your thoughts in the comments below!

Kate Kulzick

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