After the its latest hiatus, was the return of The Vampire Diaries worth the wait?
With only one white oak stake left, Alaric's darker half is the only person that knows its whereabouts and it's up to Stefan get it out of him, no matter what the cost. While Stefan is getting the answer he needs it's up to Elena and Damon to take a road trip to get Jeremy back who can speak with Katherine's sire, Rose. Unbeknownst to Damon, this little road trip is also the perfect opportunity for Elena to test her feelings for the Damon and her love for Stefan. Caroline is spending some quality time with Tyler after his surprising return while Matt gives Rebekah a ride home where her mother Esther awaits. After Esther shares the news that she's dying has one final moment with her daughter before passing away as Stefan has finally forced the answer out of Alaric's "better half" to find the last stake. Just as nega Alaric takes Rebekah to its location he tries to strike a deal with her but little does he know, she's not the girl she used to be.
While not as good as we are accustomed to, Heart of Darkness had its up and downs. Damon summarized the idea behind the episode quite well when he said "When people see good they expect good." The expectations that each character has of one another and what they have of themselves were examined in a unique way and Damon's further remarks that he didn't like living up to people's expectations is an easily sympathetic idea. Everyone expects Damon to mess up, Elena to love Stefan and Stefan to be the hero. Once each of the characters took a step back from who others think they should be they can determine who they need to be. It may be subtle shift but each of the characters took a good look at themselves for the first time in quite a while.
The ending revelation that Esther is in control of Rebekah's body was a great twist for The Vampire Diaries. With only a handful of episodes left in the season the show needs to turn up the excitement and Esther may be the last character that can make that happen since she will stop at nothing to destroy her children. It also leaves us with other questions of whether Rebekah is still alive or will the Klaus find out and be forced to kill his own sister? Unfortunately, bringing Tyler and Jeremy back into the fold wasn't nearly as exciting. Both of them seemed to be the same people they were when they left and the two of them didn't do much to help the story. Jeremy isn't so much a character but a conduit for things to happen to the characters around him.
While I have often given her praise for her performances, Nina Dobrev was at her worst in Heart of Darkness. Amidst all of the tension between Elena and Damon, I never once got the sense that Elena was torn or troubled by the idea that she may love Damon as much as she loves Stefan. Instead, Dobrev gave Somerhalder bedroom eyes and was almost uncontrollably taken by a feeling of lust. Where Dobrev missteps is that she has a sexual tension with every character and that works incredibly well for Katherine since she uses her sexuality to her advantage but for Elena, it turns every relationship into a possible encounter. Hopefully Dobrev dials down the bedroom eyes and heavy breathing as it drains the tenderness from the emotional scenes.
Heart of Darkness was a good way to get the last part of the season going. Though it was slow and not a great deal happened, it leaves more to look forward to in next week's Do Not Go Gentle.