Jeremy Likes TV

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TV Diary | The Vampire Diaries: “The Ties That Bind”

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TV Diary | The Vampire Diaries – Episode 3.12 – “The Ties That Bind” – Original Airdate: 1/19/12

Episode Grade: B-

It had to end sometime. The Vampire Diaries’ impressive string of great episodes came to a conclusion with “The Ties That Bind” even as it did move some season storylines ahead and give some needed attention to some underserved characters. And perhaps therein lies the problem with this outing – it was more functional and business-like than the show normally tends to be. Usually, there’s a large amount of fun and surprise involved and – save for the last two minutes of “The Ties That Bind” – those aspects were largely missing. I suppose we really did need to learn more about Bonnie beyond the fact that she’s a witch who conveniently shows up whenever a major character needs to employ a spell as a means to an end, but I can’t think of anything memorable she’s ever added to the show beyond that. So, even as I appreciate the fact that Kevin Williamson/Julie Plec shone the spotlight on a character who’s been given short shrift over the series run, I have a hard time caring about the fact that her mother [1] left her and has <gasp> been raising the son of a former ex. Oh, the irony – Bonnie’s mom abandoned her but is willingly raising another non-blood relative child. Let me check… nope, still don’t care. Again, the effort is admirable but the execution leaves much to be desired. Williamson/Plec at least have the good sense to connect Bonnie’s mother to the overriding narrative – the war between Klaus and Stefan – so all is not entirely wasted [2]. It seems that Bonnie’s mother might be able to provide some help in opening one of the coffins that Stefan is holding, coffins that for some reason the show has decided to return to Klaus by episode’s end. And that was one of the biggest problems I had with “The Ties That Bind” – all of the interesting threads that seem to have sprung from the last episode, “Our Town,” TVD seems to willing to reverse here. The war between Stefan and Klaus over his family? Klaus has the coffins back by the time that “The Ties That Bind” is over. Developing Stefan as the show’s main villain? By the end of the episode, Elena has confessed her kiss with Damon to Stefan which causes him to stomp off in a huff and clock Damon the first chance he gets. Seems like the villainous façade is just that – a façade, and that’s a shame because Stefan as the show’s main villain had a lot of potential. Still, the reveal in the episode’s final moments that Damon has removed the dagger from Klaus’s brother, Elijah [3] which is sure to create even more headaches for the hybrid mastermind, was a nice touch that saved “The Ties That Bind” from being a complete disappointment. However, too much of the episode had the feel of a split-squad spring training baseball game – too much focus on B-listers who will have little to no impact on the most important matters. Shake it off and get back to being the TVD we all know and love next time out.

[1] Another powerful witch and the former best friend of Elena’s deceased mother. Nice symmetry there.
[2] The retrofitting of Bonnie’s mother also being the one who initially imprisoned Klaus’s father Michael was a nice storyline touch as well.
[3] As part of TVD mythology, original vampires like Klaus and Elijah can be placed in a sort of supernatural suspended animation when a certain type of mystical dagger is plunged through their hearts. As long as the dagger stays in place, they’re dead for all intents and purposes. However, remove the dagger and they have new life.

Miscellany:
*The second often-neglected character to get some attention tonight was Tyler. He surprisingly enlisted Caroline’s father – initially seen combating his own daughter earlier this season – to help him break Klaus’s sire bond. He learns that the key to breaking to bond is to turn werewolf on his own, supposedly thus owning the pain but frankly that line of thinking doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Ultimately, Tyler attacks Mr. Forbes only for Forbes to be healed via some vampire blood conveniently obtained by Alaric’s new doctor girlfriend. After healing, Forbes warns Tyler that his work has just begun and that he’s not planning to let Caroline anywhere near him until the sire bond is completely broken. Again, I appreciated the attention given to a character that the show doesn’t seem to have much time for but the execution just wasn’t there in this storyline either.
*Wooden buckshot used as a weapon against vampires? Inventive, TVD. I like.
*Given what transpired between Elena and Stefan on the bridge (his using the site of her parents’ deaths callously against her), why did Elena feel it necessary to unburden herself and confess her kiss with Damon to Stefan? Doesn’t seem to ring true to what she and Stefan’s relationship has devolved into.
*I have to assume that Alaric showing his new sexytime ladyfriend his super-special supernatural ring was a big honkin’ mistake.
* This week in music: The Black Keys’ “Lonely Boy.” Not quite Yuck or The Naked And Famous, but it’ll do.
*”Wonder what my exes would call me?” “Nothing. They’re all dead.”
*”I proved your theory. Diagnosed psycho-case. You’re welcome.”
*”I will tear you limb from limb and only then, when you’re a writhing mess of flesh, will I tear your heart from your chest.”
*Episode embedded below via Hulu, as usual.

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