Vampire Diaries: For Whom the Bell Tolls

“I got it. You’re the fun brother.”

This episode didn’t make much sense to me at first. It felt like a difficult effort to get us from point A to point B. But, by the end, I came to see it as a necessary step in the gradual re-set that this season has done quite well. And that re-set, we should remember, includes both changes in circumstances and changes in character.

Take that opening car accident scene. Damon crashed the car to prove to Stefan that he’s the “fun brother,” but we all know better. Even Caroline seems to be coming around to admitting Damon’s shift from serial killer to responsible, caring, and straightforward boyfriend. The fun brother would have no problem hiding Bonnie’s death from everyone, or maybe even letting Stefan discover his inner Ripper. The responsible brother did the right thing, right away.

Stefan, on the other hand, isn’t necessarily “fun” as Damon might define the word, but he certainly is according to my definition. Stefan’s amnesia has gotten rid of all that pesky guilt and made him forget, as Damon said, that “he’s the hero of the story.” Stefan without a redemption chip on his shoulder is a lot more carefree and (I think) smarter. He even seems to carry himself more easily. (Way to go with the acting, Paul Wesley.)

Ironically, he is also interested in Elena again. When he told her she was “the strongest woman in the world, since you managed to figure out how to get through all that,” I groaned: it felt like such a cheesy pick-up line. He duplicated the effort on Caroline as soon as he “met” her, too. But I like that Stefan is now the kind of guy who uses cheesy pick-up lines.

Not on Elena anymore, of course. Despite their Remembrance Day memorialization of their past relationship (and many events from the first season of the show), Stefan and Elena don’t seem to be fated for each other at this moment. Stefan’s anger about Damon dating Elena, and Elena “letting” him, might take a while for him to get over. And that anger might also be a sign that, deep down, Stefan has more memories that he or we realize.

Remembrance—and how it is a necessary part of moving on—is obviously the Theme of the Week. I wonder if that theme is a way of the show stating its news perspective: we won’t get stuck in the past; we will move on as our heroes do, with new plots, new heroes, and new villains. (Then again, Tyler did finally return, so…)

The metatextual possibilities aside, remembrance seems a useful theme for the episode in which our heroes find out about Bonnie’s death. Elena’s reaction, and even the fact that she has “funeral clothes” (plural) rather than a funeral dress like the rest of us, broke my heart as it was supposed to do. However, we know that death doesn’t mean the end on TVD, and for us, it still doesn’t: Bonnie is a cast member, and we see her every week. That makes it hard to fully mourn her loss the way we did for people like Jenna or Alaric.

Of course, we don’t need to mourn the loss of Jesse the mysteriously single TA. He’s a vampire now, thanks to the evil Dr. Maxfield. I hope this does not turn into a re-do of the Buffy Season Four plot, about which we will remain vague in the comments to avoid spoiling re-watch newbies.


• Damon: “Hey! I never said I know what I’m doing.”

• Stefan: “So, bonded by death? Please don’t tell me we met in a cemetery.”

• Stefan: “How is it possible to get into two accidents on the same bridge?”
Elena: “Maybe it was fate? Drawing me back?” That felt like foreshadowing.

And Pieces:

• I got tons of big-brother vibes from Damon when he was angry at and concerned for Jeremy all at the same time.

• Caroline and Stefan are officially “best friends.” Excellent.

• Here I go, neglecting Matt in the main review. I can’t wait for his story to mesh with everyone else’s.

Three out of four holidays dedicated to burying people alive.

Josie Kafka reviews The Vampire Diaries, True Detective, Game of Thrones, and various other things that take her fancy. She is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)


Billie Doux said...

I am loving this season. So far, anyway, knocking wood, don't want to jinx it.

For a long time now, I've wanted to see Stefan move in Caroline's direction. And it's finally happening. Woo hoo!

I love Matt, but like you, I'm sort of not tracking his plotline all that much yet. Although it's nice that they're giving him something other than "long suffering human friend of many supernatural teenagers".

Colin Peabody-Verteuil said...

I was right there with you, Josie. I didn't know how to feel sad about Bonnie since we see her every episode (and I have a feeling Tess or Silas might have something to do with bringing her back) yet when Elena started dropping feathers I cried like a little child. The feathers are my favorite Bonnie moment, still, and that particular piece of remembrance got to me.
It's also nice to see Bonnie having character moments instead of being a plot device...

CrazyCris said...

The trip down memory lane felt a bit disjointed to me and useless... if your brain has been partially burnt away I don't think revisiting awkward moments is going to magically bring your memory back!

Loved Stephan's very natural reaction to "discovering" his brother is dating his ex though! And loved his best friend status with Caroline! :o)

Bonnie's funeral/memorial whatever was very sad! But it felt right. Like she said they all needed that. And although I don't care for Tyler either, I'm glad they finally brought him back so we can either move on with him or get rid of him for good... instead of always wondering if he'd show up and see Caroline moping.

So, who's going to teach Jesse the TA how to be a vampire?

I do hope this isn't the Initiative all over again! :o(

TheShadowKnows said...

The second time Elena went off the bridge wasn't exactly an "accident".

ChrisB said...

I'm not sure how I feel about this episode. I do like the fact that all of our group seems to be moving in new, and interesting, directions. I have been waiting for Stefan and Caroline for a while now. That would really be something fun to explore.

On the other hand, I agree that it is hard to "mourn" for Bonnie when we see her every week. She and Tyler have never been my favorite characters and I am not sure what the writers are planning for them at this point.

What will be interesting is the idea that the witch, the go-to plot device for the writers, is now gone and everyone knows it. Will another one grace our screens in the future?