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Vampire Diaries: Isobel

“This is going in an interesting direction.”

Last week, we saw Stefan and Damon working through some of their daddy issues. This week, Anna dealt with her grief, and Uncle John played on Jeremy’s love for his dead father to convince him to join the Vampires Are Evil club. Elena, meanwhile, finally got to meet her birth-mother, the “monumentally disappointing” Isobel, Alaric’s vampire wife. Isobel was more than just disappointing: she was both actively and passively evil, and she caused some damage that certainly can’t be undone by the season finale.

When you’re a teenager, parents can feel like the be-all and end-all: even if you’re doing everything you can to be nothing like them, they’re still a point of reference. (Don't worry, kids: you can move past this phase, if you want to.) This show ups the ante by making it not just about Mom and Dad, but also birth-mothers and real mothers, parental stand-ins (like Uncle John and Alaric), and ancestors. There’s rampant parental mystery, too: I’d started to suspect John as Elena’s father, and Damon confirmed it for me. How two such pale people could have a very tawny daughter is a mystery only explained by recourse to the supernatural, though.

Elena dealt with Isobel’s awfulness pretty well, all things considered. Alaric, on the other hand…poor guy. In their first conversation, Isobel just trounced on his already-broken heart by showing how little she cared. By the end of the episode, she took some pity on him to give him some release, which was nice. But her cavalier, Jenny Schecter-like cruelty seems to affect many aspects of her life: whereas Elena brought the Salvatore posse to their ring-exchange, Isobel could only bring two humans that she’d compelled into obedience.

The question of friendship and loyalty permeated the episode. Bonnie and Elena are still on the outs, and it’s only going to get worse when Elena finds out that Bonnie didn’t de-activate the magic ring weapon. Damon said that Elena might be his only friend—a far cry from his statement last week, that he didn’t have any friends. He even referred to Mystic Falls and its residents as “his town” and “people he cares about.” Soon, he’ll realize that he and Alaric are a buddy movie waiting to happen.

Maybe Damon can turn to Alaric for consolation when Elena shoots him down (which is what will happen, right?). Isobel’s revelation that Damon loves Elena wasn’t a huge shock to me, but it definitely surprised Stefan. It might have even surprised Damon: he’s been so fixated on Katherine that he may not have fully realized how attached he’s been to Elena. It’s fairly obvious, though: in the first few scenes with the two brothers and Elena, Damon took the protective role, and Elena responded to it—and her attention was focused on him, not Stefan. What does this mean for our happy vampire/human couple?

This episode began with conflicts, and ended with even more. Bonnie’s ploy, Founder’s Day, Stefan’s anger at Damon’s love for Elena, Elena’s parentage, whether or not John will figure out that Anna is a vampire: so many of these conflicts center on knowledge that some people have and others don’t. The stakes (pun!) of that knowledge are death. Or eternal un-life. Or broken hearts. (Poor Alaric.)

My prediction for the season finale? At least one death and/or turning. One maybe-death cliffhanger. A tearful goodbye that feels permanent but won’t be. Jeremy and Elena re-uniting to do something together. And the last word will be “Katherine.” Do I know these things for a fact? Not even a little bit. But check back in next week to see how many I’ve guessed right!


• Alaric: “Hell, you’re a dick and you kill people, but I still see something in you.”

• Damon: “Stefan wants the whole human experience. He wants to feel every episode of How I Met Your Mother.”

• Damon: “I like being a living dead person.”

• Isobel [to a shirtless Damon unbuttoning his pants]: “No, no no.” That’s right.

And Pieces:

• Jeremy’s hair just gets floppier and floppier. He’s approaching Sam Winchester status.

• These mystical devices feel a bit Rambaldi to me, but I still enjoy the idea of a nineteenth-century inventor making evil-fighting trinkets.

• A certain conversation in this episode foreshadowed an event that takes place in the books. (Yes, that’s intentionally vague.) If you’ve read the books, or read about this event elsewhere, please keep it out of the comments for people who want to enjoy the show as it happens without reference to the novels.

Three out of four magical vampire-killing devices.

Josie Kafka is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)


  1. I'm so glad you started reviewing this show. I think it just keeps getting better & better. Thank you!

  2. Loved the vampire standoff. And the revelation of who Elena's father is, although I saw it coming.

  3. Josie - Fantastic and insightful review, as always. Your comment about teenagers and their parents reminded me of my favourite Mark Twain quote ever: "When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But, when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished by how much he'd learned in seven years."


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