This review contains spoilers.
6.13 The Day I Tried To Live
The Vampire Diaries has trouble holding onto its bad guys, largely because its bad guys are often so well done that the writers have no choice but to offer them redeeming features, fold them into some sort of love story and keep them around for longer than ever intended. It started with Damon, but since then we’ve had Klaus, Enzo and a whole host of others.
Now we’ve got Kai, who has undoubtedly been a highlight of a very strong sixth season. From the moment he was introduced, viewers were demanding he stay, and now the merge with Luke has given the show an easy and relatively seamless way to have the character start to show some redeeming qualities. It’s a shortcut, sure, but no more so than Spike’s chip in Buffy (there are those Buffy parallels again).
He now feels guilty about his role in things, and so offers the gang a way to visit 1994. What follows is confirmation that Bonnie – once the most divisive character on the show and, frankly, someone extremely hard to like – is now an integral part of The Vampire Diaries, and someone it’s high time the group spent some effort saving. Really, she’s been stuck there so long that suicide feels like the best option, and it makes you wonder why Damon and Jeremy haven’t been a little more focused on how to get her out these past few weeks.
Speaking of Jeremy, The Day I Tried To Live was just part one of his exit storyline, presumably heading off to art school to live a turmoil-free life far away from Mystic Falls. Jeremy has been a pretty useless character for a long while now, but I’m grateful that we can wave goodbye to him without having to watch him die again.
And he had one last heroic moment with Bonnie, tying a not-so-pretty bow on their strange and awkward romance. Really, every scene with Bonnie this week was A+ television, even if it saw the return of this show’s creepy obsession with suicide. Saying that, this is probably the only example of The Vampire Diaries actually using the device to show someone coming back from the brink, rather than tying it to some mystical ritual.
Bonnie did not end up killing herself, but seeing her consider it really brought home how much I’ve come to care for her this season. I hated her before, and not just a little bit. Now, seeing her watch old videos of her and Damon, down an entire bottle of whisky alone on her birthday and remember words from her Grams right when she’s about to give up completely, I dare say she’s one of my favourite characters.
Another of my favourite characters, Caroline, is also going through a tough spot right now, but her storyline this week was thankfully wrapped up in the comforting friendship of Stefan, which has somehow become the beating heart of the show. Damon and Elena are doing their usual Delena thing, sure, but that relationship has sadly become something it feels like The Vampire Diaries has to do, like ticking boxes.
But so much care and consideration has gone into Stefan and Caroline’s relationship, having been built up over several years with barely a hint of romance, only for season six to have a possible love story feel like it was planned all along. They didn’t kiss in this episode, which was far more powerful than if they had, and that kind of sums up their entire dynamic. It’ll be worth the wait when it happens, but their journey to that point is endlessly compelling taken just as it is.
Elsewhere in the episode, Tyler lived up to his reputation as the worst boyfriend ever, and Matt’s storyline continues to be a wasted opportunity. Rather than follow through on the plan to have him and Jeremy go rogue against their vampire friends and family, we’ve now got a convoluted plot where he is being forced by Enzo to stalk Sara Salvatore. Boo.
But these weaker elements barely register when the A-plot is so darn good, hitting all the right emotions and rehabilitating characters we’ve known for six years. Please someone save Bonnie soon – she’s suffered enough.
Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, Prayer For The Dying, here.
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