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‘The Vampire Diaries’ Review: ‘A Bird in a Gilded Cage’

A quick recap of what we didn’t talk about after last week’s episode of The Vampire Diaries: Humanity free Caroline wanted a year to herself and promised not to hurt anyone in exchange. Stefan, in full romantic hero mode (my personal favorite), worried that she’d never be able to keep that promise and almost managed to get through to her. In turn, Caroline kidnapped Sarah and had Liam (remember him?) perform surgery on her unless Stefan flipped his switch. Elena saved Sarah, but Stefan had already turned off his humanity. Meanwhile, Damon learned from Kai that Mama Salvatore is the original ripper of the family and Bonnie not only refused to accept Kai’s apology, she made it clear to Damon that she did not appreciate his meddling in true BAMF manner.

Now onto last night’s episode, “A Bird in a Gilded Cage.” Perhaps an unpopular opinion, but I preferred this episode to last week’s installment. The plot moved forward and there was a lot of humor packed into the hour along with some lovely parallels to previous seasons (parallels are one of my favorite things about TV). Not only that, but the characters didn’t take the most obvious routes, which I definitely appreciate after six years of watching a show.

The action picks up with Caroline cleaning up the mess she and Stefan made in the campus bar/café/library place. Enzo was amused by her Cinderella mode, but Caroline made it clear nothing would stand in her way and that meant keeping their secret safe. She dropped the bomb on what she did to Sarah and then left Enzo to finish cleaning so she could get to her audition for the school musical. After an unfriendly confrontation with humanity free-Stefan, Damon and Elena decided to use Mama Salvatore as an emotional trigger to get Stefan back, who in turn would work to trigger Caroline’s humanity. All Damon needed to do was convince Bonnie to work with Kai. So let’s talk about the big moments.

the-vampire-diaries-617-025. The Cure: Part Two

I don’t know about anyone else, but after season four, I never, ever wanted to hear the words ‘the cure’ again (hate season five all you want; I will forever argue that season four was the absolute worst). The episode ended with a private moment between Damon and Bonnie. She wanted to thank him for everything and had been too mad to give it to him the day before, but she’d snagged the 1994 copy of the cure from Nova Scotia. She knew he’d wanted it for Elena. Damon asked what if he didn’t want it for her anymore and Bonnie said that was none of her business. It was his choice what to do with it.

This was a great parallel to the end of season four when Stefan put the cure in Elena’s hands and told her it was her choice whether or not to take it. Now the question is who will end up swallowing it by the end of the season? Damon’s always liked vampire Elena, but he also loves her enough to let her be human again if that’s what she wants. Elena’s gotten used to being a vampire, but she also doesn’t think there’s another option. Perhaps Damon will end up with the cure. It happened in the books and the writers did consider giving it to him in season four before they settled on Katherine. I don’t think they brought it back just to give it to Mama Salvatore. Enzo doesn’t seem likely and it could go to Stefan or Caroline as a surprise twist, but given Elena’s comment to Damon about having forever, it seems one of the two will likely be the recipient.

4. The B-Team Vampire Hunters

Alaric and Jo returned this week, still basking in their baby/engagement bliss. Jo also had the task of keeping an eye on Sarah in the hospital until Elena’s blood was out of her system. Enzo showed up to see Alaric so they could join forces to capture Stefan and Caroline and bring them to the Salvatore cellar to start the process of getting their humanity back. Enzo claimed he was doing it because he wanted to keep playing his game with Stefan and needed Stefan to care. Alaric called him out on his nonsense and told him that he was just lonely. Since they were not stealth at all, Stefan whisked Caroline to safety and then dropped a vervain grenade on the two and wondered what Damon was up to if he sent the b-team.

Once they woke up, Alaric returned to Jo, who gave him an examination and declared him an idiot. She made it clear she needed him alive for 18 years to raise their child and then he could go back to being stupid with his vampire friends. These two might not serve a huge story purpose, but I love them together and I like that Alaric is getting happiness, even if it makes me nervous that it could implode. As for Enzo, he went to Sarah and decided to drop the game. I guess Alaric’s revelation was a glass shattering moment for him, but I still don’t care about this story. Enzo then accidentally (or maybe on purpose?) revealed to Sarah that she’s a Salvatore. Again, it’s hard to care when this feels pointless.

the-vampire-diaries-617-gilded-033. Humanity-less Vampire Prank War

At first I wondered if Stefan was faking his humanity flip to get through to Caroline, but as soon as he ripped off the musical director’s head, I tossed that theory out the window.  Not only has Stefan turned off his humanity, he’s already annoyed at the idea of turning it back on and the torment he’s going to suffer so he wants to make sure he drags Caroline down with him by being a control freak’s worst nightmare. Caroline attempted to fight back by sabotaging his motorcycle (oh, Care) and Stefan just upped the ante by throwing a vervain grenade at her and attempting to stake her. Caroline got the upper hand again, but then Stefan goaded her into drinking a girl’s blood with him. Apparently that’s a major turn-on because the two proceeded to tear each other’s clothes off and after round two (if not three or four) in Caroline’s dorm, she declared that his way was definitely more fun.

This certainly was not the love story I had in mind for these two, but that doesn’t mean I’m not enjoying it. Whether intentional or not, the writers have built these two up for a potential romance since season two (or the pilot if you want to go that far back), but once they got Stefan past his denial phase, there would not have been much conflict for the two best friends to take that friendship to the next level and turn it into something better. Now, there’s nothing but conflict for them to overcome. Once they turn their humanity back on, Caroline will have to live with the fact that she broke Stefan on purpose and Stefan will have to deal with doing the same to Caroline. These were two people who never intentionally hurt each other and now they’ll have this major mountain of guilt between them (including their first super hot hookup being emotionless). I look forward to watching the two come out stronger on the other side.

2. Bonnie vs. Kai

Early in the episode when Damon went to Bonnie for help, she consented to give him her blood in exchange for him leaving her alone. Damon accepted her terms, but he had another idea, one he thought would help Bonnie get what she wanted if she stuck with him. We didn’t get to see the rest of the conversation, but it wasn’t hard to put the pieces together as the episode continued. Bonnie traveled with Kai, Damon and Elena to the 1903 prison world and she even agreed to be left alone with Kai to search for the ascendant. Kai continued to assure her that he’d changed, but Bonnie was not buying it. He might have a sliver of Luke’s humanity, but she wasn’t going to forget all the terrible things he’d done to her. So when Kai turned his back, Bonnie stabbed him in it. He managed to use his powers to get away, but when it was time to return to the present, Kai called out for Bonnie and she smiled as they left without him.

First, I love that Damon helped her. Their friendship is the best and he knew he screwed up last week and he wanted to make it up to her. Second, how awesome is it to see Bonnie standing up for herself after being everyone’s doormat for so long? She’s died over and over again to save her friends and no one ever has her back. Now with an assist from Damon, she had her own back and found Kai a fitting punishment for his numerous crimes. Third, I have to give credit to the writers for this solution. Assuming we won’t be visiting this prison world again this season, Kai can remain there, presumably using his Gemini Coven leader skills to stay alive, and the writers can bring him back at a later date if they want. Bonnie gets justice and the audience gets hope that we might see our latest favorite psycho again. Win, win.

1. Hello, Mother

It’s hard not to feel terrible for Damon. Not only has he lost his brother to the dark side again, he’s just found out that their mother faked her death and abandoned them to become a vampire ripper and now he has to rescue her because it’s what’s best for Stefan. Elena, who continues to be fun and caring, was adorably excited to meet her boyfriends’ (yes I mean plural) mother and loved the idea of seeing Damon as a son. Unfortunately, after a nice throwback parallel to season one greeting, Damon quickly learned that Mama Salvatore was not only a ripper, but an insane one. She basically giggled when Damon mentioned Stefan killed Papa Salvatore and then she led them to her vampire dollhouse where she kept her traveling companions. Damon’s patience snapped when Mama wanted to take them all back because they were her family, but he didn’t care. Stefan was his family and if Mama wasn’t going to help, Damon would leave her there too (excuse me while I cry over the heart of the show, the Salvatore brothers love for each other). She agreed to return with Damon’s (phony) promise that they’d get her friends later.

Again, I have to admit I was not originally thrilled with the twist that Mama was a vampire too, but this is The Vampire Diaries so I can let it slide. I hate that she abandoned her sons for life with her vampire family and still didn’t come back when she heard they turned, but look at all the angst and issues this is already giving us and Stefan doesn’t know she’s back yet. Plus, she’s insane so that’s just one more hassle for everyone, especially Damon since he’s the one getting her settled into 2015 (or whatever year it is in TVD time). I suspect Mama has more secrets and there must be a story as to why the Gemini Coven imprisoned her instead of just staking her. It’ll be fun to see the Salvatore brothers in son mode and to find out just how much crazy Mama Salvatore is hiding.

Sadly, we’ve got to wait a month to find out as we suffer through the last hiatus of the season. But the promo for the show’s return looks awesome and I’m obviously rooting for ‘tails’.

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.