It's done. It's over. I'm right back where I started.
I feel your pain, Stefan Salvatore.
Following "The Murder of One," for as much as I've tried to fight it over the past few episodes, I must now admit: The Vampire Diaries is running in place. It's not really going anywhere. It's burning through storylines so quickly that it's then forced to go back and recycle old ones... only to quickly finish those off and move on again.
Last week's TVD installment, for example, ended with the meant-to-be chilling line from Damon: let's go kill some Originals. Except all I could think at the time was: really?!? Why? What have the Originals even done in the recent past? Isn't that arc over with?
Heck, Damon has slept with Rebekah, Caroline has flirted with Klaus, Elena and Elijah have a cute little bond going... Aren't these groups practically closer to friends than enemies at this point?
Here, meanwhile, I experienced the same unfortunate feeling of deja eww, not again! Case in point: Klaus is now back to his plan of building a hybrid army using Elena's blood? Again, didn't this storyline come and pretty much go nowhere? Many weeks ago? Does the show expect us to get re-invested in it? Or to come up with a new way to tell it?
The fleeting/ever-changing stakes has been an issue for most of the season. Mikael came and went. Then the Original Witch came and went. Then the Originals were linked, only to be unlinked within a couple weeks. TVD keeps moving the target on us, unlike previous seasons where there was a consistent build-up to one or two major events: the tomb/Katherine on season one; the arrival of Klaus/his hybrid ceremony on season two.
I may have also been finally pushed over the edge when it comes to Ms. Non-Independent herself, Elena. One moment she's pleading with Stefan to change plans because Damon is in danger; the next second she's telling Stefan how worried she was that Klaus might kill him. She's torn. We get it. That's fine. It's even interesting when woven well into ongoing, overarching storytelling - but it's now become tiresome, shoved down our throats in what feels like every other scene.
I don't know what I feel, Elena told Stefan near the end of this episode. And it may have been a major blow to his ego, it may have been a total shock to his system (although, come on, he knew they kissed. Was Stefan really surprised his ex sort of has a thing for his brother?), but it's been hammered home to viewers for most of season three. Was anyone surprised to hear Elena utter these words? Did anyone feel like it moved the story along?
And this moment wasn't even the worst love triangle-based scene! That dishonor would fall to Damon's dream, where Elena came to save him, fed him her blood and was about to kiss him before we were snapped back to reality. Fantasy sequences rarely accomplish anything aside from filler. Again: what did we learn here? Damon fantasizes about Elena? Damon loves Elena, something he's already told her and the audience? It was simply a waste of three minutes.
One final gripe before I focus on the positives from the hour: Bonnie has to go. If she can be so easily convinced to use her magic for evil, she's a perpetual liability. All Klaus had to do was threaten Jeremy and her mother and - presto! - Bonnie is at his service? What would stop him from doing this at all times? Why not just have Bonnie living in his mansion, casting spells left and right that would help his cause?
Fortunately, her role did serve one purpose aside from irritation. It led to the funniest Vampire Diaries quote of the episode, courtesy of Rebekah: Thank you, Bonnie. See you in physics class.
What did I like about "The Murder of One?" The overriding narrative it left us with: kill an Original and all its bloodline members also perish. That was really the only takeaway from the episode, but at least it's an intriguing one. Where do the Salvatores go from here? How does Alaric's psycho alter ago possibly come into play? And, the question that will likely have many fans creating family trees tonight: WHO TURNED ROSE?
What did everyone else think? Are you still intrigued by Elena/Stefan/Damon? Or do you wish she'd hurry up and pick already? Do you, like Caroline, miss well-adjusted Stefan? Does this season feel far more aimless than seasons one and two? With just four episodes remaining, what is it all building up to?
And how much will you miss Troy?!? Let's all take a moment of silence now in honor of that brave vampire.
Check out the promo for The Vampire Diaries April 19 return now and sound off with your thoughts.