Katherine is the villain The Vampire Diaries needed

The Vampire Diaries Season 5, Episode 13 (“Total Eclipse of the Heart”)
Nina Dobrev, The Vampire Diaries

Katherine is exactly the villain the show needed to pump some life into this season. She represents more than just an obstacle to overcome, she has so much history with all of the characters in this show and she knows how to hurt them. She knew exactly how to twist the knife with Damon and send him spiraling. And she is willing to sacrifice anyone who may threaten her Elena-façade, or her chance to win Stefan back. But in addition to her wickedness, she is fun and has been able to garner some sympathy from her backstory. Making her a great villain.

Katherine is loving being Elena but is struggling to care about the things, and people, that she cares about. She has to pretend like she is sad about Damon. And with Damon and Enzo threatening Jeremy, she has to feign concern over Elena’s brother. She uses it as a ploy to get Stefan to feel sorry for her and to demonstrate that Damon is a bad guy. She is mostly a fun villain in this episode as she weighs the pros and cons of letting Jeremy die. While rolling her eyes the whole time. But we also see the danger. Katherine is selfish and would likely let anyone die if they got in her way or threatened to expose her.

With Katherine as the villain, the show is finally getting back to the character development it has been sorely lacking. Damon is spiraling out of control after “Elena” broke up with him. He is reverting back to his old self, it is easier to be hated than to try and change. It was fun to see a return of the old, over dramatic Damon from season 1, but with Ian Somerhalder with a better confidence in the character. He is reacting in exactly the way we would expect after “Elena” destroyed him. If being the good guy isn’t enough for Elena, then he may as well be the bad guy. He even has a friend now to help him. He and Enzo team up to carry out the revenge plan against the Augustine Society. They kidnap and kill the Whitmore head of security who covered up Megan’s death. They also threaten Jeremy to make Bonnie get a witch and do a locator spell to find Dr. Maxfield. Unfortunately for Damon, the karmic payback for this is getting injected with the vampire-eating disease.

The best part of the episode was Stefan’s evolution with the Elena and Damon situation. Stefan doesn’t want to lose Damon after everything they have been through over the past few years. Since the beginning of the series we have seen their relationship repair after almost 150 years of estrangement. It is not perfect, but they are closer than they have ever been and Stefan doesn’t want to lose it over Elena. He sees how much better Damon has become since being with Elena and that is more important to him than their love triangle drama. He also admits that not only is she good for Damon, but he has been there for her too. Even with all of the horrible things he has done. Stefan’s change of heart here is great for his character as well as for the show because they had pretty much exhausted the love triangle, and now Stefan can move on from it.

Matt and Tyler get a rare moment to shine while they are the only ones putting things together. Matt actually figures out that Katherine took over Elena’s body, but Nadia keeps him from being able to tell anyone. Tyler knows Matt is being compelled by Nadia but can’t figure out why. The show often struggles to incorporate these two characters, especially when they aren’t dating Caroline. They are usually used in schemes but are hardly ever the brains of the operation, so it was nice to see them get to play that role for once.

While not quite as good as the last episode, this plot still proves to be much better than anything else that has happened this season. There wasn’t a lot of plot advancement other than Damon getting injected with the vampire disease, meaning that we are not quite done with the mad scientist plot. At least it is more of a secondary plot at this point and not the main focus. But with this plot the characters are really able to shine and that has always been the shows secret to success, deep character development behind the façade of crazy plots.

Episode Grade: 8/10

Other Thoughts:

  • Event of the Episode: The Bitter Ball at Whitmore. Caroline forces Elena and Bonnie to go to the Bitter Ball so that she and Elena can nurse their broken hearts. Bonnie goes for moral support.
  • There is a paper shredder at the ball so people can shred photos and such of their exes. Caroline shreds both a picture of her and Tyler as well as the horse that Klaus drew her, which was a fun call back to season 3.
  • We meet Liv Parker, another witch at Whitmore that Bonnie guides through doing a locator spell. She hasn’t practiced much and doesn’t know how to control her magic. Bonnie says she will help her.
  • “Matty Blue Eyes”
  • There is a bit of confusing plot with a woman named Sloan who tells Dr. Maxfield that she will fund his research in exchange for running tests on some blood? This isn’t really further explained. At the end of the episode we learn she is with the Travelers.
  • Katherine: “Hypothetical question. If Jeremy Gilbert’s life was hanging by a thread, could I credibly just let him die? Because his death would be really convenient for me”
  • Body Count: 2, Enzo kills Diane the head of campus security and Damon kills the janitor that Dr. Maxfield had turned into a vampire.

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