‘The Vampire Diaries’ Smackdown: Bamon vs. Benzo!

The Vampire Diaries "Age of Innocence" Season 7 Episode 3 (5)

After somehow managing to control myself over the course of much of this season, I finally reached my limit with “The Vampire Dairies” last week, as the show tried to sell me in earnest on the whole idea of Bonnie Bennett (Kat Graham) and Enzo St. John (Michael Malarkey) as a couple by compressing events over the course of a few years into one episode- or really, if we’re being technical, a few scenes within said episode.

As one might expect with such a hard sell, it did not go over well, with me or a lot of other people, it seems, if the amount of comments I got on the episode review was any indication. Typically, I only get a handful of comments, which is fine. I mean, I do this for a living and read reviews and recaps all the time and rarely comment, either, if I’m being honest.

As such, I really appreciate it when someone takes the time out of their no doubt busy schedules to do so, and in this case, the response was pretty overwhelming, both on this site and elsewhere on the internet, notably on my Twitter feed and on the IMDB message boards. In short, fans are mad as hell and not going to take it anymore, to quote the classic 70’s flick “Network.”

Oh, maybe they’re not quite ready to shout it from the roof tops, but they aren’t happy, that’s for sure. While I’ll allow that a few people didn’t mind the pairing commonly known as “Benzo,” with some of them rightfully telling people they needed to “calm down” and that it’s “just a show” and these are just “fictional characters,” I think I speak for a lot of others when I say that, while that may be true, it doesn’t mean we have to like it, either.

I mean, am I losing sleep over whether Bonnie ends up with Enzo or Damon (Ian Somerhalder)? Um, no. I’ve got too many other things to deal with IRL to spend that much time worrying about faux couples. But does it matter, as a fan? You betcha.

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Show-runners don’t need me to tell them that the fate of a given show often relies on the reactions they get from certain plot developments, as well as the fall-out from the fates of various characters, if they choose to eliminate them, not to mention how fans feel about a departing cast member.

In the case of “TVD,” they’ve absolutely had to deal with a lot of all of the above, most notably the loss of not one but two Gilberts, Elena (Nina Dobrev) and Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen), which is a big deal, as both were central figures in the series. Sure, one could make the argument that both characters had somewhat run out of steam over the years, but still, losing the leading lady of a show like this is nonetheless a huge deal.

Factor in the loss of what were almost inarguably the show’s best villains ever, the “Originals”- albeit to a new spin-off series, so it wasn’t all bad- and that’s a lot to overcome, least of all for a show that’s been on seven seasons and counting.

So, understandably, the show sought to shake things up a bit, by flash-forwarding the action a bit and working towards a new status quo for things, post-Dobrev. In doing so, they naturally sought to mix things up by pairing off various characters with one another, with wildly varying results.

For instance, there was the whole pairing off of Caroline and Alaric. Now, this actually was well-thought out, IMHO. With Caroline giving birth to Alaric’s kids via a magical spell cast for reasons we won’t get into here, it makes sense that Caroline would want to be involved in raising said kids after giving birth to them, and with Stefan MIA, I can see where the two would have gotten close.

The Vampire Diaries -- "Kill 'Em All"

And yet, smartly, the show opted not to go the romantic relationship route, as the two were shown to be sleeping in separate beds and essentially just partnering up to raise two kids, which would be a handful for anyone, much less a single parent. Yes, Alaric had made plans to get married, but it seemed more like a marriage of convenience and practicality, not love.

I have no problem with any of this, least of all in that Stefan’s reappearance almost instantly threw things between Caroline and Alaric in disarray. All of this is logical and reasonably well planned, to an extent that shows some thought was genuinely put into it.

This leads me to Bonnie and Enzo. Unlike Caroline and Alaric, where there were justifiable reasons for the two being together, here there really was no precedence or reason for it. It literally comes off like, “Oh what the hell, let’s just throw these two together and see what happens.”

Think about it. If you go back in time, and I don’t just mean before the time jump, but in general, what you see is two characters that basically hated each other. Oh, they would work together on occasion, but typically only if they had to. Nor was it one of those “they hate because they love” kind of things, either, as we’ve seen on many other shows, from “X-Files” to “Bones” to “Castle.”

Enzo made no secret of his love for Lily (Annie Wersching) and Bonnie has been single ever since Jeremy left town, though circumstances haven’t exactly been greatly conducive to her hooking up with much of anybody, given all the crap she’s had to deal with, plot-wise. (Seriously, this show has put Bonnie through the wringer over the last few years- but that’s material for another article.)

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On the other hand, there’s plenty of evidence to support Bonnie and Damon getting together. Think about it: both lost someone (her Jeremy, him Elena), both also had to go through the aftermath of Elena’s current fate together and are inextricably tied to it- in Bonnie’s case, literally for the rest of her life- and both have gone to hell and back several times over the course of the series.

In addition, both were trapped in an alternate world together for some time, forced to relive the same day over and over, with only each other to keep them company. (Okay, eventually there was Kai, but the less said about him, the better.) That’s the sort of thing that can bond people together for life.

Now, I know what some of you Benzo fans are going to say, in terms of that last point: so were Bonnie and Enzo, in a sense. As we learned last week, Bonnie has been laying low in a cabin, with only a host of files, a guitar and occasional visits from Enzo to keep her company. Now, that they two might bond somewhat and even hook up if this were real, I’m certainly not disputing- but fall in love? Debatable, especially given their mutually shared hatred for one another.

I put it to you that the following interpretation makes much more sense: Enzo, who has a reputation for manipulating events to his own personal gain, simply did the same here. A locked-up Bonnie was suffering from a classic case of Stockholm Syndrome, in which one ends up bowing to the will of their captor. In this case, Bonnie fell for Enzo, but only because he manipulated things to go his way.

Even within the show’s own given examples, we see Enzo pop in briefly here and there over the years, at one point even dressing up and setting up an elaborate ad-hoc New Years’ Eve celebration before promptly bailing, leaving her both hanging before a potential kiss and alone on a holiday in the process. (God only knows what her Christmas was like.)

THE VAMPIRE DIARIES Somebody That I Used To Know

Factor in the fact that he was, albeit unknowingly, actively giving her poison that kept her from a witch’s raison d’être: doing magic. Not to mention it was slowly killing her to boot. Now, granted, this part wasn’t calculated, but there’s no denying it put Bonnie in a vulnerable state, and one which Enzo definitely took advantage of.

Now, do I necessarily blame him? No, Kat Graham and ergo, Bonnie, by extension, is gorgeous. What guy wouldn’t have done so, in his position? But that don’t make it love. Love is earned, not stolen. My thinking is that, if the show is smart, this will all prove to be an elaborate ruse meant to steer Bonnie in the direction of the person she should really be with: Damon.

That’s a big if, though. The problem is, so much of the writing over the last few seasons has been so erratic that I’m not sure what to think. I feel like so much of what happens functions as ret-conning for mistakes made by previous writers who don’t know the history of the characters they’re writing that the show is in danger of collapsing in on itself, and that’s a problem.

Hell, don’t take my word for it. One need only look at the dwindling ratings, which ultimately led to the show having to vacate its long-held Thursday night slot and move to the dreaded Friday night death slot.

Yes, granted, some shows have flourished there from time to time- who can forget the much-beloved TGIF block on ABC in the 90s? – but “TVD” isn’t one of them, having gone from 2.5 million on the Season 5 premiere down to 1.8 million on the Season 6 premiere to 1.3 million on the Season 7 premiere. Since then, it’s sunk down to a series low of just over a million, so, yeah, Fridays are clearly not working for them.

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Thankfully, the show has eked out at least one last season as of recently, so it has a chance to reclaim some of its past glory by ending strong. The question is, can it? I will allow that listening to the fans and letting that influence one’s show can be a risky proposition.

Sometimes, a la “Game of Thrones,” it’s best to just march to the beat of your own drummer and let the chips fall where they may and hope that the fans continue to watch. However, it’s also tricky to pull off a long-term, ongoing plotline, as “Elementary” learned the hard way in more recent seasons, which also resulted in a time slot change for that show and likewise, a by-the-skin-of-their-teeth renewal.

Of course, there’s no guarantee that the show is even planning something like that with the whole Benzo/Bamon thing. Obviously, the flash-forward thing was plotted out in advance, so there’s that, showing that at least some thought was put into the current season, but was there enough thought put into it? That remains to be seen, but clearly some fans would beg to differ in certain instances, not to mention whether or not the flash-forward gambit was even worth the pay-off.

I realize that the last few episodes of the season are no doubt in the can, which means that whatever they have planned is basically too late to do anything about, but that doesn’t mean they can’t plan accordingly moving forward into the next, potentially final season. Both Kat Graham and Ian Somerhalder have said this will likely be their last season, so why not give them both a happy ending in one fell swoop?

After all, it’s all there in the set-up. It’s not as if Bamon was without precedence, and more importantly, from what I’ve seen, the vast majority of fans are on board with it. Keep in mind, this is not at all a slight to Graham and Malarkey themselves, who have nothing if not done the best they could with what they were given. Both in question did everything they could to sell this, even while many of us rolled their eyes in disdain, so they are certainly not at fault here.

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Lord knows, I can’t blame Graham for wanting to leave the show after so many dead-end plotlines and the show almost constantly dumping on her characters for several seasons straight, though. But even so, she always gives it her best, doing what she can to make something out of what little she is given. Don’t you think it’s time to give back, writers?

And not just to the actors, to the fans. You don’t have to necessarily let the fans dictate what you do in the next season, but you should certainly take it under advisement, at the very least. I think if the writers go into the next season as if it were their last, even if it proves not to be, they could go a long way towards working to a satisfactory finale.

One that both brings the series around full circle and provides a satisfactory conclusion to what will then be eight seasons of largely engaging supernatural drama. Or they could just ignore everything I and a lot of others have been saying and blow it. Could go either way, really.

But yeah, that said: you guys totally need to make Bamon happen, people. There- I’ve said it.

Who’s with me?