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'The Vampire Diaries' recap: Ghosts of the past

May 13, 2011 |  7:30 am

After last week's “The Vampire Diaries,” which very much felt like a season ender, I thought this week's episode might feel more like a coda. In some ways it did. Like Rose's death in “The Descent,” the consequences of Damon's (Ian Somerhalder) werewolf bite played out in drawn-out, cerebral fashion. It was more about emotion than action. Also contributing to the coda feeling: The absence of Matt (Zach Roerig) and Tyler (Michael Trevino, which was disappointing after last week's events. Both have real stakes in the mythology now and in their relationships with Caroline (Candice Accola). Not to mention, Matt was very involved in the Sheriff's scheme at one point. (What was she planning? Just to kill them all off? We never really got answers.)

But “As I Lay Dying” still packed plenty of surprises and a shocking twist of an ending, planting the seeds for a very interesting season 3. Let's take a look at some of the storylines that set up big things for next year:

Stefan goes dark side. In order to save his brother, Stefan (Paul Wesley) went to Klaus (Joseph Morgan) for a cure. Because life's just cruel, the cure is Klaus' blood. But Klaus wasn't willing to give it up for free. He wanted something in return – Stefan, but not the useless version of himself he currently is. Klaus remembers when Stefan was “a true Ripper,” who massacred an entire village during one of his off-the-wagon periods. That's the Stefan he wants to leave Mystic Falls by his side. If he drinks blood, Klaus will give him his own. Stefan did it and even drank from a scared girl to get his brother the cure. Although Stefan and Damon sometimes mirror Elijah (Daniel Gillies) and Klaus – both Stefan and Elijah are cleaning up their brothers' messes in this episode – there is a deep love between Stefan and Damon. “He just sacrificed everything to save his brother, including you,” Katherine (Nina Dobrev) tells Elena (Dobrev). That says a lot about the depth of Stefan and Damon's bond. Klaus, however, tells Elijah he'll take him to their family's bodies and then stakes him. Not cool. Elijah better come out of that coffin next season!

The big question here is what does Klaus want Stefan by his side for? Does he just want him to join his killing posse? Does he have plans for him involving his hybrid race? The other interesting question involves Stefan. Last time Stefan drank human blood in a big way, he didn't handle it well. Will he be able to control himself better this time, now that he's drinking from Elena, assuming they're still doing that. Or are we in for a season of Bad Stefan? That could be really fun to watch, especially now that Elena and Damon's relationship seems to be progressing. Speaking of...

“It's OK to love them both.” That wisdom was brought to us by Katherine after she witnessed a very intimate moment between Damon and Elena. As Elena lay beside him on the bed, Damon told her, “I love you. You should know that.” Elena responded that she did know, and he said she should have met him when he was human because she would have liked him. An interesting thought. Human Damon was very sweet and innocent and love-struck, but he was also quite naïve and easily swayed. Would Elena have gone for him?

“I like you now. Just the way you are,” she replied before kissing him. Really? There's nothing you'd change about him? Yes, it's Damon who loves and protects her, but he's also done some pretty horrible things to her. But Elena seems to have forgiven him once more and with Stefan possibly going dark side and/or leaving town with Klaus, the door has opened a little bit more for Elena and Damon.

Jeremy dies...and crosses over? In order to save Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen) from a fatal gunshot from Sheriff Forbes, which was meant for Damon, Bonnie (Katerina Graham) calls upon her witch pals. They warn her that there will be consequences, but Bonnie cries, “I love him.” So Jeremy is brought back and then Googles “Back from the dead” because he feels different. But didn't he die before when Damon snapped his neck? Does the fact that this wasn't a supernatural death or that he was brought back by witches make it different? Judging from the ending, in which both Vicki (Kayla Ewell) and Anna (Malese Jow) appear to Jeremy, it would seem so. I liked the symmetry of Damon being haunted by his past and his relationships in the same episode that Jeremy's exes come back like the ghosts of relationships past. And it leads to so many questions! Has he crossed planes and is now able to see and communicate with the dead? Is he on a ghost plane? Are they not really dead? Is Jeremy now a supernatural being? And how complicated is his relationship with Bonnie going to get now that both of his dead exes are back?

Other brief thoughts:
– The ritual did indeed take and Klaus can now transform into a werewolf at will. That's a lot of power.
– Once again, Alaric (Matt Davis) comes running – “What do you need?” – when his boyfriend Damon is in peril. These two should just both move in with Elena and Jeremy and be their pseudo-guardians. It looks like that's already happening with Alaric, who asked to crash at the Gilbert house.
– “I'm still your little girl.” The Caroline/Sheriff Forbes/secret agenda storyline seemed to come to an abrupt end, but you can't discount that lovely moment between the two characters.

Showtrackers, what did you think of the finale? Were you surprised by the return of Vicki and Anna? Are you excited to see a darker side of Stefan? And what did you make of the Damon and Elena scenes?

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

Photo: Damon (Ian Somerhalder) confuses Elena (Nina Dobrev) for Katherine. Credit: Bob Mahoney / The CW.