Damon teams up with Silas to expedite his death, but Tessa's intervention leads to a change in plans. Meanwhile, Caroline and Tyler grow apart, while Katherine and Nadia bond. Here is a recap and review of the Vampire Diaries episode "Monster's Ball."
Dr. Maxfield, narrating into a recorder, experiments on the transitioning Jesse. Elsewhere, the diary makes its grand return with Elena writing about Bonnie's death. Elena then spots Megan's childhood friend at her memorial and tries to get information from him, but comes up short.
Damon decides they'll trade Silas' life for Bonnie's. Bonnie, lurking about, doesn't approve because of the risk, but Jeremy's in. Silas will collaborate with Damon on the condition that Damon helps him find Tessa's mystical anchor binding the Other Side. In the meantime, Damon must keep Stefan dead to break the link with Silas and return Silas' powers.
Nadia refuses to turn Katherine over to Silas, even when Katherine volunteers herself, thinking Silas just needs a drop of her blood. Nadia clears it up - Silas needs every last drop. With Katherine hoping Nadia will free her afterwards, the two trade life stories. Nadia turned herself and has been tailing Katherine for 500 years because she blames Katherine for killing her mother. Katherine finds that memory foggy and spills more of her dark deeds. Upon realizing Nadia won't let her go, Katherine stabs Nadia in the chest, just grazing the heart.
At the ball, Elena compels information from Megan's friend. His name is Aaron and everyone around him dies. Dr. Maxfield warns Elena to leave Whitmore because people are watching her group of friends, and later he, as Aaron's legal guardian, warns him to steer clear of Elena. While Damon repeatedly snaps Stefan's neck, Silas compels Tessa to tell him where the anchor is. The travelers hid it after she died, so she needs her amulet to amplify her power to locate it. Tessa swipes her amulet and performs a spell when Silas walks in, but he quickly weakens as Stefan awakes. Tessa grabs Silas' heart and drains his life.
Caroline walks in on Tyler packing his things, still not over Klaus killing his mother. She begs him to love her more than he hates Klaus, but he can't. They're over.
Katherine finds Nadia still wounded and asks why she gave a fake story. Nadia says the idea was true - she's Nadia Petrova, Katherine's daughter. Nadia is surprised when Katherine confesses she returned to Bulgaria to find her daughter and that it's nice to meet her now. Katherine arrives to the Salvatore mansion rejoicing upon seeing the desiccated Silas. Damon snacks on her as she begs for him to let her live, then feeds her to Silas. Katherine falls to the floor, seemingly lifeless, but her heartbeat continues.
Though not the most surprising or action packed episode of The Vampire Diaries, "Monster's Ball" was full of enough emotion to overshadow these minor missing elements. This season has so far done well to balance the Silas story with the characters' average life struggles by gearing an episode towards one or the other. "Monster's Ball," on the other hand, beautifully balanced both.
At the forefront of this week's relationship turmoil was Caroline and Tyler, whose romance reached a plausible conclusion (albeit possibly temporary since not much on The Vampire Diaries is ever final). This was not an unforeseen breakup given Caroline's distress the past few episodes, but nevertheless, it was not lacking in sadness with two fine performances from Candice Accola and Michael Trevino. Seeing Tyler choose hate over love came as a shock to the darkness of his character considering he spent the summer helping his fellow wolves, but it was unfortunately understandable given the pain Klaus has caused him. It's interesting to note that it's always been Klaus who's come between them: first, showing interest in Caroline, then forbidding her love with Tyler, now consuming Tyler's emotions. Sure, Tyler has transformed into a more honorable man since the pilot, but it seems that lately he's been downward spiraling into someone who needs to reprove himself before earning a second chance with Caroline.
Second on the emotional front was Katherine and Nadia, whose relationship provides a real chance for Katherine's newfound humanity to shine. I feel as if I've been going on and on about how great Katherine is this season, and I will continue to as long as it's warranted. The most pleasant aspect about this storyline was how subtle everything was played. Katherine's daughter has been a mystery for a while, but the reveal was not hyped up or overly dramatic. Katherine's love for her daughter was present in her expression and admittance to searching for her, but they didn't share a grand hug. Nadia's conflicting emotions of love and hate (for the woman who birthed and abandoned her) were captivating in a Katherine-esque way. Like mother, like daughter. More fine performances, this time from Nina Dobrev and Olga Fonda. As that single tear rolled down Nadia's cheek, viewers were reminded that even in characters who kidnap, aid in possession, and threaten to kill people like poor Matt Donovan, there's the chance for redemption, a most human desire in a story filled with monsters and magic.
The development in the Silas story took two important turns. The bit about Tessa's amulet was verging on coming off as another McGuffin to prolong the drama. As the characters take a step to accomplish their goal, another step is created to hold their progress in place. But, a binding amulet makes since because the Other Side was created by a witch instead of arising naturally. The second important bit was Silas finally receiving the cure thanks to Damon's shocking, well-intentioned, true-to-his-character move. At this point in the Silas story it was necessary to have this monumental event occur because it redefines the momentum. Moving on from Katherine being in danger, now the rest of the characters must face the lengths that Silas with his newfound confidence will go through to make them cooperate with his plan. Arguably, the best part of the episode was Katherine waking up to see Damon and Elena standing over her, prompting her to ask, "Am I in hell?"
A random note: the Katherine-Elena linking spell from season two is personally a favorite story of mine, but I found the Silas-Stefan linking spell less enthralling. The way in which it was kept as bay was the most logical, yet it lacked a tinge of cleverness. That cleverness (which in the past has been so ingrained in Katherine's character) is something I find myself missing from the series as a whole. While the writers are still giving us wonderful stories, the creativity of those stories has flatlined to average drama.
No answers were provided about what the mysterious Dr. Maxfield is up to, but the fact that he's still weaving in and out of the plot lessens the annoyance because at least we're learning more about him as a character. Still, I'm not sure what to make of his presence. On the one hand, his creepy observation of Jesse paints him in a negative light, a threat to the vampire community. On the other hand, him warning Elena that Whitmore is not safe for her and her vampire friends could be a positive act. Was he doing this because of a hidden agenda or as a loyal act to his deceased friend Mr. Gilbert? Are Maxfield and Aaron relevant, or are they male versions of April? Regardless, there's always something intriguing about new arrivals to this series and anyone holds the potential to become an amazing character.