The Vampire Diaries Review: Oh, Brother

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The Vampire Diaries does many things very well: snark, romance, violence, twists, turns, bubble baths.

But what the show has truly succeeded at over two-plus seasons has been a constant, fascinating through-line; a theme for each set of episodes that anchors the action and gives fans something to anticipate; a destination, if you will, a payoff to the incredible build-up.

Almost all of season one could be defined by the tomb and Damon's yearning to awaken Katherine; season two introduced us to werewolves and then concluded with many weeks of wondering how everyone would protect Elena from Klaus' sacrifice.

Season three, however, has been a bit more scattered - and never was that more evident than on "The Ties That Bind."

Stefan with a Stare

I wanna say the mystery of the locked coffin is now the driving force and it probably is. I can't even begin to guess what's in there, nor do I even want to. I enjoy being surprised. (Editor's note: I'm mostly lying. Help! Send in your theories, stat!). But this episode gave equal weight to three stories and, while they're all connected in a general sense, my head was spinning a bit as we whipped from one scene to the next.

Then again, should I really complain? When it comes to The Vampire Diaries, a spinning head is far better than a decapitated one, as we've seen multiple times over the last few weeks.

FIRST, let's talk about Tyler's desire to break his sire bond by going all Braveheart on Klaus and the transformation process. FREEEEEEDOM! With the help of Bill Forbes, Tyler did all he could to achieve this goal, pulling and screaming and kicking and growling (shirtless, ladies!) and eventually sending his new mentor to the hospital.

Job well done, T. Now do it tomorrow, and the day after that and the day after that.

What made this development so sweet was that both parties were placing themselves in danger due to their love for Caroline. Tyler will do anything to be with her and Bill may even be on his way to redemption after those fatherly, protective warnings he gave to Tyler.

SECOND, Alaric is an idiot. Seriously, man, keep acting this way and I may need to resort to calling you "Ric" as well. You're quickly losing the honor of your awesome name.

Sure, Dr. Fell is a cutie. And her desire to save patients' lives by any means necessary is admirable - but she's also sort of playing God here. You can't save everyone. Moreover, she gives you one explanation for what she does with vampire blood and you're sold? You (literally) open up your bag of secrets and then you even tell her about the ring. The ring? My goodness, man, the ring?!? Keep that thing to yourself.

Shouldn't you maybe be wondering: why is her ex-boyfriend dead? For how long has she been using vampire blood in this fashion? What is her overall agenda? I'd have a lot of questions for the good (or bad?) doctor and none of them would include her favorite food or what time you ought to pick her up for dinner.

THIRD, we come to Bonnie and her mother. There was just a whole lot going on here, and a great deal of it involved characters we just met. Or characters in whom we aren't heavily invested.

Look, Bonnie is perfectly nice, but Elena said it herself on their road trip: she never talks about her mom. I'm sure her absence has had a profound affect on Bonnie, but
I didn't care much about the reunion. The emotion there didn't feel earned. And it was awfully convenient that Abby just happened to take in her ex's son many years ago... so Klaus' hybrid (who also played an oddly prominent role this week) could compel him and Abby could convince Bonnie to spill the location of the coffins and Klaus could show up there and Damon (off screen) could move the locked box and...

... it was a whirlwind of one event after another, many of which relied on a few more plot contrivances than we typically see on VD (the existence of Jaime, Elena leaving her mother's sheet on the kitchen table, Bonnie just texting Damon freely while the random hybrid stood nearby, etc.).

I will say, however, that Abby's basis for leaving was interesting. She wanted to live as a woman, not a witch. I've written many times how the show only utilizes Bonnie as a witch. And she isn't exactly the most upbeat character, is she? There may be something to be said for losing one's powers. But not for abandoning one's child, of course.

Of course, in the end, this culminated in the return we've all been clamoring for: Elijah! I think most of us saw it coming at some point, but that didn't make it any less fantastic when he concluded the episode with a heart in his hands and the question: What did I miss?

A whole lot, my good man. Now let's wake Rebekah up and have the Original reunion we all wanna see.

Smaller bites:

  • Terrific use of silence in the scene where Elena told Stefan about the kiss. I legitimately had no idea how Stefan would respond and the writers made the perfect choice in leaving him speechless. Really, what expresses hurt more than utter quiet? Very well played by both Paul Wesley and Nina Dobrev.
  • Jenna's gone. You're allowed to move on. Hmmm... anything else think Elena was talking to herself as much as Alaric here?
  • Man, what must the other physicians at the hospital think of Meredith? That she's the greatest doctor since Hippocrates?
  • No new episode next week. But that that just means more time to spend in our Vampire Diaries forum talking about this one!
  • He's a look at what you can expect on the February 2 installment.

What did everyone else think? Is Elena actually too good for both brothers? Can we trust Bonnie's mom? Dr. Fell? And, of course, WHAT IS IN THE CASKET?


Editor Rating: 3.8 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.6 / 5.0 (396 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.


It's been a few days since the episode aired, and I still HATE the "You're better than him." It's the worst line in this entire series. It would have been better if he didn't say anything and then beat the crap out of Damon. This is not the first time Damon's kissed a girl Stefan's loved or the other way around. It was just the most depressing thing Stefan could have said.


The silence from Stefan when Elena told him that her and Damon kissed was so believable! Great scene.
I hope Tyler can break his allegiance to Klaus and eventually be back with Caroline. I'm not sure that Klaus and Caroline will be together like so many are hoping. I think Caroline reminds Klaus of Rebekah and he also knows that if he keeps her happy, he keeps Tyler happy. I'm glad Elijah is back, he's just a fantastic character and he should cause some problems for Klaus. I'm really loving this season thus far.


First of all (and i normally thought that Stefan and Elena are the most boring couple ever) this was a great and well played scene between these two. Love every second of the very honest talk. Great TV-suff. I watched so many tv shows, but i think i never heard about two so hard against eachother combating parts of couplefans like it is in TVD. I think the Stelena-fans have earned these moments of hope after episodes and episodes totally apart from eachother, and so full of Delena moments. So let us all enjoy this fact. Because i think we all know the writers do that because they want the triangle to set on fire. We all know there will be new conflicts also with her feelings about Damon. It`s not over Delena fans. But i also think that hard times will come for Damon, and she first make a step back to stefan.
The rest of the episode was ok.


can't wait for dangerous liasons and more klaroline. the scene with elena admitting she kissed damon to stefan was much needed, but i wanted to throttle stefan when he punched damon.. he left. He was an ass and I prefer Delena so much more than Stelena. I hope Rebekah comes back, I really enjoyed watching Stebekah scenes.. and i was so happy to see Elijah back, even though my baby Klaus looked terrified. I really don't want him to die... This show is seriously awesome. I've jumped ship from Forwood and am cheering for Klaroline now. But linking Tyler to Bill Forbes was such a surprise... I cant' wait to see what happens with Tyler/Caroline/Klaus. Hope there's more Delena kisses coming up.


In marked contrast to Klaroline! I'm totally thrilled by this idea. Don't get me wrong. Last season I fell in love with Tyler and he's cute and attractive but for god's sake: KLAUS!!! He is my most favourite villain since Ben Linus (and muuuuch better looking I might add) and it'be super-mega-awesome-foxy-hot if he'd really liked Caroline!! But shame on him if he's ONLY using her!!


In this coffin lies the original Petrova-girl. There has to be someone before Katherine. At least this is my theory or my hopes because I'm dying to see Nina in a different role than Elena and since Katherine disappeared...
I loved Stefans reaction! It really said it all. No words needed. It was heartbreaking and in my opinion Elena is the one who isn't good enough for any hot interesting boy. ( so I guess Matt isn't taken right^^) I hate it if there is a totally random girl and this girl seems to be the center of attention by any freakin guy. She isn't special as Elena. She doesn't even look outstanding in this role! (Katherine does^^) It's the same with Sookie in True Blood. But at least Sookie is annoying and I like her accent. Elena is just plain boring and I don't care at all about her!


Also I wonder where the Meredith storyline is going? She was my favourite character in the book and I was really upset when she wasnt introduced to the TV series...however Meredith doenst seem like such a positive character right now and I dont know if she's going to stay on the show


Love that ELIJAH is back!!!! Even though Klaus is still my favourite character but I LOVE all the Originals and hope they all stay around for a while!!!
Although what Tyler did was amazing I still want Klaus and Caroline to happen!! and the return of Stefan and Caroline's friendship!!!
I've always loved Damon more during S1&2 but I love Stefan in this season and the Elena/Stefan scene was really heartbreaking!! At this point I hope that Stefan and Elena will reunite some day but Damon and Elena deserve their story as well!! So really I dont mind who Elena ends up with. ALSO i personally like Rebekah with Stefan much more!!!
Two weeks waiting....too long!!!


When Damon showed the dagger to Stefan I keep saying. Please be Elijah's. And still his appareance was surprising and awesome.
Great episode. Loved that HRG was back as Caroline's dad.
Another Klaus and Damon encounter.
And an incredibly stupid Alaric. Seriously what's wrong with him?
Looks like the Dr. will be dead girlfriend #3.


It definitely broke my heart when Elena told Stefan about her kiss with Damon. I am Delena all the way, but that is not to say that I don't feel for that love that they had. I am confused about something, though. I feel like all of this time, Stefan was able to walk away from the girl that he loved because he knew that Damon would protect her. He also knew that there was something between them all along and it seemed like he was almost counting on that for them so that he would know that they were both happy and protected. Then in this episode, he seemed so shocked. I mean, I understand the initial reaction, but when he said that she was better than both of them, it just seemed to contradict everything. I don't know, it was hard for me to put that all together this time when I had thought that Stefan was counting on Damon's love for Elena to keep her safe.

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The Vampire Diaries Season 3 Episode 12 Quotes

Damon: What's her damage?
Alarc: No damage.
Damon: Come on, Ric. It's a fact of life. A girl that smart, that hot? Damaged.

Bonnie: What's going on with you two?
Damon: We kissed. Now it's weird.