The Vampire Diaries "Death and the Maiden" Review: GOODBYE My Shadow Self (PHOTO RECAP)
HELLO MY SHADOW SELF
HELLO MY SHADOW SELF
HELLO MY SHADOW SELF
HELLO MY SHADOW SELF
HELLO MY SHADOW SELF
HELLO MY SHADOW SELF
Have you ever been more tired of a phrase? Get out of here, you dumb phrase! It was already such a cringeworthy line the first time it was said out loud, but at least then it came coupled with a surprise twist and also the sight of somebody getting shoved into a safe and rolled off a cliff. Let's be real, Silas could have said literally ANYTHING in that situation and it would have been awesome. Look:
"Bye homie." * shoves Stefan into safe, rolls off cliff *
"Quarry'd!" * shoves Stefan into safe, rolls off cliff *
"Do you like pumpkin pie?" * shoves Stefan into safe, rolls off cliff *
"I can't wait to wear your boxers." * shoves Stefan into safe, rolls off cliff *
But NOPE, instead we got "Hello, my shadow self" and then we had to hear that damn thing at the beginning of EVERY episode this season? I've been hearing rumblings from people who are not 100 percent in love with Season 5 so far and my current working theory is that this phrase is a major part of that reaction. Maybe the baffling/boring Silas-Tessa-Amara saga is part of this reaction also, but mostly just that phrase. "Hello, my shadow self." GET IT OUT OF HERE. Throw it in la poubelle.
Okay, phew! Had to be said. Look, you need to know something: "Death and the Maiden" was one of the best episodes of the season so far. It was, it really was. First of all, MULTIPLE doppelgangers got stabbed to death. But also it was exciting and heartfelt and the dialogue was noticeably wonderful. The storytelling was just as dense as ever, but everyone spoke in heightened, almost poetic dialogue that paradoxically gave the characters room to breathe for once. This show often totally foregoes character moments in the service of neck-snappin', but "Death and the Maiden" gave people some really beautiful things to say even while the insanity swirled around like unexplained scraps of paper during witchcraft. I really, really enjoyed it. I mean, come on:
Okay let's talk about this episode!
Everything started at a bus stop in
Delaware Philly where Silas, a powerful, formerly immortal wizard, was waiting for a Greyhound. As wizards do. And he was very annoyingly monologuing about his love life to a pair of strangers, who were the best audience surrogates of the season so far:
I've never felt more emotionally invested in extras as I was with these people, especially when Silas could detect that they did not care about his story or crazy claims, and he forced them to look at his neck wound.
But because Silas isn't just a boring storyteller, he's also jerk, so he decided to liquefy the one dude's insides for no reason.
Ugh, typical Silas. Then he threatened the girlfriend and she ran out into traffic. Okay, the whole scene was pretty funny but I still couldn't help but relate to this poor couple. Don't worry guys, we're right there with you. For about eight episodes now. (Quick fun flashback: Remember when Silas was a taller, hooded figure with a Cenobite face and mysterious intentions? Don't you miss those days? We were so innocent then.)
So then Stefan woke up with a brain full of memories and a doppelganger looking to rewrite some history while she still had the chance.
Unfortunately what Elena didn't know was that Stefan remembered everything now, so he wasn't super impressed with her attempts to get a fresh start. Also he was still being plagued by nightmares about his stay in the safe, especially the time he was rescued by some RANDOM DUDE.
I mean, we knew that Tessa had been the one to hasten Stefan's rescue, but I guess she hired Max Headroom to actually do the dirty work? Makes sense.
Whatever the explanation, this memory was putting Stefan ON EDGE. I mean, look at what he did to this glass of coffee! But I will say this, and it's not to keep harping on how awful Amnesia Stefan was, but Regular Stefan was immediately cooler and more chill and nice to his friends, so I was glad to have him back. Credit where credit's due, the dang HERO of this show was no longer a piece of sh*t.
Oh man, Amara. So they had Amara tied up in the Salvatore dungeon where she was yelling at her shoes or whatever. (Turned out it was ghosts, but still.) Not only that but she was desperate to commit suicide so she was biting her wrists SO MUCH. Very gross.
So then we got a quick follow-up about Katherine's forced consultation with Whitmore's best and most improbably handsome professor/doctor/secret society member. He couldn't find anything wrong with her medically except for the fact that she was 500 years old, so in his opinion she probably had a few months to live. (Which would be what in TVD time? 35 more episodes?) But Katherine was NOT happy to hear this.
I liked how this guy is supposed to be super curious and scheme-y when it came to vampire biology, but here he was, presented with the first ever vampire-to-human in the history of time and he did NOT care. Like, that kind of thing was just not interesting to him. He just had too many episodes of Sleepy Hollow on his DVR to possibly care about this. But seriously though: POOR KATHERINE. I'm very nervous now, guys.
Meanwhile, Silas was en route to Mystic Falls and he seemed dead-set on... I can barely remember. Murdering Amara? Who knows. I have been confused by the three ancient characters' wants/needs for a while now, but that's not necessarily a complaint. I like being confused. My only complaint was that it has been kiiiinda boring. Would it kill any of them to go after world domination or something?
At least Stefan suddenly developed an urge to make shit HAPPEN.
At this point everyone still needed Silas to bring Bonnie back or whatever, but Stefan was so tired of having flashbacks that he decided Silas needed to die in order to be happy again. Something like that. I liked when Elena gave him the side-eye though, that was a good part. Speaking of good parts...
Then this happened:
TWO OF MY FAVORITE THINGS. Amara made a big deal about how miserable she'd been for thousands of years living as a statue in a wooden crate and listening to Jersey warehouse workers talk about, I don't know, the Jets. But in my opinion this sight probably made it all worth it. Jeremy made and then personally delivered a delicious sandwich.
And Amara recognized him immediately! I guess he'd made a big splash when he was chillin' on The Other Side all those weeks. Jeremy was probably doing so much crossfit, he became "that guy." All the ghosts just standing around annoyed by him doing tons of push-ups but then all secretly appreciating the results. Ugh, ghosts are all just jealous creeps. Let Jeremy get his exercise! Anyway, yeah, Amara remembered him for sure.
Also she could see Bonnie.
This was a very cool turn of events! Because Amara was the anchor to The Other Side, part of the deal was she could see everyone, living or dead. Bonnie seemed particularly stoked that someone could finally see her. But then she tried to touch Amara and Amara was NOT having it.
Haha okay fine, the reasoning for this would come into play later, but it still made me LOL (mildly chuckle) when Amara straight-up recoiled at Bonnie's touch. Something tells me that was not the first time Bonnie had experienced that kind of treatment. She has mean friends and family sometimes, is what I'm trying to say.
Um, first of all, look at this picture. When is the Mystic Falls Amateur Bodybuilding Competition, exactly? How many weeks out is it still? Because sometimes it seems like this show should be called The Protein Shake Diaries. There needs to be a town-wide bodybuilding event soon because it's like EVERY male character on this show is in bulking mode? Or maybe just an amateur wrestling day. I don't know. This town is populated by BRUTES lately. I'm ok w/it tbh.
Anyway, at least Jeremy had his thinking cap on, because when he realized that being an anchor to purgatory entailed walking on both sides of the veil, he decided that maybe Amara and Bonnie could switch roles? Good plan! But they needed a powerful wizard/ess to do this so Damon had to go interrupt Tessa's teatime and see if she was interested in basically destroying Amara.
Haha classic Tessa. Zero hesitation.
Meanwhile at college, Nadia showed up and called Caroline a sad loser and then tried to confront Katherine about ditching her in a motel after they had their mother-daughter breakthrough.
But Katherine was not interested in that stuff. She was DYING. I mean, she didn't tell Nadia that, and maybe she should have, but yeah it was clear to us she had a lot on her mind. And now, suddenly the gang in Mystic Falls needed her to give blood for their anchor-switcheroo ritual. Because doppelgangers are as powerful as a comet or whatever I don't know I'm confused and I haven't eaten in days. Where can I buy a bag of Let's? Does it come in salt & vinegar flavor? #mentalprobs
My favorite thing about seeing all three lady doppelgangers hanging out in tableau was that you could immediately tell who was who from a mile away. Like, GUESS WHO WAS HUGGING HERSELF.
(No but seriously, have the Emmys voters ever HEARD of The CW? Would they even watch For Your Consideration screeners if they arrived in the mail or would they just foist them off on the help? Because Dobrev's been doing next-level work for a while now for real. Also, did she make anybody else cry in Perks or do I just need to go away for a while?)
Anyway, I loved how all three even drew blood differently:
There was a good joke in here where Katherine was overtly jealous of Elena's NBD attitude about slicing her palm. I still wish these characters (and ALL characters) would figure out a better way to draw blood than slicing palms though. WE USE HANDS SO MUCH. Keep them in good condition, people!
So then Tessa started doing her spell, and it was about what you'd expect. Speaking in tongues, exploding lamps, all that type of stuff.
My favorite thing about witchcraft is definitely the part where thousands of pieces of scrap paper mysteriously appear and fly around the room. Magic is a notorious source of litter.
Unfortunately before Tessa could finish the spell, Silas arrived and ruined everything! I loved when she started levitating glassware at him and he responded by levitating a fire poker at her. Bull's eye!
Meanwhile, since the power was out, Stefan saw an opportunity and he whisked Amara outside. I can't remember why. To get Silas out there so that he could kill him? Sure, why not. I love an indoor forest, so any opportunity for them to get out there I'm happy about.
I liked that Silas answered his cell phone right in the middle of murdering Tessa. Who wouldn't. It's like how everybody on TV always stops having sex in order to answer the phone. Same with millennia-in-the-making grudge murders.
Meanwhile, this episode anticipated what we were all wondering: Couldn't Katherine's problems be solved if she became a vampire again? NOPE.
Because Caroline is an angel sent from heaven above, she selflessly opened a vein for Katherine but no dice! Katherine's body just rejected it. Well, that settles that. (I legit loved the symmetry of Caroline possibly helping Katherine become a vampire again. So good.)
So then Silas ran outside and found Amara and they tearfully agreed that it was time to die.
I know how you guys love it when I rant about stuff, so I hope you enjoy this too:
FUCK SUICIDE and this show's glorification of it.
I am serious: Of all the terrible messages TVD could be sending out to its young viewers (we're all young right?), this idea of suicide as a salve, a release, a cure, this is the absolute WORST message possible. It's worse than the show's desensitized attitude toward murder. It's worse than its many questionable racial subtexts or various lack of representations and whatnot. The notion that suicide is something to be craved by someone who has "lived too long" is offensive and outrageous and reprehensible. THIS is what TV watchdog groups should be protesting. Not sex or profanity. Heroic suicides. Truly shameful. Guess what, everybody. There is no afterlife. Yeah, I said it. There is nothing after this. Death is a vast nothingness so dark and profound that our brains aren't equipped to fathom it. The only thing our brains are equipped to do is invent mythological alternatives that bring us comfort while we stare into that abyss.
Death is literally THE WORST.
That is why I'm so angry about this. The assertion that suicide is a reasonable choice that will open the door to a better place is just so unbearably nihilistic. The idea that there is a "better place" devalues life, which is the most valuable thing we will ever have. The Vampire Diaries is, among other lesser things, all about wish fulfillment. It's about finding love in unusual places. It's about becoming superhuman and feeling emotions more intensely and saving your friends' lives and finding yourself surrounded by impossibly attractive love interests. Wish fulfillment! Yes, bad things happen too but only in the service of good things like redemption, introspection, learning, changing. Okay, sure, I guess everybody universally wishes that there IS something after life, so TVD is probably just playing into that wish fulfilment also. But I'm drawing the line at characters CRAVING death. Nope. Just no.
All this glorification of suicide--which may not be intentional on the writers' part but is certainly the end result--is the worst and most offensive thing The Vampire Diaries has ever done. I love this show so much and deeply respect its underrated sophistication but I don't want anyone to think this is okay. It's not. Suicide is not okay, not ever, and it's extremely irresponsible for this show to associate it with anything other than reprehensible shame.
Seriously, fuck suicide. Not cool, TVD. Not cool.
So then Stefan ran up and choked Silas and Silas zapped Stefan with wizard magic.
Then Stefan picked up a knife and threw it at Silas and he died.
Then Amara pulled the knife out of Silas and stabbed herself and she died.
Bye forever, idiots.
Damon didn't arrive in time, so he had to witness Amara bleed out or whatever. But it turned out they didn't need her alive anyway? Or maybe she was still slightly alive enough for the spell to work? Or I guess she'd already bled on Bonnie's grimoire? Any of these options probably worked. Anyway, Tessa proceeded as planned.
AND THE ANCHOR-SWITCHEROO WORKED.
Hey, welcome back, Bonnie! I was legitimately happy to see her not be a ghost anymore. That was a raw deal, girl. Now you get to, I don't know, get a haircut and have shirtless hugs with Jeremy and go to college. Plus you get to spend some time with your besties:
Whoa, don't look TOO happy, ladies.
So yes, this changes everything. I'm sure now that Bonnie's alive she'll suddenly become an essential member of this circle of friends and she'll have tons of things to do and new responsibilities and she definitely won't just get side plots involving botched spells or whatever. Welcome to a new chapter, girl!
You earned it.
Meanwhile another asshole committed suicide, and she did it without even helping save Katherine's life as she'd promised.
EVERYBODY PLS TAKE NOTE OF KATHERINE'S UNQUENCHABLE LUST FOR LIFE. There is a reason she is the best character.
UGH Tessa came back! But she was a ghost now, and she was demonstrating the newest loophole Bonnie would have to deal with.
Ghosts will have to touch Bonnie in order to cross into The Other Side and it will hurt Bonnie like h*ck. Whoops, that looks plenty sucky. But it's also kind of cool? I like the metaphor of it, anyway.
Meanwhile in the indoor forest Stefan was burying Silas and Elena came out to try and make his trauma about her.
I guess she still felt super guilty about when he was in the safe and she didn't notice or try to find him AT ALL. I get that she needed his forgiveness or whatever, but did she have to rub it in how great of a time she'd had all summer? Honestly, Stefan won major points for being so cool about this display of obliviousness. Or maybe he was just hiding it well.
But he did make it clear that nothing hurt his feelings more than the time some random guy opened the safe door instead of Elena or Damon. Fair enough. I mean there are only 10-12 citizens left in Mystic Falls these days, so it's just straight-up insulting that a random person found Stefan before his own loved ones did.
Then Katherine and Caroline returned to their dorm room but Nadia had stolen Katherine's bag in order to convince her to go Prague with her.
It was an interesting tactic on Nadia's part, but it didn't work. I did LOVE when Caroline realized who Nadia was though.
One more complaint: It bothered me that TVD seemed to be backtracking on the burgeoning friendship between Katherine and Caroline here. It was obviously the best part of last week's episode and my favorite thing to have happened all season, so for these characters to sort of flippantly agree that they hate each other felt cheap and unnecessary. I DID like the reminder that Katherine killed Caroline once, but did this episode really have to reset this relationship? Couldn't we hold onto that new spark of a friendship just a little longer? Anyway, maybe Caroline learning that Katherine has a daughter and is dying will make Caroline go into full-Caroline mode (i.e. forcing her help onto Katherine). That would be neat. Otherwise I will be sad if these two don't hang anymore.
In my opinion Silas is dead. Stefan buried him and everything. Man, I really hope he stays dead. What a bummer of a plotline.
But just when we thought it was over, Stefan kept having huge and painful flashbacks to his safe-drowning days!
Oh, TVD. Must you? Just when we thought we'd made a clean break from this storyline the cliffhanger said NOPE. Oh well.
Wow, sorry this recap took an angry turn at one point. I still liked the episode overall? When I wasn't fuming about the suicide stuff, I was really moved and thrilled by the dialogue and humor and seemingly more profound emotions on display than usual. Also, I'm pretty jazzed about the doppelganger population being severely cut down? Obviously this series was going to have to address THAT supernatural element sooner or later, but the doppelganger exploration did not seem very successful to me. Hopefully we're moving on! Let's learn more about that professor and his lab and hopefully see him in a t-shirt or something WHATEVER I DON'T KNOW.
Oh, and do we even need to talk about the scenes from next week? Clearly we have things to look forward to, guys. I'm not sure any of us are ready.
OK BYE SORRY BYE
... Who will you miss most: Silas, Tessa, or Amara?
... Is it the end of the road for Caroline and Katherine's detective agency?
... Does Bonnie deserve a spa day?
... Should Stefan set up an OKcupid profile?
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