Previously on The Vampire Diaries, ‘A Bird in a Gilded Cage’
The Vampire Diaries is about to become a very different show. With the news that Nina Dobrev will be leaving at the end of this season, these final five episodes must strive to make her departure both plausible and satisfying. It’s a tough spot for the writers to be in and so far, it seems as though they’ve scrambled to find her an out. With the reintroduction of the cure and Elena’s sudden realization of all the things she had to give up when she lost her human life, it looks as though Elena will be leaving the show a human. It’s hard to be disappointed with the writers; it’s not their fault that Nina decided to leave and perhaps this storyline was the best option. What I can be disappointed with is how painfully obvious they’re making the outcome.
[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”#4A7097″ class=”” size=””]“This is all just one big horrible reminder that there’s always going to be a part of me that’s capable of doing what they’re doing” – Elena[/pullquote]
Elena was relentlessly forced to think about her pre-vampire life in this episode. First Lily asks her if she ever misses being a human, to which she rather guiltily responds “sometimes.” Then when she discovers that Jo is pregnant, she feigns happiness to cover her jealousy. When Stefan and Caroline’s victims start filling up the Whitmore hospital, Elena is uncomfortable with the knowledge that this could all too easily be her own doing, with just a tiny flick of a humanity switch. Jo attempts to comfort her with the idea of running her own medical practice and saving lives, but it’s clear Elena isn’t reassured. Finally, after refusing to take her blood in order to heal, Matt reminds Elena just how badly his vampire “friends” have treated him. He hates vampires so much and practically recoils in disgust when Elena tries to hold his hand.
I swear I got a headache from the show beating the same drum so damn hard. Part of me hopes that this is all just a great misdirect, but it feels too clear from Elena’s reactions and attitudes. As much as she tries to convince herself, and Damon, that she’ll be just fine and dandy spending an eternity with him, she’s not fooling anyone. She can throw all the baby showers she wants for Jo, it won’t change the fact that she feels something is missing.
For now, Elena doesn’t know that she even has a chance to be human since Damon hasn’t said a word about the cure. In true Damon fashion he has kept that fact to himself. Though I suppose we can excuse this, at least for the time being, because he did have his hands full with his crazy mother. Lily keeps pushing Damon for the whereabouts of the Ascendant; she’s hell-bent on getting her desiccated vamp friends back from 1903. She’s even been using the Internet to research celestial events. Damon promises to help her, once they’ve brought Stefan back to his senses.
Meanwhile, Stefan and Caroline are in the midst of a bet. Caroline thinks she can scare someone to death, literally. She’s toying with a bartender, using all the typical tropes of the horror genre, only to be thwarted by Stefan’s disappointment in her setup. Their snarky banter has always been good, but it’s so rich now that they’re on the dark side. Caroline ends up compelling the bartender to have a heart attack, and though Stefan thinks she cheated, a win is a win. So what does Caroline get for winning the bet? Karaoke!
Not everyone is appreciating Caroline’s performance. One student finally voices her annoyance by basically saying, bitch please shut up we’re trying to study! Now it’s probably this student’s fault for trying to study at a bar, but Caroline gets Stefan to take care of the unwanted interruption. He compels the entire room to stay quiet and watch. Matt and Tyler, who’ve just come from police training, arrive at the bar and before they can leave, Stefan forces them to stay.
Caroline decides that it’s time for a little trivia. Matt and Tyler will have to answer questions about her and whoever loses, dies. Since they both end up losing when Stefan answers the final question correctly, Caroline flips a coin to determine which ex-boyfriend she’s going to kill. Tyler has had enough bullshit and he forges an impromptu stake from a chair leg. He tells Caroline, come at me bro, and just as he goes to stake her she uses vamp speed to put Matt in the line of fire.
While looking for Stefan on Whitmore campus, where as usual the hallways and classrooms are bizarrely empty, Lily drops a bombshell on Damon. She doesn’t love her children anymore. Damon had been under the impression that his mother returned to Europe after discovering that he and Stefan had become vampires. The truth, however, is that in the early days of Lily’s transition she sought out a new family and in order to love them fully she had to give up the love she had for her original family. She can’t even remember what it feels like to be their mother.
Damon is rather unfazed by this news. Since Stefan has no clue that Lily feels this way, she still has a chance at bringing him back. When they finally head to the Whitmore bar – I honestly can’t understand why this wasn’t the first place they checked – the sight of his mother stuns Stefan. Caroline recognizes that once Stefan is back to normal, she’ll be next and she hightails it out of there.
It’s with Damon’s coaching that Lily is able to bring Stefan back, which is incredibly significant. Damon is the one who truly loves his brother and it’s his words that reach Stefan in his darkest place. The Salvatore brother relationship will be an important part of the show moving forward and I think, without Elena or Katherine coming between them, their bond may finally be solidified. After a moment of reflection on the pain he has once again caused, Stefan heads out in search of Caroline.
Upon hearing the happy news that her baby wouldn’t be subject to a psycho killer uncle, Jo calls her father. He warns her that they must destroy the Ascendant, which Damon has already given to Lily. Turns out, Lily’s new family consists of vampire-witch hybrids known as Heretics. They were cast out from the Gemini Coven for the same reason that Kai never seemed to fit in: they’re siphons. As vampires, these hybrids now have a constant source of magic. “Imagine Kai with the bloodlust of a vampire. Now imagine six of them.”
In an attempt to give Enzo further importance, and because almost everyone in this universe is connected somehow, we discover that it was Lily who turned him. When he resolves to leave Sarah at the Salvatore home, it’s Lily who opens the door, which spooks Enzo enough to take off and bring Sarah with him. Sarah wants to know why they ran and this leads to several flashbacks of Enzo’s last hours as a human.
Back in 1903, England, Enzo was suffering from consumption and trying to gain access to a ship with a doctor who could treat him. He’s refused entry and left for dead when Lily finds him and takes him aboard. There’s nothing a doctor can do for him now, so Lily takes matters into her own hands giving Enzo her blood before he dies. When he awakens, it’s in a room full of corpses. Lily has compelled the doctor to give himself to Enzo so that the vampire transition may be completed. After feeding, Enzo finds the ship empty – aside from dozens of dead bodies – and that Lily has abandoned him.
Just as we discover a little of Enzo’s history, Sarah starts to learn about her own. Enzo reveals the story of Damon killing her mother and of how Stefan tried to give her a normal life. When he changes his mind and tries to compel her to forget, it’s too late. Matt had already given Sarah verain, both for herself and to inject Enzo with. Sarah manages to tie him up and hold him captive, but this doesn’t last long. Enzo easily breaks free but before he can do anything fatal, Sarah promises to stay away from the Salvatores and he agrees to let her go. I wish they’d given her character something better to work with.
If you’ve read my recaps before then you knew this was coming: where the hell was Bonnie? Here’s hoping that with Elena out of the picture next season, we see a lot more of Ms. Bennett.