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?


Editor Rating: 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+.


I think that the 'mystery coffin' is Klaus's mom that he killed. It's already been aluded to that she is the original witch as the talisman was her's. I think it's because she plans on getting her body re-animated and will want it back. After all Klaus said he has his whole family in those coffins. And why 'spell' one closed?
I also agree on the blog author's comment on how stupid it was to reveal that his ring is his NEVER reveal your secret that hold your life or ability to stay alive to anyone. The doc is just too convinent and the people of mystic falls just a but too gullible. It's not like they haven't seen first hand that strangers showing up have their own agendas. Lastly though I enjoy the show the teenage mella drama is a bit much and 'compelling' happens way too much. It's so over done. It shouldn't be that simple especially vamp to vamp.


Why dont they jst steal a note out of buffys book and use a missle launcher on Klaus, sure Damon could steal one. Also tvfantic can you give us the option to turn off the really annoying adverts at the side or at least the sound.


I always use to ask myself this question that will damon ever choose stefan over elena,will he ever make the same sacrifises for stefan just like stefan did for him coz clearly damon doesn't love stefan as much as stefan loves him and he'll always choose a girl above his brother.


I wanted a little more action last night after how intense last week was, but I really enjoyed that many plots were advanced.
As for the coffin I think it's their Mother that Klaus killed. I don not trust the new doc especially when she tried to take off Alric's ring, how stupid was that of him to tell get about it?!?!? Want Jeremy back like NOW!! More Damon and Elena along with more Caroline and Klaus please


Any of these finales for S3 would please me. 1) Elena, Bonnie and Caroline drive off for the summer to get away from the supernatural drama and to be teens without anyone knowing.
2)Bonnie goes darkside and leaves Mystic Falls with Klaus. Elena turns both Salvatores away.
3) Damon chooses Stefan over Elena.
4)Alaric makes a smart choice.


I wanted more delena. :( Oh and there was hardy and Damon....ugh


The only really good parts were Elijah returning and Tyler fighting for freedom. I truly hope this is it for Stefan and Elena and in truth hope Damon wakes up and becomes a man again instead of some old man drooling over a teenager! This love triangle is as boring as the the Twilight triangle, follow the book and kill off Elena it opens up the opportunity for so many more storylines. Get rid of Torey, this girl can't act, she truly gives me the creeps-kill her off fast! The only good thing about VD are the scenes where they all come together to fight a bigger enemy.


@Lauren I do agree with you that she felt like she couldn't move forward with her relationship with Damon until she was able to begin to let Stefan go. I guess I'm just a fan of Stefan so I didn't like the way it went down. I always hope that during their scenes together that they'll find their way back to each other and that's why I hated that she hurt him like that.


I am slightly baffled by something. I see that some people are actually wondering what kiss Elena referred to when she told Stefan. I don't understand how she could possibly mean the one on Damon's death bed. She has been tormented by the porch kiss since it happened. Not sleeping, not being able to be around Damon... feeling guilty. Obviously that was the kiss that she had to tell Stefan about. The other kiss was a goodbye kiss. It was because Damon was someone she cared about deeply and he loved her. She would not have any guilt about that one and not have to tell Stefan in some moment of honesty. She would, however, have to tell Stefan about the one on the porch because she felt something and it was a real kiss between two people who both wanted it.


I think that Elena is not so much sticking a knife in Stefan, but that she is being brutally honest. I think that she can't go forward with her feelings for Damon until she releases herself from Stefan. When she had him there in that moment, she told him that they kissed because she needs to prepare him for what might come next. I am sure that when she stood on the porch with Damon and said that she couldn't, she really felt that at the time, but then when she was alone with Stefan, she realized that she had to be honest with him that something is happening between her and Damon. I still don't think that it matters that she said she kissed Damon. It is the wording of it all and honestly, she did kiss him. Just because he started the kiss does not mean that she did not kiss him. I don't think she is being brutal to Stefan by telling him that. She is telling him the truth to prepare him. To spare his feelings if he has any left for her at all, which she knows he does.

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The Vampire Diaries Season 3 Episode 12 Quotes

Damon: What's her damage?
Alarc: No damage.
Damon: Come on, Ric. It's a fact of life. A girl that smart, that hot? Damaged.

Bonnie: What's going on with you two?
Damon: We kissed. Now it's weird.