The Vampire Diaries Review: New Stakes

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I smell a season finale looming... and I also smell the awakening of some things that have been missing from The Vampire Diaries Season 5: actual stakes!

And, to be clear, I mean the kind of stakes that help make a story better, giving characters something tangible to work towards or against. Those are the kinds of stakes I’ve been missing from TVD, not the wooden kind.

As you might remember from last week’s review, our own EIC Matt Richenthal was very displeased with The Vampire Diaries Season 5 Episode 18 - and for good reason.

But I have uplifting news:  I proclaim this series is not ready to be staked (the deadly kind this time) for good because  The Vampire Diaries Season 5 Episode 19 gave us much to look forward to while we still muddle through a few things that still just aren’t working. Let’s go...

Delena, Schmela: Sorry, Delena fans, but when Damon told Elena that he didn’t want her in his life anymore last week, I was okay with that. In fact, Elena needs someone new outside the Salvatores. Like now.

In fact, let’s give everyone new romances next season and that includes gay Luke. He can’t be the only gay in Mystic Falls.  Just sayin’. 

The End of The Other Side: Is there anyone who is actually hoping the place where dead people go and never quite go away is saved? I doubt it, even if it means poor Bonnie may be a casualty along the way.

I suspect (from the post-mortem with show runner Caroline Dries and Ian Somerhalder that will be posted in the morning), the writers finally have realized just how empty death on this show has become since everyone comes back in some form or another. Get rid of The Other Side and we can all celebrate.

Enzo’s A Goner... Or... Case in point, Enzo literally helped Stefan take his heart and end his life... only to pass through Bonnie and show that he’s not gone at all and is going to continue his vengeance from the not-so-great beyond.

The only plus here is that I’m glad Michael Malarky isn’t gone, as he’s been a definite plus to the series this season and needs to stick around permanently. And in his scenes with his love, Maggie, you really got why he loved her so much and why his heart is so broken from her death.

Markos’ Plan: Yes, it took the whole episode for Markos to experiment on poor/hot Sloane, figuring how to strip a vampire from his or her vamp-ness and, also, conquer magic - but at least now we have something to work towards in these next episodes.

Though I do admit that I groaned a tad when Markos said that Tyler, being a hybrid, won’t hold a passenger as long as someone else. I’ll bet a dollar that Tyler will finally be able to get rid of that passenger at just the right time to suit the story. Any takers?

Flashbacks and JFK: I did find the flashbacks with Maggie looking for Damon interesting... maybe because the backdrop of JFK wasn’t as long as ago as some of the flashbacks we see on the show (and, no, I’m not that old to know that era first hand but I do know my US history).

And seeing how Damon killed Maggie was one of the more gruesome the show has done in awhile. I appreciated that. The fact that is was Damon, not Stefan, who killed Maggie? Not a shock.

Bonnie Lies To Jeremy: Told she may not have much longer in this or any world, Bonnie was all set to tell Jeremy goodbye ... before she chose not to. And she doesn’t tell him she sees Enzo when he’s dead and passes through her? I guess that will make whatever happens next all the more tragic for the lovers? *sigh*

Matt. Caroline: Hi, Matt. Hi, Caroline. Good to see you. 

Stefan Hides The Truth: Again, we’ve seen the device of secret hiding between the Salvatore brothers over and over and while I definitely am a Denzo fan and get why Stefan is holding the fact that he killed him from his brother, it all felt a little contrived, didn't it?

We know Damon will find out soon (especially with Enzo’s threats at the end of the episode) and then he’ll feel betrayed, he'll stay away from Stefan... until he needs him.. blah blah blah...

While tonight’s episode wasn’t perfect by any means - and there was obviously plenty for me to be snarky about - I did enjoy it more than past outings mostly because I feel as though we’re finally heading somewhere and it could be really fun.

In short, I haven’t given up the faith yet and I don’t think you should either.

Here is your first look at The Vampire Diaries Season 5 Episode 20, "What Lies Beneath."

Man on Fire Review

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Jim Halterman is the West Coast Editor of TV Fanatic and the owner of Follow him on Twitter.

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