Promo screen grabs all from www.vampirediaries.net
Just when we were arming ourselves with pitchforks to storm the CW offices and demand an extended Vampire Diaries Season Three extended promo, STAT, they delivered in style.
Let’s indulge in the debauchery, campiness and decadence! This post is only spoilery if you consider promos to be spoilery.
Here’s the promo in full:
The new promo put the cast posters that were released earlier into deliciously sexy, bloody, gory context.
Fandom has been ambivalent about these shots of Elena, Stefan, Damon and Klaus, each clutching a different piece of blood-soaked fruit.
Me? I loved them! Here’s why: they remind me of those old Gothic paintings that aren’t intended to be a true representation of their subject, that are all about the subtext rather than the literal, but leaves you wondering how much of what is represented is real and how much is illusory – the fruit each character is holding symbolises where they are at in the storyline, and hints about where they will be taken in season three (more on that later).
This season is bound to be about shifting loyalties and motivations, and I bet things will not always be as they seem. Plus, I think this season will be all about testing the perceptions we have of characters up until now, and how much truth these perceptions actually hold. I’m particularly intrigued by the Elena image, because of her identical countenance to her evil vampire doppelganger Katherine. So, the surreal quality of the images, crappy photoshopping notwithstanding, just plain works for me.
These posters also remind me of the show’s signature kill – hearts freshly ripped from the bodies of victims. Have we ever seen a heart ripped from a human on the show though? I mean, we’ve seen werewolves and vampires de-hearted, but I can’t recall a human dying in this way. Could this mean that this season will be about the vulnerabilities of seeming indestructible beings like werepire Klaus? Hmm. They don’t even necessarily have to be physical vulnerabilities, but emotional ones, like the loneliness of inherent in being an immortal being.
Mostly, I’m just disappointed that we didn’t have a picture of Elijah holding two bloody melons or something, as an homage to my favourite heart double-header kill of his.
Or, for that matter, a picture of Caroline holding a banana, in light of the Tyler/Caroline action that goes down in the trailer.
Mind, meet gutter. Have a fabulous time acquainting yourself with each other, and getting all dirty and generally all-around smutty together.
The Vampire Diaries is the ultimate guilty pleasure, so I’m loving that this extended trailer is all about sins – Original sins, Originals sinning, and deadly sins.
The promo is laden with Garden of Edenesque overtones, complete with more than one type of forbidden fruit and vampire Original Klaus as an extraordinarily seductive serpent whispering in Stefan’s ear.
But you can also interpret it using the seven deadly sins – wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy and gluttony – as a frame.
So, here is the promo through the lens of the seven deadly sins. Though I guess all sins have the potential to turn deadly when it comes to vampires and other supes…
Special thanks to KJewls from www.tvrecappersanonymous.wordpress.com, who awesomely suggested a while ago that it would be fun to analyse the characters of the series through the seven deadly sins – her idea INSTANTLY came to mind when I was watching the promo! Think of this as a present thanking you, Julie, for the awesome full recaps you do for TVD episodes week in, week out. By the way, if you haven’t read it already, be sure to check out Julie and Amy’s (from www.imaginarymen.wordpress.com) own AMAZING breakdown of the promo. Amy’s blasphemy (biblical!) about Tyler aside, of course. Hee!
Sloth & Wrath – Elena
For the purposes of this analysis, wrath will be defined as anger, usually associated with violence, violent reaction or acting out. Sloth will be defined as spiritual or emotional apathy, a wasting away of an intangible ideal.
We’ve seen the deadly sin of sloth play out for Elena already. Her identity as the Doppelganger and the key to Klaus being able to destroy humanity, the tragedy of her parents’ death, and her unwillingness to let other loved ones die… all of these elements caused a wasting away of her innocence, and her giving up at one point to the extent she wanted to martyr herself rather than putting someone else in harm’s way.
Here is an excerpt from an incredibly thought-provoking piece of meta on Elena:
Fandom can be a tad harsh about Elena’s martyr complex, but I’m not gonna lie–Elena’s kamikaze suicide missions are why she’s my girl. It’s not that I consider her actions the height of heroism, it’s simply that I find her desire to give up so utterly and profoundly human, it makes me wonder how I ever found her unrelateable.
It also makes her “fine, thank you” persona all the more tragic, because the reality of Elena Gilbert is that she’s doomed to destroy everything she touches, by sheer virtue of being born. After all, she was born as a Petrova Doppelganger, and as a key in the plan of the oldest vampire in time to destroy humanity. That does things to a girl. Elena says it herself in 2.09 Katerina: “Everything is because of me.” She can’t cling to the semblance of okay-ness anymore. People die around her, how could it not matter.
I think a really telling moment is in 2.21 The Sun Also Rises, when she tells Jeremy that she’s so sorry he’s lost so many people — but, well, so has she. The difference is that she no longer sees herself as an innocent. She never was. She was born implicated, and she wears the face of a killer.
And ultimately, I believe that it’s this deep sense of inferiority that leads to Elena’s best, most famed quality: her stunning, character-defining capacity for empathy. It’s what allows her to connect with other people’s lowest, loneliest moments–even when they don’t deserve it. I feel like I see a lot of criticism of Elena for being “too forgiving” or what have you, but in all honesty, I think that’s missing the point. I think that what people are not getting there is that Elena’s forgiving nature emphatically does not come from a place of moral superiority. That’s why she’s able to hug Damon not a day after he’s held her hostage, to forgive Stefan for repeatedly lying to her and nearly killing her classmate, to give Tyler a moment of grace after he was partly responsible for her nearly getting killed. Because what Elena longs for more than anything in the entire world is to be absolved, herself, to right the wrongs of the universe, to bring her dead family back. She would do anything. (It kind of makes you wonder where she draws the line–or if she even has one at all.)
After all she has been through, girlfriend is due for one hell of a hissy fit (wrath).
Her wrath, hinted at in the promo with an Elena clearly close to breaking point, might manifest itself in another way… her descent into becoming more like Katherine.
One of the most intriguing notions of the promo for me is that Elena might turn out to be the hidden serpent of season three. Hey, things are meant to get dark, guys!
A lot of people have been wondering if it is Elena or Katherine featured in the first part of the promo, what with Nina Dobrev lounging all sexy and langorously like.
I definitely think it is meant to be Elena, but the subtext is that Elena is either more like Katherine than we have been shown so far, or she will be severely tempted to become more like Katherine and give into darker impulses.
Katherine is the specter that haunts Elena’s entire identity. As the Doppelganger, we don’t know how much Elena’s nature is influenced by her Doppelganger line. I could see Elena fearing becoming like Katherine above all else – after all, Katherine’s nature has led her to live a life alone, something Elena would favour death over. We haven’t really delved into it that much, but I bet that Elena has been repressing any part of herself that could be deemed like Katherine.
Damned If She Do, by The Kills, the song used in the promo, has lyrics that seem to suggest this Katherine/Elena dynamic, and what this means to Elena’s identity, will be explored more next season.
She damned if she do
She damned if she don’t
If history hang hang hangs her well
Her memory won’t
We also have Elena trying to reach the seductive cherry dangled just out of reach by Stefan – a movement that is significant not only because Ripper Stefan might try to tempt Elena down a dark path, but because Katherine is known for taking seductive pleasure in eating ruby red cherries (Masquerade and The Return are examples that spring to mind).
With Ripper Stefan coming out to play and Elena’s wrath no doubt at an all time high, I’m hoping that this means we will finally get some payoff next season about all the hints that have been dropped about Elena having similarities to Katherine. For instance, going way back to season one it’s been drummed into us that Elena had an entirely different personality, much more like Katherine’s, before her parents died. Who can forget the moment where Damon tells Elena she is more similar to Katherine than he realized, after she manipulates him on a road trip to get information out of him that she wants? Plus, we have seen subtle hints of her unconscious ability to manipulate, like her natural tendency to touch Damon, when she knows on some level that he is in love with her, as a means of persuasion.
Elena stabbing herself is like a symbolic stabbing of those aspects of her identity that she can struggle against but can’t change.
Greed – Klaus
I’m defining greed here in a psychological context – an inordinate desire to acquire or possess more than one needs or deserves.
We don’t know what makes Klaus tick yet. But what we do know is that he is willing to track down a doppelganger for centuries, all so that he can undertake a sacrifice ritual that will allow him to evolve from Original vampire to a hybrid between a wolf and vamp. Immortality and Original Sex God looks are apparently not enough for this man. I for one am very curious to discover why he was so desperate to become a werepire, when as an Original vamp with few worthy opponents, even from his fellow Originals, he hardly needed to soup up his indestructibility.
If we discover the inner workings of Klaus’ mind while he is rocking a Henley, so be it.
Lust & Envy – Damon
Lust, for me, is about desiring something more strongly than anything else at a point in time. Envy is all about lacking another’s (perceived) superior quality, achievement or possessions, and either desiring it or wishing that the other lacked it.
The whole premise of this show is Damon and Stefan’s competition for Elena’s attention and affections. The subtext of the promo is that while Stefan is likely to be in the back of Elena’s mind the entire time (Vampire Diaries.net astutely pointed out that Ripper Stefan pulling Elena’s hair from behind symbolized this), she’ll find it harder to deny the attraction and connection she has had for Damon since day one.
Damon is now in a position to get what he desires most: Elena. But at what cost? Stefan sacrificed his tenuous grip on humanity to cure his brother from a potentially fatal werewolf bite. So, despite Damon and Stefan having a decidedly screwed up relationship, there is bound to be some conflict in Damon in terms of being with the girl of the brother who saved him at the cost of his own soul.
It’s not surprising Damon holds the red apple, the ultimate forbidden fruit, in his hands, or that Ponytail Elena is wearing a RED shirt in the first clip from the Birthday episode of season three (which incidentally, also features soapy, naked Damon, in case you forgot).
Pride & Lust – Stefan
Pride is a high sense of one’s self, but also a stubbornness to admit when you are wrong (e.g. I found it hard to swallow my pride and apologise). The opposite of pride is either humility or guilt, the latter in particular being a sense of one’s own failure.
Stefan “I’m the good brother” Salvatore is a curious mix of pride and guilt, he is both someone obsessed with being the good brother to Damon’s bad brother, and someone who has an addictive personality that he has tried desperately to suppress when the Vampire Diaries series begins… but in season three will be giving into again.
Stefan’s approach to self-control is complete and utter abstinence. He drank animal blood in place of human blood until season two, rather than learning how to manage his hunger. His feelings for Katherine are debateable, but I would say that his professed hatred of her stems from his lack of control when he fell in love with her as a human – her compulsion (removal of free will) of him, his willingness to chase a woman his brother was enamoured with despite loving/respecting Damon. So, like his blood addiction, Katherine is something I am sure will need to be resolved for Stefan in season three and beyond.
So, we see Stefan’s pride at work when he emphatically tells Katherine he hates her, it’s his way of reasserting control, of telling her in no uncertain terms that she is no longer in control of him (“I’m not Damon. I haven’t spent the last 145 years obsessed with you.”), while Katherine tries to get it back (“Based on your choice of women, I’d say otherwise.”)
Similarly, Stefan defines himself in opposition to Damon because the foundation of his entire identity of being the good one is his pride leading him to believe that he isn’t just a monster. Even in Ripper mode in season one, he brought up this identity in front of Amber, a chick he had kidnapped and was casually discussing carotid arteries with and the ease with which they can turn a humans into living juiceboxes for vampires while she was under his compulsion.
In Founders Day, when Damon started showing signs of potentially usurping Stefan’s role as the only good brother, he quickly reasserted his position: “Well, see Damon, it’s only real when it comes from your desire to do the right thing for nothing in return and I know that is an entirely foreign concept to you. I completely understand you wouldn’t get it.”
Stefan’s pride, for me at least, has always been about his fears of what he could become, or even what he already is.
Klaus is whispering in his ear, but we don’t know how much of a hold the Original vampire will have over him. If he gives himself over to the dark side, how much will be a result of free will? What could push him over the edge and let go of his pride completely? *cough*Delena*cough*
Since everything ultimately comes back to Buffy for me when it comes to major vampire series comparisons, I thought it would be worth bringing up The Judge vs Angelus.
In season two of Buffy, The Judge is built up to be the biggest villain ever, no weapon forged can kill him, he burns the humanity out of people etc etc, yet as Spike points out, most of his time is just spent sitting on his butt, and the relative ease with which the Scoobs defeat him means that going up against him is almost an anti-climax. I always saw his impotence as being in direct opposition to the virilty of the true Big Bad to emerge in the same two-episode arc The Judge was in. Buffy’s gorgeous boyfriend turned out to be the true villain, whose power lay in his emotional connection. Angel said that “to kill this girl, you have to love her”. Sex = death is a major theme of Buffyverse, as also encapsulated in Buffy’s line to Angel, “When you kiss me, I wanna die”, which, at the time I first watched the episode, made my eyes roll so much they practically fell out of my head, but I now really like.
Klaus has been built as a Big Bad in a similar way to The Judge. “The oldest vampire in the history of time is coming after me?!” Hell, his badassery was such that he possessed Alaric before taking his own form after coming out of a coffin – the only vampire to be associated, so far, with such a powerful motif of vampire tales like Dracula. Like The Judge, he has kind of burned the humanity out of Stefan, or is well on his way to doing so.
Yet will Ripper Stefan try to destroy Elena? He might not necessarily try to kill her, but Amy suggested in her post to KJewls that he might try to deliberately turn her (and not as a desperate precaution to prevent her seemingly sure death in a sacrifice ritual), something which would go against her specific wishes to remain human. Will Elena’s love for Stefan be a tool that he uses?
Because, I think that Stefan will still want Elena no matter what, or in the very least will lust after her in the sense that he won’t want his brother to have something that was once his. It has Always Been Stefan. How would he handle this no longer being the case?
Lust – Caroline/Tyler
It’s no accident in my opinion, that, in a promo drenched, no dripping with sex and blood, we have Caroline and Tyler action amped up to the max, whereas Matt/Caroline’s ill-fated attempt at sexytimes in season one was glaringly dispassionate/bloodless in tone.
Caroline/Tyler is definitely love rather than lust, but this was the deadly sin that was the closest fit. Plus, they have supernaturally heightened appetites, so…
Soon I’ll have (slightly spoilery) ridiculously fangirly speculation up based on these new clips – basically comparing how Matt/Caroline were basically like eels thrashing about (TM Ginny Weasley) during their semi-sex scene, whereas Tyler/Caroline look to be more from the sunlit days/moonlit nights school of sex.
Yes, I have been aboard the Matt hate train a lot lately, I admit. Read this post from 12_12_12 that summarises why my disdain for him, largely stemming from Caroline love, has been at an all time high. That is not to say I don’t appreciate him with other characters, just FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, WRITERS, KEEP HIM AWAY FROM MY BABY VAMP.
Gluttony – Us
I would say the last group of sinner is us, the viewers. First, we had a teaser with the tagline to “whet our appetite”. Now, the extended promo is asking us to give into them.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to indulge in every last decadent piece of season three, beginning with a slice of Elena’s birthday cake. Assuming the real one is sans blood, of course!