The new villain of The Vampire Diaries is shaping up to be Kai, the psychotic son of a witch clan. Bonnie almost sacrificed her life to stop Kai — but how long before she's sacrificing her life to save him? And more to the point, is Kai any worse than the rest of the monsters on TVD? Spoilers ahead...
So Kai, in case you're behind, is the twin brother of Jo, the ex-witch turned doctor who is dating Alaric. Kai was trapped in a prison where the same day in 1994 repeated endlessly, until Damon and Bonnie inadvertently helped him escape. Now he wants to "merge" with his sister Jo and/or kill his younger siblings Liv and Luke, so he can become the leader of the Gemini Coven.
In last night's episode, Kai emerges in the real world and kills a taxi driver to skip out on paying the fare, then nearly kills Liv, Damon and Elena, while also interrupting Damon and Elena's attempt to rescue Bonnie from the 1994 purgatory.
The Vampire Diaries actually made a valiant attempt to suggest that there's a meaningful difference between Kai and Damon some weeks ago, through the mouthpiece of Bonnie Bennett. She claims that Damon is better than Kai, because even though Damon has killed roughly the population of a small Eastern European country, he feels remorse for his murder spree. And Damon cares about people. So he's way better.
But in last night's episode, it was hard to ignore the way the show keeps trying to make us love Enzo, who's supposed to be the new Damon or something. Enzo is another spree-killer, like Damon, but he's vindictive and sadistic, partly as a result of his years as the Augustine Vampire. And he feels zero remorse for anything he's ever done. Enzo suggests there's no difference between him and Stefan, and it feels like the show is nodding along with him, going "You know it's true."
I actually think this show was on more solid ground back when it tried to use Stefan as more of a moral compass, before it switched over to the theory that Stefan is an addict who can't manage his addiction as well as Damon can. Stefan is a lot more interesting as someone who holds himself to a somewhat higher standard than almost all the other vamps on this show, rather than just someone who's in denial about being as bad as everyone else. (Which is what I think this episode is trying to tell us is the case.)
In any case, Kai is currently Beyond the Pale because he wants to hurt the people we care about — including Elena, which is the show's barometer of goodness. (If you're pro-Elena than you are morally pure.) But Kai is already getting to be more charming, which is usually the one and only intermediate step before becoming one of the Good Guys. His weird rant about skinny jeans and the TSA is pretty entertaining. Of course, it's pretty clear that he's going to achieve his goal of becoming the head of the Gemini Coven, or there's no arc for this season at all.
As for Damon, we once again grapple with the problem of whether he's completely horrible or just sorta horrible. This week's Damon Problem is the fact that he compelled his best friend Alaric (who used to be a vampire but is now human again) to steal the key to the 1994 purgatory from Alaric's girlfriend Jo. Alaric is pretty pissed, and decks Damon — and isn't all that interested in the fact that Kai had already escaped the 1994 purgatory before Alaric stole the steampunk gizmo.
But Elena also finds out that Damon stabbed his best friend in the back to rescue Bonnie, and is pretty pissed. But all is forgiven when: 1) Damon insists he didn't do it for Elena, but rather because he came to care about Bonnie while they were trapped in 1994 purgatory, and Elena feels bad for making it all about her as usual. 2) Damon confesses that he killed a shit ton of his relatives and their friends back in 1994, and still feels bad about this, which somehow makes up for his latest betrayal. In any case, Damon has complicated feelings, so he gets a pass.
And what about Enzo? Enzo's behavior in this episode is actually kind of demented. Unlike Damon and Kai, Enzo has no particular reason to be as much of a dick as he is, he just feels like it or something.
Basically, Stefan is confronted with his "long lost relative," who's pretending to be Sarah Salvatore — and Stefan is concerned about keeping the real Sarah Salvatore hidden and safe from people like Enzo. Who keeps eavesdropping and following them around, and being a pest — because he is convinced that Stefan has secrets, and Stefan is just as bad as Enzo, etc. etc.
In the end, Stefan is put in a position where he can either let Enzo kill the faux Sarah, or risk having the real Sarah's existence revealed. And he chooses to let the con artist die, to protect his great great great great great niece. This shocks Matt, who ought to be unshockable by now. Matt, for the billionth time, realizes that human life is just less valuable than vampire life to the vampires on this show.
(This is because vampires have "heightened emotion," and they feel things more intensely than regular humans — and thus, they have more right to life and their existence has more validity. To the extent that Vampire Diaries has a moral framework that isn't purely built around Elena's well-being, it's about emotion as the main source of value. Mr. Spock would be roadkill in this world.)
Matt, at least, reaches a sound conclusion — he goes and recruits Jeremy to help him kill Enzo, which more or less qualifies as pest control. (I have a terrible feeling that Enzo is unkillable, because he's a "beloved character." He's this show's answer to Vex from Lost Girl, all of a sudden.)
As for poor Bonnie, she gets back to Mystic Falls too late to hitch a ride back to 2014 with Damon and Elena — because nobody thought of driving towards Bonnie, so they could meet in the middle, instead of just waiting for Bonnie to drive halfway across the country while Damon and Elena processed their feelings at the house. Oops.
And meanwhile, Kai tries to hook up with Tyler, who's been trying to protect Liv from the whole crazy "merge" thing that her coven is into, and offers an evil deal. Tyler helps Kai to merge with Jo, and then Liv gets to live. This is like old-school Vampire Diaries, with people making crazy temporary alliances and terrible decisions. Yay.