The Vampire Diaries Season 5, Episode 4 (“For Whom the Bell Tolls”)
It is Remembrance Day in Mystic Falls, a day where people honor the dead by ringing bells for them and getting drunk. It seems like a perfect event for Mystic Falls which has an unusually high death rate for a small town. However in a town with so many supernatural beings, living and dead, what does it mean to really be dead? If supernatural beings can get stuck on the Other Side and watch everyone it is almost like they aren’t really dead. The creation of the Other Side is both a convenient device and a problematic one. Now that they have shown that people can come back from it (Jeremy, Qetsiyah) it takes away the fear that anyone is really dead.
Bonnie’s death is finally dealt with in this episode. Jeremy realizes that he cannot keep it from them anymore and tells everyone that she is dead. They hold a small memorial service for her, which she is able to watch and communicate with them through Jeremy. It even brings Tyler back for the first time this season. It is a touching scene, with everyone bringing a momento of their relationship with Bonnie. Bonnie reaches out to each one of them through Jeremy, saying how much she loves them and what she wants for them. But the scene should be sadder than it actually is. She is their best friend and she has been dead for months with none of them knowing. But with her on the Other Side and being a witch who brought the veil down before and brought Jeremy back, it just doesn’t feel like we are even supposed to think that Bonnie is dead for good. They don’t even have a public memorial, just a small private thing in the woods. Did they even tell anyone else that she is dead? This is where the Other Side gets problematic, if someone can come back then they aren’t really dead and thus I will never believe that someone is really dead for good. They always find a way. But that takes away the stakes in anyone’s death which is a problem for the show.
Before anyone realizes that Bonnie is dead, they are trying to use Remembrance Day to help Stefan with his amnesia. Elena and Damon are trying to make him remember. Damon is filling him in on their history, though conveniently editing certain nastier parts. He continuously tells Stefan that he is a ripper and therefore cannot even attempt to drink from a human (though apparently he is good with blood bags now?). But of course not remembering it he is tempted to see for himself. It is the classic situation of the more you tell someone not to do something, the more they are going to want to do it. So Damon definitely fails. Elena tries to remind him of the better parts of his life, mainly their relationship. She goes on about how great he was, reminding him of why he loved her. However she also conveniently leaves out that she left him for his brother. Elena also fails. However he is reminded of their betrayal and is angry about it all over again so he turns to Caroline, the one person he feels he can trust (fair), which is exactly what he did the first time.
Caroline also uses Remembrance Day to get closer to Jesse, both because she hopes it will lead her to more information about the coverup of their dead roommate and the shady Dr. Maxfield, and because she is kind of into him. And poor, good guy Jesse. He is also into Caroline and is excited just to be spending the day with her and then he is almost killed by Stefan, Caroline has to save him with her blood, and then Dr. Maxfield turns him into a vampire. He appears to be interested in the science of it all, but what he is up to is not yet clear. Jesse was too nice to just be let be so clearly he was fated to either be secretly evil or something terrible was going to happen to him and it seems that the latter is true.
This episode should have been better than the previous two. It turned the focus away from the Silas plot and focused more on the main characters, specifically the emotional loss of Bonnie and Stefan’s amnesia. However neither of these things feel permanent so they are used more to stall the show while it figures out what to do with the various plots going on. The show definitely continues to struggle at the beginning of this season without any real emotional stakes in any of the plots. What has set this show apart from other supernatural dramas is the emotional investment in the characters and their development. As well as its contemplation on what it means to be human and what it means to lose humanity. It just needs to figure that out again.
Episode Grade: 6/10
- Damon has Stefan read his journals to fill him in on his history and he reads the same passage that Damon read to Elena when he brought her to Chicago to save Stefan in season 3.
- Stefan: “Wait. Let me guess. Fun brother, safe brother”
- Amnesia Stefan is pretty fun, not remembering all his tragedy and guilt he is a lot less wound up.
- Damon: “There are two types of vampires in the world. There are those that can handle moderation, and then there’s you”
- Stefan/Damon: “What kind of name is Honoria Fell?” “Shh, you’re kinda the one that killed her”
- Elena and Stefan were being incredibly flirtatious this episode and she lets it continue until he is two seconds away from kissing her. Can they not just leave the love triangle alone for a second?
- Caroline and Jesse are studying in the cemetery while everyone is ringing bells – they severely anthropomorphize the Red Queen Hypothesis.
- Why did Jeremy specifically decide to tell Damon that Bonnie was dead? Wouldn’t he have felt the need to tell someone a bit closer to Bonnie? Like Elena or Matt?
- Damon acts like he is upset about Bonnie’s death only because of the effect it will have on Elena but he definitely likes Bonnie more than he is willing to admit.
- Stefan: “How is it cosmically possible to get in two accidents on the same bridge?”
- What everyone put on the stump for Bonnie:
- Elena puts in feathers, calling back to the first time Bonnie demonstrated her magic for Elena and it was just pure and nice.
- Caroline left a pom-pom – they were cheerleaders remember??
- Matt leaves a whistle?
- Damon leaves an old book, I’m guessing it was a grimoire
- Body Count: None!