‘The Vampire Diaries’: An alternate universe where Stefan is fun
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Tonight’s episode of ‘The Vampire Diaries’ is called ‘Under Control,’ but after what Stefan did last week, I’m pretty sure the title may be slightly misleading. Mystic Falls has been completely turned on its head. Stefan is out for human blood again, making Damon look like the safe bet, because at least Damon is the devil we know. There’s no telling how Stefan is going to handle these changes.
Of course, the Donovan family just discovered that when Vicki disappeared on Halloween, she wasn’t just running away; she was dead. They don’t know yet that her cause of death was being turned into a vampire and getting a stake to the heart, but now that Jeremy knows vampires exist, I doubt those secrets will stay secret for long.
8:01 - Apparently, drinking blood turned Stefan into a compulsive exerciser. Not that I’m complaining. With the music blasting and the manic behavior, Stefan has already started to act more like Damon. It’s interesting that last time Stefan quit drinking blood, he weaned himself off of it slowly.
8:03 - No one in the Gilbert household seems very happy to see their uncle John... least of all Aunt Jenna. I, however, am thrilled to see guest star David Anders make his first appearance.
8:04 - Aww, MATT! He seems to be keeping it together pretty well. Maybe having his mom around is helping him deal with Vicki’s death. Judging by my recent conversation with Melinda Clarke, Kelly Donovan won’t be a comforting presence in Matt’s life much longer. He says that Elena handled the funeral arrangements and Caroline... baked lasagna. That says a lot.
8:05 - Last week, I mentioned that I hoped Jeremy and Tyler would get back to bonding over their mutual dead girlfriend. I got my wish! Jeremy’s concern for Vicki is interesting. He’s so sure that her drug problem was getting better toward the end, while everyone else (even Matt) seems to think that her death was inevitable. If there’s anything Jeremy proved with his vampire history paper, it’s that he’s good at digging for the truth.
8:06 - Uncle John joins the Secret Society of Vampire Hunters meeting. I like Sheriff Mom’s color commentary on the Founding Families power play. Despite how magnificently misguided she is in trusting Damon, I enjoy their relationship. Plus, she’s pretty much the only woman in town he hasn’t tried to kill and/or sleep with. (Yet.) It’s refreshing.
8:08 - Speaking of, the reason Aunt Jenna hates Uncle John is... ‘We used to sleep together.’ Classic. I love little glimpses into who Jenna was before she had to jump into adulthood headfirst to take care of Elena and Jeremy.
8:09 - I dig Stefan’s honesty with Elena about how long it’s going to take him to recover from his human blood relapse. If this were any other show, he’d be sneaking sips behind her back.
Wow. Apparently Elena digs his honesty, too. We already know that sex stirs up Stefan’s thirst for human blood; it makes sense that the urges are more powerful when he so recently fed on her.
8:13 - Damon’s loud ‘No, Elena, I will not go into your bedroom with you!’ announcement is the oldest trick in the book. I adore the image of Damon kicking back on Elena’s bed in his leather jacket... snugging a teddy bear. Even more, I love the way he stalks around her room like he owns the place, rifling through her underwear drawer and snatching photos from her vanity without regard. She’s not telling him anything he doesn’t already know about Stefan. ‘He doesn’t want to be me, but that doesn’t mean, deep down, that he’s not,’ he says.
8:15 - Oh, good idea, Stefan. When you’re battling your own willpower, guzzling booze will definitely help you make healthy decisions.
8:16 - Elena finally tells Jeremy that she’s adopted, and he’s cool with it. Though there’s a lot of distance between them, this is one secret that she should never have had to keep!
8:18 - Time for yet another self-congratulatory Founding Families party! Where’s Kelly Donovan? It looks like Stefan could use a drinking buddy. Oh, there she is! Matt and Tyler are getting into the liquor supply, too. This should end well.
8:19 - Huh. More honesty between Stefan and Elena? But they’re dating... that can’t be right. This is weird. Since when do people tell the truth to people they’re sleeping with? I think I’ve been watching too much ‘Gossip Girl.’
Stefan uses his powers of compulsion just ‘cause he can, and while that’s definitely not a good sign, I like it. As Damon says, ‘Have I entered an alternate universe where Stefan is fun?’
8:26 - MATT! Though Stefan wouldn’t mind Matt and Elena dancing - he proved that he’s not the jealous type on their double date - Caroline definitely would. It looks like she’s M.I.A. for this episode, though. Is her absence really only explained by her being too busy making lasagna?
Speaking of Caroline, her Sheriff Mom sure cleans up nicely. Damon says Mystic Falls is ‘starting to feel like home again.’ The shadier and more secretive things get around town, the more Damon fits in. Typical.
8:28 - Last week I said that I was surprised Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec didn’t save Stefan’s relapse for the season finale, but I’m so very, very glad that they didn’t wait. Stefan is unpredictable now, which makes him fascinating to watch.
Side note: Damon gave Elena a flower! Aww.
8:29 - At first glance, Kelly seems like a typical ‘cool mom’ as she swipes her son’s best friend’s drink and takes a gulp, saying ‘Is that soda? Vodka, thank God.’ But there’s something so, so sad about her behavior, especially because she’s obviously grieving.
8:30 - Uncle John knows an awful lot of Damon’s secrets... so, naturally, Damon throws him off the building. A star like David Anders wouldn’t come in just for half of a TV episode, though, so we’ll undoubtedly be seeing John again... but how will he survive that fall? Are there vampires in the Gilbert family after all?
8:34 - ‘I think somebody killed her and buried her body, and I don’t think we should write it off just because it’s easy,’ Jeremy says about Vicki. He’s rapidly becoming one of my favorite characters. When pieces don’t fit together, he refuses to give up and start a different puzzle. I hate that Elena is lying to him, though. I know she thinks it’s for his own good, but it can’t end well, and he was so supportive of her when she told him she was adopted. He deserves better at this point.
8:35 - Kelly and Tyler are hanging out. I’m having flashbacks to Julie Cooper and Luke Ward... and I like it! ‘It’s like I don’t deserve to even miss her,’ Tyler says. Kelly knows the feeling. They’re getting closer, and it’s suddenly becoming startlingly obvious where this is going Oh, poor Matt.
Matt’s finally reached his breaking point when he finds Tyler and his mom making out, but it seems Tyler’s reached a threshold of his own as well. As they fight, Tyler just splits Matt’s face open - his, er, animal instincts are starting to bare their claws.
8:39 - Oh, Stefan. He tries to be the good guy we know and comfort Kelly Donovan after the fight... but she’s been cut in the crossfire, and when he realizes that she’s bleeding, his hero complex takes a backseat.
8:45 - There’s Jonathan Gilbert, who is apparently one of Mystic Falls’ ‘favorite sons,’ back from the dead. He’s not a vampire; he’s got a ring that matches Alaric’s. Seriously... who is this guy?
8:47 - Paul Wesley is truly knocking this episode out of the park. Last week’s episode was a shining moment for Melinda Clarke and Zach Roerig, but Wesley gets the MVP trophy tonight. As he struggles against his instinct to kill the heckler from the party, his emotions are written all over his face.
8:48 - Remember 14 short minutes ago when I rambled about what a great brother Jeremy is? I take it back. It doesn’t matter if there’s a nest of vampires living in your town. ‘Never trash your sister’s room in search of her secret diary’ is pretty much Rule #1, Jeremy.
When he does find the diary, a few key phrases stand out. ‘Bodies drained of blood.’ ‘Take away Jeremy’s pain.’ ‘Vicki was a monster?’ Really, Elena? Sorry, I know that the show is called ‘The Vampire Diaries,’ but there are certain secrets too big to document in writing. She couldn’t have used a code word or two?
8:52 - ‘That is the last time you ever embarrass this family,’ Mayor Lockwood tells Tyler, before taking a swing at him. I wish Tyler would release his creepy locked-up aggression on his father instead of on poor Matt’s face.
8:52 - As much as I love Melinda Clarke as Kelly Donovan and will be sad to see her go, Kelly deserves what Matt’s dishing out here. He really is better off without her at this point. (Paul Wesley, give that MVP trophy back to Roerig now, OK? You’ve had it for a whole five minutes and sharing is caring.)
8:53 - Uncle John is basically the orchestrator of everything that’s happened so far. He’s manipulative and creepy, and there’s not a secret in town that he hasn’t discovered. He knows about the tomb, the Salvatores, Isobel, Katherine, the ring... everything. I just can’t understand why he’s so casually allowing Damon and Stefan to live.
8:55 - ‘I’m fine, Elena,’ Jeremy says, when he’s so obviously not. He’s a very, very good liar.
And now we’re back to the Stefan Salvatore Honesty Hour. He’s telling Elena everything. ‘My head is pounding, I feel like my skin is on fire, I have this hunger inside of me that I’ve never felt before. But I don’t want you to see me like this, I don’t want you to know that this side of me exists.’
Her complete trust in him is heartwarming, really, but I think she probably should be afraid of him. At least a little bit! He’s still a vampire.
8:56 - ‘We have a problem, Stefan. And when I say problem, I mean Global Crisis,’ Damon says. I’m a bit distracted from this conversation because Stefan’s hair is looking a little more Pauly D than Rob Pattinson right now.
8:59 - Maybe it’s better that Stefan is finally indulging. If he just drinks from the blood banks, maybe he won’t be like an addict looking for his next hit all the time. It could reduce the urgency and make it safe for him to be around humans.
Next week: A Mystic Falls Beauty Pageant? Really? This is the one where Dawson finally sees Joey in a whole new light, right?
I loved this episode, especially the Donovan family disasters. What was your favorite part? What could you do without? Do you think Bonnie fell into a black hole somewhere? You know what to do! Let’s discuss. Come on back here next Thursday to discuss that beauty pageant.
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Double, double, toil and troublePhotos: (top) Damon (Ian Somerhalder) offers Elena (Nina Dobrev) a rose. Credit: CW. (bottom) David Anders as Jonathan Gilbert. Credit: CW