The Vampire Diaries 5.08 “Dead Man on Campus”

A tv review article by: Shawn Hill

The dead man is poor Jesse, whom we knew too soon. Evil Prof. Maxfield is still experimenting upon him, but doesn't reckon for Augustine Vampire blood super-potency, and Jesse escapes.

Where Jesse goes is to a campus party where he can hang with fellow vamps Caroline and Elena, because he's still in a transitional phase where he's not thinking very clearly. Really, he should be fleeing for the darkest cave he knows, to give himself time to adjust to his novel nocturnal existence. But Caroline is so pretty, and Elena is so encouraging (she's a veritable vamp-hood cheerleader this season), that he lets himself get distracted and beguiled, until he gets hungry. That's sort of unfortunate.

They all seem to be a pawns in Dr. Maxfield's game. Even Damon, who realizes the Augustine experiment has been going on for decades and that he was long ago its victim as well. In fact, after some intensely fun torture where Damon delights in injecting the bad doctor with a variety of diseases, he ends up captured by the mad scientists again. This is a twist I didn't see coming.

Dr. Max has no more intention to help Katherine than anyone else she appeals to, but she's on a redemption arc and she brings her daughter Nadia and "Gregor" (the spirit possessing Matt) together before Stefan in order to reveal their agenda and stab Matt. This frees him from Gregor's presence, without hurting him fatally, so it’s a bizarre sort of good deed. Nadia is disgusted, and Katherine is nothing if not mercurial, so within a few scenes she's up on a clock tower preparing to jump.

Which she does (because Katherine is nothing if not full-bore committed), but not too soon for Stefan to save her.

The coolest moment is when Caroline realizes Jesse has been vamped, and swears unholy vengeance for this wrinkle in her love life planning. The worst is when they all realize Jesse only drinks the blood of other vamps, and have to protect themselves from his uncontrollable desires.

So while Bonnie is free to love Jeremy, she must suffer horrible pain whenever any supernatural being dies, which includes Jesse by episode's end. Elena killed him to protect Damon, which Caroline is hardly copacetic about. This show is frequently cruel to its black characters, in a very unexamined way.

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