The Vampire Diaries: No Parents Allowed

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Oh hey, welcome back! Did you have a good Vampire Diaries hiatus? What did you do with all of your spare time? Not to brag, but I got A LOT done: I cleaned up a bunch of beaches, I wrote tons of novels, I traveled the globe on the back of a very friendly Great Dane, and I also invented an electronic device—maybe you've heard of it—the IPAD 2. No big deal, though, just trying to get some New Year's resolutions done early.

Okay, I'm gonna be honest, I didn't do any of those things, I hardly even got out of bed the whole time. I'm not sure why I lied to you like that.

But if you want to know an actual thing that I did a lot of during the hiatus, it's think about Vampire Diaries. I can't help it, my brain is just smooth like that. WHAT IS IT that makes Vampire Diaries so great? And I mean that—it IS great. It's just also absolutely ridiculous. It's fun but also boring. It's scary but also laughable. It's funny both intentionally AND unintentionally. The characters are deep but also one-dimensional. This show just offers so many contradictions!

I think the most appealing thing, though, is that Vampire Diaries has established a world tailor-made for escapism. It's a small town, the characters are young and good-looking, and most of all, these teens are empowered. Wanna know why? There are no parents! Seriously, almost every character on this show is an orphan, and those who have living parents are either estranged from or neglected by them. No, in this world the kids are on their own, and never more so than in Thursday night's episode.

We began where the pre-hiatus cliffhanger left off: A doorway confrontation between Elena's original guardian and her current one.

Isobel returns! Elena's biological mom-turned-vampire only shows up when she's trying to start some drama. But she got off to an amazing start by making Jenna cry ON THE SPOT: "So you're the woman who's dating my husband." Dang! For a mousy bookworm, Isobel was BRUTAL.

Elena slammed the damn door in Isobel's face, but it was too late: Jenna was already shedding tears and scrambling up those stairs. I didn't blame Jenna—if I lived in a two-story house, I'd constantly be scrambling upstairs dramatically and slamming the bedroom door. Somehow running around the papasan and ducking behind a roommate curtain just doesn't have the same effect. (J/K I live in a Tercel).

Nevermind the fact that Elena's supposedly deceased birth mother just showed up at the front door, Jenna was pretty sure this was HER opportunity to be dramatic. Fine, whatever. Enjoy the spotlight, lady.

The next morning at the Salvatore Bros' underlit mansion, Katherine tried to remind them that (a) her existence should be a secret in case they ever need to pull some Parent Trap shenanigans with Elena, and also (b) she's going to help them fight Klaus.

To their credit, they never seemed very convinced or maybe just didn't care. See, they're learning!

Alaric showed up to help Elena deal with the Jenna situation. Ugh, and there Elena was, hugging herself again. Quit hugging that person!

Wasn't it so weird when Jenna was like, "I'm gonna go live on campus for a while?" Like, WHERE? Is she going to crash a dorm? Or just enroll in grad student housing during finals week? This whole thing lent more credence to my theory that there IS NO UNVERSITY and Jenna is only pretending to be going to school because she doesn't have a career or family of her own and she just sits in her car all day waiting for other people to invite her places. So, sure, Jenna. Go "stay on campus" or whatever. Just don't be surprised when someone catches you eating out of the dumpster behind Safeway.

And then Uncle John entered just in time to say something snarky, and got PUNCHED in the face. Wait, is Alaric becoming awesome? (Spoiler alert: YES)

Elena had a pretty funny reaction to said face-punching. She kind of won me over for a second. A SECOND.

Caroline was frantically trying to figure out the Matt situation. She hadn't seen or heard from him ever since she came clean about being a vampire the night before. So then there she was trying to place a very important phone call using a hands-free device in a PARKED CAR? Come on, weirdo! Also, quit it, Ford. Nobody wants to buy a Fiesta. Or maybe we should Bing it?

So then Uncle John convinced Elena to have a sit-down with Isobel, and I'm not going to lie, it's this whole thread that got me SO CONFUSED. This whole episode more or less served to tie up the Isobel/Uncle John/Katherine plotline and the double-crossings were so thick and tangled I could hardly keep track of what was going on at any given time. So fair warning from here on out, DO NOT trust me, I am the Sheriff Forbes of recappers (A.K.A. a DUNCE). Isobel claimed that she and Uncle John have been working to protect Elena from Klaus for a long time now. Remember when Uncle John set off that vampire brain-bomb during the Season 1 finale? THAT was to prevent the tomb vampires from telling Klaus that a doppelganger exists. Oh, also Isobel claimed she'd been looking for Klaus but never found him.

Meanwhile Damon, Bonnie, and Jeremy busted into the dead warlocks' apartment to raid their grimoire collection. It made me laugh how the actual actor who played Luka was lying there on the ground. I guess that was cheaper than having a dummy made? Also, I liked Damon's death detector: By successfully waving his hand across the threshold, he knew that all residents of this apartment were now deceased. Clever!

Bonnie used one of her patented low-powered spells to find a particular page in the grimoires. Basically she just knocked a ton of books on the floor and one of them just opened up to the right page. Ugh, only Bonnie could manage to make magic seem boring.

Here's the house where Isobel and her eurotrash servant were crashing, allegedly the "nicest foreclosure in town." I bring it up because people kept remarking on it. A huge theme of this episode was how vampires deal with the real estate market. You know, grown-up stuff. No thank you!

Almost immediately upon walking in, Isobel and Katherine bared their fangs and attacked each other because WHY? Why do vampires always fake us out like this? Is that how they always say hello? The only reason this happened is that we the viewers were supposed to think Isobel and Katherine were enemies but they were actually best friends? So then why go through this charade when nobody's watching? Oh man, why am I even trying to make sense of this? I need a Popsicle.

So THEN Isobel revealed that she's actually trying to help Katherine elude Klaus by giving over to him both the moonstone and Elena. Katherine seemed pretty cool with that idea and immediately agreed to double-cross Stefan and Damon.

So then Katherine was super obvious about trying to find the moonstone. Luckily nobody would tell her where it was, or even where that old witch burial ground was. When did Katherine get so ham-fisted? Didn't she spend years setting up her past schemes? Now she's just overtly asking for sensitive information without any good reason? Very subtle.

Haha oh, also, there was some random Historical Society gathering where a couple-dozen people got together to watch the Mayor give Elena a check for some scholarship Elena's dead mom used to sponsor. Or something? Don't ask. And even if you already know what was going on, try to forget it because life is too short to have dumb information like that just rattling around in your brain, making you forget your grandparents or whatever. But anyway, we DID get to check in with the Anti-Vampire Council. Yup, as predicted, Sheriff Forbes and the Mayor are still THE WORST at their jobs that they can possibly be.

On a sadder note, Tyler has NOT called his mother. That's not actually the sad part, the sad part is the obvious broken heart this actress has had to deal with since Michael Trevino's departure. You can just tell by looking at her, there's no life in her eyes, she just seemed deflated, doesn't know where to rest her gaze. Look, I'm not trying to start any salacious gossip, but... were they sharing a trailer?

Also, how much did you barf when Stefan told Elena, "Maybe Matt will come around. You did," and then they TOUCHED FOREHEADS? Ugh, these two.

Damon took Jeremy and Bonnie to the old witch-killing field, which was, get this—A HOUSE. Fine, easier to film in, I'm guessing.

The place was haunted as F! Emily's ghost was sassin' everyone from beyond the grave, slammin' doors in Damon's face, freezing him in place, and de-powering his ring.

Back at the mansion and left unattended, Katherine set about rummaging through all of Damon's possessions. It was pretty hilarious when she stole A WAD OF FIVES from his cigar box. Like, really? A vampire who can compel people to do anything she wants just really needed that cash?

And then, not 20 seconds later, Katherine was literally pawing through ashes in the fireplace for no other reason than getting her hands dirty. Good thing Damon keeps an ENORMOUS, overstuffed ceramic urn full of soaps in his bathroom!

So as you can see: Perfect hiding place. Great thinking! The worst part is, this damn moonstone is back in play. It's like, fine, I understand the value of a Macguffin, but next time can it PLEASE be something that wasn't purchased at a polished-rock exhibit at the county fair? I hate this thing. I wish moonstones were alive so I could kill it.

Then Isobel approached Alaric as he was walking to his car. A good rule of thumb is, if someone is ever waiting for you by your car, TURN AROUND and RUN. Because it is not going to end well.

Anyway Isobel began giving some phony speech about loving him, etc., and then BAM!

P.S. This is just acting, Alaric is not actually having his brain fried.

To her credit, Isobel seemed pretty torn-up about the whole thing. I especially liked the on-screen chyron as she walked away. Just a CLASSIC Monday thing to have happen.

Back at the haunted house, Bonnie was busy channeling all the dead spirits. This involved weeping and hollering, and Jeremy got thrown across the room at one point. (I'm pretty sure Jasmine Guy was responsible for that part.) But anyway, it looked like Bonnie was actually doing it! Becoming powerful!

Oh right, this Historical Society thing. Yeah, the Mayor was presenting a check for Elena's mom's scholarship fund.

I laughed for two reasons: (1) Elena is definitely not going to college. I mean, come on. Her GPA couldn't be higher than a 2.2, and her extracurricular commitments have really started to suffer. But also (2), she accepted the check, saying, "This historical society was like my mom's baby." Yikes, Elena. Very cool thing to say about your adoptive mother!

Luckily Isobel showed up and bit Uncle John's neck up before hurling him down the stairs. It was awesome how Sheriff Forbes took charge and did absolutely nothing. She actually turned away from a stone-cold dead man with a bloody neck and informed the crowd that he was fine and just needed air. The best part was, everyone believed her and just filed out like it was no big deal. Like I've said, the citizens of Mystic Falls don't even care anymore. They were all probably secretly jealous of the dead guy.

Also, Katherine helped abduct Elena, then switched places with her. Do you think Nina Dobrev appreciated the implication that her hand looks like this?

Apparently Katherine's impersonation skills got a bit rusty, because Stefan was onto her, like, RIGHT AWAY. I loved how mad he looked.

But what she lacked in theatrical skills, Katherine made up for with syringe-pokin'.

Have I mentioned before that Katherine is THE BEST?

Damon swooped in, collected Uncle John's body, explained the invincibility ring to the two head dunces, and just jetted right out of there. Fair enough, no reason for the women to question any of it.

But waiting for Sheriff Forbes by her car was MATT, and these mashed potatoes had gone BAD.

I mean, I guess? He seemed very confused about what to do.

Speaking of being confused, Damon was facing his biggest dilemma of the episode—just WHAT should he do about his shirt, and the blood on said shirt? Luckily he was able to dig deep and discover a truly wise resolution to this issue.

Also, this happened:

Haha, he must have been so shocked that his AMAZING hiding place didn't work! That moonstone was so well-hidden in plain sight! Well, it was just in plain sight, really. Still! How frustrating!

Meanwhile Isobel was cruising around town with Elena in the back seat (just gettin' some Z's), and Isobel barely looked at the road in front of her even once! I was very worried until I realized that I was NOT worried about anyone in this situation. Anyway, she called up Katherine just in time to alert her to the fact that Katherine just gotten BACKSTABBED you guys!

This guy—I don't know WHAT he is, exactly. He COULDN'T be a witch or warlock, that's for sure. Anyway, he has magical powers and he zapped Katherine's brain real good.

Dang, that's cold-blooded, Isobel.

Caroline eventually came home to find Matt just chillin' in her vestibule, as a bro is wont to do. He seemed pretty scared of her still, but willing to listen to her side of things.

As Bonnie and Jeremy left the haunted house, he asked her how strong her powers had become. She got this wry look and basically turned into Storm for a few seconds.

All it meant was that she was blowing around MORE leaves than normal, and there was some lightning. If you ask me, she went from useless to medium-useless. Jeremy was a nice, supportive boyfriend, though, so props to him. I will say this about Bonnie, however: How CRISPY was her hair in this episode??? It looked so crispy in every scene! I think she must have just stepped out of the shower, ran a glob of L.A. Looks gel through her hair and was like, "I'm good."

So then Isobel drove Elena to a cemetery where Isobel's grave marker is. Look at this picture: Elena is literally asking her, "What is that?" in reference to this tombstone:

Really, Elena? Dang, is it possible that Elena is actually illiterate? We know she's uneducated, but do you think she's been merely PRETENDING to read or write in diaries and has been making it all up just to cover for her illiteracy? You guys, I think Elena might be illiterate.

Anyway, Isobel started to get speechy about her life, and I was like, "Uh oh," the reaper's a-comin'.

Elena seemed kind of surprised to hear these words of contrition from such a dastardly lady nerd.

Oh and the whatever-he-is called to tell Isobel that she had, in fact, been compelled by Klaus to betray Elena, but that the mission was now over and Elena was free to go. So basically most of Isobel's bad deeds hadn't really been her fault! Elena seemed almost touched by this fact. However, it wasn't enough to alleviate Isobel of her guilt, because then she suddenly ripped off her mystical amulet and this happened:

It was a surprising and poignant end for one of the show's biggest troublemakers! Goodbye, Isobel!

We cut to the END of Caroline's story, but even knowing all that we know about Caroline's ordeal, Matt was still not won over or sympathetic in any way. You know what, screw you, Matt. Maybe YOU'RE the monster. He basically called her garbage and demanded that she erase his brain again. She reluctantly agreed, and her character took on a whole new level of tragedy.

Elena took a tiny fraction of a moment to mourn Isobel, but was interrupted by Damon slapping the deed to the mansion into her bony lap.

The bros basically wanted her to sign the deed and then invite only them into the house. Man, can you imagine?! If I was her, I'd sign that thing and then immediately start changing light bulbs and enforcing a MANDATORY dancing-to-Depeche Mode hour.

Have I mentioned how much SUPERNATURAL PAPERWORK was in this episode? House deeds, foreclosures, apartment leases, grimoire fine print. Honestly, who knew that monsters have to pay attention to so much written word? Are there vampire lawyers and notaries public? What a drag! Anyway, at some point Jeremy noticed that if Bonnie uses all her new powers, she'll die.

But, you know, duh. That's how Grams bit it. Way to pay attention, Jeremy. The bummer is that now we have YET ANOTHER martyrdom plotline. Ugh, I thought Elena would be the last person hoping to die, but now Bonnie's up to the same shenanigans! Don't worry, though—like most things, Bonnie will fail at this too.

Mixed in with all these closing scenes was one of the most devastating scenes ever on this show, or on any show. After getting "wiped" by Caroline, Matt walked outside, climbed in Sheriff Forbes' cruiser, admitted he'd faked getting wiped, and proceeded to tell Caroline's mom everything.

So now the two people Caroline most cares about are crying over her like she's dead, and worse, scheming against her well-being. It's so horrible, but so understandable. Man, this plotline was like on a whole other show. I really hope everything works out for these people, but now I'm afraid it won't!

There was a bit of a reconciliation between Elena and Uncle John. Maybe she was just vulnerable after a long day, but I read it as something more: Sometimes we all need a parent, even on this show, and even if it's your untrustworthy, vaguely amphibious biological father/uncle.

So then Katherine woke up on a hardwood floor all dazed.

She saw some guy with his back turned, getting infused with blood and being chanted over by POSSIBLY an albino witch? (Or maybe it was Vitiligo? Whatever Michael Jackson had.) Anyway it was super creepy and we could tell from the music and build up that it was definitely going to be Klaus.

Except it was Alaric! But also Klaus! What was going ON here?

From the looks of things, it sort of seemed like Alaric was actually Klaus the whole time. It was hard to say! But then the previews for the next episode revealed that Klaus was most likely projecting his consciousness into Alaric—which, cool trick! That would make more sense, and would be more consistent with the idea that Klaus is a recluse but also gets around. Anyway, AMAZING cliffhanger.

All in all, this episode was very solid. It wrapped up some storylines, killed some people off, and set up some devastating new threads. I'm not saying I completely understand the Isobel plotlines, but at least they're a fun journey! Not as fun as riding a Great Dane across the Rocky Mountains, but, you know, what is?


Questions!

... If Klaus is merely using Alaric's human body, does that mean he won't have vampire powers?

... How will Katherine factor into the curse?

... Is Bonnie gonna die?

... Is Caroline EVER going to catch a break?

... Do you like getting tossed in the bushes?