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‘The Vampire Diaries’ Review: Drowning in Flames

the-vampire-diaries-paul-wesley-ian-somerhalder

The future is beginning to take shape.

Hallelujah.

After wasting previous episodes on useless stories and new characters, The Vampire Diaries brought its focus back where it belongs: the Salvatore brothers. “Things We Lost in the Fire” proved reality sucks more than the glimpses of hell the Phoenix Stone provided.

Picking up from last week, Damon saw the error of his murderous ways and fed Matt and Bonnie blood. Caroline knocked him out and he awoke in chains, courtesy of Stefan. Damon expected a lecture, but thanks to his own nightmarish experience, Stefan understood and gave him a free pass. It turns out the Phoenix Stone doesn’t ease its grip once the souls are released.

As Damon struggled with reality, we learned bits and pieces of what shaped Stefan’s hell. It involved drowning with a side of Damon sucking him under every time he broke free. Stefan interpreted that to mean he needed to let go of Damon if he wanted to move forward.  So he did. Back in reality, Damon haunted him. Caroline did her best to keep him sane, but in typical Stefan fashion, he pushed her away.

the-vampire-diaries-ian-somerhalderJust as Damon pushed Stefan away, first by deceiving him when he neglected to mention his ongoing Henry hallucination, and then at the end when he hid the truth about burning Elena’s body (Side note: We all know that wasn’t real. Tyler set him up to take him down. The coffin was probably empty). The brothers shared a horrific experience and it should bring them closer, but instead, it’s putting new walls between them. Stefan’s grasping for Damon’s hand and Damon’s planning his next downward spiral.

Which leads me to a new theory…what if they’re wrong about the premise of the stone? They’ve been led to believe it’s a vampire prison. Souls inside the stone suffer on an endless loop until they acknowledge their bad deeds and witch friends return them to the land of the living.

Except they’re not redeemed by any means. They’re hallucinating unfinished business. They’re following bad advice. Seven seasons of this show have taught us the Salvatore brothers are always better together than apart. So why would a second chance at life hint that everything we know is a lie?

Because it sets them and everyone around them hurling down a path to a terrible future. We know at some point Damon’s going to choose to wait for Elena in a coffin rather than live. Stefan’s already pushing Caroline away. Next to Damon, she’s the person who understands him and loves him the most. She’s throwing him lifeline after lifeline. He’s choosing to drown. Combine that with Caroline’s attachment to the babies and Alaric’s smart decision to cut ties and move away, it’s clear how Stefan and Caroline’s relationship unravels.

Now let’s throw Matt into the mix. My least favorite character on the show is always held up as the good guy and the protector of humans or whatever. But when has Matt ever been right? He makes hasty decisions, trusts the wrong people, and then the vamps end up saving him over and over again. He should leave Mystic Falls and never look back, but he believes he can save the town. He’s got a new police ally and three years in the future, he’s using his former girlfriend as bait to help the huntress get Stefan.

Does that sound like the scenario we’re supposed to support? Of course not. It sounds like Matt got in over his head (again) and he’s choosing to side with the villain. And if the huntress is a villain, the Phoenix Stone is her weapon of choice because it makes vampires worse instead of better. The question is why would she want to do that? What’s her endgame?

Also, if the vamps left Mystic Falls behind, why’s Matt still chasing them? Vengeance, which is not the motive of a hero—and if that’s not enough to convince you Matt’s not supposed to be the good guy in this scenario? This episode showed him drinking and driving. That’s not role model behavior, kids (and adults—don’t do it ever!). It’s a sign of someone making terrible decisions…that lead to a future where he’s on Team Bad Guy.

Miscellaneous Musings

-Why would Nora help them after she trapped Stefan? Stop trying so hard to make the Heretics a thing, show.

-Between the drag racing and Matt’s new cop love interest who knows more than a normal outsider, was anyone else thinking about The Flash a lot during this episode?

-Bonnie worked her ass off to save Damon and then stayed away from him? That doesn’t add up to BFF status, show. But it does align with Damon losing control. He needs Bonnie as much as he needs Stefan.

-Alaric’s met Caroline Forbes, right? On what planet did he think she’d be fine not being part of the babies’ lives?

-Just a reminder that Paul Wesley directed this fantastic episode.

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.

  • Katie

    I think they are setting up Bonnie/Nora and since Nora is now marked she will be the one that dies that Bonnie is speaking about in the future.