This review contains spoilers.
6.7 Mommie Dearest
We need to talk about this pregnancy storyline.
Of all the crazy twists and turns this show has taken over the years, impregnating Caroline with the unborn twins of her favorite high school teacher has to take the biscuit. Not only does it not make any sense logically within the rules of this universe, but it also doesn’t make any sense narratively. There’s a consent issue here that I wish wasn’t a recurring problem for The Vampire Diaries, but the execution in Mommie Dearest just made the whole thing worse.
Adding a thick layer of extra icky-ness is the addition of Valerie to the mix, a prospective love rival to Caroline who lost her own child through tragic circumstances. So not only does Caroline feel pressured to carry the children because they’re all sad-bastard Alaric has left in his life, but she also has the added factor of Stefan having also lost a child when the spell didn’t work.
We’re teased throughout the hour about whether she’s actually pregnant or not while Caroline starts to come around to the idea. The fact that we know she ends up engaged to her former teacher/sperm donor feeds into the storyline too, as well as the knowledge that Candice King is pregnant in real life.
So this entire storyline has been cooked up in order to explain away the baby bump and keep the actress on the show. Crazier things have happened. While I love Caroline and would be much less keen on watching The Vampire Diaries without her around, surely nothing is worth this much clumsy manoeuvring? This spells bad news all round, and takes something important away from the character in the process.
And it’s the latest in a long list of strange decisions the writers have made this year, mainly in regards to the relationships. If there was always something we could rely on The Vampire Diaries for in the past, it was a respect for the relationships it had built between characters. It stopped being all about the love triangle pretty quickly because of the way the supporting cast interacted with each other.
Now, we’re facing two of the strangest couple combinations in the show’s history. Bonnie and Enzo? Alaric and Caroline? Why were those names pulled out of the hat this year? To be fair, I’m warming to the interactions between the former pair, but I wish we didn’t know that it would amount to a relationship down the road – it makes everything feel more forced than it might have done otherwise.
And all of these complaints don’t even touch upon Stefan, Damon and Lily’s A-plot. Just add it to the pile of occasions in which the Salvatore brothers tie up and torture women in their life as soon as they don’t get their way. True, she was being slightly unreasonable, but maybe abusing her isn’t the best way to convince her that she’s in an abusive relationship.
Compare the entire episode to the final interaction between Damon and Stefan, which felt emotionally true to those characters and what they’d been through. I always get a kick out of flashbacks involving the siblings, mainly because it shows Damon in such a different light, and the episode needed more of this to sell the rest of it.
There’s also something strange going on with Matt, as it feels as though he’s appearing a lot less this year. He’s pointedly separating himself from the group, and I don’t know whether this will amount to something or it’s just the way the show is choosing to use him now.
So yeah, things are slightly askew, and I guess it’s not fair to judge the show until this play out, but right now the average episode ranges between uncharacteristically boring and mind-bogglingly bizarre. I’m not willing to write it off yet, but it’ll have to pull out something really special for the mid-season finale.
Read Caroline’s review of episode five, Live Through This, here.