Oh, boy, so another flashback episode, exciting. I have to say that I prefer this one over "Lost Girls" for several reasons. The obvious being that it's from Damon's perspective (yay!), but, more importantly, it is because of Nina Dobrev's performance. I think that Dobrev had a better handle on differentiating Katherine and Elena by this episode. Katherine truly seemed like a different character. Everything about her, from the way she moved, to even how she didn't move was different. The way Dobrev even stood and held herself still as Katherine was different from Elena's looser stance. Her smile, mischievous and tempting, the way her eyes danced with experience and invitation, was not like Elena. Even her voice was different, a naughtiness and tease imbued every word. Just everything was different; it was very impressive.
Also impressive is just how explosive the chemistry between Ian Somerhalder and Nina Dobrev is. To put it in fangirl terms: Those two together are so freaking HAWT! As Damon and Katherine or as Damon and Elena, the sizzle, the tension, it was there. It didn't matter which character that Dobrev was playing, and that doesn't always happen. Sometimes it really does matter which character an actor is portraying in order for the chemistry to flow. For instance, I was surprised to see that Stefan and Katherine have heat. On the other hand, Stefan and Elena are as hot as day-old noodles sitting out on a cold, January morning. The yin and yang of Stefan and Katherine provided a balance that enhanced the natural chemistry that Paul Wesley and Dobrev have, while the similarities and "goodness" of Stefan and Elena dampen it.
But let's get back to Somerhalder and Dobrev, starting with Damon and Katherine. Like Stefan and Katherine have that opposites attract dynamic, surprisingly so did *Damon* and Katherine. We didn't really see much of him in Stefan's flashbacks in "Lost Girls," but in this one we definitely are getting a much better sense of what Damon was like as a human. And Damon Salvatore was a bit of whiny priss, wasn't he? LOL! Also, clingy and desperate. Hmm, he actually reminded me of Jeremy with Vicki. Maybe that's why the two of them seemed to get along in the present (more on that later). Don't get me wrong, he was adorable (with his cute 1860's hairstyle), and I can't understand why Katherine would prefer Stefan over him, but, alas, she clearly does.
Even though we got to see some things from Damon's point of view, it's still fairly clear that, yes, Katherine was playing both brothers as Stefan has been saying. Poor Damon, he has invented this great love affair in his mind. Obviously, it couldn't have been real since we know that she was with them both. Well, at least it wasn't real from Katherine's perspective. Damon, on the other hand… boy had it bad.
So bad that he was fine and dandy with Katherine killing people. Cue Damon willing and happy to kiss her right after she had done so in that opening scene. Despite seeing the ugly side of what being a vampire entailed, Damon was still ready to be turned into a monster like her. That had me really thinking on how Damon could possibly be OK with it, despite his love for her. Maybe I'm just being a Damon-apologist (it wouldn't be the first time), but I thought of something that made it make sense for me. Think of the fact that this is someone who fought for the South in the Civil War—and I'm a bit of a Civil War buff, and trust me that was a very, very bloody, violent time period.
Furthermore, we know that Damon deserted on principle (which was a big no-no). One has to imagine that he no doubt saw horrible sights, death, devastation and horrors all around him. Damon has seen so much ugly, senseless death and I wonder if that is partly what Katherine represented to him. She showed him the beauty in death and a death that makes sense because, after all, it's what Katherine needs to survive. Or maybe Damon was just so completely besotted and enraptured by her that he simply couldn't see straight. I mean, nearly 145 years later, he is still hung up on her.
That was clear to see in their scenes. The second scene in Pearl's shop was especially telling. Katherine is so sure that Damon is wrapped around her finger that she calmly talks vampire this-and-that right in front of him, compulsion-free. And when Pearl shows understandable concern, Damon is adamant that he would never! (Gah, he was adorably hilarious as innocent, sweet, human Damon!) Then there was the look on his face as she sat atop him in bed. Damon just looked at her like she was the most amazing, wonderful, incredible thing EVAR! Oh, and it was hot. Really, really hot. And also adorable with the smiles and the giggling. And did I mention the hot? So, so hot.
And such a contrast with Stefan and Elena in the scene right before—by the way that cut was awesome from the present-day sheet that Elena pulled over the two of them and then Katherine pulled one off of her and Damon taking us to the past. Again, Stefan and Elena were sweet, but there was no heat, no passion there. Even in bed, these two are just so very tame. Unlike Damon and Elena.
With them, there is sweetness, vulnerability, and yet alongside that there is this enticing chemistry. Take the scene in Elena's kitchen (ooh! remember that awesome scene there from the third episode, "Friday Night Bites," when Elena first empathized with Damon over Katherine? Just saying, kitchens and Damon and Elena bring us good things! Anyhoo… ) Damon really just allowed himself to be so open with Elena. *sigh* He trusts her. *double sigh* And she's playing him. Oh, Damon. True to this show, though, he found out before the hour was even up. Because The Vampire Diaries is awesome and Damon Salvatore is not stupid.
Gah! When he told Elena at his father's grave that he didn't expect the betrayal from her, I felt so much for him. He's been so real with her since "Haunted," and here Elena is going along with the Lying McLiarson that is her boyfriend. Oh, Elena. I know, I know… it makes sense. Of course Elena is going to side with Stefan and agree that stopping Damon from opening that tomb (and potentially release not only Katherine, but a couple of dozen more vampires into Mystic Falls) is the right thing to do. I just wish that Stefan hadn't corralled Elena into his lie.
Of course we know why he did it, though. He saw that Elena had bonded with Damon; he clearly saw that Damon cared for Elena… so this is how he is able to drive a wedge between them. Do I really think he would be that manipulative? Hell, yeah! Did you watch his scenes with Elena in "Bloodlines?" The thing is that I actually don't think that Stefan realizes that he is being manipulative. I think, and these flashbacks certainly helped with that impression based on how his father spoke to him versus Damon, that Stefan is just inherently selfish.
Yup, we're going back to that character trait of his. He clearly was his father's golden child, and Katherine certainly seemed to favor him over Damon. So I imagine that Stefan is used to being the preferred choice, and right now, he is just subconsciously doing what he can to keep it that way with Elena. And also, even though he spent all those months
But I don't know that it's going to work in the long-run despite what happened between Damon and Elena in their final scene together. Yes, he threatened Elena, but he so did not mean it. He was all but pushed into it by Stefan's actions; Ian Somerhalder played that scene like Damon was a cornered animal. Also, he was practically cradling her in his arms, and before he let her go, he sniffed her hair and ran his hand over her hair and arm. And even though Damon did do that, still right now at least, I really don't think he's looking at Elena in any sort of romantic light. He's all about Katherine. (Duh!) For him, Elena is his friend… and I think that Elena is beginning to consider him a friend as well. Otherwise, why would she have felt guilty for lying to him or found an excuse for his many not-so-nice deeds upon arriving in Mystic Falls? But she did, believing that Damon truly felt that everything he did, and was doing, was for love (as twisted as it is).
Elena's an empathetic person—and clearly has a large capacity for forgiveness, see: her relationship with Stefan. Naturally, she would have begun to see Damon in a more positive light after all that has transpired between them. And some of the events that transpired in this episode continued that train of thought. She may have called Damon an "ass" after Jenna said that he was "ridiculously hot" (and he is, Jenna, he truly, truly is), but we know that she did so in a teasing way because she knew (unlike Jenna) that Damon could hear her.
Speaking of the Gilbert family home dinner scenes, I enjoyed Damon and Jenna interacting. (They have chemistry, certainly more than Sara Canning has with Matt Davis—geez, is there anyone that Ian Somerhalder doesn't have chemistry with?) I also flat-out loved Damon and Jeremy playing the video game and just chilling. I mentioned above that maybe Jeremy's devoted-to-Vicki self (that Damon would have known all about since he compelled him to get over her) reminded Damon of his human self. It's possible. I mean, have we ever seen Damon play so nicely with others as he did with Jeremy (and Jenna)? I don't think so. And it's not because he's trying to warm Elena up… as far as he knows, she and he are totally fine with one another right now.
Another interesting thing was how in just a few scenes, Damon managed to fit so naturally in Elena's family life. His interactions with Jenna were filled with ease, and he and Jeremy seemed to get along quite well. What is even more interesting is that we've never seen the like with Stefan who Elena has been dating since the series started. Even when we saw him interact with the two in this episode, there was clearly a line between him and Jenna, and Jeremy was fairly blasé about Stefan.
I think he just found Jenna charming, and Jeremy fun to hang out with. Before Damon realized that Jeremy's weird, hot chick Anna was Annabelle (Pearl's daughter from 1864), he appeared to be giving Jeremy genuine advice. Honestly, I have no clue why I freaking loved Jeremy and Damon together so much, but I really did. Maybe it's because Somerhalder also had a nice, easy chemistry with Steven R. McQueen.
Speaking of Somerhalder and chemistry… I talked above about how great the chemistry was between Elena and Damon, and that was most apparent in this episode in moments when they were cooking dinner. Vamp-zooming to her side, the closeness between their bodies… ooh, it was just good! (And on a purely story note, unlike Stefan, at least Elena felt guilty for lying to Damon.)
Just as good, but in as sad a fashion was Damon and Stefan's interactions. Like in the kitchen scene where Elena was being less than truthful with Damon, Stefan was lying to Damon throughout the whole episode. I mentioned in the last write-up how Stefan is so clearly the younger of the siblings. We saw that again in this one in how defensive Stefan got, telling Damon that he was all on his own because he didn't trust Stefan. I almost laughed out loud when he said that. Of course Damon didn't trust him because clearly he knows his brother better than Stefan knows him. Damon knew that Stefan was playing him. He may have Elena fooled with the lying lies, but when it comes to telling falsehoods to Damon, Stefan is not very good at it.
Damon hoped that Stefan wasn't playing him wrong, but he was pretty sure that he indeed was. He was a bit more likely to think that Stefan was telling the truth because he wanted to believe Elena wasn't lying to him. That is the only reason he even entertained the possibility that Stefan WASN'T playing him. Clearly he has trust issues when it comes to Stefan because going ALL THE WAY BACK to 1864, Stefan let him down. (Damon begged Stefan not to say anything about Katherine, and Stefan talked to his father about her.) Now Stefan has the nerve to act self-righteous about Damon's lack of trust. Oh, Stefan.
This will likely come as a shocker after reading some of my above comments, but I loved Stefan in this episode. I love when we get to see him away from Elena because he's so much more interesting. With Elena, it's like he's trying to be the "best version" of himself and that's boring... and full of lies! He's much more dynamic opposite Damon—even when he's being a whiny, younger brother—and his scenes with Alaric showed a very different side to the "young" Mr. Salvatore.
Some people (OK, probably most) still see Stefan as the "good brother," but as I've written in the past, he's really not (nor is Damon the "bad brother"). He is full of conflicting shades of gray, and we saw darker shades in this episode. The way Stefan immediately went into threatening bad-ass mode with Alaric was great. (Not that I liked seeing my poor Ric being the target.) First, he was showing off his 'I am a bad-ass vampire with neato-cool ninja skillz!' But then, the softer, gentler Stefan came out to play. After Alaric told him his 'woe is me' history, Stefan was once more the tortured, good-guy anti-hero, the contrast with his big, bad brother. He showed his good listening skills, but..! as soon as Alaric didn't say what Stefan wanted to hear, Stefan went back into 'death to the human' mode.
When I first watched this, I thought that Stefan really needed to chill himself! After all, Alaric *is* a vampire-hunter and Stefan does only drink squirrel blood. Before I sat down and started putting my thoughts down, I figured that just maybe the writers don't know what they are doing with Stefan. However, that just doesn't fly. I believe that this show clearly knows what they are doing. From the fourth episode and on it's gotten stronger and stronger and the narrative is quite clear and concise. So with that in mind, I started thinking about all we've seen of Stefan thus far, and I do think the writers have a plan for this character (just as they do for every character). I think that Stefan Salvatore is a very fucked-up, confused individual who is trying to project an image of who he thinks he should be, but he actually doesn't have a clue.
And with that, let's round up some randoms—
- Eww, Damon kissed the blood off of Katherine's mouth. As he was still a human then, that was gross! Still, hah, that he pulled out his handkerchief first. He really was such a priss as a human, LOL!
- Aww, Damon… he was so sincere and being all genuine about working with Stefan and Elena. Or as he put it: "You know, I really like this whole menage a threesome team thing. It's got a bit of a kink to it." Hah, Damon!
- Hey, it's Dexter's dad! (James Remar played Dexter's ghostly father on Dexter.) Wow, Dexter's dad is kind of a dick! Hmm, I guess this answers the question I posed after the last episode about Damon's feelings on his father. If he doesn't like him, it's not that far from mutual.
- I mentioned it above, but it bears repeating. Jenna had the line of the night about Damon: "He's ridiculously hot." Oh, yeah!
- Heh, Damon and Anna with their hands around each other's necks, unable to outdo each other before finally both giving up. "You're strong for a little thing." LOL! Heh, I thought this was flat laugh-out-loud funny. Neither could win out over the other and so Damon finally grunted out, "I give," and the two let go, each coughing and kinda pathetically recovering.
- So Anna basically wanted Gilbert's journal for the exact same reason that Damon did, the difference was the person they wanted to rescue.
- Ah, so it was Anna that turned Logan Fell. Mystery solved!
- I have to admit, I'm surprised that Ben was able to realize that Bonnie saw through him because I thought she did a damn good job covering it up. Man, oh man, poor Bonnie. She was actually really enjoying herself and all that jazz... sigh, stupid Ben. :(
- Uh huh, that was a wee bit of French kissing you saw between Damon and Katherine in the shop. Oh, yeah! He also ran his hand over her boob in the first scene. (Yes, there was French kissing in that one too, but being in bed and all that was more expected... also, see gif above!) Naughty, naughty!
- You know what the kicker is about Damon threatening to turn Elena? That never would have happened had Stefan not tried to play his brother and then involve Elena in it. He contends that Damon is the danger to Elena, but Stefan ain't much better himself.
- Speaking of that scene, OMG, Damon! When he told Stefan that, "You and I will have a vampire girlfriend," I laughed out loud. Yes, it was inappropriate considering the scene, but dang, it was funny.
- Did anyone else find it interesting that in 1864 Damon told Stefan the exact same thing that Elena said in "Haunted" over Vicki's body?
Damon: (In 1854, a human Damon to Stefan) You did this. This is your fault- Elena has now been kidnapped. So Anna is totes responsible, yes/yes? Damnit. She won't hurt her, though, I can't imagine. Manipulations with Jeremy and Ben not-withstanding, they've made her fairly sympathetic. I have to say, though, I hope that Elena doesn't become the damsel-in-distress on a weekly basis. That would be rather lame.
Elena: (In present-day Mystic Falls to Damon) You did this. This is your fault.
- Oh, Alaric. I think it's easier to blame Damon rather than accept that his wife was not satisfied with her lot in life. It was pretty clear from those flashbacks that she was itching for more. And Damon (not even him specifically, but just as the vampire Alaric saw with his wife) is an easy scapegoat.
- Damn, Kelly Hu is so beautiful and her Pearl is awesome. This is a how a one-on character appears and owns the screen (Pfft! I do NOT get the Lexi love.) So classy and smooth and just awesome, awesome, awesome! I love her!
- Hmm, so does this mean we're going to see regular flashback episodes? Me likey! Human!Damon is a blast. And I look forward to seeing more of Dobrev as Katherine since she did such a fabulous job.
Wow, wow, wow! This was such an amazing episode. I really loved it. It's up there with "Haunted" as my favorite episode—actually no, I like this one better than that. Yup, definitely better than "Lost Girls" as a flashback episode partially because I think Nina Dobrev did a much, much better job as Katherine. Also, the modern-day story (Damon, Elena and Stefan's "teamwork," Alaric being slowly drawn in to the story, and the dinner scenes at the Gilbert house with Damon) was stronger. So, so awesome.