TV Report Card | 'The Vampire Diaries' Season 5A Review

Overview: The first half of season 5, saw Stefan (Paul Wesley) blaming Elena (Nina Dobrev) and Damon (Ian Somerhalder) for not finding him in a safe, that they had no way of knowing he was in, where he drowned and came back to life, all summer. Tessa aka the super witch from last season aka the jilted lover of Silas, Stefan’s doppelganger, returned to stir the pot. Meanwhile, Elena and Caroline’s dreams of collegiate bliss were interrupted by a secret society, that’s sinful acts made “The Skulls” look like choir boys.

Storyline Direction: Let’s cut to the chase, this was not the best season “The Vampire Diaries” has ever had. As previously reported on Eclectic Pop, there were doppelgangers left and right, a plot hole palooza and contrived character turns.

One aspect that irked the entire season was that it felt incredibly leading and forced. There seemed to be no breathing room for viewers to comfortably root for whatever character they desired. They were being preached at, the entire time.

The Stefan/Silas storyline was boring and overshadowed way too much of the season. There was hardly any difference in the way Silas was written compared to Stefan and yet we were supposed to see this huge contrast. Damon has been written into a corner that is so tight, it is growing increasingly difficult to find any redeemability left for him. He still falls short of the bad deeds committed by Stefan though. 

What is so frustrating is that while Stefan has committed mass murder, all of the characters on the show continue to tell him he’s misunderstood while, Damon chucks away his relationship with Elena over his guilt and she argues with him for .5 seconds over it.

Another issue, Stefan’s hypocrisy over being trapped in the “Summer of the Safe” storyline and acting crotchety with Damon and Elena for “abandoning” him. All the while, we learn that he didn’t set the world aflame in a quest to find Damon, who was missing for 5 years, being held captive and tortured in the 50’s.

The writing quickly tried to dismiss Stefan feeling any guilt because he and Damon were on the outs. However, Stefan said he was leaving town at the end of the last season, giving no indication he’d be checking in and yet he is completely justified in his righteous anger because Damon and Elena should’ve been anxiety ridden over his whereabouts. Seriously, where is the story consistency?

The sole saving grace for the season was Tessa (Janina Gavankar), the seething ex of Silas, who was exceedingly fun to watch. Bonnie’s resurrection storyline was simply poor. If she was going to be brought back this soon, why kill her off in the first place? Case and point, the ridiculous waste of time spent on everyone gathering around to say “goodbye” and she comes back, in just a few short episodes. The head of the evil lab was also boring. His college-age ward, not seeing that he was vastly deranged, made his character look incredibly naïve; to put it nicely.

Production Caliber: The college felt sprawling and the flashbacks felt lush. The lighting in the Salvatore mansion has gotten too dim, drastically darkening with every episode.

Performance Quality: Janina Gavankar (“True Blood”) was hands down the savior of the first half of this season. There cannot be enough praise heaped on her performance. Her energy was ferocious and her line delivery was filled with the perfect mix of passionate disdain and sheer revulsion.

She was a lightning storm of fantastical exuberance, a welcomed reprieve. If there’s one new character that should’ve stuck around, it was hers.

Nina Dobrev (Elena) wonderfully balanced her multiple roles this season. She has truly come into her own as an actress. The scene where all of Elena’s doppelgangers were in one place was the perfect display for Dobrev’s talent, as viewers could easily tell the difference, without a word of dialogue needing to be spoken. Ian Somerhalder remained stalwart.

Musical Score: No song stood out in particular. The atmosphere was sustained by the series’ signature melodic indie rock.

Overall Grade: D, the stellar performances of Gavankar, Dobrev and Somerhalder sustained a dismal season that will hopefully see a half-time comeback in 2014.

[Image by The CW]