The Vampire Diaries, “Woke Up with a Monster” (6.11) - TV Review


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The Vampire Diaries, Season 6, Episode 11, “Woke Up With a Monster

January 22, 2015, 8pm (EST), The CW

Near the end of this episode of The Vampire Diaries, Elena is screaming in pain while Damon frantically tries to pull a stake, which was dangerously close to her heart, out of her chest. While he’s pawing the inside of her chest to find any remaining pieces as she’s continuing to squirm in pain, Elena suddenly bursts out into laughter. “Oldest trick in the book!” she tells him with a smile and not a care in the world. This was after Elena spent a day being tortured by Kai in one hair-raising way after another. The series has always been fairly nonchalant about torture and murder, using it to make a plotline more sensational and then ignoring any of the aftermath. But this moment wasn’t even sensational. It was just baffling. And positioning it as a cute moment between Damon and Elena, just as they’re on the cusp of romance once again, was very strange.

But then The Vampire Diaries gave a real punch to the gut in its final moments, putting to rest (at least for now) some of its more questionable developments. The most interesting plotline in “Woke Up with a Monster” was Caroline’s very real struggle to come to terms with her mother’s diagnosis with terminal cancer. She and Stefan take a road trip to Duke University, as Caroline meets with a doctor at the institution who specializes in the type of brain cancer that Liz is fighting. When the doctor can’t provide a medical solution to treat her mother’s cancer, Caroline begins experimenting with vampire blood.

It was mentioned during the fall finale that vampire blood can’t heal cancer (somewhat inexplicably though since it can seemingly heal everything else, including spontaneously fixing Lady Whitmore’s chronic shoulder injury earlier this season). Stefan and Damon both caution against trying to use it as a way to cure cancer, saying that they have not heard of any instances of it being used that way. But Caroline is persistent and even tests the effects of her blood on a cancer patient at Duke. The patient appears to heal very quickly and Caroline rushes home to give her mother the same perceived antidote. But it turns out that the Duke patient only appeared well at first and, in the final moments of the episode, he seems to reject the blood just as Caroline’s mother sips the blood of her vampire daughter.

This is fairly uncharted territory for The Vampire Diaries, which typically uses vampire blood as a cure for almost any problem. There are a number of potentially interesting directions that could be taken, all of which have the potential for intriguing future ramifications for the series and will likely be quite painful for Caroline. And after that heartbreaking scene between Caroline and Liz – talking about how Liz needs to be around for all the key moments in Caroline’s life such as graduation and marriage – I’m certain actress Candice Accola will hit whatever comes next out of the park.

Meanwhile, the rest of the episode focuses on Kai’s continued shenanigans as we slowly get closer to the celestial event needed for the much-talked-about merging ceremony. After Kai sucked up all the magic in Mystic Falls last episode, he is now working on controlling it. As Jo is training with younger sister Liv to improve her rusty magic skills, Kai uses Elena as a victim to practice his own newly-acquired abilities.

Kai continues to be one of the show’s strongest draws this season, bringing smarm and charm to this shameless character that so clearly enjoys inflicting pain on everyone and everything. As he tells Elena when she asks if there’s anyone he cares about: “I like myself.” Since Kai is the saving grace of this Gemini merging storyline, and since there is little to no investment in the rest of his family, I may be secretly hoping that the bad guy wins in this instance. We also need him since Enzo, who used to fill the charming bad guy role, seems to now serve no purpose but to stalk Stefan out of some distorted effort to get revenge for reasons that seem to change every episode. Most of his animosity appears to be related to how Stefan treats his brother Damon, Enzo’s supposed best friend, who he apparently hasn’t seen since right after Damon returned from the prison world. Enzo was a highlight of last season, so one hopes the writers can find something better for him to do.

Jeremy has a nice moment in this episode, taking down Kai with a crossbow after all the magical efforts by Jo, Damon and Elena to evade him fail. Matt also had a quick appearance, bemoaning the state of Mystic Falls now that magic has returned. Bonnie was a no-show though, still on her own in the prison world.

And when Elena wasn’t being kidnapped and tortured, she continued to toy with going out on a date with Damon, which she finally agrees to in the end. Personally, I find that the rehash of a romance between Damon and slightly-amnesiac-Elena is now one of the most uninteresting aspects of the series, as they are basically going through the same motions all over again as when Elena first started dating Damon, which wasn’t even that long ago. However, since Nina Dobrev and Ian Somerhalder won the People’s Choice Award for “Best TV Duo” over the break, I may be in the minority on that point.

Overall, it’ll be the fallout of Caroline’s rash actions to try to save her mother at all costs that will keep me coming back next week, along with a side of Kai, rather than the rebooted romance between Elena and Damon and the never-ending talk of twin merging that continues to dominate too much of this season.

The Roundup

  • “He was all like, ‘you can’t come in here, we’re closed’ and ‘you have an unconscious girl over your shoulder,’ and I was like ‘don’t judge me.’ So then I gave him a heart attack.” That opening monologue by Kai was equal parts hilarious and horrifying.
  • “Magic camp, how may I help you?”
  • “I couldn’t sleep, I googled.”
  • “Stefan, I know all of your friends: Elena, me, and then that’s it.” and “Stefan, you know how to laugh, right?” “Opinions vary.” Caroline and Stefan being friends again automatically improves this show.

A mixed return for The Vampire Diaries, redeemed slightly by its only storyline that is more grounded in reality than the fantastical.

  • MEDIOCRE 5.8

About Author

Sara has been an avid TV fan for several years and is now applying that vast expertise as a couch potato to reviews at Next Projection. She can be found on Twitter at @SaraWatchingTV.