Leave it to The Vampire Diaries to straight-up invent a new holiday where a traditional one wouldn't fit into the timeline. That's what's called moxie, you guys, and "Ghost World" contained all kinds of audacious moments. Quick question: How will YOU celebrate Night of Illumination? You know, aside from hanging up the hundreds of one-time-use lanterns? Don't answer that, I'm gonna make this about me right now. I have great news! I asked this week's episode of The Vampire Diaries to marry me and it said yes! Oh, I'm so happy, reader! Of course, I had to strap it into a chair until it loved me, and like any relationship ours has its share of downsides (specifically Elena's brain and Bonnie's competence), but still: "Ghost World" was so good.
We began shortly after last week's cliffhanger, the arrival of the tangible spirit of Mason Lockwood. Fun fact about ghosts: They are apparently stronger and faster than vampires? At least I'm GUESSING they are, since this was how Damon found himself:
For some reason Damon assumed that perhaps the presence of Mason Lockwood was some kind of Ripper prank? Boy, I am really uneducated in the ripper M.O. if it involves hallucinations of dead werewolves. But anyway! Stefan was a jerk about it, which made no sense because you'd THINK that Damon's bondage represented a fairly huge security breach within the household. And THEN he didn't even completely free Damon?
Oh Mason! P.S. Do you like celebrity gossip? Rumor has it this actor, Taylor Kinney, is dating a celebrity! I forget which one though. Neneh Cherry? I don't remember. Forget I said anything.
Meanwhile in town square, hundreds of extras were milling about pretending to listen to Mayor Lockwood's introductory remarks about Night of Illumination.
Including these two, who'd apparently become groupies for some history professor dude. He helpfully explained just what Night of Illumination IS.
Thus concludes the explanation of Night of Illumination.
After their testy argument last week, it seemed like Jeremy and Bonnie were not only officially on the outs, but that he'd already rebounded back into the ghostly arms of girlfriend-'til-she-died Anna.
Except, whoops! Nobody told Bonnie they were broken up.
That meant Jeremy had a cheating heart, you guys, and not even a flattering red V-neck would get people on his side.
Bonnie and Caroline's girl talkin' was quickly interrupted by Damon, who pulled up in a convertible and a frown.
Now, last week I joked that whatever was going on with the ghosts becoming tangible was definitely related to Bonnie's spell. Sure enough, that was definitely the reason! It was pretty hilarious when she briefly tried to blame Matt for not properly banishing Vicki or something.
Anyway, clearly a ghostly presence was trying to communicate with Bonnie because it rudely unzipped her satchel and flipped open her grimoire to a specific spell. (Quick question: What kind of maniac writes all the way to the edges of the margins like this? This looks like something out of Seven!)
The spell that Bonnie decided to do (after completely skipping the pros-and-cons debate) had to do with revealing hidden presences. Making ghosts visible, basically. So off to the haunted witch house they went.
How hilarious was it when Caroline just straight-up did not trust Bonnie with her safety?
A recurring theme of this episode was that although the other characters love Bonnie very much, almost nobody thinks she's competent, not even her own grandmother (SPOILER).
So there Bonnie was, yammering her way through another spell, blowing stray leaves around, and kicking up dust devils all over the place.
AND THEN JASMINE GUY APPEARED! Yay, welcome back, Grams!
Now, a word about the ghosts. When they first appeared in the Season 2 finale, I was like, "Here we go." Another subplot that'll be here and gone in two episodes. But credit where credit's due: These ghosts have been handled so well, and everything came together in a pretty genius way in this episode. Both good and bad ghosts were unleashed at the same time, putting a veritable countdown clock on everything, even the nice moments. Plus it was such a treat to see faces from the past pop up again. The Vampire Diaries has one of the strongest and deepest rosters of guest stars of any show on television. And with that said, wasn't it hilarious who DIDN'T show up? Sorry, Aunt Jenna, ain't nobody thinking about you.
Jeremy and Anna are officially macking out in men's rooms now. This episode probably earned Jeremy a lifetime of scorn from Bonnie fans (yes, they exist). However, let's not forget how awesome Anna was during Season 1, and how tragic this romance was. EVERYONE was upset when she died, so that's why it's so surprising to me that nobody really cared that these kids reunited. Seriously, people would prefer a Jeremy-Bonnie romance over Jeremy-Anna? That's just nuts. They were only matched up in the first place because both characters were single. Just no chemistry whatsoever. Anyway, sorry, but I read this entire plotline as a victory for Jeremy, not a low point. He got his best lady back!
Unfortunately his sister was a meddlesome hypocrite.
One thing that bugged me a lot in this episode was how RUDE the living were toward the ghosts. If you encountered a dead person, no matter how weird your original relationship was, wouldn't you be awe-struck or even touched by their reappearance, and perhaps be happy for them that they could experience a fleeting notion of their past lives even for a brief moment? Ghosts are by nature incredibly poignant and emotional for what they represent about humanity, our sense of loss, and our yearning for transcendent happiness. But nope, Elena laid eyes on Anna and immediately treated her like she was some skank in the club. This was the girl her brother was in love with until she got murdered pretty horribly. Instead of letting her brother have this little elegiac moment Elena immediately set about BANISHING her to the lonely, unknowable netherworld. I don't know, that just seems pretty F-ing harsh to me.
Anyway! Look who else became visible to everyone!
And best of all...
LEXI! Lexi was the best, you guys. It was so awesome getting to see her again, especially because her arrival went something like this:
It made me laugh that this could happen in broad daylight on a bustling sidewalk in Mystic Falls. I know I say this a lot, but that town is truly appalling.
Anyway, back at the witch house Bonnie was sort of getting told off by Jasmine Guy.
She more or less confirmed what we'd suspected: Bonnie's spell allowed the evil Original Witch to get a foot in "the door" and now it was up to Bonnie to destroy Elena's necklace and shut the ghosts out for good.
Didn't you laugh when Bonnie asked for some more backstory about the Original Witch and Jasmine Guy shut her down?
So hilarious. THAT's what Bonnie's own grandmother thinks of her. She can't even be trusted to know the truth about things.
It turned out that Mason had returned for more than just roughing Damon up: He wanted to save Tyler from a lifetime of hybrid-dom. Speaking of which, where were Tyler and Rebekah? Just kidding, I think we all know what they were up to. It involved hugging, and it did NOT involve shirts. Anyway, long story short, Mason knew where to find the key to killing Klaus and he wanted Damon's help.
Meanwhile in the Forbes jail cell, Lexi was rarin' to convert Jerk Stefan back into Boring Stefan.
We knew that the last time she'd successfully redeemed him it took thirty-something YEARS. I was curious how the show would address the issue this time, and what do you know? Ghosts can apparently SPEED UP withdrawal symptoms in a vampire via telepathy. Sure, whatever you say, The Vampire Diaries.
This was definitely going to be one of those break-them-down, build-them-back-up type things, but you know what? I trust Lexi. She's one of the best characters this show's ever had, mostly because when she was around she made reasoned, empathetic decisions. I liked Rose for the same reason (maturity!), and I was bummed she couldn't appear. (I guess Lauren Cohan's presence on this season of The Walking Dead is a pretty good consolation prize though.)
Somewhere underground, America's hottest new vampire-ghost detective duo were knocking down walls and spelunking through caves in search of some kind of mystery artifact.
Their main thing was that Damon did NOT trust Mason, even if it meant ignoring all of Mason's instructions and getting himself staked eight times in five seconds. Typical Damon!
One surprise I did not see coming was the reappearance of the evil cave vampires from Season 1.
Even though that wasn't the best plotline, it was a nice dose of chaos for an episode that could have devolved into just sentimental conversations. For instance, immediately upon their arrival the evil ghosts set about murdering the professor dude right in the public square!
Unfortunately the citizens of Mystic Falls are pretty over this kind of stuff. They've seen worse on most days.
Back at the dungeon, Stefan had a pretty major change of heart, but Lexi urged Elena not to buy into it.
Okay, look, I have to say something about this plotline because it's kind of bugging me so much. I'm sorry. We all know this show has just been a boatload full of wish-fulfillment from day one. An ordinary-seeming girl suddenly found herself torn between two monster-hotties and discovered a supernatural destiny of her own. That's just fun escapism right there! That's why I find this plotline so troubling. It's basically telling girls that they can save relationships by forcing dudes to love them. That all you need to make a relationship work are chains and spare time. I just don't think this should be encouraged at all. The crazy ex-girlfriend stereotype is so pervasive in our culture (not to mention the dangerous stalker ex-boyfriend), and this show is just fueling those terrible instincts. Sure, I realize that Stefan's a victim of brainwashing, but then again, is he? He still has his intellectual facilities, sense of humor, and moral code intact. What's the difference between being compelled to fall out of love and simply falling out of love? I don't know, I'm just saying that this plotline is the antithesis of romance. It makes Elena look sort of psycho and I'm worried about impressionable teens who might take this sort of storyline to heart. So here's a Public Service Announcement from a dunce like me: If someone doesn't love you, find someone who does.
Or, you know, torture them a ton:
Anyway, back to good times again, ANOTHER fan-favorite character reappeared in this episode: Damon's soap dish! At one point Caroline and Bonnie tore Damon's bedroom apart looking for Elena's necklace, so it made me laugh when Caroline dug through the eleven bars of soap to find it. Didn't you kind of expect it to be there? I totally did.
Elsewhere Elena finally confronted her little bro with some very empathetic, not at all hypocritical romantic advice.
Elena's logic was that a romance with a ghost couldn't really go anywhere. Point taken! However, what about that family you're hoping to have someday, Elena? Are you going the all-adoption, immortal father route? Or are you just a darn hypocrite?
Ultimately Elena pleaded her case directly to Anna who, to her credit, agreed that the relationship probably wouldn't work.
Then she revealed she had stolen the necklace. Which, you know, boo, right? How dare she? Except for the fact that she simply wanted more time to FIND HER MOTHER. Wow, what a villain! Just kidding, the real villain was chillin' in a witch house struggling to banish Anna to a truly awful-sounding netherworld, but whatever. The Bonnie fans are already mad at me, so I might as well just be honest.
Their final interaction was pretty sad (if you, like me, were rooting for them). Or maybe you were rooting for Bonnie, in which case the next scene made your day: "cold shoulder" time!
I'm not saying Bonnie was treated fairly. She wasn't. Jeremy should have broken up with her before seeing Anna (that's how life should work). But still, in my opinion she made it hard for me to feel bad for her and that's the truth.
So yeah, did you know you can destroy a metal necklace by throwing it in a pile of ashes near an open flame?
With Grams' help, Bonnie finally reversed the ghost spell and sure enough, ghosts started disappearing again.
I'm not even sure I understood this part. Mayor Lockwood was in a car accident and Caroline defended her from evil ghosts? I don't know. It did make me laugh that THIS is what Carol Lockwood woke up to:
Caroline remains awesome.
In the subterranean tunnels Damon ran into another one of my favorite things: The Uninvited Vampire Force Field! It made the noise and everything!
But right before Mason could discover the pertinent artifact he disappeared into the ether! Oh, drat.
And then so did Lexi! Check you later, babygirl.
And then, my favorite part: Anna found her mom! Hey Pearl!
Here come the waterworks! I cry very easily, you guys. Pearl was another character I really liked during Season 1. Man, this episode was so good. And how cool is Kelly Hu for showing up in Atlanta just to film a wordless hug? That is COOL.
Oh, this is what a burnt-up metal necklace looks like after it's sat in a pile of ash for a few minutes:
Before she disappeared Jasmine Guy had a few parting words for Bonnie. Basically, "Don't be a doormat." Which I can get behind! One of the reasons I don't care for Bonnie is that I keep hoping she'll get more badass—but she never does. Once or twice she sort of took care of business but even when those incidents were over I was like, "Well, that was useless." Think about it, her vending machine massacre at the '60s dance? All she did was pretend to die. Then when she attacked Klaus's posse during his ceremony, a ton of people got killed while Bonnie hid in the bushes. What I'm saying is, Bonnie deserves a stronger backbone and a better facility when it comes to making decisions. So I agree with Jasmine Guy! Toughen up, lady.
Later on, Damon recruited Alaric to finish what Mason started, but wouldn't you know it, Alaric was still all butt-hurt about having his neck snapped forever ago.
Aw, they sort of made up finally! That was nice.
Elena reiterated her pledge fo convert Stefan back to Boring Stefan. Cool, good luck with that. I know it's inevitable but that's all it is at this point: Inevitable. Not exciting.
And then we got two very vague cliffhangers. First off: The necklace reformed!
Which, you know, cool? It means the Original Witch is pulling the strings still probably. But also, did you get the sense that Bonnie might suddenly become possessed by that witch? How AWESOME would it be if she went full Evil Willow on everyone's asses? I might start to like Bonnie after all!
Cliffhanger #2: Alaric discovered cave drawings.
And there you had it! Ikea-style instructions on how to kill Originals. Just in time for next week's Y1K flashback episode!
Whew! I liked the episode, despite my belligerent rants and raves. Give me ghosts and tears in any situation and I'll be thrilled. What did YOU think of this thing?
... Is Stefan on the verge of cracking?
... What were Tyler and Rebekah up to?
... Which ghost were you happiest to see again? Whose absence were you most disappointed by?
... How long had Mr. Fell been hanging in that tree before any of the citizens bothered to say anything about it?
... Will you ever be able to forgive Jeremy? Or will that depend on his T-shirt selection?