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Vampire Diaries: The Ties That Bind

“You’re not the only one that changed. We all had to.”

After a long, long streak of perfect or near-perfect episodes, VD finally managed to underwhelm me this week. That’s not to say this is a bad episode: it had many great moments and put some interesting pieces into play. But the spotlight is on Bonnie and Tyler this week, and they’re my two least favorite heroes.

The writers often put Bonnie in a difficult situation. Frequently, she’s the voice of reason and the voice of justice—if you don’t like vampires you probably agree with most of the things she’s said, particularly back in Season Two. (Well, if you don’t like vampires, you’re watching the wrong show.) But the thing is, most of us who watch the show like vampires, so it’s hard to agree with Bonnie no matter how reasonable she is. Without a white family background, she’s not a part of the council or council-descendents. She’s always a step apart. Even her relationship with Jeremy was more about them being kept apart than them forming close attachments and establishing themselves as a couple within their larger social groups.

Plus, I am perpetually convinced that Bonnie’s death is right around the corner. Needless to say, I have been perpetually wrong. Nonetheless, I still feel like she’s about to die, perhaps at her mother’s hand or perhaps in some sort of maternal-martyr scene. Bonnie’s rediscovery of her mother was underwhelming: I could tell, intellectually, that it must have been horribly painful. Her mother picked a new family and betrayed Bonnie. That’s awful. But I didn’t feel for her the way I do for Caroline, Elena, even Damon. That Bonnie’s mom and pseudo-step-brother were both operating under compulsion/blackmail made the scene even more awkward, as the double-crosses prevented emotional honesty from being the focus.

As hard as it is for me to really care about Bonnie, it’s ten times harder with Tyler. The more I think about Tyler biting Caroline last week, the more disgusted I get. Most of this disgust stems from the idea of a werewolf transformation as a metaphor of teenage sexual urges: the inner animal, etc. That makes Tyler’s sire-bond, his irrepressible animal urges and the damage they’ve caused Caroline, pretty much the same thing as rape excused with an “Oh, I couldn’t help myself.” I also don’t have sympathy for the sire-bond, no matter how little of it is Tyler’s fault. So HRG doling out some hard-core torture? Bring it on, Evil Dad. I’ve never liked Tyler much anyway.

It was the interactions ancillary to Bonnie/Mom and Tyler/Evil Dad that were the most interesting. Caroline’s father seems to have come to terms with his daughter’s vampirism, or at least to have realized that she deserves his love and protection regardless of her dietary habits. Stefan and Elena seem to be coming to an uneasy peace: Elena pulling the wood out of his chest while confessing her sins was fascinating—she could only get him to pay attention when he was paralyzed and in pain. Stefan, finally, admitted that he’d gone “a bridge too far,” so to speak.

What does that mean for Damon and Elena? That’s ambiguous, especially since Damon spent most of his time attempting to repair his broken bromance with Alaric. Meredith Fell is fun: Evil? Not evil? Who can tell? Her blood-jacking Damon was more fun than scary, and it’s a fun set-up for some accidental vampire-making down the road.


• Damon: “We kissed. Now it’s weird.”

• Alaric: “I wonder what my exes would call me.”
Damon: “Nothing. They’re all dead.”

• Bonnie: “Please, stop with the muffins and the compliments.”

• Elena: “Keep screaming. Maybe I’ll feel sorry for you.”

• Stefan: “You’re better than him, Elena. You’re better than both of us.”

And Pieces:

• Bonnie in the coffin with her cell phone reminded me of a great Alias episode, but I can’t remember which one it is. Anyone?

• All the hybrids left town. Even the Priuses. (I couldn’t resist a hybrid/hybrid joke!)

• Was anyone else a little confused about who was doing whose bidding, and why, in the second half of the episode?

• Keeping the Bennett line alive seems to be a top priority for the dead witches.

• Right as Alaric asked Meredith “What are you?” an EMT popped up with “Watch your back!”

Elena said that everyone changed, and that’s really the major theme of this show: actions have consequences for other people, particularly those, like Elena, at a formative period in their lives. Stefan’s dehumanization changed Elena, which pushed Jeremy out of town, which left Bonnie even more vulnerable when encountering her mother, whose betrayal may be part of the reason she’s always apart, while Alaric’s history with women and with Damon has already complicated his relationship... etc. This episode threw a lot of those changes into sharp relief. As we’ve left it, the spellbound coffin is still in play, Elijah is back, and Stefan has yet another reason to be pouty at Damon. That’s a pretty good score for a three-star episode.

Three out of four muffins.

Josie Kafka is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)


  1. It's episode 13 of Alias season 4, where Sydney gets buried in a coffin, while the rest of the gang is trapped at APO and Marshall has to rescue her :)

    I was also underwhelmed by this episode, but I'm happy that they seem to be focusing more on the relationship between the Salvatore brothers and also that Elijah is finally back in the game. I didn't care much for him in season 2, but now it will be interesting to see where he weighs in in the whole "kill Klaus" scenario.

    Great review!

  2. Wonderful review Josie.

    I think my main issue with Bonnie isn't her arguments about vampires and the danger they bring with them, it's mostly her lack of confidence, and eventual submission to them that basically kills her argument completely.

    I really love the insight into the whole Tyler/Caroline thing. He's been seriously bugging since he was sired, and it's only gotten worse since last week. Hurting Caroline is basically the same as killing kittens as far as I'm concerned...

  3. Julia already posted it, but here's a link to the Alias episode, "Tuesday." I was thinking of it, too.


    Terrific review, Josie. I was actually thinking as we were watching it that Bonnie and Tyler were your two least favorite characters. I'm still mad at Tyler for biting our Caroline (go, HRG) and there didn't seem to be much emotional oomph associated with Bonnie finally meeting her mother. (My father did that, too, when I was little -- left, remarried, and had another little girl who was clearly more important to him than I was.)

    I did love the Stefan/Elena heart-to-heart-with-wood-picking scene. (Is Stefan always the one that gets horribly injured, or is it just me?) The new doctor is interesting and could be fun, and did you know she's played by Paul Wesley's wife? And I was really pleased that Elijah is back. I like him more than Klaus, although I'll admit Klaus is growing on me.

  4. I like the show, and I like reading your reviews, but you do realize your sense of morality when it comes to this show -- and what you choose to be disgusted / offended by or not -- is totally warped, right?

  5. Maybe you're right, the episode was a little underwhelming the first 40 minutes, but that last scene(s) completely blew me away, and made me forget all the 'boring' stuff.
    I was really surprised, and thrilled, to se Elijah 'alive' again, and I'm exited to see what he will do, who's side he'll be on!

    I noticed one little detail in this episode that I can't quite figure out; when Elena told Bonnie about her kiss with Damon, she said "He kissed me", but when she told Stefan, she said "I kissed Damon.."
    Any thoughts?

  6. Johanne, I think it's that they're both taking responsibility. If Elena had said, "Damon kissed me," to Stefan, she'd be blaming Damon to her violent ex-boyfriend. With Bonnie, though, she wants to distance herself from the vampire-love while still being a bit more honest.

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  8. Yeah, that's what I've been thinking as well. And maybe she wanted to 'get back' at Stefan for what he said in the last episode, that he didn't care what she thought of him anymore, and kind of prove to him that she has moved on as well..
    I don't know.. I'm probably obsessing over something unimportant ;)

    I love this show, can't wait to see more :)

  9. I don't have much to add on the previous comments, as to the focus turning to Boonie and Tyler this week cooled down the last episode's tension, with the bridge scene and the implications of a possible new love triangle.
    But I must confess that when Elijah emerged and asked Klas, "What have I missed?", i laughed out loud, and ever since then started making a list so that he can catch up with the recent events. I began a possible one with "Papa Original is dead for good now, and I put our barbie sister to sleep once again. Stefan has gone Stephanus. Katherine is... well or isn't anymore. You're an uncle to many despicable hybrids. The ghost witches hate me. There's a Fell ghost somewhere that may be a killer. I may be in love with Caroline and yes, I almost forgot, Damon kissed Elena". Can't wait!

  10. Great review, as always.

    I completely agree with you that Bonnie is the least interesting character. I'm afraid, however, that we're stuck with her for the time being as it's hard to see this show without a witch. She is the 'go-to' character when the writers need a quick fix to a plot problem. Bonnie can just cast a spell and the problem is resolved.

    I hadn't thought about the Tyler bite in terms of a rape until I read your review. I went back and watched the episode again, and I see your point. What I find even more disturbing now is why Caroline would want to help him in those circumstances. Really not a good message to be sending to the young women who watch this show.

    Overall, a good not great episode until the end. I'm so glad Elijah is back. Like Billie, I much prefer watching him to Klaus.

  11. ELijah is BACK!!! Yay! And the look on Klaus' face:priceless.
    Just an addition to the first quote: Damon: “We kissed. Now it’s weird. Have a nice trip."

    He soo loved the thought of Elena now having to discuss that with Bonnie on their road trip !

    Warning: Minor Season 3 finale spoiler ahead..

    Her (Meredith) blood-jacking Damon was more fun than scary, and it’s a fun set-up for some accidental vampire-making down the road.

    Talk about foreshadowing Josie! Or you seeing into future!


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