'The Vampire Diaries' recap: Let's dance, says the big, bad vampire
“I think I convinced myself he's not real, but he is.” That's how Elena (Nina Dobrev) described Klaus (currently a very clearly gleeful Matt Davis) on the latest episode of “The Vampire Diaries.” And boy, did the threat of Klaus become real in “The Last Dance” as Klaus took over Alaric's body and began to terrorize Elena, her friends and even her enemies. Klaus did a number on Katherine (Dobrev), who practically jumped out of her skin when he got close. It was a startling sight to see Katherine so unnerved. Remember at the beginning of the season when everyone thought Katherine was their biggest problem? How far we've come... Katherine had good reason to be scared. Klaus is a pretty sadistic bastard, who compelled her to stab herself over and over. He also compelled her to get the 411 on Elena and Alaric's background, including his currently M.I.A girlfriend Jenna (Sara Canning). I was disappointed we didn't get a Klaus-as-Alaric (Klausric?) and Jenna confrontation. But I was even more disappointed that Jenna seems to have disappeared from the show. Just when she finally learned something true and had story potential, she went away to stew at the library. This is the time when Jenna should start to dig and demand, not disappear.
Klaus used his new human disguise to infiltrate Elena's circle, even stepping in to teach Alaric's history class. In Alaric's body, Klaus doesn't need permission to enter Elena's new home, the Salvatore mansion. Pretty ingenious, and clearly he had designs on Alaric's body for a reason. He strolls right in and powwows with the group about how to kill Klaus. Bonnie (Katerina Graham) basically says, “Bring it!” She's powerful enough to take him. Klaus' human body is not as powerful, but his minion helpfully suggests a protection spell and a game of chicken. He just has to keep provoking Bonnie until she over-exerts herself and dies. Witch problem solved.
At the 60s dance, Klaus continues his taunting spree before compelling some students to attack Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen) while he goes after Bonnie and Elena.
“You're not on my hit list tonight,” he says to Elena before looking at Bonnie. “But you are.”
Earlier, Elena objected to Bonnie using her powers to kill Klaus and sacrificing herself when she was ready to do just the same thing to protect her friends and family. Essentially, Bonnie and Elena are in the same position of loving their friends and family too much to let them get hurt. Accepting what she has to do, Bonnie tells Elena to run and goes after Klaus, snapping his limbs like twigs without so much as lifting a finger. But the magic does take its toll as Bonnie's nose starts to bleed and she finally collapses.
It's a very powerful scene. One, Bonnie's decision and calm acceptance –- in a weird way, she looks almost tranquil as she looks over at Elena, who's crying outside the doors –- is incredibly mature and awe-inspiring. This is a lot of pressure and responsibility that Bonnie, who's really just a kid, has taken on. And two, the scene was just beautifully staged with the lights sparkling, glass shattering and paper flying. It looked almost too beautiful to be a death scene. But it was. It was Bonnie's. And in my opinion, it should have stayed that way. Instead, Damon (Ian Somerhalder) later revealed to a grief-stricken Elena that it was a spell. They had to convince Klaus that she was really dead to get him to back off.
Although that makes sense, I'm not a fan of the fake-death bait and switch. I've seen too many shows pulling it lately (cough, Bobby on "Supernatural," cough). The problem with it is that the death starts to lose its impact. I would be as sad as the next fan to see Bonnie go, but I think she should have stayed dead. It made sense. It was powerful. It would have given weight to the Klaus story. And it would have been both brave and truly shocking to kill her off so early.
Bonnie's fake death did give us some good Damon scenes, though. Damon tells Stefan (Paul Wesley) that he did what his brother couldn't because Stefan is too concerned with collateral damage. But Damon went against Elena's wishes not to keep any secrets, earning himself a slap from Elena, and made the difficult choice to sacrifice Bonnie over Elena. He'll be the one who keeps Elena alive by making the life-and-death decisions, he tells Stefan.
Although it's harsh, Damon also has some good points. Stefan is so concerned with being the good guy and protecting everyone, he's kind of playing the safe, middle road right now, and Klaus is not going to stick to that road. At the same time, Damon is very much letting his feelings for Elena color his decisions. “I will gladly let Bonnie die. I will always choose you,” he tells Elena. It's not really much of a choice for him, which only makes the decision easier.
Elena, meanwhile, makes a difficult choice of her own. Knowing they have to figure out another way to kill Klaus, she goes to the Salvatore basement and takes the dagger out of Elijah's (Daniel Gillies) body. Hell, yes! Unlike Klaus, this Showtracker does not think Elijah is a buzz kill. And since it sounds like the two have a complicated history, I can't wait to see them meet.
While all this is going on, we also have the beginnings of what could be a very interesting storyline with Matt (Zach Roerig) and Sheriff Forbes (Marguerite MacIntyre). Matt is concerned with keeping up his clueless facade around Caroline (Candice Accola). Sheriff Forbes asks him to keep pretending. She's got no one to trust but Matt now that she knows everyone's been lying, the Salvatores are vampires, Tyler's a werewolf, etc. So it looks like Caroline really did tell Matt everything. Sheriff Forbes asks Matt to buy her some time. Buy her some time for what?! Until she can just process everything? Or does she have a plan up her sleeve to deal with the town's supernatural problem? Is she trying to protect Caroline? She wouldn't dare touch Caroline, would she?
Other brief thoughts:
–- I wish Caroline was more involved in the Klaus storyline. I understand that her presence is integral to Matt's story right now –- and yay for him getting a good story, finally! –- but she seems so disconnected from the group right now. Considering that they could die at any moment, that distance is disconcerting to me.
–- Damon was really cutting a rug on the dance floor, wasn't he?
–- That is some really impressive WiFi in Bonnie's secret cave where she's hiding out while Klaus thinks she's dead.
–- One of my favorite exchanges of the episode was the subdued moment between Stefan and Damon talking about whether Klaus killed Katherine. Somerhalder gave it the perfect mix of caring and not caring.
–- I love how Bonnie always uses Damon as her guinea pig to display her powers. We also got a great, heated Bonnie/Damon scene at the dance. In fact, there was a scene for every shipper group at the dance: Bonnie/Jeremy, Bonnie/Damon, Damon/Elena, Stefan/Elena, Stefan/Caroline, Caroline/Matt, Damon/the female student population.
–- “You know I don't have the best luck in the girlfriend department.” Oh, Jeremy.
Showtrackers, were you relieved that Bonnie wasn't really dead or do you agree with me? Is Damon right to criticize Stefan's decisions (or lack thereof)? What do you think Matt and Sheriff Forbes are up to? Is Jenna's absence welcome or disappointing?
Complete "The Vampire Diaries" coverage on Show Tracker
-- Vlada Gelman (follow my TV musings on Twitter at @stayingin)
Photo: Elena (Nina Dobrev) and Bonnie (Katerina Graham) battle Klaus at the school dance. Credit: Annette Brown / The CW