Home / Recaps & Reviews / The Vampire Diaries #5.6 “Handle With Care” Recap & Review

The Vampire Diaries #5.6 “Handle With Care” Recap & Review

The search for the anchor binding the Other Side leads to a doppelganger resurrection and a memory restoration. Meanwhile, the cure causes unwanted side effects and Whitmore's secret society is infiltrated. Here is a recap and review of "Handle With Care."

Recap:

Katherine's celebratory breakfast takes a turn for the worse when she discovers a strip of gray hair. After 500 years, it's about time. Silas interrupts Damon and Elena's cuddling session to remind them he's pumped about dying and the plan to save Bonnie is still a go. But, he first has to road trip to New Jersey to destroy the anchor.

Handle with CareDesperate for room and board, Katherine offers to help Caroline with the Dr. Maxfield problem if she can crash in the dorm. They drain the vervain out of Maxfield's system, so he reveals there's a gathering today for Augustine, a secret society with its own vampire - that's who killed Megan. They wanted Elena to join until they became convinced she's a vampire. Katherine shows them otherwise by entering without being invited in. She has a field day at the food table with Aaron until her tooth falls out and she bolts. Revealing her identity to Maxfield, freshly compelled by Caroline to forget everything damaging to her and Elena, Katherine asks for help solving her dying problem.

After a night of bonding with Tessa over their misery, Stefan wakes up confused. Amnesia or Tequila? Tessa, thrilled for the chance to kill Silas, tries to leave the cabin, but runs smack into a boundary spell. They're stuck there until sundown. Tessa answers Stefan's phone, prompting Elena to check up on him. Finding he's fine, she tries to leave, but that pesky spell traps her. Tessa gives Damon until sundown to kill Silas, threatening to harm Elena if he doesn't.

At the New Jersey warehouse, Damon tells Jeremy that Operation: Save Bonnie is off. She's cool with that. Damon fights off some Travelers, who admit they don't want Silas dead ... yet. Silas unwraps the anchor to find it's none other than Amara. He revitalizes her, but she's not thrilled about it. During an embrace, Amara slices Silas' neck and chows down on the cure.

Having only fake flirted with Tessa until sundown, Stefan stabs her in the gut and runs out the door with Elena. Back at the Salvatore mansion, Elena thanks Stefan for having the perpetual instinct to protect her. Damon shows Elena that he has Amara, meaning Operation: Save Bonnie is back on. Tessa gives Stefan a painful trip down memory lane, flooding his mind with all the terrible things he's done.

Review:

"Handle With Care" brought back the show's missing cleverness that I mentioned last week and also brought about new and exciting forces for the character's to confront in the coming weeks. Bouncing back and forth between the two relatively separate storylines, the search for the anchor and what happened at Whitmore, greatly helped to create an enjoyable hour of The Vampire Diaries.

The steps taken in the anchor storyline during the first half of this episode seemed to be a way to stall until the grand finish. The numerous phone calls between Elena and Tessa, Tessa and Damon, Damon and Elena were a necessary way to connect the characters in two locations working towards the same goal, but they unnecessarily dragged out action by taking the time to recap what the audience already saw. It was fun to see Elena and Tessa have their own little version of a verbal catfight, and to see that amnesia Stefan was no longer that unrecognizable version of the character present two episodes prior. Since all this chatter was broken up with the girls at Whitmore uncovering a new threat, it lessened the noticeability of it.

The second half of the anchor storyline was much more satisfying. Not only did Silas uncover the anchor and his long lost love, but he also got a cosmic dose of payback. It was left unclear whether he'd bounce back from being drained like Katherine, so it seems safe to assume we haven't seen the last of him, unfortunately. With his drama lasting a greater portion of last season and now being the primary focus of this season, it's about time he move on.

Can we just take a moment to respect Nina Dobrev, who will be playing three characters for the foreseeable future! I'm greatly looking forward to further seeing how Amara is distinguished from Katherine and Elena and just how far gone Amara's mental sanity is after she was hearing voices around the storage yard. Tessa pulled a clever move by binding the Other Side to Amara so Silas wouldn't have the will to destroy it, but it also was a half-baked scheme predicated on Silas going about killing himself in a specific order. Had Silas found the anchor before taking the cure, the two could have lived on together here or on the Other Side.

It was a relief to see Stefan regaining his memories, though they were unbearably painful, because his amnesia never felt like a solid story; his character was odd and off-balance. The concerning aspect about this recovery is the potential for him to return to his ripper days and/or to turn off his emotions, a side of Stefan that has already been explored enough within the first three seasons that to do so again would be repetitive.

The side effects of the cure that Katherine experienced do not bode well for her prolonged survival, though I still find it shocking she has managed to survive this long and I've been less than shy about proclaiming how much I love her character. Her desperation to remain alive led her to recruit Maxfield, which means we'll hopefully and finally learn much more about the mysterious doctor. Along with that, Aaron's brief appearance at Whitmore's secret society meeting just dropped more mystery into his character and he shows no signs of going away anytime soon.

Caroline and Katherine's work together could arguably be the best aspect of this episode. Katherine's return to manipulation let her character light up wonderfully. A crazy Katherine is the most amusing Katherine. Caroline was placed in an important position in this story, moving her past her days of seizing the college moment and moping about Tyler. Not only did these two women make a surprisingly functional team given that Katherine was the one who killed Caroline (no hard feelings), but they also uncovered what I imagine will be the season's next big arc once Silas is finally taken care of. The fact that Whitmore has a secret society did not come off as a shocking detail since secret societies are nothing new to the show; however, the idea of them having their own vampire is intriguing and a clever twist on an all-to-familiar antagonistic group. Is this vampire someone who does their dirty work? Or is he/she more along the lines of a social experiment?

About Stephanie Hall

Stephanie Hall, born and raised in Texas, is an MFA student in writing and producing for TV at Loyola Marymount University and has a BA in multimedia development, English, and journalism from Duquesne University. A huge fan of television, her favorite shows include Castle, Chuck, Dexter, and Fringe. Follow her on twitter @_stephaniehall.
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