The Vampire Diaries, Season 5, Episode 11: “500 Years of Solitude”
Written by Julie Plec and Caroline Dries
Directed by Chris Grismer
Airs Thursdays at 8pm (ET) on The CW
Katherine’s impending mortality has been a hanging shadow over the character throughout the course of the season. With the cure out of her system, and her body rejecting vampire blood, her death seemed like more of an inevitability with every passing day. This week’s episode brings the character to death’s door, pushing the rest of the group to assess how they feel about her, in a strong episode that manages to garner sympathy for Katherine while still remaining true to certain traits of the character.
Watching the characters of Mystic Falls come to terms with Katherine is a strong aspect of the episode. The character has a rich history with the town’s inhabitants, having interacted with all of them at some point. While she has helped a number of them, most recently working with Caroline to crack the Augustine mystery, her position as a villain is also undeniable. She has always had her own concerns at heart above everyone else’s, but her story is one that most of the characters can sympathise with. In light of all this, the conflict many feel with regards to her is understandable, and it will be interesting to see how these same characters react to the imminent demise of other characters who straddle that line, such as Damon. In light of many of them, including Elena, deciding not to hold Katherine’s various crimes against her, it will also be promising to see how they react to her final move of using Elena. In many ways, Katherine’s actions are a perfect representation of the character, and proof that no matter how others may feel about her, in the end, any animosity directed towards Katherine is warranted. While her actions may be chalked up to her circumstances, in the end, she doesn’t have any regrets, and that’s the most damning aspect of her.
Damon’s self-reflection in light of Katherine is also intriguing. While the two characters are similar in how they come across to others, Damon’s clearly been more regretful of what he has done in the past, and has taken steps to redeem himself, though he has always been in danger of backsliding. How he conducts himself from now on will be worth seeing, for while he does initiate the discussion of all the ways Katherine has harmed the people of Mystic Falls, seeing all the animosity others have towards her does seem to affect him. Particularly coupled with his talk with Stefan, it will be good to see if this leads to some genuine growth on Damon’s part. The forgiveness that comes to Katherine is inspired by pity, and is likely to be rescinded once her actions this week come to life; Damon, however, has an opportunity to genuinely earn the forgiveness of everyone he has wronged in Mystic Falls, a lesson he’s given an opportunity to learn this week. Whether or not he does so, or whether he allows his self-loathing nature to continue to control him, will be very telling for the show as a whole, as well as how everyone relates to Damon.
While an unexpectedly low-key return from hiatus for the show, this is nonetheless an effective episode. The return of the Travelers is an intriguing development, particularly with their collection of Stefan and Elena’s blood, and how they factor into the story going forward is something worth keeping an eye on. It will also be interesting to see how long Katherine is able to keep up her latest deception, particularly as she has previously fooled people by pretending to be Elena, but never for any length of time. It’s also good to see Bonnie, Jeremy, and Matt make appearances this week, and hopefully this doesn’t precede another lengthy absence on their part. The return of Klaus and Rebekah is also a welcome one, although it’s regrettable that the episode doesn’t spend more time with Matt and Rebekah. With Tyler now active both on this show and The Originals, his return is an interesting development, as his actions could have ramifications both in Mystic Falls and New Orleans. What the group plans to do once they realise Katherine isn’t dead, and what the Travelers intend to do with the doppelganger blood, are both promising developments that are worth following as the season continues.
– Deepayan Sengupta