Elena and Damon attempt to revive Stefan's lost memories to no avail, while Matt works to learn more about his own memory blackouts. The gang mourns Bonnie's death, but there's another death that'll cause new drama in Mystic Falls. Here is a recap and review of the Vampire Diaries episode "For Whom the Bell Tolls."
Damon takes Stefan on a drive down memory lane, trying to reconcile his missing personal memories with his existent learned ones. But, Stefan is still in the dark. Caroline gives Elena an update on her life: she's been studying with Jesse to impress Dr. Maxfield and she's taking Jesse to the Remembrance Day bell ringing ceremony that commemorates people who were buried alive ... just another weird Mystic Falls tradition. Bonnie enjoys watching Jeremy's shirtless workout until Matt calls. So Jeremy goes to the Lockwood mansion where Matt shows him the dagger and thinks something's in his head. Good thing he placed video cameras around the house.
At the Grill, Stefan finds the waitress' neck appealing, and believes that his ripper side won't be a problem because he has amnesia. Vampire logic. Elena walks up and spurs Stefan's interest because Damon conveniently left her out of Stefan's life story thus far. Elena and Damon take Stefan to the Salvatore crypt to minimize his human contact until his brain is back to normal. Damon gets a 911 text from Jeremy. Upon meeting, Jeremy spills the "Bonnie is dead" beans as Bonnie begs him not to. Jeremy, apparently a fan of Once Upon A Time, says magic always finds a balance. Meanwhile, Elena recreates Stefan's first encounter with her in the school hallway to jog something. But, nothing.
Matt awakes in a confused frenzy. His video shows him answering his phone, flashing black eyes, speaking another language, and slicing his own hand. He must protect the dagger at any cost.
Caroline finds a drunk Stefan at the cemetery, and he's introduced to Jesse. Stefan sends her on a mission for blood bags so he can run off and eat Jesse. Proud of himself for stopping before the ripper level, Stefan takes a moment to question what the point is in being good and compassionate if he has nothing to show for it. Stefan goes for a second course, until Caroline rips him off Jesse and heals Jesse up. Stefan decides to take his life in a new direction. Caroline agrees to check in with him every hour because for whatever reason he trusts her.
Everyone learns about Bonnie, so they orchestrate a memorial service for her, finally getting Tyler to resurface. Dr. Maxfield examines Jesse and realizes he has vampire blood in his system. And then Dr. Maxfield kills him.
I hesitate to call "For Whom the Bell Tolls" a filler episode because there were monumental moments moving the greater story forward, but for all intents and purposes it was an episode devised for the sake of season one nostalgia. Nevertheless, this episode didn't fail to entertain. It came at a slower pace than the previous three, providing a much-needed break in the season's heavy mythology for a look at the character relationships, and The Vampire Diaries does not exist without this group of friends.
"For Whom the Bell Tolls" was perhaps the first great episode for Elena this season. She's such a haunted character that an episode in which she lightens up even for a few scenes stands out. Her scenes with Stefan were a nice callback to happier, simpler times without them becoming a pointless devolution into shipper frenzy. With her actions grounded in a genuine interest in helping him out, she proved that as much as she claims she changed when she became a vampire, she's still the kindhearted girl willing to put others' needs before her discomfort at hanging out with her ex.
Unlike vampire Elena still containing a sprinkle of her human life, amnesia Stefan was nearly unrecognizable. Much of his brooding, morally righteous personality is tied to his tragic past, so it makes sense that he's different without memories of it. But, his personality in this episode was too unstable to make sense of, almost to the point of him acting like a newby vamp with every heightened emotion. How is it that he gets so thrown off when Elena admits she's with Damon when he doesn't remember having feelings for her? What made him so readily give up being good when even pre-vampire Stefan was a man rooted in righteousness? Regardless of these inconsistencies, it was lovely to see that his bond with Caroline was still strong. With Stefan giving off the impression that he doesn't want his memories back, it will be interesting to see what unpredictable road he travels down in the following weeks.
A moment in the making since last season's finale was the heartfelt memorial for Bonnie. While we all know that The Vampire Diaries excels at these events, this particular one had less of an effect than memorials in the past. Yes, this memorial was beautiful and sad and completely appropriate, but the fact that Bonnie is not gone for good made it more of an emotional moment for the characters - less so for the audience. There's no need (yet?) for us to grieve Bonnie's death since she still has ghost whisperer Jeremy communicating her messages. It almost felt as if it was a necessary plot to include for the sake of believability instead of catharsis. However, I'm glad it happened.
It appears as if answers or at least more information on the mysterious Dr. Maxfield may be coming soon. And with that, hopefully a clue about Megan the third roommate's connection to Elena's father, which hasn't been forgotten about just yet. Dr. Maxfield, creator of a vampire, exists as a contrast to the Mystic Falls council that was dead set on destroying all vampires. So far, it's a relief that they're introducing a new angle, whether for research purposes or a different personal agenda.