'The Vampire Diaries': Damon finally reveals his diabolical plan
The play-by-play commentary seemed to be a hit last week, so I figured we'd give it another shot! Tonight's episode features the arrival of a new cast member, Matthew Davis. Best known for his turn as Elle Woods' lame "Legally Blonde" ex, Davis arrives in Mystic Falls as Alaric Saltzman.
Will he be a good guy? A bad guy? A vampire? A werewolf? A "Twilight" fan?
Cue up those DVRs! Let's find out together.
8:00 - Poor Bonnie needs to get herself a case of Red Bull. She's having nightmares in class, featuring foreboding images of Emily (Bianca Lawson), a very distant relative. I loved Lawson as Nikki on "Dawson's Creek," and "Buffy" fans might recognize her as Kendra. She hasn't changed a bit!
I absolutely loved how Bonnie snapped, "What are you looking at? Turn around," at her classmate when she woke up. She's very no-nonsense. She's not putting up with any bull, whether it's from her classmates or Damon.
8:03 - MATT! "Hey!" he says. "Hey!" Caroline replies. AND SCENE. Brilliant! Evocative! Perfect!
8:04 - Here's the much-hyped first appearance of the new history teacher, Alaric Saltzman (Davis) -- but we can call him "Ric."
Tip for those who aren't familiar with high school TV shows: If a teacher lets his students call him by his first name, he's officially what's known as a Cool Teacher. If he lets you call him by a nickname, he's not only a Cool Teacher, but also probably a Hot Teacher.
8:05 - Why hello, shirtless Paul Wesley. Good morning to you, too. Have the Salvatores been attending the Sam Winchester school of sit-ups and crunches? I approve!
Damon, who comes bearing coffee, actually apologizes for the unfortunate events of last week. He's in pretty good spirits, considering we last saw him with a stake protruding from his ribcage. To make up for murdering Stefan's oldest friend, he offers to avoid drinking human blood ... for a whole week.
Stefan is less than impressed. "Yes Stefan," he mocks. "Now that the Secret Society of Vampire Haters is off our back, I can go back to my regular schedule of 'How can I destroy Stefan's life this week?' "
"And I can go back to sulking, and Elena-longing, and forehead brooding," Damon retorts, quick on the draw as always. "This is fun."
I agree! As usual, the scenes with Damon and Stefan bantering at each other are the highlight of the show. Or, at least, of the first five minutes.
8:07 - So, it turns out that the late Mr. Tanner kept a "Jackass" file on his least favorite students, with a neatly typed label and everything! Classy dude.
Unsurprisingly, the file looks more like an "opus" to Jeremy, but Mr. Saltzman is offering Jeremy a clean slate -- much like Damon did. All Jeremy has to do to boost his failing grade is a project on the town's rich history, sans "Wikipedia regurgita."
Uh-oh. This scene is getting pretty heavy on the ring exposition, and we've learned that no jewelry in Mystic Falls is just there for the bling factor. Hmm. Alaric is a local history buff, hauls around a ring that looks like it weighs 10 pounds, and is super hot?
It would almost be too obvious if he turned out to be a vampire, right? Based on previous experience, I'm guessing that the writers are going to throw us a twist here.
8:08 - MATT. "Hey!" he says. "Hey!" Caroline says.
This time, Caroline isn't keen on letting awkward be awkward. The most appealing thing about Caroline since the pilot has been her self-awareness. She recognizes that she's a "pathetic insecure mess" -- and her recognition of that makes her decidedly less pathetic. The female characters on this show are all flawed, but they're not wilting daisies. I really appreciate that.
8:09 - "An 'I didn't kill my brother' text would have sufficed." Oh, kids these days.
Stefan tells Elena that he won't be coming to school anymore. Last week I mentioned that if he really cared about Elena he would protect her by backing off ... and now he's backing off. I love when TV characters obey my every command! It makes me feel powerful.
8:12 - Bonnie clearly hasn't watched enough horror movies. Everybody knows that when you throw away a magical haunted talisman, it ALWAYS comes back at the most inopportune moments.
8:15 - It makes me sad that Stefan's whole "Let's be bros, bro" shtick has an ulterior motive. I'm still mad at Damon for killing Lexi last week, but the brother-on-brother violence was also kind of a bummer.
8:17 - Ooh. Is Aunt Jenna going to hook up with Hot Cool Teacher? If he does turn out to be a vampire, that'll make the Gilberts three-for-three on being vamp bait. Despite his whole broody, I-eat-alone thing seeming awfully familiar, I'm still not sold that he is a vampire.
Stefan is looking for answers, so he seeks out Damon at the bar. Damon is so hungry for attention from his brother that he doesn't even call Stefan out on his obviously fake buddy-buddy stuff.
8:19 - What was that I said about the necklace showing up at an inopportune moment?
8:26 - Alaric married young and is now widowed. His wife's unexplained death is now a cold case.
Hmm... maybe he's not a vampire -- maybe he's part of that Secret Society of Vampire Haters (henceforth to be referred to as the SSVH).
Stefan and Damon are still hanging out over by the dartboard, doing a startlingly good impression of people who don't threaten to kill each other every week. Damon plays along, though he's still wary.
"You prefer the brooding forehead?" Stefan asks. I love it!
In the middle of the most badly timed seance ever, the window slams open, the lights go out and the necklace disappears. Even with his vampire super-speed, Damon couldn't have gotten all the way to Elena's from the Grill that fast, right?
8:32 - Okay, no, he definitely couldn't have slipped away without Stefan noticing. Besides, they're too busy with a brotherly game of football. Seriously!
This is breaking my heart, because I know it won't last. The thing that's most painful about it is that Damon clearly knows it's all a ruse! He knows it's not like Stefan to suddenly be all affectionate the week after Damon staked his BFF.
Still, Damon goes along with it. He doesn't care that Stefan is setting him up; he'll take what he can get. It's almost as if, even if Stefan's faking it, Damon's happy to pretend, just for a while, that things are okay between them. Damon is so attached to the past, much more so than Stefan. I don't think that's just about Katherine, but also about the way things used to be between the brothers.
Even false happiness never lasts long for the Salvatores, of course.
When Stefan brings up the elephant in the room, Katherine, we get a little more insight into her ever-mysterious "last night." I don't know about you all, but I'm dying for them to shed some more light on what happened to Katherine and the boys back in the 1860s.
Damon has spent the last century and a half believing that he was the only one with Katherine on the night of her death, so he's stunned to learn that Stefan, in fact, was the last one to see her. Is that a little bit of boastful pride I detect in Stefan's voice? Maybe he likes knowing that for once, Damon didn't get the last word.
That's not the case tonight, though, as Damon reveals, "I'm gonna bring her back."
You're gonna what now?
8:36 - The necklace lures Bonnie into Elena's bathroom, then some supernatural force locks her in there while Caroline and Elena freak out and lights flicker. Bonnie screams for her life -- and then suddenly she's quiet. Uh-oh.
When the door opens, Bonnie's in the bathroom hiding her face. Why do I have a feeling that when she takes her hands away, we're going to see Emily, not Bonnie?
8:37 - Okay, no, it's Bonnie ... but ... maybe not?
Whoa. When we got a glimpse of Emily in the mirror, I got the shivers.
While Emily's taken over Bonnie's body, where's Bonnie's spirit? Is she still in there? Is she going to remember this?
8:39 - The revelation that Stefan saw Katherine after Damon did has driven Damon to spill his guts. He's pissed off enough to reveal his entire "diabolical plan."
WHOA. This is huge. Katherine didn't die in that church with the 26 other people. She's has been stuck in a tomb under the church for the last century and a half, thanks to Emily and Damon. She's "alive" -- but, based on what we know from previous episodes, she's not partying down there. Her skin is desiccated, she's mummified and her circulation has stopped. That's not how I'd choose to spend the better part of two centuries.
Things are really starting to fall into place. Even as Stefan has moved on from Katherine, Damon isn't able to do the same ... and here's why. Damon had to wait until this year to get her back because of that prodigal comet, but now all the cards are in place.
"So," Damon deadpans. "You wanna go throw some more?" The dialogue on this show always makes me grin.
8:40 - Elena is the first to realize that Bonnie isn't Bonnie. As a side note, this episode has been a nice break from Elena's boy drama. I'm really enjoying her forbidden love story with Stefan, but it's nice to redirect the focus a little. "The Vampire Diaries" has a great ensemble class and Mystic Falls has a really cool history. There's so much to explore in this universe!
8:41 - Wow. Emily is powerful enough to take Damon down with a flick of her wrist. Does that mean that Bonnie could become that powerful, with practice? It'd certainly be a useful skill.
8:46 - Back at the Gilberts, Alaric can't come in without being invited ... or maybe he's just being gentlemanly? Okay, it's entirely possible that I'm in denial about him being a vampire, but I'm still thinking it would just be too obvious after that heavy-handed ring exposition.
While digging through his family's attic for research purposes, Jeremy stumbles across the Journal of Johnathan Gilbert, dated 1864.
What is it about 1864 that's so important? Everything that happens in this town revolves around the events of that year. It's the Nov. 12, 1955, of the "Vampire Diaries" universe.
8:48 - Oh, man. Damon not only wants to release Katherine, but a veritable army of vampires. All 27 that were stuck in the burning church that night are now trapped in the tomb, and I'm guessing they're not too happy.
Emily and Stefan aren't having it. Damon's face after the necklace exploded was absolutely tragic. Once again, Ian Somerhalder has outdone himself -- and the rest of his cast.
In a rage, Damon lunges at Bonnie, taking a chunk out of her neck, presumably to get revenge on Emily for not holding up her end of the bargain. They're not going to let another awesome chick die on this show, are they?
8:51 - To save her, Stefan has to feed Bonnie his blood. Does this mean that when Bonnie dies -- whether sooner or later -- she's going to go into crazy vampire blood withdrawal the way Vicki did? That can't be good.
8:52 - MATT!
He shows up at Caroline's to tell her that he was "creeped out" by their cuddling because he never liked her. Ouch?
I love how he's so honest and upfront with her, even if his words aren't the most comforting. Every time I think he can't endear himself to me any more, he does.
8:53 - "It was real for me," Damon tells Stefan about Katherine, in possibly his first moment of true vulnerability thus far in the series. When he tells Stefan that he's going to leave town, I want to bake him some cookies for the road.
It's so gutwrenching! He's been waiting for Katherine to return all this time. He's carried a torch for her for 145 years, never giving up on the idea that he'll bring her back to him. That's love.
8:55 - Stefan clarifies that Bonnie won't turn into a vampire as long as she doesn't die while his blood is still in her system. How come she's not getting high off of Stefan's blood the way Vicki got high off of Damon's? Is it because Stefan's isn't as potent?
I'm glad Elena's going to explain things to Bonnie. Secrets, secrets are no fun, and it'll be nice for Elena to have someone she can turn to, since everyone else who knows about the Salvatores has had his or her mind erased.
Looks like I spoke too soon about having an episode without Elena's boy drama! After watching Stefan save her best friend's life, Elena wants to be with him ... again. She needs to make up her mind! In one of his smartest moves yet, Stefan tells her he's taking off.
Is he going to go with Damon? Setting Damon loose on the world after this kind of heartbreak would not be smart. Maybe Stefan should tag along and make sure it doesn't get too bloody out there.
8:57 - MATT! Apparently honest conversations give Caroline the munchies. (Fantastic music cue! It's "Come Back When You Can" by Barcelona, if you're interested.)
Aww. Stefan is crying! I love watching Paul Wesley when Stefan gets a little bit out of control. Last week he showed us Stefan's happy kid-with-a-crush side, and this is the opposite extreme. Stefan manages to stay composed even at the most dire moments, so when he really loses it, it's very powerful. I love the flash of fangs as he hurls his diary across the room.
Elena and Bonnie holding each other and crying is a gorgeous moment. Even with the music drowning out their dialogue, it's easy to peg this as one of Nina Dobrev's and Katerina Graham's most outstanding moments as far as acting goes.
9:00 - Logan is back... as a vampire? WHAT!? HOW!?
Of course that's where they end it. Thursday can't come soon enough!
Whew. The play-by-play recap isn't easy with a show like this, where there's a shocker every other minute!
It's your turn to let me know what you thoughts of the episode. Did your reactions match mine? What do you think of the new history teacher (and his chemistry with Aunt Jenna)? Were you surprised by Damon's motive for returning to Mystic Falls? What do you think of Matt and Caroline and their cuddling? And don't forget to tell me what you think the deal is with the Logan reincarnate!
-- Carina MacKenzie (follow me on Twitter @cadlymack)
Photos: [Top] Matthew Davis as Alaric Saltzman. [Middle] Nina Dobrev, Katerina Graham and Candice Accola as Elena, Bonnie and Caroline. [Bottom] Paul Wesley as Stefan and Ian Somerhalder as Damon. Credit for all: CW.