The Vampire Diaries, Ep. 4.21, “She’s Come Undone”: Strong ep brings needed character, if not plot, growth

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Promo pic for The Vampire Diaries, "She's Come Undone", S04E21

The Vampire Diaries, Season 4, Episode 21: “She’s Come Undone”
Written by Michael Narducci and Rebecca Sonnenshine
Directed by Darnell Martin
Airs Thursdays at 8pm (ET) on the CW

This week, on The Vampire Diaries: Katherine has fun with Elena, Caroline has a heart to heart with her mom, and Bonnie has a plan

Most of this season of The Vampire Diaries has been plagued by one of a few missteps. First Elena lost her agency thanks to her sire-bonding to Damon, then Bonnie fell increasingly under the sway of the obviously ill-intentioned Professor Shane, and then finally, Elena switched off her emotions, acted like a brat, and lost whatever sympathy the audience had left for her. While many of the issues created by these poor decisions remain, fortunately at this point each of them has been addressed and corrected, though there’s little sense that the PtB ever saw them as problems.

The resolution of the emotionless Elena storyline is effective and affecting, though it does little to counteract the damage done to the character and the series during this arc. Once again, the show turns to Matt to find its emotional core. The character remains frustratingly unexplored (what do we know about Matt, besides that he’s a standup guy who likes plaid shirts?), but as in “Stand by Me”, Zach Roerig does a lot with what he’s given. Earnest can get old very quickly, especially when it seems to be a character’s only descriptor, but Roerig plays it well. The entire sequence from his confrontation with Elena to her switch back is great (and by the way, it feels wonderful to be able to say that about this show again).

Screencap from The Vampire Diaries, "She's Come Undone", S04E21

It’s also a nice touch to have Caroline several steps ahead of the Salvatores, fully aware that pain won’t bring Elena back, only somehow tapping into her much-discussed empathy and love. She’s known Elena longer than Stefan or Damon; it makes sense that she’d have a truer read. Of course, that doesn’t help her come up with a better plan than torture, but the point remains. Caroline’s other scenes, her cat and mouse with Silas, are actually very effective, though flashing to his actual face during the sequence seems like an odd choice. The writers have made Silas too powerful- there is no possible way for any of the characters except for Bonnie to defend against him. Caroline’s call to her mom’s cell is presented as a clever move, but what’s faking a cell phone to someone who can make people believe they’re dying? They can’t trust anything they hear, see, smell, or even feel. Yes, it’s effective television, watching Caroline attempt to flee a menacing Silas, but the instant he stopped toying with her and got serious she wouldn’t stand a chance.

The episode gets a lot of mileage out of putting Sheriff Forbes in danger- the show has killed off characters this meaninglessly several times recently (as opposed to earlier in its run, where the bodies dropped like flies, but each death had weight), so killing Liz offscreen actually felt plausible, though it would’ve been one hell of a frustration. Candice Accola, removed from Caroline’s unfortunate Klaus/Tyler triangle, is once again a highlight, acting as an audience surrogate as we wait in suspense, hoping that the series won’t kill off one of its very few wholly likeable characters, half the show’s remaining human population, and its only remaining adult (theoretically, Meredith Fell or Bonnie’s dad would count too, but they seem to have disappeared again). The series is more interesting when the humans have a way to contribute, or at least participate in a non-bait capacity. That won’t work with the show’s continual escalation of its supernatural Big Bads, but hopefully Julie Plec and co. will come up with something useful for Liz (and Matt, for that matter) to do next season.

Candice Accola in The Vampire Diaries, "She's Come Undone", S04E21

As for Bonnie, it’s nice to see some forward momentum from her this week. Her calm, measured, and almost pleasant conversation with Katherine is a bit much (this is the woman who killed Jeremy, a loss she felt so wholly that she went to the Dark Side for a couple weeks), but it’s about time someone at least started trying to formulate a plan to take down Silas. With his potential omniscience (being able to read everyone’s minds except Bonnie’s), she’s the only one who should logically be in to any extent on a scheme like this, but that doesn’t seem particularly narratively satisfying, so it will be interesting to see what the writers come up with in the next few weeks to get around this.

That being said, while Elena’s desire to hunt down Katherine is reasonable and completely justified, her focus on this when everyone watching knows the real problem is Silas is groan-inducing. Elena’s already had too much filler this season and it’s highly doubtful the series is willing to kill a character as versatile as Katherine. Can’t we get on with the season arc already? It’s very hard to care about the Big Bad when a majority of our main characters don’t. There are only two episodes left and the series seems determined to spend a not-insignificant chunk of that on the Mystic Falls High graduation. That’s not enough time to salvage what’s been a mess of a season, but hopefully it is enough to refocus and go out well.

What did you think of this episode? Anyone else wish Rebekah was staying in Mystic Falls next year? Did you peg the Gilbert ring as Matt’s out? Which scene got you more- Matt and Elena or Caroline and her mom? Post your thoughts below!

Kate Kulzick

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