I think one’s idea paradise would include a lot of unhealthy food. Any significant scene involving Bonnie and Damon involved food prior to the introduction of Kai. The first scene of “Welcome to Paradise” involved Bonnie and Damon strolling a deserted grocery story aisle picking and choosing food. Bonnie made a list for Damon to follow. Why? Why the damn food? Bonnie uses Damon’s evolution as a pancakes cook as an example during her explanation for why she’ll become adept at using magic. The pork rinds serve as a clue. The shelves do not magically re-stock. Bonnie assumes someone else resides in 1994 Other Side Mystic Falls because the pork rinds stock dwindled, day by day. Bonnie correctly guesses that someone stalks around, eating pork rinds and dropping quarters into a little merry-go-round. The merry-go-round represents the Twilight zone loop of their day—it’s a microcosm of their predicament. Kai could’ve gone about introducing himself differently, less murderously and more anything besides that. Also, there is no paradise.
What of Kai? Well, he’s CW good-looking, and tries to murder Damon. Bonnie regained her use of magic during her rescue of him, which Kai revealed was not merely part of the plan but the entire plan. Again, he could’ve handled the situation better. He has more information about where and why of the situation but chooses to explain it vaguely to the inquiring duo who all in present Mystic Falls want to see again, and who would feel transported to a paradise should Damon and Bonnie return from the Great Beyond. Kai’s not forthright. Mystery, indeed, enhances character, tone, setting, story, but only when used wisely. The mystery of who follows Humbert and Lolita tantalizes the reader because it tantalizes Humbert. Bonnie figured out what Kai reveals to the sound of a thunderous floor tom roll: magic is the key to their escape from loop land.
Elena, meanwhile, enjoys a Damon-less paradise. Damon, in a scene, tells Bonnie he’ll tell Elena how much he loves her when he returns to her. The memory of the car crash returns him to the immediacy of that moment. Elena, though, moves freely on in her life. She plans a party by the lake; she flirts and, later, kisses her classmate, another CW male model. She attempts to return everyone to normalcy-to give others the bliss Alaric gave her, but she fails. People still feel sad about what happened four months ago. Stefan lies to her about why he returned, and she doesn’t realize what a mess Caroline is until Stefan walks away from her. Elena can’t force others to feel a certain way; the girl can’t even compel the girl she attacked to forget because magic doesn’t work in Mystic Falls.
The writers allow for one, maybe two, of these stories for Elena per season. Elena needs to cut loose focus on being a boring college student, which means she barely studies and instead parties. One of her bonding attempts fails because only one of three (Caroline) volunteers to take a jell-o shot. That’s basically all she does is try to cut loose and then pouts when no one cuts loose with her. Carefree Elena has no direction. Sooner than later the writers will decide, “Okay, Elena’s heartbroken and she’ll learn how to cope and deal without wiping her memory, turning off her humanity, or anything else that pushes the problem aside.” Elena’s only great scene happens with Caroline after Stefan departs, having chosen to continue without her and everyone else. Elena figures out Caroline has feelings for her ex-soulmate. Caroline nods. So, Caroline’s obvious feelings from last season lingered and surfaced here in goody four zero three.
Stefan’s pursuit of Enzo seems more distracted than purposeful. Stefan’s motivated to avenge Ivy’s death. Enzo avoids an attack because of Matt’s vampire hunter friend. Stefan doesn’t care about the vampire hunter and disappears. He breaks Caroline’s heart before returning to shoot Enzo with wooden stakes and handing him over to the newest temporary bad guy in Mystic Falls. Enzo, unfortunately, returns to temporary torture and an execution he’ll inevitably escape. Stefan’s path parallels Elena’s unfortunate singular episode arc. Elena desires fun; Stefan desires Enzo’s death. The most effective/affective scene of the episode is the aforementioned Caroline/Stefan/Elena scene. Things happen. Character motivations shift and change. No character has any purpose in this episode, besides Damon and Bonnie. Jeremy wants ice in his drink and only then realizes compulsion fails on those returning to Mystic Falls, which begins the gang’s furious pursuit of the girl and the next new ‘shoot-to-kill’ mission. Purpose at episode’s end.
Soon The Vampire Diaries will blow through chunks of plot that leave less time for good characterization. Of course, Stefan’s better when not in cold pursuit of revenge, and Elena’s not blissfully ignorant of what matters to her. This episode annoys me because the writers didn’t want to create anything meaningful for their characters. Elena’s didn’t work the way she wanted it to, and the episode did not work as the writers may’ve wanted it to. Who knows, though. Not me.
-Paul Wesley’s the only actor doing anything dramatically interesting.
-I kept a close eye on the aisles of food. The Power Aid bottles looked modern. TVD’s producing director should’ve shot in 4:3 standard def for the 1994 scene.
-Brian Young directed the episode. I missed the name of the director.