The Vampire Diaries 5.10 “Fifty Shades of Grayson” Reviewby Emma Fraser / December 13, 2013
It’s the mid-season finale of The Vampire Diaries (it returns January 23) and secrets have been spilled regarding the Augustine Society and the experiments they have been performing on vampires for the last 70 years. There are some big relationship developments that are likely to cause dismay as some of the plot turns in “Fifty Shades of Grayson” come across as incredibly contrived.
First up, Damon and last week I talked about the implausibility of Damon never mentioning his experience as a test subject since Elena has been going to Whitmore College and strange things have been afoot. Not mentioning it prior to this makes sense and this includes never telling Stefan. What does feel like a plot contrivance is how much this has shaped the latter half of Damon’s life and that it hasn’t even been hinted at until now. The Damon of season 1 is very much like the one described in this episode; the monster who only cares about himself, but we’ve come a long way since then and Damon has changed. The whole flicking on and off the humanity switch at times feels like an easy get out clause that excuses this past behavior. While it is something they have referenced throughout the seasons this recent emphasis on both Stefan and Damon’s switch has me yearning for something else to explain past and present actions without this simple option.
The breakup scene is where I really draw the line with this plot and it explains why they’ve had Caroline beating the “Damon is a bad boyfriend” drum over the past couple of weeks – where was Caroline by the way? This is a scene we have seen before as Elena gets told that she is good and Damon tells her he is letting her go because he’s never going to change, blah, blah, blah. The problem with the love triangle on this show isn’t necessarily who you want Elena to be with, but the writers think they have to find ways to break them up and they end up recycling old material.
Damon claims that he is fed up of Elena defending him and she will always find the innate good in everyone, even when it isn’t deserved. Elena’s references how they have all done bad things (which they have) and it’s hard thing to measure how much of a monster someone is – they really need to start a league table or something. Consequences of actions is an important notion and this show needs to be more consistent with how these are defined. Both Damon and Stefan have a habit of beating themselves up while putting Elena up on a pedestal of perfection.
We know that Damon is a very different person to the one Enzo describes and that his tireless work to bring Bonnie back this season is evidence enough that he cares about someone other than himself. Damon does have an inferiority complex with Stefan and his hero hair, so it’s understandable why he might take Enzo’s words to heart, however Enzo hasn’t seen him for 60 years and that’s a lot of time to build up these feelings of hatred to the one that left him behind.
On this occasion Stefan has been given the better backstory to explain his defining characteristics; the Ripper arc has been masterfully done as the foundations have been there since day one whereas Damon’s comes across as an afterthought.
Moving on to the part of the episode that I really liked and that’s the Katherine is dying/wants redemption plot; if there is ever a character who in the past has done everything to save her skin then it is Katherine. A few weeks ago Katherine tried to kill herself and Stefan saved her and this reignited feelings that Katherine has pretty much always had for Stefan. In those flashbacks from long ago Damon was in love with Katherine for real, whereas she had to compel Stefan to fall for her. Back when the moonstone was a big storyline we found out that Katherine did really love Stefan, even if she ultimately chose to save herself.
Katherine and Stefan rekindled that thing they had and for Stefan one night can’t make up for everything dastardly she has done in the past; just how do you get redemption for nearly a century and a half of various schemes and manipulations? Stefan reaching for Katherine’s hand suggests redemption is possible and this prompts Katherine’s decision to go ahead with Nadia’s plan. Unfortunately for Katherine it looks like time might not let her go through with this as the episode ends with her collapsing and falling down the stairs. Katherine as human has been one of the best parts of season 5 and I’m pretty sure they will figure out a way to save her before it is too late.
– Oh hey Matt, good to see you again taking on the role of Katherine trainer, bad mother advice giver and knife protector. Hopefully we will see you again soon.
– Enzo is still very much alive thanks to Damon injecting him with all the antidotes; Wes’ plan to kill Damon via Enzo was pretty terrible in its execution.
– The Megan murder mystery has been solved; she was killed by Enzo after she went snooping to find out more about Grayson Gilbert’s work. Grayson saved Megan when she was 7 using vampire blood.
– Elena finds out that her father did plenty of experiments on vampires and she justifies it because he was saving lives. She does end up burning his journal and destroys his work.
– It’s good to have Damon and Stefan working together again as they use Aaron as leverage “I don’t recall saying you could talk.”
– Stefan and Katherine had such a good night that some of her hair fell out; oh that’s the rapid aging thing.
– It’s all in the eyebrow reactions and when Enzo reveals that Damon left him to die, Stefan’s eyebrows say “that’s about right.” In Damon’s defense he really didn’t have another viable option at that point in time.
The Vampire Diaries returns Thursday, January 23 on The CW.