Well, this was a set-up episode if ever there was one. However, par for the course with The Vampire Diaries, it was a strong episode none-the-less with lots of meaty stuff to sink your teeth into (hehehe) and lots of questions raised.
As for set-up stuffies, first and foremost, of course, we had the obvious Klaus and Hayley stuff for The Originals. And it was easily my least favorite part of the episode. Sigh. I just don't find Phoebe Tonkin a good or charismatic actress, and Joseph Morgan is someone who shines when he can play against a really good/charismatic actor. I like the story idea behind their scenes, but meh, the actress. And while I did think the two actors had a spark of chemistry in their very first scene... that was in episode 03, quite a few episodes ago with only one short scene in between 09 episodes ago, so the two hooking up came out of nowhere. There was no heat, no build-up, and even worse was how Morgan played it. I don't ship Klaus and Caroline, but I think the actors have chemistry and that the writers have done a good job in building up the connection between the two.
However, with Morgan playing Klaus' interaction with Hayley practically identical to how Klaus is while wooing Caroline, it cheapened that Klaus/Caroline connection for me. He used the same flirty, sensitive tones, the trembling lips, the vulnerable gaze. I dunno, maybe it was deliberate... maybe it was to show that while he likes Caroline, no, he's not in love with her (even Klaus’ version of love). This is just Klaus' modus operandi when he wants to get laid? I dunno. I just do know that it came out of left field, wasn't very hot and all of their scenes were pretty fast-forward worthy--which is exactly what I did the second time I watched the episode.
Obviously this isn't it for Klaus and Caroline, otherwise we wouldn't have gotten Elena's line about Caroline having dirty thoughts about Klaus, but I do think--regardless of how inorganic the Klaus/Hayley scenes felt--we are setting up the conclusion of their story... at least on The Vampire Diaries. (For all we know, after TVD is over, if TO is still going, Candice Accola could join that show.) And the Klaus side of things wasn't the only set up for the dissolution of their story. We also had--excuse me a moment while I work on containing my squee!--Stefan and Caroline. Yeah, nope, squee is uncontainable. SQUEE!! Seriously, I watched that 'throwing her over his shoulder's scene a gazillion times with a huge grin on my face every time.
I love them so much! And I disagree greatly with people who claim that Stefan and Caroline look at each other without seeing the real person. Nope, that was Stefan and Elena. Stefan has no problem being honest with Caroline about his dark side, about what he's thinking and feeling, and the same way for Caroline. Just because they still like each other and see the best despite knowing the truth about the other doesn't make them dishonest in how they view each other... quite the opposite in fact.
That honesty is refreshing when looking at the past main relationships we've seen them both in which have all dealt with seeing/preferring pre-made images of who they are with or how that significant other views them. And the two of them being honest and open with another, Caroline thinking Stefan is hot (which we know, but hearing her acknowledge it again was great), Stefan willingly choosing to dance with Caroline, throwing her over his shoulder, her laughing and their dancing/talking/laughing together.... Ack, I was so in love with them. And I'm so, so, so happy that we clearly are sooooo going there. YES!
Of course, with Klaus' sooner rather than later departure, I'm wondering if Tyler will be coming back (sigh) and by that point, Caroline will have started to really fall for Stefan... thus leading to a triangle with the three of them. Could be. Rebekah certainly seems out of the picture for Stefan. Him making it clear that he would choose to give the cure to Elena over Rebekah seemed to be the final straw for Rebekah with him. It wasn't dramatic or petty, it just seemed like that acknowledgement from him gave Rebekah the closure she needed with Stefan. So I rather imagine that any thought of a together with him is gone from her mind now. Human or not. Which brings us to another bit of set-up... Rebekah deciding she doesn't want the cure after all. I think that little conversation with Damon is really going to get her thinking about the drawbacks of being human whereas up to now she simply looked at the upside.
The last bit of set-up was more of a raised question... what's the deal with Damon's here-to-fore unseen and unmentioned "buddy" Will? Considering that Damon and Elena are road-tripping (!!!) it to New York next week with the Damon/Will photo in hand, I'm thinking we'll get an answer to that sooner rather than later. Speaking of Damon and Elena. Very interesting what we saw in this episode, and in an odd way, I felt like it proved all over again that the sire bond never existed.
Aside from that very different sire bond obeisance in "Come All Ye Faithful" (in the same episode where we were reminded about Shane's hypnosis talent, a smoking bowl of something, his herbs??!??!!!) where Elena was very aware that she was going against what she wanted despite the fact that supposedly the sire bond is supposed to make you think you're acting of your own agency, we've never seen Elena do anything that appears to be NOT of her own agency. So what does this have to do with thinking that anything this episode proved the sire bond is not real?
Well, part of what convinced Stefan and Caroline that Elena was bonded to Damon was because she was SO into Damon, in a way she wasn't to anyone else, therefore, sire bond, right? Except, it wasn't the sire bond that did that. Couldn't have been. If it had been then Elena would have been SO into Damon as soon as she turned. Instead, it was her epiphany on the bridge where she allowed herself to accept that she didn't have to hate herself and what she wanted just because she believed that she should. Just because she was "a scared little girl." Now the sire bond is supposedly not working because her feelings are shut off-- but they're not. Not really. We are seeing her feel spite, annoyance, frustration. And more importantly, and to my point, Elena is still SO into Damon, and much more than she is into Stefan or anyone else. Why? Because she's just that much more into Damon and it has nothing to do with the sire bond, it's all about Elena stopped being afraid to admit that she wanted Damon.
That hasn't changed. But the sire bond supposedly is gone. Ergo, no sire bond.
Elena was just so much more Elena with Damon. And she's still clearly his girlfriend. She was in his shower. When Stefan brought her home, he put her in Damon's bed. When she was brought back to the house after nearly killing Caroline, she was in Damon's room. And just her overall interaction with Stefan vs. her interaction with Damon--with Stefan, all of her talking points with him were directed in the past tense, and she simply did not care what he thought about her or anything else. With Damon, everything was current, present-tense and she clearly cared what he thought. "Are you judging me?" She asked as if upset that she thought he was doing so. See, she cared.
She was also honest with him. With Stefan and Caroline she did and said what they wanted her to do and say to do/get what she wanted from playing the passive Elena in the first half, to being bitchy and flippant at the party once she revealed that she didn't care what they thought. And both acts from her were manipulations to do what she wanted--feed from vervain-free folks in the first part of the episode, get away from the judgy-eyes of Stefan and Caroline in the latter. I mean, originally, I did wonder if we were supposed to get that Elena was jealous when she saw Stefan and Caroline dancing. And she knew that's how Stefan would see it--as he totally did because his world does revolve around Elena at this point-- but after she took off, it was clear that she was just looking for an excuse so she could get away from them. That opened the door, and then the altercation with Liz gave her the opportunity.
On the other hand, with Damon she was just herself. She was honest, talking about how she felt, what she was thinking because she knows that she can completely be who she is in any given moment with Damon and he will accept her, thus her surprised upset when she thought he was judging her. Which, of course he wasn't. But Elena was wrong. He doesn't like her better like this. He just likes her. Period. This is just another side of Elena: an Elena who chooses to have fun and do what she wants without guilt. He likes that part of Elena. But he also knows that the part of Elena that tried to kill Caroline is not something that Elena will be comfortable with once she flips the switch. The other stuff? Feeding from cheerleaders, fighting, being a bit of bitch, dancing around and drinking, not giving a crap what others think? All that stuff is fine, and just a part of the whole package. But it's the whole package he loves. While he would have gotten a kick out of and enjoyed a fling with an Elena who was only like this, he wouldn't have fallen in love with her. He fell in love with the whole package, the compassion and heart, the survivor, the repressed fun girl hiding under layers of grief and denial. So, yeah, he doesn’t see this as a “better” Elena (or a “worse” Elena as Stefan does), but just another facet of the whole Elena, the person that he loves.
But Elena clearly doesn't fully get that. One could think she was manipulating him with that, but I don't think she was because of what she said to him earlier about how many times he tried to kill Stefan. Damon has *NEVER* truly tried to kill Stefan and vice versa. Damon would never actually try to kill his brother. Nope, no how, no way and Elena not realizing that shows that as much as she knows Damon and as much as she does love him, she still doesn't know him completely yet. He's still keeps his heart not fully revealed to her. But that's OK, they have time to get to know each other in all ways. It's part of the journey, and they're already way farther along than Elena ever was with Stefan.
I mean, dude, Stefan, he so does not know Elena at all. He just doesn't see ELENA. Like ever. He either sees this idealized version of an Elena he wants to see, the fallen female version of himself, or the bad, bad vampire side that is JUST LIKE Katherine. And, erm, no. Stefan. Elena is not acting like Katherine. She is not manipulating you sexually. She was not trying to seduce him or, as he said, sexually manipulate him. She was just changing clothes. Period. His presence there simply didn't matter. She wasn't coming onto him, she wasn't trying to turn him on, she was just done cheerleading, thus taking her cheer uniform off. And the nudity early on was for all of them--not just Stefan, but Damon and Caroline as well, throwing them off their game. It was not about sex. The only time we saw Elena even remotely playing with the physical, sexual side of things was when she was talking to Damon about wanting him, and him wanting her, standing close to him, eyes actually showing emotion and not a blank state, fully focused on him, her hands on his chest (sigh, would have liked a fuller shot of that, please!).
And that scene was really the only time I liked Elena in the episode. (The final scene was too short to really have much of an Elena feel.) Yeah, there were a few lines, moments I liked (her "I thought this was supposed to be fun" after Damon wouldn't let her kill the driver was hilarious, and her "I like your ribbon. / I want it." was creepily delivered), but overall, I didn't like Elena. She was a bitch, and not a fun bitch, but a mean bitch. However, I don't think we are supposed to like Elena like this. Girl's as much a basket case as she was in the last episode, it's just a different side to it. The switch is off, but it doesn't make the emotions go away, it just represses them. And in that scene with Damon in his (their?) room, those repressed feelings were the closest to the surface. There was more life, animation in her when it was just the two of them than at any other point. Because she loves Damon. Pfft, sire bond.
Which all came from the mind of one Caroline Forbes, and boy, has Elena clearly had issue with Caroline over this that she never really dealt with. Her non-stop bitchiness towards Caroline ("the queen," "butting into people's lives" etc.) showed that there are a lot of latent issues at play here. I mean, she was just awful to Caroline. Forget the mean comments, the letting her fall hard during the cheerleading, the snide looks, the attacking of her mom (!), but dude, she was SO going to stake Caroline. She was going to kill her. Dayum! Hopefully, we will get some meaty resolution with these two because, yeah, I-S-S-U-E-S!
OK, some randoms --
- I did like the Elena/Caroline fight for a couple reasons. Yes, technically Caroline is stronger because she's an older vampire, but Elena kicking her ass made perfect sense because (a) Elena's switch is off, she doesn't care, Caroline's isn't and she does so therefore Caroline was holding back, Elena was not, (b) Elena's reminder that Alaric--the vampire hunter!-- trained her. Niiice. I also liked how it opened the door to some of those issues (both that Elena has with Caroline, and Caroline’s own denied Klaus-issues).
- I was tired and cranky (computer woes) when I first watched this so, yeah, I totally didn't realize it was Silas stealing the blood. Oops me!
- I was annoyed at the Liz/Stefan scene at first because why you deny me Liz/Damon bonding time, show?!, however, I realized that we got the Liz/Stefan scene so they could bond over their mutual love for Caroline, and anything Stefan/Caroline-related works for me so hard! :D
- Hah! Nice explanation of the water situation and I'm sure that Klaus and Rebekah's houses have fancy filters too.
- So Damon showed Elena the road trick, of course. Hee.
- Matt Donovan: The world's best ex. Love him. And ooh! He owns a mansion now. Hah! Awesome. (If for very sad reasons. RIP, Carol.) Still, go Matty! (But, hmm, how will he pay for upkeep though? I hope Tyler left him some dough too.)
- So Rebekah said that Shane was dead, but the last time we saw him he was still very much alive, so I don't know that we can completely count the good professor out yet. After all, while Shane may have been in pretty bad shape, he was found by a vampire who could easily cure him. And Rebekah wants answers about Silas, Katherine and the cure. Shane clearly knows a lot of stuff. And Rebekah clearly doesn't trust Damon. So it's not outside the realm of believability that Shane's alive and Rebekah's keeping that information (and his knowledge) to herself.
- Yet another 'Elena gets the cure, becomes human, she dumps Damon and lurves Stefan foreva!' anvil. So not happening. Either Elena getting the cure, or loving Stefan--well, I'm sure about the latter, but the cure? I dunno. Were it not for The Originals description about Elijah protecting Klaus from his enemies, I'd be mostly sure that Elena will get the cure (Damon is my other guess), but I really don't want it to be Klaus. I actually do really want Elena to get the cure. And a pony! (Actually, I don't want a pony. How about... a meelion dollars?!?!)
So, good episode, and mostly a bridge episode. Not OMG!Great, but I think it's one that when watched during a marathon will play a lot stronger because of its placement. In other words, I'm not disappointed at all and I still love this show like uber-lots! :D