Kai arrives!

The Vampire Diaries SEason 6, Episode 3 (“Welcome to Paradise”)
Chris Wood, The Vampire Diaries

Grief is a topic that is touched on in The Vampire Diaries often. There is a lot of opportunity as the body count continues to grow. However, the show hasn’t really had a death until now that is felt by so many. Even if Bonnie and Damon aren’t really dead, they don’t know that and it allows us to see how each character deals with that loss. And no two people’s grief looks the same. There is no one right way to grieve, everyone has to find their own ways to cope. But there are definitely ways that are destructive to more than just yourself which is when you need to evaluate how you are handling things.

Elena and Stefan are both coping through denial, but in very different ways. And in both cases, their denial robs their friends of their ability to lean on them when they need to. Caroline is the only one who is letting herself feel Bonnie’s death. And the only person she has to turn to now is Enzo who is the only one feeling Damon’s death. Elena is acting like a completely different person since she forgot about Damon. I guess it is not surprising that forgetting that much of her life would change her personality, but all she seems to care about is having fun and doing shots. Damon is the one who helped her become comfortable with being a vampire, so without those memories, shouldn’t she be back to hating herself? Caroline is pretty annoyed with the new Elena. Even if she never liked Damon, it is weird to see her acting like somebody else. It leaves her alone in her grief and she needs her friend, which Elena is hardly being.

Stefan is avoiding his grief by just abandoning his life and his friends. He only returns to find and kill Enzo. Once he hands him over to Tripp he is ready to leave town again. Being around everyone reminds him too much of Damon and he finds it easier to just leave them all behind. But they need him. He has always been sort of the leader of the group, the one everyone could trust to keep a level head and do the right thing. Without him, the group is fractured when they need each other the most.

Even Matt and Tyler are too preoccupied with their own problems to be there for Caroline. Though they should probably be mourning Bonnie too. One of Matt’s protection squad buddies turns out to be a vampire hunter, likely the thing that Tripp is really training these guys for. Tripp is building a more militant version of the Founder’s Council that is dedicated to eradicating vampires. To be fair, the last council got a little too infiltrated with an actual vampire, as well as Liz and Carol who had some major conflicts of interest. Tyler is trying to keep his anger and drinking under control so that he doesn’t accidentally trigger his werewolf gene again.

Back in the ’90s Damon and Bonnie are reacting to various clues that they aren’t alone in very different, but very in character, ways. Bonnie is hopeful that if someone else is there then there is hope they can get out. Damon doesn’t want hope because he is afraid it isn’t true which would be too painful. However, there is indeed someone else there, a guy named Kai. Kai is one of my favorite characters and is a large part of what makes this season great. Even in this introductory episode we can already see that he will be both an adversary, and someone they need. He tells Bonnie and Damon that he knows how to get them out and that Bonnie’s magic is the key to making that happen. He forces Bonnie’s magic to reappear by threatening to kill Damon. Though Bonnie and Damon still bicker a lot, clearly they have grown much closer since being stuck together, another aspect of this season that is fantastic.

The beginning of this season is moving at a bit slower pace than previous ones but it is setting up some important things. It’s also one of the few times in the show that we really sit with the characters’ pain and loss. The only other time I can think of is when Elena first becomes a vampire. I enjoy seeing how everyone deals with it, even if some people’s methods are frustrating. Needless to say, Elena erasing her memories of Damon is going to turn out to have been a mistake. We know he isn’t dead and with the introduction of Kai, we can assume he will be returning eventually. Obviously the show isn’t going to keep them stuck in the ’90s forever. Stefan is also just kind of being a dick to everyone. But to be fair he lost his brother of almost 200 years, and considering that Damon wasn’t exactly popular amongst most of these people, he probably doesn’t feel that they will understand.

Episode Grade: 7/10

Other Thoughts:

  • I would seriously love a spin-off show of just Bonnie and Damon hanging out in the ’90s and going grocery shopping.
  • Kai loves his pork rinds.
  • Elena starts heavily flirting with Liam, one of the other hospital volunteers. Then she tries to set him up with Caroline? But he is into her. Like one day after forgetting about Damon, she already has another love interest. At least she isn’t returning to Stefan. I don’t think I could handle a return to the love triangle.
  • Something that should have bene obvious to the vampires, but somehow wasn’t, is that when humans cross into Mystic Falls any compulsion on them wears off. Since compulsion is magic and that is what the anti-magic spell does. This means that Sarah remembers who Elena and Caroline are and that they are vampires.
  • Liv is into Tyler but pretending that she isn’t for some reason.
  • Body Count: 2, Enzo kills a waitress and Matt’s douchey friend, Jay.

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