The Vampire Diaries season 3 episode 12 review: The Ties That Bind

After the season high of last week, it's perhaps inevitable that the latest episode of The Vampire Diaries is a little bit of a disappointment...

This review contains spoilers.

3.12 The Ties That Bind

It’s been clear since The Vampire Diaries came back from its winter break that the showrunners are stepping the mythology up a gear for the season’s second half. While this year hasn’t quite reached last season’s level of plotting and amount of characters to keep track of, the show is always more fun when we’re struggling to keep up, and this week offered some much needed originals action away from Mystic Falls.

Last week’s outing was probably the strongest and most exciting instalment this season has put out so far, and it’s a little disappointing to see that the consequences of Stefan and Tyler’s betrayals aren’t felt as deeply as they could have been.

Ad – content continues below

Early in the episode, Caroline is approached by Tyler with an apology, and there is little resistance on her part. He nearly killed her last week under compulsion (just one week after he did the same to Jeremy) and he’s still being cut an awful lot of slack by the group.

That couple provides one thread of the episode, as creepy Mr. Forbes is back in town to apply some more of his misguided therapy. By his logic, if Tyler no longer feels pain when transforming into a werewolf, he won’t feel indebted to Klaus anymore. That’s fairly sound logic, but it involves the poor guy transforming at will for most of the episode. The pair are very trusting of Daddy considering last time he was in town he tortured his own daughter. Still, Vampire Diaries has some of the best transformation effects in a crowded werewolf market, so it’s nice (in a way) to see it back.

The main storyline of the episode focuses on Bonnie’s search for her birth mother, and it’s about as exciting as that short synopsis promises. The week begins with another witchy fever dream from our resident Bennett, and the sequence ends with a buried-alive Bonnie catching a glimpse of her absentee mother. What is it with absent/incompetent mothers on this show, eh? Things go a bit pear-shaped once she and Elena arrive at her house however, as a certain British villain has gotten to the family first.

Now I’ve never made any secret of my hatred for Bonnie’s character in these reviews, but her prominence is this episode made the whole hour drag. The terrible thing is, Abi Bennett has all the signs of sticking around, which doesn’t sound like a good character investment at all. Witches are by far the least interesting supernatural beings that the show explores, so why introduce more of them? There must be some species we haven’t encountered yet.

On a lighter note, Damon stays behind to develop his bromance with Alaric. These two good-naturedly spar like there’s no tomorrow, and the showrunners seem to have caught on to the fan-love this friendship has inspired. At one point, Damon casually walks in on Rick while he’s working out: now if that isn’t inviting some saucy fan fiction, then nothing will. Their storyline is driven by the mysterious Dr. Fell who, it turns out, is using vampire blood to heal her critical patients. That sounds like an accidental vampire army waiting to happen.

But the real talking point is Elijah’s surprise return. He couldn’t be more welcome, and his presence should make for a cracking episode when it returns.

Ad – content continues below

Read our review of the last episode, here.