The Vampire Diaries: WORTH. THE. WAIT.

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What, hello? Is this thing on? I haven't done this in so long, you guys! Halfway through last night's BRAND-NEW episode of The Vampire Diaries, I started to panic that I'd forget how to recap this show—or worse, that none of you would even remember who I was, not even my new-best-friend, Julie Plec [NO BIG DEAL]. Because seriously, that wait between new episodes was the WORST thing to happen to America since… Well, okay It wasn't as bad as Katrina, but it was close. Let's just say it ranks behind Katrina but above the Cuban Missile Crisis (zzzz). What I'm trying to say is, The Vampire Diaries ruined Christmas.

Last winter's midseason finale thrilled me for a few reasons: Tyler's pathos-packed werewolf transformation and Rose's terrifying mauling. Regarding the latter, I thought it was bold of the writers to assume we'd care about a new character's fate enough that it would make for a compelling cliffhanger. In the past, such a thing would've bugged me, but after getting caught up on a lot of Season 1, I've come to accept the super-short arcs most of this show's guest stars appear for, and I guess if we're going by Vampire Diaries years, Rose has been on the show for like eight seasons now. I'll say this for Rose (and it's a big compliment to Lauren Cohan), but I liked her immediately and still think she's one of the best characters this show's ever had. So the gamble of basing the winter hiatus cliffhanger on her fate? Totally worked.

So now that you know how much of a Rose fan I am, do we even NEED to talk about how devastated I am right now? I am SAD, you guys! I haven't been this sad since all of my horses jumped the fence and ran directly into the ocean. But I'm not mad, though, because what happened with Rose was thoughtful, beautiful, terrifying, tragic, and just good television. All the emotional moments were earned, and her death seemed to bring out a change in Damon we've never seen before. More on that later…

This episode was TERRIFIC. One of the best I've ever seen. I know I can be pretty harsh on this show sometimes, but this episode had everything. Let's talk about it.

We began in the woods, where a certain new-in-town, very bitey lady-werewolf woke up naked and caked with blood.

Oh, Jules! I think we've all woken up to this scenario before right? But yeah, it was pretty funny how she (a) managed to find a very hip, flattering outfit amongst the pile of severed limbs and (b) pretended to cry after a park ranger found her chillin' with a bunch of charred corpses.

I'm not an expert, but the fact that Jules is perfectly willing to murder a park ranger with a log means she's probably pretty dangerous. Up until that point I kind of found Jules pretty sympathetic (a wild-eyed vampire jerk murdered her boyfriend!), but it's kinda hard to feel for her after that.

Meanwhile, Elena popped by Stefan's house just in time to catch him between shirts. Stefan was a pretty minor character last night, so this was mostly about recapping Elena's plan to deal with Klaus by going along with Elijah. Or something? Who cares, because…

Elena was having a BLAST.

Stefan told Elena that he'd decided to go track down Elena's birth mom Isobel so he can ask her some questions about Klaus. Because Katherine told him to. Because this is not at all a weird or creepy thing to do.

Meanwhile Rose was NOT having a good time. Damon did his best to cheer her up. Her bite had weirdly migrated down her back even though she was bitten on the shoulder? It definitely looked painful, and you couldn't tell because it's television but I'm guessing it smelled BAD. The scene went like this, basically:

The writing was on the wall for Rose, so it was pretty nice to see Damon actually put some effort into saving her. Unfortunately it meant leaving Rose alone with Elena. I guess the antidote to a werewolf bite is BEING BORED?

Mystic Falls High School has VERY professional banners. At my high school, the cheerleaders used to fingerpaint on butcher paper until midnight and then the banners would STILL be full of misspelled words and covered with dusty footprints. What I'm trying to say is, the Mystic Falls boosters might be donating TOO MUCH money to the football team when the cash might be better spent on, you know, homicide detectives.

It was the day after Tyler's first-ever transmogrification and just like when a chick you have a crush on sees you naked and sobbing in a dungeon for the first time, things can be awkward at school the next day. Thankfully, Caroline and Tyler seemed pretty happy to see each other. Ever since these two started hanging out, Tyler's been slightly annoying—always distrustful or ungrateful toward Caroline's help. But he finally, FINALLY let on that he likes her and it was pretty darn cute.

It's just a great day for them, hopefully nothing will interrup—

Uh oh, it's a pile of mashed potatoes with no sense of social propriety!

Cringefest. CLEARLY Matt did not get the memo that Caroline doesn't want him OR his shirtless hugs anymore.

Back at Mystic Grill, Jules chatted up a dunce. I cannot believe this woman is still in charge of the town's safety. Easily ONE THIRD of the population has been murdered during the past four months and this lady still has a job? WHO is her supervisor? She BETTER NOT get a Christmas bonus this year.

Stefan sidled up to Alaric to get the phone number of his ex-wife-but-also-biological-mother-of-Elena-and-current-vampire-troublemaker Isobel. Again, definitely a reasonable request.

Hey look, it's Damon's room! Damon did a great job with it. And those sheets! I bet when Macy's asked him what threadcount he wanted, he just said "TONS."

Oh, and that bathroom? Divine. There's nothing that Damon loves more than just soakin' his bones after a long day of murdering everybody's friends. (I'm still sorta mad about Lexi).

Elena looked amazed to be in Damon's inner sanctum. His room is DEFINITELY better than Stefan's.

Are you kidding me, Vampire Diaries? This was on Damon's beside table. Sure.

Rose was all curled up in Damon's bed and it wasn't long before she started slipping in and out of lucidity. She reminisced about her pastoral English upbringing and then started calling for Trevor, her dead vampire "friend" whose head got karate-chopped off by Elijah.

It was all pretty poignant until the blood vomit. The best part of this was how Elena shouted "Everything's gonna be all right!" and then ran into the bathroom and wet a napkin.

That is definitely the best solution for someone vomiting blood.

But then Rose—totally delirious—mistook Elena for Katherine and ATTACKED her.

It was a quick and scary standoff, but Rose finally came to her senses and apologized. At this point I wasn't sure whether Rose would actually die or not, but then she began saying some poignant things about her life as a vampire, what it means to be human, etc. and it was clear she was not going to survive this episode.

[British accent] "When you live long enough, everything disappears… So much time wasted. I just wish I hadn't been so afraid." —Rose

Now, I am a grown-up and I don't wear Converse All-Stars, but someone please hand me a pair and give me a ballpoint pen, because I want to WRITE HER DIALOGUE on the white rubber parts. Oh man, so poignant. Also, I'll say it again, Lauren Cohan is a genuinely great actress and this was the first of a few times in this episode where I started getting kinda misty-eyed.

Damon tried to make a deal with Jules to somehow undo Rose's bite, but she told him off good. Don't get me wrong, I am super mad at this lady for biting Rose (POOR ROSE!) but still, Jules's reasons for attacking Damon seem pretty justified to me. Mason may have been a total bro-tard, but he didn't deserve to have his heart ripped out by some makeup-wearing jerk clown.

Rose's condition only worsened, and she attacked Elena AGAIN. She didn't snap out of it this time, and the tussle became brutal.

First Elena FLASHED her with sunlight.

Then Elena even jammed her little fingers into Rose's wound. That's some prison-yard stuff right there! I was like, "Dang."

Then we paused for a mashed-potato break. Oh great, Matt, Caroline, and Tyler are officially in this show's first-ever love triangle. Just kidding, EVERYONE is in at least two love triangles as we speak. I feel bad for Mashed Potatoes, but come on. Who DOESN'T want to see a vampire-werewolf relationship? Boring Matt just cannot compete with a werewolf! If he wants to win Caroline over, he needs to become a supernatural creature. Heck, he already LOOKS like a ghost. (Racial)

Every time Elena picked up a stake to protect herself, I was hoping, PRAYING that she'd trip and fall on it. In this scene, she even pointed it in the right direction.

By the way, what a weird "Booster Barbeque." How long's this thing been going on for? Six hours? And nobody's wasted?

Some randoms got killed. They were pretty stoked to get ACTUAL dialogue beforehand, but much like the janitor from moments earlier, they existed just so that Rose could go on her VAMPIRE RABIES RAMPAGE.

Luckily, Damon swooped in and brought her back to reality.

She seemed pretty ashamed about what she'd done, explaining that she'd never tried to hurt humans.

How sad was it when she was sobbing, "Make it stop" over and over? Hecka sad.

Damon carried her home, possibly a callback to when he carried her out of the sun-drenched coffee shop that one time. Damon carrying Rose somewhere gets me every time. I'm so lonely.

Ugh, again. Praying for uneven pavement. Loose gravel, maybe. Something.

Thankfully somebody cleaned the gunk off of Rose's mouth, lips, cheeks, teeth, neck, and face, and she had some more warm, poignant, and relevant words for Damon and Elena. "You're a feeling human being" to him, and "Don't give up the fight" to her. I'm paraphrasing, but trust me, it was way better when Rose said it (British accent).

Whoops! Caroline's world just got A LOT more confusing. Love triangles can be so tiresome, but I have to admit, I'm really digging what this love triangle represents. She probably does love BOTH of them, but each one belongs to a different phase of her life. Matt's human, Tyler's a monster. It's almost like whoever she chooses, she's also choosing that aspect of herself to win out. I think that's a pretty sophisticated metaphor, and yeah Tyler is definitely the winner of the two (Spandex), but I definitely understand why Caroline would awkwardly shout, "People need to stop kissing me!" before running inside. Angst 101.

Okay. So. Here's some good TV. I feel weird even trying to sum it up because it's making me all emotional just thinking about it. Earlier, Rose mentioned how she longed for her childhood home, its green fields and horses, and how she missed the feeling of being human (500+ years ago).

So, by influencing her dreams, Damon gave it all back to her.

See what I'm saying? I am crying while I type this. Goodbye, Rose! You got a raw deal, but you're a big reason why Season 2 is so great. I truly hope Lauren Cohan goes on to do other awesome projects. (Death Race 2 does NOT count.)

So after that, we revisited Jules, who was STILL hanging out at Mystic Grill. (I bet the waiters were pissed!) She had some harsh news for Tyler: She knows he's a werewolf, his Uncle Mason is dead, Caroline is partly responsible, and oh yeah, there are TONS of other vampires. This made me laugh out loud, because seriously? Tyler didn't know that? Come on, Tyler.

Jules mentioned something pretty ominous: "There are others like us, and they're on their way." Hopefully the werewolf army will arrive in time to battle Klaus. I like where this season is heading, you guys, and I LOVE that Caroline and Tyler might become the Romeo and Juliet of Mystic Falls. Matt's totally Paris. Which is weird, because that's who Jules looks like. Hilton. Nevermind.

Elena tried to get Damon to talk about his feelings, but in return she got a full blast of EYE ACTING.

When she forced a hug onto him it was clear something had broken in him. In most vampire soap operas, it's pretty difficult to keep claiming that vampires don't have emotions when they are constantly doing emotional things. But in this case, Rose's death really DID seem to have a cracked his foppish, jerky facade a bit.

Oh, and then Stefan reappeared in Elena's house and he must've stepped in something on his way in because...

Ugh, this guy's back. Elena's dastardly uncle and biological father (don't ask). They didn't show his hands, so I guess we'll have to wait until next week to get a finger count.

The final scene began with a nod to the pilot: a car stopping to check on a man lying prone in the road. That man was, of course, Damon. But instead of being simply a bloodthirsty bringer of horrors, this time he was drunk and emotionally wrecked.

He was so pathetic and in need of confessing that he compelled the poor woman to stand in place and listen to his existentialist ramblings. It was a sad, scary scene—the guy really seemed to be struggling with his identity, like for centuries he's been perfectly fine as a murderous jerk, but now he's not so sure that's how he is. Why didn't he just tell her that he's reading Gone With the Wind?

Oops, sorry lady. Better luck next time.

So I'm REALLY into the extreme angst of the past few episodes. It makes me feel sorta bad for being so harsh on this show all the time. For all its surface level slickness and teen machine contrivances, it's got a big, vulnerable heart deep down. Or maybe I am just a sucker for grown adults sobbing in anguish. Either way, I used to enjoy this show because it's ridiculous and nice to look at. But now I might actually care about these people. These fictional people. These fictional monster people. (Not Elena).

Great job, everyone!


QUESTIONS:

... Tyler or Matt?

... Is Jules super evil or do you kind of understand where she's coming from?

... Do you think Rose's death might've changed Damon permanently?

... Have you ever had rabies?

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