The Vampire Diaries 5.09 “The Cell” Review

by Emma Fraser / December 6, 2013

The CellThis season of The Vampire Diaries has been dominated by all things Silas, Tessa and Stefan’s drowning experience, so having a Damon centric episode that ties in with the overall Whitmore College mystery was an interesting prospect. Damon got taken by Wes at the end of the last episode after he revealed that he was once referred to by a number – 21051 – and he got put in the cell he occupied in 1953. “The Cell” reveals the physical torment that Damon suffered and attempts to explain how he became the stone cold killer we met at the start of The Vampire Diaries.

Most of the flashbacks so far have dealt with Stefan’s Ripper past and there has been very little overall to show why Damon became the no humanity guy. The beauty of having characters this old is there is plenty of backstory to fill in and this can also cause problems as this narrative device can be used to retcon the story to make it work for the current character situation. This means that certain aspects, both in previous seasons and even in the one we are in gets ignored for the purpose of this flashback story. Damon states that he never mentioned his experience at Whitmore College to anyone and this is fine. It makes sense considering how his escape went and the old flicking the switch business; when it doesn’t make sense is when weird things start occurring at the college his girlfriend is at he doesn’t mention a thing, not even a hint that he knows what could be taking place in the basement. I’m surprised they didn’t opt for the easy amnesia way out but no, Damon remembers everything.

This point is hammered home further thanks to Damon’s recent revenge kill that took place during the summer of everything is wonderful. It’s clearly something he thinks about and yet he doesn’t mention it until they’re both locked up in a cell. Damon is meant to be a smart character which is why it makes no sense that he would be so cavalier about both his and Elena’s safety when he has 5 years of prior experimentation experience to inform him of what could be going on. It feels like they’ve wasted a good opportunity to reveal Damon’s past and link it into the overall mystery, which up until this point I’d been enjoying this season.

Elena’s father is of course connected to the whole thing, though this doesn’t explain why Megan had a photo of Grayson on her phone. We are still in the dark as to what vampire killed Megan as Jesse hadn’t been turned at this point. Is it someone we haven’t met yet?

Back in Mystic Falls Caroline and Katherine use the safe that Stefan was locked in to help him work through his PTSD. This involves locking Stefan inside so he can confront what happened and realize that he is focusing on his physical pain when he needs to deal with his emotional turmoil. Caroline plays the role of buzzkill as she continues to bitch about Elena’s choice in boyfriend – as I mentioned in my last review I get why Caroline dislikes Damon but the show needs to either confront what happened in season 1 or lay off with these remarks – and ends up as a third wheel in this scenario.

The Stefan/Katherine pairing is super hot and I’m all for this hook up to be honest; these two characters have really good chemistry together. Even though they are played by the same actors it’s very different to the tension between Stefan and Elena, showing just how good Nina Dobrev is at inhabiting a variety of roles.

Katherine uses Stefan’s words of encouragement back at him “You’re Stefan Salvatore. Suck it up.” He does indeed do this and this prolonged exposure therapy seems to have done the trick. Is he ready to fix his hero hair and rescue Damon and Elena?

One thing I’ve talked about on a couple of occasions is how giving the Originals their own show has opened up the storytelling opportunities for The Vampire Diaries. It’s also means the focus isn’t all that defined and while this hasn’t been an issue so far, I’m starting to get concerned that they might be spinning their wheels now the Silas threat has been solved and Klaus is doing his thing in New Orleans. I guess I’ll have to wait and see where next week’s episode takes us before I sound the klaxon.

Other Thoughts

– Is there something special about the Whitmore watch other than the vervain factor that Aaron puts on?

– Enzo is still alive! And by my calculation (if this 2013 in TVD world) he’s been experimented on for 60 years. Will he even remember Damon?

– So much eye related peril from some of Damon’s eyes getting sliced off to him getting his revenge with some old fashioned gouging.

– Caroline realizing what is happening in the Salvatore mansion mid voicemail is hilarious.

– Did Stefan ever respond to his telegram from Joe Salvatore? And if so did he find his relative dead at the boarding house?




Emma has a passion for both ends of the pop culture spectrum and you are just as likely to find her watching HBO as you are The CW. All that matters is a great story or if that fails some amazing fashion. Emma would most like to hang out at the offices of Olivia Pope & Associates or Apartment 4D. Follow her at @frazbelina or over at