Reviews

‘The Vampire Diaries’ Review: ‘The Day I Tried to Live’

Poor Bonnie had the saddest birthday ever last night on The Vampire Diaries. We finally got to check in with her after her terribly sad Christmas (side note: I’m tired of this recurring theme) and the loneliness was proving to be too much for her. Luckily, Damon and Elena came up with a new plan to send some hope back in time to help guide her toward a solution. All they needed was an assist from Kai.

Of course like any episode of The Vampire Diaries, “The Day I Tried to Live” was not about to make things simple (not that anything involving Kai is ever simple). While he pushed his magic to the limit to recreate Ghost, Liv had her own plan that involved ending her brother’s life. Elsewhere, Stefan found a new way to break through to Caroline and the current worst plot of the show got even duller at Duke. Let’s talk about it.

5. Odds and Ends

Jeremy decided that he would leave town to go to art school after Elena (and Bonnie indirectly) convinced him it was okay to move on with his life and find out what makes him happy.

Enzo’s plan to ruin Stefan’s life continues to make less and less sense every week. His latest plot involved getting Matt to befriend Sarah. But now Enzo wants to get close to her, show her the dark side and eventually turn her into a vampire. I love this show with all my heart, but I have no idea why the writers thought this was a good idea.

Damon and Elena got back together (which I thought happened last week with the kiss?). After Damon reminded Elena that as a human she chose Stefan, Elena pointed out that she still found her way back to him and always would. Then they found their way back to Damon’s bed. Of course the question now is whether the writers will actually let them have some time as a couple or if there will be a new catastrophe to break them up (again) just around the corner.

4. Tyler tried to help Liv

Liv was in a bad place after Luke died and Tyler did his best to reach out to her and promise to be there for her every step of the way. But all Liv wanted was to kill Kai and when Tyler tried to stop her, she put a spell on him that left him unconscious on the floor. After almost succeeding until Jeremy stopped her with some cutlery and Damon knocked her down with an explosion, Liv woke up in her dorm room. Tyler had rescued her from the Salvatore house and convinced Elena to heal her with vampire blood. But once Liv was awake and okay, Tyler declared he was done with her because she chose death over him.

I have to admit, I’m a little torn on this plot. I love these two together, but I think Tyler’s reaction is too harsh. Does he not remember when his mom died and he walked out on Caroline as she begged him to stay? Does he not remember kidnapping a pregnant woman and getting his ass handed to him by Klaus? I understand the parallels and Tyler being hurt that Liv would rather risk death than be with him, but she lost her twin brother. And it’s only been a few days at most so why is he expecting her to just put all of that grief aside? Yes, Liv made the wrong choice, but given Tyler’s own history, I wish he’d tried a little harder instead of giving up the second she went against what he wanted. She’s not in thinking clearly and he went back on that promise a little too fast.

vampire-diaries-613-023. Caroline (finally) hit Stefan with a shovel

In order to stop thinking about her mom’s situation, Caroline turned all of her Type-A laser focus to helping with Bonnie’s birthday party, but she felt like Ms. Cuddles was taunting her. Caroline explained to Stefan that Bonnie hadn’t lost the bear after all – Caroline stole her after she had a fight with Bonnie and then buried the bear in the woods so her mom wouldn’t find out (go ahead and picture little Caroline doing all of those things). Since she couldn’t help her mom or save Bonnie, Caroline decided she would at least rescue Ms. Cuddles from the woods. Stefan knew she was just misplacing her pain and Caroline knew it too, but that didn’t stop her from going to dig up the bear with Stefan trailing behind her, flask in hand.

After refusing to help dig (he didn’t want callouses), Stefan taunted Caroline about how silly she was being until she got mad enough to shove him. He kept going and she shoved him again and he asked her if it felt good and then she hit him with the shovel. Let’s be honest, that moment was just as cathartic for the audience as it was for Caroline because Stefan deserved that after the way he treated her earlier this season. Stefan knocked Caroline to the ground with him and she was finally able to laugh at herself and it was exactly what she needed.

The moment turned serious once they were vertical again and Stefan held Caroline as everything seemed to hit her at once. The heaviness of this story continues to break my heart into tiny pieces, but it could not be in better hands. Candice Accola was always meant to be a leading lady and she’s carrying this story beautifully, hitting every emotional note and then some. Paul Wesley might be in a supporting role this time around, but he’s giving it his all too as Stefan holds steady as Caroline’s rock.

2. Kai is still Kai (with a touch of Luke)

I have to admit I was nervous last week after the Parkers stressed the merge would mean traits of both twins in one body. I love Kai because he’s a sociopath and I did not want to see him redeemed even if it meant we’d lose the talented Chris Wood. I worried merging Kai with Luke would mean that Kai would soften. But I have to give props to the writers for finding a way to keep Kai the same with only a touch of Luke’s conscience. He showed up at the Salvatore house to explain that he was actually feeling bad for Jo and he didn’t know how to process it (his description of crying was just as hilarious as his explanation of how he killed the manager of The Grill).

Kai also enjoys being a sociopath so he wasn’t a fan of the newfound empathy. He agreed to help with the spell because Damon and Elena played on his weakness, but when Liv showed up to kill him, he gleefully planned to set her on fire because he loves watching people burn. But then he couldn’t do it even though he still wanted to and Liv ended up getting the upper hand until Jeremy rescued Kai. I like that Kai is struggling and still wants to be the bad guy as opposed to letting the remorse dominate his personality. Yes, it might soften him up a little and he’s less likely to follow through on murdering all his remaining siblings, but he’s still entertaining. I’m not sure if the writers will be able to keep this balance and justify Kai’s continued existence, but they’ve definitely bought themselves time.

1. The Return of Bonnie Bennett, BAMF

Being alone in 1994 has taken its toll on Bonnie. Since she’d been keeping track of the days, she knew it was her birthday and after she burned the calendar, she pulled out a bottle of bourbon. Thanks to Kai’s spell, Damon, Elena, Jeremy and Kai arrived in ghost form and Damon recognized the bottle in her hand: it was their suicide bourbon. He explained that it was the oldest bottle in the house and they made a pact (while watching The Bodyguard because of course they did) that when they finally couldn’t take it anymore, they’d drink the bourbon until it killed them. Bonnie didn’t finish the bottle, but they knew they were running out of time to get her help.

Damon came up with the idea of using Qetsiyah’s blood from Silas’ tombstone (side note: loved Damon and Elena’s argument over whether or not Silas was hot), but they needed to remind Bonnie of its existence so Damon wrote a note in an atlas. Kai managed to send Jeremy back and he knocked down an atlas, opened to the page with Damon’s note, but Liv’s interruption damaged the spell so all Jeremy could do was follow Bonnie out to the garage as she prepared to kill herself using the exhaust from Damon’s car. Bonnie picked up the video camera to leave a message for Damon and Elena. She told them she’d tried, but the loneliness and not speaking to anyone or getting to laugh with her friends or eat in restaurants (and all the other normal things we take for granted) was just too much for her.

This scene absolutely broke my heart and Kat Graham nailed the emotional beats. She played Bonnie as more worn out than sad and it genuinely felt like someone who had tried as hard as she could, who just couldn’t stand to do it for one more second. As much as I dislike that this show uses suicide themes a little too often, I can’t say that I blamed Bonnie for wanting to give up at this point. But then she spoke her grandmother’s words: Stay strong. That was all it took for Bonnie to remember who she is and how strong she is and she tried to get up and turn off the car, but the exhaust fumes were overwhelming. Jeremy frantically tried to open the garage door and he was finally able to (not sure how this worked and don’t really care because it saved Bonnie).

Back inside, Bonnie saw the atlas on the floor and found Damon’s note. With a renewed sense of purpose, Bonnie got in Damon’s car and sped out in search of the magic she needed. I may or may not have applauded from my couch. It makes me really happy that it seems like Bonnie’s going to end up saving herself with an assist from Damon. She is strong and she’s survived this prison world all alone and I cannot wait for her to get the magic and send herself back to present day (and if we don’t get a Damon and Bonnie reunion hug, I’m organizing a sit-in outside the writers’ office).

Next week, we say goodbye to Jeremy, but that’s not the part of the promo that has me squealing.

About the author

Mandy Treccia

Mandy Treccia has served as TVSource Magazine’s Executive Editor since 2016, formerly as Editorial Director from 2012-2016. She is an avid TV watcher and card carrying fan girl prone to sudden bursts of emotion, ranging from extreme excitement to blind rage during her favorite shows and has on more than once occasion considered having a paper bag on hand to get her through some tough TV moments. Her taste in TV tends to rival that of a thirteen-year-old girl, but she’s okay with that. Follow her on Twitter at @SourceMandy.