Family relationships were a common theme in tonight's episode of "The Vampire Diaries," so let's examine how functional the families in Mystic Falls really are.
Family 1: The Bennetts
Bonnie goes to find her mom, Abby Bennett Wilson, who abandoned her as a child, because Bonnie has seen her mother in a coffin-themed dream and has assumed it meant her mom could help her open the one that is locked by a spell. Unfortunately, one of Klaus' hybrids got to her first. Abby sedates Bonnie with magic-killing herbs, then drives her off in a car to save Abby's lowlife ex-boyfriend's son, whom she took in and raised as her own. After they get rid of the hybrid by telling him where the coffins are, Abby says she wants to get her magic back to help Bonnie.
Functional Rating (out of 5): 3 (Bonnie and her mom didn't get off to a great start, but it seems as though Abby wants to help now. However, nothing she does can make up for the fact that she left Bonnie and never returned once she realized she could live her life without magic.)
Family 2: The Forbeses
Tyler asks Caroline's dad (who -- don't forget -- tried to torture his own daughter) to come to town to teach him to resist his sire bond to Klaus. He does this by making Tyler transform into a werewolf (which he can do at will because he's a hybrid), explaining that Tyler has to own his pain to free himself from Klaus. Tyler feels loyal because Klaus saved him from the curse of having to turn into a werewolf every full moon. Tyler transforms once and gets lost and almost kills Caroline's dad. Still, Bill Forbes decides that Tyler needs to transform again and again until it's no longer painful. All this so Tyler can be safe around Caroline.
Functional Rating (out of 5): 2 (Clearly, Caroline's dad is trying to make up for lost time by being an overprotective father, but there's just no overcoming their rocky past. And once Caroline finds out what he's making Tyler go through, I doubt she'll be on board.)
Family 3: The Salvatores
Damon and Stefan have always had their disagreements, especially since Stefan went off with Klaus. Even though Stefan has been free from Klaus' compulsion for a while, he still isn't the vampire he once was. Meanwhile, Damon is growing more compassionate. Anyway, the their conflict this episode comes because Elena tells Stefan that she kissed Damon and doesn't feel guilty about it.
Functional Rating (out of 5): 2 (These brothers need to get it together. Sure, they work together, but they almost always have their own agendas. Damon often used to ruin Stefan's plans. Lately, Stefan has ruined a lot of Damon's plans. They're never on the same page. And the fact that they love the same girl is a recipe for disaster. Only when one of them can let Elena go will they be able to be remotely functional. The only reason they're rated a 2 instead of a 1 is that they do love each other and, when one is at risk of dying, the other will come to his rescue.)
Other highlights from tonight's episode:
Best Way to Reconnect with Your Daughter: Smother her with herbs that prevent her from being able to use her magic.
Best Way to Make Up for Being a Deadbeat Dad: "Until you're capable of acting on your own free will, I'm not going to let you anywhere near my daughter," Caroline's dad tells Tyler.
Most Romantic Moment: Elena tells Stefan she didn't plan on kissing Damon. Stefan says: "You're better than him, Elena. You're better than both of us."
Best Damon Quote(s): "I take you two had a heart to heart," Damon says after Stefan punches him in the face after he asked how Elena was.
Best Words Used to Stick it to Someone: "I will tear you limb from limb, and only then, when you're a writhing mass of blood and flesh, will I rip your heart from your chest," Klaus says to Damon after learning he hid the spell-locked coffin.
WTF Moment: Damon decides to unstake Elijah (something tells me this may not have been his best idea)
No new episode next week. See you on Feb. 2.