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Thursday, 25 of February of 2021

The Vampire Diaries – “Our Town”

Finally--a Big Bad with real menace. Take a lesson, Klaus.

I know I’ve been a bit of a curmudgeon this season.  There have been a number of aspects of the season that have disappointed me–chief among them the sorry state of evil in Mystic Falls with super lame Klaus as our Big Bad.  Klaus is still lame, but we have a new baddie, and he’s kind of awesome.  So awesome I never want him to be good again–is that sacrilege?

I sometimes rate #TVD episodes based on how they redeem sorry characters, and certainly this ep can score well for that–namely through Bonnie being a really reasonable, honest, and moral person.  Other times, I rate the episodes based on thrills and surprises–we get those here, too.  Surprises abound, including Klaus’ secret crush, Stefan’s dastardly plan, and Tyler’s ugly allegiance to his sire. We even get some great conversations between Damon and a whole host of characters [great conversations on this show tend to be centered around Damon–what can I say?  The guy can talk].  So all things considered, this episode sort of rocked.

Now, I suppose another question I can ask is whether this episodes advanced the central plot in any significant manner, and on that score, the episode is weaker.  The casket is still closed, Klaus is still ineffectual, and Damon/Elena are in a holding pattern.  Nevertheless,  if the show’s writers keep going where they are, the storyline with Tyler is looming as one of the major ones of the season.  How much can Tyler control his own actions?  I’m envisioning a moment like in Return of the Jedi, when you see Vader pondering–loyalty to my master or save my son’s life?  Bit worried Tyler isn’t going to come out of this season alive (and that would be super sad since I love him with Caroline), but if he goes down in glory, maybe we’ll see his full redemption.

The episode opens as all eps of The Vampire Diaries should—with Damon in the shower. He’s in a super good mood—you’d think he had just gotten laid, when in fact all he enjoyed was a brief (though rather hot and sweet all at once) kiss with Elena. He looks like the cat who ate the canary.

Elena, however, is less optimistic. She’s beating the crap out of a boxing bag during a training session with Ric.

Stefan walks in on Damon in his towel. He’s decidedly less perky and tries to get Damon to share his urgency: “Klaus is not going to spontaneously self destruct.”

Elena explains to Ric that she didn’t sleep well last night. Ric hears that, commenting that his own restless night “probably has something to do with dying” [I love Ric]. They ponder whether the rings could have run out of juice [is there a warranty on those things, I wonder?], but for some reason, none of them rush off to Bonnie to re-juju them. Guess they have other things on their minds.

Bonnie is as frustrated as Elena—she can’t find the right spell to open the coffin of Klaus’ unknown relative. Damon and Stefan arrive outside the witch house and Damon senses something amiss. He goes in to the house to check on Bonnie, and Stefan finds a random hybrid outside. The hybrid shows his fangs, and from behind, Damon rips out his heart [that has got to be Damon’s best party trick. What more could a girl want from a man than the still beating heart of a hybrid?].

Elena is decorating Awesome Vampire Caroline’s locker for her birthday, and Bonnie rushes in, late. Elena takes a breath and tells Bonnie she has something to tell her, and Bonnie won’t like it. She explains that Jeremy is leaving town because Elena had Damon compel him. Though she tries to explain her reasoning—Jeremy isn’t safe in Mystic Falls—Bonnie is upset, but Elena rushes through, explaining that she is only telling Bonnie to give her a chance to say goodbye.

Damon is beating the crap out of the magically-sealed casket with a shovel (that makes more sense when we learn he had just buried the random hybrid), and Stefan tells him his efforts are worthless. So they plot. Klaus has six siblings—four are accounted for—Elijah, Rebekah, a dead sibling in the old world, and a dead sibling in new world), so that leaves two others. Stefan is all worked up about the hybrids. He’d like them to go away—he’s tired of playing defense. Damon is less than supportive, due to the whole “Klaus wants to kill Damon and others” thing, but Stefan thinks Klaus is bluffing. If his family means so much to him, he won’t risk Stefan disposing of their bodies by killing Damon. In fact, Stefan wants to call his bluff. This doesn’t thrill Damon: “the only way to call someone’s bluff is to be willing to lose everything if you’re wrong” [Damon is wise.]

Bonnie runs into Jeremy at school, and when they talk about his immanent departure to Denver, he recites verbatim the words that Elena had just spoken to Bonnie to justify the aforementioned departure. Bonnie isn’t pleased.

Awesome Vampire Caroline arrives at school and sees Tyler. [Her hair is straight, btw—it looks really good. Though her outfit leaves much to be desired. Her skirt is way too short, and kind of shouts “high school hottie” in a way that seems beneath an awesome vampire.] Caroline isn’t thrilled to see Tyler: “You almost got Jeremy killed…can you at least tell me what you are planning to do about your sire bond to Klaus?” Tyler is calm: “There’s nothing to do…that’s the point…Even though I want to put you first, before anyone, I can’t. I’ll never be able to, and I’m so sorry.” With those depressing words spoken, he gives her a gift—a pretty silver charm bracelet [I’d really like to see those charms, personally. Did he pick each one to have some meaning?]

Klaus is sad about Rebekah, and drinking some whiskey or something [cause vampires drink all freakin’ day]. Stefan appears, but Klaus is nonplussed: “I’m surprised you are still in town.” Stefan isn’t in the mood for small talk: “You know, I don’t like your hybrid friends. They’re everywhere, kind of like fleas. I want them gone.” Here starts a pissing contest. Klaus tries to draw from their former friendship, but Stefan explains, “Friends don’t strip friends of their free will.” Klaus concedes the point, “Yes, that was extreme. I get moody. Just ask my siblings.” The fight escalates as Stefan threatens to remove the hybrids himself, causing Klaus to threaten to kill people. Ultimately, each threatens to kill the other’s brother, ending with Klaus saying, “Try me. Let’s find out.” To make a point, Stefan cuts off random hybrid Mindy’s head [gosh, I had just learned her name—I may stop learning hybrid names for a while—they all keep dying immediately]. “Well, one down. You may want to send the rest of them away before it gets messy, again.”

[I’m not sure what to make of Stefan’s fight with Klaus. I mean, it seemed to me to be two guys talking a lot of trash but doing very little. Let’s see some actual destruction people. Please note: this is what I was thinking during the episode—as you will see, at least one of these men does indeed act in a dastardly manner by the end of the episode—hooray!]

After her not so satisfying run-in with Tyler, Awesome Vampire Caroline decides to waste her trashy 13-year-old hottie outfit and skip school. Elena, Matt, and Bonnie follow suit and show up at her house to celebrate her birthday at the falls. Caroline, however, is somewhat melancholy—aging, after all, is something she will never do. She complains, “it is just a reminder that technically I’m dead. Seventeen is a filler year. I’m stuck in a filler year. I just need some time to wallow in it.” Elena of course won’t accept that, so she offers another idea.

Cut to Tyler arriving at Klaus’ house and seeing the blood on the floor. Klaus, being world’s most ineffective bad guy, pretends like he is at all menacing: “Stefan had two paths in front of him and choose the one that made me angry.” [Ooooh, look out kids—Klaus is mad. Maybe he’ll send a completely doomed hybrid to bear his teeth at someone. Or maybe he’ll talk a bit more smack. Scary.] Tyler is whining about losing his friends and girlfriend when Klaus casually mentions that he needs a favor: “About your girlfriend, I need you to bite her…Stefan pushed me too far, so I’m pushing back.” Tyler hates this plan, thank goodness, but Klaus says it is a test of Tyler’s loyalty. Tyler talks big about how he’d never hurt Caroline and walks out. [Damn, Tyler is so going to hurt Caroline—can no man on this show say what he means and then do it?]

Damon and Ric are going to a council meeting and trying to understand just what the heck is going on with Stefan, who seems to want to protect Damon but otherwise seems like a monster. Ric asks, “is his humanity on or off?” Damon muses, “Seems to be a bit of a dimmer switch, which is a huge problem. I can’t tell how far he is willing to go until somebody gets killed.” “Suddenly you care who lives or dies?” Ric asks with no small degree of irony.  “I have a small list,” Damon claims. This amuses Ric, much as it disturbs him. The council meeting is disguised as a bridge restoration fundraiser—the same bridge where Elena’s parents died [nice way to bring the episode’s various plots together, people].

Elena throws Awesome Vampire Caroline a funeral in a mausoleum so she can say goodbye to her old life and say hello to her new one. They begin a eulogy and all contribute: “Here lies Caroline Forbes. Cheerleader. Miss Mystic Falls. Third Grade Hopskotch Champion. Mean girl (sometimes, no offense),” Matt adds. Elena has a cake, and Bonnie makes the candles light up to remind us that she’s a witch.  Caroline make a wish.

Ric is concerned about Elena: “Something’s up with her Elena. Something more than usual.” Damon, being discrete, suggests, “I’m sure it starts with a Stef and ends with an ‘n’.” Oh look, Dr. Fell is at the council meeting, and she does indeed know the town is overrun with vampires. Ric is naturally intrigued cause he has world’s worst taste in women.

Klaus is also at the party, chatting up Tyler’s mom, Carol. [I wondered if she was compelled, but it seems she may be choosing to align herself with evil to save her son. Or maybe she is super smart and has discerned that Klaus is basically no threat since he’s world’s worst villain, but that may be giving her too much credit.] Carol encourages Damon to help Klaus out: “Klaus has promised to protect Tyler, and our town. Get Stefan under control or the Council will have to do something about him” [See, this is what I mean. Klaus is such a lame villain that he had Carol Lockwood throwing around threats for him? Pathetic.]

Awesome Vampire Caroline drunk texts Tyler, and Elena doesn’t approve. “You can’t control what everyone does all the time,” Bonnie offers. She then proceeds to tell Elena she was wrong to control Jeremy and take away his choices. [Damn, Bonnie is redeeming herself immensely here. She’s completely right. And Elena needs to hear it.] Elena gets nervous: “Bonnie, you can’t tell him.” To which Bonnie zings, “Why, are you going to compel me not to?” [Ouch. That’s a hit—Elena’s battleship is sunk.]

The Sheriff tells Damon that she knows the mayor is in Klaus’ pocket, but she also doesn’t want people to die in a pissing contest between a hybrid and a vampire. [Go Sheriff!] Meanwhile, Ric sees Dr. Fell fighting with a guy named Brian. He steps in to alleviate the tension, and Brian tries to warn him, “You might want to get to know her before you become her white knight. She’s kind of a psycho case.” The minute Ric heas “psycho case,” he falls in love, replying, “You’re that guy—the one who wants his teeth kicked in.” We learn this guy Brian is also on the council because he’s the medical examiner, and I have no idea why I should care…

Stefan waltzes into the party and grabs a large chef’s knife that has been conveniently left sitting out in the middle of the party. He stabs a hybrid, but Damon stops him from cutting the guy’s head off with an order: “No dead hybrids at the founder’s party.” As usual, Damon shows he’s the one person who think past what he sees immediately in front of him. “Have you forgotten about Elena’s part in all this…or do you not care if she’s a human blood bag for the rest of her life?” Damon asks his brother, suggesting that if Stefan keeps killing hybrids, Klaus will have to get more of Elena’s blood to make more hybrids. Damon wants Stefan to be smarter, but Stefan has another idea: “to beat the villain, you have to be the better villain.” [Gosh, that won’t be hard if Klaus is the villain you are trying to one-up.]

Tyler arrives at Caroline’s funeral, much to Matt’s chagrin (he’s worried about Caroline). Chatting with Elena, Matt explains, “I want her to be happy, you know. That’s what I want for all of you guys in the middle of this crazy life you got stuck living.” Elena tells Matt that she knows Bonnie is right—Elena shouldn’t have asked Damon to compel Jeremy, but she doesn’t know how else to protect him. “I can’t lose anyone else that I love,” she insists [good luck with that, Elena].

Tyler is practically jovial: “I take it all back—Klaus can’t control me, not when it comes to you.” Awesome Vampire Caroline tries to calm him down, saying it is okay and maybe they weren’t meant to be, but Tyler won’t be silenced. “I’m not moving on from anything. I love you,” he declares. Well, at this, Caroline melts—literally into his arms as they immediately start necking. Then it happens—while necking, it seems Tyler can’t stop himself. He has bitten her.

Elena and Matt are goofing off when Stefan turns up, knocks out Matt, and grabs Elena. In Stefan’s car, Elena’s phone rings. “Hello Damon,” Stefan says. His plan is revealed when he asks Damon, “What is Klaus going to do if he can’t make any more hybrids?” [Wow—Stefan is planning to kill Elena—that’s hardcore. Now that’s a villain, people.]

Damon, desperate, rushes to Klaus: “He’s going to try to use her against you. Do what he says…he’s operating on crazy right now.” Klaus doesn’t buy it: “That kind of love never dies—he’s bluffing.” [Oh, god, he is such a terrible villain—he’s talking about never-ending love—gag.] Damon is less confident in Stefan’s humanity, so he basically begs Klaus to do whatever Stefan says.

In the car, Stefan is exploring all his options: “Maybe I’ll just turn you into a vampire,” which freaks the hell out of Elena. Stefan likes this idea, though, so he calls Klaus. “I’m going to drive your blood source off Wicker Bridge,” and Stefan forces Elena to drink his blood. Klaus still doesn’t believe he’ll go through with it, but Stefan swears, “Try me, because your coffins are the next to go,” and he speeds up, with Elena screaming in the background. “Fine, you win,” Klaus yields, and Stefan stops the car, brakes squealing. [This is actually a pretty awesome scene, and I’m sorry words can’t quite capture the intensity of it here.]

Elena scrambles out of the car, furious and terrified. “How could you? My parents died going over this bridge. I almost died. You knew that. You’re the one who saved me.” Stefan is unmoved [which is crazy, cause Dobrev is acting the hell out of this scene]: “He had to believe that I would do it.  Your fear sold it.” Elena continues, “What if he didn’t?” basically asking Stefan is he was really willing to kill her, “After everything, that’s what mattered? Destroying Klaus?” Elena is devastated. ”Destroying Klaus is all I had left.” Elena turns to him, crying, “you had me.” “I lost you the minute I left town with him. You just haven’t let yourself admit that yet.” Elena tries to understand this cryptic statement, “Is that what you are doing….trying to make me hate you?” Stefan is still unmoved, “I don’t really care what you think of me anymore, Elena.” He drives away.

Meanwhile, Awesome Vampire Caroline is freakin’ dying [Nooooooo! Now that would make Klaus really evil—to kill a girl on her birthday.] Turns out, Klaus isn’t evil [anyone surprised?] In fact, he’s a super duper sap. Klaus is on Sherrif Forbes’ doorstep, offering to save Caroline. “I know how this game works,” the sheriff says, “you want something in return.” “Just your support,” Klaus promises. She invites him in.

Awesome Vampire Caroline, even when dying, is completely adorable [that’s why she’s awesome, people.] “Are you going to kill me?” she asks Klaus in a small but resigned voice.  “On your birthday? Do you really think that low of me?” Klaus asks. “Yes,” she replies firmly [another reason she’s awesome]. “You must know this collateral damage is nothing personal,” Klaus offers. Then he switches gears. “I love birthdays…You have to adjust your perception of time when you become a vampire, Caroline.  Celebrate the fact that you are no longer bound by trivial human conventions.  You’re free.” “No, I’m dying,” Caroline reminds him. “And I could let you,” Klaus concedes, “Die. If that’s what you want. If you really believe your existence has no meaning. I thought about it myself.  Once or twice over the centuries, truth be told.” [I should note that Klaus is sitting on the bed with Caroline, whispering.  It is very intimate, and her face is confused–she doesn’t understand what is happening here. Klaus continues, “But I’ll let you in on a little secret. There’s a whole world out thee waiting for you. Great cities and art and music. Genuine beauty. And you can have all of it. You can have a thousand more birthdays. All you have to do is ask.” Awesome Vampire Caroline ponders this and makes a choice: “I don’t want to die.” Klaus feeds her his blood and wishes her a happy birthday. Her eyes are frightened, but she drinks.

[Okay, at this point, I’m freaking out. I had read the rumors that Klaus was going to fall in love, but I kinda thought it would be with Bonnie, since a witch is so useful for a vampire. It really never occurred to me that it would be Caroline. Now, I know she is awesome, but for Klaus to realize this makes me kind of respect him…just a tiny bit more. And this will drive Tyler up a freakin’ wall and complicate all sorts of things…so good call, #TVD writers. Count me intrigued.]

Damon drops Elena at her house, so they are right back where they ended last pepisode, on her porch. “You gonna be okay?” he asks, as if there is a reasonable answer to that besides, “No. My parents are dead. My Aunt Jenna is dead. I stole my brother’s free will and now he’s leaving me here alone. My vampire boyfriend just tried to kill and turn me. And I’m feeling all sorts of strange and alluring feelings for you, the brother of my lover.” But Elena doesn’t say any of that, cause she’s a soldier: “I’ll survive. Somehow I always do.” Damon tries to find a positive spin, which is super impressive cause see also: speech above about dead parents, etc. “Stefan won this round for us today,” he says, “He pushed Klaus to the edge, and Klaus blinked.”  “Well his method sucked,” she says with genuine anger.  “Still,” Damon admits, “we needed it….he was the better villain. Can’t help but be a little proud,” he can’t help but add. Damon puts his hand on Elena’s face, and she’s nervous. “You can’t kiss me again… I can’t. It’s not right.” Damon is gentle, “It’s right. It’s just not right now.” He walks away. [Damn that Damon is one cool vampire.]

The next morning, Elena hugs Jeremy goodbye, and Bonnie arrives just in time to…also say goodbye. She gives Elena a look—they aren’t okay, but Bonnie seems resigned that at least Jeremy will be safer.

Awesome Vampire Caroline wakes up to a new day, and she’s all healed. Klaus has left her a gift–a bracelet. Now, Tyler also gave her a bracelet, so perhaps we should read this as replacing Tyler’s. Or maybe there is more significance to the bracelet that I don’t yet know. But it will be interesting to see if Caroline wears it.

Matt and Elena are on the bridge. “Thanks for coming,” she says to Matt, “I was just thinking about what you said, about us being stuck [Look at that—Matt is the grand philosopher of #TVD.]. I do feel stuck, Matt. I’ve been holding on to the girl that was supposed to die here with her parents. The girl that had a normal life and didn’t fall in love with vampires.” [Note the plural there, everyone.] Matt assents, “You’re not that girl any more. It’s okay if you want to let her go.” Elena isn’t sure” “Is it? I feel like I have disappointed her. Like I’ve disappointed them. My parents.” “My two cents?” Matt offers, and I’m waiting for some sort of brilliant summary of Elena’s journey to this point…”You’re doing a lot better than you think.” [that’s it? So much for the grand philosopher. But it is enough for Elena.] “Here lies Elena Gilbert. A fun girlfriend and an amazing friend.” Mattt throw some dandelions in the water.

Dr. Fell arrives at the Grill and finds Ric with a beer. “Thank god,” she exhales, “another day drinker.” Seems Dr. Fell lost a patient and Ric is sad about Jeremy leaving. [Oh, Ric, why are you unable to see the danger of this woman? You’re purty, but you sure ain’t smart.]

Sheriff Forbes has called Damon because a body has been found. It is Brian Walters, the medical examiner, and he’s been killed with a stake.” Damon’s reply is dark, “This was a murder.”

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