Vampire Diaries: The Return

“Kiss me, or kill me, Damon. We both know you’re only capable of one.”

I was a bit nervous going into this episode, our first premiere of the 2010 Fall Season. Would VD continue to delight? Had I committed to a show destined to crash and burn? (Again?) How could they possibly top the wonders of the first season? Luckily—or rather, thanks to the skills of the writers, directors, producers, and cast—the Season Two premiere was top-notch, and set up plenty of meaty, angsty, delicious goodness for the rest of the season. (Don’t over-think those descriptors.)

I watched the Season One finale right before this episode, so the drama of the final scene was fresh in my mind: Katherine, masquerading as Elena, kissed Damon and stabbed Sark. “The Return” picked up right where we left off, showing us a few scenes from a slightly different perspective (we got to hear Stefan’s side of the phone conversation, we found out where Jenna disappeared to).

The first twenty minutes or so of this episode were spent winding up all of the plot threads from the finale. Well, not quite winding them up: they were woven into the ever-growing tapestry. Jeremy isn’t a vampire (Anna’s blood counter-acted the pills); Sark is in the hospital, as is Caroline; Bonnie is still super-creepy; the Mayor is still dead.

They really could have stretched the “She’s a dead ringer for Elena” idea out for a few episodes, maybe even added a bit of bawdy French farce. But Damon pieced it together in the hospital (see below), and Stefan figured it out when Katherine tried to Elena him in the Gilbert home. They also could have done the idiot plot for a while, with no one talking about what has happened—but they didn’t. I love this show.

The first few acts followed the same pattern: Katherine causes devastation, Elena comes in, everything is more or less resolved. I actually noticed this the first time I watched it, and started to get nervous that VD would suddenly resolve the drama so we’d all be living in a Technicolor happy land. (Technicolor happy land isn’t really my favorite place.) But the brilliance of all the bright sunshiny goodness, all the recovering wounded and un-undead brothers, was the destruction of Damon in the final act. Instead of following the pattern of Katherine (devastation) + Elena (resolution) = sweetness and light, Katherine knocked our favorite vampire to his knees, and Elena kicked him while he was down.

After Elena told Damon that she was surprised he’d thought she would kiss him back, Damon asked Katherine to finally answer the question of whether she ever loved him. This isn’t a question that’s haunted him for 150 years—it’s a question he only started asking after he found out that Katherine wasn’t in the tomb. That makes it all the more poignant: he’s asking her if he just wasted a century and a half pining for a lie. He found out he did. Minutes later, he found out for sure that Elena doesn’t want him. Both she and Katherine are in love with Stefan.

Damon is more broken than we’ve ever seen him: the Elena/Katherine double-whammy is more than he can take. (And did you notice that he kept saying that he’d kissed Elena, even after he knew the truth?) That’s quite an arc—just the night before (back in the finale) he kissed “Elena” and talked about protecting the town. By the end of this episode, he tried to kill Jeremy, who was only protected by Sark’s ring.

Speaking of Sark’s ring: it is no longer on Sark’s finger, which (along with the rest of Sark) is no longer in Mystic Falls. I certainly hope that he’s not gone for good, as he is wonderful. Speaking of Katherine’s victims: Caroline is either dead or a vampire, thanks to Damon’s blood in her system. The previews gave away the answer to that question, but let’s leave the spoilers out of the comments.

That is a new plot, though. As is Katherine’s presence. And the destruction of the Damon/Stefan bromance: Stefan articulated the bromance pretty well when he said “How we respond to [Katherine] will define us.” (Actually, that pretty much sums up the definition of bromance.) Damon echoed Stefan when he asked her to define them. What else? Elena hates Damon; Jeremy has an immortalizing ring; Mystic Falls needs a new mayor; a younger, hotter Lockwood is now in town. It looks like it’ll be a great season.

Bites:

• Jenna: “I told you earlier.”
Elena: “No you didn’t.”
Jenna: “Yes I did.”
Elena: “No, Jenna, you didn’t.”
Jenna: “Yes, I did.”
[beat]
Damon: “Oh. Urgh. You gotta be kidding me.”

I love that this conversation went on for as long as it did. That’s realism, and Damon’s line delivery made me hoot with delighted laughter.

• Elena: “Katherine has been invited into the house. What do we do?”
Damon: “Move.”

• Damon: “To risk another frown line across your very crowded forehead...” Shades of Angel.

• Stefan: “I will turn you into a vampire, and I will watch you hate yourself more than you already do.” Stronger and sexier, indeed.

• Damon: “I kissed you, you kissed me back, doppelganger hi-jinks ensued... what are you thinking now?”
Elena: “I think that you’re hurt.”
Damon: “I don’t get hurt, Elena.”
Elena: No, you don’t admit that you get hurt. You get angry, you cover it up, and you do something stupid.”

For all my bluster about dead implication fairies, I love it when Elena tells Damon what’s going on with him. It makes her seem no-nonsense, and it shows that she knows him better than he knows himself. It draws them closer, even when she’s being bluntly honest, and it’s part of her attraction for him.

• Katherine: "'I hate you’ sounds like the beginning of a love story, Stefan, not the end of one.”

• Damon: “I’ve had enough of the enigmatic one-liners, Katherine.”

And Pieces:

• Damon hugging the Sheriff. Aww.

• Elizabeth Craft and Sarah Fain, a writing partnership that has worked on Dollhouse, Angel, and The Shield, are now listed as producers. Neat!

• No Alaric this week. I hope he comes back.

Three and a half out of four undead implication fairies.

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

7 comments:

Billie Doux said...

OMG, I loved it. I laughed out loud over and over and was outright shocked at the end -- how could it be better? I was right about Sark, fortunately, and they'd be stupid to kill off David Anders. I was wrong about Damon knowing it was Katherine. Poor Damon! How could Elena do that to him? Is she doth protesting too much?

Mark Greig said...

Wow! This was a bloody brilliant episode (obvious pun intended). A big round of applause please for Nina Dobrev and Ian Somerhalder. Dobrev is clearly having a blast as Katherine and almost waltzed off with the entire episode were it not for Somerhalder. Never thought I’d say this but, yes, poor Damon indeed.

So now Elena hates Damon. Hmmm, what was that thing Katherine was saying earlier in the episode about the beginning of a love story?

I’m also glad that evil Uncle Sark is still alive. Can’t see him being gone for long though. Likely he’ll be back in time for sweeps along with Isobel.

Anonymous said...

Nina Dobrev has now officially impressed me. She was good enough to deliver such subtly that I always knew which one was which, even though she wasn't obvious about it. Much like Angel and Angelus, I hope Katherine stays around it makes Nina a better actress.

Harry said...

Holy WOW and a bucket of badgers! What an Amazing return for VD. I also can't think of how it could remotely have been better. I even checked how far through the episode we were after Katherine told Damon she never loved him, as I was sure it was an episode ender, it was so good. But instead we got another scene I felt sure would be the end - "I hate him, Stefan!" and then the real ending - Oh. My. God. Too much amaze, my mind is blown.

I haven't watched the previews and I don't think I'm gonna, so I don't know whether Caroline is alive or dead - they did a great job making it very important and very vague as to just how long after someone has vamp blood in their system they can die and still come back undead. Seems to make sense that she'd be alive, I certainly hope she is. She binds Bonnie, Matt and Elena together as the group of human teens.

I guess Bonnie isn't quite human, or perhaps you'd say she's augmented? Pretty damn powerfully so too, to be able to put the whammy on Damon and Katherine. But it looks like a vamp can learn to overcome her spell?

Finally, the new character, hunky Uncle Mason Lockwood. Crikey, could you fill this show with any more salty goodness? I am looking forward to seeing how the Lockwoods storyline affects the main trio... or I guess it's a foursome now with Katherine. Hurrah for VD!

Samantha Gomes said...

hot, hotter, the hottest. It's amazing how VD restarted. Even Stefan looks meanier and sexier, and Damon, ppoooooooor him - if nobody else wants him he can come to my place anytime, how can women not love him?! He's so broken, so capable of love, so intense in his feelings and, well, so very hot! Loved the new Lockwood character too and lvoed the new layer of Bonnie and Damon relationship - sparks literally are flying at the beginning of this season and now, Caroline dead, hum... Will Bonnie feel any more guilty, since it was because of hers Caroline got almost killed and now will get (in the best scenario) a vampire? Thank God VD came back, just in time, the screen really needs some vamp juice on. Now True Blood is in its break and Eric Northman has temporarily left, it's good to see Damon and Stefan again...

Patryk said...

I see I haven;t commented on it after seeing it, so i'll just keep it to a bare minimum with a mythology question. Was it the first time it was mentioned that vampire blood heals humans after they drink it? It's so overused on True Blood that I haven't given it much thought, but now I think in season 1 nothing was said that it does have such properties.

Suzie_B said...

Patryk, I think Stefan used his blood to heal Bonnie after Damon bit her in a fit of rage in season one. I'm pretty sure they did it then...