Entertainment Magazine

Review #3233: The Vampire Diaries 3.12: “The Ties That Bind”

Posted on the 20 January 2012 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: John Keegan

For much of the season, I’ve felt like Bonnie was being ignored or sidelined, and it made her feel a bit extraneous to current events (even as the plot made her more integral over time). This episode finally brings her into the forefront of the story, and also manages to delve into her family history in some unexpected ways. I, for one, never imagined that we would ever meet her birth mother, let along see that pertain to the war against Klaus.

Review #3233: The Vampire Diaries 3.12: “The Ties That Bind”

Unfortunately, the end result doesn’t do much to make the audience happy with the decision to focus on Bonnie, because the drama surrounding her mother is just not that compelling. There were a number of layers to the whole situation, including some “sibling” rivalry, but it just didn’t grab me as much as I had hoped it would. And since the majority of the episode was placing Bonnie and her mother in danger as a ploy to force Team Elena to give up the location of the coffins, it hurt the overall effort.

Speaking of the coffins, at least Klaus didn’t get his hands on the one that holds the inevitable plot twist. Giving Klaus his family does change the game a bit sooner than expected, and will make things more difficult in the short term, but I have the feeling that whatever is in that other coffin is something much, much worse. Anyone else see all three sides (Klaus, Stefan, and Elena) working together against a common foe before the end of the season?

Meanwhile, Caroline’s father finally comes back into the picture, all with the intention of helping Tyler break his hybrid programming. Trying to work through the logic is a bit of a fool’s errand with this show, but it does set Tyler on a course to regain his relationship with Caroline and ultimately come out of the gauntlet with a much better grip on his abilities. Should he survive, Tyler will be a major player.

The other big subplot is the growing romance between Alaric and Meredith Fell, which is just setting up to be a disaster for our brooding friend. The fact that Meredith could overpower Damon is bad enough. If she is routinely taking down vampires to extract their blood for medical use, she must be skilled. And I imagine she figured out that Alaric is fairly skilled in a similar fashion.

It seems pretty obvious to me that she’s playing Alaric for a fool, wrapping him around her little finger until she needs to finger him as her ex-boyfriend’s killer. Enough people know about his skills as a vampire hunter, and he’s already stepped in to “save” her before. His motivations would be easily questioned, and given her position, it would be easy to frame him for the murder.

This episode also had some of the most annoying Elena/Stefan material in a long time. I realize that the writers have to play the love triangle to some extent as they explore the consequences of Stefan’s choices, but I think it would be a lot more interesting if Elena was given the chance to explore her options with Damon before she had to deal with Stefan again. Also, a little more separation would at least allow Stefan to figure himself out, without the distraction of Elena and Damon’s relationship.

All in all, this was an episode that needed to happen, to transition characters into the right place for future plot threads, but it certainly wasn’t the most exciting of the season.

Writing: 2/2
Acting: 2/2
Direction: 2/2
Style: 1/4

Final Rating: 7/10

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