Though I really enjoy episodes where the big ensembles come together for one important task like “Masquerade,” (which is still probably my favorite episode of the season) The Vampire Diaries is ridiculously good at pairing off its ever-expanding group of characters without losing any sense of momentum. In fact, it kind of adds to the momentum because 5-8 stories can be rapidly developing at the same time with relative ease and the series is of course at its best when burning through storylines like an addict looking for another fix.
“The Sacrifice” does just that, fracturing the group into a number of entertaining pairings, some we’ve seen, some we haven’t. At various points in the episode, the following pairs share a good scene together: Rose/Elena, Elena/Damon, Damon/Stefan, Bonnie/Luca, Bonnie/Jeremy, Jeremy/Katherine, Matt/Tyler, Matt/Caroline and my new favorite, Tyler/Caroline. I’m not a shipper, but good lord, those two are wonderful together. Throw in a few good scenes between Damon/Stefan/Katherine and more Elijah nonsense and we have ourselves a nice episode that features a number of character beats that are basically just plot points, but that’s how Vampire Diaries likes to role anyway.
Though I think the series and Elena herself wants her idea to sacrifice herself to Klaus in hopes of protecting everyone else to be more heroic than it actually is — you know, because it’s not happening — I see the logic in her plan. She’s been in the middle of all sorts of drama for the past 18 months of her life, but she rarely has any control over it. Her parents have died, she’s lost her identity, found out vampires are real, found out witches are real, found out werewolves are real, been kidnapped, been beaten and been basically dragged around like a little girl who can’t think for herself. It has to be suffocating and so her decision to submit herself to be killed is a way for her to take control of all that nonsense. Moreover, I appreciate a more active Elena because I felt like the new layers of the mythology have gone out of their way in making sure we realize SHE IS IMPORTANT, which is something that tends to bother me about series like this. I get it, she’s important.
Of course, Elena’s stupidity makes its way to Damon, who rushes to stop her within seconds. Any time the series wants to give us more Damon and Elena, I’m not really going to complain. Interestingly though, it seems that Elijah isn’t interested in killing Elena at all, which suggests to me that he’s actually plotting to take down Klaus for some reason. In the event that happens, does he become the vamp king or something? Does this series have royal vamps or is that just a stupid True Blood thing?
But while Elena’s off being fictitiously heroic, there’s a much better series happening around her, one where the Salvatores, Bonnie and Jeremy have to figure out how in the hell to get that dastardly moonstone away from Katherine without getting Damon and Stefan stuck in the tomb. And while the whole moonstone thing is getting a bit tedious in how it’s been battled over and not used for 10 episodes now, I liked this story because it served as yet another platform for the surprisingly likable Jeremy and Bonnie plotline.
Luca is obviously throwing a wrench into their sexual chemistry, but the series is doing a really, really nice job of showing us that Jeremy and Bonnie are connecting through their desire to help amid these crazy circumstances they always find themselves in. They were both on the outside looking in throughout a lot of season — obviously Jeremy was more so — and now that they’ve gotten the taste of action, they can’t let go. Bonnie is pushing her abilities too far and Jeremy is still doing stupid things like running in the tomb to get the moonstone, even though he gets bitten repeatedly by Katherine in the process. Frankly, they’re the second best part of the series right now, and I never, ever thought I would say that. Steven R. McQueen has particularly come a long way this year, or at least has been given a platform to prove himself. The CW is apparently doing some Jeremy-centric webisodes online, but when I saw the ad for them, I thought to myself that I would totally watch a spin-off with Jeremy as some sort of vampire hunter.
In the end, Jeremy helps them get the moonstone, but Stefan gets stuck in the tomb in the process. Stefan’s been a bit sidelined for the last few episodes, which is fine, he’s not the most interesting character on the series, but there’s a problem: the writers know that. They understand the appeal of Damon and I think they need to be careful with how they continue with Stefan because if he’s too much of a wet blanket or bore, there could be some people who just turn on him and not care that he and Elena are or are not together. Just like Bill on True Blood. I don’t think that’s going to happen because the rapid plot development means Stefan won’t be in the cave for more than another episode or two, but just putting it out there.
But before we go, I have to talk a bit about Caroline and Tyler. They’re awesome. I still have little interest in werewolves and how they play into the mythology at all, but because Tyler is now actually faced with this horrible reality — and this episode does a fantastic job at scary the living shit out of him — it feels at least somewhat relevant. Mason wasn’t a total success as a character, but now that all the weight is on Tyler and now that he’s especially working it out with Caroline, good things continue to happen. The beat with Matt was predictable, but worked well enough because Zach Roering plays the beaten down version of Matt so well, glad to see him back. Interestingly, I also really, really like Caroline and Stefan as a pairing, so perhaps I just have a weird fascination with Candice Accola?