Vampire Academy 1×09 “Darkness” sets up a season finale where, for once, we might have something to care about outside of the main foursome. It does so, however, in the same clunky way the show has done everything in Season 1. Do I care about Andre being alive and what that means only because I’ve read the books, or do I care because the show has managed to convey what he means to both Lissa and Rose? It’s hard to tell at this point.
On the upside, the Romitri angst reaches its highest point of the season in “Darkness,” and the actors involved in the so-called love triangle deliver in every respect. Mason is good and charming and you want to root for him, you just don’t, because like Meredith, we all understand he isn’t really Rose’s choice – he’s her fallback plan. Dimitri, meanwhile, takes self-sacrificing to a whole new level, while Rose is just out there trying to choose herself and failing because …well, she isn’t really doing that as much as choosing avoidance.
So let us talk about the things that do not make sense, the world this show is trying to set up and the motivations that are actually clear cut as we discuss Vampire Academy 1×09 “Darkness”:
BUT, WHAT WAS THE POINT OF THAT* KISS AGAIN?
I’m just humbly going to ask …what was the point of Dimitri kissing Tatiana again? Other than, presumably, getting fans mad at him? There’s no follow-through to that, and it has absolutely no bearing on the character or the plot in this episode. It’s just a thing that happens and we’re supposed to forget about, which makes no sense considering how out of character it was in the first place.
Dimitri’s whole crisis of faith storyline didn’t need that kiss. Just him being Tatiana’s champion would have been enough – though even then, it would have been good to get more of an explanation of what Dimitri knew about her beliefs and when. As it stands, everything having to do with the two of them was basically just drama for the sake of drama, something the show has actually been pretty good about avoiding this season.
Let’s be clear, Tatiana isn’t the other side of the coin to Mason. Mason is a pretty good guy who actually cares about Rose, and who Rose likes, even if she doesn’t love him. Tatiana as presented in this is basically the devil incarnate, and someone who doesn’t think Dimitri is anything more than a thing she can throw at danger – and yet he willingly not just fought for her, but kissed her. And sure, I can try to chalk that up to self-loathing, but I’m not supposed to be guessing at character motivations, especially not in the penultimate episode of the season.
WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE?
This leads to the other big issue with the season, which is that everyone outside of Rose, Dimitri, Lissa and Christian is just …well, there. We have some basic ideas about their motivations, but that’s it. We haven’t spent enough time with them to truly get to know them, and we really don’t understand why they go from A to B. Mia and Meredith’s entire relationship, for example, is a thing we want to root for, but that we can never invest in as much as we invest in Rose and Dimitri because the show hasn’t invested in them either.
Ironically, this is also true of Viktor and Tatiana, and even the Queen. There are two people vying for the throne, and someone on the throne, and we presumably know why Viktor wants the throne, but do we really? I mean, Tatiana is the worst and I want to stop her is a valid reason, but who really is Viktor? What does he want? And what is he willing to do to get it? These are questions we should have a clearer handle on at this point in the season.
Tatiana is more or less the same. As a villain, she’s entirely one-dimensional, despite the show hinting at some secret pain. We dislike her on principle, but we don’t understand why she says the things she says or does the things she does – much less understand how she managed to keep Andre alive and hidden all this time. And without that, even the part where we hate her is just perfunctory. She should be more. They all should be more. But instead, we have a couple of really good storylines, centered around the main characters, and nothing more. And though yes, this is what I would have chosen if given the chance, considering they did that pretty well …now I’m just greedy and I want more.
WHATEVER MAKES YOU HAPPY
Credit where credit is due, Lissa puts her money where her mouth is this episode and actually does what she believes is best for Rose, aka letting her go. She wowed their relationship was going to be one of equals, and that means she’s gotta make the effort to treat Rose like an adult who can make her own decisions, not a friend who’s basically a slave to her whims. But, of course, all of this can only come courtesy of some pretty wilful ignorance on the part of both.
Rose gets to say hey, this is bigger than me, so I can just bail. She does. It’s trauma talking, because she’s only just realized she’s lived her entire life for others, not even because she wanted to, but because she was conditioned to. And Lissa gets to say go Rose, be happy, I’ve got this and I will fix this messy world so you can come back to it because that’s really what she wants to do and she’s got powers that makes her believe she can.
But some common sense on the part of both would actually be good, too. Rose leaving right now is the worst possible idea. Not just for Rose and Lissa, but for Dimitri, Mason, and even the dominion. Staying all this time when the status quo was what it was sucked, but pretending Rose leaving is going to make things better for anyone isn’t all that better. I know Rose and Lissa are still, in many ways, kids, but one of them is going to have to figure out how to use common sense if they’re going to change things for the better. It’s not about saying this is what I want and pretending just because you want it then it’s true. You have to actually put in the work.
SHE DESERVES TO BE SAFE AND HAPPY
The Dimitri of Vampire Academy 1×09 “Darkness” is basically the same Dimitri of every episode sans a few minutes of the last one, aka he’s the one following the rules, even when the rules are dumb, but putting Rose above everything, no matter what. Basically, Dimitri hasn’t met a rule he won’t follow in normal circumstances, and a rule he won’t break for Rose Hathaway.
He isn’t even mad about it, or bitter. He loves Rose, and all he wants is for her to be happy. If that’s with Mason and away from St. Vladimir’s so be it. Real love isn’t selfish, and what Dimitri feels for Rose really, really isn’t. He could never truly comprehend a future with her, so he doesn’t have any trouble “letting her go,” as long as she’s happy and cared for. Which doesn’t mean he doesn’t want her to stay. Or that he doesn’t know she will stay if she knew he was in trouble (man, that’s gotta hurt, to see the guy you suspect your girl loves basically being like, she’ll drop you like a hot potato if you tell her I’m in trouble). Oh, no, Dimitri is the definition of yearning in this episode, but all from the same conceal, don’t feel mantra by which he lives his life.
And no, this isn’t inconsistent with his Adrian reaction. That was less jealousy and more Adrian being way too much like the father Dimitri is desperate to never become. Ironic, considering Adrian’s book connection to Dimitri, but I’m not going to fully spoil here. That’s what Google is for. The point is, that was Dimitri’s daddy issues, the thing with Mason is just …normal, confident, self-sacrificing, in-love Dimitri who still tries to keep a straight face and not let his feelings show.
It’s the little moments that give him away. The way he gravitates toward Rose. The way he feels her almost before he sees her. The way, when she leaves his presence, he almost has to stop himself from reaching out. The hand he places against his heart. The way every little touch, every little moment is something he cherishes. Dimitri isn’t even subtle – everyone at St. Vladimir’s can see it, right? – and that’s why the thing that happened last episode cannot be treated as anything but an outlier. It’s not even the desperate attempt of a man trying to hang onto something other than his love for Rose …it’s just, nonsensical writing.
So I’ll do the show the courtesy of pretending it didn’t happen and not judge Dimitri for it, considering he and everyone else around him is acting like it wasn’t a thing, anyway. In this episode, Dimitri is once again 200% about Rose, which is his basic mood anyway, so that’s all I’m processing.
I have many questions, starting with what, moving on to how, and ending with why? The most immediate one is how. Like seriously, Tatiana can just kidnap a royal Moroi like that, presumably fake his death (how did she even do that, did no one look for a body?) and keep him hidden so close for months on end without any problems? But also, what purpose does Andre serve in this story? None, so he’s probably going to die in the next episode, which kinda sucks since Lissa just got him back and there are so many possibilities for him going forward.
As I said before, for all the things this show has done right character and relationship-wise, some of the bigger storyline decisions are …baffling, at best. And though this moment does work shock-factor-wise (I was shook, I tell you, shook), it really needs to be about more than that to work – especially considering the entire point of that Dimitri/Tatiana kiss was shock value too.
New episodes of Vampire Academy are available Thursdays on Peacock. The first nine episodes are now available to stream.
I swear you are in my head when I read your recaps. It’s everything I’m thinking and you are always spot on. I said the exact same thing about Tatiana and Dimitri’s illicit kiss. Um, why? What purpose did it serve? There was no follow through in this episode like it didn’t even happen. So what was the POINT? Ugh.
I also find a lot of issues with how other events are portrayed on screen aside from the core four. The whole Andre thing is messily done. You’re right. Did his body just vanish from the car crash? And if so, why didn’t Lissa mention that? I found it odd that there was a car crash and no one wondered why it happened? Was the driver drunk? Compromised? Saw someone or something in the road? It was never said- which makes the later reveal that Mason and Meredith were researching it and how nothing added up kind of randomly done. They should have always said that the accident was suspicious and then the Nancy Drew portion of the group’s looking into things would have felt more organic.
Also, it took until this episode for me to realize Meredith and Mason are supposed to be best friends. I never knew this, because the show was lax in showing us. I knew they were friends or at least friendly, but not bffs. Also they throw tiny backstory about Mason’s dad and Meredith having secret sojourns off site, but I know we won’t get any answers on that this season.
I also have issues with how uneven Lissa and Rose’s friendship is. I know a lot has to do with society, but Lissa has at least confided in Rose about her feelings for Christian, her possibly having to marry Jesse, and her powers. On the other hand she finally finds out about Rose and Dimitri but then doesn’t question when Rose says she’s leaving with Mason. Decidedly NOT Dimitri. Doesn’t she wonder what happened there? If Lissa is serious about making a better world where the Moroi and the Dhampirs are equal, then she should know that Rose and Dimitri faltered because they hesitated in leaving each other to save Lissa. That Dimitri couldn’t get past that and ended things. Lissa needs to stop being coddled and learn that Rose suffers sometimes because of her. And because of her duty to her and all Moroi.
All in all, I love this show but it does need some polishing up. They have a goldmine in the chemistry with the two main couples – Rose and Dimitri more so than Lissa/Christian- but that can’t be all. I’m like you. I just want things to make sense more.