Season 1, Episode 18 (“Under Control”)
All season Stefan has been vague about why he doesn’t drink human blood. Sure he doesn’t want to hurt people and he can feel a lot better about being a vampire if he only drinks animal blood. He wants more than anything to be human and thus refraining from drinking human blood helps him stay connected to his humanity. However, there are many good vampires who drink blood from blood bags, but Stefan doesn’t. It mostly doesn’t hurt people (they never really address the fact that they are stealing blood bags from hospitals where they need them to save lives) and so is considered the humane way to be a vampire. After Stefan got his first taste of human blood in a very long time in the previous episode, he got very aggressive and then drank a lot more. In this episode he starts off by trying to let that be the one slip up and work out and drink a lot until the cravings go away. But he is constantly tempted. Damon leaves human blood out for him to drink, when he is making out with Elena he is tempted by her when he can usually control it, and when he senses blood on Kelly’s forehead he cannot stop himself from touching it and then later tasting it. It leads to viewer to wonder if his lack of control is just from finally giving in to the thing he has been denying himself? Or if it is because he has never been able to control himself on it and that’s why he abstains.
Elena is also getting her first glimpse at Stefan really being a vampire. Both Alaric and Damon tell her that even if Stefan is a good guy, he is still a vampire and vampires have cravings for human blood. Elena is prepared to stand by Stefan and help him, but she is scared. Damon on the other hand has never approved of Stefan’s animal diet and is encouraging him to give into his cravings. He tells Stefan that they have never talked about why exactly Stefan refuses human blood, but this feels like a continuity error. In future episodes it is implied that Damon has always known. So are we supposed to think that he knows and just doesn’t care? Or maybe he just doesn’t think that Stefan is dealing with it in the right way? Denying yourself something you want completely leads to binging when you do eventually give in so it could be better to focus on moderation.
Uncle John Gilbert has also arrived and he is also a total dick. This seems to be a widely held belief since pretty much everyone is unhappy to see him. He knows a lot about vampires, more than the Council and he knows Isobel. He reveals that he was the one that sent Isobel to Damon when she wanted to turn. He also has a ring that keeps him from dying a supernatural death, which it turns out were made for the Gilberts. We don’t learn too much about what John wants but he knows too much about too many things to be up to any good.
Another person being a dick this episode is once again Tyler. He makes out with Matt’s mom and then when Matt catches him and punches him, he retaliates by beating up Matt. Once Alaric takes him off and he cools for a second he is surprised even at himself to how aggressive he was. He doesn’t seem to know why he gets so angry. At this point Tyler has been such a background character that it doesn’t make a lot of sense as to why we are following him. His only connection to the rest of the cast is that he is friends with Matt, who is also only connected by being friends with other people. I know that Tyler will become more important but the first time I saw the show I spent the entire first season wondering why he was a part of the show.
This was another good episode, I said in my last review that I was very excited to get to this Stefan storyline and it is definitely the most interesting part of the last few episodes of this season. Diving into why it is that Stefan refrains from human blood and seeing what happens when he doesn’t is great character development. There is so much more to this story and I can’t wait to get into it. Jeremy is also getting involved in the supernatural world even if no one really knows it yet. The more characters that get pulled into the supernatural drama the better because when they aren’t they feel like a waste of space.
Episode Grade: B+
- Damon holding onto the dream that Katherine still cares about him is super annoying, and thus I was very happy when John tells him that she didn’t send Isobel to him. Sorry Damon, she’s just not that into you.
- This episode kicked off a month’s worth of Founder’s events for the 150th anniversary of Mystic Falls which is absurd but also makes me happy because I love Founder’s events. They are always a good setting for some drama.
- When Damon goes over to Elena’s house to talk to her about Stefan, he yells so that Jeremy will hear, “no Elena, I will not go up to your bedroom”. But Jeremy either doesn’t hear even though he is sitting right there and doesn’t have headphones or anything else going on, he’s like eating cereal. Or he hears and is unfazed by it, even though his sister has an older man who you have known to be not a great guy going up to her room.
- At the Founder’s party, Stefan grabs a drink and then just throws the straw on the ground. I found that very uncool. First of all, a waste of plastic. Second, someone has to clean that up.
- “Have I entered an alternate universe where Stefan is fun” – yes, it will only last for a while though.
- Tyler tells Mama Donovan that he was a dick to her dead daughter, and this weirdly turns her on?
- Body Count: no one dies in this episode, though not for lack of trying on Damon’s part.