Katherine and Stefan must rescue a hungry Damon, who’s trapped alone in a house after sending Enzo away. Meanwhile, Caroline and Tyler work to uncover what’s going on with Matt’s memories. Here is a recap and review of the Vampire Diaries episode “No Exit.”
Having discovered that Damon must eat every eight hours, Damon and Enzo spend the waiting time guessing the life story of the man in transition. The man awakens, feeds, and meets his demise. Before they can leave the house, Travelers trap them inside for Wes to see how long Damon will refuse eating his BFF.
Caroline interrupts Katherine’s study date with Stefan with info on Damon – he’s been feeding on vamps. Tyler calls Caroline concerned about Matt, who may be missing. Katherine overhears and orders Nadia to kill Matt, but Nadia’s fond of him and Matt swears he’ll keep quiet. When Matt and Nadia return, they say they’ve been “having fun.”
Barely beginning their road trip, Stefan and Katherine stop for gas. She sends him inside, breaks his engine, and dirties her face to convince him to clean up at a nearby hotel. With Damon chained up, Enzo calls Stefan for reinforcement. Too bad Katherine answers and hides it from Stefan, but she does get their location. To spark Damon’s craving, Wes shoots Enzo. Damon breaks free and has a little snack, but sends Enzo out the door when the Travelers acidify his blood.
After a moment with Stefan, Katherine decides to manipulate Stefan into killing Damon. Despite Damon’s warning, Katherine and Stefan enter the house. Katherine slices her palm, so Damon attacks her. During which, she kicks a stake over to Stefan, but Stefan instead lures Damon away with his own blood, snaps his neck, and stashes him in the Salvatore dungeon.
Failing to convince Nadia that Katherine is still only out for herself with tales of his own mom struggles, Matt then kisses her as thanks for the good times before he loses the memories. This was partly a ploy for Matt to swipe Nadia’s phone and send Caroline a text: “Help, K.” Nadia catches him and compels him to forget everything but their canoodling. With Nadia on her way out, Caroline starts a brief brawl, which Tyler joins. Later, Katherine is in too good of a mood to care about what’s bumming Nadia out. Katherine won’t have to deal with the moping for long since Tyler bit Nadia.
Caroline pondering Matt’s text plus Stefan admitting that Elena has been acting strange leads the two to realize that Katherine stuck around.
“No Exit” was an uncharacteristically odd episode of The Vampire Diaries that primarily served to stall the impending solutions of this run of episodes’ two most pressing issues: Katherine and Damon. While it did bring our heroes a step closer to solving both of these problems, the ways in which it did so were not delivered with as much metaphoric bang as could be hoped. “No Exit” included some fun bits, but overall, left me feeling as if this was an off week for the series.
Katherine’s personality deviated in an unjustified way from the woman we’ve spent the past several seasons getting to know (and in some cases, thoroughly enjoy). Last episode she was fairly solid in convincing others that she was Elena and in convincing the audience that she could believably pass as Elena for an extended amount of time, but this episode appeared disjointed from the past. It was not so much a Katherine-Elena blend or even a depiction of Katherine impersonating Elena as it was a sloppy, rash version of Katherine created without an external force leaving her no other option. I have not been shy about Katherine being my favorite character, so this episode was sadly the first time that I dislike her attitude, her behavior, her plans. Granted subtlety has never been her strong suit, but she’s been established as an intelligent and devious enough woman that she should know how to handle these situations better than she did.
Stefan and Caroline finding out about Katherine seemed to come both too soon into the story and too late. On the one hand, it feels as if the writers have not given Katherine the opportunity to thrive in her current situation. Aside from her one hotel moment with Stefan, she has not succeeded in gaining much from being Elena, nor coerced/compelled anyone, whether friend or stranger, to join her side or become her minion. On the other hand, how did it take Stefan and Caroline to the end of this episode before they realized that Elena was not herself? And they didn’t even make a comment on the matter beforehand. This diminished their intelligence and generally made them look like weak friends, which does not line up with who their characters truly are.
On the topic of diminishing intelligence, Matt’s storyline this episode took away from his potential and his place in the drama. Don’t get me wrong, I adore Matt, but he’s never been the group genius, so I enjoyed the prospect of him coming to the group with information and running point on the plan of attack. In a roundabout way, he did help bring light to the situation, but now he’s right back to being on the outskirts. Hopefully he’ll receive a decent storyline soon, as will Bonnie and Jeremy, who were once again MIA. While neither of these characters is fond of Damon, both Bonnie and Jeremy could have brought valuable skills to the fight, whether from hunter training or simply a new perspective.
Then there were a few little things that made this episode fail to live up to its potential. The music was far more apparent than normal, especially in that it didn’t blend with the action as seamlessly as in the past. “Radioactive” in the opening scene with Damon, Enzo, and their new creation was too on the nose, while the instrumental music with Stefan and Katherine in the hotel made the scene more uncomfortable than either of the characters were acting. On another topic, the commercial breaks came abruptly during the action, not effectively building up to a climactic moment to draw the viewer back in, but rather just stopping the action short, such as in the midst of Damon eating Enzo or Matt sending the text. Lastly, keeping Nadia’s hybrid bite a secret from the audience until the end was a poor attempt to withhold information for mere shock value.
The ending of this episode did provide some promise for upcoming stories. Stefan assuring Damon that he can help him fight the cravings excites me for old-school Salvatore bonding. Given that the series was greatly built upon the relationship between these two brothers, getting back to that now should revive the show without it feeling like a reset. In addition, the fact that, as of now, Katherine is unaware she’s been made should allow for our heroes to begin an interesting secret takedown, although the promo for next week implies it won’t be long before Katherine discovers it.