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The Vampire Diaries - Episode 5.15 - Gone Girl - Review

This was an extraordinary episode and just further proof that The Vampire Diaries has revitalized itself after a shaky first half of its fifth season.  Ever since the awesome 100th episode, and largely thanks to the increased presence of Katherine, the show has mostly gone from strength to strength.  With "Gone Girl"'s perfect combination of sadness, humor, despair, hope, and questions raised about the meaning of love and redemption, I think it's the best Season 5 episode yet.

While "500 Years of Solitude" was the episode where Katherine was supposed to die, and where the characters (including Katherine herself) were meant to feel closure about that, it never really happened.  Katherine's insatiable trickery made that episode's denouement much more about survival and deceit than truth and amends.  Yet while she evaded the natural end of her tragicomically crazy life by leaping into Elena's body, the ultimate runner could not run forever.  So finally, in "Gone Girl," we got a Katherine-centric episode that was about truth and consequences.

I'm going to be supplementing my review with some lyrics from The Sound of Arrows song "Nova," as the words reflect the emotional journey felt by Nadia, and to some extent Katherine, as the mother and daughter faced their darkest hour and finally came closer together than ever before.

"It is about time to face it
Surrender and then start again
I don't know if I could make it
But there has gotta come an end
If I stay in this place every hour is another day
Let the walls come falling down and fear washes away"*

Last week, poor Nadia was bitten by the ever-bitey Tyler (seriously, he needs to chill with the munching.  There are other ways to neutralize a foe during battle), leaving her on her deathbed.  Katherine immediately dismissed the one chance of saving her daughter, Klaus' blood, since it would mean risking the exposure of her true identity...and also, she reasoned, why would Klaus ever help Katherine's daughter?  I agree that it would have been a hail Mary at best, though perhaps if Klaus had actually bought Katherine's Elena act, he might have been eager for an excuse to come back to Mystic Falls despite his promise never to do so.  A long shot, but just barely feasible, especially since helping Elena might (in Klaus' mind) please Caroline.  

When Nadia expressed sarcastic chagrin that it took dying to get her mother's attention away from Stefan, Katherine replied, "If you're trying to make me feel guilty...it's almost working."  Classic Katherine!  

Another fantastically quintessential bit of Katherine-ness occurred when she told Bonnie on the phone, "you're the anchor now.  That must be...exhausting," while shrugging and making a face of annoyed, couldn't-care-less attitude to Nadia.  I'm going to miss these moments if Katherine's away for long!

I think Katherine's inability to take the chance on Klaus had more to do with her focus on self-preservation than anything else.  Of all her faults, this is the one she clutches to with the most voraciousness.  Sadly for Nadia, Katherine's only other idea was to get Wes (!!) to concoct a cure by letting him take some werewolf venom from the fading vamp.  This threatened to be a lost cause immediately, because all Wes will ever care about is his own agenda.  Why would Katherine think otherwise?  Because it would've been a more convenient solution to her problem?  I don't think she was prepared for the devastation she felt when this plan proved fruitless.  All in all, her words going into the title card, "I'm going to be a better mother.  I'm going to save you," were clearly doomed.

While at first I wasn't all that impressed with Nadia, she has majorly grown on me over the last few episodes.  Instead of the stiff plot device she seemed to be at first, Nadia has blossomed into a wonderful character full of epic pain, hope, darkness, and possibility.  While she's as willing to throw all others under the bus to save her family as a Mikaelson, Nadia also possesses goodness, partly expressed in her connection with Matt.  I'm glad that Nadia's deathbed flashback dreams included her first night with Matt as well as her reminiscences of her long, tragic search for her reckless, untouchable mother.  When Nadia told Matt that she would now have an excuse to see him again, perhaps she wanted to encounter him once more for reasons beyond his being a useful ploy in her schemes.  One of several ways that the show has revitalized the character of Matt this season is through his fantastic scenes with Nadia.  I'm really going to miss those if she's gone for good...though hopefully that won't be the case.

"Running forever
Longing for your love so cool
To something better
I'll never stop following you"*

Of course, back at scooby camp, the gang was deep in discussions over the revelation that Katherine had been in Elena's body for quite a while without anyone noticing prior to Stefan and Caroline's characteristically adorable detective work at the end of "No Exit."  I loved Damon's reaction, "She's baah-rilliant."  It brought me back to Jeanne Tripplehorn's declaration in Basic Instinct, "she's evil!  She's brilliant!"  There's a little Catherine Tramell in Katherine Pierce, after all.  Caroline was just irritated that everyone had been too caught up in their own drama to catch onto Katherine's switcheroo.  It's not actually that the gang are "the worst friends ever," Car.  The truth is that even in their best moments, the vast majority of them are self-absorbed to the extreme.  

Stefan announced to Damon that he and Caroline had reasoned out a plan for Damon to get by on the bare minimum amount of vampire blood and hence help in the task of bringing Katherine down.  First of all, this exchange was fabulous:

Stefan: "Caroline did a bit of math-"
Damon: "Caroline?!"
Stefan: "Relax, she had a calculator."

Secondly, how kinda nutty is it that the means of bringing Elena back to herself was as simple as stabbing Katherine with the Traveler's blade?  After the whole epic sweep of the body-stealing and the complicated spell-work needed to seal the deal, the solution was a quick jab of a MacGuffin.  Anyway, I'm glad there was no need to prolong the issue, as it was high time we got some resolution to this plotline...and it came swiftly indeed.

Damon and Tyler had some intriguing interactions this week as the hybrid babysat the chained Damon, who merrily taunted Tyler with remarks about his frankly sad situation in life.  As Damon assured Tyler that Caroline's sleeping with Klaus was like hitting a great big, red, nuclear button to forever end her romantic prospects with Tyler, this twisted yet perhaps unintentionally true (on Caroline's part) remark cut Tyler deeply. Clearly, in spite of everything, Tyler is both unable to hate Caroline or let her go, and this makes me feel for him tremendously.  

Once Damon tricked Tyler into coming close so he could get a bit of that hybrid go juice, he was off to Professor Wes' lab to enact some frontier justice.  I will say that I haven't been entirely thrilled with Damon's immediate lapse into his Season 2 self after supposedly being dumped by Elena.  However, there's no question that in his confrontation with Wes in this episode, Damon was at his OTT insane best.  From snarking "Gotta say, long way off the tenure track" to attacking his enemy with vicious aplomb and stating, "my turn to play doctor," this scene was kind of delightful in a dark and twisted way.  What can I say - I'm no fan of Wes and I think he had it coming.

Bonnie and Jeremy consulted Liv to cast a locator spell, and while Liv was willing to assist them, she's undergone a quick little personality change.  Liv has, in short, become quite the shameless little trampy flirt with her Joan Osborne Lilith Fair 1996 looking self.  Coming into her own as a witch has upgraded her prowess.  Anyway, I suppose that since Liv's not charging anything else for her witchy services, Bonnie having to deal with Liv's insinuations towards Jeremy isn't much of a price to pay.

The only way to ultimately lure the most successful avoider ever was to let Katherine know that Nadia was laid up at the Salvatore house.  Despite doing everything in her power to save herself up to that moment, Katherine was finally able to put someone else first and fully embrace her love for Nadia.  Perhaps her daughter's fever dream recollections, revealing as they did a life full of endless longing for a mother's unreachable love, finally broke through the last of Katherine's selfish resistance to her maternal side.  

"So may the world rise up to meet me
And may the wind be at my back
All of this will soon be over
I don't think I'll be coming back
Though I fear what is to come I'm a soldier running, try to see
At the end of the world someone holds out for me"*

Nadia's death scene was beautifully tear-jerking, from her final talk with Matt to her last conversation with Katherine in this life.  "This is not what your life should've been," Katherine mused sadly, "500 years looking for a mother who turned out...to be me."  To make up for this a bit, Katherine gave her daughter a lovely vision of what their life might have been if they had been allowed to be together from Nadia's birth.  This simple, touching fantasy of a day spent happily together was a fulfilling bookend to Stefan letting Katherine glimpse a life where her family survived back in "500 Years of Solitude."  If anyone was capable of demonstrating what goodness is meant to be in a way that could actually get to Katherine in the least, surely it's been Stefan, and she seemed to have gained an understanding of what she could do to soothe Nadia in the kindest of ways.

While Nadia crossed quickly over, not before hearing Katherine state that she loves her daughter, matters immediately escalated in terms of the consequences Katherine had to face.  I adored the powerful visual of the whole gang standing around waiting to deal with Katherine, not least of all for the Wizard of Oz-style round of goodbyes Katherine then gave to those assembled.  I never fully appreciated what an excellent actress Nina Dobrev is until I saw her performance as Katherine this season.  Especially in her eyes, she possesses a singular and amazing ability to emote on a multi-layered and fully compelling wavelength.  Seriously, is it just the lighting, or do Katherine's eyes often seem like crazy, glittering orbs of intensity?  Dobrev surely did some of her best work yet in this scene of Katherine's final (?) farewells.

It was a matter-of-fact goodbye she gave to Caroline, who was the closest to a might-have-been-friend Katherine had in the gang.  "Bon Bon" and "Matty-boo" both got hilariously appropriate last words from Katherine, and I especially enjoyed her telling Matt he was the best night she never had.  Matt's reaction of "oh, well" here was wonderful, showing that while he's somewhat amused by her attitude towards him, he's not unaware or appreciative of the condescending, massively inappropriate nature of it either.  

Katherine's smug bragging to Caroline about making her life better by turning her formed a perfect foreshadowing to the last conversation with Damon.  Indeed, Katherine's ability to parade soul-crushing truth while again refusing to own her path of destruction was magnificent.  Damon calling her "kitty Kat" in rapid-fire response to her nickname-dubbing of the others was great, too.

And in a "I think I'm going to miss you most of all" moment, Katherine finally turned to Stefan, admitting that she's always wondered what it would be like to be loved by him.  Stefan has also been terrific these last few episodes, and again showed his complexity here, as it fell upon him to stab Katherine.  Who else could it be, other than the person she'd most obsessively loved?  Poetic justice at its best.  Last week, in the hotel room kiss scene, I suspected that Stefan must have subconsciously gleaned that Elena might be Katherine.  His half-smothered hope of getting back together with Elena seemed blended into his chemistry with Katherine there.  This rollercoaster had doubtless left him exhausted, yet resolved.  No matter that he might sympathize with and feel affection towards Katherine (personally, I love them together).  Killing Katherine was simply something that had to be done, and Stefan stepped up to the plate with dutiful precision.  He did allow Katherine a last kiss after she told him, "Stefan, I love you...I've always loved you."  Once stabbed, Katherine gasped, "I guess this is how our love story ends."  What an exquisite moment of romantic angst and a saga coming full circle, possibly for the last time.

"Let's run forever
Looking for your love so cool
To something better
I'll never stop following you"*

Once Katherine was dispatched and Elena began her slow return, Damon announced his resolve not to become "the next Katherine Pierce."  He confided to Stefan that his plan is to tell Elena everything he's done lately and "let the chips crash and burn where they may."  Surely some of Damon's hatred towards Katherine is based on his identification with her dark nature and especially her selfishness, so this was a wise, well-founded decision on his part.

Caroline and Tyler had a fascinating little chat wherein she somehow managed to make him seem like a jerk for still being mad about her sleeping with Klaus.  I mean, I was thrilled that Caroline and Klaus were together, but it's not beyond me to know that it was also a horrific thing for her to do with regard to Tyler.  He's been more than kind about it, but leave it to Caroline to manage a halfway decent speech about how she's not going to feel guilty anymore.

Bonnie and Katherine met up so that the latter could cross over, but surprisingly,  Katherine was not able to do so (or not surprisingly, since why would TVD want to fully end this exceptional character's story?).  Bonnie held her own and focused on her noble duty as anchor very nicely despite Katherine's continued snideness and even her admission that she'd stabbed Elena with Wes' evil serum.   Despite the progress she'd made with Nadia and even a little bit with Stefan, in bettering herself, Katherine had been unable to release her jealousy-fueled, spiteful loathing of Elena.  Then, for whatever reason, some kind of dark, mysterious force grabbed hold of Katherine's soul and yanked it into a frightening abyss of shadowy oblivion.  What's that all about?  I can't wait to find out, and see the consequences of Elena's awakening as a vampire blood-craving vampire next week.

What did you think of this week's episode?  Any hopes for what the March 20th installment, appropriately titled "While You Were Sleeping," may bring?  Share your thoughts in the comments!

*lyrics taken from the song "Nova" by The Sound of Arrows

About the Author - Virginia Mae Fontana
Virginia is happy to be reviewing The Vampire Diaries, Hart of Dixie, Nashville, Beauty and the Beast, Elementary, Witches of East End, Covert Affairs, and Devious Maids for Spoiler TV. She is a college English instructor and enjoys obsessing over films and pop music - in addition to tv shows, of course! You can find her blog, SugarRushed, at http://virginiamaeblog.blogspot.com/ and her Twitter handle is @SugarRushedBlog

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