Wow. Where do I begin? Before I dissect all the twisted family dynamics at play in “Bringing Out the Dead,” this week’s episode of The Vampire Diaries, let me share one quick non-sequiter thought. WARNING: Spoilers! My favorite professor in college used to say, “All metaphors break down at some point.” For the vampire=gay metaphor, it usually breaks down once you get past the angst and into the killing. With that in mind, let’s consider for a moment the layers upon layers of metaphor, subtext and role reversal at play in Bill‘s last scene with Caroline.
Bill, a gay, is no fan of vampires, but has come to accept his daughter for who and what she is. Yet, when given the choice to become a vampire to save his own life, he chooses death and tells Caroline it’s just what he believes. I have often said there’s a limit to acceptance, no matter how many PFLAG buttons someone is wearing. Does your straight father really accept you if he chooses death over a one-night-stand with a poker buddy? That particular metaphor is a little fuzzy, I admit, but you get the idea. It’s like saying, “I support your decision to move to New York, but I’d rather die than visit you there.” See what I’m getting at? Caroline certainly seems at peace with Bill’s choice not to embrace her lifestyle, even as a life-saving measure. The whole thing left me feeling way more conflicted than it did Caroline. But I am glad they mentioned Bill’s ex, Steven, which I’m choosing to view as a reference to the last gay Jack Coleman played: Steven Carrington on Dynasty.
All right, that’s one twisted family dynamic down. Let’s look at Bonnie and Abby. First, let me say that, “You have no powers and I don’t trust you” has replaced “You’re a virgin who can’t drive” as my go-to insult. It really covers everything; try it sometime. I get that Bonnie is bitter about her mom abandoning her, but even I couldn’t prevent an involuntary eye roll when she tells Abby the story about the mom who loved her kids so much she turned them into vampires. I get that you’re trying to twist the knife a bit there, Bonnie, but again, metaphors do break down, and I don’t think anyone really advocates parents sentencing their children to an eternity of misery, murder and doppelgängers. But I’m going to let that slide, because Bonnie soon realizes she needs mom and needs mom to try to need her in order to get that mysterious casket open. I feel for Abby, though. I do. You don’t see your daughter for 16-17 years and when she shows up on your doorstep and interrupts your idyllic life with your hot stepson, it’s because she needs your help to kill the king of the vampires/werewolves. It’s a lot to ask, and it leaves them both successful and unconscious. Where do they go from here? Is it enough mother/daughter bonding to erase the past?
Next, it’s Elena and Alaric‘s turn. Does anyone else think that Elena may be cracking just a bit? Who could blame her, really? The girl has been through a lot, and this season has been particularly brutal emotionally. Yet, there’s something very raw and needy about her adoption of Alaric as a member of her family. I guess since she’s lost or exiled everyone else, he’s taken on mythic proportions in her head. I know he takes on mythic proportions in my head, and I wish they’d just do it already. I fear that the more she builds him up, the harder it’s going to be for her when that ring finally gives out and he dies for good. Then there’s Matt. Elena gets the call that Caroline’s dad has died, and what does she do? She asks Matt to stay with her until Alaric wakes up. Not only does she equate her temporary loss of Alaric with Caroline’s permanent loss of her father, but she elevates her own emotions over Caroline’s. I really expected her to tell Matt to go to Caroline, but no. Maybe Klaus is right; maybe Matt is the normal, boring, blonde football player Elena really needs to be happy.
Lastly, let’s look at Brotherpalooza over at the Klaus House. Damon and Stefan are there to stall for more time for Bonnie, but can barely stand to be in the presence of one another. Klaus and Elijah are no better off, since Elijah is clearly over Klaus’s ego trip and constant staking of him and his siblings. Then, just to add salt to everyone’s wounds, Klaus pushes Elijah to tell the story of the original Elena: Tatia. Two brothers in love with the same, doomed woman. Sound familiar? It’s the perfect story to put everyone in a bad mood. Things go from bad to worse, though, when Klaus forces Damon’s hand (and forces Stefan’s into the fire). Elijah and Damon unstake the other siblings, who then take turns stabbing Klaus. Damon and Stefan are dismissed, and they seem to tacitly agree that no matter how f**ked up their relationship is, it could be worse. The Originals are about to punish Klaus the only way they can, by leaving him, when one more family member arrives at the party. Who had Mom in the “Who’s in the casket?” pool? Klaus assumes she’s there to exact revenge, but it turns out Mom has been watching a lot of Oprah in her centuries-long hibernation, because she’s all about forgiveness. Can she make all the Originals behave? How long before one of them shoves her back in the coffin? Would you want your mother to move in with you for all eternity?
P.S. In the midst of all the family drama, there’s a new serial killer on the loose. Someone who has knowledge and access to the gang’s weapons. All signs point to Katherine, which is why we can absolutely rule her out. If I know one thing about VD, it’s that they like their twists and turns. And that is why I’m guessing it’s Jeremy. Yes, Jeremy. He’s been compelled by Klaus and by Damon. He’s been dead and resurrected by his witch girlfriend. Two of his previous girlfriends are now dead. He’s long overdue for a meltdown. But why start with the medical examiner? Was he just in the wrong place at the wrong time? Or is Jeremy sending a message to all the Founder families. If so, who’s next?