The Vampire Diaries: Wood If They Could (PHOTO RECAP)

The Vampire Diaries S03E18: "The Murder of One"

Oh, so THAT is what a good episode is supposed to look like. I'm not going to lie to you, sometimes I can't tell the difference between good and bad things anymore. Whereas people did not seem to care for the last few episodes of The Vampire Diaries, I thought they were fine at the time? Fun even? Or at least I did until last night's episode, which made those ones seem like wet garbage. The reason I wasn't very harsh against their shortcomings is because these days I'm frankly just happy that the Good Lord sees fit to bless us with another new episode of this crazy carnival week in and week out. Who am I to say what's good and what's bad when I'm just happy to be included? Oh, it's in my job description? Hmm. Okay, well in that case, "The Murder of One" was a simply rock-solid episode, full of fun moments and important things. Phew! Being a critic is hard. (Please don't tell the Pulitzer Committee I wrote any of this.)

Hey can I talk about this episode with you? Cool, thanks, here goes...

Like the thoughtful friend and reprehensible enabler that she is, Elena showed up at Alaric's apartment with a handful of delicious treats.

After literally frowning at the first glance of Damon (R.I.P. Delena), she found herself barred from the apartment for some reason!

What were those boys up to? I'll tell you what...

That's right, they were listening to some hot rock jams and operating industrial-grade power saws! Alaric's apartment has always been the weirdest place in Mystic Falls, but it was suddenly a weird place covered in sawdust.

Speaking of Alaric, after he'd finished sawing up the Wickery Bridge sign, he sort of came to his senses about the fact that he'd murdered half-a-dozen people and should probably not be loose.

Damon did NOT agree with Alaric's plan to lock himself back up in the town's Styrofoam jail.

Damon's reasoning was that, sure, the ring made Alaric into a split-personality PSYCHO, but at least he was safe from supernatural death! Don't worry, this decision would definitely not come back to haunt anybody!

Meanwhile most of the gang met up in the woods. Elena and Caroline had a heart-to-heart about the fact that Alaric had killed Caroline's dad, but it somehow became a conversation about how hard Elena's life is. Then Matt showed up looking mildly surprised to be there.

I definitely get the impression that Matt's received his fair share of accidental mass texts or CC's. Fortunately in this situation he was definitely invited to join the gang, and it was lucky that he was able to take time away from work, football practice, and eating cheese from mousetraps (or however else he gets nourishment).

Then the Salvatores showed up eager to brag about what they'd kept a secret from Elena only hours earlier.

12 White Oak stakes! That is so many stakes! Plus, they brought a game plan to match... Some of them would pose as bait while others would distract Klaus and Stefan would rush in and murder Rebekah, thus killing ALL the Originals! Because they are linked remember?

Klaus sure remembered. That's why he was off in a big city somewhere trying to lure Suicidal Finn back to Mystic Falls where he'd be better protected (from committing suicide).

Unfortunately Finn was NOT interested. And who can blame him? If you'd sat out most of the millennium wouldn't you want to see the sights? Anyway, Klaus wasn't having it:

Next thing Finn knew he was flailing around on Klaus' marble floor staring up at the one who got away.

This lady!

Klaus had a COOL phone! And the extremely long, lingering shot of him using it (awkwardly, with a stylus) was CRUCIAL to the episode. Oh Klaus. Leave it to a 1,000-year-old vampire to find using a stylus on a cell phone cool.

So yeah, Sage and Finn were totally the Romeo & Juliet of their time.

MEANWHILE (and it's a big 'meanwhile'), Rebekah was exacting some revenge after last week's brain molestation incident. She busted into the Salvatore Mansion and abducted Damon! And then chained him to the ceiling in Klaus' ballroom! The plastic tarp she'd laid down beforehand was NOT a good sign.

Just so you know, a large percentage of this plotline was like something out of a Saw movie. It was pretty disturbing! But Rebekah wasn't just torturing for the fun of it, her intention was to bleed Damon of the vervain he'd been drinking so that she'd be able to compel him to murder his own friends. Practical!

Oh, and up until this point a big deal had been made about how Bonnie was M.I.A. and not returning her phone calls. Well, look who'd recruited her?

Klaus was threatening bodily harm against Jeremy (via Kol, who was currently chillin' in Denver spying on Jeremy) unless Bonnie helped him reverse Esther's spell. Bonnie was NOT happy to be there.

Then this scene happened, which I think was supposed to be emotional but it was just so strange and confusing to me that I didn't know what to make of it!

Like, again, the conversation took a turn so that Caroline was the one comforting Alaric. Her explanation had something to do with the fact that she'd murdered a stranger once, so that means she's not about to throw rocks at other people's glass houses. Or something. Look, it's exactly the sort of warm-hearted yet nonsensical argument Elena would make, but for some reason when Caroline does it, it's much more convincing? Either way, absolutely nothing about this conversation was rooted in any kind of relatable truth that I've ever experienced, or ever will experience, so it probably wasn't as moving to me as it was supposed to be. Caroline still wins though!

So by this point Elena had discovered that Damon was in Rebekah's possession, so she insisted on putting the kibosh on the gang's plan. Stefan, of course, was insistent that they continue with the plan in order to save Damon.

So yeah. Disagreement! Imagine that.

Oh, then this woozily filmed scene happened:

The Scorsese-style lighting was definitely NOT huge giveaway that it was a dream sequence, but whatever, still fun.

Oh my gosh, they almost kissssssseedddddd!!!

But haha, it was just Rebekah, exacting some mindgame torture to go with the bodily harm. There was a nice moment where Damon incredulously pointed out Rebekah's psychological shortcomings.

Ouch! For a second there, her silent gaze was sort of devastating. And the fact Damon kept rubbing it in made me kind of mad at him? I like Rebekah tons, so I'm not sure I want to see her antagonized all the time. She got real stabby in this episode, though!

Meanwhile in the next room, Bonnie was readying the spell and Klaus whipped out a Trapper Keeper full of his siblings' BLOOD.

Quick question: How did he get these samples? When they were desiccated in their coffins, was their blood extractable? You know what? I don't care anymore, and I stopped caring about midway through typing the question. Life goes on, you know?

Anyway, then Bonnie had all the different bloods, which she stirred together into some kind of gnarly cocktail that you probably learn in witch bartending school.

And all the blood separated into five orderly piles! Pretty neat!

Meanwhile at Mystic Grill, Finn and Sage were living it up.

But while doing tequila shots, they realized they'd been poisoned with vervain!

It was Stefan, attempting to lure them into a street fight! Which he succeeded in doing. Unfortunately within four seconds he'd muffed everything up by dropping the stake.

That's when a certain mousy empath and her pale beefcake friend BURST out of the back door with a crossbow and a positive mental attitude!

Elena shot Finn with an arrow!

Then Matt ran up and STABBED Finn with a stake!

Then they hilariously disappeared back inside and slammed the door! A perfect plan executed perfectly!

Sage was NOT happy.

Bye forever, Finn. You were easily the most important character ever featured on The Vampire Diaries. The reverberations of your death will be felt for entire seasons down the road.

Oh, but this was moving: Upon leaving Klaus' clutches, Bonnie walked outside, notified Elena that the spell was broken and Damon was a prisoner, then collapsed beside a car and sobbed.

It was a moving moment (for real), and that's mostly because Bonnie is almost never allowed moments like this? She's had a rough season, let's be honest, and usually this show cuts away right when she's supposed to have a quiet moment to process stuff. So it was cool that she got to have a full-face cry for once. (Still holding out hope for a Dark Bonnie plotline.)

Back at the Salvatore Mansion, Stefan angrily marched outside to go rescue Damon only to find himself doing an unexpected barrel roll right back into the house!

It was Sage! And she was PISSED.

OH HELL NO. If there's one way to make an audience demand a character's death, it's having that character lay a hand on Caroline, and Sage just straight-up BACK-HANDED our precious angel! This WOULD NOT STAND.

Fortunately only moments later this happened:

Bye forever, lady. I should point out that she'd brought along a henchman that she herself had sired and HE died too. What did it all meaaaaaannnn??

It didn't take long before they realized the connection. After Finn died, all the vampires he'd sired (Sage and so on...) died with him. Whoa!

THAT MEANS! All living vampires trace their bloodlines to the four remaining Originals! Caroline, Stefan, Damon, Abby, and Katherine all trace back to Rose, who was probably sired by Elijah or Klaus. And Tyler was definitely sired by Klaus. So yeah: That whole plan to kill the Originals is definitely out the window now. (But seriously: YAY!!! I <3 the Originals so much.)

So then Stefan showed up at Klaus' house in order to fetch his brother.

He attempted to hand over the "eight remaining" stakes in exchange for Damon. But because the vervain had drained from Damon's system, Klaus immediately compelled him to 'fess up about how many stakes there were (12), and so Stefan's lie was exposed right away. Also, for good measure, Klaus treated us to some sweet gore action via Damon's wrist shackles:

Oh, Klaus. After an ill-advised attempt to stake Klaus (seriously, shouldn't the Salvatores adopt a live-and-let-live attitude toward the invincible titans in their midst?), Klaus agreed to let Damon go so long as Damon returned ALL of the remaining stakes to him. Meanwhile he alerted Rebekah to his new plan: They would leave town together, plus take Elena with them so that he could produce more hybrids.

Except Rebekah wasn't so sure she wanted to stray far from the cliques of Mystic Falls High.

Klaus was super mean to her about it. Get over it, K!

Then this scene, whatever this was supposed to be. I know this show is a romance, but ugh. The gist was that Stefan finally told Elena that he loves her and always will, but then he made it contingent upon her saying that she had zero feelings for Damon.

Now, to be honest, this show has done a less-than-stellar job of proving that Elena actually does love Damon. She's been super mean to him ever since he kissed her, and even then she only ever gave him grim glances. There have been opportunities to DENY that she liked Damon (and she declined to), but that's not the same as showing us his feelings are requited in any way. But yeah, of course Elena is not going to say she doesn't love him in some way. She probably wouldn't refute her feelings for Matt or Alaric either. Doesn't matter: Stefan didn't want anything to do with her now. Okay, psycho.

Speaking of which... Damon still had to carry out his compulsion errand.

But whoops! Alaric didn't know where his stake had gone, just that it disappeared during another of his blackouts!

Wuh-oh. The problem is that Alaric's alter ego wants to kill all vampires. Now he (or she!) can. (Haha, it makes me laugh to think that Alaric's alter-ego could be a lady, don't ask me why, probably because I haven't been to bed yet.)

So yeah, good episode. Moved things right along! We got some delicious teen teamwork, two characters got real killed, Bonnie had stuff to do, the Originals seem to be slightly safer now, and the plotlines are starting to come together! Can't believe there are only four more episodes, you guys. This is nuts!




... Matt killed an Original! Discuss.

... So how many vampires all over the world dropped dead after Finn was killed?

... Was Caroline a little too easygoing about her father's murder?

... Have Jeremy and Kol become workout buddies?


Post-script! Last week I didn't get a chance to respond to comments, but I loved every last one of them. I wanted to single out dref22 for making this image, at which I LOL'ed for real:

This was the best. And huge thanks to the rest of the Awesome Comment Parade for making this such a fun place to visit!

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