'The Vampire Diaries' Season 5 Episode 20 Review: 'What Lies Beneath'
The thin line between life and death became thinner in “What Lies Beneath” as The Other Side crumbles, as the Travelers gain more power that threatens the death of the nearly unkillable (the vampires), and as the ghost of the episode emerges as the most dangerous threat during the surprise getaway to Caroline’s deceased father’s cabin in the woods. There’s a lot of angst, too, about death and its real possibility not as a trifling nuisance but an ultimate consequence to the whole being born and living that is an inevitably once oxygen hits a baby’s lung for the first time and the bay cries. Bonnie worries about disappearing with The Other Side. Her Grams urges her to be honest with Jeremy instead of holding onto false hope that Liv will find a special spell. Bonnie resists telling Jeremy the truth. Meanwhile, Elena and Stefan worry about Damon’s emotional fragility and so won’t tell him what happened to Enzo. Enzo lingers, looms, and physically haunts those responsible for his unhappiness and death.
The looming chaos of the Travelers’ plans, Enzo’s revenge, the crumbling Other Side, and et al, remove the four most major characters to a remote cabin in the woods to confront truths, expectations, awkwardness, and other fun. The use of fun should be taken loosely because much of the story in “What Lies Beneath” did not lie beneath. Sure, Stefan and Elena buried the truth about Enzo for less than two days, and Caroline won’t admit to why she feels weird about Stefan and Elena possibly kissing during their trips to retrieve fire wood; but Damon’s complicated feelings for Elena, his complicated situation with his brother and his ex, and all that, matter as much as the truth about Enzo. Maybe Enzo couldn’t believe his mysterious disappearance falls secondary to the triangle and decided to have them made to the Travelers. The story with the girl and his humanity once upon a time were cute pleasantries for a character way more interesting because of the actor in the role rather than writers’ writing the character.
Elena, Stefan, Caroline, and Damon play a game of “Never Have I Ever”—a common drinking game depicted in TV shows during an episode that requires a bit of truth sharing from the characters involved in the scene, and because characters can’t tell the truth just because the writers need the truth told, tropey convenient drinking games happen. The best ‘I Never’ scene in TV history happened during LOST’s first season, episode 116 “Outlaws,” when Kate and Sawyer decided to play. Anyway, the truth doesn’t come out about anyone or anything during the drinking game. Elena leaves after the game’s awkward turn for a bath. The episode hits another plot turn when Enzo holds Elena’s head under water, a distraction that leads to Enzo tipping The Travelers off about the locale of the Doppelgangers; and, also, the truth.
Indeed, Elena tells Damon the truth about why a ghost would attack her. Enzo’s physically able to interact with the world because of the crumbling Other Side. Stefan tells Caroline. She feels reassured because Stefan and Elena didn’t kiss, for reasons she declines to explain. Damon doesn’t murder every person in Mystic Falls after hearing about Enzo’s death and his brother’s role. Enzo forces Damon to directly deal with him. Enzo tipped The Travelers off through his abduction of Luke, which broke the protection spell, and then lights a barn on fire with Stefan and Damon inside. The burning barn is similar to the scene in a past episode when Damon escapes from a burning house without Enzo. Damon offers to save Enzo from death, from The Other Side, in exchange for his and his brother’s safety. Enzo agrees to it and then disappears. The Travelers, naturally, show up by episode’s end. Before that Stefan and Damon have a heart-to-heart about what happened involving Damon’s defense that he can keep it together, despite not keeping it together for a stretch of episodes that was lowlighted by the murder of Aaron. His anger towards Elena is partly because of Enzo but mostly because of the trouble he has being around her. The two kiss, without anything meaningful resolved before or after the kiss. The two essentially cancel the other’s bad choices out at this point.
So, yeah, “What Lies Beneath” involves very little of what lies beneath beyond last week’s fallout and mostly walks over old paths that have been walked on a thousand times. Tyler loses his body to the Traveler with the eagle tattooed on his arm. There are more overt hints about a Caroline/Stean coupling. Love lies beneath.
- Jeremy decided to leave for Tyler’s without Bonnie despite her agreement to come with him. Of course, he couldn’t stay in the dorm with a Grams visit. His eager yet abrupt exit was odd.
- Elisabeth R. Finch & Holly Brix wrote the episode. Joshua Butler directed.