Three episodes into season the sixth season of The Vampire Diaries and it’s like we’ve fallen through a portal and landed in season one and it is the absolute best thing ever. It’s not that characters have regressed or the writers are repeating storylines – it’s the fact that they’re focusing solely on character motivations and actions and consequences and reminding the audience why we love and root for these characters despite their seriously messed up lives.
“Welcome to Paradise” brought all our favorites (or at least the ones not living in 1994) to the local swimming hole (near Mystic Falls, but outside the borders) for an alcohol-fueled party that naturally came with a side of murder (this is The Vampire Diaries). But the party also brought major friendship moments (good and heartbreaking), potential new romances and a few unexpected twists.
Speaking of those trapped in 1994 (let’s pause to appreciate the 90’s music), Bonnie and Damon continued to be the highlight of the show (which is downright impressive because the entire hour was filled with fantastic scenes). We got to see more of their daily lives and we learned the identity of the mystery crossword stealer – and guess what? It’s someone new and mysterious and not any of the predictable choices people were speculating (well done, show!).
Normally at this point, I narrow the hour down to the top five moments, but I had five moments written down before we were even at the halfway point of the episode so we’re just going to toss that small, unworthy number out the window this week. Let’s talk about all the good things that happened:
-Starting the hour with Stefan roughing up his ‘dick of a boss’ and then compelling him to bury Ivy’s body was perfect, especially since I was still not over Stefan cowering to him in the premiere.
-Caroline and Enzo’s breakfast chat to go over the rules of the party was cute. I love bossy, controlling Caroline and I enjoy Enzo’s fondness for Caroline in general. She was not amused when she learned he killed a waitress and he remained unapologetic – two things I loved about this: 1) character motivation (seriously, I will not get tired of praising this show for going back to being character driven) and 2) it established that Caroline obviously had no idea Enzo killed Ivy and that made me more excited for the inevitable Stefan/Enzo/Caroline confrontation.
-Stefan and Elena’s reunion was adorable. I am always going to be a sucker for Paul Wesley and Nina Dobrev sharing any kind of a scene because these two are magic together whether they’re friends, lovers or temporary enemies if one has his or her humanity switch flipped. As they were catching up, Stefan (like Caroline earlier) noticed the changes in Elena and seemed concerned about her mental state after her compulsion (friendship!), but again, like Caroline, respected Elena’s wishes and pretended everything was fine.
-As much as I wanted to, I’m not feeling the chemistry between Elena and Liam. I did enjoy Elena and Stefan talking about how great Caroline was in the car (Stefan can pretend not to care all he wants, but this scene proved otherwise). Even though I don’t feel the chemistry, I love that the kiss surprised Elena and she seemed happy after it happened. How long has it been since we got to see a small glimpse of happiness on this girl’s face?
-Liv and Tyler’s potential romance also took an interesting turn in this episode. First, Luke called his sister out on treating Tyler like dirt because she likes him (Liv is 12, apparently). Then Tyler wanted to know why Liv was trying to taunt him into a rage episode (again, she’s 12 or doesn’t know how to flirt with an adult, but somehow I found it cute anyway). Liv admitted that she wanted him to stay an angry douchebag because then she wouldn’t fall for him and Tyler just stared at her and they were so close to kissing, but they didn’t and it doesn’t matter because they will at some point and I approve of this.
-Jeremy’s kissing choices were much less appealing to me and to Elena when she found him making out with Sarah, the girl she’d attacked. Jeremy blew off her concern because the compulsion took away Sarah’s memories, but then came an unexpected twist. After Caroline angrily compelled a girl to go get ice, Jeremy ran into her and realized there was still no ice and the girl said she has self-respect and realized that halfway to the ice place – inside the borders of Mystic Falls. Compulsion is magic and it’s stripped away once the person returns to town, meaning Sarah’s disappeared and she knew all along that Elena attacked her and Caroline compelled her. Good twist, but bad news for our vampires.
-Speaking of bad news, Stefan arrived to kill Enzo and as the two were fighting, Matt’s friend Jay showed up and attempted to kill Stefan. Enzo saved him, which was awesome because even though he wants to make him miserable, he doesn’t want to kill him. That’s respect for Damon and their friendship and it just makes me like Enzo that much more. Stefan, on the other hand, was still Team Murder and would have taken Enzo out if Caroline hadn’t returned to get between them. Stefan walked away and told Caroline to ask Enzo why. I’m a little disappointed we didn’t get to hear him explain himself, but at the same time, that might have been too much exposition.
-Back to Jay for a moment – Enzo was tasked with disposing of him and needed to borrow Matt’s truck to do so. Matt felt like an idiot for not seeing what was right in front of his face – he’s been training with vampire hunters the whole time. I don’t know how to feel about this. Matt’s not my favorite character so him looking like an idiot is par for the course in my book, but at the same time, I almost feel bad for him (who am I?). He’s just trying to find his human, non-supernatural place and he thought he was doing a good thing and it all turned out to be a lie and that’s actually really sad (let’s never speak of this again).
-Caroline tracked down Stefan and called him out for being a jerk (I’m with her on this one. He left apologetic messages on her voicemail solely because he wanted to find Enzo. What the hell is wrong with you, Stefan?). To his credit, he knew he was an ass and he tried to explain that he needs to kill Enzo because he reminds him of Damon and he needs him gone so he can start over and live a new life. How heartbreaking is that? Stefan hurts so much that he can’t face remnants of his old life, even the people he loves. In a way, he’s not that different from Elena asking Alaric to compel her. Stefan’s just better at burying his pain because he’s had more years of practice.
But Caroline knows better. She knows Stefan still cares about his friends and for her and she begged him to just stay. She wasn’t asking for an admission or to have a heart to heart, all she wanted was for him to acknowledge that he still cared by staying. He didn’t say anything and for a long moment, they just stared at each other and Caroline was so hopeful and so loving and then Stefan just walked away and you could see her heart breaking and it hurt on every level. This hurt a lot and I hate seeing Caroline rejected again even if I do understand Stefan’s reasoning.
-Elena witnessed the entire thing and here comes one of my absolute favorite moments of the night: Caroline looked torn between breaking down and being embarrassed that Elena now knew how she felt about Stefan (which she confirmed later). Elena looked uncertain and for a moment, I was worried she was going to walk away too. But she didn’t. She embraced her friend, held her while she cried and then took her home and finally got Caroline to move back into the dorm. Elena Gilbert put her friend’s needs before her own. She was selfless and genuine and do you see what I mean about falling back into season one? This is everything I’ve missed about Elena since she turned into a vampire and I was so happy with this scene (even though my heart breaks for Caroline and I really need Stefan to get it together).
-Unfortunately, Stefan ended the episode by helping Tripp capture Enzo and telling him to make sure his death hurts. Stefan, I get that you have rage and revenge issues at the moment, but you can’t let a vampire hunter kill your brother’s second-in-line-behind-Alaric-BFF. I’m going to need you to fix this, okay?
Now, let’s get back to 1994 where everything is Bonnie and Damon and nothing hurts, shall we? The two ventured to the grocery store where they fought over who got to push the cart, tried on new sunglasses and argued about whether or not there was someone else living with them. Damon insisted Bonnie finished the crossword puzzle (and pointed out that she talks in her sleep). She found more signs at the store that they weren’t alone, but Damon still wasn’t buying it. Bonnie remained determined though because she had hope they’d find a way out of there and wanted to know what Damon would say to Elena when they got home (“Sorry I killed your friend”).
But then the tables turned a little when Damon’s car appeared in the parking lot and he was so excited that he sat there making car noises (seriously, can we talk about how much Ian Somerhalder clearly loves this storyline?). He changed his answer to “I love you and sorry I killed your friend.” Damon’s hope evaporated pretty quickly and he turned on Bonnie (again), but she was not having his nonsense and demanded he give her his ring and burn in the sun since he just assumed they’d never get home again. Bonnie stormed off and Damon went back into the store and discovered Kai.
So they weren’t alone after all. Kai’s been watching them and commented on how entertaining they’ve been, even though they’ve had this fight that leads to Bonnie walking away 13 times (he also mentioned a game of Monopoly where Damon stole from the bank. Can we get those scenes, please? Petition to have Ian and Kat film them between takes? Maybe a web series?). Damon was not impressed with his sass and pointed out that he actually liked Bonnie (!!!!) and the same did not apply to him. Unfortunately, Kai shared the sentiment and decided to torture Damon with vervain laced bourbon (how dare you?) and then attempted to stake him.
Here’s where things go from amazing to OMFG, I love this show more than air. Bonnie returns (of course she does) and Kai starts to taunt her about not having magic and what an embarrassment that is (again, how dare you?). Bonnie, in turn, lights a candle with her mind (!!!), Damon looks back at her in proud awe, she tells him to run and then she sets the area around Kai on fire and throws his words back in his face. Bonnie has her magic back! She and Damon worked together to ruin the new guy’s day! Teamwork! Friendship! Love! Their dynamic is everything, people.
Once they were back at the Salvatore house and Damon had a fireplace poker while Kai was tied to the chair, the newcomer bragged about his plan being a success – he knew Bonnie would come back, he knew Damon being in danger would spark her magic and now the three can find a way out of there together. Hmm…while I do appreciate his Team Bamon banner, I do not trust this new guy as far as Damon can throw him at full vampire strength. Where did he come from? Why’s he been spying this whole time? Does he have powers? I doubt he’s just a human chilling in a supernatural version of 1994. I need answers (and Damon and Bonnie playing Monopoly)! Make it happen, show.
All right, it’s your turn. What did you guys think of the episode? Can you narrow down favorite moments better than I can? Whose dynamic do you love? Are you surprised Sarah knew the whole time? Which new couples are you shipping? Who made you cry the most (Caroline)? Do you want to sign the Damon and Bonnie Monopoly petition? Hit the comments and share your thoughts, feelings and theories with us!