This review contains spoilers.
5.5 Monster’s Ball
There are two sides to The Vampire Diaries right now – the non-interesting mess that is the Silas/Katsia/Cure plotline, and Katherine’s unexpected journey to redemption. The side you are enjoying the most depends on why you’ve been watching this show for the past five years, and Monster’s Ball did some interesting things with both. The end of this episode could mean very very good or very very bad things for the series moving forwards and, as always, I’m optimistic for the former.
We start off with the season’s apparent big bad – Dr. Maxfield. His experiments on a newly undead Jesse feel worryingly like yet another Buffy rip-off in the form of a scientific angle on the supernatural just as our heroes enter college but, as it’s the only glimpse we saw of whatever he’s doing with Jesse, I won’t rant about it just yet. Otherwise, Elena discovers a friend of murdered roommate Megan, for whom Maxfield is acting as legal guardian, and he claims everyone around him tends to die. Knowing something about that herself, Elena seems intrigued by the new guy, but he’s another thing the show seems to be saving for later.
Because Elena is sad about Bonnie in this episode, we see the return of the diary-writing voiceover. This annoys me because, despite the show still being called The Vampire Diaries, it was meant to mean something when she burnt her diaries in the Gilbert house fire. Then again, she also burnt her brother’s remains and he’s alive and kicking around Mystic Falls right now. Its bad enough we spent a good twenty minutes mourning a character that’s still around, but now we have to deal with a heroine with survivor’s guilt? The burning of her diaries symbolised her transition from human to vampire, and now we’re right back where we started.
It is a tidy narrative tool, however, and how else would we have segued into Caroline’s rekindled relationship with Tyler? Again, I hate this, and I’m so happy that the show finally realised how awful Tyler has been to his girlfriend over the past couple of years. They start off reacquainting themselves, then they have an argument, and then Tyler heads off to New Orleans to have it out with Klaus. That’s a pretty economical break-up episode, and I couldn’t be happier it’s over. Then again, now I have to ponder how Tyler will fit into The Originals universe – I guess we’ll find out on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Damon is feeling insecure about his relationship with Elena and cooks up a way to win her over – bring Bonnie back from the dead! Please don’t. His cunning plan is to team up with Silas over their stupidly common goals (which very few fans really understand), turn him back into a witch and allow him to trade places with Bonnie… or something. How that solves his issue with the veil/other side eludes me at this moment, and no amount of exposition scenes seem to be able to clarify it. Anyways, we find out that Katsia’s spell created a mystical anchor, and nobody knows what or where it is – glad that’s cleared up.
The most satisfying storyline, as has been the case all season, was Katherine’s. We discover that Nadia is actually Katherine’s daughter which, if I remember correctly, makes her a relative of Elena, also. Then again, I’m just as confused about the doppelganger mythology as I am about Silas (though I guess they’re the same thing), but the important thing is that this humanises an already shockingly humanised Katherine even more. When she says she doesn’t want to die, it’s for very different reasons than it may have been in the past. We’re obviously supposed to like Katherine this year and, credit to the writers, we do.
That makes it all the more heartbreaking to see Damon feed her to Silas at the end of the episode, despite the fact she gets up again. How is this possible? Did the cure make Katherine immortal despite her human status? Is she something else entirely? Are we ok with the fact that Elena just stood there and watched, apparently complicit? There are a lot of interesting questions, but one thing made clear from the promo is that Silas is now a witch rather than a vampire. How Damon’s deal to bring Bonnie back plays out, I have no idea, but it should certainly be fun to see Silas working with our heroes. See you next week!
Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, For Whom the Bell Tolls, here.
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