There is something special about The Vampire Diaries that makes every episode stand out from the long list of serialized TV shows on broadcast networks. The showrunners rarely – if ever – give viewers filler episodes. If you have ever watched one of the series on the CW or the previous incarnation of the network – The WB – then you know that the shows mostly follow a procedural format. However, it’s the longer underlying story that keeps you locked in. Supernatural may do monster-of-the-week one-offs throughout a twenty-plus episode season, but you will always come back to follow the broader story arc. USA Network’s Burn Notice and White Collar follow the same pattern.
The Vampire Diaries has no filler. The story from one episode always bleeds into the next – quite literally at times. Now, I’m a die-hard fan of gritty shows like Breaking Bad, Sons of Anarchy, Game of Thrones and Boardwalk Empire. And, I know similar fans out there may rue my name for saying this, but TVD is one of the best-serialized shows on network TV. Hands down. Much like Sons of Anarchy, after an hour, your mind has been blown by the amount of “good” content that you just imbibed. Typically, network TV needs to introduce procedural elements in order to push each season past the twenty-episode mark. By contrast, TVD manages to sustain the core story from week to week effortlessly. And, I couldn’t be more proud to say that I am a fan.
Now, that I’ve got that out of the way. Let’s discuss episode 3.12, “The Ties That Bind”.
The episode got off to a familiar start. Bonnie (Kat Graham) was having a dream, or nightmare, about the coffins of the Originals. She really needs to lay off the late night snacks and cut back on inhaling too much incense. This time, Bonnie’s “dream vision” took her to a cemetery. Inside the vision, Klaus showed up and then she blacked out. When she opened her eyes, she was inside the coffin. It was then that she realized that her mother was the key to opening the coffin.
Unfortunately, Bonnie’s mom ran out on her when she was a child.
Queue road trip.
Elena (Nina Dobrev) and Bonnie decide to seek out Abby (Persia White, Girlfriends), Bonnie’s mom. Instead of bringing along Damon (Ian Somerhalder) or Stefan (Paul Wesley) for protection, the childhood friends decide to have a girls-only trip to North Carolina. Before the two head out, Damon lets Bonnie in on his secret affair with Elena.
“We kissed, now it’s weird.” – Damon
Whereas most characters would go for subtlety, Damon has no such reservations.
Klaus, seemingly always one step ahead, sent a hybrid to Abby’s house in advance of Elena and Bonnie. You don’t get to claim the title Original Vampire without learning a few tricks over several centuries of undead living. The hybrid introduced himself to Abby just before Elena and Bonnie arrived.
Robert Ri’chard (One on One) made his TVD debut as Jamie. He let Elena and Bonnie into Abby’s house. Thankfully, he’s not another witch or warlock. The last two warlocks to make their home in Mystic Falls didn’t last too long. However, Jamie has been raised almost as an adopted son for Abby. It always “sucks” for a child to learn that one of their parents ran out on them only to become a better parent to someone else. The revelation that Bonnie was not related to Jamie was a little heavy handed. Elena gave Bonnie a “girlfriend” nod that said, “Oh, you’re not related, that’s great because you two would make a cute couple.” Obviously, we can expect another romance in Bonnie’s future (which was also hinted at by the showrunners in prior interviews).
Abby revealed that she lost her magic when she cast a powerful spell to stop Michael over a decade ago. She used her loss of magic as an excuse to leave Bonnie and her father. As far as Bonnie was concerned, it wasn’t a great excuse. It was also the first time that Abby learned that Bonnie’s grandmother died.
Is Abby completely helpless? Not at all. She can still use herbs and magical powers of the earth to heal or render people unconscious. Abby decided to show the latter power to Bonnie first hand, when she held what looked like a handful of green leaves up to Bonnie’s mouth to knock the young witch out.
While Bonnie was catching up with her estranged mom and getting knocked unconscious, Stefan showed up to confront Elena. However, their reunion was cut short when Jamie shot Stefan in the chest with shogun filled with wooden bullets. Apparently, Klaus’ hybrid compelled Jamie.
Abby took Bonnie to meet Klaus’ hybrid and ask for information on the coffins. Apparently, the hybrid had compelled Jamie to commit suicide if Abby failed to get the information. Just before Bonnie gave up the locations to the coffins, Abby told Bonnie to warn her friends.
So when Klaus showed up at casa de witch spirits, Damon was there to greet him. Thankfully, Damon got the fourth coffin out of there in time.
Damon’s win was a modest one. Back in North Carolina, Elena told Stefan that she had kissed his elder brother. Instead of lashing out in anger or responding with one of the callous quips he has been prone to, Stefan finally showed us his humanity. He simply turned and walked away. He later apologized for the incident on the bridge and said to Elena, “You’re better than me, Elena; you’re better than both of us.”
Stefan confronted Damon that night with a punch to the jaw. Damon instantly realized that Elena had told him about their kiss. Instead of dwelling on the past, Damon decided to get down to business. He revealed that he had taken one of the daggers out of an Original. Once I saw it, I knew instantly who Damon had woken from the grave.
Yes, Elijah (Daniel Gillies) is back. And, it’s about time. The episode ended on the return of Elijah, but not before Elijah ripped out the heart of one of Klaus’ hybrids.
Tyler (Michael Trevino) decided to seek out Caroline’s (Candice Accola) dad Bill (Jack Coleman) for help breaking Klaus’ (Joseph Morgan) sire bond. Bill told Tyler that the young hybrid needed to learn to transform instantaneously without pain. Only then would Tyler realize that he owed no debt to Klaus.
“Your bond to Klaus is putting my daughter in danger. Either you turn or I kill you right here right now.” – Bill to Tyler
Unfortunately for Bill, Tyler showed off just how powerful he was as a hybrid. When he finally transformed, he was able to break the chains that used to restrain him when he was only a werewolf.
Dr. Fel (Torrey DeVitto) and Alaric (Matthew Davis) are getting closer, despite Damon’s warnings. Dr. Fel dosed Damon with vervain and took a vile of blood from the eldest Salvatore. She later used it to save Bill’s life after Tyler attacked Bill. It seemed like good timing more than anything. Dr. Fel clearly has other motives. Later that night, Alaric revealed the truth about his ring. She then coyly tried to ease it off of his finger before going to kiss him. She definitely can’t be trusted. But why?
I’m happy to hear that we will be seeing more of Bill on TVD. He’ll continue his stint for as long as Tyler remains sired to Klaus.
“To break the sire bond, turning needs to be painless.” – Bill to Tyler
Hopefully, that will take some time because Bill is one of my favorite new characters. It’s great to see another human besides Alaric who has the power and tenacity to stand up to the supernatural elements that threaten Mystic Falls. I feel like Sheriff Forbes (Marguerite MacIntyre) and Carol Lockwood (Susan Walters) have fallen to the wayside in the war. So it is great to have a few resilient humans besides Elena (who is somewhat supernatural at the end of the day since she is the doppleganger) to level the playing field.
Favorite moment of this episode goes to the return of Elijah. I’m also hoping now that he’s back, we’ll also get to see Rebekah (Claire Holt) return.
*Photo: Quantrell D. Colbert/The CW