The thin line between good and bad vampires

The Vampire Diaries Season 6, Episode 9 (“I Alone”)
Michael Malarkey and Gabrielle Walsh, The Vampire Diaries

Is there such thing as a good vampire? Even the best and most in control vampires kill people sometimes or let their heightened emotions get the best of them. They are often forced to make complicated decisions that as a human you would never have to make. Sometimes they have to do a bad thing in order to do a good thing. One of the aspects of this show (and to an even greater extent The Originals) that I find endlessly fascinating is the questions of are these characters good and are they redeemable? It is a question that is going to be asked a lot in these last few seasons and the show is rarely clear on the answer. Morality is complicated and subjective and it gets even more so when supernatural forces are taken into account.

For this episode the most improved vampire is probably Damon even though he does something pretty bad. He uses some nasty means of getting the ascendant from Jo so that they can go into the prison world and rescue Bonnie. He compels Alaric to get it after Alaric told him he didn’t want to have to use Jo. Having that ascendant made her feel safe, Damon taking it from her takes away her security. He also compelled his best friend which is generally frowned upon by most civilized vampires. You compel people to clean up messes, but controlling your friend’s mind without their permission is violating. This seems like something Damon would have done in the early seasons, and less like something he would do now. However the major difference here is why he is doing it. Sure there is definitely a part of him that knows that Elena will be impressed if he can save Bonnie. It will show her he can be a good guy. But he really wants to save Bonnie for Bonnie’s sake. She has sacrificed so much for them and she made sure he got back even if it meant she was left alone with Kai. He recognizes that and wants to pay her back. And that is something Damon would never have done a season ago. Do the ends justify the means? Maybe.

The morality of other vampires is also coming into question. Enzo’s relevance this season has been pretty minimal and the show definitely appears to be struggling to continue to incorporate him. His growing feud with Stefan will dominate his storyline this season which is interesting more in theory than in execution. But I will get into that in future episodes. Stefan has messed up a lot lately. He abandoned the search for Damon, he turned Enzo over to Tripp, and he ruined his relationship with Caroline. Enzo is resentful that Stefan can make these mistakes and people still think he is a hero. Enzo on the other hand is always the villain. But is that fair? Sure he went off the rails last season when he found out Damon killed Maggie, but he isn’t the only one that has acted rashly. Enzo is no saint, but is he really that bad? He was a very loyal friend to Damon, which the show seems to have forgotten. They have hardly interacted since Damon returned and Enzo was the only one committed to finding him. However Enzo’s reaction to what he perceives to be unfair labeling, is to hurt Stefan. If he wants people to think he is good, he has to show them that.

Matt is also beginning to question his alliance with the vampires and if there really is such thing as a good one. Matt has generally seen Stefan as a good vampire who is in control and doesn’t kill people for fun. He kills the bad guys. But Stefan let Enzo kill a human in order to keep the secret of the real Sarah Salvatore. Would it really be so bad if Damon found out? He is not who he was in that time and finding out that the baby survived would probably relieve him of a lot of guilt. Stefan may have a higher regard for human life than many other vampires but he is still willing to sacrifice them to save his friends and family. He sees it as doing what he “had to do” but that is highly subjective.

Kai is officially out of the prison world and already creating terror and uncertainty. He immediately went after Liv and then turned around and offered to make Tyler a deal to save her. Kai likely wants to merge with Jo to make himself leader of the coven. He was supposed to win that merge 20 years ago but they trapped him in a prison instead. He is going to want to get revenge on the people who put him there. He is also a sociopath who could do anything. This is one of the things that separates him from previous TVD villains. There is really no sympathy for him but he is often regarded as one of the best villains in the series. Probably because Chris Wood is fantastic and the most comic villain the show has. He is just a fun one to have around but he also poses a real threat.

Episode Grade: 8/10

Other Thoughts:

  • Damon explains how pagers work to Elena, but also to the audience. Most of the show’s target audience has never used a pager.
  • CD’s Damon had in 1994 – Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails, and Boyz II Men.
  • Elena is already softening towards Damon. She is impressed by his real friendship with Bonnie. She also recognizes and admits that compelling away her memories was unfair to him. She wasn’t just forgetting her own past, but a past that belonged to both of them.
  • Kai: “Liv. Ironic.”
  • Body Count: 2. Kai kills his cab driver to get out of paying for it (1) and Enzo kills the fake Sarah Salvatore (1).

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