The Vampire Diaries, “Katerina”

Wow, and I thought last week’s episode was a major exposition dump. “Rose” featured a whole lot of information disseminated to Elena and company, but at least it came amid a series of set-pieces and character action. “Katerina,” while mostly enjoyable, was a purely expositional episode that is surely setting the stage for all sorts of insanity in the future. But unfortunately, setting the table often leans towards the boring side, and for a series that doesn’t really do boring so well, “Katerina” is ultimately one of the weaker efforts of the season.

The thing about Katherine is that we don’t really ever know when she’s telling the truth. She’s been manipulating these characters all season and some of them for a century, so when she tells a story, it’s hard to believe it and even harder to believe that the characters themselves would believe it. In that sense, “Katerina” is something of a cheat. We at home know that she’s basically telling the truth this time because we actually see the flashbacks of her when she was still a human, when she turned, etc. However, Elena isn’t seeing these flashbacks, Stefan isn’t seeing these flashbacks, and in the end, despite everything she has done, they believe her. I get that the episode really tries to convince us that Katherine convinces Elena, but it’s something of a reach in logic, I think.

However, “Katerina” does do a nice job of tying together some of the disjointed Katherine-related plots and plans that we’ve seen all season. When she turned Caroline, seduced Mason and compelled Matt, it all felt like individual decisions that were supposed to lead to making Elena and Stefan’s lives a living hell, and while they were all fairly effective, I’ve been saying all season that it felt like the series was using those kind of twists as a crutch. Thankfully, this episode ties each of those moves together as part of a much larger plan: the formula to break the sun curse.

We now know that to break the sun curse, a werewolf, a vampire and a doppleganger all have to be sacrificed as a witch uses the moonstone to do…something. Not only is this development a nice answer to Katherine’s plotting earlier in the season, but it legitimately puts so many characters in danger, which is what the series does so well in the first place.

The Katherine flashbacks themselves are fine, and somewhat informative. The season has done a good job in making Katherine sympathetic when they need her to be, and telling the story of how her out-of-wedlock child was taken away from her is a particularly easy and effective way to do just that. That development also answers why Elijah thought the Petrova blondline stopped with Katherine and thus needed her so badly back then (and now) since he never knew about the baby. Of course, this means Elena is going to have to dig way back into her family history to figure out exactly where this baby went, how many other dopplegangers there are, etc.

Apart from that, “Katerina” featured a number of somewhat interesting, but ultimately not overly effective character moments. Damon and Rose go and visit a geek vampire to get more expositionary information like the fact that if a vampire breaks the sun curse, werewolves can never break the moon curse or vice versa, but again, it’s just people sitting around talking, something the series doesn’t do overwhelmingly well. Jeremy continues to put the moves on Bonnie, but gets stonewalled here because there are a pair of warlocks in town. The young one, Luka, obviously has a connection with Bonnie, but his father, is apparently working with Elijah for some reason, most likely as the witch needed to break the sun curse.

Surprisingly, but only slightly so, my favorite pairing of the episode is Stefan and Caroline, who continue to be a charming duo. Paul Wesley and Candice Accola have really great chemistry, and thankfully, there doesn’t seem to be any sexual undertones to their playful pairing. Their scenes were supposed to serve as mostly filler, but they kept the episode afloat amid a series of information-heavy and stagnant scenes.

Moving forward when the series returns in early December, I’m sure Vampire Diaries will pick up the pace and get super-insane yet again. The last two episodes are necessary evils, but certainly not the kind of episodes the series does very well.

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