If only the title meant a Milla Jovovich cameo. Any fresh idea would be welcome at this point. This episode is notable for a few reasons. Paul Wesley (aka Stefan) directs it. He’s apparently been paying attention in his many years of CW and soap opera acting, because he comes up with some interesting, spooky and wistful moments. We also finally meet Markos. The latter is sadly underwhelming.
I think what the title does mean is that the Travelers have finally taken up residence … in the minds of everyone in Mystic Falls (known for its picturesque storefronts and insanely high murder rate, according to Damon). How they managed to “sneak up” on the whole town isn’t really clear, nor is what happens to the Traveler bodies while their souls are out possessing. Do they just drag themselves to the nearest closet?
There’s the potential here for some creepy Invasion of the Body Snatchers paranoia, but the show doesn’t really exploit it beyond one or two scenes. Most of which involve everyone in view standing still and chanting, the big shtick of the Travelers. I had enough of that when they immolated themselves two weeks ago.
But worst of all is Markos himself. He lacks charisma. This is not a good thing in a season that has already rifled through Nadia (Katherine’s half-millennium old daughter who died poignantly), both Nina Dobrev and Wesley playing multiple doppelgangers with distinctive flair, and the original Big Bad Witch (and drama queen) Qetsiya starting off the whole doppelganger/Other Side prophecy what seems like years ago now. He does reveal that the whole Prophecy nonsense was just his way of getting doppelganger blood for the Travelers, but, uhm … so?
I don’t actually believe another word he says. Sure, the Travelers predate the witches, who have been working against them ever since? Doubtful. Maybe Silas was a Traveler and Qetsiya/Amara were witches, maybe not, but as far as we can tell they’re all doing magic and chanting, witches just have homes and Travelers are vagrants. Rude thieving body-snatching vagrants. I’m team Twin Witches Olivia and Luke, thanks! If only they had more of those knives that kill Travelers.
The other telling moments in the episode come from the realms of fantasy: Markos is giving Elena and Stefan daydreams of happy, normal non-vampire lives with kids and bad domestic cuisine. The stars sell this impossible scenario (because without vampirism, they’d never have met, as Stefan is from two centuries ago) with casual flirtation, and Wesley gives it a rosy domestic glow. The two at least realize from this tease that they really did have love in the past, even though they’ve lost it now and are just friends.
The second fantasy is the Other Side, the land of supernatural dead that Qetsiya set up to torture Silas and Amara. Matt gets “killed” (luckily wearing the life-preserving ring, which used to drive wearers crazy but doesn’t anymore I guess) again but finds a changed afterlife. Since Markos busted out, it’s decaying, and our departed beloved monsters like Matt’s vampire sister Vicky, Bonnie’s witchy Grandma, and even Original bastard Kol are running scared. We see Vicky get sucked away to a place that looks like what happened to Katherine when she finally died for real. These scenes are in a spooky funereal gray tone, another smart move by Wesley, and take place in a sort of haunted woods full of headstones and blurred distant figures.
But we’re stuck with the normal world, where only Enzo and Caroline are interesting and capable of doing anything fresh. Though it’s nice to see Caroline’s mom again, she’s possessed. As is Tyler by episode’s end, dude can’t catch a break. If the Travelers are the actual Big Bad of the season, what an anti-climax.