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The Vampire Diaries, Ep 5.04: “For Whom the Bell Tolls” explores the inner workings of Stefan

The Vampire Diaries, Ep 5.04: “For Whom the Bell Tolls” explores the inner workings of Stefan
Candice Accola, Kendrick Sampson

Candice Accola, Kendrick Sampson

The Vampire Diaries, Season 5, Episode 4: “For Whom the Bell Tolls”
Written by Brett Matthews and Elisabeth R. Finch
Directed by Michael A. Allowitz
Airs Thursdays at 8pm (ET) on The CW

While last week’s episode gave the Mystic Falls gang a slight win in their fight against Silas, the loss of Silas’ mind control capabilities came at the price of Stefan’s memory. A reboot like this can often be a good opportunity to reveal a character’s true instincts, but can similarly be a memorably bad addition to a show’s canon if handled poorly. Fortunately, this week’s episode of The Vampire Diaries is an example of the former, as a major misstep doesn’t hinder an otherwise compelling installment.

Jeremy’s reveal of Bonnie’s death is a very uncomfortable moment, though possibly intentionally so. But the choice of Jeremy to reveal Bonnie’s death despite her protests, combined with her inability to prevent him, puts the entire interaction in the context of an unequal power dynamic that doesn’t put the younger Gilbert in a positive light. In addition, Damon’s reaction to Bonnie’s death is also quite poor, as he frames it as bad only in the sense that it will affect Elena, and not in the sense that someone he has known for a long time, and who has repeatedly helped him in the past, is now dead. The show does this in a larger context at Bonnie’s memorial as well, where it serves as a reunion for Caroline and Tyler, taking away from the moment.

However, the subsequent exploration of what she means to everyone in Mystic Falls is well done. Following Caroline’s turn into a vampire, Bonnie often felt like the odd one out, and the memorial serves as a good way to reinforce her personal value to the group. Her death also highlights the need for the team to get more creative with their adversaries, particularly those who also have witches on their side. It will also be interesting to see what Bonnie’s dynamic will be with the group from here on out, as she is still able to communicate with them through Jeremy, and might be able to provide some help against witches. There is also a possibility that the acceptance of her death will also make her realise, and rebel against, her role as the group’s quick fix solution.

Paul Wesley

Paul Wesley

Stefan’s story is also an engrossing one this week. Stripping him of his memories allows the audience to get a look at what really makes him tick, something that is rarely glimpsed in a character so guarded. His attraction to Elena is interesting to observe in light of Qetsiyah’s reveal last week, as it brings up a question of whether or not the attraction is simply nature’s way of course-correcting Qetsiyah’s actions, or if it is actually genuine. If the former is true, it might indicate a hand of fate stronger than anything, even the conscious memories of an individual, which would make for a compelling struggle during the season. It’s also nice to see the Stefan-Caroline friendship survive Stefan’s reboot. The way both these individuals have helped each other out through difficult times has been a highlight of the show, and the possibility of seeing more interactions between the two is definitely something to look forward to.

Overall, despite the poor handling of the reveal of Bonnie’s death, this is a good episode. Tyler’s return is a positive sign, and hopefully he is here to stay, as the presence of a hybrid adds an interesting dynamic, no matter what group he chooses to go with. Silas still remains an unpredictable entity, despite Qetsiyah’s actions last week, and his absence this week does not bode well for the Mystic Falls group. Matt’s story, despite getting only a small amount of focus this week, continues to be fascinating as well, particularly as he continues to have to fight the Travellers on his own. How Matt deals with the revelation that he’s a vessel for someone else, as well as how Stefan copes with the loss of his memories and what is the true intention of the campus secret society, are all promising storylines, and it’s worth watching to see how it all plays out.

– Deepayan Sengupta

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