Kai is The Vampire Diaries’ third great villain

The Vampire Diaries Season 6, Episode 11 (“Woke Up With a Monster”)
Chris Wood, The Vampire Diaries

The Vampire Diaries has had some great villains over the seasons. Katherine was the first great one. You never really knew what she was going to do or what her aim was. Her goal was always survival and she was willing to change allegiances and plans the moment something better came along. That made her unpredictable. But she wasn’t without sympathy. She had some traumas in her past and spending 500 years running from the most powerful and evil vampire of all time would take its toll on anyone. Klaus of course was the next great one. Like Katherine he had some sympathy. He had an abusive father and his mother turned him into a vampire and then regretted it and tried to kill him and his siblings. But regardless of whatever he had experienced, it didn’t really excuse 1000 years of evil. Klaus sought power for the sake of it and to show his father that he wasn’t weak. Much of his evil was in the name of his terrible father.

Now we get to Kai (is it a coincidence that all the best TVD villains are K names?). He has some of the same qualities as these previous great villains. Like Klaus he is strongly motivated by revenge on the family that hurt him. But Kai has two major differences that make him a unique villain for this show. First he doesn’t really garner any sympathy. His jealousy of his siblings for having their own magic while he has to take his is the main reason for his villainy. Any actions taken against him by his family were reactions to him killing his siblings. Kai wants power over his family as revenge. Klaus wanted power over his family as a way of inspiring loyalty, but he would have never killed them. As twisted as he was, family was still the most important thing. The other thing that makes him different is that he likes who he is. He enjoys killing his family. Klaus killed without much thought and enjoyed it on some level, but he hated himself for it. Katherine liked herself as well but she too missed her family and deep down she wanted connections with other people. These differences are what make Kai such a fun, refreshing villain. He brings back so much life to the show after its dull fifth season. In these final seasons the tone of the show changes a lot and largely moves on from much of the history that shaped the beginning of the series. Kai does a great job of signaling that change and making the show enjoyable again.

After absorbing all of that power from the anti-magic spell, Kai is stronger than he has ever been. But he has so much magic that he can’t control it, so he is practicing it on Elena. Jo on the other hand is weak and unlikely to be able to take him even with a month of practice. It will probably take a long time for all of that magic to drain from Kai. Liv is also realizing that Luke is stronger than her and if they merge, she will be the one to die. This episode ups the stakes of the twin merge by essentially saying that either Liv or Jo has to die, and they are the two that the audience is most invested in. So who merges and who dies?

While everyone else is dealing with Kai, Caroline and Stefan are focused on her mom. Caroline is determined to find a way to keep her mom from dying. When she finds out that there is nothing medically they can do, she wants to try using vampire blood to heal her. Stefan and Damon both tell her that they don’t think it will work. It is also very risky. Caroline does an experiment on a patient in a similar condition who has no family. Initially it works and he seems miraculously healed so Caroline rushes off to do the same to her mom. As she is giving Liz the blood, we see the patient crashing and die. Caroline was so desperate for a cure she had to believe it. But if she had watched this guy for more than 10 minutes she would have seen what happened. Now if the same thing happens to Liz then she will blame herself for speeding up her mom’s death. Of course this guy died with vampire blood in his system so in all likeliness he will wake up a vampire. Caroline may be okay with her mom turning if it means that they can be with each other forever, but I don’t think Liz would want that.

I really enjoyed this episode though not that much really happened. It did however up the stakes for the two biggest storylines right now. Kai has a lot of power and if Jo attempts to merge with him she will definitely lose. There is just no way she is strong enough. She couldn’t handle cloaking three people at once, and cloaking seems to be a Gemini coven specialty. Liz’s cancer is advanced and there is nothing she can do. Caroline’s hope of using vampire blood to cure her we can already see will backfire and Liz will either die quicker or become a vampire, neither are outcomes that anyone really wants.

Episode Grade: 8/10

Other Thoughts:

  • Kai melts Elena’s daylight ring and Bonnie is still trapped in the prison world so where is she going to get a new one? Liv seems pretty tired of doing things for them.
  • The side story of Sarah Salvatore continues in this episode. We finally meet the real one at Duke when Stefan and Caroline go to find the oncology expert. Enzo followed them and now also knows the truth about her. He is still dedicated to his revenge but has decided to take his time with it. He is going to wait until Stefan has forgotten about it and then hit him when he is least expecting it.
  • Elena and Damon plan to finally go on a real date. Even without her memories, her mind has changed about him pretty quickly.
  • Caroline: “Stefan you know how to laugh right?” “Opinions vary”
  • Body Count: 1, Kai kills the manager of the Grill.

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