'The Vampire Diaries' recap: We meet some old dogs while Katherine shows off new tricks
Good television makes you think, and tonight's (Sept. 30) episode of "The Vampire Diaries," aptly titled "Memory Lane," left me with as many questions as answers. And we got a lot of answers. It's no secret that flashback episodes are my favorite. Every time we go back to 1864, we see "The Vampire Diaries" at its most ambitious. Tonight, we saw the fateful events from Katherine's (Nina Dobrev) perspective, which put a whole new twist on things.Of course, as Ian Somerhalder warned me, Katherine isn't the most reliable narrator. Still, the rare glimpse at her humanity was more than welcome. It makes her even more unnerving to know that she carries both the capacity to love and the capacity to just slaughter people.Are your DVRs ready? You know this is one you just have to see twice.8:01 - I've got a healthy appreciation for tradition, so the reminder that the Founder's Ball -- complete with the no-touching-allowed-eye-sex-only dance -- is a 145-year-old ritual is kind of fun. I can't help but wonder what it says that Stefan (Paul Wesley) made it to the dance with Katherine, but Damon had to fill in for him when it was Elena's turn so many years later.If seeing Elena in 1864 didn't seal the deal that this is a dream, watching her openly snuggle with Damon at the pool table definitely puts it firmly into the fantasy category. Maybe it's just me, but I can't picture any plausible scenario in which they could actually have a relationship, unless they were the last two people on earth. He killed her brother, and she's head over heels in love with his brother. Double-whammy dealbreaker.8:03 - Katherine continues to insist that Stefan is the only reason she returned to Mystic Falls, but there's got to be something else. It's awfully convenient that 145 years have passed, but she finally decides to seek Stefan out when he's (a) in a somewhere-close-to-healthy relationship, and (b) finally on speaking terms with Damon again.8:05 - Mason (Taylor Kinney) is awfully cavalier about the whole werewolf thing... and cavalier is a very, very sexy look on him. This show really shines in showcasing the different ways that guys relate to each other -- the interactions between Mason and Tyler (Michael Trevino) are fantastic. Mason is so cool and unfazed, everything that Tyler wishes he could be while he's internally building up steam.We finally have confirmation that Mayor Lockwood didn't know about the curse -- which means that contrary to what I'd previously thought, it's not something that happens just to adults in the family. Mason says there's a "trigger."Usually in horror movies about teenagers, sex triggers bad things, but we know Tyler is no virgin. What could possibly unlock the wolf within?8:06 - Why can Stefan carry a tumbler of blood around without vamping out, or at least wincing? This is like asking Lindsay Lohan to swing by the pharmacy and pick up your Adderall prescription for you.8:07 - Back in 1864, Damon and George Lockwood are friends. It's hard to buy Damon as this happy guy, unburdened by 145 years of heartbreak. I think there's something about the way Somerhalder plays him that always makes him appear a little bit broken, a little bit defensive.When I spoke with Somerhalder this week, I asked him if he thought Damon would ever be happy again. "I think the happiest Damon gets are the times he's pleased with himself for doing something particularly nasty to someone," Somerhalder says. "He has moments where he's smug. Look, any time Damon or Stefan is truly happy, one of two things will happen. Either some other supernatural entity will swoop in and destroy it, or Kevin [Williamson] and Julie [Plec] will stake him. Damon isn't necessarily an individual who's earned happiness, so no. If we ever see him happy, he's probably about to die, and we don't want that.It's nice to see Henry, John Gilbert's pet tomb vampire, again -- it's almost too bad that he's about to be roasted and toasted by Katherine, who he obviously trusts. She calls the tomb vampires her family... but we all know that's a farce. Katherine is an island.8:08 - "There are others. Not many, they're practically extinct. They mainly exist now in books and really bad movies."Most people probably take this line as another "Twilight" dig, but I'm going to go ahead and assume that the writers were referencing "Cursed," Plec and Williamson's 2005 masterpiece. Part of me wants to believe that Stefan really is a little bit taken by Katherine, because it makes him infinitely more interesting. If he's strong enough to resist the temptation of Elena's jugular, he's strong enough to keep himself from giving in to Katherine's practiced seduction, though, so I wasn't too surprised when he pulled an Elena and gave her a nice dose of vervain.8:14 - The whole vervain thing looks painful enough that I almost feel sorry for Katherine, but then I got distracted by Stefan being awesome. I really, really like him when he's angry. Watching him slam his chair down, wordlessly demanding that Katherine start talking or she's going to regret it, I just feel so proud of him.8:16 - Alaric (Matthew Davis) got a hair cut! Only one man on this show is allowed to have sky-high hair. Every single thing about Jenna's (Sara Canning) little get-together is delightful. It reminds me of the parties I have on the rare occasion that I can see my high school friends -- except we usually have more tequila and slightly less enchanted jewelry in the kitchen. The casual vibe is a much needed breath of fresh air on a show where somebody dies at every school fundraiser.Let's just hope Uncle Hottie makes it through this BBQ alive. 8:17 - First Damon zinger of the night! When Mason says he's heard good things about Damon, the vamp replies, "Really? That's weird. Because I'm a dick."8:18 - Damon and Katherine are so alike. "Does she know that you love me?" Katherine asks, and despite Stefan's repeated denials, she firmly tells him that he's wrong. It harkens back to the painful scene in the premiere when Damon forced a kiss on Elena, so desperately sure that she reciprocated his feelings.Okay, okay. 1864 Stefan's "entire body ignites" around Katherine, because she's "an angel." Doesn't the entire fact that he calls her an angel prove that he didn't know her and therefore couldn't love her?I think he just thought she was hot.8:21 - Wow. Damon wants her even after she ditched him all night to do the no-touching-allowed-eye-sex-only dance with his little bro?8:22 - "I never compelled your love. It was real, and so is mine," Katherine tells Stefan. The thing is, I think whether or not he was compelled is irrelevant at this point. It's 145 years later. Anyone (other than Damon) would move on in that amount of time. Plus, that was kind of before he knew about her sadistic streak. A man's opinion of a girl can change when he finds out she's essentially a serial killer.8:27 - Jenna's getting tipsy, and I like it! Every reminder of Jenna's party-girl past makes her more interesting and likable. "I have dated many yous," she tells Damon. That's drunk speak for "hands off my niece, per."8:30 - I nearly fell off my bed laughing as Uncle Mason jammed his grubby paw into Jenna's pie.Oh, gosh. That came out wrong.Um, but while we're on that note, are they seriously saying that Mason and Jenna never hooked up in high school? Not even a little spin-the-bottle action? Come on. Seven minutes in heaven, maybe? Just look at him.8:31 - I'd almost forgotten about Caroline and Katherine's little rendezvous at the end of last week's episode, until now, when Caroline starts acting sketchy with Elena. I just can't quite figure out why her loyalties don't lie with Elena first. Can a vampire compel another vampire? Did Katherine get into Caroline's head the way she did Stefan? Or are Caroline's insecurities still so crippling that she "crumbles under Katherine's fist," as Candice Accola described it to me. 8:31 - I hate to be redundant in every. single. recap, but it has to be said: Nina Dobrev is killing it. Full stop. When this series ends (hopefully ten years from now), she is going to be able to walk right into whatever kind of acting career she wants to have. The kind of dedication, talent, and work ethic it takes to pull off an episode like this - where Elena or Katherine is in almost every scene - is undeniable.As Katherine and George Lockwood do their walk-and-talk, I can't help but wonder where the tomb came into play in all this. I'm initially shocked to find out that she knew of the vampire roast plans all along, but in hindsight, of course she was the puppeteer. She's Katherine.Perhaps the underground tomb was a surprise for her, though?8:32 - "Damon and I died for nothing!" "You died for love." I guess... but also, they sort of died for nothing.8:32 - My favorite moments on this show are those brief, brief glimmers of brotherly love between Damon and Stefan. When Mason throws Damon the white flag, Damon says stubbornly, "You tried to kill my brother." He doesn't care that Mason wasn't in his right mind or that both he and Stefan are supernatural creatures, too. Someone threatened one of the very few things that he loves, and he wants to eliminate that threat.Mason's casual attitude toward Damon is almost a twist in itself. Lore has pitted vampires and werewolves against each other since Van Helsing, and the idea that the rivalry isn't actually inherent is kind of nice. Damon doesn't seem to be buying it, though.8:37 - I suddenly have the uncontrollable urge to go out and buy a Ford vehicle! BRB!8:37 - Mason and Damon would actually make good friends. I mean, they both like drinking until closing time. Dudes don't need to have more than that in common to be besties, right?8:38 - "I can't just leave my car," Caroline says.Well of course not. It's a Ford. I think Elena may be onto Caroline as Caroline rattles off a list of reasons why Stefan and Elena won't ever work. I think that part of it is Katherine's doing, but part of it is also the list of reasons that Caroline and Matt can't be together.Uh oh. This Triple-A guy is doomed. Caroline has got to be hungry by now.8:40 - Damon should've known that silver doesn't work. He's a vampire who enjoys garlic, and could bathe in holy water if he wanted to. "Now you've made an enemy," Mason says.The thing is, Mason was already Damon's enemy. Damon decided he didn't like Mason the moment Mason rolled up in his sweet, sweet Bronco.8:42 - "I will snap her neck like a twig and you know it." Again, can we get a round of applause for Dobrev? She's my hero, though I'm starting to worry about her mental state. Nobody should be able to slip between characters that easily. Are we sure she doesn't have that "United States of Tara" disorder?Incredible.The twist that Katherine has built up her vervain tolerance is phenomenal, because it means that she's more physically powerful than any of the vampires we've met. We already knew she had the upper hand over Stefan and his bunny diet, but this means that she could easily get to Damon's achilles, too.It would also imply that with practice and a lot of time, Stefan and Damon could build up a vervain immunity.8:47 - Finally, Katherine and Elena meet! I love the way Katherine strokes Elena as if Elena's body belongs to her. She has the upper hand right away and almost marks Elena as her territory. I can't wait to find out why Elena and Katherine look alike -- though, as Katherine says, that's the wrong question to be asking.What's the right question?8:48 - I spent so much time trying to figure out why Katherine was able to get to Caroline, but the answer is simple. It's just pure, unadulterated fear. While the old Caroline was fiercely protective of her friends, she's very unsure of herself and her place in the world now that she's a vampire. I really feel for her.8:49 - Uncle Hottie is home. "You still pissed?" he asks. They're such men in the Lockwood house, you know? No heart-to-hearts or promises, just blunt, honest conversations.Oh my goodness. It's murder that triggers a Lockwood to turn into a werewolf! I'm shocked... and a little bit concerned that I still find Uncle Mason totally hot. I should probably talk to someone about that. Who did he kill? Was it in self defense?Whoever cursed them was genius. They're a family of angry, violent people, so the temptation to trigger the curse is always dangling like a carrot.8:52 - What!? Did Stefan and Elena seriously just break up? I did not see that one coming. it seemed like they were finally on the same track -- despite his Katherine drama, they were being honest with each other. They kissed on a ferris wheel! I'm heartbroken, and this nostalgic music isn't helping. Soundtrack junkies, it's "Time of Our Lives," by Tyrone Wells, and unlike "The River Runs Wild" by Mads Langer, which continues to elude me, this one is actually available on iTunes.8:55 - Another great Damon line: "Tried to kill a werewolf and failed. Now I feel like I'm not living up to my best self."It's interesting that he seems so unaffected by Katherine being around him after she basically ran his heart over with a cement truck. I guess he's rediscovered that switch that turns emotions on and off at will.I'm looking forward to finding out how he really reacts to Stefan and Elena calling it quits. He seemed a little bit smug while he overheard their conversation, but I'd assume that when he imagined it - because you know he has - Elena was probably doing the dumping, and it was probably about him, not Katherine.8:57 - Oh, good. I'm glad that the breakup was fake -- for two reasons. One, it's a nice reminder that Elena is, as always, smarter and sneakier than those around her (including the viewers) give her credit for. She's not a passive ingenue. And two, while I'm sure Stefan and Elena will take some time apart eventually over the course of the series, I hope that when it happens, it's not because they're playing into Katherine's mind games. I mean, this is a TV show. Unless they go all Nathan and Haley and get married at 17, they're bound to take a break at some point to explore other storylines. But right now, they've been through so much that they've earned their right to at least have each other to lean on. 8:58 - Interesting. Katherine gave George Lockwood the moonstone... which means that it likely came from Emily. Maybe the moonstone is a sort of antidote to the cure? But if it is, I'd wonder why it was in the Mayor's possession, not Mason's.Another soundtrack junkie moment as Katherine bends to kiss Stefan. (Pause: ew, gross, dead body lips.) This time, it's "Breathe Again" by the incredible Sara Bareilles. So it would appear that Katherine really does still love Stefan. How fabulous is it that the big twist is that she wasn't lying?And even more amazing is Dobrev's ability to make us sympathize with her. After all, we all forgive Damon his many trespasses (and, uh, by trespasses, I mean gross bloody murders). We could cut Katherine the same break, right?Well, maybe.This week's MVP is obvious -- Dobrev probably didn't sleep a wink for all eight days of shooting, and we love her for it.Before I wrap this up, I'm just going to throw out a small sampling of the questions that sprung to my mind throughout this episode. Ready?Has Damon ever said the words "I love you" out loud? Who explained the trigger of the family curse to Mason if it wasn't his brother? Who did he kill? Does this mean that we're going to see Tyler kill someone before the season is up? Does killing a vampire count? What if a werewolf bites a vampire while in human form - does that kill them? Was Anna counted in the 27 tomb vampires, and if so, how did she slip away under the radar? Did Katherine not know she was a vampire? How did Stefan wipe Tyler's knowledge of vampires that night in the woods, but not his memory of Mason as the wolf? Like I said... good television makes you think.Follow Zap2it and @cadlymack on Twitter and Zap2it on Facebook for the latest TV, movie and celebrity news.Photos: CW
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