You know what they say: When one ship sinks, another ship rises to take its place. It's just the Circle of Ships. Hakuna-mashippa.
You guys, "Dangerous Liaisons" was one of those episodes The Vampire Diaries does so well: an absolutely pulse-pounding hour in which very little actually happens. Seriously! Write it out on paper: The Originals threw a party, Matt broke his hand, and then Damon got laid. Not much to it, right? Except this episode was everything. It was surprising, and heartfelt, and sad, and funny and as much of an emotional thrill ride as this show has ever produced. I had to pause the DVR and lay down on the floor a couple of times. It was so good!
And it all began in the world's weirdest hospital:
It was shortly after, I guess, Alaric resurrected on Elena's hardwood floors. Apparently Elena and Matt had brought him here to get a fresh transfusion of vampire blood? I didn't know, I was too transfixed by the excellent wall art: TWO framed portraits of, literally, Mystic Falls.
Anyway, in what would be the ONLY reminder that a psycho killer continues to roam the town, we got this ultra-creepy P.O.V. shot of the two of them being watched WITHIN the hospital:
Spooky, right? I half expected synth strings to play! Anyway, that was that for the psycho killer plotline. In real life a rampaging psycho killer would probably be the #1 thing you or I would think about, but in Mystic Falls it comes in at like #8. Poor psycho killer. Better luck next time.
Out in the parking lot (Elena and Matt arrived separately?) Elena thought she'd backed into somebody with her car.
At first I thought she'd run over some vagrant or, like, Tiki's Grandad or something, but nope!
Oh, it was Rebekah! So wait, did Rebekah get hit by the car then? I don't know, all I know is, she was MAD about Elena stabbing her before homecoming. Fair enough. Fortunately for Elena, Mama Original had declared a no-killing-humans rule and Elijah swooped in to enforce it.
Elijah's such a hero. I hope Elena keeps that in mind in the near future!
Anyway, back at Elena's joint, she was enjoying a morning bicker session with the Salvatore bros when the doorbell rang. She'd gotten an invitation!
I mean, honestly. ANOTHER formal event where there is guaranteed to be mayhem? Elena probably gets more of these invitations than credit card solicitations. Just place it directly in the shredder!
I LOL'd at this. It's a SAME DAY invitation for a black tie formal BALL. Seriously, Mikaelson Family? I loved the personal note Esther wrote for Elena:
Meanwhile at Klaus' pad, his family was hard at work getting their in-home makeovers from an army of mentally incapacitated servants.
Honestly, the Originals might be nice to LOOK at, but I'm guessing that living room smells awful. They are from even before the dark ages. Don't tell me they've already adopted our modern habit of daily showers.
There was a charming moment when Esther took Klaus aside and nagged him about bringing a lady to the ball.
Moms, am I right? Just when you think you murdered them and lugged around their coffin for a thousand years they just show right back up and nag nag nag. To Esther's credit though, it was exactly the kind of motivation he needed to finally make his move.
What was cool was that Klaus included a fancy dress with the invitation. That's just good manners!
Unfortunately Caroline did NOT seem that enthused. It probably had to do with the round of voicemail tag she'd been playing with Tyler, who was off somewhere learning to be a hybrid and leaving voicemails to his girlfriend about her dead father. Boyfriend stuff, basically.
After another late afternoon bickering session in which Stefan and Damon fought over whether the ball was a trick or not, and whether Elena should be allowed to attend, and if so, with whom, suddenly it was balltime and Damon was shmoozing with the Mayor.
And that's when Elena walked in wearing THIS gown, which I guess she already owned?
All I know is, Elena was NOT getting that shrug back. This girl had hungry eyes for high fashion.
Anyway, in a moment that is basically THIS ENTIRE SERIES encapsulated into three seconds, the brothers both attempted to escort Elena into the party (where she was already present, but...).
It's cool that this show is now just filming scenes explicitly for use in YouTube fan videos! there's a new clip for you, teens! Get to work!
Someone who was NOT having a good time was Caroline, who was still back at her house trying to find something she can wear to the ball.
That's when she decided to make the right choice and show up to become a part of this episode's BEST storyline.
RELUCTANTLY, but still. These two were the best, simply the best. -Tina Turner
But WHOOPS! It was time for an elaborate waltz rife with romantic intrigue! And dance they did!
It was cool how each coupling got a few seconds of romantic sparkle just before they had to separate out and match up with other people.
A moment happened right here when I very nearly fell off the couch (which I'd been sitting on the edge of for the entire episode). Caroline quickly shut Klaus down when he attempted to express condolences about her father, so instead he went on to compliment how she looked and how good of a dancer she was. When she casually replied that she had experience with ballroom dancing because she's Miss Mystic Falls, he just replied quietly, "I know." You guyssss!!! How did those two words mean so much?? How is KLAUS my favorite character all of a sudden? How did this awful monster become a romantic hero? Oh I know why: Caroline. She's just that amazing. And Klaus. And Caroline. And Klaus. And Caroline. Hold on, do I need to start a dozen Tumblrs now? Isn't that the law?
But meanwhile, YES:
Rebekah remains awesome, but wasn't it slightly strange how weird she got when Klaus was dancing with Caroline? That's your brother, lady. Relax. But I loved when she was instantly won over by Damon paying her a compliment. Poor girl.
Speaking of poor girls, out on the lawn Elena was having an unsettling conversation with Stefan. First of all, she needed his help to somehow distract Damon in order to visit Esther alone (which the over-protective Damon wouldn't allow). But it got super gross when Elena complimented Stefan for having given her freedom to make her own decisions when they were together. Um, you mean all those terrible decisions you made, Elena? And what about the time when Stefan was following you around like a maniac. Or how he murdered dozens of people in cold blood?
This was definitely an episode where my slowly mounting respect for Elena suddenly started circling the drain. Ol' Bad Brains was BACK!
Stefan, while admitting he was jealous of Damon and Elena kissing, made basically NO effort to get back in good with Elena but she was pretending like he had. It was really pretty remarkable. Without him apologizing or making any move toward righting his wrongs, Elena seemed eager to forgive and forget. Ugh.
Anyway, after Stefan "murdered" Damon, Elena crept upstairs and confronted Esther who was busily burning sage in order to sound proof their meeting. Or something. I think we all know the REAL reason she was burning it.
Oh, and remember that time Ghost Vicki attempted to murder Elena because the Original Witch told her to? Elena was not very upset about it! In fact, barely seemed to care. I mean, I guess it's understandable, it happened, what, three weeks ago? It was a distant memory. So anyway, as Esther explained, Klaus did indeed murder her back in the day, but her witch bestie preserved her body in that casket all these years while she attempted to cross back over.
It turned out that the previous episode's finale was a lie: Esther did NOT want peace within the family, she wanted to undo the evil she'd created in the world. Specifically, she wanted to murder her own children. Yikes! I mean, sure, many of them are mass murderers, but still, that's intense!
Anyway, I don't know if I trust a witch who lights candles like this:
The plot to kill her children involved spiking the party's champagne with Elena's blood and then bonding all of the Originals together. The only reason to bond them together was so that if you kill one of them the rest will die. That's just being efficient. Anyway, didn't have to ask Elena twice:
Things were definitely looking bad for Elijah, but it was probably his fault for trusting Elena in the first place.
Oh look who ELSE was invited to the ball:
It was just straight-up charming how Klaus attempted to talk to Caroline all night. She couldn't have been less interested, but it didn't really stop him.
It never ceased to be touching how whenever Caroline shut Klaus down in a manner that would get ANYBODY else straight-up murdered, he kept his cool and even seemed to consider everything she was saying.
We all knew Caroline would have nothing but a good influence on Klaus, but these scenes (during which, it's worth repeating, Caroline was NOT into him) actually showed him becoming human right before our eyes. Like he was realizing that if he wants good things in life he actually has to earn them, and even better, it seemed like he was willing to do just that.
In another of the night's best plotlines, Rebekah decided she'd get some tangential revenge on Elena by inviting Matt to the ball as her date and then murdering him during the party. She'd even enlisted her dickish prettyboy brother Kol to do the honors once she'd lured Matt outside. But then he pulled a classic Matt move: He was nice to her. Just really nice.
And once again, Rebekah stopped being a one thousand year old vampire and started being the thing she most wanted to be: An ordinary high school girl wearing the quarterback's letterman jacket. It's was just an utterly disarming scene, a perfect distillation of this show's balance between epic supernatural saga and ordinary teen drama. So yeah, obviously Rebekah decided not to have Matt killed after all and I MIGHT have teared up a little. Who knows? Nobody will ever know now.
So just before the grand toast, Elijah attempted to pick Elena's brain about what they'd discussed.
This was a huge moment of betrayal in that Elijah had done a ton of good for Elena over the past few months and she didn't so much as flinch in contributing to his potential demise. Because suddenly everybody was drinking slightly bloody pink champagne!
This was straight cold-blooded of Elena, right up there with the time she stabbed Rebekah after gaining her trust. I don't know, is Elena kind of a shark now? Seriously, maybe she and the current Stefan ARE meant to be together. They're both homicidal psychopaths.
On the opposite end of homicidal psychopath spectrum, Caroline was still being a good sport during all of Klaus' best efforts to woo her.
It was especially amusing when she wasn't impressed by his priceless paintings because he'd stolen them (same with her bracelet). But she WAS impressed by something else in his office:
Now. OKAY. Klaus DRAWS. I have to say, any other show with any other actor, and this would've been cheesy as heck. But no, Klaus' sketches were just so charming. And then he confided in her that one of his drawings hangs in the Hermitage Museum! WHAT?
But then things got awkward when Caroline just directly asked him to un-sire her boyfriend Tyler. When Klaus didn't seem thrilled about that subject, she went all Dr. Phil on him.
It had a lot to do with the fact that he sires hybrids because he's afraid nobody will ever love him. She basically shoved a big spoonful of Truth down his throat, and this time he'd had enough.
To his credit, he didn't raise his voice at her, he just told her to scram. For a second there it seemed like the romance was off. On the other hand, Caroline was right about everything and he probably already knew it.
Elsewhere Damon found out about Elena's secret meeting with Esther and he was VERY mad about it.
It was a bit of a heartbreaking scene, except that Damon genuinely was an overprotective jerk toward Elena throughout the episode. It's not like they were even officially dating or anything, he was just sort of a nightmare to her ever since getting some mouth action a few days prior. Now, obviously I think SHE herself was a nightmare so fine. But when he said "I love you" and she said "That's the problem," it was hard to miss the pain in his eyes. You know? I'm not an android, I feel things too. And in that tiny moment I was on Damon's side.
Unfortunately for Kol, he hadn't heeded his sister's wishes and continued to carry out his murder plans against Matt.
And that's when Damon swooped in to save him by throwing Kol off the balcony!
As if that weren't enough, Damon then jumped down on top of him and started windmill punching him!
I mean, here I thought Originals were super powerful, but I guess not? They're definitely no match for a spurned Salvatore. Anyway, he kind of made a scene:
But then he did this bad-ass walk away from everyone that suggested he'd regained some of the swagger he lost after Season 1.
Yay, Old Damon was back! I hope he doesn't go murdering another Lexi or compel-rapin' anymore Carolines, but he's welcome to dance to Depeche Mode covers in his underwear any time!
So then back at Caroline's house she returned home to continue her game of phone tag with Tyler. That's when she found yet another gift-wrapped velvet box on her bed. Rolling her eyes, expecting another piece of stolen jewelry, she instead found something far more priceless.
He'd appreciated her candor after all, and drew a picture of her with that horse from his driveway!
And this time it definitely seemed like Caroline was finally warming up to the idea of gazing into a one thousand year-old vampire's eyes for the rest of eternity. I mean, who wouldn't?
Back at Klaus' pad, Esther was putting the finishing touches on her binding spell, and she'd enlisted the one sibling who was more than willing to die for the cause.
And then she did this cool thing where she sliced Finn's palm (UGH, that's not the cool part, I hate that so much) and he bled onto a family tree, the trails of blood systematically blotting out his siblings' names. It was extremely cool.
And then the thing BURST INTO FLAMES. Now all she has to do is murder Finn and they'll all drop dead! So, just to throw this out there, she claimed it would kill the Original vampires, but are we so sure it won't also kill the vampires spawned by the Originals (i.e. all the rest of them)? I mean, if Esther is so hell-bent on cleansing the earth of her own mistakes, then doesn't it stand to reason that other vampires could get wiped out also? I don't know. I don't have all the answers, not this time or any time.
So yeah, to conclude the very UGH plotline, Stefan was being a real cold jerk to Elena STILL, but now he'd added petty jealousy to the mix.
And then they were back on the porch having the same conversation they've had for what's felt like dozens of times already. Elena wants Stefan to try and be nice again. Stefan wants Elena to go suck a lemon. Even worse, Stefan was kind of whiny about the whole thing?
The grossest part was the Stefan made it about himself and what a world of hurt he was experiencing because of his decision to shatter Elena's heart into a million pieces, a process that could've been stopped any number of times along the way. And so then Elena took this as a cue to, I guess, apologize?
Not that it worked. Stefan was in a real dramatic mood and he claimed that if he were to start "feeling" again, all he'd feel was "pain."
And then he ditched her! But honestly, that's perfect. Merry Christmas, Elena. Bye, you guys. Who cares.
THIS was what I cared about:
After the incident with Matt's broken hand (for which he hilariously admitted he didn't have health insurance), Rebekah attempted to apologize and Matt was understandably wary.
It was the right kind of sad because (A) Matt was right, nothing good could come of him chillin' with anyone from that family, but also (B) it makes me feel so sad whenever Rebekah attempts to make good and gets rejected.
Luckily, rejection was the theme of the night.
And Damon had a pretty good solution for post-ball blues.
They finally made their s'mores! This was an incredible climax, so to speak. And dirty! Did you realize how dirty this scene was? Torn clothes and O-faces and all that. But it was great! I'm not even gloating about the fact that the Damon-Elena thing is now officially circling the drain, I'm genuinely into Damon and Rebekah as a pair. They have a certain rapport, you know? I mean, I would've preferred it if she could've worn the quarterback's letterman jacket a little longer, but this is a pretty good consolation prize if you ask me.
But to the Delena fans out there currently nursing a heartbreak, keep your chin up. These ARE grownups, and grownups do occasionally have one-night-stands before settling down with their soulmates. Or, you know, sometimes they marry their one-night-stands. Either way. Anything is possible! And that's what makes this show so magical.
... Do you approve of the Caroline and Klaus coupling?
... Are you mad at Esther now?
... Now that the Original siblings are bonded, did Damon just have a five-way?
... Are Bonnie and Abby still passed out in the cave?