'The Vampire Diaries': Handle With Care (5x06)
Early on in this episode, Stefan says the following to Tessa: "I think I still need to be drunk to understand this story." And, basically, that's what this entire episode boils down to. The first half of it is so exposition heavy it's unbelievable. There is so much standing around and explaining in the first ten minutes in particular. Let's look at the plot.
So, basically, we open on the day Silas is going to die. Silas wants to destroy the other side before he dies so that he can join Amara. Tessa wants to kill him before he destroys the other side, so he'll be trapped in supernatural purgatory. Got it so far? So, Silas wants to destroy the anchor, which will destroy the other side. He, Silas, and Jeremy (along with ghost!Bonnie) all go to a warehouse to find this anchor. Meanwhile, Silas has trapped Stefan and Tessa in a cabin together until sundown so that they can't come after him.
You see how that took me one paragraph to explain? Well, in the show, it takes like ten minutes of exposition. I'm not even exaggerating. Anyways, let's take a closer look at what happens next.
Silas, Damon, and Jeremy are searching for the anchor. The plan is to destroy it, and then Silas will be able to die and be reunited with Amara. As part of the deal, he says he'll bring Bonnie back from the dead. However, a problem arises. Tessa calls Damon and tells him that she has Elena hostage. If Damon doesn't kill Silas before he destroys the anchor, Tessa will kill Elena. So, Damon sadly has to attempt to kill Silas immediately, thus ruining the plan to bring Bonnie back from the dead. Another complication arises in the form of the Travelers, who have come to kill Silas - however, they want to get his blood first, since it's now the cure. Then, Damon finds the anchor. And it's... Amara! Amara awakens and learns that Silas' blood is the cure. She immediately drains him in order to become mortal, since she doesn't want to live any longer. Silas disappears to who knows where, and Damon keeps Amara hostage.
Meanwhile, Elena shows up to the cabin where Tessa and Stefan are staying, because Tessa tricks her into thinking that Stefan slept with her. So, Elena arrives, is trapped inside by Silas' spell, and then spends the day pouting while Stefan and Tessa flirt. However, just before sunset, Stefan reveals that he's just been trying to keep Tessa occupied, and he attacks her, allowing he and Elena to both escape. Stefan decides to come home, to Elena and Damon's delight, but Tessa is somehow upstairs in his room. She restores Stefan's memories to him, because she says she wants him to feel pain.
Before I talk about the other plot thread, I want to break this one down a bit. Like I've mentioned more than once, this was very exposition heavy. Way, way, too much. The mythology of all of this is getting way too twisted for a casual viewer, and even a longtime fan like myself is left scratching her head a bit about all of this stuff. My biggest problem is the Travelers. They seem to have little to no significance thus far in our story. Where on earth was Nadia in this episode? There was no Matt, either, with his weird possession thing going on. But yet the Travelers still showed up to try and get to Silas. They posed almost no threat, as Damon was able to dispose of them quickly, so I don't really know what they were doing there.
Also, if we're seriously doing more Stelena stuff right now I'm going to punch someone. I guess it was sweet to see that Stefan still cares about Elena, even without memories, but isn't it a bit much that Elena was actually jealous of Stefan and Tessa? Does she just relish having both Salvatore brothers on the hook for all time? That's just cruel! Tessa isn't doing much for me as a character, either, so I'm still waiting for her to become interesting.
That being said, there were a few things I did like. First of all, Paul Wesley is killing it with Silas' character. He's so much more interesting now than when he was as a faceless villain last season. I think the funniest moment in this plot was when he made a really crass joke about having killed the mayor. It was dark humor, but I chuckled. But at the same time, you can tell that he does sincerely love Amara. I guess what's confusing about the whole Silas thing is that he doesn't really have to be a villain to go after what he wants. His end goal isn't evil. Instead, he just chooses to kill people on his quest to find a way to kill himself. To me, that seems pretty odd, and I think it's what unbalances the character so much.
Oops, I was supposed to be mentioning good things. I also like the Bonnie story line. It could have been very annoying to see this will they/won't they thing start up, but I'm actually kept on the hook. Will they find a way to bring Bonnie back to life? How will her time on the other side have changed her? Jeremy seems perfectly normal, so I wonder what will happen when/if Bonnie returns? I also like that Stefan has his memories back. As trite as amnesia plots are, I think they actually did an okay job of developing this one. Now that he has his memories, I'm excited to see how Elena and Damon will respond. My heart melted a bit when Tessa reminded him that the "two people he loves" didn't come to save him. This could be interesting.
So now let's talk about the subplot, which for my money was a lot better than the main plot this week. Not only was it way less exposition-y, it also focused on everyone's favorite human: Katherine Pierce. Katherine is concerned upon noticing a streak of grey in her hair. Since she's in need of food and a place to crash, she comes to Elena and Caroline's dorm room, where she finds Caroline packing up. Katherine agrees to help Caroline figure out what's going on with Maxfield, in exchange for permission to stay in Elena's room and the use of her meal card. So, Caroline and Elena drug Maxfield, tie him up, and start draining his vervain-laced blood so Caroline will be able to compel him to forget that she and Elena are vampires. Wes tells the two of them that there's a secret organization called "Augustine," and that Elena was going to be invited to join because of her family connections, but they started to suspect that she was a vampire. Katherine shows up to a party and walks straight through the door with no invite, so now everyone thinks Elena is human. Caroline compels Maxfield to forget everything that's happened, and he is left alone in his lab, very confused.
I didn't know I wanted Katherine and Caroline onscreen together until it happened, but my goodness these two girls can really sass it up. Nina Dobrev was killing it with Katherine's character as always. She's so funny - moments I particularly loved included her snapping at Aaron: "what, are you the sandwich police?" I'm also glad to see the Maxfield plot pushed forward. The introduction of a secret society could be interesting, but here's the thing - we've been adding in a lot of new information this season. I mean, my God. We've got some ancient doppelganger destiny thing between Stefan and Elena, we've got the Travelers, we've got something weird going on with Elena's dead roommate and her father... now we learn about a secret organization, not to mention the fact that Katherine seems to be dying? This episode was so exposition heavy that I'm pretty worried about how they're going to pull off the next few episodes. The mythology has gotten really topsy turvey and complex.
And that's basically my biggest problem. The Vampire Diaries, for all its silliness, actually has some very good characters. But when you drown the show in an insanely complicated plot, it doesn't give the characters any time to breathe. A lot actually did happen in this episode - Stefan's memories are back, Maxfield doesn't know about Elena and Caroline, Amara is introduced to the scene... but it all felt choked by extended periods of standing around and talking. I hope that as we move forward, we can get more focus on characters, and less on the ridiculously complex mythos of the show.