At the beginning of high school I wore cargo pants and listened to 311. We've all gotten off to a bad start in some way or another. By now most people are well aware of the quirks 'n shortcomings of The Vampire Diaries' earliest days, but only recently has the show really begun to really OWN it. And you know what? At this point The Vampire Diaries has earned the right to be a little masochistic about its past. During this week's episode titled "1912," I counted at least three things that seemed to intentionally hearken back to the (not great, very different) pilot: A raven preceded Damon's entrance; an Uncle Zach appeared; and most hilarious of all, an actual VAMPIRE DIARY voiceover. And none of these things annoyed me like they did in the beginning. I didn't even mind the flashbacks! That's what a season jam-packed with Originals and Rippers and hybrids and heartaches buys you: Benefit of the doubt.
Speaking of flashbacks, during "1912" it occurred to me just how difficult the writers' jobs will become now that they're sewing up so much of the timeline. Sure, it's easy to say, "Oh, let's do an episode in 1912," but then they have to keep in mind the brothers' various emotional arcs. In this case we dropped in on the Salvatores a good fifty years after they'd turned and they hadn't really spoken to each other that whole time? And neither were evil yet? Even though the last time they'd seen each other Damon had sworn he'd spend the rest of eternity making Stefan's life a living hell? I don't know. But I'm guessing the writers' room has some kind chart like this to keep track of who's evil when:
See what I'm saying? No idea how they'll keep these flashbacks going while still having the Timeline-O-Assholery make any sense. Anyway, let's just get into this episode because it was both uneventful AND shocking!
It all began in Mystic Falls in—the year escapes me—where some guy named Zachariah Salvatore emerged onto the street with some guy named Sheriff Forbes. It wasn't clear what they were doing up so late, but it was pretty clear SOMEONE was about to die.
And Zach Salvatore got straight-up STABBED. But it was also a slightly hilarious stabbing in that he essentially walked into a knife. Oh well. I guess this was in a time before people learned to not walk into knives. Different times.
Meanwhile in present day, Mystic Falls' two most powerful women (LOL) were having a VERY heated discussion about just who Sheriff Forbes had arrested in the slasher case. Except the Sheriff didn't want to tell her.
But shock of all shocks, she had NOT arrested Meredith, she had arrested Alaric! Oh, and he'd survived a gunshot because she'd given him vampire blood. You know, doctor stuff. Anyway, pretty soon Alaric was yelling for his life and Damon of all people was trying to help him.
Unfortunately for Alaric, Sheriff Forbes had apparently decided to have a go at this whole "competence" thing she'd been hearing a lot about lately and decided she wouldn't let him out until she'd "investigated" his claims. On the plus side, the jail seemed to be made of styrofoam and spray paint, so he could probably have busted out if he felt like it.
Meanwhile Mystic Falls High School's quarterback was having a hard time keeping up with his jogging partner, a frail loner with a slight smoker's rasp.
When he demanded to know why she was running from her demons (LOL, Matt), she talked about how Bonnie's mom had decided to turn into a vampire and Elena felt super guilty about her part in it. Then she found out about Alaric.
After a tense yet sassy confrontation with Damon at City Hall/Sheriff's Station/The Jail/Blacklight Mini-Golf Course, they both parted ways knowing each of them would have to bust out their own schemes in order to help Alaric.
Then Damon returned to the Salvatore mansion, made a ton of fun of Stefan for writing in his journal, and then proceeded to paw through all of Stefan's old diaries to find the one from 1912.
Reason being: That's the last time there had been a slasher in Mystic Falls. Really? That was the last time? No offense, show, but I doubt that. Anyway, I love that having a "good memory" is not one of vampires' super powers. They have to go look stuff up just like us.
And through Stefan's diary we fell through a portal to another time!
Suddenly everything was sepia-toned and Stefan was attending his Uncle Zach's funeral.
He immediately had a run-in with some comely lasses from the Lockwood and Gilbert families and they had all the scoops on Zachariah's murder.
And then this happened:
Haha but no fog! I guess producers are saving that particular bit of hilarity for a future episode?
See, unless I'm mistaken, the last time on the timeline that we'd seen Stefan and Damon together was shortly after Stefan made Damon complete his transition and Damon swore he'd ruin Stefan's life. Right? So then Damon hadn't yet lost control, and I guess this was post-Lexi also. Look, I could probably look up the dates, but it doesn't really matter. Wigs are wigs. All that matters is the present day, and especially anything to do with this lady:
Hey Rebekah! Rebekah was sort of the best in this episode. It started off with her taking a personal meeting with the mayor to figure out where that second White Oak is (it's probably a nice side table by now), but then she became swept up in the Salvatores' beez.
I LOVED this little beat:
I don't know, I just like this matchup so much. There's something about Rebekah being this essentially omnipotent being and she still has to be polite to the Mayor and take a bunch of sass from Damon.
But Damon was right in this scene: The lady DID protest too much. Sparks, you guys.
Anyway, their conversation about the Mystic Falls slasher led Stefan to remind Damon that there had been another vampire in Mystic Falls circa 1912, and she was a redheaded lady with a fondness for walloping male models.
Meet Sage. She was basically Damon's Lexi.
Meanwhile in modern times, Elena was waiting in the parking lot for Meredith to pull up, which is always the best thing to do when you're about to accuse someone of being crazy.
Even though TO US it seemed incriminating that Meredith was harboring stolen evidence in her kitchen and firing guns at her boo at point blank range, she quickly turned the tables on everyone by assassinating Alaric's character all kinds. Apparently her main hobby is background checking because she busted out all these facts we didn't know: He'd been arrested a ton for fighting and Isobel had even once filed a restraining order against him. But anyway, the best was when Elena attempted to claim that Alaric wasn't a killer because Elena could just tell he wasn't. Then Meredith played her trump card:
Because YUP. Meredith went there. As everybody should. Forever. Sorry, Elena, but your romantic history will forever call into question your credibility when it comes to your inconsistent disapproval of murder.
After confronting Meredith didn't work, Elena and Matt resorted to Plan B: Breaking and entering!
Because Meredith is a member of a Founding Family, it meant that her closet DEFINITELY had a removable panel with a secret compartment. And that compartment definitely had incriminating evidence... Which would now never be allowed into evidence in any reputable court of law.
But then whoops! She came home! And by home, I mean the two green walls that a very exhausted crew stapled together that morning. (The all-green motif definitely doesn't do Meredith's sanity any favors.)
As Meredith walked around putting on more leather garments, Matt and Elena enjoyed some very intense quality time in the closet.
And then the front door opened and closed.
Very crafty, Meredith.
Meanwhile at Mystic Grill, Damon and Stefan tried to lose Rebekah by crossing to the other side of the bar, but it didn't work.
Stefan's main thing this episode was that he had decided to quit human blood cold turkey. Although, it might've been ALL blood since it wasn't specified. He was definitely on edge and it meant he was REALLY irritable. Like even more than usual. I enjoyed this bit where Damon and Rebekah read passages of Stefan's diary out loud to prove how uptight he was back in the day.
Anyway, that was when Sage had decided she needed to tutor Damon in the fine art of being a vampire. He'd apparently spent 50 years moping about Katherine and hadn't really gotten better at it.
Sage's biggest tip had to do with preying upon buttoned-down women because they secretly want it more? Because they fight harder against it. Or something. I don't know, it's complicated.
But yeah, as you can see she was like the anti-Lexi in that she brought out Damon's bad boy side a little more.
Meanwhile down at the station, a certain offshoot of the #1 Teen Detective Agency was in a whole heap of trouble!
It was true that they'd directly interfered into a multiple homicide investigation. But why was Sheriff Forbes the only investigator? And if secrecy was so important, why did she show up to Alaric's front door with a murder weapon immediately after finding the first body? I can't answer that, okay. Relax with all these questions already! You're stressin' me out! BRB gonna go listen to some 311 to chill out a bit.
Speaking of unchill, Stefan was NOT happy about all of Damon's attempts to get him to drink human blood again.
So Damon turned to one of his best skill sets:
Bingo! And then for part 2 of Damon's plan... Encouraging Stefan to exercise moderation.
And it worked! Kind of. But then this happened:
Now I don't recall Stefan explicitly promising Elena he was quitting blood for her, but it's pretty clear he was doing it because he felt like he could earn her trust back or something. So I'm not sure why SHE was so shocked to see him feeding, but the point is that Stefan was suddenly suuuuper disappointed in himself.
In what might've been the best scene of the night, Elena and Matt sat down to enjoy a nice cup of coffee and a mellow indie rock track while Elena eloquently explained what she saw in Stefan in the first place. Poignantly enough, it had to do with the fact that he was immortal, unlike her dead parents.
Whew, good save, Matt! But the heartsick cat was already out of the heartsick bag, because we knew and Elena knew that Matt definitely still had feelings for her, his first crush. And there were hints that, who knows, maybe it's not impossible that she might reciprocate someday. I mean, look at her here:
She's definitely entertaining the notion. In my opinion if this show pursues this plotline it'll be a masterstroke. Where do you go after you've bounced between two occasionally unpleasant prongs on a love triangle? Find a third option! And it would make Klaus' offhand comment about how Elena should marry Matt and have kids just straight-up prescient. So yeah, I would not mind at all if Elena dug her tiny hands into a pile of mashed potatoes. Let's shake things up a bit!
Oh and then Alaric came home from jail.
Don't all high school teachers place their hands on the smalls of their female students' backs? Anyway, he'd been cleared by some kind of letter that Meredith had delivered to Sheriff Forbes claiming the time of death of one of the murder victims coincided with Alaric's alibi. Or whatever. It was not important as we'd soon find out.
Then Damon arrived at the Salvatore mansion and gave one of his patented non-apology apologies.
And then another flashback occurred, this time filling in exactly how Stefan became a ripper that one time. Wait, was it the first time? So this is pre-Lexi? Again, I am not about to Bing it. Anyway, it began with Damon paying forward Sage's advice to eat upper class women. So he feasted upon the Lockwood lady:
And then her head came off!
Eating someone's head off is definitely considered a faux pas in the vampire world, so a distraught Stefan got all mad at Damon and ran off into the woods.
Back in present day, Damon explained that he hadn't helped Stefan then because he didn't care to. But now he did care, and he wanted to help Stefan stay on this side of Ripperdom if it's the last thing he does. And in another episode highlight, Damon just laid his reason out there.
Awww! It was pretty nice seeing this tiny moment of brotherly love. It's definitely true that the brothers' relationship to each other is way more important than either of their relationships with Elena. So, yeah. Great scene.
Also, Damon played piano:
That's when Stefan conveniently discovered a ten-years-later confession which wrapped up the 1912 slasher plotline.
Except the murderer was a woman Damon believed he'd killed once: Jonathan Gilbert's granddaughter, the one we'd seen earlier at the graveyard.
This was intercut with Elena doing her best to read said Gilbert woman's journal:
This made me laugh because at first I thought it was the show's stylistic device of showing us what Elena sees when she tries to read. BUT it turned out it was just the mad scribblings of the Gilbert woman going insane. Oh, and would you care to know the reason she was going insane? Her ring of immortality!
And that's when Meredith arrived at Alaric's front door with some pretty compelling arguments for his insanity.
That's right: The Mystic Falls Slasher was ALARIC! The details were immediately ridiculous if you thought about it too hard (he only killed people who threatened Meredith? Why did she free him if she knew he was the killer? Why was she personally investigating this stuff in the first place? Why was he using the exact same M.O. as the Gilbert slasher? Did he have to be blackout drunk each time?) Still though, interesting twist! It calls into question Jeremy's safety for wearing an enchanted ring. And it once again proves that witches ruin everything.
Anyway, just to confirm:
This is what a killer looks like. A handsome woman in a chapeau roaming the streets getting stabby with folks. Is this what Alaric will become??
You guys, I liked this episode. Watched it thrice. Like most flashback episodes, not a ton happened in the long run, but it sure felt busy. And in retrospect I guess we all owe Meredith an apology. Plus congratulations to those of you who guessed Alaric was the killer. I definitely didn't guess right, but I suppose it just goes to show the futility with trying to predict where this show is going at any given time.
... Were you shocked the killer was Alaric?
... So wait, Sheriff Forbes didn't actually authenticate that letter like she said she would, did she?
... Is Matt about to judo chop the central love triangle to pieces?
... Do you think Sage zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz