They say the most dangerous dance is the lambada, a dance so dangerous it is FORBIDDEN. But not even the lambada is anywhere near as dangerous a dance as The Vampire Diaries' dance with audience expectations. Part of having a serialized drama is ending each episode, each act break, each scene, with a shocker designed to keep people hooked. But what can happen too often is when that shock promises something that ends up falling short of what we expected. Sorry to keep harping on awful Silas so much, but I have a point to make, can I make a point please? My expectations when he first arrived in Mystic Falls were VERY high. A legit monster, a man with a deformed face and black robe, was stalking the characters and manipulating them by speaking in the guises of their friends. There was something so unknowably terrifying about him, almost Lovecraftian in its darkness. But then the terrible doppelganger twist happened and he suddenly transformed into a weak, whiny villain with a lame goal who looked like Paul Wesley. Sorry, but that last part alone guaranteed that he wasn't going to be very terrifying. Handsome, yes. Terrifying, no. But maybe if Silas' introduction hadn't been so very awesome at the outset we would have been more receptive to the sad-sack wizard he turned out to be? That was one situation where an inflated expectation did not do the reality any favors.
"Gone Girl," though, benefits from the lowered expectations that much of this season may have instilled in us. Just last week I was complaining like a brat about how rudderless and pointless a lot of this season has felt (except for the Katherine plotline, obviously) and just when I'd begun to feel slightly over it all, THIS episode happened. "Gone Girl" was not only FANTASTIC, it was instantly one of my favorite TVD episodes of all time. That sounds like hyperbole, but it's not. I mean it. This episode was truly outstanding. An obvious companion piece to the also-excellent "500 Years of Solitude," this one was even more exciting, richer, and somehow more moving than Katherine's fake send-off. I never would have imagined that Nadia, a new character, would be the emotional centerpiece of one of this series' finest hours, but here we are. That's the reality! It was in every tear streaking down Katherine's cheek, every ravaged facial expression: Someone had finally forced Katherine into the humanity zone and it was such a thrill to watch. I had been so disappointed when Katherine used her new lease on life to simply put the moves on Stefan like some kind of psycho ex, but this episode corrected that by giving her a higher purpose: Newfound motherhood. Obviously she still had a pretty cartoonish villain streak left in her, but for most of the episode it was a pleasure to see her scramble for all the right reasons. In a lot of ways Katherine is a hero, just maybe not where the rest of the heroes are concerned.
But yeah: This episode was wonderful. Let's talk about it!
We began in the Dark Ages, which, okay, 1520 wasn't technically the Dark Ages but it was DARK at least. Here was Nadia looking like Red Riding Hood carrying around a lantern and hassling people.
It wasn't totally clear at what point in her centuries-long investigation to find her mother that she became a vampire, but what was clear was how heartbreaking this journey must have been. That is a lot of walking she had to do and believe me they did not have headphones and Zunes back then.
But like most flashback episodes in this universe lately, they were all merely the memories of a dying, addled brain. Because yup, Nadia's werewolf bite had taken hold and she was NOT doing so great.
Plus, you know, THE SMELL. But Katherine had spirited her daughter to some abandoned warehouse and she was NOT about to give up hope. That's when she brought in her new bestie!
Haha uh-oh. Dr. Wes. The dreamiest evil dude in Virginia. Something told me this was not going to work out well! Anyway, he took a sample from Nadia's bite and promised to analyze it FOR SCIENCE. I was hoping there would be a reference to his new partnership with the Travelers and how that was the reason he'd agreed to help, but nope, it looked like he just wanted to learn more about werewolf bites. Who wouldn't?
Meanwhile all the other characters were spending the afternoon face-palming themselves for not knowing that Katherine had been joy-riding in Elena's body for so long.
Haha it was especially rich that the two characters WHO SEE GHOSTS and therefore would have known that Katherine's ghost had been nowhere to be found, were out of town having too much sex to care. Oh well, it was much too late to start accusing anybody of being a self-obsessed dunce anymore, so the gang got to work trying to outsmart Katherine. They knew they had the Traveler-murderin' blade, so it was only just a matter of luring her back to town. Thus began a truly great sequence of everybody calling up "Elena" and trying to use Elena logic on her, only to have Katherine out-Elena everybody!
It was easy enough for "Elena" to duck seeing Caroline or Bonnie (wasn't it so brutal when Elena claimed she'd been shopping for Bonnie's birthday present? Even in remembering Bonnie, Katherine was already 200% more thoughtful toward her than Elena usually is), but when Katherine called Damon to see if he wanted to hang, and Damon said yes, that's when she REALLY knew something was up. Damon would not have agreed to that, knowing that he was still a Robo Ripper Jerk. So now everybody knew that everybody knew! So good. This episode was tight as h*ck.
Since they couldn't trick Katherine into returning, they resorted to the next best plot-solver: Magic! Which meant the return of my favorite new character, this random witch girl!
Someday I will learn her name, but for now I know this: I like her attitude, her hair, and especially her INSTA-CRUSH on Jeremy. To the extent that she straight-up HITS ON HIM right in front of Bonnie.
So good. Also, anybody else sensing that this little flirtation will end up becoming less of a joke later on? I mean, this is a witch with ACTUAL powers. Does Bonnie stand a chance against somebody else's magic?
Meanwhile Tyler was tasked with watching over/feeding Damon and it wasn't long before Damon started trash-talking him SO MUCH. Like, so much. Mostly about how he was a loser and whatnot. Very brutal.
HAHA OH, it was just a trick! Damon lured Tyler in there so that he could steal a ton of Tyler's blood and then escape his chains and go figure out the Katherine situation himself. I admired Damon's sneakiness, I will give him that.
Meanwhile it was locator spell time!
The blonde witch discovered where Katherine and Nadia were, so it looked like the gang was closing in fast. It was all a lot like Mission: Impossible but with people who would be burnt at the stake in olden times.
Meanwhile at some OTHER abandoned lab facility (was there an app for finding abandoned lab facilities?) Dr. Wes was putting the finishing touches on a BRAND NEW ripper serum, this time boosted with werewolf venom extract. Why? Why NOT?
This was one of the sexier scenes in TVD history. Obviously there was the close-talking between two beautiful men, but also it was very pornographic in a metaphorical way? So first Dr. Wes teased Damon that his newfound ripper self was actually just a reflection of who he's always been, which, nope, sorry Dr. Wes. You shot him up with murder juice. But anyway, Damon did NOT like to be told like that, so then this happened:
JUST TO RECAP: They put their faces by each other, they got physical, there was penetration, and it all ended with a bodily fluid squirting onto someone's face. Vampirism has historically been a metaphor for sex, so YEAH. We all know what was really going on here, TVD.
But oh dang. REST IN PEACE, Dr. Wes. Yes he was a despicable villain with questionable motivations but he wore great sweaters and he was just so g*sh d*rn handsome. I was hoping he had swallowed vampire blood or whatever so that he'd wake up and become a ripper too? At least his poor eye might get healed or something. But I don't think that'll happen now. Oh well. Bye, you angel-faced mad scientist, you.
Throughout the episode we got to see various pieces of Nadia's backstory filled in. I loved this revisitation of her infamous Prague 3-way with Matt and an unseen Rebekah:
The gist of this whole interaction was to establish that Nadia viewed Matt as slightly more than a scam victim... They seemed to have actual chemistry back then. But also, you know, it explained that she had sought him out (and Rebekah and therefore Klaus and therefore Katherine) as part of her journey to find her mother. Also she compelled him and took his ring so that she'd have an excuse to follow him to America. Something like that? I just thought it was fun seeing the real story behind this situation, how about you?
At this point Katherine tracked down Dr. Wes to see how his anti-werewolf venom serum was coming. That's when she discovered it wasn't going so well!
HER FACE HERE. Stefan had located Nadia in the church where Katherine had taken her and spirited her back to his shanty and when Katherine discovered this (via a fraught phone call in which Nadia told her to stay away), she looked genuinely upset. That's what never stopped wrecking me in this episode: A supposedly callous, self-serving person like Katherine seeming genuinely upset about Nadia's health and safety. Seriously moving stuff. And anyone with eyes or a brain knows that Nina Dobrev absolutely nailed this performance. Ouch my heart the whole time.
Fortunately Nadia wasn't going to die in the Salvatores' living room while surrounded entirely by haters. At least ONE person took pity on her enough to, you know, acknowledge her.
In this moment Nadia was hallucinating talking to someone else, but her apology and plea that she'd only been looking for her mother definitely applied to what she'd done to Matt. So it was very touching when he played along. These two.
Then the rest of the gang showed up to, I don't know, watch?
Okay but seriously, I have a question: Does death mean anything anymore? We've had ghosts return every now and again to hang out and crack jokes, plus body jumping, plus reanimated mummies, plus Bonnie and Jeremy just straight up going from ghosts to SOLID BEINGS somehow. So when people die there's always a possibility they could become full-blown alive again right? Just wondering.
Katherine's sudden arrival was AMAZING. The look of determination on her face when she busted through that crowd of bozos in order to get to her dying daughter was truly riveting. From there she listened while a delirious Nadia accused her of not having been a great mother, and to that Katherine engaged in the time-honored tradition of death-bead memory revision!
Awwwww. Katherine gave Nadia the "memory" of having raised her! Devastating stuff. And it made me wonder how much of Katherine's newfound maternal instinct was due to the false memory that Stefan implanted in her on her deathbead. But even though both of these scenes wrung emotional moments out of lies, they still ruined me. So good.
And then Nadia died. And it was absolutely heartbreaking.
I mean, come on. Nadia hadn't been the most developed character up until this episode, but this episode did such a great job of reconciling her sad life with all the take-charge things she'd done in Mystic Falls that I couldn't help but feel VERY invested in her. And to see Katherine so broken down about it just made it that much worse. I'm going to be very sad to see her go...
... IF I thought she was actually gone for good. Because I don't think she is! Let's talk theories LATER. Because one of the ALL-TIME BEST TVD scenes OF ALL TIME was about to happen.
After Nadia slipped quietly into the cold dark night & also Bonnie, Katherine saw the writing on the wall. She was surrounded by people who wanted her dead and the exit was blocked by a robo-ripper arch nemesis. And if there were any doubt about where this scene was heading, the wistful indie-pop song on the soundtrack told us all we needed to know: This was the end.
So of course Katherine used the opportunity to walk around the room personally explaining to everyone (in a surprisingly polite manner, for Katherine) just how much she'd improved their lives. It was a good parallel scene to that time they did shots while they thought she was dying (and to me it sounded like they were openly admitting that she'd been a catalyst for all the most important changes in their lives). Anyway, I particularly loved her interaction with Caroline, who was NOT having it.
And Katherine's faux-sweet, not-missing-a-beat goodbye to Caroline's bitchy one was amazing. I rewound this three times and laughed out loud every time.
She also hit on Matt one last time (which, I'd forgotten they'd had flirtations at one point!) and also seemed to be sincere when she told Jeremy she'd liked having a temporary brother.
Then her last interaction with Damon was somehow both bitter AND heartfelt? And at least in a general sense her apology felt genuine.
But of course she saved her last goodbye for Stefan. First she called him out for having had real feelings for her, and then she did this:
To which he did this:
YEP. Stefan did the deed. It could be argued that he hadn't so much murdered Katherine as he simply just wanted to save Elena. That is fair. What is also fair to say is that Stefan murdered Katherine because HOW DARE HE. Still though, the closure felt real, it felt meaningful, and it felt timely. And then this ruined me:
Just as Katherine checked out of Elena's body, she fell limp against Nadia's corpse. That is just about as darkly beautiful as drama can get. Love this show so much. GOODBYE, LADIES. (Sort of.)
Oh, and only a few minutes later this happened:
Ugh, Matt Donovan carrying Nadia's body out of the house for a proper burial (after supposed good-guy Stefan suggested she be buried in an unmarked grave in the woods). So powerful. But again, I think this will have significance later, right? Their almost-romance seems so newly forged that it can't possibly be over! Can it?
Meanwhile this was VERY satisfying:
Look, I get it, I understand why Tyler was mad at Caroline. But I was also tired of Caroline not standing up for herself and refusing to be slut-shamed all the time. So she finally did that here. She defended her need to look for the good in people and she proudly admitted that being a good person is a challenge that she'll continue trying to meet. Tell him, girl!
Oh, haha, the church set. We need to talk about that real quick. It was definitely the church set from The Originals, right? It seemed like such a random location for this show considering we'd been in a different church for that one town-wide funeral previously. (The one where April (LOL) was bleeding in the balcony.) Anyway, this was where Katherine took Nadia for no real reason and this was where Bonnie just HAPPENED to be hanging out in order to light a candle for her father (LOL). Anyway, it was a cool set, sure, but I'm pretty sure the only reason these scenes took place here was so that the episode's final moment would be that much cooler. BECAUSE IT WAS SO COOL.
So first of all, Katherine's ghost finally showed up to be shuttled off to The Other Side. But not without revealing one more twist. See, even in death, Katherine has a talent for f*cking people over, and boy did she leave a doozy behind.
Apparently after she found Dr. Wes' body she realized that he hadn't made an anti-werewolf venom serum at all, he'd actually just made an even stronger Ripper serum. And since she knew that she'd be walking into a trap she realized she'd be a goner. So she injected Elena's body with the serum!
Katherine apparently knew it would be a while before it kicked in, which would give her plenty of time to get stabbed by Stefan, go to supernatural purgatory, and then Elena would wake up feeling off.
DAMN. That is some hardcore sh*t, even for Katherine. She made some speech about how she was jealous that Elena got all the cool stuff in life, so now it was her turn to suffer or something. So brutal.
But just after she'd bragged about it all to Bonnie she tried to cross over into the Other Side and it didn't work. It just plum didn't work! Bonnie didn't know why Katherine wasn't disappearing and that's when the CHURCH TORNADO happened.
Not only did a CHURCH TORNADO happen, this did too:
Katherine was SUCKED OUT OF A CHURCH!
JUST SUCKED RIGHT OUT.
Holy jeez, guys. This whole end scene is what's known as a DOUBLE-TWIST. Katherine effed over Elena in a shocking way, and then Katherine was SUCKED OUT OF A CHURCH. So good. Just truly insane, amazing storytelling and an instant classic moment.
Now, we can talk theories. In my opinion this is obviously related to the Travelers. We know they're up to something big, since those buckets of doppelganger blood still haven't come into play. Plus that sexy Traveler leader lady definitely seems to be an important figure. So I'm guessing the Travelers wanted to hang onto all departed Travelers' souls (including Nadia's) for future use. The only question is whether the dearly departed will ever be able to regain life again, but knowing Katherine she'll probably scheme her way back to the realm of the living in no time. So yep, Katherine "dies" again but she'll never REALLY die. SO GOOD.
"Gone Girl" was one of my favorite episodes of The Vampire Diaries of all time. And just in time, too. I'd been feeling down about this show lately, but this episode reminded me of all the good and amazing and incredible that this show will squirt into my face from time to time. Yes.
... Are the Travelers behind why Katherine was SUCKED OUT OF A CHURCH?
... Did the Matt-Nadia scenes do anything for you?
... Will you miss Dr. Wes?
... Do you trust the new witch lady around Jeremy?
AIRED ON 4/29/2016
Season 7 : Episode 20
AIRS ON 5/6/2016
Season 7 : Episode 21