The Vampire Diaries "500 Years of Solitude" Review: Circle of Strife (PHOTO RECAP)
As someone whose literacy is VERY debatable (I write these photo recaps using voice recognition software I pirated off of KaZaA in 2002), I should not start lecturing you on the mechanics of storytelling. But it's kind of hard to hold myself back when The Vampire Diaries has basically been a MASTER CLASS in storytelling, week in and week out, for half a decade now. (How many episodes have there been in total? Are we in triple digits yet? I lost track.) This week's lesson? And perhaps the lesson of the whole series so far? The major difference between a proactive and a reactive main character. Elena, for the most part, is reactive. Meaning things happen to her and she makes decisions about what to do. Despite being perhaps overly wishy-washy, she does the best she can, which I suppose makes her relatable. The problem is, a lot of the time her decisions would make Stephen Hawking fling himself out of his wheelchair and roll directly into a ravine. They aren't smart! But as we all know, Elena's biggest point of contrast has been Katherine, the series' most proactive character. The reason why Katherine was immediately compelling when we first met her in Season 1, and why she is currently the show's best character (yeah, I said it), is that she HAS IDEAS, IMPLEMENTS THEM, and GETS RESULTS. Yes, people die a lot. Okay, a lot of people die a lot. But Katherine's motivations are always clear and understandable and borderline sympathetic and to me that makes her likable. Also she's hilarious and she's portrayed by the strongest actor on the show, so that certainly helps.
It honestly makes perfect sense that TVD would decide to make this milestone 100th episode all about Katherine, and that decision completely proves my point. At one point all the characters were just sitting around talking about all the bad things Katherine had done over the years, but to me it was a celebration of the PROACTIVE character. Nearly everything Katherine had done (or caused inadvertently) led to so many of the most important events on the show. She drew the Mikaelsons to town, first of all! Now they are a franchise unto themselves. She CREATED the hero. She also made love to a werewolf before he dated Lady Gaga. That kind of stuff! Katherine gets results. She is just so entertaining. And that's why I was dreading this episode. I just did not want to face the possibility that she was being sent off into the night. Katherine did not deserve that. (Also this show desperately needs her moxie still.) Fortunately "500 Years of Solitude" gave us the best of all possible outcomes: Katherine was rightly appreciated for all she'd brought to the table, PLUS she got to live on in probably the most genius manner imaginable. Yeah, "500 Years of Solitude" was an insta-classic for me. How about we talk about it? Yes let's do that!
We started in olden times a.k.a. Ancient Bulgaria where everyone was speaking in some weird language, Russian maybe? (Haha JUST KIDDING BULGARIA, that was a throwback reference to the time I made that joke and most of Europe got mad at me.) Anyway, you could tell by Katherine's screams and her pot-belly that she was about to have a big ol' schemin' baby!
Much like in "Katerina" the baby got taken away again, but now we knew two more things about this scenario: That baby would grow up to be a white-hot vampire named Nadia and also these were a bunch of gypsy witches or whatever. Backstory stuff.
Also, these scenes of Katherine's torment were intercut with the IRL scenario of being at Mystic Falls hospital getting her heart started back up.
But was Meredith Fell on vacation? Also the doctors seemed confused about how to fix people without just injecting them with vampire blood. They just seemed very out of practice, so of course they couldn't do much except keep Katherine alive for another day or so.
Nadia was obviously very concerned because over the past few days she decided she likes her mom again. And to his credit Stefan was a total MVP in this episode. Yeah, I don't mean to shock you, but in my opinion this episode went a long way toward redeeming him in my eyes. He was kind of a dirtbag earlier in the season but now he was very, very cool and empathetic and heartfelt and he helped Katherine so much. I'm not lying, guys, seriously. Stefan was amazing. Anyway, he hypnotized the doctors into letting him take Katherine home so she could die in his bed. As a hero does.
Meanwhile Damon was still reeling from having dumped Elena the night before and it looked like he'd broken into Mystic Grill and drank everything. Luckily two hunks in flattering t-shirts came in and woke him up.
Meanwhile at college, Elena was getting whisked out of bed by her friends who brought her muffins and mimosas.
I appreciated the gesture, but did it seem like Caroline was being a little hasty with urging Elena to move on? Elena had JUST been dumped hours earlier. Sometimes single people are the worst. Just kidding, people in relationships are the worst. Wait, maybe everybody is the worst? Everybody just sit down maybe. Who's up for pizza?
I did NOT love this scene. I think maybe the show miscalculated how much we would think it was hilarious to see our heroes smack-talk a dying woman. Not just a dying woman, but the best character on the show. So no, I did not find it charming when everyone essentially celebrated Katherine's death by doing shots and listing her shortcomings. They all seemed like jerks! And to be honest, every single thing that they mentioned (usually some crime or murder that Katherine had committed against them) just reminded me of how important to the show (and hence, these peoples' lives) Katherine has been! So even though they were attempting to play The Dozens on her, I think they were accidentally complimenting her instead.
But I did find it amusing when Katherine was just upstairs listening in to those jerks' behavior. And it was even more charming when Stefan actually stood up for her.
He definitely raised a good point: Katherine had been around a LONG time and had been forced into many unfair circumstances and she became a scrapper for solid reasons. Many of the people in that room had been vampires for only a couple years yet had already committed mass murders? Imagine where they'll be in 500 years! It just felt very short-sighted for these people to think they were going to fare better than Katherine for half a millennium. So anyway, Stefan tried to stand up for her and Damon immediately shut him down via spilling his secrets.
Whoops! Now everybody knew that Stefan had slept with a woman dying of old age. Elena looked especially jealous, because of course she did. Caroline was scandalized, because Caroline does NOT like to be kept in the dark when it comes to her friends' genitals. But Damon just seemed petty here. That would be the major theme of this episode, unfortunately. The person who should be most sympathetic to Katherine's various ordeals ended up being just a total Judas figure.
Fortunately at least ONE person was feeling pro-active this day, and of course it was a Petrova.
Nadia had kidnapped Matt, stolen his magical jewelry, and then buried him in a safe! But at least she was super friendly when she told the whole room this. It was just all matter-of-fact and cordial. 'I stole your friend. Now I need a favor please.' I like Nadia basically.
So after Nadia told them all that Matt was buried somewhere on the property, she took Elena and Stefan off on a shady errand while the rest walked around the yard. At some point Jeremy let slip that Bonnie lets him slip it and Caroline was once again flabbergasted that her friends have sex.
Ha remember how much sex Caroline and Tyler used to have? Did she become a born-again virgin somehow? Why was all this such a big deal to her? You know what though, that's fine. Shirtless hugs ARE a big deal and should be treated as such. But let's be real, Caroline was very sexually frustrated, huh? Once you go hunk you never go sunk. (I don't know.)
Meanwhile Katherine was having some bad dreams about the time Klaus murdered her family:
But then Damon kept jumping inside her head to cyberbully her about it!
Ugh, no offense Damon stans but he was very terrible in this episode! Almost as bad as Amnesia Stefan!
And this was rare: Sheriff Forbes not only showed up, but she prevented a murder! She would not let Damon murder Katherine. MAJOR points scored with me, obviously. So, the idea was that Damon was still all mad at himself for murdering every descendant in the Whitmore family tree, so he was working through this anger in a healthy way by... BLAMING KATHERINE for everything. Using some very intense and elaborate mental gymnastics he somehow traced every unfortunate thing in his life back to Katherine. His vampirism, his murder sprees, heck, even killing Vicki: All Katherine. Damon frequently has moments of awesomeness but this episode was a low point for me, sorry. I just thought he was very lousy in this episode. Come back soon, Awesome Hero Damon!
Okay, so then Caroline went off on her own and then this happened:
YESSS. YES. Yes. (Yes.) Klaus took a break from the intense, ever-shifting power dynamics of the high-stakes world of New Orleans jazz-and-daiquiri dives to come watch Katherine die! Luckily he was intercepted in the woods by Caroline. (Wait, why was he in the woods? This show is weird when you think about it.)
Meanwhile, Stefan and Elena agreed to be friendly hostages to Nadia, who needed something from them in order to hire a Traveler to help Katherine and then unbury Matt. Or something? Much like the movie It's Complicated, it was complicated. But you know what was not complicated? THAT HOUSE's creep-factor. It looked fine on the outside but the inside was a nightmare. Well, either a nightmare or a highly respected indie rock venue. Either one.
Almost immediately Nadia and her Traveler friend ran out of there and Stefan and Elena found themselves suddenly vulnerable to sunlight and surrounded by a dozen chanting bohemians! Same thing happened to me the first time I saw Arcade Fire. You know, BEFORE Funeral when they were STILL GOOD.
Yeah, this was a weird moment for the two. Like, they talked about their feelings for a second and Elena sorta forgave Stefan for hooking up with Katherine. And then some dude came out and cut their arms and bled them out into a bucket.
That sounds terrible but it was actually pretty chill. Even the tinkling noises of their blood had a soothing effect, not unlike a Native America rain stick. BUT WITH BLOOD.
And then after they filled up their buckets they just walked out NBD! It was just a very relaxing and rustic afternoon in general. I'm sure the fact that the Travelers needed buckets full of doppelganger blood won't factor in later. Don't worry about it. They're probably just doing community theater productions of Carrie: The Musical. Maybe there will be an episode where the whole gang goes and watches it on a Friday night, but other than that I really don't expect the buckets of blood to come back in any important way. Best to just forget that ever happened.
WELL LOOKIE HERE. Emily Bennett! Katherine's "handmaiden." First off, hey Bianca Lawson! Always good to see her (despite the fact that she is an IRL immortal that we should perhaps be fearful of). I also love that she hangs out with teenage werewolves now sometimes. But yes, this was a great flashback because it showed us the first time Katherine laid eyes on Stefan:
Aw, that was cute. As Katherine explained on her deathbed, she had previously heard about the doppelganger curse and immediately knew Stefan was a doppelganger when she saw him and then she only pursued him because of that. Not a totally crucial piece of info, but it was a brief moment in time when Katherine made a decision using her heart, so it was relevant here. Obviously their relationship didn't go so well, but still. History!
Uhhhh wow. Okay. THIS PART. First of all it made me laugh to see Matt scramble out of that safe, mostly because you and I both know he's probably going to come back and sleep in it later that night. It seemed cozy! Anyway, so Klaus told Caroline to stop worrying about Matt because Matt would be quite pleased with whomsoever dug him up. And maybe my brain wasn't functioning so great at the time (or ever really), but I did NOT expect to see the face that I did. And neither did Matt. Hence the best smile ever:
BRB I need to find a shaman to resurrect my body because I straight-up PASSED AWAY during this part. Rebekah only had like one or two lines but her smile was easily one of the most memorable parts of this episode and season. Don't get me wrong, I'm loving the ball-breaker version of Rebekah we're seeing on The Originals right now, but this teenage-romantic version of Rebekah just puts me in this weird vulnerable place where everything is warm and right and I want to stay here for a while. Matt and Rebekah are the best. They are like summertime in human form. So good.
Um, okay, the episode started getting REALLY fun at this point. Do you like familiar faces? Because the parade was just about to begin.
First Aunt Jenna (I think that was her name? The door lady?) showed up and reminded Katherine (and me) about the time Katherine compelled her to get stabby with herself. At first I was like, "Hey wait, Aunt Jenna can't be a ghost!" because she had been "at peace" in the after life even though she was totally murdered. That's what Klaus' mom had said anyway. But no, this wasn't a ghost situation, this was just Damon playin' PRANKS on Katherine using mind powers. So then "Aunt Jenna" "stabbed" Katherine and then this guy showed up to take his turn:
Haha Damon was a real jerk in this episode. Just very rude in general. Luckily a tall, dark and handsome hunk from New Orleans showed up to set his former lover's mind at ease:
Oh man, so brutal. But quick question: Why had only two of the three Mikaelsons showed up for real? Elijah in particular had old business with Katherine! I guess he needed to stay in New Orleans and not-kiss Hayley that day. It happens to the best of us.
But yeah Damon was being such a jerk that this was very deserved:
Nadia!!!! That is the star of the show you just murdered! Girl you are a rascal through and through.
So Nadia came in with her Traveler buddy and they did MOST of the spell that would allow Katherine to jump into Nadia's body, save for the last line. But then Katherine changed her mind and claimed she didn't want to be a brain drain or whatever, and that Nadia should go on and have a long, full life. But also Damon was lying on the floor and his eyes opened and he was listening in. So while both Nadia and Katherine were crying, don't be so sure they weren't putting on a show for him! (They were putting on a show for him.) But still, good acting and so emotional. Loved that part.
Just kidding, everything was trash compared to this part:
Klaus wanted an answer! He demanded to know how Caroline really felt about him once and for all. But Caroline would only tell him THE TRUTH if he agreed to leave her alone forever afterward. He agreed because it was that important to him. And then THIS happened:
THEY KISSED! THEY KISSED SO MUCH! And then they got sexy with it.
I obviously love the entire plotline with Caroline and Klaus and its lack of closure was a mildly irritating thing when The Originals first started up. But I need to give credit where credit's due: This scene worked perfectly for me. We now know for sure that these two had feelings/passion for each other, but we also know it's over. That just felt so impossibly tragic and romantic at the same time. Just very good storytelling and a big ol' stick of dynamite to the ribcage. Of course, all Caroline was REALLY asking for was for him to leave her alone while she finishes her college education and does some traveling and, I guess, gets a job. In vampire years that's a blink of an eye. So who knows! Maybe they will be together someday. In the meantime Klaus has to go back home and give canned ham to swamp werewolves or whatever. This felt like a very good moment for them. For me. For this episode AND the series. Everyone got what they wanted! And yeah, romance is sloppy and fragmented and there are starts and stops, and this event just felt real. That's really the best we can ask for at this point. Well done. (Also I'm just destroyed now.)
Oh, gosh, and then THIS scene:
Stefan was in good-guy hero mode in this episode and it was VERY welcome. For one thing he sat at Katherine's bedside and gave her GOOD dreams to counteract Damon's bad ones. (I didn't know Stefan could do this also?) First order of business was making her forget that her parents had been murdered. Their bodies straight-up disappeared in front of her!
(HER EXPRESSION IN THIS SHOT. STOP GIVING DOBREV SURFBOARDS AND GIVE HER EMMYS PLS.) And then Stefan returned Katherine's baby to her:
It was all just wonderful. Especially the symmetry of how Stefan became a vampire. How Katherine (and her past tragedies) have shaped almost all of the action in this entire series. And then Stefan behaving so empathetically with someone that most other characters had refused to. (I'm still all steamed about that bourbon-soaked hate-session from earlier!) And now here it all was all boiling down to a shared emotional moment between Stefan and Katherine. APPROPRIATE. Oh, but then look who interrupted the moment:
Haha anyway, then the living room started getting CROWDED.
Caroline walked in picking leaves out of her hair because she'd had so much forest-floor sex with Klaus! Also it was nighttime now. So much sexin' basically.
Then the parade of ghosts showed up. Not necessarily because Katherine was dying, but because Bonnie was hanging out in the living room and also I guess the ghosts knew it was the 100th episode? Didn't matter, STILL AWESOME.
Hey Vicki! Remember when you exploded that car?
Hey Tyler! I think you are still a jerk for roughing up Hayley and I loved it when Rebekah snapped your neck! Also good luck wooing your Ex back.
Oh boy, Alaric. This was a nice moment except most of the people in the room couldn't see or hear him. Jeremy was BEAMING like crazy though. Damon was just kind of barking at people to pass along whatever Alaric was saying. Still, I'm glad Alaric survived that weird TV cult he was in. Somebody should resurrect him or something.
Then things got REALLY awkward! Bonnie looked up and look who'd trundled into the room:
Haha Katherine! She died and then was immediately pissed about it and WILLED her ghost back into her body. Which, honestly, sure. That's a definite Katherine move. But it was also a BRUTAL FAKE OUT for this show to pull on me. My heart was racing because I thought the show had actually killed her off! I was already putting on my galoshes so that I could walk into the ocean. I had already ordered an Uber to drive me into a volcano. I was already blowing up the several hundred mylar balloons to carry me up into deep space. I was ready for the end.
But first, Elena had to make Katherine's death about her.
For her part Katherine seemed grateful that Elena was able to dig deep and "forgive" Katherine. Although when Elena started bragging about how treasured her own sense of forgiveness was, it made me LOL (like o'lot) when Katherine responded with "good for you." Haha!
But then, of course, it became clear what was going on. Katherine asked Elena to shoot her up with one last morphine so that she could do THIS:
She jumped into Elena's body! And then her own body died! (Bye, body.)
Then Nadia called and asked Katherine if it worked. They'd been planning this all along!
YES YES YES YES YES. And the last shot was Katherine pretending to be Elena in the mirror and basically making fun of her SO MUCH.
Oh jeez. Perfect. Absolutely perfect. THIS WAS PERFECT. I will admit that this was my #1 theory of what would happen to Katherine, but that doesn't mean the implications aren't stone-cold genius. Katherine and Elena SHARING a body? Folding the yin and the yang into one interlocking circle? Thematically it is devastatingly profound. But in practice it's a recipe for drama: Each personality is in love with a different Salvatore! Assuming the show doesn't somehow expunge Katherine ingloriously after a few episodes, assuming the show bravely allows both characters to live in the same body from here on out, it will make for some truly compelling television. Thematically rich. Complicated. It'll reinvent the love triangle into something I'm actually interested in again. Sure, I'm guessing Elena will learn how to control when Katherine shows up and Katherine will be limited to special moments when the gang needs help from somebody who GETS RESULTS. Or maybe the ladies will have a time share? Like, wouldn't Stefan push for Katherine to get some equal time with him so they could rediscover their love or something? I don't know. The imagination soars though. I barely even know what I'm thinking or typing at this moment because this episode blew me away. Very, very very good.
I love Katherine. I love this twist. I hope it fulfills all its possibilities because there are SO MANY and they are so good. This is me right now:
Happy 100 episodes, everybody! Can't wait to watch the next 100.
... Will Elena's skull become a permanent timeshare or do you think Katherine will get the boot soon?
... What kinds of emotions did you experience during the Klaus-Caroline scene?
... Which former character were you happiest to see again? Which character are you most disappointed didn't make an appearance?
... What are those Travelers UP to? Carrie: The Musical or something even more disastrous?
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