The Vampire Diaries season 5 episode 8 review: Dead Man On Campus

The Vampire Diaries is creeping ever closer to Buffy season four. Here's Caroline's review of Dead Man On Campus

This review contains spoilers.

5.8 Dead Man On Campus

Now that we seem to have the Silas/Katsia muddle out of the way on The Vampire Diaries, I was looking forward to having a little break from ancient big bads for the remainder of the season. I was disappointed, then, when I discovered that there was another mysterious villain named the Augustine vampire to look forward to, but the show may have made me a little bit interested. I said only a little bit, because the tease that Damon is actually an Augustine vampire – suggesting there’s more than one and they’re not necessarily ancient – is only the beginning of a potentially engaging arc. There’s still time for it to go horribly wrong.

Before we discover this, however, there’s Jesse to deal with. As we know, he’s the latest test subject for Dr. Maxfield, and he’s been MIA because Wes has kept him asleep for a fortnight. As Damon uncovers during a particularly creative torture session, the grand plan here is to get vampires hooked on other vampires’ blood – thus removing the threat of monsters by making them kill each other instead of humans. This sounds like a pretty good idea, from the point of view of living, breathing people but I guess, since 99% of our cast are now members of the undead club, we have to stop the madman and his evil scheme.

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The point is also solidified with the choice of Jesse as the first victim of these experiments, but it’s actually Elena who kills him when he starts feeding on Damon. As well as giving us a random guest-star death – which is something the show used to do weekly but has shied away from in recent seasons – it also drags up the hatred between Damon and Caroline, and could cause new tension between Elena and Caroline. She’s kept admirably quiet since her best friend dumped nice Stefan for his psychopath brother, but a little reminder of who Damon was (and almost certainly still is) every so often doesn’t hurt.

Meanwhile, Katherine once again had the most interesting and emotionally engaging storyline of the week, as she discovered that yet more people are out for her blood. Since finally being free of Klaus’ 500-year pursuit and turning human, you’d think she deserves a bit of rest, but now the travellers are after her and she has to make a decision. Does she run away again? With the prospect of only months to live battling with her motherly instinct since finding Nadia, she chooses instead to jump off the bell tower. Stefan saves her at the last second – setting shippers’ hearts aflutter – and this is enough of a pep talk to keep her fighting another day.

We also found out what Matt’s knife does – it removes passengers from their host – and this means that Matt is no longer being occupied by his traveller friend. That storyline didn’t last long, did it? We were promised that Matt wouldn’t just be a useless bystander this season, and I’m waiting for him to suddenly become super-involved with the A-plot. That doesn’t seem to be the case right now, but I always have hope that the writers will one day find something for our favourite bartender to do. Maybe Katherine’s current alcohol dependence will mean they become friends?

The Augustine vampire plot seems different enough from the last couple of arcs – Klaus and his hybrids followed by Silas and his search for Amara – and that gives me hope that the show can cut itself out from the knotty nonsense that we’ve been dealing with for at least a season of a half. With Bonnie’s connection to the other side keeping that storyline intact, however, I wonder if my hopes will be quickly dashed but, for now, I’m on board for the science-meets-fantasy stuff – no matter how similar it gets to Buffy season four. See you next week! 

Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, Death And The Maiden, here.

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