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'The Vampire Diaries': Elena asks the big question

55145 This week's "Vampire Diaries" episode, titled "You're Undead to Me," didn't waste any time with creeping us out. The opening scene featured Stefan speaking to Damon through bars in the Salvatore family's dungeon of a basement. Damon is weak, starving, and he isn't wearing the ring that keeps him from burning in the sun.

Stefan says that he's not trying to punish his brother, just to reeducate him. Really? He killed five people and chowed down on two more. I'd say a little punishment is justified ... until you hear what Stefan's idea of education is. "You'll grow weaker and weaker, and eventually you won't be able to move or speak. In a week your skin will desiccate, and you'll mummify: a living corpse. I've injected you with enough vervain to keep you weak. Once your circulation stops, I'll move you to the family crypt, and then in 50 years, we'll reevaluate."

Sounds an awful lot like punishment to me! Gross. I have to hand it to him, I'm impressed that Stefan actually seemed committed to keeping Damon down there. I was sure that their brotherly bond (or what's left of it) would ultimately make Stefan cave.

Okay, so Damon is a murderous, manipulative vampire with an insatiable thirst for human blood and a creepy psychic link with the head cheerleader. It's in everyone's best interest that he be locked up in the basement, wheezing and drying up ... except for those of us viewing the show. This week's episode was great, but I was glad Damon broke free at the end -- I missed his usual wisecracks this week!

I quite enjoyed the episode though, and mostly because of Elena. I really misjudged her at the beginning of the season; she's become quite a force to be reckoned with. This week she proved once again that she's no Bella Swan. Her aunt Jenna asks her how she's feeling after Stefan blew her off with nothing but a vague message for four days, and Elena really lets it rip. "I'm not OK with any of it, but I'm not going to cry about it either. I was going to write in my diary this morning, but then I thought, 'What am I going to write?' I'm not going to be one of those pathetic girls whose world stops spinning because of some guy. I'll be fine."

Hear her roar?

She makes Stefan really work to get back in her favor, too. I loved how she played it cool when he talked to her at school, and gave him the brushoff when he was acting shady and secretive at the Grill -- after being an hour late for their date, at that. She finally let him back in when he showed up at her house to cook for her -- after all, he's got that Italian pedigree (and 150 years of kitchen experience).

I can't blame her for forgiving him! Stefan was utterly charming as he told her all about himself. He likes "The Great Gatsby" and doesn't turn up his nose at Grisham. He loves Seinfeld but prefers "I Love Lucy," and his film tastes tend toward Scorcese. Musically, he's "across the board" -- but he digs that one Miley song, too. Don't we all?

Okay, so maybe he didn't tell her the important things. And maybe he totally hulked out when she nicked her finger and started to bleed. But still, how could she resist? After all, he's got a hell of a smile ... when those fangs retract.

By the way, he did his talking all while chopping garlic -- so take note, vamp fans. The Salvatore brothers not only don't sparkle, they also aren't crippled by flavorful sauces.

Happiness doesn't last long when the guy you're dating is technically dead. The honeymoon ended rather abruptly at the high school's car wash fundraiser. (Called the "Sexy Suds Event" -- which definitely wouldn't fly with my old high school's administration, but they do things a little differently on the CW.) An old man tells Elena that he remembers Stefan from an incident that happened in Mystic Falls in 1953. Despite the man's granddaughter brushing him off as senile, Elena's curiosity is piqued.

Aunt Jenna's suitor, Logan, is a local newscaster. Elena cashes in on the connection to gain access to the station and check out their news archives -- where she finds footage of Stefan lurking in a doorway in the 1950s.

Everything starts to fall into place for Elena. Stefan's name on the guest list at the original Founder's Party from over a century ago, his magically healing cut at the football game, the way his eyes go a little crazy whenever he gets worked up. It all connects with the murders and the bite marks on Caroline's neck.

Elsewhere, Damon finally breaks out -- possibly killing his "uncle" Zach in the process -- and finds Vicki in the graveyard. I have to say, I was getting a little tired of Vicki's games by the end of this episode. She thinks she has feelings for Jeremy -- but she doesn't like the idea of him cleaning up his act. When he mentions that he's getting a little tired of getting high, she brushes him off, acting like he's being snobby for even suggesting it.

So I wasn't too heartbroken when Damon sank his teeth in and fed on Vicki to regain his lost strength. I do hope she survives the attack, though -- Jeremy can't handle another great loss in his life, and her brother Matt is one of my favorite characters. I wouldn't want to see her death kick off his downward spiral.

The episode ended with a bang -- finally, Elena showed up at Stefan's door and asked him the question we've all been hoping she'd ask: "What are you?"

Can't wait to see how he answers that one.

Before I sign off, I wanted to mention the music this week! I'm loving the soundtrack to the series so far -- the music is low-key but really kicks up the emotion in the more powerful scenes. If you dig the songs as much as I do, you can follow music supervisor Chris Mollere @cmollere on Twitter; he tweets the artists and titles so that you know what to search for on iTunes.

As always, you can post a comment below to let me know your thoughts on this week's episode! Were you charmed by Stefan's culinary skills? Does it turn you off that he indulges in the occasional Hannah Montana song? Do you think Vicki will survive Damon's second attack on her neck? Are you looking forward to seeing Bonnie's witchcraft story expanded? Let's chat!

-- Carina MacKenzie (follow me on Twitter @cadlymack)


Vampire Diaries cast off the hook
The undead show signs of life
Rooting for Elena

Photo: Stefan (Paul Wesley)  and Damon (Ian Somerhalder).  Credit: The CW.
Comments () | Archives (14)

Thanks for the tip on the music! Every episode my sister and I comment on how good whatever song is playing in the background.

I really liked the scenes with Damon in the dungeon. Both Stefan and poor Uncle Zach played off of him very powerfully.

Love your blog, keep up the great work!

Hey Carina,

Nice review. I've been reading your reviews for the whole season so far and I really, really like how you've always pointed out the difference between Elena and a certain whiny puke of a girl that heavily stars in an equally annoying vampire series.

I was there with you with the doubts about Elena just being another Bella Swan and the show just riding the coattails of Twilight. I probably would have been doing that but your constant pointing out of how Elena is pretty much the anti-Bella has shown me the error of my ways.

Keep those recaps coming.

I like it when I can say "But Carina from LA Times thinks Elena is the anti-Bella!" to my friends when they just dismiss Elena as teenage-girl-dream-fodder.

I have to admit, I haven't quite warmed up to Elena yet. Her whole, "I'm not gonna be a pathetic little girl over a BOY" spiel, while certainly an admirable idea, came off as her trying to convince herself that she's something she's not. That said, she's certainly LEAGUES above Bella Swan, I do agree on that.

I was also not really that disappointed to see Vicki get fed on. She's really not at all likeable in my opinion.

Honestly, Bonnie's storyline is interesting me more than the others. I wish they'd delve into her a little more.

Thanks, Carina, for a great blog post! I agree completely - the best part of this episode for me was the "take matter's into her own hands" Elena. I had worried that she was just another wounded orphan who would fluctuate between cowering in the graveyard and clinging to Stefan's broad, stoic shoulders. I especially loved her duplicity - sweetly lying through her teeth to Stefan and then sneaking off to spy on him in 1950s news reels while he placidly suds another car.

As for Vicki - do you think there is a chance she'll come back a vampire? Damon will have to give her some blood, but that would be way more fun than just having her die or recover with a modified memory? Imagine the aristocratic Salvatore brothers having to put up with the blue-collar, chip on her shoulder, Vicki? Could be annoying? Could be fabulous!

I can't wait see Bonnie come into her own - imagine her with full witchy powers at her command? Maybe she can put a spell on Caroline and save her from herself.

I can't wait to meet beautiful, funny, bitchy Katherine in a flashback next week - and to chat about it here!

themothchase (follow me on Twitter @themothchase)

First off, what high school in the world decides to hold a "Memorial Carwash" when the football coach is killed in an animal attack? If you listen to ScumFell's reporting, that's giving as the reason behind it. Makes me wonder what kind of person Mr. Tanner really was that wet teenage girls in Daisy Dukes and bikini tops was decided as the best way to honor his memory. They really like killing off Canadians since Mr. Tanner and Uncle Zach were both played by Canadian actors based in Vancouver, so it's not looking good for Aunt Jenna, played by Vancouver-based Canadian actress Sara Canning. Although Sara Canning deserve a hand since she's only 22 in real life (a decade younger then the guy play ScrumFell and even younger then most of the actors playing high school students). Plus, I've renamed Caroline's mom as She's-The-Sheriff. Hope we see more of She's-The-Sheriff next week.

Having read it multiple times, I'd sooner believe somebody if he told me he's a vampire then if he told me that The Great Gatsby was his favorite book of all-time. Sorry Stefan, if The Great Gatsby is your self-proclaimed favorite book, you're a snob no matter how much John Grisham you read.

Also, who knew about there were Italian arcistocrats in Antebellum Virginia? As a Virginian by birth, I didn't. I was raised learning that the Virginian arcistocracy were pretty exclusive on being a W.A.S.P.

But agree, it's very interesting show overall. I'm just being nit-picky. Love your reviews.

Am I the only one who feels old at Jasmine Guy playing anyone's grandma much less a teenager's grandma?

Anyways, Jeremy and Matt are still my faves and Jeremy signalling he may be ready to sober up makes me happy.

Also, is anyone else getting a "Harper's Island"/And Then There Were None vibe about the show with a different character dying practically every week? It's certainly unusual for a TV show and unlike Harper's where I just didn't care who went, I was actually sad when Damon killed Zach.

I really like the music too. I've already downloaded a couple of songs from itunes. You can also find the music info on the CW website. I can't wait for next week's episode the previews looked good.

I'm really excited to see Bonnie's storyline expanded--I think that's one of the most interesting storylines happening, right now.

Also, I'm really glad that Elena has figured out that Stephan is a vampire. Now that show can really get moving and they can have an honest relationship.

I really like the Bonnie storyline (spin-off?). The song that played when that Jetta caught fire was the most catchy one for me in this episode. I give the show credit for the Daisy Dukes/bikini tops wearing wet girls. At least they're trying to reach a male audience.

Why are people down on Jeremy having some troubles after his parent suddenly died? Whether or not they should, some people never get over that kind of trauma. Plus Aunt Jenna, I like you, but you're pretty crappy at helping Jeremy to deal and cope.

Actually just notice, Elena hasn't been in a vehicle since the start of the pilot with her scene with Bonnie and the crow. So she's still got her amaxophobia (there's actually a name for it).

I really like Elena after this episode, too. I am so not a fan of girls on TV living for a boy or whatever. It's very uncool.

I really hope Vicki survives. Matt is one of my favorites, too, and that would be terrible for him. I was totally scared by that scene when Damon attacked her, though. I mean, I was expecting it, but it still made me jump.

I am ridiculously happy that now I am going to know what songs they play. This show has one of the best soundtracks!

Well put, Carina - last night's show WAS strangely creepy. Much darker and ewwww factor than the episodes so far. Not so much of the sunny, happy lovers getting together. But it's part of the allure of this show - they kind of throw you for a loop each week - shake things up so there's no real pattern going on.

It was hard to watch - Damon was starting to look really pasty and mummy like, and the dead eyes - Ian is such great actor in this role, he made it so believable, like when he showed up behind Caroline in the school hallway to say "help me...", truly looking like death warmed over! I almost felt sorry for him. Until he had to go and kill poor Uncle Zach - before we even got to know him! Once he escaped, I felt sorry for everyone else because he's going to be hell bent on some not so savory revenge. Even the poor crow got it! And Vickie, well, was it just a public service?

I've also been on the fence about Elena, or more specifially, Nina, playing her. At first she seemed pretty stiff, not a lot of emotion going on, not sure of the role. But last night she really broke through - the scene of her figuring out what Stefan is in her room while she's looking into the mirror - that was very intense and moving. Believable. Unlike, it has to be said, the strange, stifled reaction Bella Swan had when she figured out something was not quite right with her brooding new boyfriend. Nina truly conveyed that mix of emotions - fear, revalation, curiosity, disbelief - very well. It came across the screen in a chilling way.

and if you watch the previews of next weeks episode Elena is rightfully frightened and scared out of her mind at finding out that she is dating a vampire! whereas Bella was totally okay and nonchalant when she figures out Edward is a vampire. plus i hate how bella is this whiny, needy girl whose life loses meaning w/o edward. in the books elena was actually a lot more assertive and somewhat manipulative and conniving, but i'd pick her over bella swan any day of the week! comparisons b/t the 2 vamp sagas are inevitable.


Congrats to Paul W., Nina Dobrev and whoever was in-charge of casting them.

Also, it's odd that Paul W. and Sara Canning have never had a single together so far, right? She'd think she'd be interesting in meeting this fellow, although maybe the writers are really playing up that she's a awfully laissez-faire guardian. That or it just skipped their mind to write an "established Aunt Jenna has meet Stefan" scene yet.

Also, Vicki gets so mean to Jeremy every 15 minutes yet can't wait to dress-up and smile for Tyler even after he assaults against that tree in the Pilot? She's really got a double standard.

i love stefan and damon the are the hottest bros. i've ever scene but i wish i knew how old they were in the real world


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