This review contains spoilers.
6.15 Let Her Go
The last few episodes of The Vampire Diaries have been pretty emotional. They’ve been so emotional that it’s now a requirement to mentally prepare yourself before watching the next instalment. The show has killed characters plenty of times before, even characters we loved as much or more than Liz Forbes, but these last few weeks have chosen to focus on and wallow in the death more than it ever has before.
A lot of this, and the success of this especially, comes down to the choice of Caroline to lead the series. Since day one she’s been the heart of the show, but mostly in the background, picking up the lead characters when they were down or being fought over by two equally unsuitable guys. Now, she is the one at the centre of the drama, the heartbreak and the A-plot, and her friends are the ones playing back-up.
And that’s why the end of this episode was so important – Caroline has always acted in service of others, often sacrificing her own agency to support her friends, and this is one of the first times she’s done something completely selfish. She doesn’t want to feel the pain, she shouldn’t have to, especially not when the example set by Elena, Stefan et al has been to run away and avoid human problems like grief and regret.
Avoidance is one of The Vampire Diaries’ main themes, but this is the first time a character choosing to flip their humanity switch hasn’t felt utterly, utterly irritating.
Caroline’s story is paralleled with Damon’s flashbacks to when his own mother died, struggling to write Liz’s eulogy when he had failed to be there for his mother or younger brother the first time around. This was mostly just a necessity to introduce the idea of the Salvatore matriarch ahead of Bonnie’s discovery, but it’s always a joy to watch Damon and Stefan interact before they were vampires.
It’s also interesting that it was Damon who set Caroline off on her mission to get everything sorted before the end of the day, warning her that the immediate aftermath of losing a loved one is the easy part, with the real pain set for when her friends had gone home and the house was empty. Those two have a fraught relationship, at best, which provided an alternative to how the rest of the characters were rallying around in her time of need.
This was the main plot, with the beautiful funeral breaking our hearts all over again, but there was also some development for the show’s ongoing storylines. Matt’s continuing on his quest to separate his life from the craziness around him by becoming a police officer, taking Tyler with him. This could be spectacular, and would finally give the two of them something useful to do, but I also kind of hope that it’s another step towards making Matt into a future antagonist to our other main characters.
And Bonnie’s back! I wish I could just write down the startlingly loud noise I made when she leapt into Damon’s arms, but let me just say that entire scene made me extremely happy. It was also kind of perfect that, after so much build-up to her return, she just popped back in the middle of an episode about completely different things. It’s fittingly low-key for Bonnie, and I’m happy she went to Damon first.
Less interestingly, Alaric and Jo are now engaged, and she’s pregnant with something that’ll probably turn out to be psycho demon spawn (or twin psycho demon spawn). I want to care more about this, because there was a time when Alaric was the best thing about The Vampire Diaries (remember that?), but the show has sidelined him so much this season that it’s hard to marry the Jo/Kai/Liv thing to the stuff going on elsewhere.
Kai should still be the main worry for the safety of Mystic Falls and the universe at large, but I suspect that when we come back for the next episode it’ll be Caroline’s new emotionless state that’ll keep the gang preoccupied. What happens when the show’s most caring and empathetic presence turns off her feelings? I can’t wait to find out. See you on the 12th of March for the ominously-titled The Downward Spiral!
Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, Stay, here.
Follow our Twitter feed for faster news and bad jokes right here. And be our Facebook chum here.