This week’s episode was a mixed bag of high-school-style breakups and dreary sentiments leaving everyone with the semblance of a cliffhanger that most characters, save for Stefan and Nadia, won’t give too much of an interest in. Even I found the last scene a bit winded and dry and I’m a huge Katherine fan. Something was missing in this episode even though tensions early on gave us a cool premise but decidedly stuck on an old formula. In order to get to our winter break, the Salvatore duo must rescue Elena from the clutches of evil Wes, and I swear Stefan looked rather bored to be along for the ride. Joining the side of casual revenge is (Lor)Enzo, whose score to settle with Damon barely stung the latter, who made a personal choice at the end I think we all saw coming.
As far as epic confrontations go, Enzo and Damon reuniting was the equivalent mixture of friends getting irritated because one of them squelched on a bet. Enzo began his premiere appearance with longing, charisma and gusto, and somehow lost it by throwing a tantrum because nobody would listen to his sob story. If he were a season two introduction, I think his plot and direction would have had more merit and depth. Right now, if we never saw him again, I don’t think he’d be remembered much.
Damon escapes from his cell and enlists Stefan’s help in finding Elena. They track down Aaron who calls Wes. Elena is stuck in her father’s basement below his old office with Wes preparing her by removing her blood from her body. Wes injects Enzo with a poison and releases him, promising to give the antidote if he finds and kills damon.
Katherine, after sleeping with Stefan, physically trains with Matt in fear that her body is deteriorating further. Nadia returns and slaps her for trying to leave by suicide.
Aaron leads Damon and Stefan to a classroom where Enzo greets them and explains how he survived the fire that Damon left him to die in. Aaron offers to give Stefan files that could help find Elena and Enzo confronts Damon about the past. They fight until Enzo weakens from the poison and begins to desecrate.
Wes intends to inject Elena with a serum that will force her to crave vampire blood, but Stefan arrives and breaks Elena free preventing the injection.
Nadia offers to help Katherine with a Traveler spell that could switch her spirit with another body and survive, but Katherine refuses based on Stefan’s renewed interest in her. Nadia gets upset and leaves. Later on, she meets with Matt and gives him the Traveler knife and he agrees to help Katherine should she change her mind.
Damon saves Enzo’s life and declares they are now even. Enzo states that Damon will always be a monster before leaving him be.
Back at the Salvatore house, Elena reviews her father’s journal about his experiments with vampires as Damon confronts her about his nature. Even though Elena accepts who he is, Damon is frustrated and ends their relationship because he won’t change who he is and won’t force Elena to. Distraught, Elena throws her father’s journal in the fire.
Katherine realizes the previous night with Stefan won’t lead to anything and tries to leave. Stefan warmly apologizes to her about her condition. As Katherine leaves, she calls Nadia and agrees to undergo the Traveler’s spell but faints and falls down the stairs, suffering from more of her body’s deteriorating condition.
I don’t have a lot of positive pieces to insert for this episode except for praising what they “could” have done. Had Wes been able to inject Elena with the serum, that could have set the stage for some wild moments, but I do understand that there would be a senseless repeat with Elena’s personality reverting to the time she shut her emotions off. Diabolical Elena is likely similar to Ravenous Elena and her current role this season isn’t quite as substantial as it’s been in the past. With that said, I would have enjoyed the concept of Elena forcibly feeding on all the vampires she came into contact with and the brothers making a terrible choice on their hands.
Enzo’s involvement felt extremely lazy to me and their bromantic moment near the end was considerably awkward even though Enzo should have torn Damon’s heart out regardless of being saved. Under the right kind of plot I think Enzo’s character can be salvaged, but so far, his second appearance isn’t proving to be worthwhile and I was expecting something more sinister and creative with the Augustine vampire.
I enjoy Katherine’s character a lot, but she’s carrying herself in a way that’s almost pitiful considering all she’s done to stay one-step ahead and a true bad ass. I understand the complexity with giving her vulnerability and a familial chance at redemption. I’m all for that kind of storytelling. What I think is missing is a real sense of self-preservation. Her desperation isn’t genuine and her training with Matt made zero sense to me at all. It was completely counterproductive and only served to squeeze Matt in an extra scene just in case we forgot about him. Agreeing to do the spell will allow for her character to survive in another form, and I agree with that direction. Give her personality to a new character and end the doppelganger premise once and for all. Unless of course she actually died when she fell down the stairs. In that case, to hell with it.
I think Aaron story is about wrapped up. For some unknown reason everyone keeps leaving Wes alive when all he’s going to do is return to his experiments and fish another vampire from somewhere to continue the work. I expect another single, or many vampires to undergo the serum injection and spark a vampire war which I think could have some fiery results. Either that or kill Wes and be done with it. Human villains shouldn’t last long against vampire heroes.
Onto the breakups. Damon’s sudden return to his old self-loathing seemed a bit overdue and although I expected this to drag out further with Elena finding reasons to leave him, I find that this works better. When Damon is reminded how awful he is, he tends to believe it and lash out. Elena won’t truly give up on him and there will be plenty of episodic fallout until they reunite, through another tragic moment or another town party-dance routine. Damon works when he hates himself and lashes out and tries to not care by caring hatefully. Should Elena and Damon remain together? I don’t want them to, but I don’t think Elena should get back together with Stefan either, at least not until the final season plays out. Stefan is definitely unintentionally playing with Katherine’s emotional state. There’s deeper longing somewhere to be found considering how they’ve manage to help each other in the last few episodes. For Stefan to truly care and prove it to Katherine, he’ll need to pursue her when/if the Traveler spell works. Katherine is practically willing to die because of the physical attraction Stefan has with Elena’s image, even though Katherine came first. If they can break that mold, then Stefan and Katherine can push forward into something better for the both of them.
Overall, the drama didn’t feel nearly as effective as the last episode. Damon was the centerpiece and the fallout didn’t encapsulate the revenge factor it could have. Enzo can be a good rival to Damon, which I think he needs more than relationship drama. Stefan and Damon aren’t very capable of battling each other over the same woman and, if anything, they’ll need to follow separate paths to build on their unique natures again. Katherine should survive and swap to a new body while Elena should try and move on with Bonnie and Caroline by her side. See you after the holiday break and the 100th episode!
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