TVD subverted the ‘Stefan saves Caroline’ storyline by having Stefan DESTROY Caroline. Stefan the inhumane rips the heads off of drama directors as casually as someone ordering soup and bread. Stefan the inhumane wants Caroline, she who forced him to turn off the switch, to have fun with her humanity-free year. Rip the heads off of strangers, feed off cute college girls, and destroy the gas tank in a motorcycle. Stefan wants her to go for it without abandon and without fear of the guilt she’ll feel in a year. Stefan’s plan doesn’t involve switching the switch in a year. Ah, vampires.
Damon, in the beginning of the episode, beats the stuffing out of a chair. He feels frustrated by his brother’s foolish decision to flip the switch. Humanity free Stefan will commit atrocities, feel guilt, and brood. Damon doesn’t want Stefan to repeat the cycle. “A Bird in a Gilded Cage” has instances of meta-narrative-the reformed popular culture definition, not the literary definition. Julie Plec and Caroline Dries don’t insert themselves into the narrative the way in which a Gass or a Nabokov did. Characters refer to humanity-free nonsense of the past. Caroline’s driven to avoid the horrific post-inhumanity spree her other friends experienced. The writers know flipping the switch has been done, and that the challenge is writing it with a new spin. Stefan’s attempt to destroy Caroline is a new and interesting spin. The humanity free arcs are filler stories for that rough middle stretch of the season when the beginning is behind and the end far away and when the 22 or 23 episode order more potently a beast of burden. The arc allows for brief but temporary emotional conflicts that plunge into dark depths for two or three episodes. Never more. The stories benefit the actors more than the storytelling, because whatever atrocities they commit, atrocities that would enshrine them in their own hall in Skizzen’s Inhumanity Museum, won’t linger or last. Like magic, the switch is a narrative cop-out. The writers have a lot of fun without having to seriously deal with what happens after the inhumanity. Example: Damon Salvatore.
The solution for humanity free Stefan and Caroline exists in 1903. Lilian Salvatore, the brutal vampire ripper killer, can trigger Stefan’s humanity. Stefan’s humanity will trigger Caroline’s humanity. Bonnie and Kai bring Damon and Elena to 1903. Bonnie agreed to bring Kai because she didn’t plan to bring him back with the others. Damon consulted with his mother about helping with the Stefan problem. Lillian’s an insane vampire. She keeps desiccated vampires in the basement of the 1903 Salvatore home; however, she’s Stefan’s angel. She came to him after her resurrection because she loved him, but her lust for blood kept her from him and Damon. Lily reacted to the news about the death of her husband, via Stefan ripping his throat out, with laughter. Damon convinced her to leave without her friends, her ‘family’, because he emphasized why Stefan needs her. So, she goes, but she’ll want her ‘family’ back. Kai has the misfortune of meeting her family after Bonnie and friends left him.
Kai became more apologetic and remorseful after merging with Luke. Luke’s essence cured the psychopath in Kai. Kai, in the middle of season six, apologized to those he hurt or tried to kill or maim or torture. Bonnie represented to Kai the last piece to his reformed nature, as it were. Her rejection of him, her abandonment of him, and his lingering psychopathic tendencies, seem likely to return him to a less forgiving and redemptive person when he returns from the 1903 prison dimension. Bonnie’s revenge against him will change him back into the person she hated and wanted trapped. She’ll be responsible for newly evil and psychopathic Kai by May sweeps.
Enzo hatched his own plan to stop Stefan and Caroline. Alaric joined him for reasons I don’t recall 90 minutes after the episode ended. Alaric and Jo had been involved in a delightfully light subplot about the name of their baby. Oh yeah, I remember. Enzo called Alaric soft. He thought Alaric would run away from danger because of his baby. Alaric challenged that and then almost died. Jo, while treating him, called him an idiot and said he needed to stay alive for 18 years for the sake of her and the baby. Jo’s line of dialogue almost guarantees her impending untimely death and a zany ‘Alaric raises his child as a single father!’ storyline for seasons 7-14.
Much of “A Bird in a Gilded Cage” sets up future storylines; so what of the episode? Is there a story? Sure. A gilded cage is gold, beautiful, but a cage. Stefan and Caroline have sex, bite good-looking necks, banter over headless corpses, but they’re in a cage of inhumanity. Lily’s in a cage-physical and mental. Elena, too, is in a cage. Her and Damon share an overtly heavy-handed scene about infinity prior to Bonnie giving to Damon the gift of the vampire cure. She tells him they have forever together. Damon has the vial of cure a scene later-the cure he wanted for Elena. Either he or Elena will receive the cure. No more forever. One of the trio won’t remain eternal. Plec mentioned moving The Vampire Diaries towards an ending. Whomever takes the cure seems a more significant thing than Katherine taking the cure last season, because it signifies the beginning of the end, not a stop-gap, but the end.
-Maybe it is a stop-gap. Who knows. I’m a barely read blogger that referenced two authors that would be horrified to be referenced in a review of a TVD episode.
-“But I cannot sleep without the radio on…” Tell me where that lyric is from and I’ll give you a signed print copy of my review for the 14th episode of season 3 of The Vampire Diaries.
-No Tyler and Matt again. The absence of Tyler is fine. Matt should’ve been part of the last two episodes. Cut the music budget to find money for Zach Roerig.
-Enzo’s no longer interested in using Sarah as pawn, but he soon told her her last name. Damon mentioned reunion possibly thrice times in the episode. There’s going to be a nonsense Salvatore reunion in a few episodes.
-Neil Reynolds wrote the episode. Joshua Butler directed.