So how's your family? Have you talked to them lately? Is everyone doing okay, or is there a chance they've all been metaphorically daggered with metaphorical white oak ash-encrusted daggers and metaphorically banished to coffins for the greater part of a thousand years? Who knows, every family is different. Well, if you were to ask all of the citizens of Mystic Falls how THEIR families are doing, you'd hear this really loud chorus of "EFFFFFFED."
The Vampire Diaries needs to change its name to Family Matters (has that name been taken yet?), because "Bringing Out the Dead" was ALL about family. In fact, it could be argued that most of this entire season has been about family in on way or another, and that's pretty significant considering TVD is a show that was originally about a love triangle. Now it's about brothers and daughters and mothers and sisters and gay dads and alcoholic guardians and orphans. In a way, it's nice to know that no matter how outrageously incredible (in the original sense) the storylines get, it all comes down to how annoying our families can be. Fictional monsters: They're just like us!
That's a long way of saying this was a solid episode. Tons of good stuff. Almost TOO MUCH good stuff? Like, maybe I missed some of the good stuff because there was good stuff that accidentally slipped between my couch cushions or something? It's all right, I'll find it later. But let's jump in on what we got!
We began right where the last episode left off: A suspiciously bewigged Elijah wiping the sleep from his eyes while quietly assessing Klaus's decor. It didn't take Elijah long before he realized Klaus wasn't actually the person who woke him up.
And then a full-on Original Vampire slap-'n-push BATTLE broke out!
And it just kept going!
Pretty intense for a cold open! Plus, hey new Original! Elijah called him "Kol," but somebody should wake him up and tell him his name is spelled wrong. Anyway, yup. Handsome.
Over at the Gilbert house Alaric was dragging himself around the kitchen just having a typical morning.
There was this weird sexual tension moment where Alaric sort of bragged about drunk dialing Meredith in the middle of the night and Elena just giggled. I don't know. Is anybody at all worried about Alaric's life lately? And I'm not even talking about how he gets totally stabbed later. I'm talkin' mental health. I feel like he's two skipped showers away from shouting at street signs and sleeping in the park.
Oh hey remember that murder mystery from a few episodes back? That came up in this episode in a BIG way, and it was awesome. It started when Sheriff Forbes swung by the Gilberts' place to, you know, get them involved in the investigation.
It turned out the murder weapon used to kill the Medical Examiner was an old Gilbert family stake taken from any one of their apparently hundreds of weapons stockpiles around town.
Oh, and also, the only fingerprints found on it were ELENA'S.
So obviously it was like, well, she has at least ONE doppelganger out there. What's Katherine been up to? But instead this tidbit was dropped IMMEDIATELY and Katherine's name wasn't even brought up. Instead Elena and Alaric immediately started thinking Meredith. I mean, fair enough, that lady's intensity isn't doing her any favors, but still. Brainstorm a little harder, guys?
Meanwhile out in some deserted field, Elijah had a secret meeting with Damon who'd apparently left a note in his pocket before undaggering him.
Here's what it said:
Damon figured Elijah would be pretty stoked to help kill Klaus, but NOPE. For some bizarre reason Elijah was reluctant to betray his brother. Who could've foreseen that?
Meanwhile Stefan brought Bonnie and Abby to that secret cave system under the Lockwood Estate because THAT's where Damon had hidden the fourth coffin. It was a clever move because not only were vampires unable to enter the cave, but also production could re-use the expensive papier-maché set.
I have to say, after being somewhat underwhelmed by Bonnie's mom in the last episode, she REALLY grew on me in this episode. Especially when she gave the entire cave the side-eye.
She just looked so over it and I could relate. We already KNEW what was in that coffin: Snickers, all different sizes of Snickers, at least $175 worth. (P.S. I count at least EIGHT unlit candles in this picture so it was definitely a Bennett operation through and through.)
Meanwhile at the world's most dimly lit hospital, Caroline arrived to pick up her dad and had a weird run-in with Meredith.
The weirdest part was how frank the conversation was. Meredith was immediately upfront about feeding vampire blood to humans, the fact that she knew Caroline was a vampire, and the idea that she personally keeps tabs on all vampires in town. And to top it off she gave Caroline a bit of on-the-spot psychiatry by pointing out that Caroline's dad was basically bigoted against his own daughter. Just a perfectly normal conversation, in other words.
Anyway, things got creepy when Meredith informed Caroline she'd discharged Caroline's father the night before, then when Caroline called him she heard his ringtone coming from the supply closet.
First of all, wasn't it hilarious that a man could lay dying in a hospital's SUPPLY CLOSET for over 10 hours and nobody noticed? Does Mystic Falls Hospital even practice medicine anymore? Does Meredith just stand in the parking lot with syringes full of vampire blood? But second of all: Poor Caroline!
Luckily Elena was hilariously blasé about the whole thing. To paraphrase, "Dude died with vampire blood in his system. He'll turn. Let's get smoothies."
For a second there I got SUPER excited about this development, mostly because I've hated this plotline so much so far. Would Bill Forbes be forced to become the very thing he hates most? That could've been a really interesting plotline! But nope. Ugh. I am gonna rant about this so much in a second! (Fair warning.)
At the Salvatore mansion Damon was just chillin' in Stefan's room helping him pick out clothes even though they both clearly hated each other a ton and everything was tense as heck.
The subtext of the whole scene was YOU KISSED MY LADY. It was gonna be a long night.
Back at the hospital, Caroline was doing her best to help her father through a rough transition that she herself had been forced into. Great daughter, right?
This guy. So Bill didn't want to become a vampire because as he explained later to Caroline, he loves her but it's against his belief system to be a vampire. He begrudgingly admitted that she's still human, but he clearly held himself to a higher standard. It's not said outright, but he was talking like a religious man, in this case it's his religion to be anti-vampire and ain't nothing gonna change that. This would've been a great opportunity for TVD to show someone actually breaking through their own dogma in order to follow their heart, and, you know, be a good father (or maybe he could've attempted to change the vampire community from within). But nope! He just plain died in a way that suggested his beliefs were noble. Now if we're being real, a blood-sucking demon isn't the most ideal thing to be. Fair enough. But in the world of Mystic Falls, a huge array of monsters exists and many of these creatures are genuinely good and decent. So we know Bill Forbes is a bigot for viewing them in black or white terms yet the show allows him to have his noble religious beliefs even though they're detrimental to his family.
Honestly, the gay bigot dad plotline has been infuriating from the get-go. I just don't believe that MAYOR LOCKWOOD of all people would be accepting of monsters but a homosexual man wouldn't. Sorry if that sounds like reverse bigotry, but my highly biased anecdotal evidence is 100% sound: Openly gay people tend to have more empathy for outsiders. So for this show (and its presumably very gay writing staff) to make its only gay character a hypocritical zealot is just straight-up offensive. And did you notice how they also charmingly discredited Bill's same-sex relationship by saying he didn't even want to say goodbye to the person he'd been sharing his life with? Gross, TVD.
And it's simply not an acceptable excuse to say that these characterizations are specific to Bill Forbes only and not a statement on gay culture. For one thing he's been written too simplistically for this character to seem like anything approaching a real person. (And weren't his methods to "cure" Caroline such Level 1 brainstorming? Talk about a missed creative opportunity.) But this excuse is also not gonna fly in an age where gay TV characters exist in smaller percentage than actual gay people do in the population. You can't leapfrog the part where gay people are written as normal citizens and jump immediately back into gay villainy. Sorry, I know it's 2012, but too many shows are doing this and it's regression and it's my job to remind everyone that you're suddenly back in Celluloid Closet territory here. Cool it with the gay villains.
Beyond these things, however, is the biggest problem: Caroline is the best character and giving her dad such a terrible storyline and an inglorious death also sells Caroline short. We deserved better, she deserved better, and Bill Forbes deserved better. Nobody deserved this ret-conned abomination who sullied an otherwise stellar Season 3. Moral of the story: If you're gonna tackle some seriously tricky subjectmatter, then actually tackle it. Take the time and be smart about it, otherwise you're just going to come across as dumb and lazy as this plotline was.
Okay sorry, I'm done talking about gay stereotypes. Let's have an all-handsome-male dinner party!
This was a pretty great series of scenes: Just two pairs of bros chattin' about what it's like to be in a vampire brotherhood. Klaus and Damon were on their best behavior, but Stefan was mostly just:
He was being kind of a jerk! Meanwhile Damon was trying to send secret signals to Elijah that they're totally still secret BFFs right?
And Stefan was trying to get Elijah mad about what Klaus had done to their mother.
It was great how Damon was trying to keep Stefan in line, but especially when he reminded Stefan that HE HAD EATEN THEIR DAD. So reminding Klaus that he'd killed his own mother was definitely a glass house situation.
Back at Caroline's house she was chillin' on her front porch while her dad was inside, I guess, going over paperwork with Sheriff Forbes? I figure dying requires a lot of paperwork so the least he could've done was fill out some of the forms before he kicked it. Anyway, Caroline and Elena's scene was pretty heartbreaking. (Although it was pretty audacious when Elena told Caroline she couldn't force her father to drink blood because "choice is all he has." Um, tell it to Jeremy, lady.) But yeah, in the most poignant moment Caroline asked Elena what it's like to lose a father but didn't seem very cheered by Elena's sad explanations.
Elena was still pretty sweet though. She's a really good friend at the end of the day.
Oh hey, Matt! It was actually a nice surprise when Matt showed up to help keep Caroline company. For one thing it was like, "Oh yeah, Matt's still on the show." But also he's a good dude and Caroline's been going through a rough patch lately and he's definitely the human being version of comfort food, you know?
Back at Klaus's joint, Elijah told a very relevant and informational story about a familiar face.
The original Petrova! Yep, both Klaus and Elijah had fought over her back when they were human and their witch mother solved the dispute by making their whole family drink the girl's blood in order to become vampires. So that clears up the connection of the doppelgangers to the Originals, but it also means we'll be seeing a third Dobrev character very soon, at least in flashbacks. Oh and her name was Tatia because why not?
And yes, this revelation was very much history repeating.
Back at the cave (dang, had they been in there all day?) Bonnie and Abby were giving it their best shot, but Bonnie was not feeling it.
But apparently losing one's powers can be resolved by having a hyper emotional conversation about motherhood and regret. Suddenly Abby was back in business!
And then CLICK! The coffin made a noise without opening all the way. Bonnie could practically SMELL the delicious nougat.
Wasn't it weird how she ran off to go text Damon about almost getting the spell to work? So then obviously the coffin suddenly busted right open when Abby was alone. Why wouldn't it?
Congratulations, Abby! Enjoy those Snickers! You earned 'em!
Oh and this was scary: Elena and Matt returned to her house to find the power was out and the kitchen had been mussed.
Suspecting foul play, the two did what any smart person would do: They did not exit the house nor call the police but instead grabbed large knives and followed the bloody hand prints. To be fair, this sort of thing is practically Elena's day job, so it probably wasn't a big deal for her.
And then... OH NO!
Alaric had been stabbed ALL UP AND DOWN. Did I mention I love this plotline so much? That's the THIRD slasher victim so far! Ladies and gentlemen, we have a murder mystery on our hands!
Because Alaric was so close to death and his ring only resurrects him if he's killed by a supernatural creature, Elena suddenly knew what had to happen.
And that was it! Elena straight-up murdered her roommate/teacher/uncle/stepfather/friend/guardian!
Back at the handsome party, Klaus offered a deal to Stefan. In exchange for that fourth coffin he'd offer Elena protection for the rest of her natural life. It made sense: Her survival was intertwined with his, both for her hybrid-creating blood and the fact that her bloodline would continue producing doppelgangers. Unfortunately, Stefan is just a rascal!
Whoops, deal's off! Then Klaus was mad.
Meanwhile Caroline made one last effort to get her dad to see the light. No dice.
Then it was time for dessert and that's when we realized Elijah really WAS interested in betraying Klaus.
Elijah had undaggered his two other brothers!
And this one was awesome. Why didn't Klaus change HIS clothes while he was in the casket? Sorry dude. Strictly Ren Faire for you.
Rebekah's back! This was the best. I missed her! She immediately got to stabbin' Klaus a ton.
Oh then Bill died. Good riddance.
I mean, as always Candice Accola was A+ in the acting department but it all would've been better if this plotline wasn't awful. She just watched HER FATHER pass away but it felt like some tacked-on D-plot about some guy we never cared about even once. Just a bummer and a wasted opportunity.
So while Elena and Matt waited for Alaric to resurrect, they did NOT want to throw their backs out by putting him on a bed or anything. Probably just staying practical.
Once again, Matt was a champ friend-wise.
Then Alaric came back! Guess that ring still had a bit of go-go juice left in it, after all.
Meanwhile in the middle of some forest Stefan once again recognized that Damon had saved his life despite Stefan being a professional jerk all the time.
And Damon was like, "I'm only saving you because Elena would want me to," which MIGHT be overestimating Elena's affections for Stefan lately, but it's still a nice gesture.
And then, in a moment that's sort of momentous for Season 3, Stefan made a startling admission:
And Damon was like, "Ditto."
So it was definitely out in the open: Both bros liked Elena. In a weird way Stefan even sort of seemed cool with it. It's probably the beginning of a long journey back to winning her over again.
Then in the caves they came across a couple of witches who'd been eating Snickers all day.
Damon seemed SO MAD that Bonnie and Abby had eaten all the Snickers, especially since he'd gone to all the trouble of stealing the coffin and hiding it in the first place. Personally I'm just glad that after several episodes of guessing what was inside the fourth coffin, nobody spoiled it for me and my #1 guess was true. The fourth coffin contained $175 worth of Snickers bars and that's why Klaus wanted it so bad. Sorry Klaus, your loss is the Bennett ladies' (very delicious) gain!
Klaus's bad times just kept on coming because back at the house his siblings were SO MAD at him for having killed their mother. Rebekah was openly plotting to murder Elena (for stabbing her and leaving her face down in a basement wearing a $10 dress) and the other brothers were gearing up to dagger Klaus in retribution for their forced slumber.
Cue deus ex machina:
Their mother wasn't dead at all! Klaus had been keeping secrets, it seemed! Suddenly the siblings weren't mad anymore and everyone seemed pretty stoked that the Original mischiefmaker had returned to make mischief. Well, everyone was stoked except Klaus, that is.
Boom! It's unclear how they'll all feel when they find out Klaus murdered their father, but still. What a family reunion! Too bad they're all so unattractive. Very unsightly, those Originals.
So hey, let's chat about this episode's best part: The MURDERS! I LOVE this plotline so much, it's like an effed up Agatha Christie novel or something. So:
Elena seemed 100% positive that Meredith was the killer, but Sheriff Forbes assured her that Meredith was busy around the time Alaric got attacked. Since neither Bill nor Alaric seemed to remember who attacked them, it really opens up the candidates. My immediate suspicion was that Katherine's the killer (or maybe this Tatia lady), since "Elena's" fingerprints were found on the stake, plus all the victims were members of the Anti-Vampire Council (though that could be misdirection). But if it's not a Petrova, then I think it's one of the more peripheral characters who'd been compelled into doing it. Matt, Jeremy, Mayor Lockwood, Sheriff Forbes: Any of them could've done it without knowing it, right? Caroline suggested that Tyler could've been forced into it via his sire bond to Klaus, but I don't know. That doesn't feel right either. So yeah, I'm going with Katherine, or maybe Matt compelled by Katherine.
... Who's behind the killings?
... Which Original were you most excited to see undaggered?
... Is Stefan about to fight for Elena's heart again?
... Do you think Abby and Bonnie threw up most of the Snickers afterward?