'The Vampire Diaries': Trust issues abound in Mystic Falls
Thursday night's "Vampire Diaries" episode, "Children of the Damned," is arguably the most highly anticipated episode since the series premiere. After the first flashback episode, "Lost Girls," fans of the show have been looking forward to our next glimpse of the Salvatore boys before they became vampires ... not to mention the return of Elena's evil vampiress ancestor, Katherine.
As always, last week's episode left us with plenty of questions. Cue up your DVRs, Show Trackers! Let's see if we can get some answers.
8 p.m. -- Apparently, the infamous vampire "Help us!" highway move has been around since the 1860s! Barely a minute in, and I'm already impressed by Nina Dobrev's and Ian Somerhalder's acting chops. As Katherine and young Damon, they've dramatically reversed the roles we're used to seeing them play. They're barely recognizable.
8:02 p.m. -- "If I see something I haven't seen before, I'll throw a dollar at it." Damon never fails to impress with his one-liners. Hey there, shirtless Stefan. I wonder when he got those tattoos. Immortality gives a whole new meaning to "permanent ink."
8:04 p.m. -- "I really like this whole menage-threesome-team thing. It's got a bit of a kink to it." I have to say, I kind of like it, too - watching the way Damon, Stefan, and Elena interact when they're all together is far more fun than watching them hang out in pairs. There's so much tension in their little trio.
8:05 p.m. -- Here's the introduction of Pearl (Kelly Hu), another vampiress. I'm wondering about her association with Katherine, because Pearl doesn't seem evil, but she appears to be aware of Katherine's dark side. Maybe her relationship with Katherine is a bit like Stefan's relationship with Damon, where she puts up with Katherine not because she necessarily agrees with her antics, but because of their shared history.
Of course, the most important thing about Pearl is that Anna, Jeremy's friend, is her daughter. I wonder how they both met their vampire fate, since we know vampires can't reproduce -- at least not the old-fashioned way.
8:07 p.m. -- We get shirtless Ben-the-Bartender, too? Is it my birthday or something? This scene answered my question from last week, about whether anybody noticed that Ben is a vampire in the years he has been in Mystic Falls. It seems that Anna turned him fairly recently, since she needed "eyes and ears, and a small-town bartender fit the bill."
It's really interesting to watch them interact, because Anna looks so much younger than Ben, but she's clearly the authority figure in their relationship. He's just a tool for her to use to get what she wants from him. Malese Jow has taken Anna from quirky and cute to creepy and threatening seamlessly.
8:08 p.m. -- The conversation that Elena and Stefan have while she's looking through her family heirlooms really illustrates the way they both see Damon. "I really think that Damon believes that everything he's done, every move that he's made, he's done for love. It's twisted, but kind of sad," Elena says.
On the other hand, Stefan reminds her, "Damon has no regard for human life. He enjoys inflicting pain on others. For 145 years, every single time that I have let my guard down, he's done something to make me regret that." Of course, Stefan knows Damon better than anyone, but it's certainly possible that he's forgotten about Damon's more human side after all these years of rivalry.
8:10 p.m. -- Back in 1864, we finally meet the original Secret Society of Vampire Hunters, which included Elena's (adoptive) ancestor, Jonathan Gilbert. Apparently, his vampire-detecting pocket watch isn't magic; it's science. Are vampires electromagnetic? We're also introduced to Giuseppe Salvatore (James Remar), Stefan and Damon's father. After the dismissive way Damon spoke of his dad in last week's episode, I'm looking forward to seeing what transpires between them.
8:12 p.m. -- I still can't decide how I feel about Alaric! He's obviously got the best of intentions, and I want Aunt Jenna to be with someone slightly less "scummy" than Logan was. Still, he's after Damon, and I'd prefer Damon not get a stake in the heart. Ever.
When I saw that Alaric had Stefan on the wrong side of his stake gun, my heart raced! So, of course, we're cutting to commercial. (By the way, that gun is a pretty nifty device. Did Buffy ever have one of those?)
8:16 p.m. -- When Stefan gets threatening, it makes me nervous. It's easy to forget that he's got a dark side. Then he starts doing that whole looming and glaring thing and it's an instant reminder of his most likely murderous past.
He does get Alaric to spill a little information about his wife. Isabel was a paranormal psychologist, apparently, so she had some insight into the vampires ... until Damon killed her. If she was Elena's mother -- and, perhaps, a descendant of Katherine's family -- did she know about her family's history?
8:18 p.m. -- Pearl's affection for Jonathan Gilbert seems genuine. I suppose they don't get much of a happy ending, though.
8:19 p.m. -- "Damon left the Confederacy on principle. That should be respected." There's so much packed into this scene with Damon, Stefan and their father. Damon's choice to "desert" the Confederate Army says a lot about the regard he once had for human life -- and Stefan's unquestioning support of Damon's decision says a lot about his love for his older brother.
It's painful to see how unconditionally Stefan had Damon's back before they were turned. He stood up for him even to their father, who we can assume that Stefan had a degree of respect for as well.
8:20 p.m. -- Did I miss something? When did Jenna and Damon become all buddy-buddy? And why is it so appealing when a man knows his way around a kitchen?
8:21 p.m. -- Alaric mentions that Isabel's body was never found. Does that mean there's a possibility that Damon didn't kill her, but turned her instead?
8:22 p.m. -- Once again, I love that Elena calls Damon on his deliberately clumsy moves. She really stands out amongst the typical heroines of the vampire genre -- she demands honesty, asks questions, and doesn't turn a blind eye to any misbehavior.
My heart breaks for Damon when he asks Elena if Stefan's "renewed sense of brotherhood" is real. It's been made very, very clear that as much as he may hate Stefan, he loves him far more than that. Then again, this softer side of Damon could be deliberate, too. He's nothing if not unreliable.
8:29 p.m. -- OK, I'm officially a big fan of the Salvatore-Gilbert family night. Watching Damon and Jeremy play video games while Jenna and Elena have girl talk in the kitchen lends a lighthearted side to this otherwise heavy episode.
8:31 p.m. -- I can't believe we got robbed of Ben and Bonnie's karaoke date! We only get to see the tame coffee-and-firelight aftermath?
"She's my sister," Bonnie tells Ben about Elena. "I mean, I'd die for her." Normally I'd be all warm-and-fuzzy at that admission, but as we learned from Vicki's untimely demise, no one is safe on this show. Bonnie's declaration is uncomfortably foreboding. Elena's lost enough -- I'm hoping we don't lose her best friend any time soon!
8:36 p.m. -- Apparently, Giuseppe Salvatore intended to carry the secrets of the grimoire to his grave. It could be that I've been watching too much "Supernatural," but it sounds like the book could literally be buried with him.
8:38 p.m. -- I like this scene between Stefan and his father. Stefan hasn't been a kid for so long; it's rare to see him having doubts and seeking advice. Unlike Damon, he obviously put a lot of stock in his father's words. Clearly that drink Giuseppe gives Stefan is laced with vervain. I'm just not sure why Giuseppe didn't let Stefan in on that.
8:39 p.m. -- Maybe I haven't been watching too much "Supernatural" after all! Would a book really survive 150 years buried underground? Not to mention, Giuseppe's body is going to be skeletal. I wouldn't want to see that if I were Stefan.
8:43 p.m. -- "I didn't raise my sons to be so weak," Giuseppe spits out, referring to Stefan's sympathy for the vampire "plight." If only he knew how strong they'd ultimately be.
8:44 p.m. -- I'm guessing that Pearl is in the tomb, which is why Anna is so invested in opening it back up. Pearl seems relatively benevolent so far, but after 145 years trapped underground, I doubt she'll be feeling very charitable.
8:45 p.m. -- Oh, Bonnie! She just can't catch a break. She's drop-dead gorgeous; you'd think she'd be able to find herself a nice, non-paranormal monster to date. (There aren't enough Matts in this town.)
8:52 p.m. -- Somerhalder is always great, but he's absolutely fantastic in this scene where Damon admits that he actually did trust Elena. You can see the fact that he's hurt all over his face, but you can also see him struggling to hide that pain and to appear as cavalier as ever.
"Give me the book, Stefan, or I'll snap her neck, and you and I will have a vampire girlfriend." Somehow, I don't think that Elena -- even as a vampire -- would be willing to be shared. Katherine may have liked being passed back and forth like a football, but Elena wouldn't have it.
8:55 p.m. -- Oh, man. That vampire muzzle looks painful! Does anyone else think it's pretty creepy that the Gilberts have held onto that, passing it on through the family for so many years? Jewelry, watches, and even journals are normal family heirlooms... but that thing could easily pass as a medieval torture device.
"Do you know what they'll do to you, if you're branded a sympathizer? They'll kill you," Giuseppe yells at Damon. Damon, unsurprisingly, prefers to die than to pretend he doesn't love Katherine.
8:57 p.m. -- Uh-oh. Anna has been invited into the Gilberts' house. I think it's fantastic that a little girl is the most dangerous villain we've seen yet.
8:58 p.m. -- Why was Emily (Bianca Lawson) so determined to protect the vampires? She's fiercely loyal to Katherine, though she probably saw Katherine's ruthlessness firsthand more than anyone else did.
9 p.m. -- Anna's disappeared, Elena's gone, the window is open... and of course that's where it ends. These cliffhangers are killing me!
"Children of the Damned" is without a doubt my favorite episode so far, even without Matt. I'm not sure how they'll top this, but now that both Elena and Bonnie have fallen prey to Anna and Ben, things are bound to get frightening.
What did you think of the original Secret Society? Is Giuseppe what you imagined Damon and Stefan's father would be like? Did you get a kick out of "family night" like I did? Do you think Tyler is enjoying his extended vacation? I can't wait until Feb. 11. Be sure to come back and catch up then, but in the meantime, leave your thoughts in the comments!
-- Carina MacKenzie (chat with me on Twitter @cadlymack)
Photos, from top: Damon (Ian Somerhalder) and Stefan (Paul Wesley) in 1864. Credit: CW
Katherine (Nina Dobrev) and Pearl (Kelly Hu) in 1864. Credit: CW
Elena (Dobrev) and Stefan read the grimoire at Giuseppe's grave. Credit: CW
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