The Vampire Diaries "A View to a Kill" Review: Kol Dances into the Fire

By Andy Daglas

Feb 01, 2013

The Vampire Diaries S04E12: "A View to a Kill"

“A View to a Kill” was a good episode to drop into. After a rocky start to Season 4, the last three or four episodes have done a lot of good work toward righting the ship. Much of the season still feels like less than the sum of its parts, but as it capped off this leg of the main season’s story arc, The Vampire Diaries is at least bringing its full arsenal to bear once again.

One weapon in that arsenal that’s been missing much of the year is camaraderie. "A View to a Kill" started off with a rare glimmer of relative happiness: Jeremy and Matt’s bro-time had shifted from wrestling at the cabin to playing Xbox on the Gilbert sofa, and Bonnie was busy preparing yet another Mystic Falls theme party to Caroline’s meticulous standards (I hate that this made two episodes in a row with no Caroline, but I loved the detail that, yes, she absolutely would notice if the gym were 10 red balloons shy of Nena’s specifications).

It was a small moment, and one immediately undercut by an enraged Kol, who decided it might be easier to rub out a witch than a hunter. (Kol, it turns out, isn’t very bright.) But those fun interludes, however short-lived, are vital to keeping the emotional bonds among the characters in place. Three seconds' worth of Elena busting her kid brother’s chops over doing chores can be worth ten times as many sober pronouncements about protecting him from the sundry dark forces that mean him harm, if only because, to us, it’s a more accessible way of relating to a loved one. Maintaining that groundwork allows the show to pull off its huge, violent, convoluted schemes and still keep us caring.

This week’s scheme, courtesy of Elena, involved her baiting Kol with a false truce while Stefan kept Rebekah wrapped up in another web of heartfelt emotional manipulation. When Kol let his guard down, Elena and Jeremy would kill him—and his thousand-fold sire line, fleshing out Jeremy’s hunter’s mark in one fell swoop. Then Matt would dagger a distracted Rebekah and Bonnie would handle Klaus with whatever Plot Convenience Magic she had up her sleeve. Three Originals on ice, simple as pie!

Of course it didn’t go exactly as planned, because welcome to The Vampire Diaries. Kol’s guard didn’t drop, though he did oblige Elena and us with another restatement of why Silas the Great and Powerful is to be feared. Bonnie was waylaid by the first instance of two parents in the same room at the same time on this show in like 53 episodes.

And Rebekah—forever jerked-around, crapped-upon Rebekah—saw through Stefan’s head games and decided to simply give in. Their pas de deux against the deserted, melancholy backdrop of the aborted Mystic High ‘80s dance was a fun twist on both the “sentimental drivel” of that decade’s teen movie aesthetic and this show’s penchant for galas with concepts as high as their mortality rates. Stefan getting the party started with The Cure was a delightfully hoaky wink, but using the motif (and Bon Jovi) to call back to his bond with Lexi cleverly brought the exchange to a deeper level. The lines between scheme and sincerity blurred even before Rebekah’s scarred, affecting surrender.

In the episode’s other heart-to-heart between a Salvatore and a Mikaelson, Damon and Klaus engaged in some old-fashioned “villain bonding time” in the slightly less festive environment of the former’s cell. Klaus, possibly having read large swaths of the TVD commentariat, demanded to know how it is that Damon’s many cold-blooded transgressions never seem to make a dent in Elena’s opinion of him. It’s a fair question to ask, since the show has never quite figured out whether it wants Damon to progress along any sort of moral arc, and if so, how. Seriously, you could fill out two-thirds of an Alignment Chart with just Damon, from different points in the series’ run. Damon’s response (which opens the door to more scrutiny than this review has scope to get into—please, weigh in in the comments) laid out the crux of his M.O.: “If you’re gonna be bad, be bad with purpose. Otherwise you’re not worth forgiving.”

Back at the Gilbert homestead, Kol eventually had his fill of exposition and decided to get back to some murderin’. Except that, as I mentioned before, he’s not very bright. Leaving Elena wounded but clearly alive before he shuffled off to dismember Jeremy is piss-poor villaining. Keeping the white ash stake in his coat pocket, in easy reach during a scuffle, isn’t much smarter. He deserved to meet the business end of that thing.

Showing up at the right instant to witness his brother’s death sent Klaus into a boiling rage, but Bonnie’s arrival was just as fortuitously timed. Kol’s demise was predictable—he was never so much a character as a danger to be thwarted—but the resulting ramifications were bracingly intense. Bonnie’s trick of inviting Klaus into the house only to imprison him there was a neat reversal of the traditional residence-barrier. I also enjoyed how clear it was that Elena hadn’t the faintest idea what Bonnie was planning at that moment, despite “Bonnie takes out Klaus” being the third leg of Elena’s original plan. Way to think through the details there, Elena.

So the scheme to get three Original threats out of the picture more or less worked (for now), the map is in hand (and arm, and entire torso), and most of the gang has linked up again. The next stage of the hunt for the cure is on. All we need to do now is figure out where the hell Caroline and Tyler ran off to.



NOTES


– A Duran Duran title, but not one Duran Duran song? You wound me, show.

– Bonnie’s had one of her strongest arcs ever this year, getting enmeshed in complex and ill-advised relationships both with Shane and with his expression magic. But she’s also done so largely on an island, disconnected from the other core characters. I like seeing her drawn back into the mix of the main action.

– So, is Elena going to ever grapple with the ramifications of her decision to sacrifice tens of thousands of innocent vampires in order to advance her goals? This makes two episodes where the show’s moral compass has barely batted an eye at mass murder, and for a show that has taken pains to depict vampires as decent people at least as often as they’re monsters, it should acknowledge the darkness of that turn.

– Did Stefan know about the vervain-laced water when he gave Damon a bottle of it prior to letting Klaus stand guard?

– Stefan called the Originals “dysfunctional bickering lunatics.” There’s your promo tag for the spin-off, CW!

– I fully believe that Damon has an actual, physical Revenge Sex Handbook.

– “Put these weapons away before someone tries to use them on me.”

– “Or are you one of those Mary Sue vampires?”

– “I happen to like Earth just the way it is.” Kol, echoing Spike’s sentiments in Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s “Becoming, Part 2.”

– Stefan’s a fan of Say Anything, The Princess Bride, and The Breakfast Club. I’m betting Damon’s more of a Heathers man.

– Jeremy randomly reminded everyone of Katherine’s existence, which has Chekov’s Doppelganger written all over it, folks.

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  • Chocolatier Feb 13, 2013

    Good episode, where one of Elena's plans finally worked out (no thanks to her planning though). I really loved when Kol was about to dismember Jeremy and had already stabbed Elena. Is it bad that I got annoyed when Elena was getting free and they managed to kill Kol? Seriously Elena and Jeremy are the worst main characters. She gets sad when one person gets killed (well she used to) and now she's partaking in genocide. However I did get excited when Klaus threatened to burn the house down and kill everyone, love him.

    I'm pleasantly surprised with Bonnie's new "expression" magic. She is actually an interesting character now! She is powerful and isn't a lame witch who gets nosebleeds every three seconds. I'm looking forward to watching her rise up and then get seduced by dark magic till it leads to her self destruction.

    Also Stefan and Rebekah are brilliant together, even though Stefan can be a manipulative douche, I think he sees the humanity in Rebekah that he longs to see once again in Elena. Rebekah > Elena (no matter whether human or vampire). What this series has shown us is that everyone is usually so much better off when they are not in a relationship with Elena.

    Anyway I'm over all the Macguffins and "race for the cure", lets just skip to the part where Silus obviously gets raised, they all realise how they should have listened to Kol, the cure probably doesn't exist there and all hell breaks lose. Cant wait!

  • Akyriel Feb 07, 2013

    Just saw this episode tonight. Until recently, Kol was background filler, more or less, who was barely memorable, let alone noticeable. If they are doing a spin-off series, killing Kol was a huge mistake. Did they know they were going to kill him off when they thought of doing the spin-off? He, to me, was being developed much like Damon - edgy and unpredictable - and not like the others who seem more boring or predictable in comparison. Add to that that he was the youngest Original left - not sure if younger than Rebekah - and he would have provided good material in the spin-off, particularly for a CW show aiming for that young and/or female demographic. What's the point of the Originals series, if you are killing most of them? The mother, father, the young brother killed by the werewolf clan that started all this, if not mistaken on that, plus Finn and Kol are now gone unless they somehow resurrect one or more of them. Is Claire Holt joining the potential series too? Why Phoebe Tonkin, if not her, unless she's staying on Vampire Diaries?

    It also bothers me that after all his years of existence, he's been taken out so easily? You can't tell me he had no prior experiences, human or otherwise, with those trying to kill him? These guys have been reduced to being no more powerful than standard vampires, so they've begun to ruin what was so special about them, which should include centuries of knowledge and wealth. It's a shame.

    If the spin-off fails, I won't mind too much, but this should have been really thought through more, or salvaged, if they can.

    By the way, who exactly is Silas? Is he a vampire too or a witch or something else? I am guessing that next season will deal with him?

  • Akyriel Feb 07, 2013

    I also forgot to ask - Who's vampire line are Stefan and Damon of? Klaus? Was that established? I know there was concern over killing them when killing the Originals before, but can't remember if they figured that out for sure.

  • Klara93 Feb 07, 2013

    Yep, Klaus is their guy. That's why they've stopped trying to kill him ;)
    I think Rebekah and Elijah talked about it once, but I have no idea how it became common knowledge.

  • pjt Feb 06, 2013

    My name is Bond, Sire Bond.

    So it's a shame for the Duran Duran song, but since it's also a James Bond title song co-written by John Barry, it would have cost more than the episode itself, IMHO.

  • fran_design Feb 06, 2013

    Seems like you don't understand Damon's character at all or his development. What a pity.

  • StJamesBlonde Feb 06, 2013

    Elena has to be the wimpiest and annoying vampire ever! I can't wait until she takes the cure. She might get some sort of personality once she becomes human again. Gotta love the Originals, deep down their wicked cold blooded hearts, they care. Psycho-serial vampire killer Klaus loves Caroline and asking semi-reformed Damon for advice. Touching and disturbing. How cool was Bonnie boxing-in Klaus at the Gilbert residence? It's about time someone can cripple an Original. Don't hate me Stefan & Elena fans, but I thoroughly enjoyed the Rebekah & Stefan scenes. I think those two could truly make a go of it, if Stefan ever gets over his Elena obsession. Elena needs to stop drinking the Rebekah haterade. She lost the right to be jealous once she choose Damon and announced to the world she is in love with him. So grow up Elena, you can't have your cake and eat it too. Last, I must share my favorite jaw dropping moment...Jeremy shirtless. Any excuse to have Jeremy rip off his shirt I'm all for it. I had to manually close my jaw. I vote Jeremy to be shirtless for a full future episode! Who's with me? Hoping next episode really goes somewhere, cause this story line is dragging. Over n Out.

  • Klara93 Feb 05, 2013

    I'm thinking since they just killed of like 1/5 of the vampire population (2/5 since they killed finn tooo) shoudn't that leave a lot of pissed off partners and friends? I mean not all of these millons of vampires were bad right? It would be kinda cool (and realistic) if our MF-gang got hunted down by a mob of angry vampires (created by rebekah, elijah or klaus) who sought revenge for the death of their loved ones.

  • _Fire_Ice Feb 06, 2013

    Solid plan I like this idea, sorta like when Lexi's boyfriend came after Damon, and I don't think they'd need to track them down, hell Klaus would probably tell them if he thought it would cause trouble.

  • bleumystique Feb 06, 2013

    It would be awesome. But how would they track 'em down?!

  • Klara93 Feb 06, 2013

    Don't know really, but there must be other vampires who know about the originals and since they are feared, maybe they know their wherabouts (and therefore they have stayed out of MF so far). Then they might be guessing that if Kol died in MF then the killer might still be there. I'm thinking there must be more vampires like Slater (remember him?) that likes to keep track of known vampires.

    But sadly i think my theory above will remain just that. A theory.

  • virgo091085 Feb 05, 2013

    so the tvd writers must really deeply regret killing off lexi. interestingly she hosted some clips for this short web show 'tvd #rehash' where she hilariously goes over twitter comments with hashtag tvd. cwtv has cool stuff for tvd fans now i have checked it out for first time in a long time.

  • melkat16 Feb 05, 2013

    Candice accola's body is weirdly shapeless.
    Accola's body = | | = gross
    Dobrev's body = >< = great

  • Madelynn1984 Feb 07, 2013

    ????? Both total babes!

  • melkat16 Feb 15, 2013

    Accola = shaped like a tree trunk = gross
    Elena = shaped like an hourglass = total babe

  • Madelynn1984 Feb 17, 2013

    Are you trolling or something? Wow, if Candice Accola's body is gross, you must have trouble finding a date to your standards in real life. . . considering she's probably hotter than anyone you know.

  • chris17blue Feb 05, 2013

    Am I the only one who didn't miss Caroline at all ?? I remember when Bonnie wasn't even written in 4-5 episodes in a row. Why are people complaining. Bonnie is my favorite character on the show so I'm glad she gets more screen time. :) :)

    "Stefan called the Originals "dysfunctional bickering lunatics." There's your promo tag for the spin-off, CW!" -- This made me smile, very clever.

    The episode was action packed, amazingly fun to watch. Stefan/Rebekah scenes were touching. Especially when she talked about having a family. Stefan is so great paired up with anyone but Elena. He is always brooding to quote Damian and all about protecting/obsessing over Elena. It's been not fun to watch. But now that they have broken up, he is GREAT!

    Also small note. I believe there is NO CURE. I think Shane lied to them. Hey, I may be wrong but all the signs point to no cure.

  • bleumystique Feb 06, 2013

    You are not alone. I did not miss Caroline one bit. That's how great the episode was, and that's how well the people there commanded the viewer's attention.

    I'm starting to wonder about the cure too! I mean remember the Sun and the Moon curse? I have serious TVD trust issues after that awesome moment of WTF?-ery!

  • Chocolatier Feb 13, 2013

    Usually I'd miss Caroline but she's been such little Judgy McJudge for the last couple of eps its a refreshing break. Also the sun and the moon curse was so stupid. Remember the freaking moonstone!! Now instead of a moonstone we have a headstone wooooo...

  • chris17blue Feb 07, 2013

    Yep! I do remember the Sun and Moon curse being one big nothing! The writers really upset me, that's why I think there's no cure. : ) :)

  • _Fire_Ice Feb 06, 2013

    Oh god the cure is for sure a sun and the moon thing, it was probably just a bunch of witches came up with it so they would release Silas, so bored with the cure, I think that's why them killing Kol sucked even more, not only did he die but he died for the stupidest reason. who really wants Elena to be human again come on, who would want anyone to be human.

  • Klara93 Feb 06, 2013

    Agree, also very bored witht the cure! I thought it was a crappy idea from the beginning, I mean you can't CURE a vampire! They are dead, end of story.

    But one interesting thing that the cure has brought is that we no longer have the MF-crimefighters v.s. Klaus. Instead the MF-team has been seperated and now everyone wants the cure for different reasons. This makes whole new situation for our characters.

  • InsanelyMe Feb 05, 2013

    Bane, Delena, Klaroline, Mabekah, Janna (even though Anna is dead), Jalaric (even though both of them are dead).
    This is the way to go.
    Although I'd prefer Rebekah would just be forever alone.
    And I feel bad for Tyler. He can just go with Hayley and have wolf-babies.
    Yes.
    BANE.

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