Monday, November 18, 2013

Vampire Diaries Review: Not Everyone Wants To Remember

I can't say I didn't see this one coming. When Stefan () announced last week on THE VAMPIRE DIARIES that he had no idea who anyone was, I knew the next episode would be mostly focused on a lot of cheesy moments where Elena () tried to help him retrieve his memories. I foresaw lots of romantic tension, and very little actual exposition and memorable story progression. With that being said, there were a few major moments that have changed our landscape, but it was surrounded with lots of humdrum melodrama and predictable talkie-talkie emotional moments. The event of the week was Remembrance Day, and it would play parallel to the show by every character re-living the past, and looking towards the future.

Stefan's brother Damon Salvatore () was the first to attempt to help with the whole memory loss ordeal. Stefan read through some of his journals and came across all the Ripper stuff, with Damon telling him that he had a bloodlust which could really never be satisfied. Yes, his mind's been wiped, but he's still a good old-fashioned vampire, and the want of human blood is there. Our Damon and Stefan pairing is short-lived, as Elena finds them at the bar, then goes through this whole tour for Stefan hoping to jog his memory.

Elena takes Stefan to where they first met, bumping into each other on the first day of school years ago. She hits up a few spots where they shared some romantic or monumental moments, all the while discussing the relationship they once had. Stefan seems a bit confused as to what happened between them, but when he makes a move and tries to kiss Elena, he finds out. For the second time, Stefan has to discover that Elena is now with his brother. He doesn't take it very well this time either, darting away from her, but not before saying something about his hunger coming back. There are now three Stefan-looking creatures that are dangerous to the general public; Silas-looking Stefan, Ripper Stefan, and Stefan who doesn't know who he is but dammit, is he hungry. How many more people-eating Stefans can we get?

While Elena and Stefan are off re-living the past, Caroline () is tired of re-living hers, and by her past, I mean Tyler Lockwood (). The boy fled Mystic Falls, promising to return, but that hasn't happened, and he didn't apply to go to college with Caroline, either. She is trying to move forward, and sets up a study date with Dr. Maxfield's lab assistant, Jesse (). She clearly enjoys her time with the new man, but when he suddenly kisses her in the middle of his quiz, she seems taken aback and not fully ready.

There's a party later on, and Caroline finds Stefan drunk, acting about as unstable as he was the last time he heard Damon and Elena were together. The difference is that this time his self-control is a little out of wack. She tries to talk him down, but he ends up chasing down her new man Jesse, and almost draining him of blood. Still, Caroline is patient with him, knowing that it's just the confusion of his situation rather than who he really is, or should be, or something like that. It must be an extremely confusing situation, to wake up not knowing who you are and hours later understanding that you've been, at times, an absolute monster. Oh, and you are really, really old. And your ex is dating your brother. And you crave blood to survive. Yeah, this trip down memory lane kind of sucks for this guy.

Stefan doesn't remember doing any of the horrible things his words from the past describe, and he doesn't want to, either; Damon and Elena find him burning the journals in the Salvatore mansion, effectively making the show's title meaningless (unless Elena finally decides to start writing in hers again ). It also shows us that this new Stefan isn't a one-off, and I imagine we're going to have him around for quite awhile. It's a welcome change, as I imagine the only thing they'd be having normal Stefan do is brood some more over his brother and Elena. When the dust has settled, Stefan and Caroline find themselves sharing their pain, and holding hands. Is Caroline taking stock, gathering as many choices as she can now that Tyler's gone? And oh, about Tyler being gone more on that soon.

Matt Donovan () looks to revisit his recent past quite literally when he sets up cameras to watch him throughout the day and night in case he experiences any blackouts. He recently came under possession of a strange knife, with absolutely no idea how he acquired it. He wakes up from one of these blackouts with a gash in his hand, and goes to the video recordings to see what he did. The recording shows the spirit of Gregor take over Matt's body, look directly in the camera, and tell him to guard the knife with his life. He may not have any cool powers like all his buddies, but Matt seems to finally have gotten a really cool weapon. Good for him.

What would Remembrance Day and mourning the dead be if we didn't (FINALLY) mourn the death of Bonnie Bennett ()? Bonnie has been urging Jeremy () to keep her passing to the other side a secret, but with everyone looking for Bonnie (they're all in urgent need of magic), he found himself unable to keep the truth inside any longer. There's a really dramatic (and kind of funny) scene when Jeremy first tells Damon, as Damon and Bonnie keep shouting at him not to say it, as if it didn't happen as long as he doesn't say it. Well, he ends up saying it, and there's a nice touching moment where Damon strides right over and hugs the kid hard.

The news gets broken to everybody over time, and of course, they're devastated. They set up a little funeral for her, and she shows up spiritually to deliver her words to each of them through Jeremy. There's a lot of crying, everyone's feeling really awful, and oh, hey Tyler! Tyler's back! Tyler's back, and Caroline- wait a minute Caroline's off getting kissed by other boys and holding hands and all that. She's still extremely relived to see him, and falls into his arms to cry some more, but what's in their future? If Tyler is here to stay, I see a bit of an awkward love triangle coming on.

One of the ends of that triangle, Jesse, is about to get a boost in powers. He checks in with Dr. Maxfield () in this episode's final scene, unable to remember anything that happened at the party after the point where he caught up with Caroline. Dr. Maxfield tells him he's ingested vampire blood, which is step 1 to becoming a vampire. Then he whips out a syringe, says "And this is step two," and bam. One has to assume that the next time we see Jesse, he'll be a vampire. THE VAMPIRE DIARIES hates human main characters, so this doesn't surprise me in the least.

This episode dragged a bit, and focused a lot more on folks telling each other they're cute and smart and blah blah blah, rather than the nitty-gritty action supernatural roller-coaster that sometimes falls into brief overdramatic pitfalls. Still, wouldn't you rather they stuff all this sappiness in 42 minutes of one episode, rather than drag it out through four or five of them? I'm ok with them getting through all this so we can get back to the good stuff. Give me Silas back, I demand more Qetsiyah and I demand it now, and give me human Katherine (still the MVP of season 5). You know the good stuff.

Dr. Maxfield obviously has something nasty up his sleeve, and we're apt to find out what pretty soon considering he just turned his assistant into a vamp. He's been pretty scant so far in the first episodes of the season, but the slight build-up has been good so far. There's a lot of danger running around Mystic Falls, and a lot of men yearning for some Caroline in their life. It's a nice change of pace though, because no one needs to see people chase Elena anymore, we're all tapped out from that. They teased a possible return to the Elena love triangle when Stefan tried to kiss her, then laughed at our reactions and said, "just kidding!" I appreciatea show that knows when a particular running storyline has been over-saturated. The tease itself however, wasn't all that entertaining.

I guess I should say it's a bit ironic, as the events of The Remembrance Day produced a generally forgettable episode.

Season 5, Episode 4: "For Whom the Bell Tolls" (originally aired October 24th, 2013)

The Vampire Diaries airs on Thursdays at 8 pm on the CW.

Images courtesy of Bob Mahoney and The CW.

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