The Vampire Diaries "She's Come Undone" Review: Enhanced Intervention

By Andy Daglas

May 03, 2013

The Vampire Diaries S04E21: "She's Come Undone"

So, all it took to get Elena’s humanity back on track was a hearty dose of horror. Could the same be said of the series as a whole?

If the remainder of the season follows in the footsteps of “She’s Come Undone,” the answer to that question will be yes. This was the best installment in many weeks—throughout the Dark Elena arc, I’d say it’s only matched by the unbridled moxie of “Because the Night”—in no small part because it deployed horror elements more effectively than the show has all season.

Right from the start, this was bound to be a macabre hour, given Stefan and Damon’s latest strategy for tapping into Elena’s boarded-up human core. If their attempts to elicit positive emotions simply bounced off her armor, they’d be forced to resort to the Costanza Method and do the opposite.

Hence, Plan Z: Hit Elena with every torment they could think of short of tickle torture. Solitary confinement, starvation, sunlight-scalding, even inviting Katherine over for some mild vivisecting.

Elena, no slouch in the agony-inflicting department herself these days, parried with a smattering of psychological warfare. Playing head games about her former affections (or lack thereof) for each of the brothers was routine—if obligatory—stuff. A massively greater mindfuck was hurling herself headlong into the sunbeams to prove that they would never let her be truly harmed. Going full-blown flammable was a ballsy bit of gamesmanship, the sort of “holy shit!” moment The Vampire Diaries has always made its bones on.

But Elena’s vitamin D overdose wasn’t the grandest such moment this week. That honor belongs to Damon snapping Matt’s neck, a fake-out just plausible enough to pack a genuine wallop. Those “holy shit!” escapades land deepest when they’re backed up by solid characterization. Damon wouldn’t hesitate to swap Matt’s life for Elena’s. And Matt, after lamenting his go-nowhere existence, would absolutely sacrifice himself to save Elena (as she had done for him, inciting this entire ordeal). Coupled with the unsettling mood the episode had already established—case in creepy point, Elena’s feral posture and blood-red eyes a few minutes earlier—it made me forget about the protection-ring loophole just long enough to deliver a gut punch.

The same heightened pulse propelled Caroline’s runner (literally) as Silas bombarded her from all angles. While I haven’t been a fan of the trend of regularly turning Caroline into the damsel in distress, as a pure piece of thriller storytelling, all her sequences were aces—from her flight out of the woods, all jarring shifts in pacing and shot composition, to the semi-standoff with Liz, easily the most expendable remaining character who it would still hurt to lose. And lose her we almost did; the episode did a nice job of leveraging one death-twist-reversal to make me believe it wouldn’t bust out a second one moments later.

This whole nightmare dogged Caroline because Silas meant to send a message to Bonnie, who was off scheming against him and setting up clandestine diner rendezvous. I’m still not totally sure what Bonnie’s goal is, nor am I sure how sure of it I’m supposed to be. She’s not letting anyone in because of the old “the less you know the safer you’ll be” trope, which is TV-speak for “we’re saving a huge reveal for the finale!” It mainly feels like one more way to keep Bonnie at arm’s length from the rest of the group, a perennial weakness of the show.

And yet, at least her latest step moved toward making whatever she has planned for Silas and the veil more interesting, using the technique that usually makes things more interesting: involving Katherine. Their bargain may (read: will) turn out to be at least one kind of ruse, but for the moment, she’s promised to make Katherine invulnerable. The same Katherine who Elena has vowed to make dead. That could set up a conflict rich enough to make all the kooky magical tombstone talk worth it.




NOTES & QUOTES

– It was good of Rebekah to acknowledge her role in toppling these dominoes, what with her attempted murder of her new best study-buddy once upon a time. I buy that Matt could motivate her to seek a more moral existence, but I do find it hard to square with her continued ringing endorsement of Elena’s remaining a remorseless monster.

– Obviously it was doomed to fail, but nevertheless I’m glad we got to see Caroline making one last-ditch effort to reach Elena through kindness before handing the keys to Team Torture. Refusing to give up on her friends, or let her friends give up on themselves, is at the heart of Caroline’s character.

– NB: The above is especially true if she can work flashcards and energy bars into the mix. “She likes projects.”

– “I tried to kill you, Caroline. I’m not exactly BFF material anymore.”

– “You know the rules. Bad girls don’t get nice jewelry.”

– Damon on rage: “I tend to pull that out of people.”

– “All hands on deck! That’s the motto around here, right?” “We don’t have a motto.”

– “Please check surroundings for safety.” Hah, not bad, show. (Even if Jurassic Park did that gag better.)

– “You’re the definition of damaged goods.”

– “My emotions are fine. I love Elena. I despise you.”


What'd you think of "She's Come Undone"?

  • Comments (185)
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  • BrbaraCoelho1 May 08, 2013

    Can somebody please explain to me why Elena needed a blanket? Aren't vampires supposed to be immune to weather?

  • asnoo02 May 07, 2013

    "I’m still not totally sure what Bonnie’s goal is, nor am I sure how sure of it I’m supposed to be" - I couldnt agree more!!!

  • FabianBogdan May 07, 2013

    Katherine better not trust Bonnie. It would be out of character for her to trust her blindly.

  • Klara93 May 06, 2013

    Damon Salvatore, getting things done since 1842 (or whenever this dude is born)!!

  • asnoo02 May 07, 2013

    lol

  • lsbloom May 06, 2013

    We don't need a jerky Elena and a jerky Katherine on the same show. Too much annoying Nina Dobrev--the motivations aren't different enough for it to play. Heck, even the hair isn't different enough. They are interchangeably awful making bad decisions. I am not interested in any more Katherine.

  • InsanelyMe May 05, 2013

    It still gets me that Silas appeared to Caroline as Klaus. He looked into her mind and saw Klaus, so he turned into him because he would get to her.
    He could have turned into Tyler and said he could come back since Klaus was gone.
    But he saw Klaus in her mind.

    And in Pictures of You when Klaus gave Tyler 5 seconds to run--why was he there at the mansion? He came to see Caroline. But Tyler was there already.

  • bethm06 May 06, 2013

    And yes! LOVE that Klaus is more on Caroline's mind than Tyler.
    But then again, would ANY woman choose Tyler over Klaus? ;)

  • TeVaerua May 06, 2013

    I wondered that too. Why was Klaus at the mansion in the first place? Did he know Caroline was there? And, if he went there to see Caroline, how come he didn't go in after scaring off Tyler? Was it just that he didn't want to go through the masochistic act of seeing Caroline all loved-up on her special dance with someone else?

  • InsanelyMe May 06, 2013

    I think he went there to see Caroline because he's like, "This thing you peasants call 'romance' is finally working," but then he heard Tyler in there and either: 1) didn't want to hurt Caroline's heart or make her hate him again by hurting Tyler, or 2) didn't want to see Tyler and Caroline together because, as said, it was masochistic. I think it was quite lovely of him to just let Tyler go and not flaunt his mercy in Caroline's face.

  • coolhandkate May 05, 2013

    Pretty sure in "Pictures of You" that was also Silas-as-Tyler, hence why he simply disappeared when the camera panned back from behind the pillar. Everyone had a moment seeing Silas that episode.

  • bethm06 May 06, 2013

    I didn't think it was Silas - Silas has always shown up as others for some other purpose (like getting the cure, getting to Bonnie, etc.) and Tyler didn't mention a word of that to Caroline. Plus Tyler seemed genuinely scared when he ran into Klaus - Silas wouldn't have been scared.

    Agreed that it makes no sense why Klaus was at the mansion, though. But I'm happy for each and every scene with Klaus in it, so I'm not complaining.

  • eliana1st May 06, 2013

    why would he not torture Caroline then?

  • coolhandkate May 06, 2013

    That episode Silas seemed more into screwing with them... he appeared to Bonnie as Jeremy, the brothers as each other (I know he stabbed them but it was more emotionally manipulative since his conversation points were about Elena). As for Caroline, it can be about learning weaknesses and not just torture. He also seemed too confident when talking to Klaus. Anyway, I thought it was pretty clear that was Silas and not Tyler, but then I came here and others didn't see anything off about it.


  • eliana1st May 06, 2013

    it sounds possible,... but I never thought about it,...

  • eliana1st May 05, 2013

    oh our shipper hearts ,... it survives on these moments,...

  • Zelli42 May 05, 2013

    It is probably not going to happen, but it would be so awesome, if Cathrine would turn into a Mikael and be the main protagonist for the next season. We haven't really seen anything of her yet. So far she is sold way under her worth.
    It would also allow to move Rebecca to New Orleans, because most of their inner conflicts go in the same way. Please do this, show!

  • ChanX95 May 05, 2013

    They can't kill Katherine. She's the only way that Nina Dobrev can prove she has more acting skills than just playing wet blanket Elena.

  • LegendKiller87 May 05, 2013

    If they kill Katherine,there's no point to watching the show anymore.I may have watched every episode this season,but I wasn't as interested in it until she came back.spices up the show.The Stelena/Delena triangle is just a girl in love with two guys unless Katherine sticks around and gets involved.

  • TheGrimAriel May 04, 2013

    Words cannot express how much I DESPISE this entire lets-torture-some-sense-into-Elena arc.

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