The Vampire Diaries season 6 episode 17 review: A Bird In A Gilded Cage

Elena who? Bonnie and Caroline are the undeniable stars of The Vampires deliciously unpredictable season 6, as this week's episode shows...

This review contains spoilers.

6.17 A Bird In A Gilded Cage

Once things with The Vampire Diaries‘ sixth season wrap, let the records show that it was the year of Bonnie Bennett and Caroline Forbes. Anyone tuning in for the first time would seriously not realise that Elena Gilbert was the girl around which the first five seasons of the show had revolved, and it’s the better for it.

It’s also completely unprecedented that it would be Stefan and Caroline, the show’s two most moral characters, who would be the bad guys while Damon and Bonnie set about fixing the world’s problems. It’s all a bit crazy to comprehend for those of us who remember the old days, but it’s also a thrill to be able to watch The Vampire Diaries without being able to predict what’s going to happen from minute to minute.

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When Stefan flipped his humanity switch last week, for example, I think everyone expected he and Caroline to go on some kind of Bonnie and Clyde crime spree, but we instead got to watch him try to convert a still in-control Caroline to his way of thinking. We’ve seen Stefan the Ripper before, but back then his chosen playmate was Klaus, and that’s not nearly as fun.

(Speaking of whom, if Klaus didn’t exist on another show with his own storylines going on, I feel like the first thing Caroline would do would be to take a trip to New Orleans.)

It’s a neat twist to have Caroline still act like a control freak, ambitious and cautious, when she’s also basically a sociopath, and just witnessing all of these characters’ differing reactions to becoming emotionless monsters gives us more insight into their psyches than I ever gave the show credit for in the past.

It also makes the process of Caroline letting go of her ‘performance’ of humanity far more satisfying than if it had been an instantaneous shift. We’ve seen that on a million shows before, and The Vampire Diaries has never been interested in being so black and white.

While all of this was going on, Damon, Bonnie, Kai and Elena took a trip to the 1903 prison world Damon’s mother was trapped in, finding a whole slew of new ‘family’ members that are obviously going to cause trouble before the end of the season. This was one of those occasions when The Vampire Diaries reminded us of its roots in horror, and boy was it creepy to see those desiccated vamps seated around the table.

Let’s all remember when they kill one of our beloved characters, or threaten to take over the world, that going there in the first place was Elena’s bright idea, shall we?

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We can at least be thankful that Damon seems to have his head screwed on for once, as his dual plan to get his mother – only his mother – out at the same time as creating a scenario in which Bonnie can murder Kai actually went down as seamlessly as can be expected.

The show has also done a good enough job on post-merge Kai that I may actually have felt a pang of sympathy seeing him locked up in 1903 as Bonnie made her escape. He’s definitely in love with her, right? And we all know this is the kind of show in which characters can go from cold-blooded mass-murdering torturers to loyal, noble leading men in the space of 10 episodes.

And there’s another twist! Bonnie picked up a copy of the vampire cure while she was in 1994, and she offers it to Damon as a gesture of their newfound friendship. As well as providing a convenient excuse to ponder who might want to become human all over again, it also reminds us of how far some of these characters have come since the arc in season four.

Could we be seeing Stefan become human? Or Caroline (hopefully not Caroline)? There are no obvious candidates this time around and I’m curious, as with everything this season, to see how they choose to use it.

Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, The Downward Spiral, here.

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