When you’re on the run from an evil magic nomadic people and you could hide anywhere in the world, where do you go? Isolated cabin in the woods. It’s picturesque, it’s perfect for boozing it up, and it’s chock-full of opportunity for a vengeful ghost to get all revenge-y. Let’s talk about What Lies Beneath!
While there was a lot of fun and snark and awkward in this episode, it wasn’t too heavy on that thing called “plot.” Thankfully the secret of Enzo’s death was revealed before too long, but his master plan is well trod territory on this show: an eye for an eye and all that. He wants them all dead, because Damon killed Maggie, so he’ll hurt the ones Damon loves for the ultimate revenge. Got it. The problem is that there’s no real threat: will Stefan or Elena or Caroline or Damon really get knocked off by a ghost in the third to last episode of the season? So while there were some good horror-movie scares in here, they played more as a light diversion to me, rather than a hardcore, race-to-the-end, omg-what-will-happen-next episode of TVD.
On the Travelers front, Jeremy and Matt and Tyler (while he’s Tyler) decide the best way to get the info they need is to torture Julian with wolfsbane and assorted pain. Gone are the days when these kids were anti-torture, I guess! While Bonnie continues to keep the secret of just how dire her situation is with the Other Side crumbling, Jeremy is intent on making the most of their failed romantic weekend. (Though, like, don’t they have romantic weekends all the time? I feel like they have been smooching on a bench on campus for 75 percent of season 5.)
While the ramp-up to the final two episodes is clearly on — Tyler’s in danger of losing his body to Julian permanently, Bonnie’s about to be whooshed away by the destruction of the Other Side, Stefan and Elena are under all kinds of threats thanks to their doppelganger status, and Enzo’s still a live wire (though currently pacified) — What Lies Beneath felt like we were biding our time until Promised Land and Home. Again, while there was lots to be entertained by in this episode, it’s probably the one episode of the season you could skip without losing the plot.
And the same was true emotionally speaking. On the Damon-Elena on-again, off-again, rinse and repeat front, Damon was confused. Elena was confused. He had a bad day. He kissed her. She was full of wonder that a guy could be both good and bad… She’s had years of experience dating Salvatores by now, so the baffled-by-romantic-complications thing she had going on here seemed a little too naïve even for Elena. On the Stefan-and-Caroline “Are they more than just friends?” front, there’s at least one nice moment after an episode of awkward thanks to Caroline jumping to conclusions. The scene by the blazing woodshed was nicely understated, and Stefan’s rationale for keeping the secret that he murdered Enzo from Caroline because he didn’t want her to think less of him certainly further endeared him to her. Elena and Caroline have already been down the boyfriend-swap road, and Caroline’s had the I Want to Date Your Ex conversation with her when it came to Matt Donovan. Here’s hoping that if (when) the time comes that Caroline acknowledges she has the hots for Stefan, it’s not a big rigmarole with Elena (who doesn’t seem to yet have a clue about it), but a conversation between two friends who have been through far crazier crap than a little romantic overlap.
A fun, if ultimately kinda pointless, episode, in my humble opinion. Perhaps when everything goes to hell in a handbasket in the next two episodes, I’ll be crying out for the good old days when all the gang had to deal with were angry ghosts and determined Travelers.
Compelling Moment: The drinking game scene. Full-on entertainment with A+ reactions around that table. That’s what you get from four actors who know their characters so very, very well.
The Rules: Luke does a cloaking spell to hide the location of the doppelgangers from the Travelers, while the Travelers do a locator spell. As the Other Side crumbles, the ghosts are able to physically interact with the Land of the Living. We’ve seen a determined ghost do this in the past: Vicki could mess around with stuff thanks to the added assistance of a witch on the Other Side. The Travelers “permanently” give Julian control of Tyler’s body with some more chanting and by burning Julian’s body; Mia did a similar spell for Katherine to take control of Elena’s body, but the definition of “permanent” is a little shaky here. When Travelers do the Passenger spell and hang out in someone else’s body, their own bodies go into a coma-like state (where they apparently need no food or water).
Foggy Moments: An overall complaint: if characters decide to have big old emotional heart-to-hearts when they are supposedly in dire situations (Caroline and Elena in the woods searching for Luke, Damon and Elena by the car), the situations read as Less Than Dire to the audience. If they’re not in fear for their lives, I’m not in fear for their lives — or I think they are just kinda dim. Ditto goes for not using your vampire speed/strength when caught in a woodshed with a crazy ghost.
Questions before Promised Land (EP521):
- What would happen if the gang just killed all the Traveler bodies in that cave? The Traveler essence would still be stuck in the residents of Mystic Falls, like Gregor was in Matt?
- Will Damon figure out a way to resurrect Enzo before the Other Side crumbles?
- Will the Other Side crumble? Will Bonnie survive?
- How much do you love Luke? A lot or a ton?
- Is Tyler a goner?
What did you think of What Lies Beneath? Sound off below!
Crissy Calhoun is the co-author, with Heather Vee, of Love You to Death – Season 4: The Unofficial Companion to The Vampire Diaries and the upcoming Love You to Death – Season 5. She tweets @CrissyCalhoun (often) and blogs at CrissyCalhoun.com (sporadically), as well at LoveYouToDeathTVD.com.
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