This week in Mystic Falls, traps and vicious cycles abound on all sides as everybody gets further out of their depth.
(I just gave myself a lovely mental image of a vampire bicycle. Share it with me. Okay, now on we go.)
This was yet another week with almost no over-arching theme or plot to the episode itself. Although all the characters interact to some degree, and our full cast is present for once, everybody’s fighting their own corner of the season arc and forgetting about the bigger picture. This was mostly neatly illustrated by Elena having blanked on the fact that a full moon was due, which Damon uses to point out how self-centred her suicide mission is making her, but I can understand her not listening given the hypocrisy of the source. Damon is being pretty selfish himself – albeit with Bonnie and Jeremy’s assistance – locking Elena in the house. I don’t think it’s exactly the wrong decision – Damon can only argue with Elena, where Stefan might have succeeded with cajoling, so his options are limited – but it is certainly a high-handed way of managing the situation. But then, this is really the first time we’ve seen him do anything like this (unlike Stefan, who’s all for locking/tying people up and leaving them there until they mend their wicked ways). Damon usually threatens, and anyone he can’t threaten he kills. We’ve never seen what he’d do to Stefan in a similar situation – I think it would perhaps be along the same lines? Salvatore brotherly bondage, for the win…
Elena, trapped in her own house (and apparently unable to use a phone, or at least unable to figure out how to get Klaus’ attention with one) is not a gracious loser, and is generally not good at having her options reduced. She already felt like everyone was making her choices for her, so fair enough for being even more annoyed about this, and the spiteful cushion-throwing made me laugh. (Lots of people seem to have felt that Jeremy dumping his head in Elena’s lap was un-siblingish, but honestly I just loved her pushing him off onto the ground. That felt more than sisterly enough to make up for the preceding weirdness to me.) Credit to Elena, though, for at least being scared when Elijah does show up, however much she may have told herself it’s for the best if she surrenders herself. And for keeping her head enough to deal with him and keep everyone else out of harm’s way.
In related news, I feel like I want to yell this at the tv every week: TELL JENNA THINGS. Or at least get Alaric to camp out at their house (though Masquerade proved he’s a pretty lousy Elena-watcher). Seriously, though, would it be beyond their ability to get the Sheriff or Carol Lockwood to at least tell Jenna about the existence of vampires? Or if a little compulsion is allowed, couldn’t she just be compelled to utter no direct invitations into the Gilbert residence? Yes yes, drama and all, but there comes a point where our main characters are just being stupid not to keep the doorbell coated in vervain.
So, what was the real reason Damon didn’t tell Stefan about Elijah being un-undead? Didn’t want to discuss with Katherine listening in? Didn’t want Stefan pointlessly worried? Wanted the honour of defending Elena from the new threat all to himself? A mixture of all of the above? Possibly.
In news of the other A-plot: Poor, poor Tyler. That’s really all I have to say about that, despite the excellent scenes of pre-transformation black humour, mid-transformation scariness and post-transformation heartbreak. Brave Caroline, both helping him and volunteering to do it to protect him from the Damon threat he doesn’t even know about yet. Someone is surely doomed here.
In the meantime, though, I’m still enjoying the extended supernatural family – I particularly loved Caroline eyebrowing the ‘missing person Mason’ problem across to Alaric to make it his problem to deal with. We’ve never actually had an Alaric reaction to Caroline-as-vampire, now I come to think of it – I wonder whether he’d naturally have sided with Damon on killing her to begin with? Must be a little weird teaching a girl who you now know could rip out the throats of her classmates if she’s having a bad day… but then, neither he nor Damon were making smart choices in this episode, so maybe I don’t want to know. Threatening Jules, really, Damon? Don’t you remember how well that turned out with Mason? Underestimating threats in this way has caused him about as many problems as… ooh, inadequately disposing of bodies, let’s say.
The main plots didn’t give us many perfect character moments this week, but there were a couple of juicy things nonetheless (or at least, I thought they were juicy. This usually means they involve someone by the name of Salvatore and conflicting desires).
Brother 1: Does Stefan care about Katherine? She is adamant that he still has feelings for her, and offers up some information on the apparent basis of unselfishly wanting to help him (though getting Isobel involved may well serve some purpose of her own, and certainly their stories of who found whom do not match), but we still see no evidence that it’s true other than how comfortable he seems to be around her and how easily he manipulates her – both very redolent of his attitude to Damon at the start of the series, when of course he hated his brother and would do anything to be rid of him… except for how he kept not doing so… and, again, nobody has yet staked Katherine. Damon has openly admitted having feelings for her within the last century and I can therefore forgive him a little wavering. Stefan, on the other hand, ought to be quite capable of it and the fact that he isn’t certainly intrigues me. I wonder if they will actually go somewhere with this, or if Stefan will stay (mostly) pure as the driven snow. I hope it at least becomes a real choice for him at some point.
Brother 2: Damon giving Rose the cold shoulder for being a coward felt very right even if I’m not sure we’ve seen that side of him before. But we have seen the opposite – respect for someone who fights and won’t give up – so maybe that’s why it feels like I knew he’d react that way. Rose dying makes a lot of narrative sense, but I kind of hope she doesn’t – not right now, at least. I’ve come to like her and I want to stick around a little longer. I also think that there probably is some antidote to a werewolf’s bite but it requires an unlikely combination of circumstances – like, say, drinking the werewolf’s blood while it’s still in wolf form or something. (This would also make sense to me with how fast Jules-as-wolf took off after injuring Rose, who was not her intended target, when Damon was standing right there.)
And in the obligatory confusing mythology moment, what is Elijah up to? Killing Klaus would seem a possibly true motive except that he doesn’t seem all that plausible when talking about it and is clearly leaving a lot out. He was letting Elena fill gaps for herself and only then agreeing with her, which is also a Katherine speciality and makes me think they’re still both lying, in different ways, about what they actually want with the moonstone. What makes me properly suspicious is that there’s no need to leave Katherine alive and in the tomb because Klaus will want to see her if the entire plan is ‘use Elena to get Klaus here then kill him.’ So… Katherine wants to do something to the curse that involves sacrifice, probably. Elijah does not seem interested in whether there’s a handy werewolf around, so he wants something different from her. Unless he’s the one Jules was reporting to, but that seems unlikely – so in that case, someone else wants a werewolf (and a specifically Lockwood werewolf?) too. Oh, who knows. Even with additional time over Christmas to speculate (you’re used to these reviews being late by now, right? Maybe one day I’ll surprise you and go back to getting them out within the week), I haven’t got a clue what’s going on. But the good thing? I’m sure the show will tell us, probably quite soon. Roll on January 27th.
– Bonnie Bennett: still boring me. Sigh. Though I do like seeing her happier (if ultimately doomed in her shiny new friendship).
– is Stefan aware that Elijah compelled Katherine to stay in the tomb? That’s a piece of the Originals puzzle they don’t yet have, and it’s one it would probably be worth knowing.
– So chains, metal bars and a thick wooden door couldn’t hold Tyler, but one strategic support plank could? I call shenanigans, unless werewolves sit quietly in their kennels if not disturbed by visiting vampires.
– Consistent werewolf terminology bonus! Mayor Lockwood told Alaric that he’d ‘marked’ himself, way back last season before werewolves were even a thing. Nice work, show, even if it is a bit of a dumb saying.