Damon’s back to old basics and making life with the group thoroughly complicated as Katherine continues playing true to Elena’s personality around Stefan, Caroline, and Bonnie. Nadia is forced to improvise when Tyler begins to discover her acts of compulsion with Matt, and Bonnie discovers a new witch on campus, who is unfortunately drawn into Damon’s plot to find Wes.
Damon’s acts are a step in the right direction, but his personality, as of late, is beginning to over-exhaust itself. Maybe if Enzo stepped back on his carefree attitude a bit it wouldn’t seem so cumbersome. Two equally snarky vampires trying to out snark each other doesn’t lend to their singular strengths. The theme of giving up on old connections and moving on was told through another backdrop of a unique party that should never be attempted in real life. A few scenes worked, a few didn’t, making “Total Eclipse of the Heart” a slightly above average addition to the season.
At the college, Caroline convinces Elena(Katherine) and Bonnie to attend a “Bitter Ball” dance for singles while Katherine attempts to lure Stefan closer. Nadia remains in Mystic Falls to continue using Matt to help Katherine maintain her cover.
Stefan finds Damon back at home with Aaron’s body in the trunk of his car. Enzo arrives and the two conspire to find and kill Wes. While Enzo is prepping a grave for Aaron, Stefan threatens to kill him if he doesn’t leave town.
Wes goes to a tied up janitor and explains that he made him into a vampire. A woman, Sloan enters the room and offers him money and protection in exchange for his help in analyzing some blood. Wes initially denies an alliance until she reveals that Aaron is likely dead and that he’s next.
Later that day, Enzo and Damon murder the head of Whitmore security when she is unable to tell them where Wes is. Damon realizes he has to find other means to locate him.
Tyler goes to the Mystic Grill bar and meets Nadia. The three drink together and reminisce over stories of their mothers. When Tyler leaves for the bathroom he over hears Nadia using compulsion on Matt to explain who Enzo is so Katherine can stay filled in on the situation.
Damon and Enzo find Bonnie with Jeremy and force Bonnie to help or they’ll hurt him.
At the party, Stefan finds Elena(Katherine) and the two dance and talk until Caroline pulls Katherine aside to try and convince her to move on from past ex’s. Damon arrives to gain everyone’s interest in helping find a witch or Enzo will kill Jeremy. Katherine plays her role and convinces Stefan to help find Jeremy at the Whitmore house.
Bonnie finds Liv, an unseasoned witch who she discovered in a class earlier and asks for her help in doing a locator spell. Liv denies being a witch until Caroline arrives to force the issue. She tries to do the spell but is unable to focus as Damon forces the issue when he tells Enzo they’re not cooperating.
Enzo decides to make good on his threat and puts a bag over Jeremy’s head, suffocating him. Liv is able to complete the spell when Stefan and Katherine find Enzo and Jeremy. Enzo and Stefan fight as Katherine successfully resuscitates Jeremy. Damon finds them and tells Enzo he knows where Enzo is. The two leave and Stefan tells Damon not to bother coming back.
Meanwhile, at the grill, Tyler convinces Matt he’s been compelled and to take vervane against Nadia. Matt meets Nadia outside and plays at being compelled when she asks him if Caroline has feelings for Stefan. Nadia rushes away and Tyler returns only for Nadia to sneak up from behind and break his neck. When Tyler recovers Matt tells a story about Nadia convincing Tyler not to pursue the situation. Matt then meets Nadia who intends to bleed the vervane from his system and come up with a future plan for him.
Back at the dorm, Stefan tells Elena (Katherine) that he waited for Damon to screw up with Elena but he liked seeing him as a better person made him not want to wait anymore. Stefan admits he doesn’t want to lose that person Damon was and Katherine offers to help only for Stefan. The two hug as Caroline comes in seeing their embrace.
Damon and Enzo track the location where Wes is and encounter Sloan, who is a Traveler and with others. They chant, causing the two to collapse. Wes then injects Damon with a serum. When they wake, The Travelers and Wes are gone. Damon finds the janitor and frees him and begins to realize that the serum inside him is what makes vampires feed on other vampires. He is unable to resist and feeds on the vampire janitor until his head is ripped off. Damon then stares at Enzo, who sees the new problem at hand.
As stated earlier, one ego-centric, carefree, annoyed, heartless Damon is fine, but two is one too many. Enzo isn’t fitting with the buddy vampire system. He has potential but it’s being wasted because he’s acting the same exact way Damon would. I get the jaded, evil, vampire wickedness, but there’s nothing separating the two. Damon endures his insufferable acts with self loathing while Enzo tries to but it comes off as too little too late. He attempted to show he didn’t care about the pain when he plunged some of the wooden shovel in his own chest while Stefan was holding it. The moment fell flat the instant Stefan moved the metal side to his neck with a stronger threat of decapitation. Enzo can accomplish the same task by being more cold and calculating in his delivery and not bored and conceded. His attempt to suffocate Jeremy was in the right direction, except the method he chose. A vampire wouldn’t suffocate their victim in this show. They need slashed flesh or loud broken necks to satiate their needs. It was a way to keep Jeremy alive while still making it look like he might have died. Might as well turn the guy into a vampire already, he’s seemed to have outlived his usefulness as a hunter.
Damon’s acts are also a bit out of the ordinary. While it makes sense to alienate everyone who cared about you, I can hardly believe that he’d be truly okay with Jeremy dead. If he intended to remove Elena’s happiness altogether, then he should have made that the goal and not trying to find and kill Wes. He tried to redirect his frustration to someone who “deserved” his retaliation. If he let or caused Jeremy’s death that would have been completely counterproductive to his plan. His real growth has now begun as we’ll have to see him become a good person without the aid of Elena’s love driving it. Turning him into a vampire eating vampire will help detract that a bit, which can offer up a new side of the man. Knowing the likely premise, Damon will have control fits and Enzo will be left trying to ascertain how far he’ll go to remain in the plot. They’ll be snarky like usual and Damon will finds and kill unsuspecting vampires as they are found. I’d rather he show a darker side that doesn’t find the situation amusing or worth gawking at. His best mannerism is when he looks confused and pissed off at the same time, but I think it’s time to move on from that paradigm of emotional ambiguity. It’s time to turn him overtly serious.
It was interesting watching an entire episode without Elena’s presence. We weren’t treated with some inner struggle or scenes of Elena warping through flashbacks of Katherine’s life. I’m glad they chose to keep Elena out because it helped keep the focus grounded in reality. It’s unfortunate that Katherine sink to whatever level it takes to win Stefan over, including possibly letting Jeremy die. Her obsession with Stefan will undoubtedly be her undoing and it would make the most sense if he was the one to spot Katherine’s deception first. I thought the curly hair would give it away, but maybe it’s not curly enough.
Sloan will have Wes analyze Stefan and Elena’s blood, the question is, why? Theories running rampant, I imagine it will play closer to some possible curse of their own and not so much a key to a power they want. They don’t seem like the kind of group that are interested in getting stronger or revenge beyond Silas and he’s not a picture in this anymore. By the end of it, I’m sure it will spell the end of the doppelganger curse once and for all.
Some of the unbalanced elements of this episode include:
1. Caroline unknowingly playing at finding out Katherine’s identity. The cliché is worn out on any show and only would have been believable if Katherine had a large axe behind her back, ready to swing if Caroline was right. That would have been funnier and lightened the mood more than Katherine’s fumbling to stay in character.
2. Jeremy has nothing to do on this season. He had moments of flair when he tried to appeal to some of Katherine’s humanity. They were poignant scenes adding some depth to his character when he isn’t pining away at Bonnie. Without her, he’s useless as a supporting character. He needs a fresh direction to go. The hunter aspect has fizzled out, leaving him with little to do but get kidnapped and threatened. He’s a stronger character than that and should have been able to do more than just eyeball stare Damon when he wanted Bonnie. Not to mention, their bond as family isn’t having any affect anymore. It’s sad when Damon’s caring of Jeremy earlier on is really only because of Damon’s relationship with Elena. Alaric is about the only other person left that Damon had any respect for and could probably talk some sense into him, if only he were still alive.
3. Tyler is wandering as well. Caroline is willing to give him up and just when you thought he might be smitten with Nadia, the scene goes south to nowhere. He and Matt should have done a trip and come back with new perspectives later in the arc. There isn’t much in the way of help and the guy is a hybrid. Surely he can tackle someone like Damon who’s now feasting on vampires. Try to make him relevant or write his character out.
4. Parties. Parties, parties, and more parties. Even Stefan is looking bored when he does these. It was a comical theme and needs to stop being a way to bring our team together. High school to college transitions aren’t easy because many of the same storytelling elements are the same. Finding love, struggling with identity, growing up, all of these elements have been started and restarted. The backdrop of college should be intertwined with the season’s message and so far, there just isn’t one that’s sticking. Liv is the only example of what they’re doing right, and she’s just a minor character who doesn’t understand a thing about the supernatural. Ease off on the parties and college unless it’s a fundamental aspect of the show. Right now, it’s not.
Overall, the best parts are the ones that are moving the character’s into new territory. Damon has to deal with a new problem that will either enhance his evil carelessness, or subdue for the greater good. Damon’s on the balance act as he should be. He needs to do what he has to for himself, or at very least, his brother. Stefan will somehow see Katherine’s deception. If he truly loved and knows Elena, he’ll spot the flaws, anyone else who finds out won’t make much sense unless the plot maneuvers itself into a better outcome. I do wonder if Nadia will be removed from the plot if Katherine is. She’s a nice character who suffers the same balance and dependence as Damon does. Maybe they are the ones who should be connecting.
No more words