September 18, 2010

They should change the name of this town to Mystic Biceps, VA

The second episode is probably too early to say that The Vampire Diaries has managed to avoid the dreaded sophomore slump but it was another really, really great ep and it makes me want to proclaim just that. I won’t though, because after the second episode last year, I was sure this show was going to end up sucking and I was so very wrong about that. So I’m going to zip my lip and not jinx anything.

Ok, let’s talk about what happened last night, shall we?

We’ve got your vampire dramas…

Caroline wakes up fresh from her murder, still in the hospital with that storied post-death, pre-vamp hunger. Depending on your view of the situation, it’s either really handy or really unfortunate to be in a hospital when you’re faced with the overwhelming craving for the human blood needed to complete your transformation into an undead hell beastie because you know what they have a lot of in hospitals? Blood. So Caroline snags a bag and slurps it down thus officially becoming a vampire.

That’s when she notices that the sun sizzles her skin as does that the vervain-laced necklace that Elena gave her last year. The necklace thing is kind of annoying because I’ve seen vampires touch Elena’s necklace and Jeremy’s bracelet – both lousy with vervain – and not have a physical reaction, but whatever. They’re finding their footing with this vervain jewelry situation and almost everything else about this show is so damn brilliant that I am willing to let some of the little things slide once in a while. But I do hope they don’t play this fast and loose with the rules of their own mythology all the time because it does kind of take me out of the moments. I mean, if the audience can remember this stuff, the writers should be able to as well.

Our girl Caroline is going through some changes and she’s dealing with it as best she can but, you know, it’s not just the flesh burning, and the blood drinking. There’s also the unsettling facial changes, and the returning memories of her time spent being Damon’s personal snack pack/errand girl, her newly discovered powers of compulsion, and her sudden desire to take an actual bite out of her deliciously adorable boyfriend. Poor, poor Matt.

Caroline gets an early release from the hospital (thank you, vampire mojo!) and skips out to the school carnival to make sure that Elena and Bonnie haven’t fucked the whole thing up. I love that Caroline’s school spirit and control freakishness are still intact even after her vampification. Once at the school, she delivers Katherine’s message Damon along with a piece of her mind about how he treated her before treating him to a little demonstration of her newly acquired vamp strength when she tosses him down the hall.

Damon rounds up Elena and Stefan and gives them the bad news about Caroline and the three of them suss out how it likely went down before Damon helpfully announces that he’ll go ahead and stake her. Elena, Stefan and I don’t really care how good his argument is (and “tragic story of a girl named Vicki Donovan” and “her mother’s a vampire hunter” are, indeed, excellent arguments) for “dusting” Caroline, we’re not having it! And I for one think it’s absurd for Damon – who has, like, the second highest body count in town right now – to imply that they must kill all vampires not sporting the Salvatore sir-name even though he had a perfectly good opportunity to stake Katherine’s whorey ass last week and slipped her the tongue instead. I mean, I’m willing to cut him slack on a lot of shit but fucking with Caroline and/or Matt is where I draw the line.

Ahem, anyway…Caroline is still wrestling with her bitey urges whenever she’s near Matt so she’s acting all weird and running away from him in a snit when she smells a little nose blood on the nice carnival helper man which causes her to lose control of herself and kill him. That’s when Damon, stake in hand, stumbles upon her. She’s upset by what she’s done and asks for his help and he comforts her and tells her that he’ll help…by killing her. Fortunately for us all, Stefan swoops in. There’s a whole thing where Damon makes a second staking attempt and then Elena puts herself between Caroline and the stake to keep Damon from offing her friend. That’s when Bonnie shows up and sees Caroline’s face all covered in blood.

Stefan escorts Caroline to the bathroom to get cleaned up while Bonnie whips up a mystical migraine for Damon and then telekinetically turns on a hose so she can turn the water into fire and toast his sexy ass. Why? Well, she swore if one more innocent person suffered, she’d kill him and she’s just keeping her promise. Hypocrisy, it’s what’s for dinner. I mean, who insisted that Damon heal Caroline with his blood, Bonnie? And despite the fact that Elena keeps screaming that it was Katherine who killed Caroline and not Damon, Bonnie doesn’t listen. “Everything that happens is his fault, Elena.” A convenient way to avoid taking any blame for your part in this tragedy, huh B? Elena does manage to stop Bonnie eventually, because they’re obviously not going to kill the sexiest beast in all the land.
Meanwhile, in the toitty, Stefan is having a really lovely heart to heart with a very upset Caroline while he helps her clean all of the dried blood off of herself. He explains about the heightened emotions and shows her how to control it when the beast inside her causes her face to change. “When you feel the blood rush in, you tell yourself that you’re going to get through it. That you’re strong enough. Yes, yes. No matter how good it feels to give yourself over to it, you fight it off. You burry it.” Then they practice some breathing techniques, do a little yoga, meditate on the meaning of life a while and enjoy the calming effects of a lovely aroma therapy candle. I kid! It really is a very good scene. I find Yoda Stefan almost as attractive as Bad-Ass Stefan. Once the lesson is over, Caroline asks why Katherine did this to her. “I don’t know. I wish I did. Hey, hey, I promise I will not let anything happen to you,” Stefan tells her, before enveloping her in a very sweet and comforting embrace.

Later, Caroline is home in bed (I guess her mom invited her in? They don’t show it but I suppose it’s not too big a stretch to assume that Liz gave her some kind of implied invitation when they got home from the hospital, similar to what Matt did with Vicki when she was newly vamped) when Matt sneaks in her window. She asks what he’s doing there. “I came…to see if today’s basket-case period had expired.” Caroline tells him he should go because her mom will be home soon. He protests that he won’t leave because she’s been dodging him all day and it’s made him more insecure than she is, which is both hilarious and also adorable on him, but she’d like to know what that means. “It means that…you almost died, and it really freaked me out. And it got me thinking you know, ‘cause I’m just, I’m not in a position where I can lose someone else right now. I realized that even though today I wanted to throttle you…I’m pretty sure that I’m in love with you. And now it seems like you don’t feel the same way.” Caroline’s face registers shock when he drops the “in love” bomb on her. Good shock, but shock just the same. And after he notes that he is worried she doesn’t share his feelings (which I’m quite confident she does), she plants a really good kiss on him as reassurance that she does, in fact, feel the same way. Then they hug and her eyes go vampy so she calms herself. Yes, this could totally work! She can be a vamp with a clueless human boyfriend! Yay!

We’ve got your family dramas…

Stefan has decided to get brotherly with Jeremy – who’s cut AND washed his hair. HUZZAH! – giving him a quick tutorial about vervain and how to kill a vampire and stuff. Then Jeremy turns around and threatens Stefan’s brother because that kid is just a little bit stupid. In the end, Jeremy pops up at the Salvatore manse with stake in hand and pre-laced scotch for an unsuspecting Damon. But for some reason, he changes his mind and tips Damon off about the poison booze just before he tosses him the stake.

They proceed to have their own little brotherly confab about how their respective fathers were not big vampire fans. I mean, that’s what happens eventually but before they can share a moment, Damon acts all snarky and dicky “I don’t do the big brother thing very well. Sorry I don’t have any milk and cookies to offer you.” But eventually they get to the heart of the matter – “my father hated vampires too. For the same reason your father did,” Damon notes. “Only it was 1864,” he adds, with a look of derision at the stake he’s now holding “when people knew how to whittle.” Jeremy and I share a good chuckle at that before Damon asks if he made the stake himself. “Yeah, I tried. It’s a lot harder than it looks.” Hee! Sometimes the very best parts of this show, are the smallest moments.

And we’ve got your werewolf dramas…

With the mayor pushing up daisies, they’re in need of someone to head the council and Mrs. (Interim) Mayor has offered the job to Damon, who’d “be honored to help keep the town safe from vampires.” Awesome! While he’s over at the Lockwood estate, he has occasion to use his super hearing and eavesdrop on Tyler and Uncle Mason arriving home from a run, shirtless and be-tank topped respectively – muscles glistening in the sun. I’m sorry, were we talking about something? Because I lost my train of thought when the hot men and their muscles arrived.

Oh yeah, the conversation Damon is purposely overhearing. So Mason is inquiring about the angry fits that Tyler has. “So, this anger and aggression we talked about – do you notice a difference when you exercise?” Tyler snorts, “dude, I play three varsity sports, I work out four times a week and run three, I’m gonna say no.” Train of thought…wandering…wandering…ok, I’m back. “When you have episodes? What happens?” Mason asks. Tyler explains, “It starts out normal. You know, I get angry – typically over nothing. I’m an angry guy, you know. It just amplifies and then I…go off.” Mason wonders if Tyler blacks out and Tyler confirms that he does, “it’s like I go blind with rage.” Mason asks if there’s a pattern “like, once a month? Only at night?” Very smooth, Mason. Why don’t you just ask him if it only happens when the moon is full? Tyler doesn’t pick up on the weird question though, saying only that he loses himself and for that time, he becomes “something else.”

Damon finds this all very interesting and mysterious so while he and Stefan are in the midst of one of their little verbal slap-fights, Damon uses the Lockwood situation to deflect discussion of Elena and/or Katherine and his feelings for both. Stefan, on the other hand, doesn’t find the fact that the Lockwood’s were felled by the Gilbert Gizmo, but not the vervain all that interesting.

Meanwhile, Mason is ransacking the Mayor’s home office looking for a “moon stone” that his mother gave his father once upon a time. Tyler says that his mom probably knows where it is and acts not at all interested in it until Mason leaves the room and then he seems pensive.

Over at the carnival, Tyler is arm wrestling, and handily beating, all comers. The brothers Salvatore stand back and observe from a distance while discussing whether or not there is any reason to believe something supernatural is afoot with the super hot Lockwood men. Then Uncle Mason steps in to arm wrestle Tyler. Mason wins and Tyler seems more than a little uncomfortable both with his uncle’s incredible strength and with being bested. That’s when Damon offers Stefan up as the next to challenge Mason. Stefan loses and Damon is disgusted that Stefan “didn’t put in any effort at all.” “Yeah, actually, I did,” says Stefan, finally willing to admit that there is something vaguely hinky going on with the Lockwood men. The two retire to hallway that is only slightly less crowded than the one they were just in, to discuss what the hell is going on.

Damon asks if Mason is a vamp and Stefan says it wasn’t that kind of strength but it was definitely more than human. Damon would like to know “what is up with that family? If they’re not vampires, then what the hell are they?” Stefan, as if he’s been hoping Damon would ask this exact question all day, says “Ooh! Maybe they’re, uh, Ninja Turtles.” Damon is not amused. “Or no, zombies? Werewolves?” Stefan suggests. “No comedic timing. At all,” Damon huffs. “This is reality, there’s no such thing as werewolves or…combat turtles,” Damon notes. “That’s a ninja turtle,” Stefan corrects while Damon makes his way over to the nice carnival helper man who’s fixing a speaker nearby. Damon compels the chap to pick a fight with Tyler and not back down no matter what. Oh Damon, don’t turn townies into Tyler kibble!

Stefan is worried that someone is going to get hurt and Damon wants to see if someone – like, say, the “ambiguously supernatural mystery uncle” – intervenes when Tyler gets into a fight. So the two send Townie on his way, with Stefan in tow, to see what happens. You know, if Damon is the one who wants to see what’s going on with Tyler and Uncle Mason, then perhaps DAMON should have tailed Townie to his showdown with the ragewad? Jesus, Damon! Learn to see a job through, would you?

Anyway, Townie does as he was told and picks a fight with Tyler, who loses his shit and starts to trade blows with Townie when Mason steps in. Townie can’t back down so he starts swinging at Mason who then leaps over a couple of cars, flashes his were-eyes (which Tyler sees and mentions), and then back-hands Townie into next Tuesday before helping Tyler up and fleeing the scene.

Once back at the Estate, Tyler has a few questions for his uncle. Like, what that crazy, flying, leapy move was (“Brazilian martial arts, I took some classes a while back”), and what the hell was going on with his glowing eyes. Mason, who is ridiculously good looking when he’s being stern, assures Tyler that he saw nothing. I’m quite sure that werewolves don’t possess the power of compulsion and that even if they did they couldn’t use it on each other because Tyler is like a dog with a bone on this one (pun intended, obvs) and he’s really starting to twig to something now. So when Mrs. (Interim) Mayor tells Mason that she’ll do her best to locate that family heirloom stone for him (while his triceps flex in an incredibly distracting manner atop the baby grand in the foyer), Tyler sneaks into his dad’s office. He lifts the corner of the Persian rug, pries up a floorboard and lets himself into the safe hidden therein. Among his father’s papers and floppy disks (really? Ok), he finds a wooden box that contains the mysterious moon stone. Dun, dun, dun!

Another outstanding episode, folks! I’ve missed Ric these past couple of weeks but so much has happened I can see why they’d have had a tough time squeezing him in. Candice Accola did an amazing job playing Caroline’s tenuous grasp on her sanity in the wake of her unexpected and monumental change into something she didn’t know she knew existed. Go ahead, read it again, I swear it makes sense. And was it my imagination or was Matt even more gorgeous than usual in this episode? Seriously, even before he professed his love for Caroline I kept wanting to jump into the television and ravage him. I’m sorry, sometimes I forget to let my inside thoughts stay…inside.

Character- and story-wise, they’re really firing on all cylinders this season but they do need to get a slightly tighter grasp on some of the finer points of their mythology. I’ve always been much more a Damon-girl, because Ian Sommerhalder is the hottest thing since molten lava, and I rarely find the drippy, sappy, schmoopy guy interesting, but they’re taking Stefan in some interesting directions right now that are increasing his sex appeal quite a bit. He’s still no Damon though. I like the budding relationships between Jeremy and each of the brothers. I’m anxious to see how Bonnie deals with Caroline and I really hope they’re able to procure a sun-blocking bauble for Caroline soon because I don’t know how they’ll keep her mother or Matt or everyone else in the dark about her vampiressness if she only comes out in, you know, the dark. And I really can’t WAIT to see what’s in store for us where the wolves are concerned! Bring it on, Plecamson!

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