This is why you always kill the bad guy. The last few episodes have been blissfully Dr. Maxfield-free. But it was never a question of if he would come back, but when; the last vision of Elena and Stefan leaving him knocked out on the floor, but not finishing the job, ensuring his return to cause more problems. It’s just The Vampire Diaries’ way.
Dr. Maxfield and the Augustine vampires are a bit of a bust, story-wise, but they are used very well here as catalysts to tell the story of the shedding of Damon’s soul. I’m not quite sure yet how to feel about four seasons of Damon’s character development being tossed in a bonfire and chalked completely up to him changing for Elena, like he was trying on a new pair of pants or something, but it’s hard to feel doubtful about the entertainment value of Damon returning to his full, snarky, and murderous season-one form. Evil, carefree, diabolical Damon is a lot of fun, and between Damon’s exploits with Enzo, Stefan’s attempts to bring his brother back from the dark side, and Katherine-as-Elena spending most of her free time having tender conversations with Stefan, there was an air of season one nostalgia that was quite pleasing. What happens next is textbook TVD: Damon gets dosed with Maxfield’s magic potion that turns vampires into insatiable vamp cannibals, and now he must be saved. With Stefan extolling his plan to bring Damon back to his more reasonable, Elena-influenced state, he will certainly be the one leading the charge.
But while Damon’s whole story is a bit of predictable fun, where the show is going with Katherine’s journey in Elena’s body took a bit of a turn in this episode. Katherine pretending to be Elena continues to delight, with the highlights here coming from her disgust over actually having to care whether or not Damon and Enzo kill Jeremy. Her quest to win Stefan back is her number one priority, which leads to a few earnest heart-to-hearts between the two that wouldn’t be out of place anywhere in the history of Stefan and Elena’s relationship. What was shocking is that the show is hinting that is setting up a love triangle between Katherine, Stefan, and Caroline.
Stefan and Caroline have a rock-solid friendship, one of the few strong, opposite-sex platonic relationships on the show, so the idea that the two of them are potentially going beyond this is fairly shocking (especially since Caroline is Elena’s best friend and all). What is so clever is that if Elena was currently in her own body, there is no way even the hint of a love triangle beginning here would work. There’s simply too much history between Caroline and Elena, too much potential damage to be done. But with Katherine in Elena’s body and suddenly sensing Caroline might have a few more-than-platonic feelings for Stefan, the writers can play with this idea without it being a nonstarter right out of the gate. Only time will tell if anything comes of this, but it’s certainly a smart way to take advantage of yet another story arc to mine while Katherine is around.
The rest of the episode, frankly, was perfectly fine, but a bit paint-by-numbers in a way that many of the more plot-heavy episodes of TVD tend to be. Damon and Enzo kidnapping Jeremy in order to get Bonnie to find a witch and perform a locator spell on Dr. Maxfield is just the kind of twisty plot time-waster this show loves, but other than meeting a new witch with a lot of potential as a character, it really didn’t have much impact on the episode. (Also, doesn’t anyone know how to track people a different way? Damon needs to give Veronica Mars a call.) Matt realizing Nadia was working with Katherine and that Katherine was actually in Elena’s body was a good moment for the character (Matt does have a tendency to figure things out pretty quickly in general), but Nadia deciding to keep him around rather than just killing him seemed a bit out of character. The only thing that makes sense is that she would know Katherine would be disappointed if Matty Blue Eyes wasn’t around for her to flirt with anymore.
But the best thing about these past few episodes since Katherine dumped Damon is that the show finally feels like it is about vampires again. A good vampire show needs one vamp that is evil and just a bit off his or her rocker. For a long time on The Vampire Diaries, Klaus took over this role while Stefan and Damon bothered themselves with winning Elena’s heart. When Klaus left, that left a big evil vampire hole in the middle of the show. With Damon back to his more diabolical ways—especially now that he’s best buddies with the decidedly menacing Enzo and has been altered to feed on other vampires—that hole feels like it might finally be filled again.
- Caroline shredded her pony drawing! Hearts around the world, broken.
- Of course Katherine keeps a diary about how much more awesome she is at being Elena Gilbert than the actual Elena Gilbert.
- Who is Sloan? Why is she so random? Is she a witch or a Traveler? Whose blood does she need analyzed? I have a lot of questions about this.
- Tyler, Matt, and Nadia doing shots toasting their messed up families was pretty great.
- “You’re better than this.” “On the contrary, brother: I’m better like this.”