"You and I are the same, Damon. The obstacle standing between two fates.”
I’m of two minds about this season of The Vampire Diaries so far. On the positive side, these first three episodes have been ridiculously entertaining, full of really sharp dialogue, and infused with a sort of lightness in their step, one that’s been missing for quite a while. On the negative side, for the love of Pete is this love triangle business ever going to end?
The answer to that question is a resounding no, if everything we learned about the Silas and Quetsiyah story here is true. It turns out bringing Silas back as the Big Bad this season means all of his mythology is back, and I’m finally going to actually have to figure it all out. (Last season at a certain point, I legitimately stopped trying to figure out anything about Silas’ backstory out of self-preservation.) Luckily, that back-story gets much more interesting as we learn—through a series of truly dreadful flashbacks, perhaps the worst the show has ever done—that Silas tricked Quetsiyah into falling in love with him so he could get an immortality spell to share with his true love, Quetsiyah’s handmaiden Imara. As retaliation for Silas’ betrayal, Quetsiyah cursed Silas with only the cure as his release from this soulless immortality.
Oh, and there’s just one more wrinkle: Imara was the original doppelganger, so basically Stefan and Elena’s doppelgangers have been meeting each other and falling in love throughout history, like supernatural magnets fated to be together in every lifetime. It’s undeniable that all of this is some very clever storytelling, creating 2,000 years of fate and back-story for Elena and Damon to overcome if they want to be together for the long haul, but another part of me just wants the show to give everything about the triangle a rest for a while. The Vampire Diaries is best when plot is in the foreground and the triangle is in the background and struggles when those are reversed, as demonstrated by much of the beginning of season four. With the Originals gone and the show getting what looks like a bit of a fresh start, it’s just a bit frustrating to feel that unwelcome, nagging tug back into the love triangle albatross.
But despite my continued misgivings about the triangle, this season has been an absolute joy to watch. Everything that led up to the wearisome revelation from Quetsiyah to Damon that they were both just speed bumps on the doppelganger love highway was the show at its best (well, maybe everything except the flashbacks) as it took what was really just a giant exposition dump and made it an absolute blast to watch. Most of the credit for this goes to guest star Janina Gavankar as Quetsiyah/Tessa, who sinks her teeth into the portrayal of a slightly crazy, vindictive, yet strangely logical resurrected witch with glee. She’s strong right out of the gate and has a great rapport with Paul Wesley.
What’s great about this season is that almost all of the actors are getting the chance to really have some fun and play multiple characters at the same time, and they seem honestly grateful for the challenge. Wesley played at least four different character variations in this episode, and Nina Dobrev is having a ball playing vampire Elena in contrast with human Katherine. The real surprise in this episode, though, was seeing Zach Roerig actually get a chance to stretch his wings beyond Matt Donovan a bit. It seems when Nadia put a spell on him, she was actually transferring her lover Gregor’s consciousness into Matt’s body, so when she killed him last week to please Silas, she was only killing his body. This gives Roerig the opportunity to inhabit all of Gregor’s mannerisms, language, and even his accent, and it makes for a great scene. I’m still not quite sure what Nadia wants with Silas, but if it means more scenes of Matt-as-Gregor, I’m all in.
The best thing about The Vampire Diaries, though, is that it keeps you on your toes. The resurrection of the love triangle to the foreground is concerning—especially now that the mythology is basically making the subtext of it all actual text—but as soon as my fears started to get out of control, the plot portion that the show does so well kicked back in and delivered something great: Stefan’s amnesia. Amnesia is a mostly dumb soap opera plot that is usually used in mostly dumb ways, but I can’t help but be cautiously optimistic about all the possibilities it has in this situation. Even if it turns out to be the silliest thing the show has ever done, at least Paul Wesley gets yet another character to play this season to tide over the long wait until Orphan Black returns next spring. Those The Vampire Diaries writers, always giving.
- As everyone suspected, Katherine’s blood is now the cure.
- The show is doing some nifty things with editing and direction this season. This week, the standout was the really great sequence where Tessa was linking Stefan to Silas as Silas was attempting to compel Nadia. Very well done.
- Those “Ripper” promos were a total fake out by The CW. Don’t tease us with Ripper if you aren’t going to deliver!
- I’m very glad Elena and Katherine’s psychic dreams about Stefan were planted by Tessa, because otherwise, that was going to make me roll my eyes pretty hard.
- Katherine’s mission to troll Elena at every waking moment is my lifeblood. Having Katherine around full time is kind of the best.
- In a show full of ridiculous flashback hair, Silas’ perm takes the cake. How terrible was that?