TV Storytelling 101 tells us that the opening shot should establish the episode’s major problem: just think of all those eye-opening scenes on Lost that indicated whose p.o.v. would be featured. This episode began with a shot of Elena opening her eyes to Kai, backlit by fire. He’s honing his new magic by cloaking everything in sight and torturing Elena. But why?
Well, if Kai weren’t torturing Elena, she would have nothing to do during this episode. Kai torturing Elena is really just wheel-spinning. It reminds us that the Gemini coven merger will happen soon, and that a lot is at stake (although the Alaric/Jo scenes make that clear, too). It sets up Elena making cow eyes at Damon.
So, why Elena? Perhaps because TVD used to be a show about Elena and her love-triangle drama. TVD has been willing to take many risks over the years, but the one risk the writers seem unwilling to take is re-setting the focus to other characters, even when they—and I’m really talking about Caroline here—are quickly emerging as the new emotional core of the show.
Because that is what this episode was really about: Caroline and her mother. Liz Forbes’ glioblastoma is essentially untreatable, and Caroline is a problem-solver. That she would google her way to an expert and take a big risk is unsurprising. That the risk would have unforeseen (for her if not for us) consequences is also unsurprising.
Caroline should have waited longer to make sure that her test subject’s vampire-blood induced recovery was permanent. But I understand why she didn’t. When someone we love is in pain, we don’t often think logically. Even now, I find myself hoping there’s a loophole. Perhaps regular infusions of vampire blood are required. Maybe if Liz Forbes quits gluten everything will be okay.
But probably not, and that is an affecting tragedy in a way that death on this show usually isn’t. The little details of the Caroline/Mom plot were the ones that got me. Caroline getting her mom a blanket. Her mom keeping her orchid alive. Liz Forbes donning her sheriff outfit (one last time?) because there was a problem that needed to be solved. Now we know where Caroline got it.
And that fits with this episode’s theme: family. Aside from the Elena torture scenes, this episode was about the family connections that often go unspoken, like Liz and Caroline’s shared love of solving problems efficiently. Or Stefan looking after his great-niece, four times removed.
Or the Gemini coven’s bizarre habit of making everything invisible. Jo revealed that the cloaking spell was something they were taught when they were young, and that fact explains so much: these people love to “invisique” everything in sight. Luke, Liv, Jo, and Kai all invisiqued themselves and other people at least twice. Kai even identified the trend: “Are we not cloaking people anymore? I thought that’s what this was.”
Hey, every family has its quirks; my father and I can talk about the weather for hours.
Bites and Pieces
• If you’ve seen the fifth season of Buffy, this episode probably dredged up a lot of old emotions for you. Ditto if you have parents, especially parents with health issues.
• This was Paul Wesley’s second go as a director, after last season’s “Resident Evil.”
• The sequence of Stefan, banned from Mystic Falls and his own home for so many months, waking up to total chaos was hilarious.
• Speaking of that chaos: shirtless Jeremy. Paired with bra-wearing Liv, there was a fair amount of semi-nudity in this episode. Do people watch this show for that?
• Speaking of Liv, I loved that Stefan’s first thought, upon being asked if she can borrow a shirt, is to direct her to Damon’s room.
• And speaking of Jeremy: as Billie reported earlier this week, actor Steven R. McQueen will leave the show at the end of this season.
A solid 3.5 out of 4 invisiques. I wonder how Bonnie is doing?
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?)
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