This review contains spoilers.
6.2 Yellow Ledbetter
Now this, this is what Vampire Diaries should be, what most of its fans miss and what I can sincerely get behind. Yellow Ledbetter was a fantastic episode of a show that has had very few fantastic episodes in the last couple of years, and it’s honestly the most excited I’ve been about it for a long time. There was a lot to love about the episode, and thankfully it was all stuff that will hopefully carry on across the rest of the season.
Firstly, we need to address Bonnie and Damon’s situation, which was barely touched upon in the premiere besides that enticing end teaser. So, we’ve established now that they’re trapped in a 90s time-warp with no means of escape, and it’s only taken the four months to settle into domestic bliss at the Salvatore Manor. If you’d have asked me at any previous point in the show’s run that an exclusively Damon/Bonnie storyline would be this enjoyable, I would have called you a liar, but here we are, and it’s a hoot.
It also gives Ian Somerhalder lots of opportunity to give the audience Lost nostalgia (“where are we?”; “we’re not alone” etc.) and gives both of the actors room outside of the unruly ensemble to have some fun with their ridiculous characters. Despite knowing that this is almost certainly going to be the most important storyline set-up so far, we as an audience can also enjoy them a little more. Remember when Damon was the best character on the show? Let’s get that back, preferably with 90s hip-hop dancing, flannel shirts and pancakes.
Back in reality, where things are as doomed and gloomy as we remember, Elena is still sticking to her plan to erase Damon from her mind. Shockingly, and I’ll add disappointingly, Alaric is going along with her tantrum and we spend the episode with the pair as they determine when exactly Elena fell for Damon. Would the Alaric we know really do this? He knows better than anyone that death is a temporary deal, and he arguably has as much loyalty and affection for his drinking buddy as he does his step-daughter.
No matter, that’s what the love triangle gods have decided is going to happen, and so it shall be. The execution of the plan is what matters, and it was truly excellent. Adding my personal feelings to the equation, the scene they finally decide was the moment true love struck was in the first episode of the show I reviewed for this site, and I actually own the old vervain necklace that featured. So I had some feelings about this.
Something about the way they did it – the choice of clips, Nina Dobrev’s performance, the comparison to Katherine (sob), or Alaric’s presence – made the moment more heartbreaking than it had any right to be. Most of the audience are tired of any relationship or non-relationship Elena chooses to have with the Salvatores, but this had weight. We know that Damon isn’t dead, for one, and also that having Elena backtrack to what she thought of Damon pre-season two is so much worse than forgetting him altogether.
The real highlight, though, was the return of Enzo. Never has a guest star being promoted to regular status been so welcome, and he’s earning his keep so far. With the absence of Damon – or Damon being remotely sadistic or threatening – Enzo has seamlessly stepped into his shoes and made it his mission to torture Stefan. This is not where I saw that particular love triangle going, but I’m sure glad it has. I’ve been on team Steroline for years and years, and the addition of Enzo is exactly what it needed to move things along.
Putting his devotion to Caroline aside, however, the rivalry with Stefan is fabulous on its own. It is essentially picking up where Damon left off in the pilot, of course, but that doesn’t really matter when we see how generally spooked Stefan is. And someone was actually murdered in this episode – another Vampire Diaries quirk that has been sorely missed. Just getting back the ability to shock us would do so much for the show right now, and Enzo seems like the catalyst for that.
Last week’s premiere may have felt a little more like business as usual, but Yellow Ledbetter proved that something significant has changed over the summer, and season six could potentially take the show back to the heights of seasons one and two. It’s not a done deal but, given that even Matt has an intriguing plotline of his own with Tripp Fell the vampire slayer, the signs are looking good.
Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, I’ll Remember, here.
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