I hope Nina Dobrev negotiated a pay raise for this reason. It seems "The Vampire Diaries" is ripping a page from "Orphan Black" and working the show's lead actress seemingly half to death with a small fleet of characters (same goes for Paul Wesley, too). This week, we meet Amara (also known as Crazy Pants), bringing the character total for Dobrev thus far to three. Not only is Amara an entirely distinct animal from both Katherine and Elena, Dobrev is in almost every scene. Seriously, I hope she got a bump for all this work.
 
Still, as an actress it's got to be fun digging into Katherine's current state of affairs. It seems that making the transition from vampire to human comes at a price -- namely, you start falling apart. Katherine's reactions to her grey hair and rotten tooth perfectly capture her vanity and growing insecurity. Although she coerces Caroline into letting her stick around to put one over on Professor Maxfield, she'll throw all those plans under the bus if it means saving her newly mortal skin. It's like watching a rich "Real Housewives" star begging her plastic surgeon for another eye lift. 
 
Speaking of Professor Maxfield, I loved watching Caroline and Katherine dance around him in the lab, doing their best vacuous teenager camp performance as they literally bleed him dry. When Caroline adds an edge to her usually perky attitude, it's absolutely, gleefully bad ass. 
 
Lately it seems as if "The Vampire Diaries" has gotten a little sassier, which is all kinds of wonderful, if you ask me. The dialogue is snarlier ("The anchor is in Snooki's backyard?"), and not just for Silas and Damon. When great swaths of exposition have to be delivered, even Stefan is able to joke he needs to get drunk to understand it all. It's a knowing wink to the audience, if not an apology.
 
As many weighty story lines are in the mix, this season feels lighter than last, which had started to feel like an extended grief counseling session for Elena. Bonnie is gone, but not really gone, and the good news is that Elena is running out of loved ones to kill (still, someone keep an eye on Jeremy). When we see Damon and Elena cuddling in front of the fire, we know that Damon is right and trouble is going to walk through the door any second, but it's still nice to see that they're able to joke about it.
 
The Silas-Tessa tangle is the ultimate dysfunctional relationship, and I think these two really are meant for one another no matter what either one of them says. Both are conniving and obsessive, and neither one, it seems, has a realistic view of the relationship. When Silas revives Amara and pulls her into a desperate embrace, it seems as if they'd at least have some coffee or a quickie or maybe even a conversation about what their next move might be. But no, Amara has to take a bite out of Silas, screeching, "I can't live another day!" as if it's his fault. I guess being stuck in a box for a couple thousand years would suck, but geez, she could at least give him credit for finding her. 
 
While I thought Elena's desperate rush to check on Stefan after she suspected he'd had sex with Tessa was very bad girlfriend behavior (Damon says he's secure, but come on), it was nice to see a glimmer of old Stefan when he saved her from Tessa. Even with his memory erased, he's still (as she points out), you know, Stefan. Of course, at the end of the episode Tessa gives him the gift that keeps on giving (his memory, including the stuff he didn't want to remember), which should change everything. 
 
Though Silas has been great fun, I won't be sorry when the Silas-Tessa-Amara storyline gets wrapped up, if only because the endless doppelgängers are starting to make the show feel a little claustrophobic. While we can only focus on Elena bouncing between the Salvatore brothers so many times, I'm not sure if it feels like a fresh twist to play that out with the same actors playing 2,000 year old ancients. Plus, I'm sure Nina Dobrev and Paul Wesley could use a break. 
 
Are you excited to see if Amara is really crazy pants? Do you think Bonnie will ever be brought back? What do you think of the Silas-Tessa-Amara triangle?