Last week, my favourite supernatural teen soap opera returned.
Before the hiatus, the Salvatore brothers were tussling over which one was playing Angel and which one was Spike. I think Damon won. Take that as you will.
I am writing this while I watch. (I reserve the right to edit afterwards if it’s unintelligible.) Let’s just tear right into it, shall we?
Bonnie goes into an abandoned house alone. All she finds on the main floor are shafts of dusty sunlight and sibilant whispers. She follows the sound downstairs, where she meets a row of four caskets. This is a dream, right? She opens one and finds Klaus, asleep, wearing a very nice suit and holding his mother’s magic locket. When she reaches for it, something moves behind her and causes the floor to creak. She spins around, and … wakes up.
Welcome back to Mystic Falls!
Elena runs. Not like something’s after her — more like she knows something is going to be later. I spare a moment to pine for the training montages of my misspent youth. There are a few frantic moments when she thinks she’s being chased by a jogger in a hoodie, but after they collide he apologizes and lopes off.
Later at the Grill, Elena bemoans her hyper-vigilance and Bonnie relates her recurring nightmare. The girls aren’t sure why Klaus hasn’t tried to kill them yet. Elena’s finally given up on Stefan, Damon’s in an epic drunken sulk, and Alaric’s — wait, he’s grading papers? He’s finally decided to rejoin the living? He’s also at the bar (barely tolerating Damon’s presence) and hopes to find out why Jeremy’s stopped trying at school. Unfortunately, the youngest Gilbert isn’t coming in to work today. In fact, he’s been fired.
Instead of toiling for minimum wage, Jeremy’s playing in the woods with bow and arrows that he “borrowed” from Alaric’s weapons stash. Tyler’s getting his drink on and establishes common ground; boy-hybrid is in the doghouse with Caroline for being sired, and Robin Hood here got dumped by Bonnie for flirting with his dead ex-girlfriends. Ty makes some noises about his indestructibility, dares Jeremy to shoot him, and catches an arrow in mid-air; he seems to be trying to strike a balance between destruction-of-self and destruction-of-objects as a bonding ritual.
Thoroughly pickled, Damon plays with darts while Elena worries that Jer is on another decline because of multiple losses (i.e. parents, aunt & uncle, sundry girlfriends). Damon points out (with obvious envy) that Jeremy still has Elena He does perk up when she tells him that midday drunkenness isn’t hot. His flirty eyebrow moment is interrupted by Klaus and his menacing hoodie jogger (I refuse to remember his name unless he survives the episode). Damon instantly sobers and takes a protective stance while Klaus heroically refrains from killing anyone, wonders where Rebekah is hidden, considers moving to Mystic Falls permanently, and demands Stefan’s location to recover unspecified stolen goods.
Back to Bonnie’s dream house, this time in the flesh. She doesn’t find caskets in the basement, but Stefan appears behind her. He tells Bonnie about the crated relatives he stole from Klaus and asks her help to keep them hidden. I think I detect a trace of clever plan, and that can’t possibly end well.
Family dinner time, with intervention for dessert! Elena and Alaric get on Jeremy’s case, and he short circuits their arguments by inviting Ty inside to explain what being sired feels like. Tyler’s definitely not a puppet to Klaus — he’s sure he’s an ally! He speaks with such sincerity that it’s a jolt when he confirms that he’d be willing to sacrifice himself at Klaus’ command. Even Jeremy seems taken aback. And yet, he insists his free will is intact.
Meanwhile at the Salvatore ranch, Klaus and Damon have been commiserating about unreliable younger siblings, and Klaus explains what Stefan stole. Damon is dosed with vervain so he can’t be compelled, and he’s too useful to be killed (yet), so Klaus will have to find another demonstration of power. He makes a call.
Jeremy hangs up his phone, and Ty leaves. Alaric and Elena compare notes on Ty’s hybridization, and then realize that Jeremy left his magic ring on the table and wandered off. They find him outside, in the middle of the road, watching a vehicle accelerate toward him. Alaric knocks him out of the way, but gets himself killed in the process. Don’t worry; he’s only mostly dead! Hoodie drives back to gloat over the dead before speeding away, and Elena confirms that Alaric has his ring on (cue Beyoncé joke) while Jeremy comes to his senses.
Tyler meets up with Klaus and learns exactly what happened at the Gilbert’s after he left. He’s shocked, but Klaus explains that human lives are only relevant if they’re useful.
Damon and Elena swap plot details inside while standing over Alaric’s body. Jeremy was able to be compelled because Tyler took his vervain bracelet. Now that his head’s cleared, Jeremy wants them all to leave of Mystic Falls.
Elena detects similarities between Damon’s report and Bonnie’s dream, and calls her friend for help finding Stefan. So again we venture into the haunted house. The witch ghosts don’t like Damon at all, so Elena goes in alone. Damon listens to her plead with Stefan for his help. Stefan’s unmoved, and Elena’s outraged. Ruthless is a new look for him.
When Elena storms out, Damon encourages Elena to go sort out Jeremy and turns back to the house to take care of his own little brother. They fight, they yell, and Stefan finally reveals why he “betrayed” his brother’s clever plan — after Damon spears him on a tree branch. They are mutually unimpressed.
Tyler’s drinking in the woods when Jeremy pops up behind him with a crossbow and a grudge. Tyler insists he had no idea what Klaus was going to do, but Jeremy points out that Klaus is both deadly and untrustworthy. This time, the arrow isn’t shot in jest. Tyler catches it and tries to warn his friend away from danger, but his loyalties are clearly divided.
Moments after Alaric revives, Elena comes in and brings him up to date. So many mini-recaps in this episode! But Alaric is only revived, not healed and he collapses.
An ambulance arrives, but Hoodie compels the EMTs to leave and taunts Elena at the door. Jeremy takes him out with an arrow, but that’s not enough to kill a hybrid, so he goes inside and fetches a cleaver from the kitchen to behead the attacker (ew!) (also: holy calm in a crisis batman!).
Damon demands in on the new clever plan. Stefan’s only condition is that Elena is to be kept out of it entirely, and Damon agrees. The caskets have been in the basement all along, and the witches are hiding them from prying eyes. Even if Klaus does come after them, he could stand right next to them and never know they’re there.
At the hospital, Alaric puts his shirt back on. (Damn.) Dr. Meredith Fell asks him not to leave just yet and marvels at his fast healing. Later, Alaric is relieved to be healed but Jeremy’s still in pseudo-calm crisis-management mode, and it’s heartbreaking. Alaric wants to tell him that things won’t be terrible forever, but he can’t.
Meanwhile, Elena hands Rebekah’s inert body over to Klaus in exchange for Jeremy’s life. Klaus promises that next time he’ll pick someone else to hold hostage. Now that the connection between her and Stefan is severed, she’s not sure what else she has to offer. Also, Klaus needs to know that Rebekah wants him dead for what he did to their mother.
The blood’s mostly washed off the porch, and Damon’s disposed of Hoodie’s body, but Elena can’t seem to get her hands clean. Damon’s can’t comfort her because the Salvatores are keeping her in the dark, again. Has that ever worked out well? Elena won’t sit this out. I love her growing agency, but she can make terrible decisions if deprived of information. She’s still worried about Jeremy, too — not just about what might happen to him, but about what he might become.
In their new home, Rebekah’s still unresponsive but Klaus apologizes to her anyway. Sort of. It’s not his fault, he loves her so much, they’ll be together again someday, and he slides the dagger back into her heart to render her dormant again. The poor girl’s been stuck in an abusive relationship for a millennium.
Elena enlists Alaric and Damon as backup and meets Jeremy in his room. He shouldn’t lose out on life because of her. He barely gets to react before Damon compels him to leave town, enjoy normal life somewhere else, and never look back.
In the haunted basement, Bonnie and Stefan try to open the casket that Bonnie opened in her dream, but it’s sealed with magic. That makes it super important, right?
On Elena’s porch, Damon reassures her that she’s doing the right thing and she thanks him for being her rock. Damon reluctantly confesses the truth about Stefan’s apparent betrayal. He’s almost disappointed that Stefan isn’t a traitor, because he has to feel guilty over coveting his brother’s girl after all.
About to nobly retreat, Damon suddenly decides that (since he’s going to feel guilty anyway) he might as well go all in. He goes back and kisses Elena, the music swells (with appropriate lyrics), she doesn’t push him away, and Delena ‘shippers everywhere rejoice. He’s careful not to press his luck, though. Instead he wishes her well and, full of hope, he strolls off into the night.
EEE EEE EEEEE
Okay if we’ve all stopped making squeaky dolphin noises of glee, here’s some light homework.
- Is there even one other restaurant or bar in town besides the Mystic Grill? For crying out loud, kids — being a regular means you go there often, not that you don’t go anywhere else. Cheers is not a documentary.
- I’m going to miss Jeremy. But toothy supernaturals aren’t exactly tethered to this town, as evidenced by various road trips in prior episodes. If simply skipping town was enough to keep anyone safe, why wasn’t this considered several murders ago? And why the heck was Damon able to compel him? Shouldn’t the vervain have been back on by then?
- Damon’s love triangle participation is about to become much more active. This is good because I don’t want Stefan to go back to being boring.
- So many expressive faces and perfect reaction shots! The editing really is gorgeous.
- Remember that this is basically a soap opera, complete with intergenerational shenanigans; in this context, guys who don’t respect your boundaries are considered sexy, not suspect. (I tolerate this nonsense in fiction because it generates sweet conflict that is like narrative candy.)
- Elena now lives alone with her teacher who moonlights as a vampire hunter and is also her dead aunt’s ex-boyfriend. AWKWARD.
- Now I really want to see Original Petrova. I want to see if Nina Dobrev can pull off three distinct characters, and I want to know why Esther selected this woman for the curse. I’d suspected triangular drama between her, Klaus, and Elijah, but she had to reproduce at some point in order to be Katherine and Elena’s ancestor. This makes it unlikely that she was in the werewolf-vampire settlement a thousand years ago.
- Wait. Elijah, Finn, Kol… have I miscounted Original siblings? Rebekah’s stored with Klaus and both parents are dead, so who’s the sleeping beauty in the fourth casket? My guess is either Petrova or Esther, but I can’t possibly predict whether they’re living, dead, or undead.
– Rebecca Faria (Guest Blogger)
Follow her on Twitter: @RebelBeckerton