The Vampire Diaries, Ep. 4.14, “Down the Rabbit Hole”: Character return injects arc with energy, fun

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The Vampire Diaries S04E14 promo pic3

The Vampire Diaries, Season 4, Episode 14: “Down the Rabbit Hole”
Written by Jose Molina
Directed by Chris Grismer
Airs Thursdays at 8pm (ET) on the CW

This week, on The Vampire Diaries: Caroline and Tyler say goodbye again, Jeremy has a bad day, and Silas stirs

This is an eventful episode, even by The Vampire Diaries standards. Tyler takes off for points unknown, after Caroline negotiates him a head start, Klaus escapes his invisible box when Bonnie is stabbed by a returned Katherine, Jeremy appears to be dead after being fed to Silas, who has awoken at least enough to snap his neck (fingers crossed he brought his ring), and Katherine manages to run off with the single dose that is the Cure. There’s also plenty of carnage dealt out by and to Elena, Stefan, Damon, and Rebekah and new Hunter Vaughn to deal with. After months of measured to downright slow pacing, “Down the Rabbit Hole” kicks it back up a notch and is all the better for having done so.

Let’s begin with Mystic Falls, where the stakes are a bit lower, though perhaps more personal. Candice Accola remains one of the highlights of the series and her scenes with both Joseph Morgan and Michael Trevino demonstrate why. Caroline is the most independent, powerful, and entertaining character on the show at this point and a reminder of what the norm used to be for all the female characters, though thankfully the characterizations of both Bonnie and Elena seem to be heading back this direction. Accola’s warmth, poise, and sincerity sell Klaus’ somewhat poorly explored love of Caroline as well as the latest in a long line of goodbyes between Caroline and Tyler. Trevino, who’s not always the most nuanced actor, is also very good in this farewell scene; maturity looks good on Tyler and hopefully when he eventually returns we’ll get to see more of the same rather than the character’s more petulant side.

Down the Rabbit Hole

The rest of the action takes place up in Nova Scotia on Silas’ Island (sorry, Lost still has the rights to The Island). Unfortunately, Vaughn, the Hunter introduced at the end of the previous episode, is somewhat of a disappointment after Connor and his reasoning for appearing at this particular moment isn’t addressed, let alone convincingly explained. His gadgets are fun, and it’d be nice to see Damon and co. recreate some of these for their coming conflict with Klaus, but with so much going on, his few scenes needed to give us far more to hold on to in both dialogue and performance than we get here.

The reveal of the Cure as a one-time-only deal is not particularly surprising, as an actual permanent cure for vampirism would break the show, but each character’s reaction is satisfying, with Elena and Stefan immediately returning to their usual, more passive approach and Rebekah and Damon motivated to action. Bonnie and Jeremy’s scenes together are pretty great and a reminder of how well the two worked back when they were initially paired (before he cheated with GhostAnna). Folding in Jeremy’s medium abilities works well and fortunately spares the audience an expected, prolonged SilasGrams sequence and Bonnie and Jeremy’s immediate dismissal of Shane is satisfying. In fact, every single character’s clear disdain for and ignoring of Shane is entertaining. Hopefully we’ve reached the end of our time with Professor Shane.

What fans will be talking about this week, though, is the return of Katherine. With The Originals pilot looming, easy money was on Elijah as the unseen third party lurking on Silas’ Island. Instead we get Katherine and she has the potential to be a much more interesting new party, as she, of all the vampires we know, seems the least likely to want the cure for herself. She has as much motivation to defang Klaus as anyone, so should this all come back to him, as it does for Elena and Stefan, a team up could easily be on the way.

Down the Rabbit Hole

Katherine’s appearance here is particularly effective thanks to her lengthy absence from the series (she last showed up in season three’s “Homecoming”, which aired back in November 2011). The PtB’s restraint in waiting to use Katherine ‘til now has paid off and it should be a lot of fun to watch Nina Dobrev and the rest of the cast play with this always entertaining character back in the mix. Katherine lets Dobrev chew a bit more scenery and she usually makes the most of it- even her few moments this week add a bit of unpredictability and energy to the episode. All in all, “Down the Rabbit Hole” is an entertaining, if flawed, episode and one that hints at plenty more twists and fun to come. It’s reassuring to see a return to fast-paced storytelling and hopefully there will be plenty more like this in the coming weeks.

What did you think of the episode? Think Silas will rise next week or will that be an end-of-season arc? Is this the end for Jeremy and Bonnie, or do the writers have a trick up their sleeves? Why does Katherine want the Cure? Post your thoughts below!

Kate Kulzick

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