This review contains spoilers.
Because the US love to take breaks in their television, we’ve been waiting a long while to see more of The Vampire Diaries. As we return to Mystic Falls, the episode’s title, 1912, suggests a flashback episode, and we’re quickly introduced to even more mythology, questions and founding council members than we had already. Now, where’s that family tree? It seems we’re going to need it.
For those lucky few who thought they had everything figured out by now, illegitimate children and assorted species included, this week will have you back scratching your heads with the rest of us. At this point, I’m not even sure the writers want us to keep track, as another Gilbert is introduced along with new information about a well-known family heirloom.
Previously, we were left on the cliffhanger of everyone’s favourite borderline alcoholic vampire hunter (Meredith’s words, not mine) having been shot by the mysterious Dr Fell. We’re quickly informed that he’s perfectly fine, although, having been healed by vampire blood, has been locked up by Sheriff Forbes. The law-keepers of the town seem to finally be wising up to their town’s goings on, and it’s refreshing to see Liz putting her foot down for once.
Another nice surprise (for me, anyway) is an increasingly frequent appearance from Matt. I’ve been musing about a potential Elena/Matt relationship for a while now, and the show certainly seems on their side at the moment. While the relationship wouldn’t last long before she opted for either Damon or Stefan again, it’s always been true that teen television is about love triangles/squares/pentagons; the more corners the better. He even speaks our collective minds this week, as he tells Elena that being the only human in a town of vampires has the benefit of making you invisible. Bless.
The episode as a whole is not an action-packed one. But there’s nothing wrong with a talky episode of The Vampire Diaries, and the absence of Bonnie, Klaus, and the rest of the original family certainly lets it breathe for the first time in ages. Bogged down by too much mythology and angst of late, there’s a sense that the writers are trying to collect their thoughts, before throwing a spanner in the works for the episode’s final moments.
The flashbacks to 1912, however, are painfully redundant. Because we’re aware of guest star Cassidy Freeman from Smallville, we can assume that she’ll pop up in the future, but her introduction is really the only thing accomplished by the flitting backwards and forwards through time. Stefan is off the wagon again, getting the shakes and barely resisting a full-scale slaughter, and the flashbacks are supposed to draw a parallel between a this and a similar time in his and Damon’s shared history. This climax of this is a little bloody, and a shared drink between brothers is unfortunately walked in on by an ever more self-righteous Elena.
The aforementioned cliffhanger concerns Alaric, who we should all worry about due to the actor’s newly acquired pilot elsewhere on The CW. With Matthew Davis moving over to Cult next season, what will become of Elena’s only remaining father figure? In a series as kill-happy as Vampire Diaries, it’s always possible that he’ll be killed off, but this new twist about his resurrection ring (I won’t spoil it here just in case) points to an explosive exit either way. It’s a push in the right direction for this final run of episodes, and I, for one, am glad the show is finally back.