The Vampire Diaries, Season 5, Episode 6: “Handle With Care”
Written by Caroline Dries and Holly Brix
Directed by Jeffrey Hunt
Airs Thursdays at 8pm (ET) on The CW
Turning Silas mortal at the end of last week, in true Vampire Diaries fashion, reconfigured the stakes once again. As he had gotten what he needed from Katherine, Silas’ fight with Qetsiyah over the purgatory for supernatural beings became the central conflict once again; this week’s episode turns the focus to the search for the anchor, in another strong entry into the season that fixes up a major issue.
One of the best aspects of the episode is the course correction it undergoes with regards to the female characters on the show. While the last few weeks have seen the women unfortunately be nothing more than puppets to the whims of the male characters, this week allows them to re-assert themselves and once again point out their level of power. The most glaring example of this is the new team of Katherine and Caroline, which is an inspired team-up. Putting Katherine in Elena’s place at the college allows Elena to be more involved in the events occurring at Mystic Falls, and with Silas now cured of immortality, it also gives Katherine a reason to stay involved in the proceedings. It will be very interesting to see how the dynamic between Caroline and Katherine develops with their new arrangement, particularly given their past history and the immense change Caroline has undergone as a character since Katherine turned her. If Elena’s absence turns into an extended one, it could bode poorly for either character, as Katherine may be able to corrupt Caroline, but Caroline does have the upper hand now, with Katherine’s mortality. How things shape up between them, as well as with them and Augustine, is very promising.
Watching Qetsiyah re-assert her power this week is also intriguing. Much of her capabilities to date have been more tell than show, with the notable exception of her burning out Stefan’s conscious memory. Her efforts this week, however, go a long way to bringing a level of validity to the legend, and marking her as another force to look out for. Her actions this week also further cement her as an antagonist to the Mystic Falls group, which makes their actions going forward worth keeping an eye on, as they will now have to navigate two parties, Qetsiyah and Silas, neither of whom like them.
The reveal of the Augustine society this week is also an interesting development. While the motivations of the group still remain murky, having Katherine infiltrate them is a promising move, as her newfound mortality ensures that she will be unable to do much damage to them physically. However, her alliance with Caroline in fighting the Professor also shows that she still has a few tricks up her sleeve, and her presence and mortality both combine to ensure that the relationship dynamic of the group to Augustine will be quite different from their relationship to the Founders Council. Dr. Maxfield’s study of the vampire transformation, as well as Katherine’s use of him to try to stem the rapid aging she is undergoing, is a good way to bring him into the fold, and whether or not Augustine notices his compulsion, or if he himself is able to break out of it somehow, are all intriguing avenues for the character.
Largely aided by re-asserting characters such as Caroline, this is another strong outing for the show. The discovery of Amara as the anchor adds another dimension to Qetsiyah’s plans, as does her return of Stefan’s memories. The return of Stefan’s memories itself is also a compelling development, and it will be worth keeping an eye on to see how he reacts to the sudden rush of emotions brought about by the memories. Jeremy’s interactions with Bonnie continue to be touching, and her hatred of Silas for what he did to her father is effectively conveyed by Kat Graham’s performance, even if it is never explicitly stated. Nina Dobrev and Paul Wesley both continue to do fantastic work, as Dobrev manages to give three distinct portrayals this week, narrowly overshadowing Wesley’s two unique characters that take up much of the episode. Along with the aforementioned points, what the ultimate goal of the Travelers is, and how Matt and Nadia factor into it, are all worth tuning in for as the season progresses.
– Deepayan Sengupta