'The Vampire Diaries': The tomb is opened, and not everyone survives the night
Last week, viewers were dangling from one heck of a cliffhanger when Elena (Nina Dobrev), still feeling sick from the vampire blood Damon forced her to gargle, was snatched out of her bedroom window by Anna (Malese Jow). Anna might be a tiny little girl, but her "diabolical plan" rivals Damon's.
8:00 p.m. -- When Elena wakes up, she's alone in a motel room with Ben, the hot bartender ... which isn't as fun as it sounds, considering he's one of the bad vampires. Last time we saw Ben, he was being less than gentlemanly on his date with Bonnie, which invites the question: Where is our favorite witch?
Elena was pretty tricky to pretend that she was compelled by Ben when the vervain actually kept her safe. If Anna hadn't been on the other side of that door, she might have gotten out of there safely.
Of course, then she wouldn't have found Bonnie in the bathroom! How come Elena got to sleep off her kidnapping in a nice, comfortable bed, while Bonnie got unceremoniously dumped in the bathtub? Rude!
8:03 p.m. -- Meanwhile, Stefan has been in five-alarm panic mode. Where is Aunt Jenna in all of this? She must have realized something was very, very wrong when Stefan bolted upstairs in search of Elena at the end of last week's episode.
Stefan asks Damon, "What if your blood hasn't passed out of her system?" and it makes me wonder whether Stefan would be more devastated if Elena died, or if she "turned." He's so protective of her that I don't think he'd want her to become a vampire, but I'm not sure he wouldn't prefer that to losing her completely.
Damon is positively icy in this scene. Over the last few episodes, he's been showing signs of a reluctant affection for Stefan, but that's history now. He's not going to forgive Stefan's betrayal easily. Something tells me that as angry as he is at Stefan for stabbing him in the back, he's just as angry at himself for wanting so badly to trust Stefan.
8:05 p.m. -- I love Elena and Bonnie's friendship. The way Elena instinctively threw herself in front of Bonnie when Ben barged in was a nice touch. Unfortunately, bad guys always see close friendships as an easy Achilles' heel ...
8:06 p.m. -- Oh my goodness! Tyler is back from ... wherever he's been hiding since November. I hope Michael Trevino enjoyed his vacation, because he was certainly missed. Apparently, Tyler knows a dude named Duke who goes to Duke ... and is throwing a 10-keg party. Mystic Falls is a pretty small town. Ten kegs is enough to get everybody drunk twice.
Once again, Caroline's unabashed honesty with Matt is incredibly endearing. I love that she used the word "ooged." I hope that it enters the popular vernacular immediately.
8:08 p.m. -- Bonnie's grandmother is one of my absolute favorite characters. She gave Damon a migraine with her brain, and she didn't even need any weird Sam Winchester hand gestures or nostril spasms to get it done!
8:09 p.m. -- While "dead mom bonding" might not go so well for Anna and Elena, it does spark some curiosity in me. Why was Anna's mother, Pearl, so friendly with Katherine? And is Anna looking to set all the vampires free as some kind of revenge on Jonathan Gilbert's ancestors, or is she only interested in getting her mother back?
8:10 p.m. -- "Is there anything to drink here?" "Are you offering?" For some reason it's hard for me to buy Ben as threatening. He just seems like such a dumb, lovable frat-boy type. He's supposed to be evil, but compared to Damon, Katherine and even Anna, he's a giant Labrador retriever.
8:15 p.m. -- Oh, of course Duke-who-goes-to-Duke's big keg party is at the cemetery. That's really classy.
8:17 p.m. -- When Ben asks Bonnie if witches can die, and she says quietly, "Yeah, we can die," it gives me a very very bad feeling. Last week, Bonnie said quite plainly that she'd die for Elena. I'd really hate to see her be a casualty of the big tomb showdown.
Stefan busts into the motel room with his hero face on, rescuing Elena and Bonnie, but he goes easy on Ben. "When the sun goes down, leave town," he says. "If I ever see you again, I will kill you." I don't understand why he killed Noah last week, but he's cutting Ben a break. I'm not complaining, though; hopefully this means we'll see more of Ben? Sean Faris is awesome, and if Stefan learned to play nice, maybe Ben can too.
8:18 p.m. -- Grams tells Bonnie that a witch's power is fueled by many things, including worry and anger. I have a feeling that bit of information will be fairly significant later.
Stefan tells Elena, Grams, and Bonnie to stay put. "I can't protect you if you leave the house," he says, but Grams isn't having any of that.
"We'll protect ourselves," she says confidently. In my opinion, the thing that makes this show stand out from all of the other vampire stories available today is the strong female characters. Whenever the men repeatedly get the women into trouble, the women aren't afraid to kick butt and take names.
8:20 p.m. -- Elena has known Damon for only a few short months, but because of her ability to be objective where Stefan can't, she actually seems to understand him much better than Stefan does. After all, as Stefan pointed out at the beginning of the episode, all he can remember is hating Damon. Elena points out that Damon isn't as angry at them for double-crossing him as he is hurt by them. There's a crucial difference.
8:21 p.m. -- Despite the much-hyped love triangle trope, I can't see any situation that would drive Elena into Damon's arms. However, their chemistry together is incredibly strong. There's an interesting intimacy between them, particularly when she takes off her protective necklace for him. She's kind of naked without it.
"I didn't compel you in Atlanta because we were having fun. I wanted it to be real," Damon says. He lives an incredibly lonely existence.
8:27 p.m. -- I wonder if Matt might still have feelings for Elena. She was his first love, even if he wasn't hers. Regardless of whether he still loves her, nobody wants to see their first girlfriend manhandled by a guy like Damon. Gross.
8:29 p.m. -- Tyler and Jeremy's relationship is really fun to watch. Last time we saw Tyler, Jeremy kind of reached out to him, hoping to be a friend where Tyler obviously needed one. Tyler wasn't interested.
Now, Tyler seems to be making an attempt to connect with Jeremy. When Jeremy isn't interested in getting high with him, though, Tyler overcompensates for the ego blow. "Carry on just standing there by yourself, all alone, the enemy of fun. Do you even have any friends?"
Of course he has friends. Creepy, lurking, teen-vampire friends.
8:31 p.m. -- Damon brought Katherine a bag of blood. It's not exactly flowers or candy, but ... Happy Valentine's Day!
"Admit it," Damon says. "You can't wait to get rid of me." Through all of this, I keep forgetting that Stefan's motivation is supposed to be to get his brother out of town. Since the show would suffer big-time without Damon, I doubt his attempt to retrieve Katherine from the tomb will be successful.
8:32 p.m. -- Jeremy seems to be trying to get over Vicki. Of course, he doesn't know she's dead. I really hope that the show revisits that story line, because it's a bit of a hanging thread. I wonder how many times he's going to have to see her "vamp out" before something jogs his memory.
8:35 p.m. -- Matt and Tyler time! I love their bro-bonding moments; I've missed them. They're just so comfortingly predictable: Matt frets about some girl, Tyler tries to convince him he's better off single, then there's shoulder punching and manly references to sports or beer.
8:37 p.m. -- Bonnie and her grandmother chanting in the tomb is a very powerful image. The two generations coming together, speaking a language only they can understand... it's eerie.
8:38 p.m. -- Every time Stefan leaves Elena -- whether it's to find Elena some aspirin or grab the gasoline that's going to light up a vampire army -- trouble comes. Stefan needs to start carrying a backpack with everything he might possibly need at all times.
I can't say I'm surprised that Elena goes into the tomb with Damon, but it is worrisome. At this point, Elena's trust in Damon is based completely on gut instinct.
8:39 p.m. -- "She isn't coming out, baby. None of them are." Is Grams going to trap everyone -- including Elena -- in the tomb? Would Bonnie's grandmother sacrifice Elena for the good of ... well, the entire town, as well as possibly the state and the country? Logically, that might make sense, but it would be rather heartless.
And... there goes all chance of Ben returning for another episode! Goodbye, Sean Faris. You'll be missed!
8:40 p.m. -- Grams explains that opening the door didn't remove the seal that locks the vampires inside. That means that though Elena can get free, Anna, Katherine, Pearl, and the others are stuck in there ... and Damon can't get out, either. And the twists just keep on coming ...
8:41 p.m. -- In all of my speculating about what might happen when the tomb was open, I didn't expect this. The makeup artists have done an incredible job with the vampires; they're terrifying. I'm sleeping with my lights on tonight.
Stefan is perpetually self-sacrificing, to the point where it's almost becoming tiresome. Of course he ran into the tomb after her! She wasn't even really in immediate danger; Anna was far more concerned with waking her mother up than with draining Elena dry.
8:50 p.m. -- Uh-oh. After all of his planning, it's finally obvious to Damon that Katherine is not in the tomb. Damon is usually so cool and collected. When he panicked and hurled the blood, it was like watching another character entirely.
It's worth noting that with all of Stefan's begging, it was Elena who managed to persuade Damon to get moving out of the tomb, with only one word: "Please."
8:52 p.m. -- I'm sure that Matt and Caroline's happiness is going to come crashing down really soon. Two human teenagers in a normal, healthy, honest relationship? Not on this network. In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy all their romantic moments as much as I can.
8:53 p.m. -- Jeremy finally starts doing some Bella Swan-style vampire research. I hope it doesn't take too long for him to put the pieces together about Vicki. He and Matt both deserve to know that she didn't just abandon them.
8:55 p.m. -- Damon is so ruthless when he confronts Anna and Pearl about Katherine. Anna admits that she knew all along that Katherine wasn't trapped in the tomb. Apparently, the last time Anna saw her was in Chicago ... in 1983, which is incredibly recent when you're talking about a vampire's life span. "She knew where you were, Damon," Anna says, in easily one of the most heart-rending moments in the series thus far. "She didn't care."
Poor Damon. He's never more human than he is when he's completely wrecked. I'm glad to see that Stefan is there for his brother in his lowest moment; even if they don't speak to each other, it's nice that they're not completely alone in that big dark boardinghouse.
8:58 p.m. -- Soundtrack junkie moment: Leona Lewis's cover of Snow Patrol's "Run" is a haunting match for this coda. For the rest of tonight's music, check out this great resource.
8:59 p.m. -- Oh, no. There were a lot of hints dropped that not everyone would survive this episode. was relieved when it looked as if Bonnie was in the clear, but Grams is not so lucky.
9:00 p.m. -- Back in the tomb, Damon's temper tantrum has dangerous consequences. The bag of O-Neg he flung at the wall fed one of the vampires trapped below ground ... and he doesn't look particularly friendly.
Kudos to Katerina Graham for a phenomenal performance in the closing scenes tonight. I'm constantly surprised by the caliber of the acting on "The Vampire Diaries." Every time I think they've peaked, the actors best themselves yet again.
Unfortunately, Salvatore fans are in for another long hiatus. While the 2010 Winter Olympics are hogging all your TV time, let's discuss "The Vampire Diaries" in the comments below! Let me know what you thought of tonight's climactic episode, and tell me what you're most looking forward to when the show returns in March. Personally, I can't wait for more of Matt -- and, of course, his MIA mother, played by Melinda Clarke (yes, Julie Cooper herself!).
-- Carina MacKenzie (chat with me on Twitter @cadlymack)
Photos: Top -- Stefan (Paul Wesley) and Grams (Jasmine Guy) in the tomb. Middle -- Caroline (Candice Accola) and Matt (Zach Roerig) at Duke's party. Bottom -- Damon (Ian Somerhalder) and Elena (Nina Dobrev).
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