The heterosexual matrix has nothing to do with red or blue pills, rabbit holes, or Keanu Reeves--it essentially means a love triangle--usually with a hero and an anti-hero vying for the trivial affections of the same equally trivial woman. Classic iconic narratives like Robin Hood and Arthurian legend (King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, Camelot, Merlin, etc.) evolved from their medieval roots to incorporate the heterosexual matrix as a normalizing vehicle for what was essentially stories about men living together. As social attitudes shifted over the course of time, masculinity was best defined by heterosexuality--aka women. Women like Maid Marion made the men in stories like Robin Hood seem more noble, more honorable, and ultimately, more masculine through heterosexual vulnerability. It was the same with Arthurian legend; Guenivere, like Maid Marion, was also a later inclusion in order to make the heroes in the story--namely Arthur and Lancelot--more masculine. LJane uses the same iconic template with the Salvatore brothers. And this aspect of the CW's Vampire Diaries is what Season 2 writers decided to close on.
Elena is loved by both Damon and Stefan Salvatore; these two brothers-in-arms, like Arthur and Lance, have a pattern of falling in love with the same woman at the same time. I'd call it cliche but both LJane and the actors of Vamp Diaries make what could be a tired plot device work well.
Damon is bitten by a werewolf--Tyler Lockwood. It was an accident; Damon was protecting Caroline and Matt. Damon's always portrayed as the more monstrous of the two Salvatore brothers--which is why he's the most human, and humane. Stefan, who walks around as though he has a large stick tightly wedged somewhere inappropriate, is the real "ripper." And Elena is equally fitted with a similar stick--as though she actually believes she's as good and desirable as the Brothers Salvatore make her out to be. At least she finally gets off her high horse in the end to comfort the dying Damon.
My favorite emerging characters this season were Jeremy Gilbert, Elena's baby-bro, and Caroline Forbes, a frienemy of Elena's who gets caught in the vampiric cross-fire, resulting in her turning into one of the fanged-ones. Both characters played crucial roles over the course of the season. Caroline's formerly vapid persona becomes grounded and real--she's a definite Scarlet O'Hara--so having the town screening as a backdrop for multiple scenes was well-done. Jeremy dies. Oh, come on--it's not really a spoiler--he's died before. And just like the last several times, he comes back from the dead--but this time, he wasn't alone. Looks like peeking through the veil has a cost. But if I know the writers and the audience (and I do), this, too, shall pass (as a future positive...sugar cube, anyone?).
The third season begins in fall 2011; it's smart to do this. Stretching out a season over fall, winter and spring has worked for two seasons; it keeps the writers and actors happy, as well as the audience. However, my best guess is--at some point--the actors will get too big for their britches and begin spiraling off, despite their contracts.
Fellow Leo and almost-29-year old, Paul Wesley (Wasilewski), would be terribly stupid to leave Vampire Diaries behind. Though Wesley's been cast in a varietal of films and television series--he's no Brad Pitt (sorry, Paul--loved you in Wolf Lake but you have a Ben Affleck-like stiffness without the talented best friend-genius of Matt Damon behind you...). Wesley should ride this fame-wave for as long as the audience can suspend their disbelief that this almost 3-decades old actor looks believable less than two.
Ian Somerhalder, the 32-year old actor and philanthropist from Louisiana, oozes Cajun charisma and charm; like Wesley, Somerhalder has had a steady career of smaller parts in both film and television, including cult-hit, Lost. But Somerhalder actually has the potential to become the next Brad Pitt. This guy is beautiful inside and out; he started a foundation to help defer medical costs for stray animals...and you've gotta love a guy who loves animals. Not sure what the future holds for this ragin' vamped-up Cajun, but I'm hopeful Somerhalder stays with Vampire Diaries, and that his agent places him in key film roles in the coming years so this 2010 Teen Choice Award Favorite Villain becomes the hero we all know him to be already.
Twenty-two year old Nina Dobrev (Dobreva), the Bulgarian-born Canadian actor/model who plays not one but two characters on the CW's Vamp Diaries, has a slew of films coming out in 2011 and 2012--all in post-production. But my favorite will always be her Herculean role in the 2008 Never Cry Wolf with former demi-god, Kevin Sorbo--great stuff! Dobrev is gorgeous--like a china doll--and has the potential to go on to bigger and better things in the wake of her Vampire Diaries fame.
These three teen-TV powerhouses are in the right place at the right time; the world is their oyster--at least, for the moment. But the real question everyone wants answered as Vampire Diaries continues forward is whether or not the audience gets to see Caroline Forbes carry Tyler Lockwood's hybrid twins??? Oh, yeah--and whether or not the writers allow Elena and Damon to explore their mutual attraction further....
Overall, Vampires Diaries S2 finale gets a big thumbs up from your Pop Culture Professor: 8.5/10. Liike familiar friends coming together after a summer of sun and fun, I look forward to seeing the characters pick up where they left off in fall.