It seemed like there was a lot of hubub about the "Memory Lane" episode of The Vampire Diaries, what with all the tweeting from the the cast and producers about how they were particularly proud of this episode. That makes me a little sad because I thought the episode was terrible. On par with "The Night Of The Comet," which you should know by now that I hated.
I don't especially want to watch the show over again to give you the full, in-depth recap so I'm going to skip that treatment this week and just summarize the suck.
Katherine is back and determined to get Stefan back. This time she's somehow manipulating his dreams and causing him to see the two of them at the 1864 Founder's Party intertwined with scenes of present-day Damon and Elena falling in love. Vampires have the power to manipulate dreams now? That's new and revolutionary information they just dropped on us without details or explanation. When he wakes up in bed with Katherine (who's pretending to be Elena), he lulls her into a false sense of security (by starting to make out with her, natch) and then vervain darts her in the back. It was nice enough to see him reuse Elena's trick on Katherine there and I admit I didn't see it coming this time either.
Then he chains Katherine up in the dungeon and just keeps asking her why she's there and what she wants over and over and over and over and over and over again. She's sticking to her story ("you, Stefan") but she's also torturing me with her version of history which bears only the faintest resemblance to what we've learned previously on the show. I get that it's supposed to be the story with Katherine's spin on it but I don't really appreciate the attempt to manipulate me by so clearly trying to make me question whether her version of events is true. For one thing, let's not pretend all of a sudden that Katherine is capable of loving anyone other than herself. If she truly loved Stefan, why did she wait a century and a half - until he finally fell in love with someone else - to come back for him? If she really cared about him so damn fucking much back in 1864, why did she carry on an affair with his brother? Oh, and nice try implying that she had no interest at all in Damon, but that's clearly a steaming pile of bullshit because if she had no interest in him, why did she turn him into a fucking vampire?!
That's just the tip of a very large iceberg where my disgust with her revisionist history is concerned, but I'm moving on. She swears she never compelled him to love her and that she didn't sleep with Damon the night of the Founders Ball and blah blah blah. Theirs is true love. Then she busts her chains and tells him that she's been sipping vervain every day so she's built up a tolerance for it and she's not going to put up with his shit anymore. She lets him know that if he doesn't stay away from Elena, she'll make Elena watch while she kills everyone Elena loves and then she'll kill Elena. Naturally, this is the moment Elena arrives at the manse and calls out for Stefan so Katherine shivs Stefan to slow him down and heads upstairs to officially meet her doppelganger. They stand there and stare at the middle distance instead of each other because the split-screen effect of having Nina Dobrev confront herself is a little weak, and then Katherine vamp-speed-disappears just as Stefan comes running in to make sure his ex hasn't killed his current girlfriend.
So let's say you're Stefan and you've just discovered that your psycho ex is kind of immune to vervain, and you don't have the balls to stake her even when you have a good chance to, and you have reason to believe that she might start killing everyone you know and care for in the world if you don't break up with your girlfriend - what do you do? You fake brake up with your girlfriend, obviously. He and Elena have had a convo off-screen wherein they've clearly figured out that Caroline's many attempts that day to undermine Elena and Stefan's relationship and to keep Elena away from the manse mean that Caroline is Katherine's new minion, so they go to The Grill and sit within vamp-hearing distance of Caroline and then fake a totally out of character and out of the blue fight that results in a break-up. Caroline's own relationship insecurities - the same ones that caused her to pick a fight and break up with Matt last week - make it hard for her to recognize contrivance so she no-doubt dutifully delivers the news to Katherine. Elsewhere in the bar, Damon also overhears and is pleased with this development, though why I'm not sure because he'd have to be a special kind of stupid to think that gives him much of a chance with her after he just killed her brother. Then they meet back up in her room to tell us all it was fake and they have a plan.
Meanwhile, Katherine isn't the only thing plaguing the town of Mystic Falls - we also have a werewolf on the loose, remember? No one is more anxious to find out what's up with Wolfson than Damon so he asks Alaric to convince Jenna to host a barbecue and invite Mason Lockwood, with whom she was friends in high school. On the surface, that doesn't sound like the stupidest idea ever until we see that this barbecue has exactly 6 attendees: Jenna, Ric, Mason, Damon, Elena and Caroline. Damon spends the entire barbecue making dog and/or wolf jokes and exchanging meaningful looks with his BFF. When Mason can no longer stand Damon's ridiculousness, he's all "dude, you're a vampire, I'm a werewolf, can't we all just get along?" Damon is taken aback and then crabs that Wolfson attacked his brother. I'm not sure who gave Damon the rundown on last week's events in the woods but that person has a very tenuous grasp on the facts - Wolfson actually attacked Caroline and really only growled menacingly at Stefan. Those being the actual facts of the case, Damon doesn't have much right to be pissed at Wolfson because he's both attacked Caroline and growled menacingly at Stefan himself many times.
Whatever, the point is, Mason is usually very responsible with his transformation and wolfitude but on this occasion, circumstances beyond his control prevented him from chaining himself up properly (true story!). He has no particular hatred of vampires and would like it if he and Damon and the other local bloodsuckers could all be friends. He then bids Jenna and Alaric a fond farewell and heads home. Damon bids Jenna and Alaric a slightly creepy farewell and follows. Somewhere in town, Mason has stopped in the street and gotten out of his car for no discernible reason when Damon comes up to him and stabs him in the heart with a silver knife he pilfered from the Gilbert abode. He's the worst dinner guest ever. Mason doesn't die and instead mentions it's no more true that werewolves are vulnerable to silver than it is Vampires are vulnerable to garlic. Then he narrows his eyes and lets Damon know that it's no more Mr. Nice Wolf, now they're enemies! OY!
Look, I don't object to Mason and Damon becoming enemies but I question whether it was necessary to move that story along at such a break-neck speed at the expense of letting it develope in a way that made something resembling sense. I mean, since when is Damon this reckless? He NEEDS to remain on the council and in order to do that, he needs Mrs. Interim Mayor not to know he's a vampire. So why did he go and make an enemy of Mrs. Interim Mayor's brother-in-law who LIVES IN HER HOUSE? Sloppy.
Last, but certainly least annoying, Tyler wants to know what the fuck is up with Mason turning into a wolf. Mason is all "eh, it's a thing that happened, don't worry about it." Tyler wants to know if he's going to turn into a wolf and Mason assures him that he won't because there's a curse-activating trigger, which he's sure Tyler won't pull, but he won't tell Tyler what that trigger is. Rather understandably, that doesn't satisfy Tyler. He presses the issue and employs the old "carrot on a stick" tactic to try and get some answers from his mysterious uncle. In this instance, the carrot is the moonstone. He might know some places it could be but he won't say what those places are until Mason tells him the process by which the curse is activated. Things get heated and finally we learn that murder is the trigger. If you've got the werewolf curse and you take a human life, then you become a werewolf. I look forward to finding out more about Mason's back story - the circumstances under which he killed a person and how he became so very chill about his wolfitude.
Anyhoo, Tyler has his answer but he does not hold up his end of the bargain and tell Mason that he's been hiding the moonstone in his pants. Pocket. Pants pocket. Just before this episode mercifully ended, we flashed back one last time to 1864 to find out that after George Lockwood helped Katherine fake her own death while orchestrating The Great Vampire Round-Up and Barbeque to rid the town of her friends, she gave him the moonstone and a promise to stay away, as well as a mutual understanding that they'd keep each others secrets forever. Dun, dun, zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
I think the reason I was so disappointed with this episode is that it just didn't seem as well thought out as I've come to expect from this show. Ric says that he suggested the barbecue to get to know some of Jenna's old friends but only one old friend was invited and Jeremy, who LIVES THERE, was no where to be found? Elena invited Caroline, but not Bonnie? Damon was reckless and stupid. I'm sick of seeing the Salvatore brothers chicken out of perfectly good opportunities to kill Katherine but then continue to profess their hatred of her. I understand that she's good story fodder for the show, I never wanted Buffy to kill Spike or Angelus either, but you can't turn your main characters into impotent wussies so how about just not giving them so many opportunities to wimp out?
Not everything about the episode was terrible. As usual, Ian Sommerhalder's delivery was a slice of perfection and Nina Dobrev is really killing her dual roles. Matt Davis got a haircut so high marks there. The Tyler/Mason/Moonstone stuff is interesting and I kind of like that it's remaining a mystery for a while. But those few things weren't enough to boost my overall opinion of the episode.
Here's hoping that next week, when Sheriff probably finds out that her daughter is a vampire, is back up to this show's usual standard.