Review by John
It can be awkward when you discover that your father was part of a secret society dedicated to conducting questionable, torturous medical experiments on the vampire that has become your lover. Or at least that’s how “awkward” works on The Vampire Diaries, where if you get into a relationship, not only might they be technically dead, but they are probably connected to you in some unexpected and creepy way.
As Damon relates the story of his experience in the hands of Dr. Augustine, we are introduced to Enzo, the fellow test subject that helped him escape. Of course, in the process, Damon had to leave Enzo behind, which prompted him to further turn off his emotions, which ties in nicely with what is known of Damon’s personal history. This is likely to come back on Damon in more than a few ways, considering that Enzo is still captive.
One might be tempted to think that Enzo would be willing to let a few things slide, but it’s fairly clear from Damon’s flashbacks that the experimentation is brutal. And it’s fairly reasonable to imagine that the Augustine experiments have progressed into even more disturbing directions over the course of 50 years. If there is any value in the never-ending subplot with Stefan and his PTSD, it’s how it lays the foundation for Enzo’s potential psychological state.
It’s nice to see that the season has shifted so much from the Silas-centric arc into the Augustine arc without missing a beat. I like how the seeds were planted along the way, and how Aaron’s family has been used to expose more of Damon’s poor choices. I don’t see this affecting Elena’s stance on Damon overly much, given what terrible things he’s done right in front of her, but it was a good source of tension within the episode.
Caroline and Katherine band together to help Stefan get over his trauma, which is just another example of how those two make a potent team. And let me say, if there’s a better treatment for trauma and anxiety than getting very cozy with Katherine, I don’t know what it is! It makes sense to pair up Stefan and Katherine, given how the series began, and Katherine has been humbled a bit since turning human. In essence, there is a slow but steady role reversal going on with Elena and Katherine that is a lot of fun to watch (especially since it’s Nina Dobrev playing both roles!).
The writers haven’t quite explained how the whole Augustine thing was completely out of the picture for the previous four seasons, given that Mystic Falls had been all but overrun by the Originals for a while, and they would have been the most obvious targets for evil scientists with shadowy goals. But even setting that aside, with Elena in jeopardy, it should be interesting to see how the inevitable break-out unfolds.
Previously Posted on Critical Myth.