May 18, 2010

A Breathtaking Work of Staggering Awesome

After the strongest first season of a show since Veronica Mars (high praise indeed!), The Vampire Diaries managed to wrap everything up while still leaving plenty of potential awesomeness for next season.
It’s finally, FINALLY Founders Day in Mystic Falls and the town is celebrating with the only thing they haven’t celebrated with yet this year – a parade. What better way to commemorate the town founders than to dress up like Civil War reenactors then climb on floats and smile and wave as they drive down main street? Elena and Caroline have their men all dressed up in period formal wear to go with their Scarlet O’Hara draperies and corsets. It goes without saying, I’m sure, that Matt looks tasty enough to eat and Elena looks just like Katherine.

It’s the latter of those two things that gives Damon pause. The brothers Salvatore are still having a tiff because Damon is the “better, hotter, superior choice, and [Stefan] is scared – now that Katherine’s out of the picture – [Damon]’s going to turn all of his attention to Elena.” It’s all very macho and retro.

Jeremy is dressed like an injured soldier. Before he can get to the parade, he and Anna have a chat about how Uncle John killed Anna’s mom and Jeremy tries to get her to see things from Uncle John’s perspective which is really no way to get into your girlfriend’s pants, dude. Jeremy must be a really good kisser though (I mean, it sure as hell isn’t his hair that’s winning her over!) because she lets that all go and suggests the two of them run away together and gives him a vial of her blood and tells him how the process of becoming a vampire works. She sells him by preying on his sense of loneliness and tells him that she can show him how to “turn off” his feelings and humanity. An interesting argument from a vampire who’s just lousy with feelings and humanity as illustrated by her deep sadness over the death of her mom and her desperate need to keep her boyfriend with her forever.

Stefan drops the “your uncle is your father” bomb on Elena at the parade because he clearly has no sense of appropriate timing. And because that isn’t bad enough, Jeremy continues to be pissed at her for her part in the Damon mind wipe.

While Damon likes to think he’s all badass vamp who doesn’t care about anyone or anything he’s lousy with feelings and humanity himself so he thanks Bonnie for de-spelling the Gilbert Gizmo. She’s all “I did it for Elena, not you” and he sincerely tells her that either way, he is grateful and he owes her. To her credit, she has the decency to look ashamed of her deception.

And oh that damn Gizmo! Uncle John and the Mayor are hatching their plan to activate it during the evening’s firework festivities where they have been informed the town will be set upon by the Tomb Vamps (that’s the info that Tomby was feeding to Uncle John before his unfortunate demise). Upon activation, the Gizmo will emit a noise that humans won’t hear but which will be so unpleasant as to render any vamps within a 5 block radius incapacitated. That’s when the deputies will shoot them up with vervain and then take them to the basement of the Gilbert Apothecary Shoppe.

Meanwhile, the Tomb Vamps, now led by Colin Hart, are fine tuning their plan to kill as many of the townsfolk as possible once the fireworks start. Anna drops in to find out what they’re up to so that she can help…or possibly warn someone and try to stop them. Colin Hart is a little too trusting.

Damon flirts with Elena so hard I almost needed a cigarette. She totally mentions that thing that he does with his eyes (and his smile) that makes me want to rip his clothes off. She tells him to stop flirting with her so that Stefan can stop being jealous. Then she calls him her friend and he gets this look on his face that pretty clearly conveys “ohmygod, I love you so much I’ll do whatever you say!”

Then Elena is off to beg Jeremy for forgiveness – he still ain’t having it – and Damon overhears. After Jeremy tells her to go to hell and storms out, Damon follows. He does what he does best and mocks young Jeremy and when Jer’s response is to call Damon a dick (which, yeah), Damon takes a slightly more serious approach ordering Jer not to speak to his sister that way again and to cut her some slack.

“She erased my memories,” Jeremy protests. “No, I did! She was protecting you,” Damon corrects. Jeremy doesn’t think that it was her call to make and tries to walk away and now Damon’s got his menace up. There are threats and creepy staring and then Stefan steps in. He’s so nice when he tells Jeremy to stop blaming Elena because “Damon turned Vicki, I killed her.” Seriously, he manages to say that like he’s saying “I baked you a pie.” He’s magical. Jeremy is still all 16 and emo though, so no matter how many facts or apologies they give him, he’s still going to be pissy and walk away.

More jealous slap fighting between the brothers before we head over to the Apothecary Shoppe where Mr. Mayor and Uncle John are trying to sell the plan to the Sheriff. When she doesn’t buy in, John takes another tack – he knocks her out and cuffs her to the radiator. Asshole.

Night has now fallen on Mystic Falls and Anna is giving Damon the lowdown on the Tomb Vamps’ plan to kill the founding families and as many others as they can. Damon knows that Uncle John wants to use the Gizmo but he thinks it’s useless. He and Anna are both distraught at the prospect of a massacre. Damon makes a beeline for his brofriend inquiring as to Ric’s current level of preparedness for vampire fighting. Ric says that he has his tools in his car. Damon tells him the score and he’s off to retrieve his weapons of vamp destruction. During that entire exchange, neither one of them snarked or insulted the other. I’m just sayin’.

Next stop, Stefan and Elena. “Fifteen words or less? Tomb vamps are here. Founding families are the target. Get her out of here. Now.” Stefan would like to know where Damon is off to but Damon notes that would put him over his word allowance. Elena insists that they find Jeremy before getting her to safety.

At the Grill Mr. Mayor drops in to be werewolf-mean to his son about getting home immediately. Caroline and Matt jump up to try and prevent a Tyler beat down in public because they’re both just much better friends than Tyler deserves. Mr. Mayor insists that Tyler get home and take Matt and Caroline with him. All three comply because Mr. Mayor is scary. As they leave, Anna sequesters Jeremy in the bathroom to tell him he’s in danger.

Once his son is gone, he heads out to speechify about fireworks. Annnnd we’re off. At the first explosion, Mr. and Mrs. Mayor speed walk off the dais with Colin Hart hot on their trail. But he bumps into Bonnie before he can get to them and she realizes he’s a vamp so she now she’s hot on his trail. The chase is on.

Over at the Apothecary Shoppe, Damon drops in to tell Uncle John what a fucking jackass he is. But Uncle John cuts him off by turning on the Gizmo which instantly cripples poor Damon with its mystical noise and Damon goes down clutching his head. Outside, Stefan drops like a sack of flour. Anna too hits the floor. Elena and Jeremy both freak. The Tomb vamps all go down and one by one the deputies inject them with vervain while Uncle John shoots up Damon.

In the car, Tyler asks Caroline and Matt what that noise is and neither knows what the eff he’s talking about. He loses control of himself and then the car and they plow into…something.

Just as a deputy is approaching Stefan, Ric rushes up and offers to take care of this one while the deputy gets “that one over there.” He tells Elena that they’ve been taking all the vamps. In the middle of the crowd, Mrs. Mayor begs for help as the Mayor has hit the deck. A deputy pumps him full of vervain and takes him away, blood dripping from his ears. At the Grill, some deputies rip Anna from the loving arms of Jeremy, drug her and drag her off.

Uncle John calmly puts the Gizmo away and goes down to the basement where a deputy is dousing everyone and everything with gasoline. Damon lays on the floor conscious but unable to move. Anna comes too and reaches for Uncle John. She begs for her life. As Damon watches, Uncle John stakes Anna. RIP, Anna!

Uncle John goes back upstairs, sprinkling gas behind him. At the top of the stairs he drops a match and the basement begins to burn. Vamps twitch and writhe as they burn alive. Damon lies on the floor. Commercial! I could totally go for a frappuccino right now.

When we come back, we find Stefan and Elena hiding on some stairs when Alaric rushes to tell them that he saw at least 5 vamps rounded up and taken to the Apothecary Shoppe. That’s when Stefan and Elena figure out that the Gizmo worked and Elena wonders how that could be because Bonnie rendered it useless. Alaric and Stefan are like “uh, sweetie…clearly she didn’t.” Stefan asks where Damon is and Ric says he hasn’t seen him since before the chaos started.

Mrs. Mayor, in a panic about her husband, goes looking for him and finds the Sheriff still cuffed to the radiator. She frees her and tells her that the deputies took Mr. Mayor. Who, it turns out is coming to in the basement as we speak.

“Mayor, is that you?” asks Damon. “What are you doing here?” Mr. Mayor demands. In as matter-of-fact a voice as you’re likely to hear from someone on the precipice of burning to death, Damon says “I’m a vampire. What’s your excuse?” Mr. Mayor looks at Damon with disgust and horror. Damon notes that since Mr. Mayor is absent any signs of vervain drunkenness, he’s clearly not a vampire, so what the hell is he? He’s a werewolf, Damon.

All the while, Mr. Mayor is scurrying away from Damon as if he expects Damon to lung at him any moment. Because he’s an enormous moron in addition to being an A-1 jerk, he scurries right onto the lap of Colin Hart who promptly snaps his neck. Way to go, Colin! I always liked that kid.

Out on the street, Matt is incredibly worried about Caroline who is showing no outward signs of injury but in the wake of Natasha Richardson’s tragic accident, I think we all know where this is going. She insists that she’s fine and it’s best that the paramedics help Tyler. Matt turns away for a minute to check on Tyler himself after the paramedic pulls up his eyelid to check pupil reaction and sees his werewolfian eye do its…werewofian thing, eliciting a mighty “what the hell?” from the medic. Matt would like to know what’s wrong and the paramedic tells him “the eyes!” but then Tyler wakes up with a gasp. Then Caroline collapses and Matt goes back into protective boyfriend mode.

Elena and Stefan are rushing to the Apothecary Shoppe when his vamp super hearing alerts him to the fire within. Uncle John stands around waiting for it to burn. As Damon struggles to get up while flaming beams fall around him, Elena asks her Uncle Father where her platonic boyfriend is. “With the rest of them, where he should be.” He then encourages Stefan to run in and try to rescue his brother, certain he won’t be able to get out and it will save him the trouble of killing Stefan himself. God, I really do not like Uncle John, like, AT ALL.

Elena tips Stefan to a utility entrance and Stefan is off to rescue his brother so they might live to squabble another day. Elena tries to follow and Uncle John stops her. Elena lets him know that she knows he’s her bio-dad and he acts squirrelly.

‘Round back, Bonnie tries to stop Stefan from his suicide mission but he goes in noting that Damon is his brother. Elena comes running after now and Bonnie stops her this time. No one wants Elena in the fray tonight! Bonnie admits that she lied but then clutches Elena’s hand and starts her witchy incanting. The fire shrinks away. Stefan runs in, grabs Damon and vamp speeds out and then the flames engulf the basement once again.

Out of the building burst the Salvatores, panting into a commercial break.

At the Grill Elena lets Stefan know that the fire is out and that the official story is faulty wiring. From now on, anytime I hear of a fire caused by faulty wiring, I’m going to suspect that vamp killing is afoot. Stefan asks if she’s seen Damon and she says that she hasn’t and that he disappeared. Stefan is…annoyed maybe? He wishes he could hate his brother since he puts a lot of effort into trying. “You care about him. So do I,” she says. This, as you can imagine, thrills Stefan. “But I love you, Stefan.” And you know what? I really believe that. Elena has shown affection for Damon on many occasions but she has never given me reason to suspect that her feelings are the least bit romantic. Which, to be honest, is baffling because he’s incredibly hot and the two of them have insane chemistry and sexual tension. Still, she does clearly love Stefan. He obviously is not as easily convinced as I am, because for the next few minutes she has to repeat herself a half dozen or so times before he indicates he understands.

Anyway, Jenna called and Jeremy is home so she’s off to gather her things and go check on him.

He’s in his room pouting at the vial of Anna blood when Damon pops by for a visit. “What are you doing here?” asks Jeremy. “Anna’s dead,” responds Damon. It probably seems like that’s one of those times where Damon is saying something in a heartless way to torture someone emotionally but his voice and his eyes are sad. Jeremy figured when they dragged her away that they were going to kill her, so it doesn’t shock him to hear. “I know you cared about her,” Damon says. “I saw her killed. I was watching and all I could think about was…I wanted to help her. But I couldn’t.”

“Why are you telling me all this?” Jeremy asks. Fair question. Damon notes that he took away Jeremy’s suffering once and he can do it again if Jeremy wants. But Jeremy finally gets to the crux of why he’s been so pissed about the mind wipe all this time. “Look, I know you think you took it away, but it’s still there. Even if I can’t remember why, I still feel empty. Alone. And making me forget won’t fix it. It won’t fix what’s really wrong.” Damon walks to him, “what I did to Vicki, was wrong. Sorry for my part.” Jeremy is as taken aback as I am by Damon’s extreme sincerity.

As Damon is leaving, Jeremy asks him if Anna was telling the truth about vampires having the ability not to feel or care. Damon confirms it. Jeremy asks if life is easier that way. “Life sucks either way, Jeremy. But at least if you’re a vampire you don’t have to feel bad about it if you don’t want to.” Jeremy asks if that’s what he did and Damon confirms that he did for a very long time and that life was, indeed, a lot easier. Unfortunately, he neglects to mention that it’s only since he began to let himself feel and care that he’s discovered something worth living for. He leaves and Jeremy thinks.

At the hospital Tyler apologizes to Matt for the accident and Matt forgives him and wishfully tells Tyler that Caroline will be alright. Tyler sits to wait with Matt. Sheriff comes out and lets Matt know that there was internal bleeding and they’re doing surgery. Matt is worried and the Sheriff is not as reassuring as I’d like. I guess because she also has to tell Tyler that his dad has been barbequed.

Back at the Gilbert abode, Jeremy washes the vial of Anna blood down with an entire bottle of Elena’s depression meds and crawls into bed…to die with Anna’s blood in his system. Oy!

Stefan runs into Bonnie on the street and gets a talking to. It was only for Elena that Bonnie could not let Stefan or Damon die in the fire but if either one of them spills so much as a drop of innocent blood, she’ll spell their asses into oblivion faster than he can say “witch.” She can be a pretty awesome badass bitch when she sets her mind to it. I sort of love her like this. You know, not petty and cranky, but protective and helpful in an ass-kicking way. Like Grams used to be!

Elena arrives home just in time to see Damon exiting the front door and asks what he’s doing there. He talks about trying to do the right thing and she starts to look mildly flustered by him. He takes her bags, and explains “You know, I came to this town wanting to destroy it. Tonight I…found myself wanting to protect it? How does that happen?” He’s sincere and not the least bit flirty as he says it. The incredibly sensual, percussive beats of “Bloodstreem” by Stateless kicks up on the soundtrack. Elena continues to look more than a little unnerved by him. “I’m not a hero, Elena. I don’t do good. It’s not…in me.” She disagrees and her demeanor shifts almost imperceptibly toward a flirtatiousness of her own. “No. No, that’s reserved for my brother and you…and Bonnie,” he says with a wry smile and a sigh. “Who, even though she has every reason to hate me, still helped Stefan save me.” “Why do you sound so surprised?” Elena asks, and now she’s flirting a bit more overtly. “She did it for you,” he tells her. And her sex eyes are cranked up another notch. “Which means that somewhere along the way, you decided that I was worth saving.” He’s standing right in her personal space now. “And I wanted to…thank you, for that.” The eyes are turned down and now she’s just a touch too coy, “you’re welcome.” He leans in, still nothing but sincerity in his otherworldly eyes, and kisses her softly on the cheek but he lingers for about an hour before he pulls back. He looks deep into her eyes, almost distressed by how much he wants more than that chaste kiss. Her sex eyes are now dialed up to a million. He goes in, hesitantly, slowly, giving her ample time to shut him down, but she doesn’t. They kiss. It is hot. It’s maybe the hottest kiss I’ve ever seen on television in my life.

Jenna opens the door, rudely interrupting proceedings I think we were all really enjoying. Elena looks at her in annoyance and nary a hint of shame. Damon turns away. “It’s late, you should probably come inside,” Jenna practically orders. Damon seems heartbroken as Elena picks up her bags and goes in without ever looking at him.

Jenna wants to know what she’s doing but Elena doesn’t want to talk about it. On the porch, Damon looks around, puzzled, and touches his lips before walking away.

Elena runs into her Uncle Father in the kitchen. He’d like to chat about how he loved Isobel when they were teenagers. Elena rolls her eyes. Uncle John bad mouths vampires some more as Elena puts the dishes away. When she gets to the knives, he tries to bond with her. She eyes his magic ring. “Can I help?” he asks. “Sure,” she says before chopping off his fingers and then stabbing him in the gut. “Katherine?” “Hello, John.” Stab! And he’s dead.

Outside, Elena comes onto the porch talking to Stefan on her cell. “I looked everywhere, someone definitely took my stuff.” She goes in the house with plans to check on Jeremy and then meet Stefan. She hears a noise in the kitchen and goes to investigate. Fin!

I would like to note that I started to think that something was up with Elena when she didn’t rebuff Damon’s advances but due to his sincerity and his indescribable sexiness, I couldn’t bring myself to blame her. But I knew that things were really off only when she was kinda bitchy to Jenna. I didn’t guess that she was Katherine until she eyeballed John’s magic ring. Well done, show. Well done indeed.

The fact that this recap is over 8 pages long and took me nearly four hours to write is a testament to the fact that the ep was so freaking awesome I couldn’t skip a single thing. This has been, by far, my favorite show of the season and I can’t wait to see what they can do with it next year. Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec have done a truly outstanding job and I hope their brilliance continues unabated for many seasons to come.

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