The Vampire Diaries Review: “The Downward Spiral” (Season 6, Episode 16)


Ian Somerhalder made his directorial debut with tonight’s jaw dropping episode of The Vampire Diaries. “The Downward Spiral” explored a darker side of the show than fans have seen anytime recently, and on a series that deals in death and dismemberment on a weekly basis, that’s saying a lot.

Viewers may be mourning the loss of TVD regular, Marguerite MacIntyre, otherwise known as Sheriff Forbes, mother of the perkiest vampire we know, but her daughter isn’t feeling a thing. Caroline (Candice Accola) has pulled an Elena (Nina Dobrev) and instead of dealing with her emotions like regular humans are forced to do, she’s flipped the switch on her humanity – predictable, yet proven efficient in the immediate sense of the word.

The writers have explored this option over the years with both Stefan (Paul Wesley) and Elena, so it’s not a new concept entirely, but for recycled material, they’ve certainly found a way to make it compelling (no pun intended). As the saying goes, misery loves company, and now Caroline has a mighty fine companionship for the time being. With Stefan risking his sanity, which is essentially what losing his humanity has historically meant for his character, to save his only remaining living blood relative, the narrative has just taken one of the most unexpected twists we’ve seen yet.

To be frank, “The Downward Spiral” may go down as one of my favorite episodes of the entire series. It was fast-paced, offered fans enough curve balls to make their heads spin, and was all-around entertaining. The idea of Caroline, a character who has now taken center stage (a nice breather from the Elena show), transitioning to basically another person entirely turned out to be as disturbing as it was sensational.

Accola’s performance was so spot-on in this new role that it begs the question of why the writers haven’t utilized her unmistakeable talent for being terrifying earlier on in the series. And, on top of this completely unexplored territory that The Vampire Diaries is moving into, Caroline is bringing an equally unlikeable version of Stefan along for the ride. They are about to start their romantic relationship by terrorizing the town of Mystic Falls, and that’s just a conservative estimate of the damage that they’ll inflict in future episodes. But, when it’s all over, at least they’ll have each other, right?.