This review contains spoilers.
6.4 Black Hole Sun
Every episode of The Vampire Diaries, by its very nature, presents the writers with opportunities to slide back into the malaise they wallowed in during seasons four and five, quickly re-establishing the status quo and slotting the character back into their prescribed roles. But that’s not what’s happening with season six, and it couldn’t be more thrilling for long-time viewers.
There are new villains, new relationships, new dynamics between old relationships and fresh takes on characters we thought we knew inside and out. Of course Matt would take it upon himself to investigate Tripp; of course Stefan has to start over every 30 years or so to avoid suspicion; of course Elena would have left herself a note should she ever discover what she and Alaric did, and of course Jeremy’s cries for help would eventually lead him right to Alaric’s doorstep.
It’s all pretty basic stuff, and it was the show’s grasp of those core relationships and character motivations that made the early days so fun. These characters are self-aware clichés, and it’s in the ways they defy expectations that once made Vampire Diaries the most enjoyable and subversive teen fantasy show on television. Now that title belongs to Teen Wolf, but it might be time to take it back.
The 90s twist is the best thing about a season with lots of great things, and we got to immerse ourselves in it even more during Black Hole Sun. Retconning the Salvatore timeline a little bit, it turns out that Damon was actually in Mystic Falls on the real May 10th 1994 and, as was the norm at the time, he was there to cause mayhem and destruction.
But Uncle Zach was alive! His reappearance was such a nice surprise, and really brought a lot of things back for anyone who had invested in Zach back in those first few episodes. His death was, in many ways, the catalyst for everything to come, but it turns out that he wasn’t the first to be targeted by a ticked-off Damon. It turns out that Damon’s worst day involved him killing a pregnant lady – Zach’s wife – as a punishment for Stefan.
But the baby survived, and thus the Sara mystery is solved. Elena’s victim and Jeremy’s bed-buddy is actually a Salvatore, and one that will probably have a revenge mission to get to once Damon’s back on the right side of reality. It’s a nice little twist, and stops her from being a random strangler – being a Salvatore instantly makes you more interesting and important on this show, especially if Stefan gets wind of it.
But Stefan now has his hands full with a newly-undead Libby. After spending the bulk of the episode proving to Elena that it was healthy (and practical) to start over in a new town with a new identity every couple of decades, he’s immediately dragged back into the drama when his not so dead-girlfriend rolls up at the tire shop. No matter, he still has around 25-years in Mystic Falls before people start asking questions about his lack of wrinkles and grey hairs.
It a shame, but at least his words got through to Elena, causing her to hand the written account of her love for Damon back to Alaric for another day. We all know that she’ll eventually decide to restore memories at some point, but seeing her actually choose to be single and happy and dependent only on herself is so darn satisfying. The show is finally realising that viewers don’t actually require Elena to be at the heart of a love triangle, and might actually prefer to see her, Damon and Stefan operate as singular characters for a while.
And pairing Damon with Bonnie was the best decision ever in my opinion, and part of me wants them to just stay in whatever hell-dimension they’ve landed themselves in for the rest of the season. Kai is a fantastic villain, with an extra dose of nasty than the bad guys on Vampire Diaries don’t usually exude (Klaus and Elijah excluded), and having only three people left in the whole universe lends the storyline a sense of claustrophobia that helps to sell the threat even more.
We can only fantasise about what Kai might get up to if and when he gets back to the real world, but there’s also the return of the human threat with Tripp Fell. Matt’s got that covered right now (finally, something for Matt to do!), but whose side will he be on when everything goes down?
Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, Welcome To Paradise, here.
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