October 30, 2014, 8pm (EST), The CW
Homecoming was the focus in this episode, as Whitmore College hosted its annual homecoming festivities, which included a corn maze, hormones and, in true Vampire Diaries fashion, lots of blood. But the real homecoming was Damon’s return from the magical prison he and Bonnie have been stuck in for the past two months, complete with a tearful reunion between the Salvatore brothers. Yes, it took five episodes for Damon to return back to the land of the living. The chemistry between Damon and Bonnie as they tried to escape their situation will certainly be missed. However, it is also a relief to finally not have to jump back and forth between Damon being mourned by most of the characters and Damon cracking jokes with Bonnie.
But as much as the grief for Damon grew tiresome, once it became clear he was bound to reunite with the rest of the characters eventually, the reunion between he and Stefan was one of the best moments of this season so far. Stefan has been all over the place in the past five episodes, as Caroline has repeatedly pointed out. He claims that he wants to start over, but he confesses at the end of this episode that he’s unable to let go of his brother. This is of course the moment that Damon chooses to make his dramatic reappearance, complete with a quip about how Stefan shouldn’t waste perfectly good alcohol. While that line may have induced some eye rolls, Stefan’s combined disbelief and relief were palpable and well played by Paul Wesley.
While Damon’s back to drinking and shooting off one-liners, Bonnie is still stuck in 1994 with a sociopath. Granted, Bonnie pushed Damon to save himself as she lay bleeding due to a wound inflicted by Kai. But we’re left once again with Bonnie sacrificing herself so someone else can live. This has been a device that The Vampire Diaries has regularly relied upon throughout its run and it’s starting to wear thin at this point. At the end of season 5, Bonnie sacrificed herself to help all of her friends on the Other Side return to life. Before that, she died to save Jeremy at the end of season 4, and was stuck as a ghost for half of the following season. And throughout the show’s run, Bonnie has constantly put her life on the line, mostly for Elena. It’s likely that Bonnie will eventually find a way out of her current predicament, but it’s becoming ridiculous to constantly watch Bonnie struggle by herself, hanging between life and death. Even during these past few episodes when she was believed to be dead, it was mostly Damon getting mourned by the Mystic Falls crew while Bonnie was an afterthought.
And of course Damon’s return is perfectly timed with Elena ready to move on with classmate Liam. Ever since she had Alaric erase her memories, Elena has been a fun presence – focused on hooking friends up and coordinating events. This has been a refreshing change which, unfortunately, may now be at an end with Damon’s return. Alaric and Tyler also have some romances developing with fairly new characters Jo and Liv. The former has been on the periphery since she was introduced earlier this season as Elena’s professor, but now we see a glimpse of something deeper as Alaric is unable to compel her.
Ivy also made a homecoming of sorts at the end of the last episode, and we saw the aftermath here. Stefan asks Caroline to babysit the new vampire while he goes to find a daylight ring (and tries to run away again). Of course, Ivy ends up in the hands of Tripp, our friendly neighbourhood vampire hunter. Meanwhile, Stefan and Caroline replay a scene from a few episodes ago, with Stefan trying to leave town and Caroline expressing her disappointment.
Overall, “The World Has Turned and Left Me Here” was somewhat uneven. The episode seemed to hinge mostly on the final emotional moment between Stefan and Damon. Indeed, the other episodes that have preceded it similarly seemed to be in a holding pattern until Damon could return. Most of the main characters are still stuck in the same plot threads revealed in this season’s premiere, including Alaric’s continuing struggle with being a vampire and Stefan’s ongoing attempts to leave his past life behind. But since we’ve finally hit the inevitable moment of Damon’s return to Mystic Falls, presumably with Bonnie soon following him, the show can finally stop spinning its wheels and hopefully its characters can start moving forward.
- “You don’t have to flatter me because I already know that.” Classic Caroline. It was nice to have a brief moment of her interacting with Stefan, even if he screws it up in the end.
- “You know there’s a very good chance you’re digging your own grave and … not bothered.” I will miss these odd couple interactions between Bonnie and Damon most of all.
- “You were a hero tonight. An absolutely jaw-dropping, out-of-this-world hero. That’s my type.” No comment, Elena.
This was a generally uneven episode that was boosted by an emotional ending that should shake up the current status quo.