by Josie Kafka
This was such a mythologically dense episode, filled with so many wide-eyed brunettes of both genders, that a lesser reviewer might be intimidated. A lesser reviewer might even have said to herself, “Wow, I should have paid more attention to that Qetsiah...Quetsyah…Tessa stuff last season” and “Gee, is there a TVD wiki?” (There is.) But fear not, dearest readers. I'm not gonna let Silas's 2000 year-old ex-girlfriend screw things up between us.
At first, I thought Tessa’s revelations were a massive ret-con. Really, though, the bones of Silas’s origin story are the same: love, vengeance, tomb, cure. That Silas betrayed one woman (Tessa) to love another (Amara) is no shocker, given his casual relationship with kindness and morality. That Silas is a Traveler is not surprising, although I wonder why people called Travelers were hanging around a place with immovable columns.
That Amara was the original doppelganger—wait, you can’t have an original duplicate. Amara is the original einzelganger (not a word). She is the first woman in the long line of Elena/Stefan gangers who are victims of the ultimate shipper: The Universe. Now that is a surprise.
And not just for me. Damon and Elena’s passionate kissy reminders of their love for one another are starting to seem like a couple whistling past the relationship graveyard. Although Elena and Damon are willing to try to trump nature’s desire to create balance, Damon will surely have to grapple with Tessa’s idea that he, like she, is “merely the conflict that makes [Stefan/Elena] interesting.”
Despite her protestations, Tessa is not a “sane, rational, well-adjusted woman,” although calling her a “raging bitch-witch” whose vengeance created an entire realm of suffering seems a bit harsh. Anyone would get upset if their fiancé used her magical powers to immortality link himself to her maid. Hell hath no fury, and all that. Tessa certainly has caused a great deal of trouble, though, and created a chain of gangerships that affected numerous people for over 2000 years.
Judgment aside, Tessa is the best new character TVD has introduced in a long while. Crazy, funny, intense, and willing to hurt anyone to get her vengeance on: she’s like a sexy plot-generating machine. She even managed to make a huge exposition-dump interesting. Here’s what we learned, in addition to the stuff I mentioned above (let me know if I’ve missed something):
• Bonnie dropping the veil between the Other Side and this world gave Tessa a chance to re-enter this world.
• Tessa is a self-described “living, breathing mortal,” which means she can be killed.
• Tessa has marvelous witchy powers that might help take down Silas, who can no longer read minds.
• The Other Side was created so Silas would take the cure hoping to see Amara and find Tessa instead. (What a fun, sneaky bait-and-switch.)
We also learned that Silas wants the cure, which is now running through Katherine’s veins. Silas wants to destroy the cure (right?); Tessa wants to “cure” Silas so he can be killed (right?). And somehow the Traveler Nadia fits into this, in addition to her dead brother Gregor, who might only be partly dead, thanks to Matt’s immortality ring and Gregor hitching a ride in Matt’s mind. I've neglected Matt's arc in my past two reviews, but I'm really enjoying it, and I look forward to him being Gregorized with some of his friends. It's gotta happen soon.
For an episode without any Jeremy, Bonnie, or Caroline—and with some silly flashbacks—this was far more amusing than it ought to have been. I’ve stopped watching promos, but I was nervous about the return of the Ripper, which has never been my favorite plot. Tessa is a delight. And Stefan has amnesia! That’s a delicious twist. I can’t wait to see Damon try to explain the whole vampire thing to him. Not to mention everything else.
• Tessa: “Quetsyah. Sounds so ancient-timey, doesn’t it?”
• Stefan: “2000 years is a very long time to hold a grudge.”
Tessa: “You clearly have never been left at the altar.”
• Tessa: “Have you not been listening to me? I have trust issues. I’m controlling, and paranoid, and a little crazy. And that’s working out just fine.”
• Damon: “Question: Why is my brother wearing your compost pile?”
• Silas: “GPS tracker. It’s even better than a locator spell.”
• Damon: “Look here, Miss Crazy, why don’t we just dial down the destiny talk?”
• Do you think the Amara/Silas gangering repeated once a generation, then hit a snag after Katherine was turned?
Three and a half out of four souvenir key chains