The Vampire Diaries – Under Control – Episode review

I caught up with the latest episode in [[The Vampire Diaries (TV Series)|The Vampire Diaries]], Under Control. The series has clearly continued in its overly serious, angsty teen way, with Ian Somerhalder’s Damon playing the only really engaging character.

Well, that’s not strictly true – in Under Control, the drunks brought most of the action, and David Anders’ star turn as Uncle John Gilbert brought the rest.

The show continues to be as dumb as ever – remember a few weeks ago when Elena overturned her car in the middle of the road and abandoned it to go on a road trip/impromptu kidnapping with Damon? And the police didn’t discover the wrecked car or inform Auntie Whatsit about it? Well, this episode see Stefan – a vampire – working out with his top off. And while it might get the teenage girlies all a-quivering at the sight of his toned torso, can vampires even get fat? All the evidence from Inverview With The Vampire to True Blood suggests that when a vampire is made, their physical features will remain the same throughout their after-life.

Which brings me back to Stefan’s exercise regimen. WTF? Anyone?

Thankfully, Damon is at his mocking best, quipping and chiding Stefan for refusing to take blood. Stefan, of course, has fallen off the wagon quite spectacularly to the point where his bloodlust exceeds his lust for Elena. The two have a bit of a fumble on her bed, only for it to end badly, with Stefan fighting to control his primal urges. Har har!

Being such a scarily intense vampire, old Stefan swaps the blood for booze. It’s impossible not to notice that suddenly Stefan is fun. He wants to dance at the town Founders’ Ball and pick fights with jerks on the dancefloor.

Elsewhere, Matt Donovan’s family are imploding following the news of Vicky’s death. His alcoholic MILF mother Kelly winds up kissing Tyler as Matt and Elena walk out and catch them. What’s particularly tasteless about this kiss – apart from Tyler being her son’s friend – is that Tyler was just lamenting that he treated her daughter badly. Yes, her daughter. Nothing gets a mother hotter like talking about her dead daughter whose body was found in suspicious circumstances.

When Matt (understandably) attacks Tyler, he comes off worst. Yes, Tyler’s anger management problem is still bubbling under the surface, and one of these days we’ll find out why. Unless you’ve read the Vampire Diaries books and already know the answer to this riddle.

Kudos to Melinda Clarke for being a very hot, drunk mama.

Right, so that’s the drunken contingent out of the way. Let’s talk about Uncle John. First off, has David Anders’ hairline receeded further since I last saw him in Heroes? I think it has.

But Uncle John arrived in a blaze of menacing smugness. Why do all men hesitate before entering the Gilbert home – it’s to make us think they’ve all got a supernatural secret, right? Well, with the exception of Matt and Jeremy, virtually every other guy in The Vampire Diaries has a supernatural secret.

Upon arrival, Uncle John is clearly ‘up to something’, and his deep roots with the Mystic Falls Vampire Hunters Club are evident early on. His big coup of the evening is revealing to Damon that he knows everything about him and Stefan. But all praise to Damon, he snaps the annoying uncle’s neck and pitches him over a balcony.

And, displaying some of that immortality Anders’ character in Heroes had, Uncle John walks back into the Founders’ Ball as if nothing had happened. Spooking Damon for the first time in ages. Damon recruits Salzman to find out what’s going on, but clearly John has them outfoxed with the old “Kill me and everything I know will be passed to the town committee.” The big question is, why hasn’t John just outed Damon already? Is there a blackmail attempt in the offing?

Seriously, if I was a vampire looking for a quiet life, I’d move out of Mystic Falls. There’s clearly the VD (unfortunate acronym) equivalent of a Hellmouth lying underneath that town. It seems to be dragging in supernatural beasties from miles around.

Don’t get me started on the Jeremy Gilbert thread – his sudden desire for justice in the wake of Vicky Donovan’s death. Yawn yawn yawn.

Still, enough action in this episode for me to continue to declare Vampire Diaries ‘better than Twishite’. I like the new, darker version of Stefan. And we thought he was broody in the first half of the series! Phew! Damon continues to be my favourite character, mostly because of his devil may care attitude and the fact that you can never really tell how he’ll react to any given situation.


  1. RandomEnigma

    Out of all the vampire movies and shows infiltrating the media now, True Blood is the best! Tonight’s episode looks so good and unlike this show, it doesn’t take itself too seriously.

    1. Gerard McGarry

      I’m totally invested in True Blood – I’ve read all the books, on which the series is loosely based. There’s just something dark and funny and sexy about the world of Bon Temps that very few other vampire ‘sagas’ haven’t come close to.

      Vampire Diaries isn’t bad. It can be very overwrought and sometimes the plots are really shoddy – like the car wreck I mentioned above. Elena had a new car the next week, and nobody ever mentioned the crash or the abandoned car. It’s basically a bunch of hot high-schoolers with powers – witches, vampires and soon werewolves. But ten times better than the miseryfest that is Twilight.

  2. RandomEnigma

    Ah so Vampire Diaries is a bit like 90210 with a supernatural twist. I’ve never actually watched the show but, yes, definitely, it has to better than Twilight which I’m absolutely sick of.

    I am currently on the ninth Sookie Stackhouse book which True Blood is based on. It’s rare I say this, but the TV series is far more superior to the books which have a great premise but often read like an over-the-top soap opera. Thankfully, Alan Ball has sorted that out in its adaptation of the stories.

    1. Gerard McGarry

      I don’t know about 90210, I tend to think of it more like Smallville except with supernatural rather than super-powers. Essentially the vampires are pretty much bullet proof like young Clarke Kent. Everybody’s impossibly good looking. You know the drill.

      Let’s start a Sookie thread – I could talk about True Blood all day long. In fact, I’m going to suggest that the Book Club starts reading the Southern Vampire Mysteries from the first novel to the latest. Yes, it’s a trashy, soapy type of literature (but Google for a picture of Charlaine Harris to see why). Still, it helps to have a visual of the characters from the series when reading the books!

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