Four episodes in, and we are beginning to see the shape of Mystic Falls and its surrounding university campuses. One of the reasons we decided to take this show in chunks a little bit more is because the crazy-twist play-by-play can be so exhausting that it’s hard to do it justice. Only when you take a look at it with a bit of distance can you really process the enormity of what these people go through on a regular basis.  

So now that season 5 has had a minute to establish itself, let’s see what we can glean?

“America’s most boring self-righteous vampire” Katherine & Elena

It is fair to say that Katherine has always been my favourite part of the show, and equally fair to say that when she’s around, Elena pales in comparison. To the point of making her always seem self-righteous and exhausting. Elena has made strides, but she changes her tune when Katherine comes around. She’s a misery-guts – and the show has finally called it out, which is magnificent. I like that they can laugh at themselves, and it goes a long way. Human Katherine is lots of laughs, too. I’m not sure I ever thought her needing cold medication would actually be a thing that would slay me but the addition of Katherine points out that the show now suffers from a particular CW problem. In point? There are just too many long, flowing brown-eyed brunettes on this show. Like, far too many. We could really use a redhead or a spiky blonde or someone with short (!) hair to shake things up.  Ketziah and Silas’ handmaiden are different people, but at the same time,  not really.  Caroline alone cannot stand in for “diversity”. Please.

Gregor lives inside Matt

Someone else on Twitter pointed out that Matt has had zero to do for the past four years except to be human bait, and suddenly has an awesome storyline. There was always a question of why this random human would be able to still be friends with all his supernatural friends, and now this is answered. I think it’s satisfying, especially since the last episode pointed out to us that Matt is so completely alone. 

The question for me is what kind of dark side Gregor will reveal in Matt. The worst thing about him, up to now, is that he’s too nice. The fact that he’s got a demon-type someone living inside him is maybe going to be his salvation…

Stefan, rewritten.

WOW, does it make a difference to have Paul Wesley allowed to do something between a bloodthirsty Ripper and a sulking, castrated pouty-pants. He has nuance and a bit of intrigue and for the first time in years, I’m not totally, absolutely sure which way things are going to go. He could be anyone at this point. He doesn’t want to be Old Stefan – and when your brother changes his position on things, birth order dictates that you have to change your position too, Damon.  I don’t know that this can contain itself for 22 episodes – it feels a lot like Stefan having run off with Klaus – but it feels like, especially without the shackles of Mystic Falls, there might be somewhere new to go.

Bonnie is dead.

This has affected the show…not really at all. In fact, she might be a little bit more useful when she can barely talk to anyone. Am I being too flippant? I think so, but I also think a little bit of Kat Graham goes a long way. Having said that, I bawled and bawled in the funeral scene, because I’m not made of stone and it was really hard for all the actors and the running mascara was real, which was a nice touch. No, seriously. Stopped typing to sob. The funeral scenes on this show are always wrenching, and even though I agree with Elena – how many more of these can we take? – this seemed emotionally true.

But I don’t know what this means for the series as a whole. Having Bonnie only able to talk through one person is going to really limit her usefulness. Maybe we’ll meet another witch or maybe Jeremy will start to be able to do her spells, but how soon before Bonnie goes beyond the veil? If we never see her fight with Damon again, has she outlived her usefulness?

Romance Is Complicated

Lest we be distracted, let’s not forget that Matt and Rebecca banged their way across Europe. That’s something. I mean, it’s a moment in time, but it’s a pretty spectacular one.

In other news, we have Elena and Damon just beginning their sexy, steamy – no, wait. That was last season when it was forbidden. Now that they’re together out in the open, the relationship is punctuated with moping, anxious dreams, second-guessing a relationship with Stefan now that all that pesky weight of his past transgressions isn’t dragging him down. Plus, she makes her boyfriend responsible for her brother’s academic past. I’m not sure whether any of the events of this season were inspired by real life-ones, but the inevitable pull from one brother to another is something we’ve seen. We know we’ve seen this. Right?

As for Caroline and Jesse – or Caroline and Stefan, even – either seems more palatable than yet another go-round with Tyler, and not just because his name is Tyler. He’s just always seemed impervious to any real development and kind of Teflon to anything except Klaus actively running him out of town.

So in conclusion…

I know Bonnie said we had to go back to school and have fun, but I’m not sure I am excited. I’m not sure that the current issues, which do feel dramatic (even if the professor who’s into vampires feels like a homage to when Buffy went to college) don’t necessarily feel fun and delicious in the way that Damon’s smarming around Mayor Lockwood used to do. I can be committee to the characters, but the show used to be kind of campy fun, too – so I hope we get some deliciousness back sometime soon…there’s only so much crying I can take. At least before May Sweeps.