The Vampire Diaries 5.08 “Dead Man on Campus” Reviewby Emma Fraser / November 22, 2013
The big bad has been defeated on The Vampire Diaries and you would think that a party to celebrate this wouldn’t end in more bloodshed… Who am I kidding? Of course it is going to and demons both personal and real are a source of peril this week. The Whitmore College Augustine mystery continues and we find out that someone has a surprising connection to Dr. Maxfield’s tests. Back in Mystic Falls, Katherine helps out both Stefan and Matt.
When Jesse escapes the lab he reveals to Caroline that he has become a vampire and while it seems like he is your run of the mill baby vamp, he is far from it. Jesse has a taste for vampire blood and is incredible strong despite being brand new. This blindsides Damon and he ends up on the receiving end of Jesse’s thirst for vampire blood. Elena stakes him in the heart and her instinct told her in this moment that this was the only option. Caroline is upset and blames this on Elena changing since she has been with Damon, but I think Elena would have done this if Jesse had been feeding on any of her friends.
The Elena/Caroline disagreement about Damon is not a new one but it does appear to come out of nowhere at this point. Caroline has a reason to distrust Damon considering what he did to her when he was human but because the show never reminds the audience of this it just makes Caroline come across as bitter and petty.
One of the themes of this episode is about confronting your past and the big surprise involves Damon, as it turns out he was an Augustine test subject. The big question here is has he been suppressing this memory the entire time? I’m guessing the answer is yes as he would have surely mentioned this when the name first popped up. The brief flashes of experiments feel like his memories are returning to him and he ends up back in the cell that bears his initials. While this comes across as slight retconning, I am excited to see where this story is headed and whether Elena’s father has anything to do with these experiments. This would also be in the period where Damon and Stefan had no contact with each other so it’s entirely plausible that Stefan knows nothing about this.
So Damon might have buried these memories deep and this is the one thing that Stefan so desperately wants to do with his own summer of misery drowning flashbacks. Stefan is trying to deal with this by himself (of course), but with most things having another person to help is beneficial. It turns out that the best person for this is Katherine, as she has been through her own personal trauma. Now I don’t know if Katherine is good at taking her own advice as her solution is all about putting up walls, but she does dish out some words of wisdom telling Stefan his two options are to confront or run. Katherine is usually a runner but she gives him an exercise to ground him in reality – to start listing off his order of kills. While this strategy might seem like a way to trigger Stefan’s misery about his past actions, it’s also a good way to make him step out of the drowning memories.
Katherine is a source of help for Matt and his Gregor problem and this all gets resolved rather quickly as she trades information for alcohol. All Katherine needed to do was stab Matt with the special knife while he was possessed by Gregor and bye bye spirit. This was all tied up rather neatly and other than the reveal that Gregor was meant to kill Katherine after Silas – to get rid of the doppelgangers? – it ended up being a bit of a muddled plot. In the process Stefan did get to meet Nadia and witness her telling Katherine to rot in hell.
This exchange is important as Katherine’s next move is to pick option three (confront and run are options one and two) and that’s jumping off a clock tower. Stefan figures this out in time thanks to Katherine’s well placed suicide note and he’s straight to the point when he tells her “You’re Katherine Pierce. Suck it up.” Stefan should take up a new career in motivational speaking. This Katherine as a human story has been even better than I thought it was going to be (and I had high hopes) and previously I was happy that they used Katherine sparingly, now I want her around all of the time. I hope we get to see more from the Katherine and Stefan relationship (not necessarily romantic) as I think they bring out the best in each other and they are both experiencing emotional turmoil.
Back at Whitmore College, Bonnie is coming to terms with her new painful role as the anchor to the other side. It’s a job that constantly interrupts Bonnie’s regular life and this includes Jesse’s awkwardly timed departure as things are about to get hot and heavy with Jeremy. Bonnie does get some clarity as she chats with the witch who passed through her earlier in the episode and Bonnie understands that this is a consequence that that she will have to live with.
– People get new haircuts for all kinds of reasons and coming back to life is a good excuse to try out a new look. Bonnie’s new bob is delightful and really suits her.
– Elena finds out more about why Wes (Dr. Maxfield) is Aaron’s guardian, as his parents were killed on a camping trip when he was six by a ‘bear.’ Aaron seems pretty oblivious to the whole vampire thing.
– Bonnie mentions that her Grams taught at Whitmore College so does she have any knowledge on the Augustine secret society? Luckily Bonnie has constant access to the other side so she might be able to find out.
– Thanks to her role as anchor Bonnie no longer has any witch powers; this means lighting candles with matches and other various things.
– We are reminded again that travelers are a faction of witches and I wonder if they are going to continue to pop up for the rest of the season, especially if they have unfinished business with Katherine.
You can browse through photos of the next episode “The Cell” airing December 5, here.