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+.


This episode made me realized how much of a Stelena fan I am. I never really cared for these "wars" but this episode made it clear that Stefan and Elena are soulmates.


I think that Meredith will steal Rick's ring and try to use it, but the ring won't work and she will die


I also think that it's Klaus' mother in the casker, i've been thinking it for a while now. She was THE witch who created the originals, so she must be albe to stop them ... and she also must be very very very pissed off because her son tried to kill her!


I just want to make it clear that I never wanted Elena to deceive Stefan by making it seem like Damon was to blame for the kiss. I wanted Stefan to know the truth. I said right from the start that I give Elena props for owning up to her changing feelings but SHE was the one that sort of deceived Stefan by making it seem like she initiated the kiss. She had just finished saying how she wanted Stefan to know what happened & then when she FINALLY had his full attention... she told him a half truth. I know that a couple of you were saying that she didn't want to place the blame on Damon because she really DID want to kiss him. But if you're telling the WHOLE TRUTH, she owed it to Stefan to say. "Damon kissed me & I kissed him back" or "Damon kissed me & I didn't stop it" To stick the knife into Stefan by making it seem like she was the one who pulled Damon into a kiss was wrong. And I hated that he never found out how it really went down. That's all that I was saying.


The Ugly so-so Stefan's silence and walking away was perfection. Also Elena finishing her it's over speech with ," I kissed Damon". However Stefan's comment's not so much. I get human Stefan rationalizing the end. This Stefan not so much, I mean c'mon. The supposed it love of his life just told him she kissed his brother. The guy fought through a Original's compulsion.. It was really hard to watch or believe his reaction. Is it to much to ask for Stefan to be given and it's over speech. At least something better than you better than him blah blah ,,,...
Stefan to Elena,


Elijah is back !!!
Easily making this the best episode of the season. Scrupulous Kiss :
The Good - The kiss that was hidden was finally given it's rightful place. Front and center should have been the name of the episode. Damon's quip about the kiss was perfection. As was Elena, kicking a guy while he's down. Know wonder Damon and Caroline our fan favorites. The writers treat them with such care and accuracy. The Bad - Bonnie's reaction was ridiculous to say the least. I recall (Not with great accuracy mind you) her almost burning down the house when she learned Elena had dinner with Damon. Also, considering later she informs her mom of her Grams death. (con't)


I think that Claus his mother had another child in Europe, where they came from and she looks exacly as Elena and knows a way to kill Claus and all originals forever.


I feel that everything that happened and with stefan leaving and turning bad and such was for a reason. If you noticed he said, theres something different about you. your stronger, tougher. You've changed." she needed to change in order to let go and in order to realize who she was. She is a stronger person now and I think they could still have a relationship it would be different but thats because shes changed, she knows what she wants know and who she wants to be. she is not scared of whats out there any more and she knows what she has to do in order to protect the people she loves.


I think the biggest moment of the show was Stefan and Elena and their moments together and how deeply hurt Stefan was when Elena told him about the kiss. I am so happy he apologized to her about the car and the bridge and Elena forgave him. Hopefully now she can forget about Damon and see that Stefan still loves her so much and has been doing everything to protect her. Stefan is sooo right when he told Elena that she is too good for Damon as that is so true. However, I think Elena is not too good for Stefan, as they belong together. Stefan punching Damon for kissing Elena was so great, as Damon deserves it so much and Stefan should have done much more than just a punch for his brother betraying him after everything Stefan has done for Damon. Overall, Elena and Stefan are awesome and they need to keep this great love going.


oooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhh Tyler and Caroline

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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.