The Vampire Diaries, Season 6, Episode 1, “I’ll Remember”
October 2, 2014, 8PM (EST), The CW
The Vampire Diaries’ 6th season opens on a familiar sight – a young couple, alone in the woods, with an ominous feeling in that air that something bad is about to happen to them. The show used these openings a lot in its early seasons, and it brings the visual back in the opening minutes of this episode as an indication that things are different in Mystic Falls, safer since magic was driven out of the town at the end of last season. But shortly after the couple encounters Sherriff Forbes instead of a real bad guy, the show returns back to its regular formula. As the couple walks beyond the Mystic Falls border, they’re attacked by a shadowy figure at the end of the teaser, as it has done many times in the past.
This tease of change that eventually reverts back to more of the same was to be repeated in larger plot points throughout the episode, including its final minutes. At the end of season 5, the show had seemingly, finally, put an end to one of the weaker elements of its mythology by getting rid of the Other Side. Death had become so meaningless on The Vampire Diaries that the writers seemingly leaned into it by “killing” off nearly every main character and sending them to the Other Side by the end of the season. Bonnie, who spent most of last season as the anchor between the real world and the Other Side, was eventually able to bring almost everyone back to life, but she wasn’t able to do the same for herself or Damon before the Other Side collapsed. The season then ended with both Damon and Bonnie accepting their fate, as the screen faded to white with Bonnie wondering aloud if death would hurt. Both characters got to say final, long farewells to their significant others (Elena and Jeremy), and there was a sense of finality – that these deaths were different and would somehow stick. But as the final moments of this premiere episode show, very little changes in Mystic Falls. Or, just outside Mystic Falls, where the show’s vampire population has to stay until Caroline finds a way to undo a spell that is keeping them out for the moment.
Yes, the episode’s final moments reveal that Damon and Bonnie aren’t so much dead as blissfully enjoying pancakes, with smiley vampire faces on them no less, in a log cabin. More details will presumably emerge as the season goes on, but it is clear that they’ll find a way to return back to life somehow.
But while Damon and Bonnie are bonding over pancakes in purgatory, another dimension, or whatever it turns out to be, the rest of the show’s characters have drifted apart as they deal with grieving the two probably-not-dead characters. Caroline has dropped out of college to focus on reversing the magic keeping her and the rest of the vampires out of Mystic Falls. Stefan skips town completely, first to find a way to bring back Damon, but eventually just to move on from grieving his brother. Meanwhile, Tyler and Alaric are struggling with opposing problems – Tyler is no longer a vampire after his return from the Other Side and Alaric, after a two-season absence, has returned with newfound bloodlust.
And then there’s Elena. We knew she wouldn’t respond well to the death of another person close to her. Last time that happened, she turned off her humanity and was evil for several episodes. This time, she emotionally blackmails Luke, who was introduced last season along with his twin sister Liv, to give her some witchy drugs to allow her to hallucinate Damon and avoid dealing with his death. This, unsurprisingly, doesn’t end well when Caroline catches her feeding on a girl while in a drug-induced thirst craze.
Elena eventually comes to terms with the fact that she can’t continue to use drugs to see her dead boyfriend, and says a lengthy and difficult goodbye to the Damon in her head. Once she learns that Stefan has given up his search for a magical fix to bring his brother back, she breaks down and asks Alaric to compel her to forget Damon. As Elena reminds us (smartly, since it happened a few seasons ago), Alaric was made by the original witch and can compel all other vampires now.
Overall, “I’ll Remember” tries to tackle a lot by reorienting us to all the characters’ individual changed circumstances months after last season’s cliffhanger ending. However, it mostly ends up focusing on looking back rather than looking ahead. The goal for most of our characters throughout this episode is to try to return things to the way they once were – Caroline wants to return to Mystic Falls, Elena wants to be with Damon, Tyler wants to be the tough guy he once was as a vampire, and Alaric wants to go back to being a teacher again. Looking at The Vampire Diaries’ track record in this episode, and many more before it, they’ll probably get their wish, eventually.
- Alaric is back! And adjusting to being a vampire! And teaching at college now! Wait, why? I have to agree with fake!Damon – there has to be a better way to spend his time than teaching the occult to a bunch of students who sometimes resemble blood bags, as he tells Elena.
- “Occult Studies? I didn’t know that was an actual thing!” It’s not. I don’t know why this show has tried to make it seem like a legitimate college class for so many years now.
- “I’ve got grieving down to a science,” says Elena, after admitting to using supernatural drugs to hallucinate her dead boyfriend. Debatable, Elena.
- We had two new couples teased in this episode – Liv and Tyler, and Alaric and the new med school teacher. Meanwhile, Stefan is in a fully-fledged two-month relationship with Ivy, the new girl from Colorado who loves dogs. The outlook isn’t looking great for him and Caroline, which was teased all last season, including in the finale during conversations on the Other Side with Lexie.
- Odds seem pretty strong that Tyler triggers that werewolf gene again.
- Jeremy was also in this episode, but spent most of it making out with random girls and playing video games.
A reveal in its final moments indicates more of the same in the 6th season premiere of The Vampire Diaries