I'm serious. Last night's Vampire Diaries was brilliant — except that the show once again set Bonnie up as a total awesome shitkicker, and then took it away again. WTF Vampire Diaries? Spoilers ahead...
I'm referring, of course, to the fact that Bonnie Bennett has the episode's main "fuck yeah" moment when she stands up to the psycho bully Kai. First she calls his bluff, daring him to go ahead and steal her powers as he keeps threatening to. And when she finally goads him into taking his shot, she uses the magical connection to realize that Kai doesn't even have the spell to escape from the "endless 1994" prison that they're trapped in. So she kills him. Boom. Even Damon is kind of shocked.
But then Bonnie ruins it. Kai comes back from the dead and attacks them, and Bonnie gets seriously injured. So instead of helping Damon kick this guy's ass so they can use the magic thingy to go back to 2014 together the following day, she decides to send Damon back to the real world alone, and leaves herself trapped and maybe dying with Kai the dickpile. WHY DOES BONNIE ALWAYS HAVE TO SACRIFICE HERSELF FOR OTHERS IN THE STUPIDEST POSSIBLE WAY?
Seriously. Sorry for the all caps, but this drove me nuts. Does she not understand the eclipse comes once a day, like clockwork? All she has to do is help Damon kick Kai's ass, lock him in a closet somewhere, heal herself with Damon's blood, and come back tomorrow to complete the spell. It's not that hard. She's turning into the Augie Ben Doggie of witches.
Other than that, this was a pretty hilarious episode that managed to turn dark and serious without going off the deep end. The best parts mostly involved Ivy, Stefan's ex-girlfriend who was turned into a vampire by Enzo. She's not handling it well, but somehow she also manages to come out with an endless series of funny bitchy lines, like remarking that when she was a human, she was nice — she even had her own Etsy store. And that she read the book He's Just Not That Into You, but she still got sucked into this crap with Stefan.
(Also, Damon learning to appreciate Zima was kind of perfect.)
Alas, Caroline gets suckered into trying to plan a game of Scrabble, and Ivy uses the distraction to break Caroline's neck and go off on a bloodsucking rampage. Which leads to A) Tyler running over Caroline's victim and causing a bloodbath at the Homecoming Corn Maze (this is a thing, really) and B) Ivy getting herself captured by Tripp, the vampire hunter from Mystic Falls.
Meanwhile, Alaric is really into the sexy doctor lady, who handles a ton of triage at the Corn Maze — which she's only present for because Elena set them up together. And afterwards, Alaric tries to compel him to think she's boring, but even his vampire compulsion apparently has limits — she still wants to kiss him even after he compels her not to be kissable. (Vervaine? Or something else?)
Stefan goes to Alaric seeking help compelling Ivy not to go on any more bloodsucking rampages but Alaric is still pissed that Stefan stopped looking for a way to save Damon from being dead — because that's how seriously everybody in this world takes death, even final death with no Other Side, at this point. Stefan is still trying to pretend that he just wants to move on and start over, but at the end of the episode he goes to his family crypt and breaks down, talking to his ancestors about how he really feels lost without Damon. (Actually, I think Stefan had it right earlier — his life was more or less under control until Enzo screwed it up.) Just as Stefan is starting to freak out about the fact that Damon is dead, Damon appears, catching the whiskey bottle Stefan threw at the wall. Nice touch. The Salvatore bros. hug and process their feelings and stuff.
But meanwhile, Liv follows in Bonnie's footsteps, sacrificing herself — in this case, murdering the guy whom Tyler ran over, so that the guy's death won't trigger Tyler's werewolf curse all over again. This is really a super noble, self-sacrificing thing for her to do, not to mention kinda clever. Although a lot probably depends on how the werewolf curse reckons causality — does it count more that she finished the guy off, or that her decision to kill him was influenced by the fact that he was already terminal thanks to Tyler? Does the werewolf curse recognize proximate causes or only direct causes? In any case, Tyler vows he won't waste this chance she's given him, which means his werewolf curse will be triggered in the next week or two.
Anyway, Damon is back now but he's in for kind of a shock — because Elena has officially moved on. She no longer wants her memories of loving Damon back, because as she quite rationally explains, why would she want to remember being in love with a serial killer? And she's met Liam, who's cute and heroic and good in a crisis — which, on this show, means he's probably secretly a goblin or a gelatinous cube or something.
So we're like five episodes in and there's still no sign of a new villain or much of a plot other than people working out their relationship issues — but this show is often at its best when it's just about the relationships, with only the thinnest soupcon of a plot in the mix. And maybe next week, when Damon returns to the fold, the season's plot can kick into motion. After all, nobody will worry about Bonnie, trapped in Kai's private hell forever — that's just what Bonnie does. Sacrifice herself as stupidly as possible for everyone else.