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The Vampire Diaries Review: Oh, Brother

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The Vampire Diaries does many things very well: snark, romance, violence, twists, turns, bubble baths.

But what the show has truly succeeded at over two-plus seasons has been a constant, fascinating through-line; a theme for each set of episodes that anchors the action and gives fans something to anticipate; a destination, if you will, a payoff to the incredible build-up.

Almost all of season one could be defined by the tomb and Damon's yearning to awaken Katherine; season two introduced us to werewolves and then concluded with many weeks of wondering how everyone would protect Elena from Klaus' sacrifice.

Season three, however, has been a bit more scattered - and never was that more evident than on "The Ties That Bind."

Stefan with a Stare

I wanna say the mystery of the locked coffin is now the driving force and it probably is. I can't even begin to guess what's in there, nor do I even want to. I enjoy being surprised. (Editor's note: I'm mostly lying. Help! Send in your theories, stat!). But this episode gave equal weight to three stories and, while they're all connected in a general sense, my head was spinning a bit as we whipped from one scene to the next.

Then again, should I really complain? When it comes to The Vampire Diaries, a spinning head is far better than a decapitated one, as we've seen multiple times over the last few weeks.

FIRST, let's talk about Tyler's desire to break his sire bond by going all Braveheart on Klaus and the transformation process. FREEEEEEDOM! With the help of Bill Forbes, Tyler did all he could to achieve this goal, pulling and screaming and kicking and growling (shirtless, ladies!) and eventually sending his new mentor to the hospital.

Job well done, T. Now do it tomorrow, and the day after that and the day after that.

What made this development so sweet was that both parties were placing themselves in danger due to their love for Caroline. Tyler will do anything to be with her and Bill may even be on his way to redemption after those fatherly, protective warnings he gave to Tyler.

SECOND, Alaric is an idiot. Seriously, man, keep acting this way and I may need to resort to calling you "Ric" as well. You're quickly losing the honor of your awesome name.

Sure, Dr. Fell is a cutie. And her desire to save patients' lives by any means necessary is admirable - but she's also sort of playing God here. You can't save everyone. Moreover, she gives you one explanation for what she does with vampire blood and you're sold? You (literally) open up your bag of secrets and then you even tell her about the ring. The ring? My goodness, man, the ring?!? Keep that thing to yourself.

Shouldn't you maybe be wondering: why is her ex-boyfriend dead? For how long has she been using vampire blood in this fashion? What is her overall agenda? I'd have a lot of questions for the good (or bad?) doctor and none of them would include her favorite food or what time you ought to pick her up for dinner.

THIRD, we come to Bonnie and her mother. There was just a whole lot going on here, and a great deal of it involved characters we just met. Or characters in whom we aren't heavily invested.

Look, Bonnie is perfectly nice, but Elena said it herself on their road trip: she never talks about her mom. I'm sure her absence has had a profound affect on Bonnie, but
I didn't care much about the reunion. The emotion there didn't feel earned. And it was awfully convenient that Abby just happened to take in her ex's son many years ago... so Klaus' hybrid (who also played an oddly prominent role this week) could compel him and Abby could convince Bonnie to spill the location of the coffins and Klaus could show up there and Damon (off screen) could move the locked box and...

... it was a whirlwind of one event after another, many of which relied on a few more plot contrivances than we typically see on VD (the existence of Jaime, Elena leaving her mother's sheet on the kitchen table, Bonnie just texting Damon freely while the random hybrid stood nearby, etc.).

I will say, however, that Abby's basis for leaving was interesting. She wanted to live as a woman, not a witch. I've written many times how the show only utilizes Bonnie as a witch. And she isn't exactly the most upbeat character, is she? There may be something to be said for losing one's powers. But not for abandoning one's child, of course.

Of course, in the end, this culminated in the return we've all been clamoring for: Elijah! I think most of us saw it coming at some point, but that didn't make it any less fantastic when he concluded the episode with a heart in his hands and the question: What did I miss?

A whole lot, my good man. Now let's wake Rebekah up and have the Original reunion we all wanna see.

Smaller bites:

  • Terrific use of silence in the scene where Elena told Stefan about the kiss. I legitimately had no idea how Stefan would respond and the writers made the perfect choice in leaving him speechless. Really, what expresses hurt more than utter quiet? Very well played by both Paul Wesley and Nina Dobrev.
  • Jenna's gone. You're allowed to move on. Hmmm... anything else think Elena was talking to herself as much as Alaric here?
  • Man, what must the other physicians at the hospital think of Meredith? That she's the greatest doctor since Hippocrates?
  • No new episode next week. But that that just means more time to spend in our Vampire Diaries forum talking about this one!
  • He's a look at what you can expect on the February 2 installment.

What did everyone else think? Is Elena actually too good for both brothers? Can we trust Bonnie's mom? Dr. Fell? And, of course, WHAT IS IN THE CASKET?

Review

Editor Rating: 3.8 / 5.0
  • 3.8 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.6 / 5.0 (396 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.

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The events of this episode went out ok,even though it was strange to see Bonnie's mother in the show now. If she can help out in the show, then she can help solve the mysteries and put an end to all madness caused by the original family. I wonder what else will come up for the season. =/ ;/

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I agree the silence was perfect..Paul Wesley/Nina Dobrev did that scene perfectly. I am hoping like Stelena Fan that the love that Elena/Stefan have will never end. I sure hope we see them rekindle that, afterall I never thought Stefan stopped loving her and she continued to try and find/help him when he was off with Klaus. Their love is what hooked me into the show and keeps me hanging on week after week. I agree with others that the chemistry on screen with Elena/Damon isn't working for me. Nina/Paul have it.

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So , this episode was incredible. I agree it was really heart breaking the way stefan reacted to the kiss. BUT wait till stefan kinds out that SHE did NOT kiss him .. HE infact KISSED HER. I don't think Elena thought that he would care , she thought he would of had no emotion towards it because he said he doesn't care what she thinks anymore. Did you see her expressions after she told him? very surprised. The love is still their , and it's only the starting. I'm thinking that when klaus said "that kind of love never dies" he was fore shadowing the fact that stefan and elena will end up together in the end. Damon and Elena do not mix well in my opinion. They don't have much chemistry on screen as they do off screen. Damon will find a girl. I'm pretty excited to see who damon ends up in bed with , and how Elena will react. I LOVE stelena , i hope that they get back together i really really do , Elena needs Stefan. She loves damon too but i dont think she loves him more than Stefan ,

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I think the coffin contains either Klaus's mother or Damon and Stefan's mother. I also think that Damon will be found in bed with Rebekkah. Whether he actually slept with her or not I am not sure.

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@Lauren and @ Niki, I agree. Elena's kind of a big deal. She's the doppleganger. Who's to say what she would do if she were a vampire? Maybe she'd flip the switch, maybe she wouldn't. Either way, it doesn't matter. It's pointless to ask who's evil and who's good on this show. Everyone's layered and surprising. I love this show and the action and fast-moving plot, but sometimes I really miss Kevin Williamson's influence on this show. He's better at the nuances and is great at showing us how to love the "bad guy."

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Regardless of which side of the whole Delena/Stelena triangle that you fall on, I feel like we are way beyond the whole "Elena should just live a normal life" idea. Things have changed by now. Elena may be human, but she is already bonded to the Salvatore brothers. Not just because of the love triangle, but because she is also a part of the supernatural life that they all lead. She can't just move past them. She needs them to protect her. With a witch best friend and a vampire best friend, she is just as involved in this twisted little family as any vampire. The question is no longer whether or not she is better than them, it is which brother is ultimately better for her. Which brother does she love more. Giving up and walking away is not even possible now. And really, what would she have done without either of them on so many occasions. Like she said once, it was never the Salvatores that brought the drama into her life, it was because she was the doppleganger.

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Matt, Jeremy and Bonnie, all of them are too sad and sappy to be appealing and that isn't just how the characters are written but how borderline bad those three actors are. Matt has some potential. And sorry I'm not the biggest Tyler fan, and I'm bored with the Care/tyler romance and find myself rooting for Caroline to tenderize Klaus just as Elena did Damon. I love Paul Wesley. Awesome silent moment of deep hurt, so now will you move on to Katherine please stefan? If you're into revenge, how much better could it get. And who are these people saying they don't like Elena? What the hell is wrong with you? And the locked coffin, not a person, something else.

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I agree with Sasha and Lauren. Very poor dialogue in that moment, I don't get it either. To be honest, I thought the acting between Dobrev/Wesley was good but didn't like the way the wtiters did it. IDK

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@Lauren, thank you for commiserating with me! Yeah the statement is inconsistent and just plain wrong. It's depressing that Stefan has such a low opinion of Damon and himself. It's like he needs Klaus to give him the same pep talk he gave Caroline. Klaus's point was that the life of a vampire and the life of a human aren't even measured on the same scale. So when Stefan starts comparing Damon and himself to Elena, ugh, it just doesn't even make any sense.

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@sasha I also felt like "you're better than him" was very upsetting. I don't know your reasoning for it, but to me, it was inconsistent with the story. We have spent 3 season being pulled into a love triangle about two vampire brothers who are in touch with their humanity, aka NOT monsters. They have spent 3 seasons showing us that Damon deeply cares about Elena and is not actually a monster, but a man who turned off his humanity because his feeling anything hurts too much with his heightened vamp emotions. To say now that "you're better than him" is like tearing down everything that we have been building up. I know Stefan was hurt, but he knows that his brother is good. He knows that his brother is the one who has been taking care of Elena and would never hurt her. He can be mad at Damon all he wants, but he knows that Damon of all people would protect her with his life. I don't know, it just didn't seem to fit the storyline.