The Vampire Diaries 3.12 "The Ties That Bind"

A tv review article by: Shawn Hill

Bonnie believes her dreams she's been having about Klaus's coffins will help her figure out how he can be killed. The recurring dreams also lead Bonnie to a reunion with her mother, Abby, whom Bonnie hasn't seen for 15 years. When they visit Abby's farmhouse, Bonnie and Elena meet Jamie, a young man Abby took in years earlier. Though Bonnie's sudden appearance catches Abby off-guard, she does her best to explain the past. Tyler turns to an unexpected ally as he works to regain his free will. Damon is intrigued by Dr. Fell, and Klaus and Stefan continue their violent negotiations over control of the coffins containing Klaus's family members.

The Vampire Diaries airs Thursdays at 8:00 on the CW.

Bondage. That's the theme of this week. Klaus's family is bound in their coffins in suspended animation. Alaric is bound to his magic ring that saves him from death, and was once bound to Jenna, who died. Elena was bound to Stefan, but is now more entangled with Damon. She's also tied to a wooden post, all Perils of Pauline, for part of the episode. Bonnie is bound to the ancestral chain of Bennett witches, but a link is missing: her mother.

But more important than all of the above, Hybrid Tyler is bound by literal chains in the underground dungeon set that is never strong enough to actually hold any werewolves. In only his running shorts. By Caroline's father, the serial torturer, which is just kinky. This episode has everything!

Bonnie's dreams of the witch mansion and the coffins continue to get weirder and weirder, including that universal nightmare of waking up locked in one yourself. Even her magic won't save her, but what does? A vision of her mother, whom she hasn't seen in fifteen years, opening the lid. And this is a teenager, remember, so we might as easily say she's never seen her.

Elena, in her Elena way, puts everything else on blast and immediately is on board in getting Bonnie down to North Carolina (her mom was only ever a road trip away, apparently) to make that missed connection. The unfortunate thing is, she gets the address through the Sheriff's office, where Klaus has a mole. And where Damon can compel anyone to give up any files at all. And she leaves all the paperwork on her kitchen table, where Stefan can come and go as he pleases. Elena has never heard of subterfuge unless someone literally reminds her to do it. This is one of her most tedious qualities, her naïve faith in doing the right thing. You're living in a town of professional liars, girl!

The hybrids are all gone, except for that annoying blonde one, and everyone has faster magic powers than Bonnie's slow old car. Making a phone call ahead never occurs to anyone. Would have helped, because by the time they arrive in NC, Bonnie's mother Abby and her young charge Jamie (the entrancing blue-eyed kid she raised instead of Bonnie) are already compromised and laying a trap while pretending to help. Lucky thing Stefan shows up, except for how Klaus saw that coming, too.

The most interesting reveal is that it was Abby who put Mikael in that coffin in the crypt that Katherine and Damon freed him from, using up all her powers in a desiccation spell after luring him out of town to protect Elena and her mother (as he was looking for the doppelganger himself way back then, long before Klaus got wind of her apparently). Now she's just an herbalist, one who decided to start life over outside of Mystic Falls when she got the chance, leaving her daughter with her own mom. You may or may not blame her (Bonnie is still ambivalent), but you can sort of see why she'd want to. Mystic Falls is quite clearly cursed.

Damon, Alaric and Meredith have some fun shenanigans trying to figure each other out (and did she pocket Alaric's never-say-die ring at the end?), but let's get back to Tyler in that torture basement. They've never really focused so much on the horrors of the physical transformation (as he tries to change himself rather than be changed by the lunar cycle or change at Klaus's bidding), with some quite impressive joint-bending squick-outs that are hard to watch/fear factory cool. I sort of miss when a werewolf transformation was just a series of superimpositions that got gradually hairier. Damn you, 1980s horror movies and Rick Baker! Now it's always gotta hurt!

Still, any time Tyler is shirtless is still a good time. But the weird part is the 180 that Mr. Forbes has made, who now wants to protect his vamp daughter rather than change her himself. He seems to have seen the error of his ways there … or maybe he just couldn't resist another chance to tie someone up.

I'm not going into all the relationship mumbo-jumbo with Stefan/Elena. He acts marginally more human this week, and happily, it's she that saves him from a chest full of wooden buckshot ("I can feel it scraping on my heart, Elena!") after being just sneaky enough to free herself from the ropes Jamie used to bind her. Even Stefan notices she's gone a little badass lately. Finally!

It was all about Klaus getting his coffins back, but now that he has, he wants to leave everyone bound just as they are.  So let me add, best cliffhanger ever! I think you'll get it if I instead say, thanks to sneaky Damon, best return ever! Can't wait till next Thursday!

Shawn Hill knows two things: comics and art history. Find his art at

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