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The Vampire Diaries S05E04: "For Whom the Bell Tolls"

Ghost is just another word for asshole. SORRY. I know you did not come here to read a political essay, but it's time we got real about this issue. There is virtually nothing worse than a ghost, I know it, you know it, ghosts know it. I'm not trying to slander spectral entities just to get tons of clicks and likes and favs. I am not a troll. And please don't report me to the NAADP, I'm not a phantasm-bigot or any kind of bigot to be honest. But I have the facts on my side: Ghosts not only refuse to politely excuse themselves from this realm, they always interrupt our naps and break our stuff and watch us in the bathroom. Sure, some of these ghosts used to be our loved ones, but guess what, loved ones? You had your chance. Please just let me sleep peacefully in my antique princess bed. Please just let me collect porcelain figurines and crystal trinkets without having to Dust-Bust up their broken shards following every full moon. Please just let me build my condo on the unmarked burial site of your ancestors. Life is for the living and you are HELLA dead. Please float genie-style into a garbage disposal. Tired of you. Full disclosure: Ghosts took my children. Fortunately they did not take my wife. Baboons did that. 

But here's the thing about ghosts. I get why people are always cutting them so much slack. Like I said, they often look A LOT like our former friends and family, just with slightly more ectoplasm. But the bigger thing is that all of us who are currently alive are lonely as h*ck and it's kind of nice to know that someone's always in the room with us, even if it IS a violation of our dang privacy. You know? I think we are mentally healthy enough to admit that it might be nice to have someone kind of watching out for us when we are alone, which is always. Although I've never, not even once, seen evidence of a ghost being helpful, theoretically they could be helpful right? If a ghost can knock all my priceless decorative ostrich eggs off my vanity then they should also be capable of giving me the Heimlich maneuver when I'm choking on a candy cane. Theoretically at least, because again, if a ghost has ever done anything even remotely useful I am not aware of it. One could argue that because my children used to be so awful towards me that I should be grateful to the ghosts for taking them, but you don't know my business, okay. You don't know me. Don't go there girlfriend.

So anyway, this isn't related but did you watch The Vampire Diaries this week? It was a pretty good episode! It was about physical fitness. There was another plotline that involved amnesia, and then a fairly big plotline about Bonnie being a-- OH I guess this episode DOES kind of relate to what I was saying. Yeah, Bonnie came out of the ghost closet and now everyone knows she's a ghost. There was also a funeral that was supposed to be sad I guess, but come on. The day a ghost makes me sad is the day I will walk directly off the side of my yacht and french kiss a tuna. Not gonna happen.

Hey, let's talk about "For Whom the Bell Tolls" now.

Okay, you know I love a good joke about the dumb diaries on this show, so I definitely loved Stefan trying to solve his amnesia by reading his old journals. Could you imagine having to go through all those things and try to make sense of them? I would rather close-read a calculus textbook than even flip through one of these nightmare bundles.

So then right away Stefan started aggressively sassin' Damon in a way that would set the tone for this whole episode. I was going to wait until later to bring this up because I don't want to upset the Stefan stans, but HOLY MOLY was he awful in this episode. Just the worst. I had no idea that amnesia could turn someone into such a dickish douchebag. Scared, cautious, curious, and open-hearted to those who would offer him help, sure. I would buy that. We definitely know Stefan is a decent guy who is generally really thoughtful and patient. But this episode suggested that when all of Stefan's memories are stripped away, his default setting is Major Piece of Sh*t. He seriously hasn't been this awful since his post-Ripper days when his emotion switch was shut off or whatever. Anyway, I really hated Stefan in this episode, is that okay? I don't care.

So yeah, Amnesia Stefan started dickishly suggesting that Damon was a pansy or whatever, and of course Damon was NOT going to stand for that, so he busted out his favorite driving trick.

Typical Salvatore shenanigans. Good thing that was a stolen car and not Damon's usual ride. P.S. Who ARE these monsters? This whole scene was like Grand Theft Auto but with vampires.

Because one of the Salvatore bros had no memories of anything anymore, that meant the traditional First Act Here's-What's-Going-On Phone Convo fell to the ladies of the show.

Caroline was still at college, allegedly going to tons of classes, but not to get educated, no, just merely to get closer to her hot professor and his hot teacher's assistant. Normal lady detective stuff.

I guess they were still trying to investigate The Initiative whatever that professor was up to, but don't worry, that wouldn't come up again until the cliffhanger. But also Caroline was totally into that one dude still, so she invited him on a "study trip" to Mystic Falls. Oh, Caroline. That sounds like a wonderful recipe for getting him murdered.

Meanwhile at Mystic Grill, the fellas were exchanging pained, condescending smiles.

Like no really, look at Stefan's face in this picture. That basically sums up how he was behaving toward everyone all day. And then look at what he pulled when Elena showed up:

He claimed he didn't know her name! Even though they'd hung out the previous night? And we didn't get to see it but didn't she and Damon spend at least a few hours trying to jog his memory or at least teach him the fundamentals of his life and the people surrounding him? But here he was, essentially NEGGING her. That was another thing... Not only was Stefan the worst from an attitude standpoint, he kept grossly hitting on Elena like a frat dude at a mixer. Writers, I understand that he has no memories, but why did he also lose his charisma, sense of decorum, basic empathy, and human decency? Caroline off-handedly mentioned that amnesia patients can become "unstable" but this was some Jekyll & Hyde madness. Anyway, it sucked and it sucked bad.

Forget all that though. Just put Amnesia Stefan out of your mind. Find your serenity. Because then this happened:

Hmm weird that the camera was placed so far away. ENHANCE!

Hmm a still image doesn't seem to be doing the trick. ANIMATE!


Bonnie arrived to watch Jeremy work out! Which, fair enough.

In the interest of journalism and fairness and information, here's what happened next. First, Jeremy stood up and removed his left earbud.

Then jeremy removed his right earbud.

Then Jeremy sort of listened to whatever Bonnie was talking about, who cares, doesn't matter.

Then Jeremy decided to sit down on a step.

Then he followed through with that decision by actually sitting down on the step.

Then Bonnie sat down next to him.

Then they talked a bit about how Bonnie's death was stressing him out and she needed to just face the facts and own up to her deadness.

But you can't rush the coming out process, so Bonnie was like "Nah."

Then Jeremy's armband cell phone rang.

Then he checked to see who was calling.

Then he answered it. It was Matt!

Later at Matt's house, he was still very upset about going into fugue states and clomping around in mud puddles. He'd even gone so far as to set up security cameras around the house in order to get answers. But mostly he just wanted Bonnie's help because, I guess, these people still believed that she was both still alive and competent at stuff.

But of course Bonnie had JUST told Jeremy that he couldn't out her yet, so he got all flustered when Matt asked about her and he just turned on his heel without explanation.

Poor Jeremy! First his workout routine was interrupted by a dead liar, and now he couldn't even help out his best bro even after that best bro had made a startling brofession about his broblems. 

Meanwhile Stefan was openly threatening everybody with becoming the Ripper again, which was a real cool thing to do considering even a brain-damaged man could see that the Ripper episode was a super dark time for everybody involved. But Stefan was the worst now, so this meant he was going against Damon's wishes and assaulting waitresses in bathrooms.

Ugh, so frustrating. I truly hope that when the day comes that my memory has been erased by an ancient witch I will just kick back and be so mellow. I honestly think I will probably be nicer and more chill all around. Just a gentle man with the brain of a golden retriever puppy. That's my wish for myself with amnesia. But I'll put this in writing right now: If I ever get amnesia from an ancient witch and I suddenly have the personality of beach garbage, as Stefan does here, then somebody please push me into a cement mixer because no way. Awful.

These are my two new favorite characters on The Vampire Diaries. I'm not sure what their names are, but I'm going with Dave. They're both Dave. Basically the Daves were just chillin' in the Mystic Falls graveyard because HOLY MOLY was this a weird day. Okay, we all know that Mystic Falls is by far the weirdest town on TV currently. This was a town that threw a Christmas party in the early Spring and also has a whole holiday devoted to Chinese lanterns, but THIS was easily the weirdest townwide function they've ever had. It was something called Bell Ringing Day or whatever, and it was about honoring the dead because back in the day sometimes people were buried alive. That part did not seem weird, this town has always been populated with the undead or people who were only temporarily dead. The weird part was that the whole town hung out in the cemetery getting smashed and ringing bells for all their dead loved ones. So just CONSTANT RINGING basically. Even Damon got in on the action:

Haha I'd forgotten about the time he murdered Zach for no reason. Wow, this Damon was way different from that Damon.

Meanwhile Elena was still doing her best to remind Stefan about his old life. That provided the crux for this episode mostly being a nostalgia piece for Season 1. If you have been feeling at all nostalgic for 2009, this was the episode for you. Not only did it feature tons of soundtrack music from that time, but we got to hear Elena rehashing everything that had happened to her since then. So when she ran down the list of all the people she'd lost, it was so extensive and all-encompassing it played like comedy. Not that Stefan cared.

But Elena showed an admirable amount of perseverance in this episode. She even dragged him back to the high school and forced him to re-enact their first hallway encounter.

He did not remember that encounter, but in this case it wasn't necessarily his fault. Those were much more Canadian times.

Then Elena and Stefan jumped up onto the rooftop for some reason. I don't know why. So he could get a better view of the bizarre podunk nightmarescape he'd called home for the past 167 years? Well, that didn't ring a bell either.

OH but I DID love Elena's method for getting down from the roof:

A backwards swan dive onto the lawn! I love that at this point these vampires are not even attempting to be discreet about their powers. Nope, just broad daylight superhero antics in front of townsfolk. Just kidding, there are no townsfolk anymore. Just ghosts and cemetery drunks and the Daves.

Meanwhile Caroline had brought her college friend to the Mystic Falls graveyard for some studying. Caroline was very smart about her classwork, but then got super dumb when it came to this guy's motives. OBVIOUSLY he wanted to mouth-attack her.

And you know what? He seems like a good guy, I wasn't mad. But I WAS mad at Tyler, who was now officially a trash-ball for having given Caroline the silent treatment for MONTHS. I'm sorry, but that's emotional terrorism. There is never any excuse to fall into radio silence toward someone you love. That is basically the worst and meanest thing you can do to someone. So yeah, sorry, Tyler doesn't deserve Caroline anymore, I don't care WHAT he was involved with. Caroline had not yet reached this conclusion, however, so her new fella was out of luck at the moment.

Meanwhile Jeremy had reached a boiling point with regard to his Bonnie problem. So he demanded to meet with Damon in private.

This led to the best moment in the whole episode. Because even though Bonnie was yammering in his ear about not telling Damon, he did it anyway, and Damon got SO MAD. 

It seemed like he was so mad at Jeremy, like it was Jeremy's fault she was dead. But then it was clear Damon was just mad at his heart for being broken and he was mad that Elena had to lose another person and mostly he was just mad at himself for not hugging Jeremy often enough because BOOM! Surprise hug attack!

Just a perfect hug. 

They hugged and hugged.

They both just needed it, you know? Difficult times.

A long hug, just to show each other they care.

Just a really good hug.

Meanwhile Elena brought Stefan to the deadliest bridge in the South, but he just sorta teased her about having drowned to death and then tried to go in for the kill.

Which very nearly happened! But then...

But get this, then Stefan got MAD at her, claiming she'd misled him about the fact that she was dating his brother now. 

But, uh, hadn't she slept in Damon's bed the night before? How did Stefan miss that? And just minutes earlier Stefan had been bragging about the fact that he could deduce that he'd dated Elena in the past, but he didn't deduce that she and Damon were currently a couple? They were basically mid-kiss when he first "met" them the night before. Maybe I just straight-up don't understand how amnesia works, but it seems like this show is suggesting that amnesia is nothing more than a device to turn someone very stupid and mean for no reason and with no internal consistency. But whatever! Sara Bareilles was playing and everything was Season 1 angsty all of the sudden. That'll just have to tide you over for now, Stelena shippers. 

Then Matt woke up on the couch and checked his camera footage only to find a clip of himself yammering in a Dracula accent about protecting a sacred dagger lest he start cutting himself up just to torment Matt. 

Haha this plotline is bonkers. I'm way into it.

Then Caroline approached Stefan at a graveyard bonfire (?) and I started getting hopeful that maybe their old friendship (or at least Caroline's winning personality) would help turn Stefan back into a likable person again, but he immediately started whining about his day and then threatened to murder Caroline's study buddy.

Caroline tried to talk him out of it, but Stefan was still the worst, so then this happened:

Again, it made no sense to me why Stefan was behaving this way. I truly hate this turn of events. Sorry, I try not to be too much of a backseat driver on this show, but this whole thing was a truly baffling creative decision. I don't get it & I think I hate it.

Fortunately Caroline chased Stefan away and saved her friend's life with some vampire blood. So, phew! 

This part weirdly ENRAGED me. Stefan burned all of Stefan's diaries! Now, I truly don't give a dang about the actual diaries themselves, but it seemed SO horrible to burn up handwritten manuscripts that sorrrrta didn't even belong to him. This was just like when Amy threw Jo's novel manuscript in the fire in Little Women!!!! Don't let the sun set on your anger, indeed! (I'm not well.)

Then Stefan grabbed his duffel and hit the road. Great, get out of here.

And that's when Damon broke the bad news to Elena.

Elena was not happy to hear this, and to be fair, it was not great news.

Later, which might have been the next day, or maybe a week later, who knows, Elena had a meltdown while trying to pick out an outfit for Bonnie's funeral. Almost nobody gives a good cry like Nina Dobrev and it was impossible not to be moved. But then this was ridiculous:

Haha I love that a ghost who can go anywhere was just standing in the bushes outside the window. What a creep! I mean, I'm sorry you died, girl, but come on. Come inside.

Meanwhile Stefan was camping out in the family mausoleum and Caroline came to tell him that Bonnie was dead, even though he had no idea who that was. But I guess he'd had a SLIGHT change of heart about being an asshole and seemed vaguely sympathetic toward Caroline. He also pretty much declared that he only trusted her anymore because she had been there for him, so he'd be there for her. Or something. I frankly do not careeeee.

Anyway, the gang put on their best funeral attire and met in the woods and had a weird funeral for Bonnie where they put some of her stuff on a tree stump while she watched from the sidelines.

This feathers thing had to do with that time she levitated some feathers, I guess. I was hoping someone would then put a burnt-up muffler on the stump in remembrance of the time she accidentally set a car on fire, but I guess they didn't have time to find one.

Here's why this funeral bugged me and was NOT as sad as it was supposed to be. BONNIE WASN'T GONE. She was just a ghost. Who could easily communicate with them, either through Jeremy or a ouija board or SOMETHING. There was no reason for them to mourn her. If anything it seemed straight-up mean of them to be like "Yeah you're literally here right now but we are forcing you out of our lives via a formal ceremony anyway, bye." And poor Bonnie still thought this forced closure was a good thing, so she made the rounds, speaking directly to each of them via Jeremy. (Which she could theoretically CONTINUE TO DO even after this sham funeral.)

At this point it was clear Bonnie was just living it up. I suppose it's everyone's dream to attend their own funeral, but this is a world in which ghosts are REAL and COMMON and being dead is REVERSIBLE. I simply didn't understand why these kids were spending time on this fake funeral other than they were so eager to have Bonnie out of their lives that this was how they were finally letting her know.

Anyway, it should go without saying that Bonnie got upstaged at her own funeral.

Tyler was back! Ugh, Tyler, you jerk. He better have a REALLY GOOD explanation for putting Caroline through so much angst. I guess it was nice he showed up for the funeral, but still. At this point he no longer deserves her. Sorry. I feel very strongly about this. Never, ever leave someone you love hanging. It's rude and uncouth.

So just to reiterate, here is a menagerie of devastated friends. And then here is Bonnie:

She honestly started patting herself on the back for Jeremy having spilled the beans. And she was clearly really enjoying seeing everybody sob over her. Oh man, there was just so much psychological weirdness going on here it would take me another few thousand words just to get into it. Oh well, hope you had a great time at your sham funeral, Bonnie. But those of us with brains know you are a series regular and aren't going anywhere, thus making this funeral even more of a sham. 

Okay, deep breath. Sorry. Let's forget about Stefan's amnesia and Bonnie's funeral and instead turn our attention to THIS GUY:

This professor dude. HI. We knew he knew about vampires, but I guess we didn't realize that he was in the market to MAKE one as well.

Poor study buddy. He'd died with Caroline's blood in his system, so he'd be waking up VERY thirsty very soon. What was this professor up to? Doesn't matter, I'm riveted. Anything to get me away from Stefan's journey for a while. (Heck, I even missed Silas in this episode, what a feat.) But yeah, bring on the new plotlines! 

Sorry for being so complainy, but jeez. I did not care for certain things in this episode. That being said, it still zipped along and had a lot of fun moments. I liked it overall I guess. But it just goes to show how essential Classic Stefan is to the fabric of this world that his return to assholery made things so intolerable. We've been through this before with him! Also I never thought I'd say this, but please resurrect Bonnie? Her ghost routine is almost too unbearably sad, and not in the way the writers are intending. RESET both these plotlines ASAP.

All the Jeremy scenes were perfect, though.

Whoops, I gotta go byeee

*crashes yacht*


... Will Bonnie stay dead?

... Do you like this version of Stefan?

... Should Damon and Jeremy hug more often?

... Are The Daves up to something?

Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 2/5/2016

Season 7 : Episode 11

Next Episode

AIRS ON 2/12/2016

Season 7 : Episode 12

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