When you think about it, it's straight-up incredible how much suspense and excitement The Vampire Diaries can wring from next-to-no plot development. And I mean this as a compliment! Take this week's episode, "Ordinary People." On the face of it, maybe only two important things happened: Mikael climbed out of his tomb and Rebekah became slightly miffed at Klaus. Everything else was just backstory, witty repartee, and fantastic wigs. Now, I'm on-record as not being the biggest fan of flashback episodes; they always just seem like officially sanctioned fanfic to me, and I realize I'm definitely in the minority there. But even I have to admit that this glimpse into viking immigrant life in 1000 A.D. was hecka fun for at least two big reasons: (1) Rebekah (DUH) and (2) I really hope I don't regret this... ELENA. I know, right? She did a fantastic job in this episode! All her plans made sense, she got real results, and she had some pretty killer comebacks to Rebekah's sassery. Anyway, what was I talking about? Oh yeah, how GOOD this episode was. Let's talk about it!
We began in the underground caves beneath the Lockwood estate where Alaric and Elena were examining the Viking graffiti while Damon looked on from his cubbyhole.
The first big revelation was that the caves pre-dated the Lockwood family and indicated that werewolves had been native to Mystic Falls, Virginia for over a millennium? Something like that. Not gonna lie, I honestly don't know if this is historically accurate or not.
But then things got REAL interesting when Alaric spotted some proper names written alongside the janky hieroglyphs.
Right, so, if you are one of the people who may have assumed that Mikael the Vampire Hunter was ALSO the patriarch of the Originals, you win a free skee ball token! Except I totally called that too, so give me all the skee ball tokens. Basically I just really want to play skee ball later this afternoon, is that cool?
Oh, also I should mention that during this sequence we got our first flashback and it was of Rebekah and Klaus in long wigs CARVING these symbols into the stone with a knife? Why? Not sure! But the main thing was that they were human beings at the time and both of them feared their father and also Rebekah handed knifes to people blade-first, which is just plain rude.
Meanwhile at Alaric's weird home gym-slash-archaeology lab (?) Damon was giving Elena a little more slayer training while Alaric struggled to decipher more of the carvings.
Elena decided she should just take all of the bulls by all of the horns and just confront the Viking graffiti artist personally. This actually made sense seeing as Rebekah probably wouldn't harm Elena (Klaus would get so mad!), but it made even more sense as a good TV move because Rebekah is THE BEST.
Good characters constantly enter scenes doing a series of flips and Rebekah was no exception. She DID seem mighty annoyed to confront Elena so early in the afternoon though.
What was hilarious was that Rebekah was VERY into her cheerleading practice, and not only had Elena clearly not attended school that day, she'd also quit the squad so long ago. So basically Rebekah, a one thousand year old vampire, was a more upstanding citizen of Mystic Falls than Elena. ALSO? Rebekah mentioned that she didn't hang around Stefan anymore because he's a jerk, and suggested Elena do the same. Who WAS this lady? Besides a genius? Rebekah for president! But get this: Elena more than made up for any relative shortcomings via her own badassery.
That's right, even though we knew Mikael was more than awake, Elena was using the fact of his existence to strike fear into Rebekah's supposedly black heart. Rebekah outright refused to tell Elena anything, but WE THE VIEWERS knew the plan worked, because not ten seconds after Elena made the threat, Rebekah was off and reminiscing about the olden days.
And believe me, it was a MAJOR treat to see these young Viking immigrants plan and attend their very own Renaissance Faire!
Hey Elijah! It was Elijah, everybody! He looked like our generation's Lorenzo Lamas.
Oh Klaus, always cutting away his opponents' for-looks-only belts!
Oh and we met a NEW ORIGINAL! What's up, Heinrich? Just kidding, don't get too attached, everybody. (SPOILER ALERT)
Also, check out the Original Parental Units:
So yeah, clearly Mikael had a terrible sense of humor about things. Apparently he took sword safety a lot more seriously than Klaus? Who knows. Also he seemed super harsh with Klaus, possibly relating to the fact that Klaus was the bastard son of a werewolf Mikael's wife had slept with? Even if he didn't know it yet, maybe deep down he knew it? Like Klaus was always chasing squirrels or something? I don't know. Forget I said anything.
And anyway, Rebekah had to go do some more back handsprings or whatever.
Meanwhile Elena was back chillin' at Alaric's home gym just waiting for Rebekah to have a change of heart about spilling all her family secrets.
Gotta hand it to her, Elena was ON HER GAME in this episode.
So then we went to go check in with Stefan in his mildewy jail cell.
Damon had swung by for some charming banter with his very thirsty brother. Nobody needs to point this out, it has been pointed out by billions of people so far, but aren't these dudes' conversations SO MUCH better now that Stefan's actually funny? Like, I admit I laughed out loud when Stefan made fun of Elena's usual boneheaded schemes. Anyway, Damon tried to cheer Stefan up, but ended up doing something a little more drastic.
Now, nobody's saying that Lexi's ghost wasted her time in trying to de-program Stefan, but Damon's gesture certainly represented a bit of a setback. But did you notice how disappointed Stefan seemed to be let go?
So much for emotion-free!
Back at the Salvatore shanty (haha just kidding, it is a very large home!) Rebekah had compelled the cheerleading squad to model a bunch of terrible dresses from which Rebekah will select her homecoming ensemble.
Rebekah did NOT appreciate Elena's sass and threatened to bite this lady a ton.
It turned out that in certain scenarios Elena doesn't love the murder of innocents, so it was definitely the cheerleader's lucky day.
This brought us to by far the episode's strongest subplot, featuring probably the most dynamic character in the history of The Vampire Diaries and possibly television in general? I mean, I know I've been harsh toward Bonnie up until now, but I've truly seen the error of my ways, you guys. I'm ready to admit it: Bonnie is as flawless as she is confident, dynamic, charismatic and effective.
Anyway, so the glorious presence known as B. Bennett arrived to deliver Elena's necklace to Alaric. Now, if it were up to me I would have properly destroyed it using, I don't know, liquid nitrogen and a hammer? But clearly Bonnie knows something that I don't because she is 200% smarter than I am (and also just a better person), so I trust that whatever reason she had for not properly destroying the necklace (per Grams' explicit instructions) must be nuanced, thoughtful and surprising in its foresight.
But all that was beside the point, because in a rare turn of events, Bonnie was NOT having the best day.
Meanwhile Rebekah decided to open up to Elena, but not before opening up Stefan's underwear drawer (for some reason).
Haha, oh Rebekah. Get out of Stefan's room you big creeper!
Here was the first appearance of that necklace. It zapped people!
Oh and meet the witch! This was the witch that apparently invited Mikael and Esther to relocate to North American and chill with the laid back local natives.
Anyway, in this particular flashback, something terrible happened:
It turned out that Klaus and his little bro Heinrich had snuck out and observed the laid back local natives transform into...
And they ate Heinrich!
So yeah, I bet you thought all the Original siblings became vampires, but nope. Some of them died before vampirism came into play. Rebekah was definitely still a bit shook up over it.
Oooh, Elena was SO mad at Damon for undercutting her plan to starve Stefan into loving her again. By the way, you can always tell Elena's mad when she goes all tinymouth on someone:
Anyway, where WERE they? Don't tell me Mystic Falls has more than one bar. Stefan and Damon decided to cut loose, and Stefan immediately decided to feast upon the bartender.
That's when Damon made this face:
Um, excuse me, but Damon needs to STOP doing this. Television is a VISUAL MEDIUM. Nobody wants to see this.
Anyway, yeah. Things were weird:
After a brief argument about which one of them knew Stefan's true nature better, Elena awesomely put Rebekah in her place:
It was true! Rebekah had completely embraced a human teenager existence and it just made her seem more vulnerable and mixed up more than anything. And it was at this point that Elena attempted to storm out, but Rebekah seemed so desperate to continue telling her story that she got all pathetic about it? It was kind of endearing!
Anyway, back in some olden times hut, Mikael and Esther decided that they should convert their family into some kind of supernatural creature so that they'd be as strong as the werewolves, if not stronger.
But WHOOPS! The rug was pulled out from under us all because it turned out the ACTUAL Original Witch was in fact ESTHER ORIGINAL (that's their last name, right?). I know, the racial politics of it were probably confusing to most of us, but you're just going to have to deal with the reality that this witch was scandinavian. So yeah, she called upon the power of the sun and the immortality (?) of the White Oak and converted her living children into demons.
Rebekah took an immediate liking to it, but explained there were a number of drawbacks. Apparently "the spirits" created negative side-effects for every positive.
All that, plus, you know, the whole DRINKING HUMAN BLOOD part. So while Esther should be commended for inventing a whole new creature, I think it's safe to criticize her for how crappy vampires ended up being in general. That is too many serious downsides, in my opinion. Oh well, anyway, so then the gang decided to do away with the one item that could harm them:
R.I.P. WHITE OAK (2011-2011)
Meanwhile at the mystery dive bar, the Salvatores were having some grade-A bro-nding time.
After a thrilling game of quarters, dancing on the bar and some plain-sight neck biting, Stefan finally informed Damon that nice try, he'll never be able to break Klaus' compulsions. Damon, however, disagreed.
And then Mikael Original, who'd been chillin' within earshot for several hours, just waiting for the right time to interject, finally did so.
Then, as Rebekah explained, Mikael had apparently gone haywire back in the day, massacring most of the village and murdering his own wife, an act for which Rebekah had held a grudge against him ever since. Nevermind that Klaus looked SUPER cagey about it.
Anyway, the remaining three siblings formed a pact to have each others' backs, which sort of explained why Elijah didn't murder Klaus during Season 2, I guess. I don't know.
So anyway, after a full day of spilling her family's secrets and also tipping Elena off to many of Klaus' emotional weak spots, Rebekah then warned her that should Elena try to harm Klaus she'll "rip her apart."
Seriously, save that enthusiasm for the pep rally, lady.
There was a bit more business with Mikael, in which he tried to make Stefan rat out Klaus by threatening to murder Damon.
Anyway, this was sort of a big deal because Stefan had to overcome a compulsion to do it? I'm not even sure. All the compulsion stuff on this show has gotten so vague and mixed up and low-stakes, it's hard to care anymore. Either way, it looked like Stefan was set to summon Klaus somehow (hopefully Klaus can drive that moving van back to town real quick!).
For some reason Alaric, Elena and an unidentified friend revisited the caves even though it seemed like Alaric had pretty well taken a photograph of every square inch of it already? Again, maybe I'm just sleepwalking through life because I really didn't understand why they went back.
I guess it's a good thing they DID go back, because Elena suddenly pieced together a new twist to Rebekah's tale! She immediately confronted a now super-annoyed Rebekah about the veracity of her story.
According to the glyphs, the Original Witch was not killed by Mikael, but was instead killed by THE HYBRID! The motive was that Klaus was so upset that his mother had repressed his Hybrid gene that he murdered her and set about devoting his life to breaking the curse. Plus, this story certainly gave Mikael more of a motivation to hunt Klaus down. Rebekah didn't take it so well... At first.
Elsewhere, Damon was gloating to Stefan about Stefan's "progress" that night. Once again, Stefan demanded to know why people like Damon or Elena were always trying to get him to "stop being a jerk" or "stop being a mass murderer" (well, Damon at least).
And Damon's answer was succinct and heartfelt: Stefan had saved Damon's life, so Damon was repaying the favor whether he liked it or not.
Then they had an adorable street brawl.
Later that night, a worn out Elena attempted to go to bed only to find a sassy corpse chillin' on her duvet. Elena informed him that she may have successfully turned Rebekah against Klaus, and that deep down Rebekah's just an ordinary girl who'd lost too much too soon.
Now, I don't throw the term "cute" around lightly, but this scene was HELLA CUTE, you guys. I officially ship no one AND everyone (a.k.a. I don't care), but seeing these two characters hanging out in bed like friends was really just the best. Elena wasn't annoyed with Damon, Damon seemed like a nice guy. Just a completely pleasant scene.
And that was it. Elena finally got some much-needed sleep and Damon got incrementally more human. Victories all around!
I don't know, I really liked this episode. Cool eight-episode streak, The Vampire Diaries! No pressure for next week's midseason finale!
... Why weren't the doppelgangers addressed in the flashbacks?
... If Rebekah carved her own name in the cave, then WHO carved the information about her mother's murder?
... What's up with Katherine?
... Who had the best flashback wig?
... Who was the MVP of this episode (BESIDES Bonnie): Rebekah or Elena?