This review contains spoilers.
6.3 Welcome To Paradise
The perpetual Stefan/Elena/Damon love triangle has plagued Vampire Diaries for years. It hasn’t been fresh since around the season three mark, before Elena became a vampire and the writers introduced the hilariously misjudged sire bond plotline. Worse than that, it actually felt like the need to keep the triangle revolving was preventing character growth for the three involved parties during seasons four and five.
Splitting them up, then, has been the best and most refreshing part of season six so far. Damon might still be half-pining after Elena, but regardless, the three of them have finally become characters in their own right again. They have wants and needs that don’t directly relate back to each other, and even some new emerging love stories that could be much more interesting than the so-called mission statement the show started with.
Elena’s state of mind in this episode, in particular, was very indicative of how wrapped up she’s been with her love life over the course of the series. No longer remembering that she loved Damon, she’s floundering with nothing to anchor her, and doesn’t seem to have realised that her friends maybe aren’t the same people they were back in high school. She’s that girl.
Much more than last year, season six seems to be about that college-age problem of high school friends drifting apart and growing away from each other, and Elena is the odd one out. It could easily have been Caroline, the figurative cheerleader of her group of friends, but she’s instead more concerned with replacing the best friend-gap that Stefan left in her life.
The dynamic between Caroline, Enzo and Stefan was a highlight of last week’s great instalment, and the continuation of it here didn’t disappoint. It makes perfect sense that Caroline would try to slot Enzo into that space, even if she’s fully aware of his feelings for her, but the fact that he probably reminded her more of Klaus no doubt killed the impulse.
And she more or less admitted her feelings to Stefan, who was equally having none of it. I’m surprised the show hasn’t mentioned Lexi in this storyline, with everyone focusing instead of Stefan’s grief only for Damon, and that it’s possible his avoidance of Caroline is more to do with missing his bestie than it is about him not caring at all. Though he didn’t stay as she requested, there was clearly some anguish there as he walked away.
The most important consequence of that scene, though, was that Elena had heard everything and made her own assumptions. But she didn’t mind, which is huge. The big concern among fans of the writers actually committing to Steroline as a romantic plot was that it would ruin the only functional female friendship on the show, but that thankfully doesn’t seem to be the case.
The lake party was mainly an excuse to get everyone (shirtlessly) together before subsequently showing the distance between them, but it also brought in a host of interesting new characters. There was Elena’s potential new beau, who came across as a kind of diet-Damon, Matt’s vampire hunter friend, who didn’t last very long, and even a new friend for Damon and Bonnie on The Other Side.
Kai is the best of the three, but that might be because he’s a part of season six’s best storyline. The Damon/Bonnie stuff is only getting better, and that’s just watching them interact with each other. The mystery is also still compelling enough to warrant time in each episode, and Kai’s appearance just makes it more so. Also, Bonnie has her magic back! I would class her as “the useless one,” but at least she can light candles now.
The final cliff-hanger may have been designed to show Stefan as slipping into his old Ripper ways, but it actually reminded me a lot of the old Vampire Diaries. This used to be a show that had its characters firmly planted in a grey area that felt both dangerous and sympathetic, with no easy way to differentiate between good and evil people. It feels like we’re there again, but now with characters we know so much better.
Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, Yellow Ledbetter, here.
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