Saturday, 26 October 2013

S5x4 - The Vampire Diaries: For Whom the Bell Tolls

Aired 24/10/13 on The CW

During the review for last week's episode of TVD I complained about the flashback scenes slowing down the show's narrative pacing - not much was created in terms of plot and it basically became forty minutes of explaining things for later. This week's episode didn't create much in terms of plot either and was yet another trip down memory lane, but not in the annoying flashback-style we're used to. The theme of the ep was remembrance and although there wasn't much forward momentum, for once I was actually okay with that. 

Damon and Elena spent the episode trying to help Stefan regain his memories. This included Stefan reading his old diaries - the tragic elements of which were mocked during a bit of affectionate brotherly-bonding in a fast car. When this failed to ignite any spark of remembrance it was Elena's turn, who foolishly decided that it would be a great idea to recreate how they first met. They re-enacted some classic season one moments that included Stefan and Elena bumping into each other as she came out of the men's bathroom, and visited the Wickery Bridge - the place where Elena first lost her parents and then her human-self. Delena shippers were probably unhappy for a while as Elena told Stefan how he helped her through all of the tough times (and there has been a LOT of them), and did everything he could to make her happy - including saving Matt instead of her back in season three. I was definitely feeling nostalgic for the Stelena days! The same song that was used when the pair had their first kiss back in season one was playing as it looked like they were about to kiss again - but of course because Elena is SUCH A TEASE, she backed out and then casually mentioned that she was actually dating Damon. Stefan realised that they'd broken up because she had fallen in love with his brother AND HE ACTUALLY GOT MAD AND WENT A BIT PSYCHO.

Now, I've read a lot of reviews from people saying how stupid this whole moment was - but to be totally honest I was pleased he'd finally shown a normal-person reaction to the whole thing. I'm not going to say this because I prefer Stefan and Elena together (I'd have had the same thoughts if it had been the other way around), but when Elena broke up with Stefan she ran off to Damon STRAIGHT AWAY AND HAD SEX WITH HIM. I'm sorry but in the real world, if your boyfriend dumped you and then had sex with your sister, YOU WOULD BE PISSED. Back in season four, Stefan just let it go and then came up with some whacky sire bond excuse. Pfft. He went a bit overboard with the psycho thing this time and did try to eat Caroline's new college friend, but she talked him round. Finally, he ended up burning all of his old diaries, literally burning all of his ties to the past and then dumped Elena and Damon. It was a good moment and I was proud of him. YOU DON'T NEED HER! And then he went and hung out with Caroline - the only person whom he could trust. Awww. 

Meanwhile, Jeremy was starting to combust under the pressure of being the only person who knew that my not-so-favourite witch was dead. I've never really warmed to Bonnie - she's just had this whiny way about her ever since the early TVD days. So, I was a little surprised to find myself shed a tear at her memorial. I'm adamant that the tears came because of the way in which Elena and Caroline were crying their hearts out, and the way Jeremy took control of the ceremony and relayed a message from Bonnie to her best friends. I was crying less for Bonnie and more for the other characters - I mean even MATT WAS CRYING. *blub* And of course, the other big moment during the little memorial was the return of TYLER. Caroline ran to him and it was so beautiful - even though I've been annoyed at the guy for making her upset over the summer. Their reunion was so touching and seeing all of the former high-schoolers together again, older and mostly wiser, was another tug on my heart strings as it brought back memories from the early days. Basically, the memorial wasn't about Bonnie but about how awesome everyone else was. Sorry witch. 

The only other major thing that happened was in the final scene of the ep, which featured Caroline's college friend, Jesse, and the college professor. The writers have planted a couple of seeds - rather scattered seeds - over the past few episodes about a new bad, secret organisation at the college. Jesse was worried because he couldn't remember what had happened to him and the college professor realised that the guy had vampire blood in his veins (from Caroline's quick healing technique after the whole Psycho Stefan situation). Of course, because there's something dodgy about the professor, Jesse ended up being dead. Dead in the TVD sense meaning that he'll come back as a vampire. I'm not particularly interested in the college professor plot yet, but I'm willing to be open-minded. 

At the moment the college-plot feels like another Buffy storyline and I'm starting to get some major Whedon-vibes again. In The Originals we have a magically conceived vampire/hybrid baby which is soooo Angel, we've had Stefan locked in a safe and thrown in a quarry which is again soooo Angel, and now we've got a secret organisation at the college which brings to mind The Initiative in Buffy season four. I won't be surprised if soon we start seeing commando guys running around the campus - perhaps Elena will meet a Riley Finnesque undercover guy, (which doesn't bode well because Riley was mostly awful). I understand using Whedon as a source of inspiration because he is one seriously awesome guy, but I'm starting to think that TVD is relying too much on things we've already seen in other shows. The college thing hasn't had enough time to play out yet, so hopefully it will be something different and good, but for the moment I'm a little bit wary. 

For the most part I enjoyed the episode and the feeling of nostalgia that the writers created - while I was reminded heavily of season one, the differences between then and now were emphasised all the more. Stefan is moving on. Elena is in love with Damon. Caroline is so awesome. Jeremy has grown up. Bonnie is dead. Matt might have a storyline. I'm curious and optimistic for what's to come - just no more stealing from Joss Whedon!