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."
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.
- 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?