I kept telling myself I would wait just one more day to recap “Bringing Out the Dead”, that the extra time would allow the episode to sink in and make a bit more sense. Now it’s the next Thursday, and I’ve gotta get this out before my mind is full of tonight’s new Originals and old-fashioned partying, so here’s the quick-and-dirty version. (obviously it’s past that, but hey! Two recaps today)
Basically my reaction at the episode’s dual storylines is divided into two respective overriding emotions: Overwhelming Amazement and Unending Confusion. We’ll start with the latter:
Caroline’s dad died, and I don’t really feel anything The facts are these: Bill Forbes was hospitalized following his attempt to aid Tyler in breaking his sire bond. He wasn’t released, but fatally stabbed – with vampire blood in his system (more on that in a little bit). This meant he was forced into the always-emotionally-wrought position of transition. His beliefs about the abhorrence of vampirism mean he’s choosing Option B: Death, despite his daughter’s pleading, and he dies.
But here are the problems:
- I’ve had issues with this character since he showed up waaaaay too early in the Tyler-Caroline dynamic this season. While the idea of one of the gang’s parents being completely against the changes they’ve gone through (as opposed to eventually accepting or blissfully unaware) was appealing, his subsequent appearances have all attempted to treat his initial TORTURE OF HIS DAUGHTER (sorry, still not understanding how this isn’t a killable offense in the world of Mystic Falls) as some big intergenerational misunderstanding. We’ve had show-up-out-of-nowhere-and-disapprove dads before, with Uncle Jon last season and the one before, but he was obviously a guy who knew the score on the people that he was dealing with, and someone who helped the audience understand it too. Vampires made his life unnecessarily difficult, and he didn’t want that for his daughter. Bill Forbes, on the other hand, went from “absent gay ex-husband and father” to “Council-hired vampire torture specialist with a heart of stone”. We never really understood the depth of his hatred (Is it self-rooted? All that aversion therapy reeked of real-life cultural reprogramming), or his supposed resistance to compulsion (sure, ok, common skill).
- Caroline forgiving him I understand – to a point. He is her dad, but it seemed he was really supportive of her before this, and this past year was all about her becoming a stronger person. She was strong enough to control bloodlust, break up with Matt, tell off Damon, and coach Tyler through his transformations. This situation would have been the point for her friends to say “He was WRONG. We’ll help you get him.” Instead…she tries to constantly repair a relationship that she didn’t break. And then still has to watch him die rather than become the thing he hated (um…her?!). Her heart-to-heart with Elena was really great (and brought to light the fact that literally none of these kids have anything resembling normal parental relationships anymore ) but didn’t address any of the stuff their respective dads put them through before dying. Maybe they’ll talk more once she’s had more time to process the loss
- Where the f%#K was Tyler. His absence was so nonsensical the previous statement is beyond being a question. He bit her dad – this is his fault. He would feel guilty about that, and be hovering around the hospital to prove it. He would not be in some blackout zone not picking up calls from a girl he recently proclaimed to be in love with. And when her dad finally succumbed, no way would he let her ex/his ex-best friend beat him to the punch in the “shoulder-to-cry-on” department. SHENANIGANS.
There is also this ongoing ridiculousness where Dr. Meredith is somehow connected to all the stabbing victims without being the stabber (whatevs, IT’S TOTALLY HER. God knows it’s not Stefan). Elena is forced to assume her role as a supernatural being and kill Alaric for the fifty-seventh time so he could recover and not ID his attacker, because there is now a CBS procedural occurring alongside our perfectly functional supernatural drama.
On to the good part, which is a mafia dinner that would make Scorsese proud. Basically the Brothers Salvatore are forced to put their doppleganger-related differences on hold in order to parlay with Original Fraternal Feuders Klaus and Elijah. This is epic on a few levels : we have never had all four of these men in a room together; the Salvatores haven’t been this at odds since Damon was the “bad” one trying to make Stefan’s life hell; and every doppleganger seems to inspire a triangle, going back to their Original ancestress, Tatya, founder of a centuries-long obsession with brunettes ( AND THE EXISTENCE OF VAMPIRES WITH HER BLOOD. Mmk, now we’re understanding the fixation). Thinly- veiled swipes at respective patricide and girlfriend rivalry segues into a fantastically creepy discussion about the necessary continuation of the Petrova bloodline (logical, but OHMYGOD. KLAUS. EW.) that only serves to sweeten a deliciously uncomfortable set piece. The icing on the proverbial blood donor, however, is Elijah’s reassembling of the three remaining Original siblings – sister Rebecca, whom we know, and brothers Kol and Finn, introduced through their brutal stabbing of their brother with the enchanted stakes he held them captive with for centuries – and dismissal of the Salvatores with the title line. After sneak-attacking Klaus, they decide to abandon his lonely little hybrid self and take on this new world without him, something that makes me irrationally sorry for him (Joseph Morgan’s pout is irresistible in these instances).
What inspires the opposite of pity? The reveal that the ultra-secret super-coffin contains their mother, the Original-Supposed-to-be-Dead Witch That Hates Niklaus’ Guts. Except she now wants to forgive him. Maybe this episode is proving that I don’t have as strong an ability to “forgive and forget” as I should, but mostly it feels like I’m being manipulated into believing reconciliations false to the show’s inner rules. Don’t kill people left and right, and then have ghosts come back and wreak havoc because of their unsettlingly violent deaths, and then have the victim of a matricide ripped straight from a Greek tragedy return and not rain hell upon those who wronged her. I don’t really care if the perpetrator is her child. That should make it worse – or really better, from a dramatic standpoint. The show has always done its best work with warring siblings that keep mommy and daddy issues on the backburner, casting shadows but never directly influencing present actions; in an episode about the loss of parents being a painful reality of growing up this felt like a cheat, more necessary to closing the night with a bang than overall plot.
So in all, “Bringing Out the Dead” (I guess that should have tipped me off to the reveal, but anyway) seesawed me from strangely cold to hot to cold again. But hey, at least this First Family is wasting no time making a comeback – this week they’re doing what dysfunctional broods do best and throwing a massive party, which means all the backstabbing, bitching, and beautiful gowns a girl can stand. Consider me RSVP’d.