The one and only Julie Plec tweeted that this episode was meant as a holiday treat for longtime fans, and Ghost World delivered on that promise. Such a high mortality rate in Mystic Falls means a wealth of ghostly potential to draw on. Bringing back lost fan favorites could have played out like a cheap emotional trick, but instead in true TVD form, Ghost World was all treat, tying up loose ends in a way that resonated across the storylines and set up new mythological goodness for the episodes to come.
Bonnie often has to deal with the witchcraft-related messes rather than dwell on her feelings, and before she realizes there’s one to deal with, we hear her tell Caroline that she doesn’t know how to handle her boyfriend-ghost drama. The mess they are in is a result of Bonnie resurrecting Jeremy; though she tells Grams she had no choice, she did make one, knowing that there would be consequences. And she steps up and handles it, destroying the necklace and sending the ghosts back to the Other Side — even though that means losing her grandmother again. Grams tells Bonnie that she’s stronger than all of this, and we see that strength in her resolve and in her demand for respect from Jeremy.
Cheating Heart: And now Jeremy will have to live with the consequences of his actions. He knew that he shouldn’t be kissing Anna, but as he tells his sister, he couldn’t help the way he feels about Anna, right or wrong. Jer’s lost so many people, so suddenly and horribly, and he got a second chance to be with Anna. And he took it. I loved that Jer and Anna’s kiss took place in the Grill bathroom; before she returned in her ghostly form, their last moments together were in that bathroom, before the police dragged her away. That moment was one of inaction for Jeremy; here he seizes the moment (and Anna), knowing full well there will be fallout to his actions and that he’s doing wrong by Bonnie, the person who went to great lengths to bring him back to life.
Elena reacts rather strongly to her brother’s illicit smooching. Sure, Bonnie’s her best friend and cheating ain’t right . . . but perhaps Elena’s reaction also has something to do with her own conflicted feelings. As she said to Caroline in Disturbing Behavior, admitting to having feelings for Damon would make here the kind of person she doesn’t want to be. In season 1, Jeremy and Anna’s relationship acted as a kind of foil for Stefan and Elena’s, and here it does again: in a less direct way, Jer’s dual affection acts as a cautionary tale for Elena. More explicitly, Elena’s advice to Jer to stop living in the past by loving someone who’s already gone resounds for Elena’s own situation, and (thankfully) Elena’s self-aware enough to realize that. She echoes her speech to Jer as she leaves Stefan in the Forbes lock-up. She still has hope — bolstered by Lexi’s resolve that Stefan is still in there — and Elena won’t give up . . . yet. She needs Stefan to fight, to want to return to his former self and to her. She won’t love a ghost forever.
All Apologies: The Damon-Mason rapport was back and in fine form; how I’ve missed Mason’s laughing, smirky reactions to Damon. And he’s still motivated by the same thing as when he was alive: he wants to protect Tyler and he sees that his agenda dovetails with Damon’s need to save his brother from Klaus’s control. Nothing like a common enemy to make former foes friends. Mason’s willing to accept Damon’s “crapass” apology, because he’s not out for revenge. In a beautifully written moment, he explains what it’s like on the Other Side: you just watch and regret, and now Mason has an opportunity for retribution. He can lead Damon to a weapon that will kill Klaus, and provide a little Damon analysis on the way to the cave. Damon does have trust issues and friendship issues, and we’ve heard from Elena that Damon misses his buddy. I love that Alaric has stood his ground and not simply brushed off Damon’s action as being a “Damon” thing to do and therefore somehow exempt from consequence. Alaric’s point that he shouldn’t have to forgive a friend for killing him, that Alaric should be treated with respect, is an important one. But let’s hope Damon’s winsome smile and non-apology are enough to get those two to be bros again. Damon needs Alaric, especially while Stefan’s all growly in lock-up.
And speaking of needing friends… Elena’s prayer for Lexi’s help is answered, and she witnesses Lexi unflinchingly detox Stefan in an attempt to starve the ripper and then make him feel something — like pain. Stefan does a great job of being a grade-A jerk — attempting to make both Lexi and Elena feel pathetic for caring so much and dedicating so much of their lives to him — but neither woman buys into his manipulation. Stopping the ripper doesn’t only mean bringing back the Stefan they know and love, but it means putting the brakes on a rampaging killer. Stefan may have been joking about going on a townsfolk binge at the Night of Illumination, but there’s a dark truth to that statement: he feeds and kills with great regularity. Having the ripper in lock-up is a town service, and about more than just how much Elena loves Stefan.
One small moment I loved in this episode was when Elena left the holding cell, unable to watch Lexi torture Stefan any longer, and she takes a breath of fresh air before hearing sirens and seeing the flashing lights in the town square. For Elena Gilbert, when you escape one nightmare, you just walk into another. She realized that the ghosts being on this side had much more dire effects than just her brother cheating on her bestie, and the ghosts had to be sent back, even if that means Lexi not getting a chance to “fix” Stefan.
With Mikael still an unknown quantity, the gang now has another lead to follow in the quest to kill Klaus. What do those cave markings mean? Will they lead to a physical weapon? Will they lead us to uncharted flashback hair territory? Can’t wait til next week.
Compelling Moment: Don’t make me choose between tear-provoking ghost moments! Seeing Grams holding Bonnie’s arms and giving her power during the spell was perfect. And Anna seeing Pearl in the road, realizing she won’t be alone any longer and she will eternally be reunited with her mother — that hug killed me. Amazing. This show always comes back to family.
The Rules: Normally ghosts on the Other Side are able to see the living world but not interact with it (save for creepily moving some objects around when they really need to make a point). Humans with an open channel, like Jeremy, can communicate with a ghost if both are trying to bridge the worlds. The Original Witch took advantage of Bonnie’s spells (raising Jeremy from the dead, and breaking the magic helping Vicki) and used her own talisman (the necklace) to ‘wedge the door wide open’ between the sides, allowing ghosts to physically interact with the living world. Bonnie’s manifestation spell (which we can assume was helpfully pointed out to her by Ghost Grams) made “veiled matter” visible, i.e., the living could see the ghosts. Not everyone who died is on the Other Side, in what Alaric calls “supernatural purgatory”; those supernatural spirits without unfinished business go someplace else (the other Other Side…).
- Where were Tyler and Rebekah?
- What exactly did Lexi do to Stefan? She says she’s trying to “get inside his head,” in a way that reminded me of the dream manipulation we’ve seen Damon and Katherine do to Stefan in the past, and later she says he’s hallucinating that he’s been without blood for months and then years. Lexi’s an older and therefore stronger vampire than Stefan, but he’s as strong as he can be on his gluttonous diet of people blood. We saw his ability to resist Klaus’s mind control in The Reckoning. How is Lexi able to control his mind like that, with relative ease? Does she have some special afterlife power? Was this always how Lexi detoxed Stefan, or was she speeding things up this time only?
- Did Mason know the Lockwood legend about an Original-killing weapon before he died, or was that something he learned on the Other Side? (And if the latter, from whom did he learn it?)
Other thoughts & questions to ponder before Ordinary People (308):
- Even though Caroline wasn’t at the center of any plot line this episode, she shined — her no B.S. friendship moments with Bonnie over the Jer situation, her cute terror over the witch house and magic, her polite hello to “Miss Sheila,” and her battling the tomb vamps to save Carol Lockwood. You go, Blondie.
- File this under important details: Grams says to Bonnie about witches talking to each other on the Other Side: “Who do you think makes all the rules?”
- Since Jenna didn’t show up, does that mean she is without unfinished business and has found peace?
With head of the history department Tobias Fell out of the picture, is Alaric in for a promotion at Mystic Falls High?
- Who set up the booby-trap protecting the cave? Clearly a vampire was not intended entry as the stakes were vervain coated (Damon’s hand sizzles when he touches one). Damon says it’s as if he wasn’t invited in to the cave — is it an ancient residence or has a witch spelled the entrance to prevent vampires from entering?
- The necklace returns to its original state. Does that mean the Original Witch still has a foothold on this side with the necklace as her talisman?
What did you think of Ghost World? Sound off below with your likes/dislikes, theories, and predictions.
Crissy Calhoun is the author of Love You to Death: The Unofficial Companion to The Vampire Diaries and Love You to Death — Season 2. When not obsessively re-watching CW shows, she works as managing editor at ECW Press in Toronto. She blogs at crissycalhoun.com and tweets @crissycalhoun.
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