The Vampire Diaries, Season 5, Episode 9: “The Cell”
Written by Melinda Hsu Taylor
Directed by Chris Grismer
Airs Thursdays at 8pm (ET) on The CW
The unexpected reveal of Damon’s past history with Augustine last week, alongside the exposure of Jesse to the campus at large, added intrigue and a personal investment to the previously low-stakes story. While previous allusions to the Augustine vampire had been ambiguous with regards to whether they were a part of the team or a captive, Damon’s recognition of the number proved that Jesse was not the first vampire the group had experimented on without their consent. This week’s episode focuses on Damon’s time in captivity with Augustine, in an entertaining episode that reveals more about both the secret society and the vampire himself.
Seeing Damon’s history with Augustine is a great way to expand on both the elder Salvatore and the society as a whole. Filling in Damon’s backstory during his time at Augustine helps give an understanding to his psychopathic nature near the beginning of the series, as well as his resentment towards his brother, and puts the character as a whole in a new light. At the same time, however, his vindictive nature towards the Whitmore family goes well beyond the pain he suffered, and his reveal earns him a new enemy in Aaron. It will be interesting to see how the reveals this week play into the larger story, particularly with regards to how others treat Damon with the reveal of both his vendetta against Whitmore and his time at Augustine. Aaron’s development in light of the revelations of this episode is also a promising story; with the reveal of both the knowledge of what Augustine stands for, and the knowledge of Damon’s involvement in his life and lineage, the character can go one of two ways now. He could either become an ally towards vampires and stand with them against Augustine, or he could become a ruthless vampire hunter himself, both of which would add another dimension to a character who has sadly failed to garner any real interest to date.
The exploration of the true nature of Augustine is also compelling. Despite a slow start, the story of a society of scientists that study vampires has managed to make itself intriguing over the past two weeks, and the reveal of the involvement of members of the Founders Council from Mystic Falls adds another layer of investment to the story. With Sheriff Forbes as the last remaining member of the original Founder’s Council, whether she can shed some more light on the society’s involvement with Mystic Falls, as well as what role the Gilbert patriarch truly played in the grand scheme.
The combination of Stefan and Katherine, in its new incarnation, is also a promising one, particularly with Caroline in the mix as well. As previous episodes have shown, putting Stefan with Caroline and putting him with Katherine shows two different sides of him altogether, which makes the trio fascinating to watch this week, and further interactions between vampire Caroline and human Katherine only add to it. With Katherine seemingly reconciled with her accelerated mortality, and Stefan taking the first steps to move past his PTSD, the combination of the two is the show’s biggest wildcard, as both are resourceful individuals with no lasting attachment to Mystic Falls. Despite losing her vampire capabilities, Katherine is still a cunning force to be reckoned with, and with his PTSD no longer crippling him, Stefan is no slouch either. Where the two of them go from here, as well as how Caroline, Nadia, and the remaining residents of Mystic Falls figure into the equation, if they’re involved at all, is worth keeping an eye on.
Overall, while being a relatively light episode, it is nonetheless an enjoyable one. It’s good to see Aaron finally get looped into the main plot and develop a sense of purpose, and hopefully this is a trend that continues. Enzo’s presence, and survival from the fire, adds another intriguing twist to Damon’s involvement in the Augustine saga, and it will be interesting to see what role he plays as the events progress. Bonnie’s absence his week is an odd occurrence, particularly since much of Elena’s actions revolve around the campus. Elena’s decision not to enlist Bonnie’s help is odd, and hopefully not a recurring trend. The absence of Matt is also felt this week, as the writers unfortunately seem to have squandered any potential for an independent storyline for Mystic Falls’ last remaining human. Hopefully he also gets a more active role in the coming episodes, alongside the younger Gilbert sibling. How Nadia Petrova fits into Katherine’s life now that she has accepted her mortality, as well as the inevitable reunion between Enzo and Damon, as well as the earlier points, are all worth tuning in for as the season progresses.
– Deepayan Sengupta