Wow. I watched "Bringing Out the Dead" twice last night and again this morning and I still don't know where I'm going to go with this, except to say that this may be one of the finest hours of this series. The writing and acting -- heck, every aspect of the storytelling, is pitch perfect. So think of this as less of a recaplet and more of a ramble. Okay?
While Bonnie and Abby work to open the sealed coffin (which Damon wisely hid -- with compelled human help -- in the No Vampires Allowed cave chamber) Damon and Stefan go to dinner with Klaus and Elijah at Klaus Haus (to stall Klaus, while Bonnie and Abby try to open the coffin). Meanwhile, Caroline goes to pick up her dad at the hospital, only to hear from Meredith that she discharged him the evening before, because Bill Forbes is, well... he's Bill Forbes and he's quite angry that Dr. Fell dosed him with icky vampire blood to save his life. When Caroline calls her father, her vamponic hearing picks up the sound of his cell phone. She and Elena find Bill lying unconscious in a hospital storage closet. He's suffering some serious knife wounds.
Care Bear is afraid her daddy is going to die, until Elena reminds her of the vampire blood undoubtedly still swimming in his veins. When Bill wakes up, he, of course, refuses to transition, because he's Bill Damn Forbes! Caroline, struggles against this, and even considers force-feeding him blood, but ends up taking him home to die. And I'll be honest with you, this episode has had me sobbing, for a few personal reasons. The ninth anniversary of my own father's passing is just days away. Also, the day after our last episode aired, my aunt -- one of the dearest friends of my heart -- passed away. Her passing was her of her own choice, as Bill's passing is his. She chose to forego dialysis, because she had so many other debilitating physical ailments, that while dialysis would have bought her more time, it wouldn't have bought her more life. I know she made the right decision, but that does little to soothe my broken heart. I seriously didn't intend to go there when I started this, three paragraphs ago, but my brain wouldn't let me write anything else, until I did.
I cannot help but identify (over-identify) with Caroline here, because although she knows Bill is making the right choice for him, his passing will leave a huge hole in her life -- a hole that cannot be filled. It's a hole she will have to learn to walk around. It's a hole she will sometimes stumble into, no matter how well she usually navigates. And on occasion? It's a hole into which Caroline will willingly throw herself. This is what it means to be human, indeed -- even when you're a vampire.
Bill's final conversation with Caroline, though, is everything it needs to be, to address the fact that not long ago, he was trying to torture the blood lust out of his daughter. The masterful stroke of writing (and acting), though, is how Bill manages to convince Caroline (and me) that while he is rejecting vampirism for himself, he fully accepts, approves of, admires and loves Caroline for the daughter and vampire she is.
All right. It's time to lighten up. Much of the episode revolves around the dinner between our beautiful brothers -- Brothers Salvatore and Brothers Original. The Salvatores present their (false) version of a truce. They (say they will) give Klaus the remaining coffin, if he and the rest of his kin get out of Mystic Falls, and leave them and Elena, to live "happily" ever after. Klaus refuses, because he needs Elena's doppelganger blood to build/replenish his line of hybrids. The whole thing is a set-up, though. When Damon undaggered Elijah, he left a note in his pocket asking him to meet. This cracks me up more than it should, because after the last episode, the people in our forum joked that Damon must have left a Post-It note inside Elijah's casket. I guess you had to be there.
Klaus manages to plant some (valid) seeds of doubt in the minds of both Stefan and Damon -- doubt about whether their presence in Elena's life is anything but bad for her. He points out that if he leaves his Hybrid Wet-Nurse with them, she will surely end up vamped, or dead, because of the conflict between them. By episode's end, the boys have a moment alone, in which they both profess their love for Elena, and neither of them is happy about it.
Klaus and Elijah also give Stefan and Damon a little wisdom born of their own experience in loving the same woman. It seems Tatia Petrova (the originator of the doppelganger line which spawned both Katherine and Elena) was once their reason for living. All the boys loved her, just like they love Elena and Katherine, even though Tatia already had a child by another man. Mama Original "took" Tatia, but the girl never could decide between the two brothers, so see, it's not Elena's fault she loves both Salvatores. Loving two beautiful brothers is in her supernatural DNA! And -- and it's this part that blows my mind and makes everything about this series work on 100 new levels -- it was Tatia's blood that Mama Original mixed with the wine she used, when she turned her children into vampires. I don't want to shoot my whole wad here, when I've yet to write the full weecap, but don't you see how much that explains? Witches, vampires, and the doppelganger are always tied to one another, no matter how hard they struggle against their bonds.
Bonnie and her mother finally do open the coffin, but whatever is in it (we know it's Mama Original) knocks them both out and escapes. And in other news, Alaric has a quest of his own. Liz Forbes reveals to him (and Elena) that the stake used to kill Meredith's ex -- Medical Examiner Brian, belongs to the Fellowship of the Falls, and has Elena's fingerprint on it. Liz doesn't suspect Elena of the murder. The point of the print, in this episode, is just to tip of the Fellowship to the fact that someone is using their weapons to kill members of the Council, but while I largely suspect Meredith is involved (despite her alibi for one of the attacks), that fingerprint, to me, suggests that perhaps Katherine is involved.
Anyhow, after Bill is knifed with another Fellowship weapon, Alaric can't help but question Meredith's involvement, because she knows about his weapons cache. As I indicated before, by episode's end, Meredith has an alibi -- an alibi for the latest attack -- the attack on Alaric (!!!) because oh yeah, someone knifes him too, right in Gilbert Gables. Matt and Elena find him dying, but because Alaric doesn't know who attacked him, nor whether his attacker is supernatural, he asks supernatural doppelganger Elena to kill him, to activate his ring (although I wouldn't depend on that thing, anymore). Elena gets her fierce on, again, and to Matt's horror, she kills Alaric to save his life. By episode's end, Alaric is back, although he seems in bad shape.
Back at Klaus Haus, Damon and Elijah have secretly undaggered Rebekah and Original brothers Kol and Finn (who are also beautiful, because this is The Vampire Diaries). They attack Klaus with the daggers he used to "kill" them, and make it clear they're going to abandon him. Then Mama Original Witch swoops in, because she is, of course, what was in that last coffin. Klaus is, for once, terrified, but Mama is there not to kill, but to forgive him! (That can't bode well for Elena.)
There's so much more, especially with my Pudding Pop, Matt. I'll cover it all, in the full weecap, which will be up ASAP. In the meantime, please grade the episode up top and join us in the forum, where it's always a family affair.
Sometimes, I approach an episode as a critic, in that I try to be objective. Sometimes I approach it as a fan. I don't choose my approach, so much as it chooses me. The choice doesn't seem to be dependent on episode quality, so much as where the episode hits me. Some episodes (of any show) hit me in the head. Others hit me in the gut. "Bringing Out the Dead" is a gut-punch, but it's also made me all thinky, too. That's my favorite kind of story -- one that delivers the old one-two.
Once something (or someone) is one of my favorites, good versus poor sort of fades into the background. Sure, there might be "problems" with this episode, but few (if any) of them originate in this episode. So while I'll poke at them along the way, none of them affect my love of "Bringing Out the Dead." So, if you're hoping for Bitter Cindy, you should probably read the recaplet of the last Once Upon A Time episode (or heck, any of my No Ordinary Family weecaps; my bile revs up at episode 6), instead.
Previously, on The Vampire Diaries... I'm a writer, not a mather, but over the course of more than two and a half seasons, I must have spewed about a half million words telling you what's happened, previously, on The Vampire Diaries...
Klaus: Is she stalling? I think she's stalling.
Elijah: Well, the episode hit a little too close to home for her. Did you get a gander at the recaplet?
Klaus: I pity her readers. They come for snark and instead, she serves up snivels.
Elijah: Pot, I've got kettle on Line One, for you.
Klaus: What's that supposed to mean?
Elijah: Little half-brother, I might have just spent months in a casket, but even "dead" I was not deaf to your weeping and wailing. Cut the lady some slack.
Klaus: Fine, so should we just tell the story?
Recapper: Oh, you two guys! You would do that for me?
Elijah: Well, if those "super heroes" on No Ordinary Family could do it, surely we can.