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'The Vampire Diaries' recap: How to kill an Original before dessert

February 17, 2011 | 11:16 pm

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Here are five things I liked about "The Dinner Party," and two things that made me upset:

1. Damon (Ian Somerhalder) and Stefan (Paul Wesley) role reversals. Damon informs Stefan that he plans on killing Elijah (Daniel Gillies) that evening, but not before he's crossed all his Ts. In other words, “I've become you,” Damon says to Stefan. There was also an interesting game of role reversals as Stefan told Elena (Nina Dobrev) about his early days as a vampire. Feeling guilty about what he did to Damon and his father, Stefan tried to bury his emotions by going full throttle vampire. “I relished in it,” he says. And the flashbacks proved it. He killed Jonathan Gilbert, but he survived thanks to his ring. He had girls practically lining up to die next. In came Damon sounding a lot like present day Stefan, begging him to be more careful and clever so they can stay hidden in Mystic Falls. Although there were no big reveals in their scenes, the flashbacks of Stefan and Damon were very revealing and well played. Wesley and Somerhalder are both quite adept at pulling off the qualities that we usually associate with the other brother. Then again, it might just be Damon's wavy, innocent-like hair.

2. Lexi (Arielle Kebbel) returns! What a pleasant surprise to see Lexi, one of my Season 1 favorites, even if it was only in flashback. It was Stefan's best friend who found him at his darkest and introduced him to the good parts of being a vampire. That included letting the wall down and allowing all emotions, both good and bad, back in. “Once you can hurt, you can love,” she said. I also enjoyed the pointed scene between Damon, who killed Lexi, and Stefan – “You remember her?” Stefan says – cut to a flashback between Damon and Lexi, who prophetically tells him the hate he feels for his brother will consume him.

3. Alaric's (Matt Davis) back, and he brought Jenna (Sara Canning) along for a storyline! After being relegated to brief exposition and text messages for most of the season, Alaric finally stepped back into the story in a major way. Between Damon's lying, Jenna's cold shoulder, John's (David Anders) meddling and Elijah's just all-around mighty power, Alaric had his hands full at Damon's loaded dinner party/fact-finding mission. Alaric the vampire slayer came back with a vengeance when he found out wielding the dagger John gave Damon would kill him. Alaric stepped in, stabbed Elijah himself and followed it with this gem of a line: “Now get rid of him before Jenna comes back with dessert.”

But fixing things with Jenna was not so easy when she confronted him about Isobel. I think it was the most we've heard Jenna speak all season. He ended up giving his ring back to John to make things right with Jenna. “After what you did to Damon, you're going to need more than me,” he said. On the kind of odd, but awesome bromance front, Alaric and Damon were able to patch things up. “I'm your friend, dammit. And you don't have any friends, so no more lying,” Alaric warned.

4. Elena takes a stand. Finally. Stefan's story about not giving up seemed to work. Elena decides to take an active role to “fight forward” when Elijah came to collect, so to say. Elijah's death didn't take because the dagger needed to be left in, a detail which Elena conveniently didn't get to until later. Elijah tracked Elena to the cabin with help from Luka's dad, but Elena didn't just offer herself up. Instead of waiting for her death, she threatened to kill herself and become a (useless to the sacrifice) vampire during renegotiations with Elijah. He called her bluff, but much to his surprise – and mine! – Elena stabbed herself. Ouch. Think about what it took to do that. Elijah swooped in and promised to keep everyone safe if she let him heal her. She took the opportunity to stick the dagger in him for good.

5. The wicked vampire is free. Damon came home to find someone in his shower, which is getting quite the workout. Now that Elijah is free, the compulsion wore off and Katherine (Dobrev) is free to leave the tomb. But instead of leaving town, she kept her word. She's staying to help with Elena. This seems like an awful quick change of heart. This is Katherine, who's been nothing but manipulative and self-servicing all season and is also in cahoots with John. Does she have an ulterior motive for helping Elena? Can she really be trusted with Elena's life? Will Stefan and Damon trust her enough to help? I'm actually hoping she's up to no good because what fun is a Katherine on the outside if she's not being a naughty minx? And I can't wait to see what Caroline's (Candice Accola) reaction is to Katherine's new freedom.

Speaking of foes, here's some things I didn't like...

6. Elijah's dead. He walked softly with elegant, European air and carried a big stick. This was not an easy role to play, but Gillies pulled off Elijah's ancient, commanding and powerful old-world charm. Plus, he gets credit for some of the most creative and shocking death scenes I've seen on TV. Two words: Head swipe. Here's hoping he gets unstaked long enough for a return appearance.

7. Bonnie (Katerina Graham) loses her powers. Magic, fire, touching. Bonnie and Jeremy's (Steven R. McQueen) “hang” was very romantic until Luka's dad stormed in and took away Bonnie's powers with a chant. Is it really that easy to strip someone of their abilities? Shouldn't it take more than a few sentences to take away a person's history? Is he really that powerful? I know magic is an ability, but it also seems to be an innate part of who Bonnie is. Even when she wasn't actively practicing, she was exhibiting signs of her abilities.

Readers, are you upset Elijah is dead? What did you think of Lexi's return? Were you surprised that Katherine made it out of the tomb and stayed? Did this episode make up for a lack of Alaric this season?

-- Vlada Gelman (follow my TV musings on Twitter at @stayingin)

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Photo: Elijah (Daniel Gillies) and Alaric (Matt Davis) talk. Credit: Annette Brown / The CW
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