The Vampire Diaries tries to make Whitmore into Mystic Falls 2.0

The Vampire Diaries Season 5, Episode 5 (“Monster’s Ball”)
Nina Dobrev and Ian Somerhalder, The Vampire Diaries

Whitmore is starting to look more and more like a college version of Mystic Falls. They too have a society that learns who the vampires are on campus and covers up any evidence of their existence. They also like to throw parties. The show is trying to make Whitmore into a replacement for Mystic Falls in order to make the college transition work, but unfortunately it relies on a lot of unrealistic circumstances. What college throws a ball that anyone can attend including students (even people who aren’t students) and professors? I have never really been able to get on board with the creation of Whitmore and this episode really starts their attempt to make it just as important a part of the story as Mystic Falls was in the early seasons, but it just doesn’t work for me. This episode uses the Whitmore Historical Ball to bring everyone together and have some overlap in the plots (kind of) but it is a bit of a stretch.

First, Qetsiyah is at the ball. Why? Well conveniently the Whitmore Historical Society is in possession of just the talisman she needs to do a locator spell to find the anchor to the Other Side which has been hidden by the Travelers. Of all of the places that it could have ended up, it just happens to be at the same small college in Virginia that Elena and Caroline are currently attending. But it allows for that plot to be happening at the same physical location as the Whitmore plot which is advancing as well in this episode. Elena is trying to figure out what happened to her roommate (in some way she feels it will make up for her not realizing that Bonnie was dead sooner). She tries to befriend Aaron, a guy who was friends with Megan as a kid and just happens to be under Dr. Maxfield’s legal guardianship, whose shady factor is quickly increasing. He admits to Elena that he knows she is a vampire and warns her to leave school. At the same time though he is becoming a mad scientist type with Jesse as he experiments on him now that he is a vampire. He treats Jesse more like a research subject than a human being, despite having been his mentor. But if he hates vampires, as he clearly does, why does he warn Elena? Does he just hate vampires and want her to leave? Is it because he liked her dad and wants to protect her in some way?

Meanwhile, Damon wants to bring Bonnie back from the Other Side and makes a deal with Silas to bring her back if he helps him die as a mortal. Damon has to do some pretty shady stuff to get there. He repeatedly snaps Stefan’s neck to temporarily give Silas his mind control power back. He also gives Katherine over to Silas, knowing that he will kill her to get the cure. Both of these are kind of morally gray areas for vampires, and especially Damon. Sure, snapping Stefan’s neck doesn’t really hurt him, but it is not something you typically do to the people you love. It is also difficult to feel sympathy for Katherine. Most of the trouble she has been in as been of her own making, thought it really all started because Klaus wanted to kill her because she was a doppelgänger. But it is not so much surprising that Damon would do any of this, the most surprising is that Elena doesn’t seem to have too much of a problem with it. Is it Damon influencing her? Or is it just because she is finally settling into being a vampire? Last season she was either overridden with guilt and grief or she had her humanity turned off. This is the first we have seen her actually accepting what she is and in that way it is good to see her becoming more comfortable with it all. But it would be tragic if that happened at the expense of her losing who she is. She hates Katherine but it doesn’t seem like she would have killed her just as a means to an end.

This episode continued to highlight my frustrations with this season so far. It at least tried to make some difficult choices for the characters. How far is Damon willing to go to bring back Bonnie? Does he just want to bring her back as a gesture to Elena? I don’t really think that is true, even if that is the narrative Stefan is going with. Bonnie has been a very useful witch for them and without her there they have definitely struggled. And under all of that sarcasm and inability to show appreciation, I do think Damon likes Bonnie as well. But we have always known that Damon would do anything for Elena so the more interesting question is how far Elena is willing to go. Her morality has changed somewhat, but again that it is part of being a vampire. I would much rather see her get caught in some morally gray areas than the guilt ridden vampire she was in season 4, but it will be interesting to see just how much she has changed.

Episode Grade: 5.5/10

Other Thoughts:

  • Elena back to writing in her diary… “Dear Diary, do you ever get sick of me talking about death?”
  • Tyler returns only to leave again. He is still obsessed with Klaus and getting revenge on him. He doesn’t like the feeling that Klaus is still somehow controlling his life by allowing him to be with Caroline. So he leaves to go do a couple of episodes on The Originals, which as I recall pretty much results in nothing.
  •  Damon: “Why do you suck so badly at killing yourself?”
  • Nadia is actually Katherine’s long lost daughter. She seems to have been after Katherine because she was mad at her for abandoning her but when she learns that Katherine actually went back to Bulgaria to look for her, she softens.
  • Is Silas able to mind control Qetsiyah? I thought witches couldn’t be compelled? Or is that only by vampires?
  • Dr. Maxfield going to the ball as Dr. Jekyll was a little too on the nose. Also a terrible costume because how do you dress just as Jekyll?
  • Damon: “Takes a licking, keeps on ticking”
  • Body Count: None!

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