The Vampire Diaries, Ep 5.16: “While You Were Sleeping” examines the effects of Elena’s trauma

Nina Dobrev
Nina Dobrev

The Vampire Diaries, Season 5, Episode 16: “While You Were Sleeping”
Written by Caroline Dries
Directed by Pascal Verschooris
Airs Thursdays at 8pm (ET) on The CW

Despite the Mystic Falls group successfully expelling Katherine from Elena’s body, they weren’t out of the woods yet, as Katherine’s parting gift to Elena was a stronger version of Damon’s ripper virus. With the group still struggling to cure the elder Salvatore of his thirst for vampire blood, this presented a new obstacle for which they were ill-prepared. This week’s episode focuses on Elena’s reaction to the virus, as well as being trapped in her body by Katherine, in an entertaining outing that introduces a few new variables to the show’s mix.

The reveal of Liv as a powerful witch interested in Bonnie’s status as an anchor is an intriguing development this week. In many ways, approaching Bonnie as a burgeoning witch was a shrewd move on the part of Liv and Luke. Bonnie’s connection to magic has been a key part of her identity, from the bond it helped her form with her grandmother, to her experimentation with Expression. Her inability to do magic thus had to have had an effect on Bonnie since her return, despite being the anchor. It will be interesting to see, thus, how Bonnie reacts to losing a protégé once she learns of Liv’s true nature. On the other hand, the presence of a witch who seemingly is interested in the well-being of the Mystic Falls group would once again give them an advantage when battling adversaries, particularly if they have to face the Travelers as a group again. Liv’s potential addition to the group is bound to have a different dynamic than Bonnie’s time as a witch. While Bonnie had an emotional connection to the people she helped in Mystic Falls, Liv will be in more of a pragmatic relationship with them, allowing her to make decisions in line with her own moral compass, rather than as part of an obligation to a close friend. How this affects the group’s plans going forward will be worth keeping an eye on.

Chris Brochu
Chris Brochu

The emergence of the new doppelganger also adds an interesting wrinkle to the events. With Tessa’s reveal early in the season about doppelgangers popping up every so often, it wasn’t difficult to deduce that a Stefan doppelganger would be present in tandem with Elena. His work as a paramedic indicates that he’s inclined towards saving others, which in a way makes him a fit with the Mystic Falls group, and may give Caroline pause before she kills him. In addition, the doppelganger, while potentially unaware of the existence of supernatural creatures, may be more cooperative than anticipated due to this inclination, making him an ally of the Mystic Falls group in their fight against the Travelers. How the doppelganger reacts to the situation as a whole promises to be fascinating. If he is indeed unaware of supernatural entities, as may be the case, having the Travelers as adversaries throws him face-first into the conflict, rather than gently easing him into it. How he reacts to this is going to be very telling with regards to whether the doppelganger is someone who will become a valuable ally, or an unpredictable member whose presence throws an unintentional wrench in the plans. It will also be interesting to see whether the Mystic Falls group ends up invested in the life of the doppelganger. Between Tessa and Dr. Maxfield, the encounters the group have had with the Travelers have been thorny, if not outright antagonistic, but the threat to someone they like directly by the Travelers may tip the scales in that regard.

Overall, this is a solid episode. It’s nice to see Elena return, following weeks of captivity inside her own body, and her reaction to the trauma reveals a lot about how she views herself. It’s curious to note that, while Stefan also saw himself being impersonated by Silas, his trauma revolved around his repeated deaths while in the safe. Elena’s issue, on the other hand, revolves around her reactions to Katherine living her life unnoticed, and the damage she caused. While Elena’s fears are exacerbated by the werewolf venom hallucinations, the trauma of both characters revolve around the fact that their doppelgangers caused them to lose control and become a victim to circumstance, powerless to stop whatever was happening. This gives Stefan and Elena new common ground that they do not share with anyone else, and whether or not they seek out each other to help with the lingering effects of their ordeals will be worth keeping an eye on. Enzo’s actions this week also make him a curious character; with Augustine effectively dissolved, there’s nothing keeping him captive anymore. However, his continued work with the Travelers indicates that he’s profiting from their actions in some way as well. In addition, the Travelers trusting him to deliver the cure to Damon and Elena, as well as kill Stefan’s doppelganger, shows that they have a level of trust in him that was absent in his interactions with Dr. Maxfield. How Bonnie and the group react to the real reason behind Liv and Luke’s presence, as well as what the Travelers have planned and how it affects the doppelgangers, are storylines worth keeping an eye on as the season progresses.

– Deepayan Sengupta

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