The Vampire Diaries Recap: Season 5, Episode 12 — Is Elena Really Gone Forever?
Credit: Bob Mahoney and Blake Tyers/The CW © 2013 The CW Network    

The Vampire Diaries

The Vampire Diaries Recap: Season 5, Episode 12 — Is Elena Really Gone Forever?

The Vampire Diaries is finally back! Yes, we know it returned last week, but Season 5, Episode 12 (“The Devil Inside”) was a true return to form for TVD, something we haven’t felt since “Original Sin.” There were plenty of twists and turns on “The Devil Inside” — from Tyler and Caroline explosive fight, to Katherine and Nadia completing the spell to remove Elena’s spirit from her body completely — but what made the episode so strong were its character moments.

With so many characters on TVD, it’s sometimes hard to get to all of their storylines. However, “The Devil Inside” did this perfectly. Damon, ashamed of himself for pushing Elena away, loses himself to his own demons when “Elena” (read: Katherine) breaks his heart. Then there’s Caroline, who is quick to write herself off as a terrible person after her hook up with Klaus, especially after Tyler finds out and blows up at her. (And when we say “blow up,” we mean “nearly attack her in a hybrid rage.”) Even Tyler, who we haven’t always been the biggest fan of in the past, got some character development in “The Devil Inside.” Klaus has caused Tyler a lot of pain — he turned him into a hybrid, slaughtered his pack, and killed his mother — and by sleeping with Caroline, he took the last thing Tyler had (even if he selfishly gave it up when he left for New Orleans). It’s hard not to feel a tad bit sorry for Tyler, but he still had no right to snap at Caroline. Thankfully, Stefan gave him a punch in the face for us. The friendship between Caroline and Stefan is one of our favorite dynamics on TVD (case and point: when Stefan doesn’t make her feel like a terrible person for sleeping with Klaus because he slept with Katherine), so here’s hoping they don’t complicate things with a romance.

The Vampire Diaries Recap: Season 5, Episode 12 — Is Elena Really Gone Forever?
Credit: Bob Mahoney and Blake Tyers/The CW © 2013 The CW Network    

And then there’s Katherine, the conniving character at the heart of “The Devil Inside.” Katherine has always left destruction in her wake, but she took things to a whole new level of crazy on this episode. Not only did she manage to compel Matt to tell her everything about Elena, but she also paraded around as her doppelganger, slyly exposed Caroline’s dirty little (hybrid) secret to Tyler, broke up with Damon, and sealed Elena’s spirit in her dead, rotting body. (But at least she got rid of Elena’s terrible pink streak — it’s a whole new era!)

Yet, there’s still something that makes us want to root for her. Maybe it’s because she’s the Survivor — someone, who against all odds, has managed to not get herself killed after 500 years of running — or perhaps we want to see her survive because she just reunited with her daughter. Katherine and Nadia make quite a manipulative team, and in a weird way, it was nice to see them bond over something. We’re looking forward to see where this relationship goes. Is anyone going to get suspicious when “Elena” starts spending quality time with Nadia?

(Side note: How brilliant was Nina Dobrev in this episode? Forget about playing multiple characters! She had to play Katherine-as-Elena, which is even more challenging. We wonder is Nina watched Orphan Black for inspiration.)

The bigger question, however, is whether or not Elena is really gone forever. The witch was able to finish the spell to seal Elena’s spirit inside Katherine’s dead body. Katherine’s body was burned, and Katherine, in all of her vampire glory, killed the witch. While we’re happy at the thought of an Elena-less few episodes (Katherine is just so good at being bad), we weren’t entirely prepared to say goodbye to the elder Gilbert. Now, if Bonnier were still a witch, we’d think she’d be able to come up with a way to save her bestie, but seeing how she gave up her magic to become the anchor to the Other Side, we’re not so sure.

The Vampire Diaries Recap: Season 5, Episode 12 — Is Elena Really Gone Forever?
Credit: Bob Mahoney and Blake Tyers/The CW © 2013 The CW Network    

We do know one thing: when Damon finds out what Katherine did, he’s going to be out for her blood — if he hasn’t already flipped his humanity switch by then. Damon is having a rough go of things. First, Enzo brings him to the brink of temptation when his former friend kidnapped Aaron Whitmore and brought him to the Salvatore mansion. Enzo was hoping he and Damon could get their revenge on the Whitmore line, but Damon, knowing that Elena cared for Aaron, snapped Enzo’s neck and compelled Aaron to leave the city for good.

But things go from bad to worse when “Elena” breaks his heart at Matt and Tyler’s party. Elena may be in love with him, but Katherine has her favorite Salvatore, too, and it’s not Damon. In fact, given Damon’s sourness toward Katherine on her death bed, he got off easy with a broken heart. This sends Damon all the way back to Season 1. Now, he’s “bad Damon” all over again — lying in the middle of the road and killing for fun. His first victim? Poor Aaron Whitmore. Damon and Enzo trick Aaron into pulling his car over, and the rest is sadly history. Damon kills Aaron. It’s a sad end to the Whitmore line, and while we’re not 100 percent sure he’s dead, he was losing a lot of blood on that street.

We’re hoping The Vampire Diaries continues this tight storytelling. Damon is always fun when he’s playing bad. It’s his defense mechanism. But we also want to see him dealing with his pain in some way other than sucking blood and drinking bourbon with Enzo. As for Katherine, well, she’s ready to make her moves on Stefan. This is her chance to start her life anew, and her first plan of action is getting her one true love back. Oy. This love triangle is never ending — but at least we have Katherine at the center of the drama this time.

“Let’s talk honestly about the red thing that’s going on in my hair?” — Katherine, doing the Lord's work.

“Who do I love more: Bonnie or Caroline? ...Please say Caroline.” — We need a spin-off starring Katherine and Caroline.

“The nicest thing that Katherine Pierce will ever do is feeding the maggots that feast on her flash.” — Way harsh, Damon!

“So I kinda… totally… had sex with him.” — But we need more details, Caroline.

“You are the best influence on me.” — Aww! Cute Delena moment.

“It’s over… we’re over.” — Eek! Cue Damon's meltdown in 3.. 2.. 1.

“And I have no idea what I want to do with the rest of my life, which get this, lasts forever.” — Tyler Lockwood: Pity party for one.

“Cold. Manipulative. Good hair. You really are my daughter.” — Like mother, like daughter.

Catch the next episode of The Vampire Diaries on Thursday, February 6 at 8 p.m. ET on the CW.

Crystal Bell is an editor at Wetpaint Entertainment and our resident fangirl for all things The Vampire Diaries. Follow her on Twitter and Google+!