The Vampire Diaries, Season 6, Episode 2, “Yellow Ledbetter
October 9, 2014, 8 p.m. (EST), The CW
It was Back to the Future meets Groundhog Day on this week’s episode of The Vampire Diaries! At least it was for Bonnie and Damon, as the episode opened with the reveal of what happened to them in the closing moments of season 5, after the Other Side collapsed. Indeed, it turns out that Bonnie and Damon were transported to Mystic Falls on the date of a solar eclipse – March 10, 1994. Although no one else is in sight, the two of them keep reliving that day over and over again.
But Bonnie and Damon weren’t the only ones pulling plotlines from movies and, in the process, experiencing a bit of déjà vu. Elena relived key points of her relationship with Damon while Alaric slowly erased her memory, after her grief for Damon turned destructive. The process, complete with flashbacks to seasons past, ended up somewhat reminiscent to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It turned out that the key was Elena admitting that she first had feelings for Damon while she was still with Stefan, thereby seemingly putting a final nail in the coffin of that pairing which the show focused upon so heavily in its early seasons.
While the mystery of where, or when, Damon and Bonnie are provides a bit of intrigue, the plotline is currently too vague to be particularly riveting. However, the chemistry between these two characters, who never spent much time together over the course of the series, has been refreshing. Meanwhile, it’s difficult to get too invested in Elena’s grief for Damon or her efforts to move on when these scenes are interspersed with Damon dancing to ’90s music and making pancakes for Bonnie.
Indeed, the real highlights of this episode weren’t these blasts from the past, but the plots that looked more toward the future. The return of Enzo infused some energy and unpredictability, particularly his antagonistic but quasi-brotherly relationship with Stefan (similar to the role Damon played early in the series), who he hunts down to chastise for giving up on searching for Damon. The Vampire Diaries is generally at its best when it focuses on character dynamics. This may be why so many of its notable episodes seem to include dinner parties that involve its characters stuck talking in close quarters and inevitably revealing guarded secrets about one another. The dinner with Stefan, Caroline, Enzo, and Stefan’s new girl in this episode was no different. The fun Enzo took in not-so-subtly outing Stefan as a vampire provided some delight in a generally gloomy episode, though that was quickly quelled when he unceremoniously killed Stefan’s short-lived girlfriend. Meanwhile, Caroline’s admission to Stefan that she fell apart over the summer when he bailed in the aftermath of the collapse of the Other Side was its emotional high point. Caroline and Stefan have slowly built a solid friendship chemistry over the past few seasons, but Caroline’s tearful reaction to Stefan’s oblivious attitude suggests some unrequited feelings may be forming on her part.
Overall, “Yellow Ledbetter” offers many plot threads that are currently quite disconnected, as many of our core characters are not only in very different places, but some are in different times too. However, the episode works because it starts to get them back to interacting with one another again, which was sorely missing in the season premiere. And with Elena finally done mourning Damon (thanks to Alaric’s intervention) and Stefan likely returning to Mystic Falls (thanks to Enzo’s intervention), some potentially interesting dynamics have now been set up that should be fun to watch get knocked down.
- “How sad is it that my own evil doppelganger was smarter than me,” says Elena, referring to a quote from Katherine, whose presence is still very much missed on this show.
- Bonnie and Damon aren’t alone in their Back to the Future/Groundhog Day mash-up world. Here’s hoping the mystery entity is Katherine.
- It was nice to see Jeremy still having difficulty letting go of Bonnie, amid all the womanizing and the stand-offish attitude.
- “See, we’re all still neck people,” says Enzo, after snapping some necks. Touché.
Tripp, aka Matt’s new mentor, is part of a Mystic Falls founding family and has a similar hobby to his predecessors in vampire hunting, even though vampires can’t enter the town at the moment.
This episode provides some intriguing set-ups, but "Yellow Ledbetter" only really works during the moments that highlight character dynamics.