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

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When The Vampire Diaries started this season, the writers had a comparatively simple task – what happened to Bonnie (Kat Graham) and Damon (Somerhalder) after they disappeared into a cloud of mist? The rest of the storyline was dominated by factors that all led back to that central plot. Now, it seems that the narrative is splitting its focus in just about every way possible.

Besides the aforementioned Caroline and Stefan going off the rails one, we have Enzo (Michael Malarkey) and his fixation with Sarah Salvatore (which might fall to the wayside now that taunting Stefan won’t have nearly the same effect), a halfway tolerable Kai (Chris Woods), Damon’s Ripper mother who’s been stuck in a prison dimension for over a century, and Bonnie’s maladjustment to being alive again. And, let’s not forgot the ones that didn’t merit screen time on tonight’s episode – Matt (Zach Roerig) and Tyler’s (Michael Trevino) “Let’s be cops!” plan and dad-to-be Alaric (Matt Davis).

The story is starting to feel a little crowded, and honestly, I’m losing track of who’s naughty or nice with so many grey areas popping up, so it wouldn’t hurt if the writers made a call on whether Enzo is one of the good guys or just going to continue to make a mess of things. With so much ambiguity going on in recent episodes with where the characters stand morality-wise, the story really needs there to be someone who doesn’t straddle the line at the moment.

Arguably, that would be Elena, but her character isn’t really all that interesting lately. Enzo, however, would be an ideal candidate – he has no reason to torment Stefan at the moment, he genuinely cares about the humane version of Caroline, and with Damon being one of his only friends and in need of help, it’s almost a no brainer. The writers can resume his anti-social behavior after all is said and done, but for now, fans need them to take one for the team and make him the voice of reason.

No matter where the story takes us in the next few episodes, fans are almost guaranteed an enjoyable ride. The Vampire Diaries nailed “The Downward Spiral” all the way around – great lines, expert delivery, brilliant performances – and the look of the episode was just enough of a deviation from the usual for Somerhalder to leave a subtle signature.

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