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Vampire Academy: Beyond the Wards

“Sometimes you need the right answers to be able to ask the right questions.”

Lissa and Adrian leave Dominion behind as they search for answers regarding Spirit, with Dimitri and Rose in tow. Unfortunately, they got more than they bargained for. And we’re the ones left with more questions.

The Elementalist religion was central to this week’s political and personal storylines. We now know the basis of the Holy Elemental Order is the balance created by the 4 Elements. A fifth element would call that balance into question, which is why Clarice’s writings are considered heresy. There’s also the teeny-tiny problem of the Shadow-Kissed. Bringing back the dead is the Elementalist equivalent of the “original sin.” And that’s what Lissa has done. She brought Rose back from the dead.

In the political sense, my suspicions of the Elementalist religion weren’t far off. The Elementalists believe in the superiority of the Royals because they are the descendants of the original 13 saints, of which St. Vladimir was their founder. In practice, the Elementalists’ “devotion” to religious tradition serves as a justification for their mistreatment of non-Royals and Dhampirs. At least Victor’s Unionist faction believes in fair treatment of all Dominion citizens, however loosely that may be defined.

The closer Victor gets to the throne, the more conniving Tatiana becomes. I almost admire her ambition. It takes nerve to dictate to the head of the church, even if she is Tatiana’s aunt. She’d make a formidable Queen. Just not a good one.

Victor would be a more compassionate sovereign, but that doesn’t necessarily make him a better one. Like Tatiana, he’s let his ambitions get the better of his moral compass. Now Sonya is a Strigoi, and he’s no closer to the throne.

On a side note, is that Lissa’s fate if she doesn’t share the Darkness with Rose? Or is she destined to self-medicate on pills and alcohol like Adrian? We’ve seen Lissa’s eyes turn black a few times. Yet this is the first time I understood how afraid Lissa is of the Darkness and its effects on her.

All of which is making Dimitri’s head spin. As his backstory makes clear, the church and the Guardian’s codes are the guardrails with which he structures his life. Being around Lissa and Rose has forced him to question both. Knowing there’s a bond between Rose and Lissa, and that Rose cans sense Strigoi is one thing. However, learning they are the result of Spirit shakes the foundation of his faith. If that wasn’t bad enough, Rose makes him question why Dhampirs should sacrifice their lives, both literal and metaphorical, for ungrateful Moroi?

Those doubts almost cost Lissa’s life. When faced with the choice between saving each other or the Moroi, they were charged with protecting, both Dimitri and Rose hesitate. For Rose, it was a mistake not to be repeated, but it ended Dimitri’s flirtation with both Rose and her definition of freedom. It reinforced his belief in the necessity of the church’s rules and the Guardian’s codes.

Lissa’s heart was in the right place, but her actions left Rose devastated. Especially when they came so close on the heels of Rose’s discussion with Dimitri. And despite how much they care for Rose, neither of them had the decency to ask her opinion before abandoning her.

We should also discuss the comparison between Dominion and human society. If we believe Clarice, St Vladimir struck a truce with the humans in order to protect the Moroi from the barbaric and warring humans. Given our history, he had good reasons to fear.

But that was then. Lissa, Rose, and Adrian now seem to equate the human world with freedom. For the ladies, it means freedom from the rigidly defined roles they’ll be forced to fulfill if they remain in Dominion. It means something different for Adrian, who has all the money and freedom Royal blood can provide. For him, it is about the constraints of tradition and conformity which Dominion has been mired for centuries.

I’ll take it a step further. Considering what we’ve seen, this adherence to tradition means neither the Queen nor the Royal Council are prepared to deal with current events. Certainly not the threat of coordinated Strigoi attacks, or the declining number of Guardians available to fight them.

Which brings me to the beings in black. They seemed to be tasked with hiding the Moroi’s existence from the humans, and their arrival coincided with Clarice’s speech about the truce. I don’t think that was an accident. The question is, whose interests do they represent? Taking into account Clarice’s talk of threats outside of Dominion during their appearance at the beginning and end of the episode, I tend to think it’s the humans.

While we’re asking questions, were the Strigoi following Adrian or Lissa? And for what purpose? Yes, I know the Strigoi would have killed them but, why them specifically when they had a nightclub full of people to snack on. For mindless animals, the Strigoi seem to be playing the long game.

Between the multiple mind-blowing reveals, the layers of history (and backstory) uncovered, and the new mysteries to be solved, I believe this is the strongest episode yet.

4 out of 5 Spirit Bonds

Bits and Bites:

Adrian is what Jesse might have been if he’d had a different father. Rich and spoiled, but fun.

There were 13 saints, but there are currently only 12 Royal families. Was one of the saints (say Vladimir) celibate? Or did one die out like the Dragomir line is doing?

Speaking of the Dragomirs, marrying Christian Ozera is an option for Lissa to retain her quorum? Gee, I wonder who she’ll pick.

I didn’t realize till the rewatch that the Strigoi coming through the window was the little girl who had been playing soccer. As if we needed more reasons to hate them!

There is one area where Dominion society is superior to our own. Dominion culture seems to make a distinction between weakness and disabilities. Weakness can limit one’s social standing while having a disability seems to have no effect.


Dimitri: “Suddenly, Rose Hathaway is a believer in rules.”

Queen: “The only way to hold the throne is to win the crown.”

Lissa: “This is what I’m doing. Your job is to make sure I don’t die doing it. So, are you in or are you leaving me to the human world with only Adrian to protect me?”
Adrian: “I am useless in a fight.”

Lissa: “Took you long enough.”

Dimitri: “Freedom. Freedom scares me to death, Rose.”

Sonya: “After last night, there isn’t much of my life that has come to anything. But this I can do. I can make you king.”

Clarice: “Never hesitate.”

Irene: “Do not mistake forbearance for weakness.”

Clarice: “You burned my world down. And to make us even I’m going to give you what you came here for.”

Queen: “As of now, our future is in the hands of the Elements.”

Dimitri: “There’s no room for divided loyalties in this world, Rose.”

Clarice: “The Strigoi aren’t the only ones with the power to do us harm.”

Victor: “Sonya?”

Shari loves sci-fi, fantasy, the supernatural, and anything with a cape.

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