The Vampire Diaries Season 6, Episode 17 (“A Bird in a Gilded Cage”)
I’ve talked a lot about the role of parents on The Vampire Diaries this season as we went through Liz’s death. From the beginning of the show the human characters have slowly lost their innocence as they were initiated into the supernatural world. Elena and Caroline became vampires, Bonnie discovered she was a witch, Tyler a werewolf, Jeremy a hunter, and Matt has just been unnecessarily caught up in all of it. And they all lost their parents along the way, further breaking them off from their human innocence. The Salvatores on the other hand lost theirs long ago. What happens when they are reunited with a mother they thought they had lost forever when they were children? Well so far the reunion hasn’t been very warm.
We finally really meet Lily Salvatore in this episode when Damon and Elena travel to the 1903 prison world to retrieve her and it is difficult to know what to make of her. She is cold but also still seems to still have some motherly feelings inside of her. Though she is far more concerned about her new, found family than she is her actual one. At this point it is hard to know if she will be friend or foe. Elena is very optimistic that their reunion will be a good one eventually if Damon gives it a shot. However, he is less sure. He is bitter that she faked her death and left them with their terrible father. He claims to only want to use her to get Stefan’s humanity back and he doesn’t care beyond that. But clearly he was hoping to be proven wrong. That she had wanted them more than her creepy companions.
She is not without sympathy though. She is a ripper with uncontrollable bloodlust, just like Stefan. So being around her kids after she turned wasn’t exactly a good idea. But she went on to create a new family of vampires, her “companions” who were locked up in the prison world with her. She says they bring her stability and keep her from indulging in her bloodlust. Stefan keeps from giving into his by intense control and hanging onto his humanity. Lily has found her way of managing it and it doesn’t involve her sons. Damon forces her to leave them behind in the prison world promising that he will bring her back later to retrieve them. He has no intention of doing so but she doesn’t seem like she is going to let them go. She has a very intense attachment to them. Of course she has left them all desiccated while she alone remained awake in the prison world, setting her up to be the leader of this creepy vampire clan.
Meanwhile Caroline and Stefan are living in their own humanity-less world. They disagree on how a humanity-less vampire should be living. Caroline wants to have her fun but still keeping herself in control so that her friends don’t try to intervene. Stefan however knows he won’t be able to control himself. If he is going to have to feel guilt and remorse for this, she will too. This whole plot is kind of strange and clearly an excuse to get them to hook up without really meaning it. They are going to drag out their romance to make them the new couple to tune in for. This is their way of giving the audience a little something but still being able to pull it back later. It also doesn’t really track with what a humanity-less vampire should want. I can kind of buy Caroline’s concern about her friends intervention but Stefan shouldn’t be so concerned about revenge on Caroline. If anger and resentment are emotions then Stefan shouldn’t be feeling any of that. In general this whole plot feels more like fan service than anything of real substance.
Finally the episode ends on the huge cliffhanger of Bonnie bringing Damon the cure to vampirism which she brought back from the 1994 prison world. This is probably the best point in the season to bring up that Nina Dobrev is leaving the show at the end of the season, which was well known at this point of the show airing. It was announced around mid-season 6 that she would not return for season 7 and this is their way of setting up her departure. Of course it is up to Damon to give it to her or not and he doesn’t seem to know what he wants to do. If he gives it to her he is giving up the life with her he just got back. But if he doesn’t he is potentially denying her the life she wants and if he really loves her he can’t do that.
Episode Grade: 7/10
- Caroline is apparently a drama major and tries out for the school play with “Still Hurting” from The Last Five Years.
- “Where’s my shirt?” “It’s near the girl we left bleeding out in the hallway”
- Bonnie goes along with Kai to the 1903 prison world and tricks him into getting left there. So he is out of their lives for now, but with all of those other vampires still in there, and Lily’s attachment to them, that is certainly not the last we will have seen of any of them.
- The most fan servicey scene in this episode is definitely the parallel sex scenes between Elena/Damon and Stefan/Caroline. Which Bonnie awkwardly interrupts to give Damon the cure. Could she not have come back later?
- Jo: “Anyone named Alaric shouldn’t be allowed to name another human being”
- Enzo almost gives up his revenge plan with Sarah Salvatore but he reveals to her her true identity instead.
- Body Count: 2, Stefan kills the director of the play Caroline is auditioning for and then he and Caroline both kill that random girl in the dorm.