Sometimes The Vampire Diaries is just a bunch of people doing stuff to mark time until they get to do the more interesting, important stuff. The show is a master at churning plot, but by establishing a series that basically runs on pure plot, sometimes an episode or two is all setup and very little payoff. “Rescue Me” feels like one of those episodes you could simply remove from the season completely without skipping too many beats. It’s not bad; just a bit unnecessary.
That’s not to say nothing happens at all here. The next big threat of the season is effectively teased, and it appears to be the leader of the Travelers, Marcos. The entire episode is basically the setup to get him to Mystic Falls, using the blood of the last two doppelgangers to do so. Before this can happen, however, Caroline and Enzo go on a hunt for the other living doppelganger, a normal dude named Tom (with disappointingly flat hair) who works as a paramedic in Atlanta. Watching Caroline and Enzo work opposing missions—Enzo wants to kill Tom; Caroline wants to keep him alive—is good fun; Candice Accola and Michael Malarkey have a fun chemistry, and Enzo’s satisfaction with his murderous vampire nature is a breath of fresh air amongst all the “good” vampires on the show. But ultimately? We all knew this would end with Tom dead, because how else could the Travelers complete their evil plan and fulfill their destiny as the next big threat for the gang to overcome?
This storytelling cycle has been such a reliable go-to for the show, and the writers do it so well, but at times, it inevitably shows the strings guiding it along the way. Those strings are very apparent here as Liv—previously introduced as a random witch Bonnie picked up at Whitmore—takes center stage, alongside her brother, Luke. Their race to the forefront isn’t the most graceful transition, especially because their mission is very ill-defined. Essentially, the Travelers are lesser witches up to something evil, and pure witches Liv and Luke are tasked to stop them. What doesn’t quite make sense is why Liv was so insistent on sneaking into Elena’s life, rather than roaring in and simply killing her to begin with. Why not explain to Bonnie exactly what was going on with the Travelers? Why not enlist everyone’s help to defeat them? The answer, at least at this point, appears to be “because the plot demands it,” which isn’t very satisfying.
One relatively big development that does happen in this episode is that Jeremy finally declares his independence from Elena. Well, sort of: He up and moves out of the Salvatore mansion and in with Matt and Tyler, which is him declaring his independence. But the inciting incident that causes him to do this is because he wants to work with Liv to protect Elena without any interference. So really, his big moment of independence is still all in service of Elena Gilbert. As Liv says to Luke, “Turns out Elena’s friends are right. The world actually does revolve around her.” At times, it can’t help but feel like The Vampire Diaries’ insistence on sticking to this mantra is dragging down the show a bit. Does Elena really need both Damon and Jeremy to face off with each other about how they are going to protect her, while she’s standing right there? Elena is a damn vampire. Can’t she protect herself?
But protect Elena everyone must, I suppose, since the Travelers were able to execute their big plan to bring Marcos out of… wherever he was. The end sequence where the Travelers set themselves on fire in order to pass through Bonnie to the other side was effectively creepy and confusing, ending with someone—presumably Marcos—crossing back over through Bonnie somehow. It’s an intriguing setup, but in the end that’s all “Rescue Me” really was: setup. Now it’s up to the show to start knocking these story beats down.
- Elena and Damon broke up. Again. A mutual back-scratching relationship would have been far more interesting, but I suppose this is more emotionally healthy for them both in the long run.
- It was so strange to see a completely carefree, relaxed version of Paul Wesley on this show. Even when he’s “happy,” Stefan is so controlled. Tom felt a little like an alien in contrast.
- I don’t know how to feel about the Stefan and Caroline scenes tonight. Tell me how to feel.
- Stefanganger! Doppelbomb! Caroline has the best made-up words.
- How long until we meet Enzo’s precious Maggie? And will she be evil? Any plans the show has to increase Enzo’s screen time works for me.
- This week, in Matt Donovan Is The Best: “I’m only listening to you because I’m getting paid.”