The Vampire Diaries, Ep 5.21: “Promised Land” puts the vampires on the defensive

Nina Dobrev, Penelope Mitchell
Nina Dobrev, Penelope Mitchell

The Vampire Diaries, Season 5, Episode 21: “Promised Land”
Written by Rebecca Sonnenshine
Directed by Michael A. Allowitz
Airs Thursdays at 8pm (ET) on The CW

Since the beginning of the season, the Travelers have been a lurking threat over the Mystic Falls group, taking a special interest in Elena and Stefan. Their status as the last remaining doppelgangers have made them even more valuable, and their capture by the Travelers in last week’s episode presented a threat to all vampires. This week’s episode sees Markos and his followers put their grand plan into action, in a thrilling episode that sees the best laid plans of the Mystic Falls gang go awry, with potentially saddening results.

Understanding the philosophy of Markos and the Travelers is an intriguing aspect of this week’s episode. While the fact that the Travelers’ lives have been disrupted by witches has been touched on, the nature of their dispute hasn’t been revealed until now. As Liv and Luke display this week, the witches are not willing to take the Travelers’ newfound powers lightly, and the fight between them is only going to get worse after the Travelers’ attempt to roll back witch magic. It will be interesting to see how the witches retaliate after the events of this week. Considering that it is an intervention on behalf of a Traveler that ultimately stops the spell, it’s clear the witches are powerless when the Travelers get to full capacity. This would mean the witches are likely to attack the Travelers when they’re weaker, and how they go about that will be worth keeping an eye on. What alliances form in light of this upcoming fight will be particularly intriguing. Since the Travelers intend to wipe out vampires, it’s possible the two entities may team up, leading to werewolves, in return, working with Travelers. On the other hand, the witches and the vampires may find themselves at odds, especially if the witches see the vampires as collateral damage, the way Liv and Luke view Stefan and Elena. How the dynamics shake out in the fight will be very telling.

Chris Brochu, Nina Dobrev, Penelope Mitchell
Chris Brochu, Nina Dobrev, Penelope Mitchell

Stefan’s apparent death is also a surprising aspect of the episode, and one that is bound to have ramifications. This death puts Julian in a very difficult position, as it’s likely that both the vampires and the Travelers will now be gunning for him. While Stefan did have numerous friends in the vampire community, bringing him back from the Other Side does run the risk of allowing the Travelers to once again complete the spell. However, keeping him dead is also something many of the vampires are unlikely to accept, especially determined ones like Caroline and Elena, as well as dead friends of Stefan, such as Lexi. Stefan’s death may also lead the Travelers to make a deal with Bonnie to help her bring back people from the other side and save herself in exchange for Stefan. It will be interesting to see how the power structure changes in light of this death. It’s not inconceivable that many individuals will have conflicted feelings, wanting to see Stefan return to the land of the living, while not wanting the Travelers to complete their spells. How they handle this conflict, and whether or not it fractures the group, will be worth keeping an eye on. The potential for others to return is also promising. While it’s clear that Stefan and Bonnie will be the primary targets of stabilising the other side and bringing people back, individuals such as Enzo are unlikely to give up the opportunity willingly, and the friction from such a situation promises to be compelling.

Overall, this is a highly entertaining episode. It’s fun to see Stefan and Elena both talk about the positive qualities of Caroline, particularly as the latter has become a steadfast and loyal friend to both. The conversation is particularly poignant in light of the duo’s individual conversations with Caroline last week, and it will be worth seeing how the latter deals with Stefan’s death. While Elena and Damon are sure to do everything in their power to bring Stefan back, Caroline is just as likely to be right alongside them. Caroline also has her own crusade, however, in trying to get Tyler back and expel Julian from his body. While it’s a worthy goal, she may not have much immediate support in this endeavour, especially with Matt and Jeremy occupied elsewhere. This makes Caroline someone whose character arc can go in one of many exciting directions, depending on how she tries to save both her friends, and how much help she asks for, as well as from whom. Watching Damon square off against Markos is also a fascinating aspect of this week’s episode. While Damon is fighting for good, he has shown himself to not be above doing bad things to get a good result, and it’s fun to see him meet his match this episode. The pieces are all in place for a compelling season finale that promises to have ramifications no matter how things get resolved, and how everything will ultimately end up will be worth watching next week.

– Deepayan Sengupta

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