The Vampire Diaries 5.04 "For Whom the Bell Tolls" – Amnesia: the perfect excuse to resurrect a dead love triangle.

Let’s take a moment to talk about Stefan and how much I just want to hug him – and then throw him a party for finally reclaiming his independence from Elena and Damon. Four for you, Stefan Salvatore! While we’re on that topic, Paul Wesley brought his A-Game, as he has for basically ever, but I’m pointing it out specially for this episode – and this season – because I am just in absolute awe. [And I feel like sometimes I just want to shout at random strangers to tell them just how good Paul Wesley’s acting is.] I know, I know; you’re here for a re-cap of the episode – and I’m getting to that… right now:
For those who missed it, last week’s cliffhanger left us with the knowledge that, in frying Silas‘ brain to shut down his mental powers, Qetsiyah also fried Stefan’s brain, causing him to lose his memory. So, this week, we get an episode that returns to the Mystic Falls basics [no millenia-old supernaturals here] to see Damon – and later Elena – try and help Stefan recover his memories, and introduce him to life as a vampire. [How crazy would that be to wake up and suddenly have someone tell you “Oh, hey, you don’t remember but you’re a 164-year-old-vampire – but not just any vampire; you’re also a Ripper.” Talk about a difficult life-adjustment.]

So, Stefan pores over his old journals trying to recover his memories. When that tactic fails to make Stefan remember anything, Damon takes Stefan out so they can talk, and rehash the family history – during what is, conveniently, a day devoted to celebrating the dead. During this trip down memory lane, Stefan starts to feel the hunger pains that come from a life of drinking from bloodbags instead of straight from the source.
This amnesiac Stefan, unable to remember his Ripper!Stefan problems, wants to try feeding from a human, understandably thinking that since he can’t remember why he had Ripper problems, it’s possible that he won’t be a Ripper now. Damon doesn’t want him to take that risk, and so stops him from testing that theory [though I think Amnesia!Stefan has a valid point].

Anyway, the group is busy trying to contact Bonnie, for various magical-needs [Elena and Damon think she can help restore Stefan’s memory and Matt Donovan thinks she can help him figure out how to get rid of his newly-discovered creepy Passenger], and they are all reaching various states of confusion, concern and frustration when Bonnie fails to return any of their phone calls. [Don’t even get me started on how horrendous it is that these guys are cool with not talking to her all summer but now that they need her it’s a whole different story.] Eventually, Jeremy gets tired of keeping Bonnie‘s secret and decides that it’s time he let everyone know she’s dead. So, when Jeremy calls Damon, being all shady and asking him to come home so he can give him news of Bonnie’s whereabouts, Damon leaves Stefan with Elena. From here, things get weird, as Elena proceeds to walk Stefan through the Stelena Diaries, bringing him to all the places he and her once shared during their relationship. [What the hell, girl??]

Stefan, wise to her methods, soon figures out that she and Stefan used to date. We can sort of tell he is falling for Elena again, and she is caught up in the moment, too. [Again, I say: What the hell, girl??] Fortunately, Elena comes to her senses before things get too serious. She remembers she’s with Damon, but Stefan is blindsided when she admits that detail to him – basically confirming that she broke up with Stefan “the perfect boyfriend” to date his brother.
[I am throwing this out there: this back-and-forth triangle business is seriously ruining the season for me already. As if it hasn’t been dragged out long enough, now we’re resorting to having one-third of the triangle suffer extreme memory loss just so you can start the triangle all over again? Please, writers, let it die already. No one cares about Elena’s indecisiveness anymore – if anyone ever did to begin with. As Rachel so accurately pointed out, she is the only character still acting like she is in high school. Why are these 160+ years old Salvatores even putting up with her crap anymore??]

Anyway, back to the story: clearly confused and hurt, Stefan ditches Elena and heads off to get drunk and feed. He eventually runs into Caroline, who had been spending the day with Jesse – supposedly just studying, though Jesse also puts the moves on her by tricking her into kissing him. So, in a way, Stefan shows up with the perfect problem to help distract Caroline from her own relationship drama. Seeing how much Stefan is struggling, she compels Jesse to run away, but Stefan – being the thirsty vampire he is – chases after him.

 finds Jesse and essentially has an emotional breakdown, in what is a very powerful scene, acknowledging that he was supposedly a “good” person, but that it obviously got him nowhere. So, he is left questioning why he even bothered to try and be good. Stefan then goes in for the kill, but Caroline shows up just in time to stop him from making a huge mistake in killing Jesse. Stefan takes off, Caroline feeds Jesse her blood to heal him, then compels him to go back to Whitmore and forget everything.

The upside here is that Stefan really connects with Caroline through all this – understanding that she is his best friend, and that she will help him get through it all. So, comforted with knowing he has one person he can reliably trust, Stefan decides to move out of the Salvatore house.
He heads home and burns his diaries [a moment of silence for all that history literally going up in flames], at which point Damon and Elena walk in and try to talk him out of moving out. In what is one of my favorite Stefan moments ever in this show, he basically tells them to go to Hell, packs a bag, and removes himself from that dysfunctional cycle of co-dependency.

Again I say: “Four for you, Stefan Salvatore!” But unfortunately, as this is The Vampire Diaries, and the writers don’t know how to let a boring, overplayed love triangle die, I’m sure this is not the end of the Stelena v. Delena drama – but it’s still a great moment in Stefan‘s character development. What I love so much about it is that, once all the guilt and self-loathing is removed from Stefan‘s mind, it is clear that he can see how terrible their entire situation is, and he has the good sense to get the hell out of it. [If only it would last….] Meanwhile, throughout all this other drama, everyone is finding out about Bonnie‘s death, all of which culminates in a group ceremony. The gang gets together to properly memorialize Bonnie Bennett, with Jeremy there to speak for Bonnie. Being ever the selfless person she is, Bonnie proceeds to comfort all of her friends [at her own funeral], giving a very moving, tear-filled speech. [Which I was totally fine with until she reached Matt Donovan – I’ll admit I am a sucker for Matty’s tears.] Just as she reaches the end of the speech-giving, Tyler Lockwood shows up.

It’s about time we see this guy again – though it’s a shame it’s not under happier circumstances. Still, Tyler does his part in being there for his friends – and Caroline, though how long that will last once he finds out about Jesse remains to be seen. For his part, Jesse seems to have more important problems to deal with – like the fact that, once Caroline healed him and erased his memory, he went back to Whitmore College, where he works with another creepy professor [where does Whitmore find these crazy creeps to teach their impressionable youth??] on some sort of secret research.
This professor, who we already know has at least a base knowledge of the supernatural world thanks to his involvement with “doctoring” the death certificate of Elena and Caroline‘s old roommate, makes the connection between Jesse’s time spent with Caroline and his subsequent memory loss. Professor Maxfield takes a blood sample from Jesse, discovers the vampire blood in his system, and then takes it upon himself to force Jesse into the Vampire Transition by killing him. [Quite a step up on the crazy scale from Dr. Meredith “Blood Thief” Fell.] As to whether this professor has ulterior motives or is just into it for the scientific knowledge… well, because this is Vampire Diaries, I’m just going to say yes, there’s going to be more to that story. See you next week!

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