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The Vampire Diaries - Episode 5.20 - What Lies Beneath - Review

Well, while not perfect by any means, this was leaps and bounds better than last week's episode and had plenty going on to amuse and entertain, as well as some nicely tense atmospheric build-up.  Sure, the actual villains might underwhelm, especially the Travelers, who seem less threatening to me by the week (it's like their scariness decreases the more we learn about them), and Enzo's vendetta is born out of more hurt feelings than evil impulses.  But "What Lies Beneath," titled most likely for the overt reference to the Harrison Ford/Michelle Pfeiffer movie of the same name (bathtub scene, anyone?), brought TVD back to an old-school horror movie feel that was fun, and the soapy shenanigans among Caroline, Stefan, Elena, and Damon were a delightfully flirty diversion.

Poor Tyler was still chained up in the Travelers' lair, where the main hobby is walking around in indeterminate circles.  Maria, the world's perkiest Traveler, is Julian's wife and had no problem enjoying his new body, though she was unprepared for the consequences when Tyler himself awakened and wolfed out.  I think Maria is my favorite Traveler so far because  at least her silliness is entertaining, unlike Markos.  Speaking of Markos, I'm almost starting to enjoy him on a Lifetime movie of the week, so-bad-it's-awful level, especially in this episode when he shouted to his minions, "I see a lot of walking when I should be hearing chanting!" Classic.  Anyway, the shot of Tyler wolf-jumping right into the title card was awesome and helped set up the aforementioned horror flick feel of the episode.

Since the Travelers can use doppelgänger blood to revert vamps to humans and kill them, Stefan, Elena, and Damon decided to hide out at Caroline's dad's cabin to keep the valuable blood out of the slowly scheming collective's reach.  Obviously, they need to find a new solution to this problem, because just as Stefan and Elena could not hide the truth about Enzo's demise forever, obviously this awkward quartet could only live under the same roof for so long.  Elsewhere, Matt and Jeremy decided to interrogate Julian and actually did a really good job (I'm so proud), though the subsequent search for Julian's body yielded zero success, despite this stunning dialogue as Bonnie and Jer looked for an eagle tattoo among a sea of abandoned traveler bodies (because they're all in Mystic Falls residents, uh oh):

Jeremy: "I'm pretty sure that's a dove."
Bonnie: "Or a really cute eagle.  Moving on..."

Right, so by the end of the episode, this half (Bonnie, Jeremy, Matt, and Tyler) of the scoobies were back where they started -- only worse, since Ty has apparently been evicted from his bodily abode by the Travelers, leaving Julian in his stead.  Damn that infernal chanting.  Meanwhile, Bonnie and Jeremy are so sweet together, it's a shame her death seems inescapable again, a fact Grams encouraged a reluctant Bon Bon to reveal to her worried boyfriend.  But the most important thing we got from that ghostly encounter was the way that Grams could knock over a lamp due to the ongoing collapse of The Other Side.  This new ability of spirits to touch objects in the human realm increased the amount of mischief ghost Enzo could get up to at the cabin.  
Upon arriving at the cabin, Caroline immediately noticed Stefan and Elena chatting secretively and assumed they were getting involved again, not connecting this subterfuge to the Enzo issue.  I wonder why she was more worried about Stelena the sequel than anything else?  Yup, that's rhetorical.  Caroline also seemed to sense Enzo's presence, which was a wonderful little moment that connected back to the cute rapport the two of them were forming before Enzo was too soon taken from us (though hopefully not permanently).  Due to her maraschino cherry chomping and hilariously obsessive charade card making, Damon discerned that Caroline was overanalyzing something important.  Given his own justified paranoia, Damon correctly guessed that Stefan and Elena's secret had more to do with Enzo than romance.  

Damon and Elena continued their back-and-forth, indecisive approach to staying basically broken up somewhere between friendship, pain, and getting back together.  I liked their mirror image exchanges of the phrase "Yes.  No.  I don't know" soon after their arrival at the cabin, as it epitomized the dynamic between them lately.  The awkwardness of their relationship recently is downright adorable.  Speaking of huggable moments, poor Caroline was really irritable throughout the gang's fabulously tense game of "Never Have I Ever," and I loved the timing of her play, "Never have I ever kissed a Salvatore brother.  Today."  It led perfectly into Damon's rapid-fire accusation, "Never have I ever lied about where Enzo is."  Elena's wise decision to extricate herself from this situation only brought her into peril (because she's Elena) as she took a bubble bath and was rudely interrupted by Enzo's dunking.  

Of course, drowning Elena wouldn't kill her, so the scoobies, after putting aside the weirdness of the truth about Enzo coming out, determined he must have a more nefarious plot going.  Yep, Enzo had undone Luke's spell and allowed the Travelers to access the cabin.  And then it was time to soak the shed with kerosene and threaten Luke's life, luring the Salvatores so that Enzo could stab them.  Damon's response of "dick move, Enzo!" was awesome.  I love that the Damon and Enzo friendship this snark represents is still alive somehow.  Proof positive of the power of bromance.
Damon managed to stave off Enzo's onslaught by suggesting he could bring his buddy back to life given the messed up state of The Other Side.  And Stefan confessed that he hadn't wanted to admit what occurred with Enzo for fear that Damon would hate him, which makes me think Stefan should take a little of the advice he offered Elena when reassuring her about her own deception earlier in the episode.  Stefan told her, "think of all the times [Damon's] lied to you.  Call it a freebie."  By the same token of Damon's past misdeeds, and especially since no one's even mentioning the fact that Enzo tricked him into the unscheduled open heart surgery, I think Stefan can walk away from this guilt-free.  Damon succinctly acknowledged as much when he punched his brother and then quipped, "I had to do that.  For Enzo.  That's the last time you'll hear from me about it."  One of the best laugh out loud moments of the episode was Elena's super-whiny "Damoooonnnn" at seeing him sock Stefan.  I love her, but she is just so ridiculous sometimes...wait, that's why I love her.
You'd think everyone would want to vacate the premises with the Travelers' arrival impending, but maybe the gang realizes just how long it generally takes their enemies to do anything.  Anyway, we had time for a lovely kiss scene between Damon and Elena as well as a fascinating Caroline/Stefan conversation.  I freely admit that when Damon and Elena stare longingly at one another across a pregnant pause and some generic, melodramatic pop-rock balled starts playing in the background, it's the ultimate zenith of my pop cultural preferences.  I believe this was bred into me by years of WB/CW viewing, and I embrace it joyfully.  

"I am holding it together the best I can...for you...Being around you drives me nuts. And not being around you drives me nuts." -Damon, adding to his stockpile of endearingly passive-aggressive romantic quotes to Elena.

On the more unspoken, un-dealt with side of things, though, we had Caroline feeling a bit betrayed that Stefan hadn't confided in her about Enzo...not least of all because he did tell Elena.  But Stefan rather touchingly told Caroline that he does not trust Elena more than her.  "I didn't want you to think any less of me," he said in an awww-inducing moment so sweet that even a Klaroline fan like myself had to allow the Steroline vibes to charm me.  Stefan admitted that he'd noticed the flirty interactions between Caroline and Enzo, which she was quick to dismiss  Stefan's noticing her chemistry with Enzo reflected Caroline's own inner conflict about him possibly reuniting with Elena.  But after this promising exchange, Stefan quickly sensed impending trouble.  And after smooching Damon, Elena was grabbed by the Travelers, who finally bothered to show up.  While not exactly a heart-stopping cliffhanger, it set up a sufficient level of suspense going into the next episode.  I can't see the Travelers actually getting to be effective villains by the end of the season, but I hope that TVD can introduce a replacement threat of a more potent nature, perhaps as a cliffhanger to set up Season 6?  

What did you think of this week's episode?  Share your thoughts in the comments!

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 Continuum 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 and her Twitter handle is @SugarRushedBlog

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