THE VAMPIRE DIARIES: “Isobel”
Read on for my recap and review of The Vampire Diaries 1×21, aired May 6th, 2010:
Happy Mother’s Day, everyone! “Isobel” was quite a way to mark the occasion. This weekend, I think all the fans of The Vampire Diaries should be grateful that their mothers are not blood sucking fiends … at least I hope they’re not. My mother is quite lovely and not one bit evil, thank you very much. I have a lot to say about this episode, even though I already spent a couple hours podcasting with Melissa, Connie, and Lee for The Televixen’s TVD Podcast. Do I ever tire of talking about this show? Not yet. So, on to the recap of the penultimate episode of season one. (Only one episode left this season! Can you believe it?)
We pick up where we left off last week, with Alaric drowning his sorrows, only to be interrupted by the cause of said sorrow. I mean, give the man a break, and let him get drunk in peace, undead wife. Poor guy. Also, since it’s tradition on the first Alaric scene in each episode … Alaaaaaaaric … swoon. Okay, that is enough of that. Sorry, but it can’t be helped. Anyway, Isobel greets her husband, and acts like it’s no big deal that she disappeared and became a vampire. She also has no answers for him: “I don’t have any reasons that are gonna comfort you. I don’t have any explanations that are gonna satisfy you. I wanted this.” But why did you want this, Isobel? Inquiring minds (ie. mine) want to know. Alaric: “It’s that simple?” Isobel: “You were supposed to mourn me and move on.” Alaric: “You were my wife and I loved you. How could I not search for you?” Inexplicably, that line does not make Isobel’s cold heart melt. Inconceivable. Isobel: “Because I wasn’t lost, Ric. I understand that you know my daughter Elena. I want you to arrange a meeting with us.” She writes her info on a napkin and hands it to him. Alaric can’t believe this is happening, and that she actually wants him to deliver a message: “Screw you … you selfish bitch.” Normally I don’t approve of such name calling, but in this case the terminology may be well deserved … though I still think that there is way more to the story.
Alaric goes outside, to the parking lot. Um, I hope that he is not planning to drive home … from a BAR … where he was just getting DRUNK! And he worries about Isobel taking human lives? Some self reflection may be in order. However, since we don’t actually see Alaric drive away, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. Anyway, Isobel super-speeds out there, as she’s not done with him. Alaric asks what she wants, and she’s all like, duh, I already told you, waving the napkin. Alaric refuses to help her, but Isobel gets her vamp face on and puts him in a choke hold. She also gives him some incentive: “You better tell Elena that I want to meet. Or I’m gonna start killing the citizens of this town one by one. And I’m gonna start with you history students. Got it?” Talk about kicking a man when he’s down. Geez, Isobel. The man has suffered enough at your hands, don’t you think? And … title card.
Cut to Elena on the phone with Damon. It is quite entertaining. She says that she has to help build the Miss Mystic float for the Founder’s Day Parade, or else suffer the wrath of Caroline. But she wanted to check in on Stefan first. Damon tells Elena that Stefan is “terrible.” Elena: “What’s the matter?” Damon: “He’s just back to boring straight-laced, off the junk. You’ve successfully cured him of anything that was interesting about his personality.” Elena: “Don’t forget you helped me.” Ha! Damon: “I hate myself.” He then asks whether Uncle John has mentioned Damon and Alaric’s field trip. Elena doesn’t know, as she’s been avoiding him. She asks what he’s up to. Damon: “I don’t know but I’d love it if you would find out.” They are quite the team lately. Before he hangs up, however, Damon tests my newfound NOT-hatred by making a quip about Caroline: “Have fun with the Mystic queen. I know I did.” Grrrr. Shut up, Damon. Then, there is a funny little beat in which Stefan enters, and Damon tells him that Elena called. As Damon throws the phone to Stefan, we realize that this whole time he has been on Stefan’s phone, in Stefan’s room, and talking to Stefan’s girlfriend. So, yeah … we’ll get to that later. Helpless Stefan just throws up his arms.
At the high school cafeteria, Alaric passes out float specs for the History Department’s Founder’s Day Float. Seriously. They are recreating the Battle of Willow Creek, and Mr. Saltzman has nominated Tyler to be in charge of design. Why, you ask? Because of his sensitive art, of course. Alaric saw his sketches—the ones referenced in “The Turning Point”—and wants to foster Tyler’s talent. Yay, continuity! Of course, Alaric’s method of doing so is the following instruction: “Don’t screw up.” Ha! Matt doesn’t want to help Tyler, because he’s a bitter whiner now. Not okay, Matt. Then Alaric is distracted by Elena and Stefan’s entrance, and goes off to tell them about Isobel’s threat.
Also in the cafeteria, but at a different table, Caroline and Bonnie are planning the Miss Mystic float—the one Elena was supposed to help with. Caroline uses BING! To find last year’s float. As she explains to bonnie, “This is what they did last year, and it’s exactly what we don’t want to do.” Bonnie agrees, as she somehow has a critical eye for floats, noting, “Eww!” She asks what Caroline had in mind. Caroline: “Southern classic elegance.” Bonnie: “Gone with the Wind?” Caroline: “How’d you know?” Bonnie: “You channel Scarlett daily.” Ha! But Caroline, you are no Scarlett. That’s Katherine. Do you not read my recaps? Caroline wonders where Elena is, and Bonnie very unsubtly doesn’t know. Bonnie’s no is full of subtext, and Caroline knows it. Caroline demands to know what is going on between her two friends. Bonnie tries to wave it off, but Caroline is not buying it. Caroline complains: “You know, this whole float is supposed to be about friends creating something together. [Um, since when? I thought it was for a beauty pageant.] And everyone is fighting. Matt and Tyler hate each other. You and Elena are on the outs. I don’t like it. And I can’t fix it if I don’t know what’s wrong.” Bonnie: “I can’t talk about it, Caroline, I’m sorry.” Oh, now Caroline is sure to not let it go. Way to not talk about it.
Meanwhile, in a classroom, Damon shows up to meet Alaric, Stefan, and Elena. “What’s with all the furrowed brows?” he asks. Alaric says that he saw Isobel last night. Dun dun dun.
Elsewhere, Uncle John goes to a mysterious mansion. David Anders is wearing sexy sunglasses and leather. But it does nothing for me, because he killed Pearl. At least that’s the story I’m sticking to. He has arrived, of course, at Isobel’s new temporary residence. She has been expecting John, and says that he’s late. John is more interested in what he terms the “sideshow”: a man and woman dancing in their underwear. It feels very True Blood, and one can only wish that Mia Kirshner played vampire queen Sophie-Anne, instead of that other actress. Isobel is enjoying the dance, and tells John that she found Cherie at a jazz club, and the cowboy at a gay rodeo. Uncle John: “He’s gay?” Isobel: “Not right now. He’s very good to me.” Also, she is teaching them French … of course. Isobel is not pleased with John’s expression: “Oh, I can smell the judgment coming off of you.” John: “They’re people, Isobel, and you’re treating them like they’re dolls.” Aww, just when I was primed to hate John forever, he says something like that. I’m not okay with all the random compelling either. Team Human Life. Isobel: “If we’re gonna be partners, you really have to stop being such a hater.” Oh my god, what is wrong with these vampires and their hateration talk? 2001 was 9 years ago. I thought we already talked about this last week, Show. Oh well. Uncle John, now established by both Anna and Isobel as a “hater,” hates on: “We’re in a partnership together because we share a mutual goal. Don’t ever confuse that for an acceptance of your life style.” Isobel: “My lifestyle?” She then scolds him for all his failures. As she points out, his plan is really not working. John decides to blame her: “Well, you being here is not going to help anything.” She smacks him across the face. Isobel: “You failed John. I’m gonna take it from here.” Uh oh.
Back in the classroom, the discussion between Alaric, Damon, Elena, and Stefan continues. Damon asks Alaric, “Did you ask about Uncle John? Are they working together?” Alaric: “No.” Damon: “No they’re not?” Alaric: “No, I didn’t ask.” Damon: “What about the invention?” Alaric: “Didn’t ask.” Damon: “Does she know about the tomb of vampires?” Alaric: “I don’t know.” Damon: “Did words completely escape you?” Alaric: “I was a little distracted by my dead vampire wife to ask any questions.” Always a good excuse. Damon is fed up, and asks what she wants. Elena: “She wants to see me, Damon.” And now the “significant glances” begin. As Vee (@dieslaughing) pointed out on Twitter, “This episode could have been titled ‘Significant Glances.’” For serious. And this is just the beginning. Damon tells Elena, “You don’t have to see her if you don’t want to.” Elena: “I don’t really have a choice.” Alaric: “She’s threatening to go on a killing spree.” Damon: “Oh… I take it that’s not okay with you guys?” Hee. It’s all in the delivery, per usual. Elena: “I wanna do it. I wanna meet her. If I don’t, I know I’ll regret it.”
Cut to the meeting, or right before the meeting, to be exact. Elena sits at a table at the Mystic Grill, because where else would the meeting be. Elena whispers to Stefan and he’s across the room, and can use his vamp super-hearing. Well, at least his power to overhear things is being put to good use for once. Elena doesn’t have the super hearing, however, so he very unsubtly mouths “love you.” How stealthy of you guys. Pssst, Stefan: Isobel has vampire super hearing too. Just a reminder. And speaking of Isobel, she arrives. She is in black lace and looks very vampiric. She’s also sporting a big pendant. Gaudy jewelry can only mean one thing on this show. Er, two things, I mean. Isobel greets her long-lost daughter casually, and notes, “You look just like her. It’s eery.” Ah, the obligatory Katherine doppelgänger comment. Elena: “You’ve met Katherine?” Isobel: “She found me after I turned. Genetic curiosity, I suppose. She would be fascinated by you.” Genetic curiosity! Intriguing. Still curious about that. Did Katherine have a child before she was turned? Or is her sister Eliza Dushku? Sorry, that reference will make no sense to you until you listen to last night’s podcast. Hehe. Elena takes note of Isobel’s unsubtle pendant and asks, “Is that how you can walk in the day?” Isobel: “Katherine helped me obtain it.” Elena: “Who’s my father?” I love that Elena just jumps right in with that question. Isobel does not oblige, however: “Not important. He was a teenage waste of space.” Whatever, Isobel. We all know now. Isobel notes that Elena asks a lot of questions. So … perceptive? Elena just continues with the questions: “Why did you compel that man to kill himself, right after he told me to stop looking for you?” Isobel: “Dramatic impact. Wish it would have been more effective.” Okay, that makes no sense. Elena did stop looking for her mom, as far as we know. It’s not her fault that Damon and Alaric were out Isobel hunting. Also, if she didn’t want Elena to find her, then why specifically ask for a meeting with her, and ask her to help her. I mean, it’s not like Isobel doesn’t have minions she could send into Casa Salvatore to get the device. Damon is constantly distracted by Stefan and Elena and the town, etc. Isobel could have just waited about two seconds for another distraction, and stolen the device. I mean, seriously. Elena doesn’t tell her mother any of this, however. Instead, she asks: “Human life means that little to you?” Isobel: “It means nothing to me. It’s just part of being what I am.” Elena calls her on this: “No. It’s not. I know other vampires. That’s not true.” Isobel: “You mean your boyfriend over there by the pool table? Stefan Salvatore?” Busted. Not that anyone with a brain cell is surprised. Isobel asks, “Why Stefan? Why didn’t you go for Damon? Or do you enjoy them both, like Katherine did?” Mini awkward moment. (The real deal comes later.) Stefan and Elena’s faces! Oh, the significant glances continue.
Cut to Alaric and Damon, aka Team Blood & Beer (tm @redcognito), outside in the square, barred from the meeting. Damon wants to go in, but Alaric says no, as Isobel was very clear. Damon: “I’m not gonna kill her in a crowded restaurant.” Alaric: “You’re not gonna kill her period.” Aawww. Is it weird that I find that sweet? Probably. Also, does no one on this show every say “going to” instead of “gonna.” “Gonna” looks so ugly in print. But back to the plot. Damon is confused by Alaric’s concern: “She ruined your life. You still want to protect her?” Alaric: “She’s my wife. … Was … was my wife. I looked for the woman I married but she wasn’t there. Whoever that is, is cold and detached.” Damon explains: “She’s given up her humanity.” Aha! So that’s why she sucks. I was wondering. Alaric: “See, I don’t get that. Stefan has his humanity. He’s a good guy. Hell, you’re a dick and you kill people but I still see something human in you. But with her … there was nothing.” First of all, giggles at the description of Damon. Spot on. Second of all, Alaric is SO the audience right now. Get out of my brain, Alaric. Damon explains further: “You can turn it off. It’s like a button you can press. I mean, Stefan is different, he wants the whole human experience. He wants to feel every episode of How I Met your Mother. So he shuts his feelings out. The problem is, as a vampire, your instinct is not to feel. Isobel chose the easier road. No guilt, no shame. No regret. I mean, c’mon. If you could turn it off, wouldn’t you?” Phew. Quite a lot of mythology explained there. Last week, I joked about magical human blood, but this clears things up. In the Buffyverse, when someone becomes a vampire that person loses his or her soul. The only way that a vampire can be good is if he regains his soul, i.e. Angel and Spike. In The Vampire Diaries Showverse, there is not talk of souls … which is probably a good thing, as that can be hokey. However, this whole button thing could be compared to shutting your soul in a box, on demand. If you want to feel and experience humanity, then it’s there. But if you don’t want to deal with pesky human emotions like guilt and remorse, just shut that lid. How many metaphors am I going to use to explain this? No more, thankfully. Sorry. We’ll just stick to the button. There’s on and there’s off. What about Damon? Has he pushed the button and turned his humanity off? Alaric says, “You haven’t.” But Damon rejoins: “Of course I have, Ric. That’s why I’m so fun to be around.” Hmmm. I’m sure he has, quite often, but I’m also sure that is not the case all the time. Isobel is no fun to be around without her humanity. She’s one-dimensional and she pretty much sucks (until the moment later in the episode when she reveals her humanity). It seems like Damon’s fun all comes from his humanity, and that tension between his humanity and his lack thereof. You know what I mean? Of course, Katherine is a lot of fun without any humanity, but then, that’s Katherine.
Back inside the Grill. Elena wonders why Isobel really wanted to meet her. For those of you keeping count, that was her 348th question. Or maybe I’m really bad at math and that’s hyperbole. Whatever. Isobel explains: “Because I’m curious about you. But the real reason is I want what your uncle wants: Johnathan Gilbert’s invention.” Elena: “How do you know my uncle.” Isobel: “I spent a lot of time here when I was younger. John had a crush on me for years. He’s the first one who told me about vampires.” Big clue! But I don’t want to jump ahead of myself. Elena asks her mother why she wanted to become a vampire. Isobel is vague: “It’s a very long list of reasons, Elena, all of which I’m sure you’ve thought about.” Elena shakes her head no. Isobel: “That was your first lie. It’s inevitable you’re gonna [SEE!] get old. Stefan won’t. Forever doesn’t last very long … when you’re human.” Elena is all offended by this, probably because it’s true. She gets up to leave, but Isobel tells her to sit down, and to tell her boyfriend to walk away. She knows Damon has the invention and demands that Elena get it for her. All my reasons for why this demand is ridiculous have already been revealed, so let’s just go with it. Elena is the only way that Isobel can get that device in this alternate universe. Elena doesn’t think she can get it. Isobel: “Then the blood will be on your hands.” So passive aggressive. I’m disappointed in Isobel. As Elena stands there looking on the verge of tears, Bonnie comes in. Bonnie looks at her friend, and seems about to come and comfort her, but then she turns around and leaves. Cold. Very cold. However, on the moral relativity scale, this was not worse than any of the wrongdoing on Elena, Stefan, and Damon’s parts. Wiping Jeremy’s memory? Killing human Vicki? Killing vampire Vicki? Killing Lexi? Attempting to kill Bonnie? Killing Zoe Washburn Bree? Trying to eat Amber? Actually eating his father? Lying all the time to everyone? Let’s put it in perspective, those of you prone to Bonnie-bashing.
Meanwhile, Jeremy calls Anna and leaves her a message. Apparently he has not talked to her since the night her mother died. Aw, now I’m sad. Moment of silence for Pearl. Okay, I’m good. Jenna asks: “How is Anna? I like that girl. She has fire.” She has fire? Really? Whatever. Jeremy: “I don’t know. She won’t return my calls.” At this point, Uncle John comes in, interrupting, and trying to share his “wisdom.” Um, we all saw you with Isobel, Uncle John. I don’t think you’re one to advise when it comes to dating a vampire. Just saying. But Uncle John pokes around in Jeremy’s business anyway, and Jeremy is a little suspicious. Anna did tell Jeremy that John was trying to kill her and her mother, as you might recall. You’d think the possibility of foul play on Uncle John’s part might occur to Jer … but he is Jeremy. Aunt Jenna is grossed out by this conversation and leaves. This only prompts Uncle John to get even more nosey: “Seriously, how well do you know Anna?” Jeremy: “I know Anna extremely well.” Oh, well if you know her so extremely well, Jeremy, then why do you just assume she’s blowing you off when she doesn’t call you back? Why haven’t you stopped by her house to see if she’s okay? Do you even know where she lives? Uncle John tells his nephew that he’s there for him, to answer any questions he may have. Jeremy: “Why? Uncle John: “Because your dad would want me to.” Ooh, sneaky to go the dead dad route, Uncle John. And that is not the end of that tactic, as we shall see.
Cut to Damon and Cherie play strip poker, at Casa Isobel. Isobel comes in and interrupts Damon taking off more clothes. Apparently, some people were angered by that. Or so I’ve heard. Damon: “It’s good to see you, Isobel. Just having fun with your naughty little minion.” Hee. He found Isobel’s temporary lodgings by looking for the most expensive bank-owned foreclosures. Nifty trick. Isobel: “You were the one who taught me that.” Damon: “You caused quite a stir, when you blew into town and saw every man except for the man who made you.” Isobel: “I’m so sorry. Did you bring the device?” All business, and she manhandles Damon a little to let him know. Damon: “Ow. What are you doing with John Gilbert?” Isobel: “We dated a few times when we were young. He was a little bit in love with me.” Another clue! Damon: “I’m sure. One of the many.” He wonders what she wants with the device. Isobel: “Oh, me, personally? I don’t want anything with it. I’m just doing what I’m told. You know, Damon, we’re on the same side.” Intriguing. Damon: “Really? What side is that?” Isobel: “Katherine’s. She wants John Gilbert to have the device. And we both know she’s not happy when she doesn’t get what she wants.” Why does Katherine want to give John the device, I wonder. I guess to kill those tomb vamps because they would want revenge on her too. I bet she’s not too popular in the tomb vamp community. Isobel adds: “Don’t kill the messenger. We both know that you can’t control Katherine. She does what she wants.” Damon: “So do I.” Isobel: “Oh, really, Damon? You do?” Things get a little steamy between the two at this point, and they kiss, but don’t worry, Damon fans. Once she lets her guard down, he chokes her, and gives a little speech in defense of Elena: “Now that I have your attention, listen up. You do not come into my town and threaten the people I care about. Going after Elena? Bad move. You leave her alone or I will rip you to bits. Because I do believe in killing the messenger. You know why? Because it sends a message. Katherine wants something from me, you tell the little bitch to come get it herself.” Well then. And did you notice that he said “threaten the people I care about,” as in more than one? Hmmm. *cough* Alaric *cough*
Meanhile, Bonnie comes to the Gilbert home to apologize to Elena. She couldn’t sleep. See, guys? Bonnie feels bad. So drop the pitchforks. Bonnie explains: “You’re my friend, Elena. If you need me, I’m here for you. And I’m sorry I couldn’t show you that yesterday.” She wonders what is the matter, and Elena explains, “I met my birth mother.” Bonnie: “How was it? Are you okay?” They hug. Awww. Unfortunately, the road back to friendship is still going to be a bit bumpy, as we shall see.
Cut to the float making nonsense, in town. Tyler tries to make conversation with Matt, noting that Caroline said he’s been on his own, and asking if he’s okay. Matt has had a personality transplant, so he flies of the handle at this sweet concern: “You’re asking me about my mom, seriously? Look, man, why don’t I just have her give you a call when she blows back into town?” Tyler: “Dude, that’s not what I meant. I’m just trying to … I don’t know what to say.” Matt: “Well good, man. Don’t say anything. You’re a dick. End of story.” Shut up, Matt. Yeah, I said it. Like we really needed Matt to become a cranky broody character? We don’t have enough of those on this show? And like it’s fair to make me side with Tyler against MATT?! Get me out of this alternate universe. Ugh.
Cut back to Bonnie and Elena. Bonnie has been going through Emily’s grimoire since Grams died. She shows Emily a picture of the vampire compass inside the book, explaining: “According to Emily, Johnathan Gilbert never actually succeeded in inventing anything. Emily secretly spelled them all with magic. The compass, the rings, the mystery device you told me about.” Elena recognizes the pictured mystery device as the one in Damon’s possession, though she notes that Damon only has the one piece. Bonnie explains further: “Emily pledged her loyalty to Katherine, but she couldn’t stand by and let innocent people get killed. This was the only way she could think of to help. To let Johnathan Gilbert think he had actually invented these devices.” So, um, I guess the writers changed their minds about the magic vs. science of it all. At PaleyFest, in March, Kevin Williamson noted: “I had a hard time, like accepting the compass.” He explained that he was okay with it, once a scientific reason was revealed, and in my PaleyFest report, I remarked that I was grateful for that. Ah well. This is also a fun twist. Especially since Johnathan Gilbert was revealed to be such a jerk in the last episode, according to Uncle John. Yeah, you never forgave Pearl or felt remorse, Johnathan? Well, guess what? You were a loser who invented nothing worthwhile. So there. Elena wonders what the mystery device does. Bonnie knows, and she ask, incredulously, “Are you sure this is what Isobel wants?” Elena: “Yeah, I’m sure. Why?” Bonnie: “This is a weapon … against vampires.” And they say that like it’s a bad thing. Hello! Team Human Life, people.
Back at the float-building-extravaganza … what? I have no idea how to recap that location. In the part of town where people are building floats? Sigh. Jeremy greets Elena, who is, as usual rushing off to look for Stefan. She doesn’t really want to talk to her brother, but she relents. Jeremy tells her that Anna hasn’t gotten back to him, and he’s clearly worried. Elena didn’t know that Jeremy and Anna “were still friends.” Seriously, Elena? Most clueless and self-absorbed sister ever. Jeremy: “We’re more than friends. Something could be seriously wrong, and if you know anything, you gotta tell me.” She says she hasn’t talked to her. Jeremy: “Are you lying to me, Elena?” Elena: “Why would you say that?” Jeremy: “Because that’s what you do, Elena. You lie. You lie about everything. I know what Anna is, and I know that you know. So tell me, do you have any idea where she is?” Wow. Elena is floored. She says no, but before she has a chance to say more, Jeremy walks away. And apparently Elena’s feet don’t work and all she can do is call after him. I mean, it’s not like Jeremy has super vamp speed … yet. Just follow him, silly girl. Sigh. However, even if Elena’s feet did work, she is deterred from following Jeremy by her mother. Yep, Isobel shows up. Elena wonders what she’s doing there. Isobel: “I’m your mother, Elena. I want to be more involved in your life.” Yikes. Elena doesn’t want that. Isobel is not about to take that for an answer, so she demonstrates her knowledge of Elena’s friends and family, including Jeremy, Bonnie, Caroline, and Matt. Isobel wisely chooses to stay away from Bonnie, what with her witchy ways. But she notes: “And there’s Caroline. Obnoxious Caroline. I got all of my info from her by the way. She had no idea who I was and she wouldn’t stop yapping. Oh, and there’s Matt. Friend, ex, Yappy’s future ex. Lots of connections there.” I shouldn’t have laughed at “Yappy’s future ex,” but I really did. Hehe. Elena tries to keep her mother away from Matt, and tells her mom to leave, but it’s too late. Isobel makes Matt an example, motioning for her minion Frank to crush poor Matt’s arm. Yeah, I know I’m mad at Matt, but I’m still not okay with him being hurt. It’s like hurting a puppy. It’s just wrong. Also, as I noted on the podcast last night, of all the people in Mystic Falls, Matt is the one who needs his arms the most. He’s supporting himself on his job as a busboy, and can’t afford to not work. Also, he probably needs an athletic scholarship to go to college. Not cool, Isobel. Not cool. Elena asks her 563rd question: Why are you doing this?” Isobel: “I’m showing you how easy it is to hurt the people that you care about.” Elena doesn’t think she can get the device from Damon. Isobel: “And I think you underestimate how much Damon cares about you.” Isobel is not wrong. Elena: “He’ll kill you before he gives it up.” Isobel: “Is that before or after I kill your brother Jeremy?” Uh oh. Jeremy is in danger. Must be Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Matt is laying there with pain, and the gang is trying to help him. Caroline called 911, but the ambulance is 15-20 minutes away. Tyler offers to drive his friend to the hospital, but Matt refuses. Matt, do you want me to regret feeling sorry for you pain? Luckily, Caroline takes care of that nonsense, telling her boyfriend: “You need to see a doctor. Tyler’s driving. End of story.” Thank you, Caroline.
Cut to John arriving at Casa Isobel. He asks if she got the missing piece yet, and she says not yet. John wonders why she called him then. I wonder if this is all for show, given the end of the episode. Hmmm. Isobel: “Because I have the next best thing.” It’s Jeremy. Dun dun dun. Uncle John acts all upset and surprised. But do we believe him? Isobel tells him: “That gaudy ring on your finger, it comes off.” John: “C’mon Isobel, I know you. It’s me, John. You can’t hurt a kid.” Isobel: “I’ll kill him to prove you wrong.” John: “Really? Are you that far gone? I know you’ve changed, but the old Isobel is in there somewhere, isn’t she? C’mon, let him go.” Sorry, John, she has her button off right now. Come back later for humanity. Isobel proves her button pushing ways by having her naughty minions beat up Uncle John, and she removes his ring. All for show? I think so.
Back at school, Bonnie, Stefan, and Elena meet and discuss the mysterious device. Bonnie asks where it is, and Stefan says that Damon has it. Stefan doesn’t think that Damon will hand it over, especially if it’s harmful to vampires. I guess Elena is not the only one underestimating Damon’s feeling for Elena, huh? Elena: “What if it’s not?” Bonnie’s face offers the following unsaid subtext: “What are you getting me into now, Elena? Some friend. Remember what happened last time I helped you by removing magical barriers? My grams died!” Of course, she doesn’t actually say any of this. Instead …
Bonnie clearly agreed to get rid of the magic on the device, as we soon learn. At Casa Salvatore, Damon says “Absolutely not” when the plan is proposed. Elena tells him to hear her out. Damon says, “I like being a living dead person.” Bonnie explains that she can remove the original spell. Damon: “No. No, I’ll get Jeremy my own way.” Stefan reminds him of the dangers of that plan, as Jeremy could be killed. And he says that like it’s a bad thing. Um, which it is … because, Team Human Life and all. Damon asks Bonnie, “Are you really up for this?” Bonnie: “I’ve been practicing.” Damon: “It’s not piano lessons, honey.” Way to be patronizing, jerk. Aren’t you glad that she double crossed him, now? No? Fine. She then displays her magical library powers, of which I am supremely jealous. Bonnie tells Damon to name a book, any book. Damon: “How about Call of the Wild, Jack London.” She uses her witchy powers to call it from the shelf. She is the Storm of the library. As I look around my apartment, I have so many shelves of books, and so many piles of books all around that no longer fit on the shelves. This power would be super helpful. Not to mention how much time this would save at the library. I could really use Bonnie’s powers. Damon is not as impressed as me: “Great parlor trick.” Elena has had enough of Damon’s protestations, and says that they’re doing this. Damon to Bonnie: “I don’t trust you. I tried to kill you.” Ha! Elena: “But you can trust me.” And with that, he hands it over. What a softie. Elena says thank you. Stefan starts to have some recognition of Elena and Damon’s connection, and offers another significant glance, in line with the theme of the episode.
Meanwhile, Uncle John and Jeremy are conveniently left alone, so that John can attempt to brain wash him. Well, that is just my interpretation. Jeremy asks what Isobel is after, and Uncle John tells him: “Your ancestor invented a weapon. A device that’s extremely harmful to vampires. We’ve been trying to get it.” Jeremy: “Why?” Wow, Jeremy and Elena have something in common here: questions and a million of them. Uncle John: “Because there’s a group of vampires from a long time ago that wants revenge on this town.” Jere wonders why a vampire would want to kill other vampires. A better question would be why they would they not. Vampires are not exactly the most harmonious. So far, most of the dead vamps have been killed by other vamps on this show. Uncle John continues: “Look, Jeremy, no one ever thought vampires would return to this town. Not in modern times. But they have. And we have to destroy them.” Jeremy asks, “All of them?” He does not like Uncle John’s answer, and says: “No. There are some good ones out there.” Uncle John: “There’s no such thing.” Jeremy: “I don’t believe that.” John: “Well your dad did. And as his son, that should mean something.” And he plays the dead dad card, again. Low. Jeremy: “How did my father know about all this?” Uncle John: “Who do you think taught me about the family history?” Hmmm.
Back at the Salvatore library, Bonnie performs her mojo on the device, seemingly removing the spell. Damon raises his eyebrows and asks, “Now what?” Elena: “Now I give it to Isobel.” And we cut to …
Elena walking in the town square. There is a gust of wind, as Isobel super-speeds to meet her. Isobel asks, “Where’s the device?” Elena: “Where’s my brother.” Isobel says that it’s not a negotiation, and asks, “Do you really think that I came alone?” Her naughty minions are nearby. However, they’re only human. Elena brought two vampires as her back ups. Isobel caves and tells her to call home and ask to speak to Jeremy. Elena does so, Jeremy answers. He’s there with Uncle John and Aunt Jenna. I wonder how much Jeremy recalls? Jeremy tells Elena about Uncle John hitting his head, and Uncle John nods to Jeremy in approval, like they share some sort of secret agreement. Uh oh. Also, it is interesting to note that Jenna is nursing John’s wound, despite her claims to hate him. Hmmm. Not that this show needs anymore pseudo-incest. Please, no.
Back in the square, Elena comments: “You were never gonna hurt him.” Isobel: “No, I was gonna kill him. Don’t look for any redeeming qualities in me. I don’t have any.” Hmmm. While she has the button pushed, sure. But it’s not like that’s a permanent button, right? Elena: “But you took a risk with Damon. How did you know that he was going to give it to me?” Isobel: “Because he’s in love with you.” Awkward. I mean, wow is it awkward. The camera covers Elena’s face, then Damon’s face, and then Stefan’s, and it is just a parade of awkward significant glances. Such a good scene. Elena changes the subject, as one is wont to do when learning that your boyfriend’s brother is in love with you: “Thank you.” Isobel: “For what?” Elena: “For being such a monumental disappointment. It keeps the memory of my real mother perfectly intact.” Isobel is not offended: “Goodbye, Elena. As long as you have a Salvatore on each arm, you’re doomed. Katherine was smart. She got out. But we all know that you’re not Katherine.” Hmmm. How do you guys read that comment? It seems more probable that people involved with Katherine are doomed. Still, it’s not like dating a Salvatore is a picnic. There are risks. But the example of Katherine vis-à-vis the Salvatores seems very off. She was the risk in that relationship. Anyway, Isobel leaves, and Elena cries on Stefan’s shoulder. Of course, there is another significant glance shared between Elena and Damon. Oh my.
Back at the Gilbert home, Jeremy tries to get a hold of Anna again, and gets her voicemail. Elena comes in and says that they need to talk. Jeremy doesn’t want to: “I’m pretty sure that your journal covered it.” Elena is shocked. Jeremy: “Save me the speech about invasion of privacy, because I read a section about Damon erasing my memory about what happened to Vicki.” Busted. I warned you, Elena. Elena tries to talk her way out of it: “Jeremy, you don’t understand. The night that Vicki died, it was like mom and dad died all over again. It was all over your face. And it hurt so much to see you like that. I just wanted to take away your pain.” I will give that to her. She had good motivations. Still, Jeremy is not moved, and he tells her to get out. She meekly does so. Hmmm. As an older sister, I don’t think I would just get out. I would probably do my own yelling. I guess she must really feel guilty, because if she really felt in the right, she would stay and yell, as siblings do.
Meanwhile, Alaric walks the empty halls of Mystic Falls High at night, as he is prone to do. Does he have a home? Because this prowling of the halls at night is a bit shifty. His solitude is interrupted, however, by the arrival of Isobel. Alaric asks what she wants. Instead of answering, Isobel comments: “I totally get it. You, here, as as a history teacher. It’s good.” Alaric is annoyed: “What the hell are you doing? You act like you don’t care, and yet, here you are, hunting me down.” Isobel” “I’m leaving. I just thought I’d say goodbye.” Alaric: “You couldn’t be bothered the first time, so why now?” Good question. Isobel: “You hate me. Good.” Alaric: “Does that make it easier for you? I mean, what is the whole point of this exercise?” Isobel gets a little defensive: “What did you expect? You spent all this time trying to track me down. What did you think you would find?” Alaric: “The woman who gave me this [holding up his ring]. I mean, you act like you don’t care, but you cared enough to protect me after you left.” Isobel: “I was a different person back then.” Alaric: “Right, right. And that person is gone? The woman I married? The woman I loved? She’s gone? You expect me to believe that?” At this, he throws her the ring. Alaric is breaking my heart in this scene, for real. Bravo, Matt Davis. He also takes the vervain out of his pocket, and stands there, defenseless. He tells her: “Well, I’m ring free. I’m vervain free. So either kill me or compel me, because … I don’t believe it … not for a second.” Wow. Isobel, so cold-hearted and immovable all episode, finally cracks. She pushes the button, and allows her humanity to shine through: “I wanted this. I needed this. And I’m gonna regret it forever. This was my mistake. Not yours. You are not gonna remember this. I loved you. I did. And when I think about what I gave up, it hurts. But now, your heart’s free of me. It’s easier this way. Goodbye Ric.” She then puts the ring back on her husband, and strokes his face, before breaking her hold on him. Now, Alaric stands alone in the hallway, no longer compelled, but with no memory of this exchange. So, is the “now your heart’s free of me” line a sign that Isobel compelled Alaric to no longer love her? Or just that now he will be free of her, since she said goodbye and broke his heart, and didn’t let him remember her admission of love? Either way, a beautifully done scene.
Back at the Gilbert home, Jeremy enters his room from the bathroom to find Anna there. She tells him that her mother is dead. And she’s crying. And Malese Jow is breaking my heart. She tells Jeremy that Pearl was killed. He tells her that he’s sorry. Anna: “I know I’m not supposed to be here, but I don’t have anywhere else to go.” With that, she sobs on his shoulder. Jeremy: “It’s okay.” But is it? How deeply is Jeremy now involved? Where do his loyalties lie? With his uncle? Or with Anna? Will he ever forgive Elena? It remains to be seen.
Cut to Damon and Stefan at Casa Salvatore. Stefan stands around, all linger-y, until Damon finally calls him on it, and tells him to spill. Stefan: “It’s about what Isobel said. [Of course.] Well, I know that you and Elena bonded. And I know that she cares about you, and uh, I know you care about her.” Damon smiles: “Well this is going in an interesting direction.” Stefan: “I’m just concerned about Elena getting hurt. She considers you a friend.” Damon: “Same here. Elena is a very good friend. Actually, she might qualify as my only friend. Is that a problem?” Oooh. Stefan: “So, at the risk of sounding like a … jealous boyfriend…” Damon: “Well, that is no risk. You do.” Stefan: “History will not be repeating itself, where Elena’s concerned. You understand what I’m saying?” Damon: “Sure. Sure.” Well, boys, sorry to break it to you, but that’s kind of up to Elena, isn’t it? Sigh. Stefan repeats himself: “Do [pause] you [pause] understand?” Damon: “Whatever you say, man. We’re just friends. And as her friend, I wasn’t looking forward to telling her the truth anyway, so I’ll let you do it.” Stefan: “What truth?” Damon: “Am I the only one around here that has the ability to put two and two together? Isobel. Hello!” Damon reveals that he thinks that John is Elena’s father. Gasp! Stefan wonders what his proof is. Damon: “I don’t need any proof. That’s a DNA test for John, Elena, and Maury Povitch to deal with. But I know how well you deal with these big bombshells, so sleep tight. Oh, and when you do tell Elena, and she needs a friend to talk to about anything, I’m here for her.” Oh, the dripping sarcasm and the implications of it all. Stefan and Elena already have so much heavy stuff to deal with, and this is not going to lighten the load. And Damon will be positioned as the friend who she can talk to, rather than the messenger of this new burden. Stefan is not happy, as you might imagine.
Meanwhile, Isobel calls John. She tells him, “On your doorstep you’ll find what you’ve been looking for.” John: “And my ring?” He finds the envelope on the stoop, including his ring. Isobel tells him: “Don’t screw this up. You know what you have to do, John.” There’s a plan! In motion! Already! Those two are in cahoots, still. John: “I got it. I won’t fail.” Isobel: “You better not. Katherine wants all of those tomb vampires dead, and I want to add two more to that list. Stefan and Damon. I don’t want this life for her.” John: “That was always part of the plan. Consider them gone.” Isobel: “She’s our daughter, John. We owe that to her.” Dun dun dun. Wow. So, Damon was right. Does this change your feelings towards John and Isobel, now that you know their motivation is protecting their daughter? Hmmm.
Cut to Bonnie and Caroline at the Grill. Caroline is upset that Bonnie won’t tell her what happened between her and Elena. Bonnie: “I did something bad, Caroline. And I lied about it.” Caroline: “To who?” Bonnie: “To Elena. I pretended to do something I didn’t really do.” Caroline knows nothing of magical devices, so she asks, “What are you talking about?” Bonnie: “I couldn’t do what she wanted me to do. It wasn’t right. Grams would have never done it, so I couldn’t either. But when Elena finds out, she’s never gonna forgive me.” Whatever, Bonnie. Way to be dramatic. So you didn’t remove the spell. Don’t feel bad. Team Human Life for the win. I would have done the same thing. Besides, it’s not like the show is gonna kill off Damon and Stefan, regardless of the executive producers claims that no one is safe. They’ll be fine, people, so lay off Bonnie. All the tomb vampires are evil or undeveloped, except for Pearl, who is already dead, so who cares if they die now? Anna was not in the tomb, so hopefully she won’t be a target. However, I have a sneaking suspicion that Anna may pay for her weakness where Jeremy is concerned (and that won’t be Bonnie’s fault). Let’s hope not.