Last week ended with the awesome surprise of Kai’s arrival from hell. This week, we go back a few days to see how that happened. While the Maxwell bell was being rung by Matty Blue, enabling Cade’s crossover into our dimension, Kai caught a glimpse of Mystic Falls through his haze of torture. He leapt and made it through before the gateway closed again.
Delighted to be alive, Kai eagerly orders a meal fit for a family of four. Impatient for satisfaction, he rips open a packet of jelly on the table and takes a taste…except he can’t taste it. He grabs another customer’s food and takes a bite…nothing. He picks up a knife and stabs himself in the hand…no sensation either. The poor waiter comes along and stares at him in shock…Kai magically impales the waiter on his blade.
This scene is ingenious. We are reminded in the course of moments why we’re happy to see Kai: Chris Wood’s portrayal is hilarious and terrifying by turns. But we’re also reminded how truly unpredictable and dangerous he is.
Back to the present, Alaric’s ready to take righteous vengeance against Kai for murdering Jo at their wedding, and Damon restrains Alaric in the interest of getting Kai to revive Elena first. Alaric is pissed, and he’s right to be. Damon is overconfident as usual; he will not be able to control this situation.
Speaking of out of control situations, Matt calls Caroline into the police station to help him deal with a bizarre flood of complaints coming in over the last couple of days…against Stefan Salvatore. Caroline immediately realizes they should have seen this coming; the moment Stefan became human, all his past compulsions started to fade. Everyone he’s ever compelled to forget a horror he inflicted on them or carried out right before their eyes…and Caroline will dutifully sit with a great many of them, listening to her fiance’s hit parade of cruelty. She hears their stories, then compels them all over again with a new version of the memory that might be easier to bear. Matt even compliments her creativity, noting that she’s coming up with a lot more variety than her mom used to; there were a lot of “animal attacks” in the town records.
But one of the people whose memory suddenly returned didn’t run to the police to file a report because he knew Stefan personally and understood what was happening. Armory intern, Dorian, whose backstory included a fire that killed half his family…well, until today, when he woke up and remembered who told him that backstory in the first place. Seven years ago, he came home to a gut-wrenching scene of horror, but Stefan set the house on fire and compelled him to forget everything. Of course, we in the audience instantly understand the significance of the time frame: Seven years ago, Klaus Mikaelson forced Stefan to go on a Ripper road trip with him.
Once again, this scene is utterly brilliant. By placing the murder of Dorian’s family in the timeline of the series, the show has put us in the same position as Caroline. We have to uncomfortably deal with the notion that we knew about Stefan’s acts of evil, but we were just happy to get him back. As viewers, we sided with the bad guy and forgave him, and sure, okay, we had the excuse of his humanity switch and his desire to protect Elena from Klaus…but we were able to move on and forget his victims. Now, here’s a tragic case of Stefan’s collateral damage, and we hadn’t given him a thought. Lives have been lost and ruined, and we kept rooting for this guy. It keeps getting harder, though, doesn’t it?
Dorian forces Stefan to dig his own grave, then shoots him. It’s dark and hardcore and Dorian immediately knows he’s no longer the victim or the hero in this story.
Also on a road trip, Damon and Kai are en route to Elena’s coffin. Sure, this will go well. Damon calls Bonnie and tries to play off his questions as hypothetical as if she doesn’t know him better than that. She instantly figures out Kai is there with him, and while that pisses her off, it also gives her hope: If Kai found his way through from hell, Enzo could too.
Btw, props to Chris Wood for his physical comedy throughout this scene. This guy is a star.
Damon and Kai talk through the Sirens situation, and Kai gets an idea. Maybe he could follow the “sexy Sirens” playbook to anchor him to this dimension. He needs to kill some bad guys and consume their flesh. Conveniently, there’s a guy sexually harassing his employee nearby, and Damon approves of murdering an ass-smacking SOB. I’m with you, Damon.
Stefan’s lying in his shallow grave, bleeding out slowly, inviting Dorian to take a second shot, and this time, please try to actually hit something vital, because slow deaths are wicked painful. Dorian is freaking out in a million different directions, including the realization that he’s now probably also going to go to hell, and it wasn’t worth it. He walks Stefan back to cell phone range and calls for help. Caroline can’t heal Stefan, of course, but she can compel the paramedics to record this as an accidental shooting among hunting buddies.
Driven by her desperation to find Enzo, Bonnie lets a psychic magnetism draw her to Cade, who offers to help her hone her gifts. They take hands and she reaches out for Enzo, drawing on Cade’s power to help her. It works! She finds Enzo, but he quickly tells her not to trust Cade, and to leave before Cade is able to use her to locate him. She breaks off the connection and Cade reveals what’s really happened. Cade is fascinated by herbecause she’s proven to be so much like him; he thought he was the only being who could psychically create a new dimension without even trying. Just as he created hell, she created a new pocket dimension and sent Enzo there. But of course, Enzo’s soul is on his list, so he can’t just let her keep him.
Recovering from his bullet wound, Stefan again tells Caroline she should be done with him. I’m inclined to agree. I know Caroline has a deep sense of loyalty, and I also think there’s a certain resistance to giving up a goal you’ve sacrificed so greatly to attain; if she lets this relationship go, then all the things she’s done in the name of being with Stefan are suddenly pointless, and she has to regret them all over again. But seriously, girl, you can do better. Cut bait and start the healing process. #FreeCaroline
Also trying desperately to make good on a foolish investment is Damon, who’s quickly realizing he has little hope of controlling Kai. He tries offering the hope of redemption, because hey, that works on him every time…but he’s making the classic mistake of misunderstanding what Kai is. He’s not a vampire whose humanity flips on and off; he’s a sociopath, which means his humanity has always been in the off position. More importantly, Kai is amoral, not unintelligent. He can tell he’s being played by a desperate man. Dangling redemption in front of Kai is like dangling a masters degree in front of a dog.
Shocking absolutely no one, Kai siphons Damon and disappears with the coffin.
Speaking of siphons, Alaric brings the kids for a visit. They’re hitting a developmental stage he can’t handle on his own–they can’t control their magic.
I loved this episode. Between the pure joy of watching Chris Wood work, the brilliant plot and scripting choices that placed the audience in the position of uncomfortable self-reflection, and the discovery that Enzo is (at least for now) safe from hell, I give this a 10.
What about you? Comment below with what you liked, what you didn’t like, and any theories about Kai’s next moves!