The Vampire Diaries: "Death And The Maiden"
B+

The Vampire Diaries: "Death And The Maiden"

B+

The Vampire Diaries

"Death And The Maiden"

Season 5, Episode 7
B+

The Vampire Diaries

"Death And The Maiden"

Season 5, Episode 7

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"True love prevails, universe be damned.”

These are Qetsiyah’s dying words. Words she utters right before joining her beloved on the other side. But her beloved loves another, a love so strong that it keeps repeating itself throughout the centuries, so exactly which true love Qetsiyah think prevailed seems like a bit of a mystery.

The most important question here is what does The Vampire Diaries think Qetsiyah’s words really mean? Are they a snarky, self-aware sendoff from a character so consumed by her obsessive love of Silas and desire to get revenge for his betrayal, recognizing that her journey was ultimately fruitless? A sincere declaration that her brand of “true love,” a brand that caused torture and death and suffering, was worth it simply because she gets to spend eternity with the object of her affection, no matter how much he may hate her? Or is it a nod to the doppelgangers—most specifically Stefan and Elena—fated to love each other in every generation?

I’m not sure exactly what the show wanted to say about their central love triangle with the Qetsiyah/Silas/Amara story, but I have a sneaking suspicion it was much closer to the latter question above. Everything about this episode feels like the show declaring that it believes in true love. The tricky part is that the show obviously isn’t ready to declare exactly what that means for Elena. Is her true loved fated, with doppelganger Stefan? Or does Elena have the free will to choose another?

There’s an interesting story about destiny, fate, and choice hiding around the edges of this season, if the writers decide they want to tell it. Elena has always existed as a victim of fate, a doppelganger whose whole existence is a product of supernatural forces beyond her choice or control. She became a vampire not by conscious decision, but as a consequence of a domino effect of events put into motion by others. The only thing Elena has actively chosen in her life up until this point is who she loves. Is this yet another thing that will be taken away?

Although I was struck by Qetsiyah’s dying words and what they mean for this season going forward (and more specifically Elena’s character), this was only a small part of what was a fairly entertaining episode. The entire season has basically been setup for the big setpieces here, as Silas, Amara, Qetsiyah, and Bonnie’s fate are all decided in a blur of magic spells, mercy killings, and doppelganger shenanigans. The specifics of how this all worked—Silas, Amara, and Qetsiyah all end up dead, but some are on the other side and some are in the afterlife, and it’s all very, very confusing—are convoluted at best, incomprehensible at worst. Basically, Bonnie figures out that as the anchor to the other side, Amara can straddle both the living and dead worlds, and if they can get Qetsiyah to make Bonnie the anchor instead, she can become a real girl again, and Amara can get the death she so wishes.

Most of the episode is simply the means chasing these ends, but they are at least very entertaining means. The highlight is the inevitable scene where all three doppelgangers finally meet face-to-face for the first time, to help Qetsiyah gather enough power to perform the anchor switching spell. Despite some very overly busy direction, the sight of three Nina Dobrevs in one scene together is delightful enough to overcome this distraction. The twists and turns of the episode end with a surprisingly tender moment where Bonnie returns to the land of the living and Jeremy, Caroline, and Elena warmly welcome her home. It almost makes you forget that she was buried just a few short episodes ago and how pointless that misery all seems now.

The wild card of this episode—and of the season as a whole so far—is Silas and Stefan. The episode begins with a strangely anachronistic beginning for the show, a luxuriously paced monologue from Silas as he waits for a bus and narrates the futility of his own ridiculous life, plus a little torture of strangers, just for fun. It’s essentially an opportunity for Paul Wesley to give a nice, big, juicy sendoff to a character he’s obviously had so much fun playing for the past seven episodes, and he makes the most of the opportunity. Silas was a fairly uninteresting villain with a really crappy motivation (His goal is to die? Really?), but Wesley played him with such panache, such pure, joyful snark, that it was easy to brush the concerns about the efficacy of his character aside. Because he was fun. Because Wesley made him interesting, come hell or high water. Silas’ story may be over, but Wesley made sure it won’t be forgotten, no matter how forgettable it may be.

And then there’s Stefan. This was the first appearance of “real” Stefan all season—sans safe-induced dreams, sans amnesia—and he was interestingly not very much like the Stefan we remember. This is a Stefan much more focused on himself than one we’ve seen before, focused on killing Silas in order to alleviate the suffering in his head. We’ve seen many shades of Stefan since season one, but selfish Stefan is a color that hasn’t been explored. How does Stefan fit into this story now that Elena is with Damon? This is yet another thing that is suddenly thrust into the forefront of the narrative, having taken a backseat while Stefan was locked in a safe and then had his memory wiped clean.

We’re seven episodes into the season and just now getting to where it seemed the story of Stefan, Elena, and Damon should have been in episode one. Like many things this year, it’s just one oddly paced bit of a very oddly plotted season. Now that Silas is gone, The Vampire Diaries needs to get to work setting up the next big villain. That Dr. Maxfield is certainly looking very suspicious, don’t you think?

Stray observations:

  • I did feel genuine emotion when Bonnie became corporeal again. Part of it was surely relief that we don’t have to have Bonnie the lurking ghost hanging around every week.
  • Katherine is aging rapidly and can’t drink vampire blood to heal. Do you think she’ll be at Bonnie’s doorstep next week asking for a little magical help?
  • Where is Matt? Why is Nadia leaving town without Gregor? What is going on with this entire storyline?

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