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The Vampire Diaries - Let Her Go - Review

As it turned out, this episode was every bit as sad as we might have expected, given its subject matter dealing with Liz's funeral.  It was even more heartbreaking in many ways than I anticipated and dealt out its share of utterly fascinating, deep character moments and interactions ripe for analysis.  I'm sure this will be a much-discussed episode in that regard.  There were also some twists and turns that I found quite frustrating as well, because how could one not?  Let's look back at "Let Her Go."

Even the title of the episode represented a bit of a more complex wordplay than we've seen of late.  The Season 6 episode titles have by and large been the names of songs from the '90's, tying in with the theme of the 1994 prison world.  This week, while it would have been all to easy to dub the episode "Let Her Cry" after the Hootie and the Blowfish song (and by the way, total props to last week's being called "Stay," presumably after the Lisa Loeb song), "Let Her Go" is, to my knowledge (correct me if I'm wrong, commenters!) not a '90's song.  It might be named after the Passenger song from last year, which has previously been featured on the show.  Interestingly, there's also a telling line of dialogue wherein Damon tells Stefan, "Today, let her in."  Caroline needs to, but cannot, let Liz go.  And Stefan needs to learn to let Caroline in.  Life doesn't always have the timing that an often painfully perfectionist nature like Caroline's would crave, and that's one lesson this episode imparts clearly.  

"I can't do worse, okay?  I shouldn't have to."  From the episode's very first scene, with a flashback to child Caroline telling her mother, "I think I'll always need you," the emotions were enough to make a particularly uptight Vulcan weep openly.  Caroline decided to give all the scooby gang members tasks to do in order to help Liz's funeral go more smoothly.  She repeatedly assured herself and others that she just needed to get through that one day, the day of the funeral, and then she'd be okay.  This became a highly significant point later in the episode.

There was some very intriguing content regarding Damon and Caroline's relationship in this episode.  Due to his manipulative treatment of her in season 1, this has always been an awkward relationship, one that could never really see its way to any kind of comfort zone.  In fact, I've always wished the relationship had been developed in a less aggressively disturbing way back in the days of Damon's evil and more progressively improved over the seasons that followed, but it never happened.  In this episode, we saw some evidence of the remaining weirdness between the two, and the hope that there could be a brighter side to their future interactions.  While Caroline tersely dismissed the idea of commiserating with Damon, and he dispensed some perhaps well-meaning, probably too-blunt advice about how the worst of her grieving was yet to come, the storm clouds between these two were still all too obvious.  Yet, despite his own grief for Liz and the way her passing reminded Damon of the death of his own mother, worsening his mood, Damon managed to put his own issues aside and make up for both his frequent harsh attitude towards Caroline (such as his accusations at her after she'd fed Liz her blood a little while back) and his inability to eulogize his own mother.  Damon's eulogy to Liz was beautiful, giving Caroline the assurances of her mother's pride in her wonderful qualities that she needed to hear, as well as the respectful, reverent farewell the Sheriff needed.

I also loved the simple, stark loveliness of Caroline's song for her mother.  While showing the fragile resilience with which Caroline was just barely able to express her love for Liz amid her near-crippling grief, it also gave us an absolutely priceless look on Stefan's face as she sang.  After Stefan's expressions of confusion and inaction regarding his feelings for Caroline earlier in the episode, his look of surprise, being totally impressed, and awed by Caroline during her song was a nice reminder that Stefan's reversion to overcomplicating or side-stepping his feelings could be set aside by such a moment of perfect clarity.  
The scene earlier on of Damon advising Stefan about the latter's relationship with Caroline was one that quickly became a point of contention among the fanbase after the scene was teased online before the episode aired.  For those who feared Damon was telling Stefan that Caroline was flat-out not "the one," that really wasn't the context.  It had more to do with Damon saying that if Stefan didn't think Caroline was the one, he owed it to her not to string her along.  Damon asked if Stefan's feelings for Caroline reminded him of how he felt the other two times he's been in love, with Katherine and Elena.  This actually led to quite a fulfilling pay-off later in the episode, as the two brothers discussed the situation once more after the funeral:

Stefan: "I think you were wrong about Caroline. I realize that I may not be able to explain what I feel for her, but it is something, and yeah, maybe all love isn't true love in the messed up way that you and I have experienced it, but I think this could turn into something even better."

Damon: "Well then, brother, stop wasting your time sitting here with me."

But since all relationships on this show have to feature missed opportunities and confessions prepared moments too late to save others, of course by the time Stefan showed up at Caroline's ready to discuss their relationship, she had already made a fateful decision of another kind.
Elena picked up on the weirdness of Caroline's "just have to get through today" mantra and followed her friend home to investigate.  I absolutely loved how this showed the depth of their friendship and Elena's thoughtful concern for Caroline, especially since Elena herself understands grief better than most.  For those of us who have felt Elena's focus on her friendships too decreased lately, this was a treat.  But while Elena was able to figure out that Caroline must be planning to turn off her emotions the next day, and did her best to dissuade her, her efforts were so ineffectual that Caroline actually snapped her bestie's neck and ditched her.  Coming from Caroline, these were grave and shocking actions, though it was obvious enough that no words of Elena's were going to convince her not to flip the switch.  Plus, Caroline's speech to Elena about the latter's hypocrisy was dead-on, even though Elena's own regret over her switch-flipping, memory-erasing ways were sincere:
after Elena came out of her self-inflicted fog, both times the worst of the pain was over.  Why should Elena, or Stefan for that matter, be the only ones allowed to take the easy way out?

This, of course, leads us to the seemingly inevitable loss of Caroline's humanity and feelings for the time being, and the probably emergence of Dark!Caroline, which should be truly fascinating to watch.  We've seen before that tricks such as turning off humanity and erasing memories can't completely take away that glimmer of the person's true, better self hiding underneath.  It should be awesome to see what will finally convince Caroline to come back into the light.
Hooray for Bonnie's return!  Fantastically, in addition to the utterly compelling A plot about Caroline's issues, we also got plenty of Bon Bon at her most badass in the B plot.  After using her road trip to regain her power and finally having all the ingredients she needed for the eclipse, Bonnie was shocked to discover that she was apparently phasing back and forth between 1994-land and a second prison world with some mysterious evidence in it indicating that the Salvatores were somehow connected to this place.  The eerie strangeness and unpredictability of this part of the episode were excellent, and while I feared Bonnie would get trapped in the second prison world (which would have been awful), thankfully she managed to get herself home.  However, this happened right after she got a good look at the resident of the second prison world, awesomely setting up a new plotline with some very cool possibilities.

After greeting Damon back home and leaping into his arms for the best "Bamon" moment to date, Bonnie shared with him the footage she'd captured of the mysterious woman from Prison World 2.  Yup, as we might have guessed based on the repeated references to Mama Salvatore of late, it was Lily.  But why is Stefan and Damon's mother trapped in the prison world after having been so long presumed dead of mortal, non-magical causes?  Was she rightfully imprisoned like Kai, or wrongfully punished?  And who banished Mama Salvatore there?  Another, earlier Gemini Coven member?  Someone else?  Hmm.

Jo, Alaric, and Kai had their own C plot, and while the Kai part of it was kind of underwhelming, the Jo and Alaric scenes were delightful.  I think having Kai deal with the results of merging with Luke and getting some of his brother's goodness could have been done in a more complex and rewarding manner.  Instead of seeing his horrible evil side grapple with the unwanted moral urges, we just kind of get this vague "okay, I'm a better person now" collapse into nothingness that is a disservice to Chris Wood's amazing performance and development of Kai's character.  I'm definitely disappointed by the way Kai is seemingly being quietly ushered out as a Big Bad.  We don't even know much about his motives anymore or his plans, and none of the main characters among the good guys even seem to care.  Meh.

Kai and Jo were both sick, presumably because Kai took Luke's magic instead of Jo's as was intended.  After Jo agreed to give Kai her magic in order to save all the members of their coven who would otherwise die, Kai took off with said magic, but not before whispering in Jo's ear the true reason for her illness.  As it turns out, Jo is pregnant!  In an adorable scene reminiscent of an endearingly goofy romcom, Alaric proposed, then explained to Jo that his doing so had nothing to do with her suddenly being pregnant.  In fact, he'd already bought the ring a while ago.  When he took that ring out, it was such an ultimate "Awww!" moment!  Though the love between Jo and Alaric has been so quickly advanced, mainly because they only get so much screentime per episode, it is sweet and provided a pleasant bit of respite in an otherwise very dark and melancholy episode.  It is a little bizarre that Ric didn't go to Liz's funeral, but that seems to have had more to do with the writer's convenient need to tuck him away in this subplot (aided by the common sense issue of Jo being sick) than anything else.

Elsewhere in the episode, we had Tyler showing up drunk to the funeral, to be turned away by a super-judgy, super-scowly Matt.  There's no doubt that Matt did the right thing by preventing Tyler from attending in such a state, but he just has a knack for being insufferable lately whether he's right or wrong.  Later, after Tyler sobered up and reconnected with Matt following the services, Matt informed his pal that he's signed them both up for a police training program so that they can make a difference like Liz did.  This had the combined effect of being kind of cute but also promising a probably dull Matt-and-Tyler-as-cops situation for the future.  We'll see where this leads.

What did you think of this episode?  Share your thoughts in the comments!  And be sure to catch an all-new The Vampire Diaries, March 12 at 8/7c on The CW.

About the Author - Virginia Mae Fontana
Virginia is happy to be reviewing The Vampire Diaries and Beauty and the Beast for Spoiler TV. She 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 @VMaeFontana
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