That was three quarters of a boring slog and one quarter of fun, classic The Vampire Diaries in action. The problem is, the first three quarters were such a slog that the impact of the fun parts was greatly muted, rendering something as visceral as two potential character deaths as not much more than deep shrugs. It’s not that this was a terrible episode, just mostly a tedious one. After the shiny newness of the Originals last week, returning to Mystic Falls felt a lot like coming back from a sunny, warm vacation to dreary, rainy weather.
Before we deal with Elena and her humanity, let’s back up to the beginning and let me be completely honest: I’m really confused about everything going on in the Bonnie and Silas storyline, and I fear I’ll never actually get to the point where I understand it. Bonnie goes to Katherine to get Silas’ tombstone, the one missing link in her quest to lift the veil between the living and the dead and the thing that will allow Silas to take the cure and then finally die. But where it first appeared she was working with him, it now seems as if she’s actually working against him somehow, and Silas is not pleased, spending most of the episode torturing Caroline into luring Bonnie back into his orbit again. Bonnie still wants the tombstone from Katherine, promising her Silas’ invincibility in return.
So what is Bonnie even doing? Is she working with Silas or against him? Is she planning on lifting the veil so she can get her grandmother and Jeremy back? The Silas story started as something I actively cheered at the beginning of the season, and the slow burn of it in the first half is still excellent storytelling. But somewhere between the explanation of Silas’ plan and the insanity surrounding Silas’ raising in Canada, I lost the thread and haven’t been able to get it back. This obviously could be completely my failing, but at least part of it is on the show, as it is the show’s responsibility to keep things on track.
If one thing is certain, it’s that the whole “Silas appears as other people” gag long ago reached its expiration date. Silas appearing as Klaus, then Matt, and finally Sheriff Forbes was just plain boring. It’s the classic law of diminishing returns on a clever narrative conceit: The more times the show goes to that well, the less effective it is at eliciting a viewer response. It doesn’t help that Silas’ actual form is fairly silly, like a sort of vampire Darth Maul with a Batman voice. I would rather look like Joseph Morgan if that was my situation, too, Silas.
The rest of the episode was solely focused on Damon and Stefan’s quest to get Elena’s humanity back. Having tried the classic “be nice” strategy, followed by the age-old “lock her in a dungeon and starve her” strategy, the brothers are forced to turn to their last resort: torture. The only problem with their torture is Elena knows they would never actually let anything truly catastrophic happen to her, so she has no incentive to turn back on the switch. This isn’t the case with Katherine, who would likely snap Elena’s neck and then go buy herself a cheeseburger to celebrate.
But instead of torturing Elena, Katherine takes the more hilarious road: She betrays Damon and Stefan and turns a still humanity-free Elena back out into the world just to see if she’ll make it on her own. This is when the brothers finally get a good plan: Use Matt as bait. So when Elena drains Matt of nearly all his blood and Damon shows up threatening to finish the deal and snap Matt’s neck if she refuses to turn back on her humanity, it feels like another feint. That is, right up until Damon follows through on his plan and snaps Matt’s neck, causing Elena to become visibly distraught. What is harder to see coming is that Matt is wearing the supernatural invincibility ring, so he’s going to be just fine.
The trouble with that scene is that it was barely emotionally affecting. Matt is the one character I’ve declared a no kill order on—several times in fact—and even though I didn’t see his wearing of the supernatural ring coming I was still basically numb when faced with what looked like his death. This is partially a result of a fairly emotionally numbing episode, and partially because so many people “fake die” on an episode-to-episode basis that it takes a while for an actual death to sink in. When Jeremy died, the episode leading up to it was much more filled with signs that his death would be permanent, and the actual moment of death treated with far more gravity, that it was easy to see this was for real. With poor Matt’s fake death, he just crumbled on the floor, forgotten, while the narrative shifted to Elena’s burgeoning humanity.
That being said, I’m very glad Elena’s humanity has returned and the show can drop the tiresome “Stefan and Damon try to fix her” arc. It has never worked for me at its best, and was extremely tiresome and offensive to all three characters at its worst. Now Elena can finally properly mourn Jeremy’s death and atone for the things she did when her humanity was turned off. She can also turn her attention to her latest quest: blaming Katherine for everything wrong in her life and vowing to kill her to get proper revenge.
I have no idea how Elena could ever best Katherine in a battle of anything, but heck, it sure might be fun to watch her give it a shot. She just better hope Katherine doesn’t get her hands on that invincibility spell Bonnie is promising her.
- How do you know you’re in a dream in Mystic Falls? 1) The scene takes place at school; 2) Caroline brags about being named valedictorian; 3) People are smiling; 4) All of the above. Please show your work.
- Rear obstruction alert alarms are a great feature for your car when you live in a town with a high population of monsters, psychopaths, and murderers. This is how you do product placement!
- So Silas killed Sheriff Forbes, and the only way Caroline could get her back was to inject her blood directly into her mom’s heart, Pulp Fiction-style. There’s no way Sheriff Forbes isn’t a vampire now, right? The end of that scene was suspiciously abrupt.
- I did enjoy Matt saying he volunteered to be bait to pay Elena back for saving his life when they went off the bridge together. Their friendship is the best.
- “You dated that?” “She likes projects.”