Who are you? Who were you? Who will you become? Who am I? Who was I? Where are we going? What is happening? What is this? Who is what? Are we here? Why is this? When do we? What is today? Where were you? Where is everybody? Are we okay? Were we ever okay? Where is our love? What even is love? Does anything make sense anymore? Can you hear the ocean? Where are my diamonds? Who left a baboon in the backseat of my car? Who drank my Cactus Cooler? Who stole my bones? Is there a gypsy witch vampire hiding in your skull? WHO do you love NOW?
These are questions.
Guys, "Total Eclipse of the Heart" was a very existential episode! In a general sense it was also very retro: Tons of Season 1 feels all over the place, from the diary intro (again with the diary intro!), but especially to the very Season 1-seeming Damon. The only thing that was missing was the white pancake makeup, but other than that, this was old-school Damon for sure. (Still patiently waiting for another Depeche Mode underwear dance party scene.) The problem, though, is that whereas it was fun to see Damon like that in Season 1, it's kind of a major drag now? That's not necessarily a complaint, because I respect this show's willingness and ability to upset the viewer so easily. It's more just a moment-to-moment enjoyment type thing. Seeing harm come to Jeremy is obviously one of my triggers, but even intellectually, seeing Damon pull these shenanigans doesn't seem to add up when viewed against all his experiences over the past few years. I thought he had come to really care about these people, but I guess when you dump someone and then someone else impersonates the girlfriend you dumped and refuses to get back together with you, things like hard-built trust, empathy, and platonic love fly out the window real quick.
Anyway, enough about that stuff: I love, love LOVE this Katherine-as-Elena stuff. Elena can stay away forever, as far as I'm concerned. Obviously Katherine still has a ways to go to fully humanize herself, but at least that's a journey I can get behind. Like, she only saved Jeremy's life out of obligation, but one gets the feeling she'll come to understand that giving love tends to ensure she'll get it back in return. You know? Putting Katherine at the fore is like experiencing the premise and characters with fresh eyes! And honestly, seeing Katherine struggle to BE Elena is as much a celebration of Elena as anything else. She might be trapped in Katherine's subconscious, but she all over this episode in a really elegantly written way. Katherine-as-Elena was like the best of both characters kind of? Anyway, "Total Eclipse of the Heart," am I right? I liked it, especially the parts I didn't dislike!
Let's talk about it!
We began on the Whitmore campus with Katherine writing in a diary! This was very stupid for two reason: (1) Ugh, diary voiceovers are officially back this season, what a truly weird creative decision. But also (2) why is Katherine creating stone-cold evidence of her schemes! Why is she writing in her diary about taking over Elena's body in a way that can be easily discovered later? Disappointed in you, K. Anyway, this scene was still fun because it showed that Katherine was loving life. She especially liked Elena's bed and Elena's makeup and and Elena's vampirism and Elena's lack of everyone-openly-despising her. Honestly, I think that body-jacking is wrong morally but this was all pretty poignant. Katherine was high on life! But one thing she did NOT like was Elena's recent love life:
Haha I love Katherine but this was pretty low in my opinion. Deleting her pictures? That seems like a crime to me. I hope that I don't get body-jacked at any point, if only to protect the contents of my phone. (My phone is a tin can containing an owl pellet.)
Oh here's one skill Katherine now has: Being able to read flyers when they are upside down and turned over.
That night there was going to be a Bitter Ball, for single people to get gussied up and make out on the dance floor in front of pink twinkle lights. It was gonna be a time!
Also Bonnie sat next to an obvious witch:
Poor Bonnie. I forgot that she no longer had witch powers. I bet she got super sad when she saw this girl spinning a pen. Imagine all that pure power it takes to spin a pen. Oh, the memories.
Then Stefan came home to the Salvatore Shanty only to find THIS mess:
Stefan was NOT surprised to find all this. (Also was I the only one surprised that Shaun Sipos appeared in this episode as a corpse? That always seems so disrespectful to a guest-star, making them play a dead body. I hope he got his full fee? But also I expected him to come alive as a baby vampire at any moment. Didn't somebody heal him with vampire blood recently? Anyway, spoiler, he didn't come back alive, so forget I said anything.)
Inside the house everything was a mess and Damon was a groggy jerk and Enzo did NOT make a great first impression on Stefan.
Yeah, Damon was definitely going off the deep end in this episode, even if only from a hygiene stand point. At least he had the decency to wash off the caked, dried blood from his mouth region, that was disgusting!
I liked this fakeout:
Haha we were meant to believe Katherine was asking Stefan out, but she was really only practicing on Matt. I will always love Katherine's impression of Elena, and it's the ways she gets its sliiiightly wrong that just illustrate how good of an actress Nina Dobrev is. This is like yet another subtle variation on both characters. Next level stuff.
Anyway, Nadia took Matt's phone and got so mad at her mom for using Matt's brain like that.
Haha Katherine. What a sass-monster.
Meanwhile at an ABANDONED HOSPITAL. Hahah of course there is an abandoned hospital near Mystic Falls. Very few people get sick, their afflictions are just straight-murders. For me the main joke was that the inside of this building was nearly indistinguishable from the regular hospital. All dimly lit and underpopulated. This exterior shot was obviously something from a horror film but I'm guessing this was probably the safest building in the area, murder-wise. Or it HAD BEEN until Dr. Maxfield set up shop to create more super vampires:
So then some foxy lady showed up and offered to help him in his quest to create super vampires or something. Plus she had that syringe full of Ripper Potion from few episodes back AND she brought news that Aaron was probably real dead. I don't know who this lady was, but she seemed interesting, very interesting indeed. But really the whole time I was just so happy to see Dr. Maxfield again. I know he is a despicable villain but I don't care, I like to look at his face SUE ME. (I can't be sued, I currently live in international waters.)
Then Stefan interrupted Enzo's very peaceful shallow-grave-digging session.
I am starting to get the impression that these two don't like each other much. If I'm being real I don't really like or understand Enzo at all, but I DID LIKE AND UNDERSTAND his fondness for lying spread-eagle in a shallow grave:
Hahah we've all been there. (I'll be there soon!)
Meanwhile, Stefan needed to tell "Elena" that Aaron was dead, and this conversation ended up being such a good example of how much game Katherine has:
Somehow she turned a super intense convo into an invitation to a dumb college mixer. I liked when Stefan complained that he'd already been to college twice, as though that was somehow more embarrassing than going to high school over and over again. Also there was a funny bit where Stefan casually mentioned Enzo and Katherine had no idea who that was and had to text Nadia about it. Man, how had Katherine never heard of Enzo's existence yet? Do these people have ANY conversations when the cameras aren't rolling? (This is a reality show right?)
Meanwhile at the Mystic Grill, Tyler showed up to hopefully pull an Eternal Sunshine situation via booze.
I loved when they all traded stories of their terrible mothers. One time Mayor Lockwood wrote a paper for Tyler (ugh, what a corrupt woman) and also Matt mentioned the time that his mom made sweet love to Tyler and I got so sad that Melinda Clark hasn't been back since Season 1. BRING HER BACK. Forget the diary narration or old-school Damon or Vicki ghosts any of those other retro flavors, please bring back Matt's mom ASAP! I once heard a rumor that she was originally supposed to end up being a succubus and sometimes that's all I can think about. Just imagine it!
Then Tyler went to the bathroom (which JUST FYI is official confirmation that vampires don't pee or poo but hybrids DO. I'm serious, this was actually addressed finally.) but before he got there he noticed Nadia compelling Matt about Enzo. Busted!
Oh, this was a very troubling sequence:
Haha not that part. Although yes, why weren't they in a hotel room doing tons of shirtless hugs? The part that bugged was that Damon needed Bonnie's help finding a witch to use a locator spell on Dr. Maxfield (he and Enzo still had a hit list) and so he strong-armed Bonnie into helping him by threatening Jeremy's life!
I truly didn't understand this part. Bonnie probably would have just helped if he'd been nicer about it. And if there's any question about how ambivalent Damon felt about harming Elena's brother, look at the expression on his face while Jeremy's skull was being crushed:
My main problem with seeing Damon revert to his "old" ways is because we've seen him go through too much growth for any of this to be believable. It was one thing seeing him be a dickish villain in Season 1 because that was the beginning of his arc. But to see him look past all the progress he'd made with Jeremy (remember their roadside hug earlier in the season) and Bonnie (he'd been super aggressive in trying to resurrect her) felt fraudulent somehow. It maybe would've been nice if this episode implied that he was putting on an act or deep down was troubled by what he was doing, but nope. He just seemed to be enjoying himself. So yeah, this part was jarring, especially because of how Bonnie and Jeremy regarded him as a friend. I don't know. Look, I like seeing Damon "have fun" and "cut loose" too, but I'm not sure I believed the way he did it in this episode.
Anyway, at the ball, Katherine started putting the moves on Stefan immediately, which he found odd considering she was supposed to be going through a tough breakup.
But then, in what would become a major recurring theme (WONDER WHY?) Caroline interrupted them and Stefan seemed relieved about it.
Hmmmmm. But on the other hand, again, I don't think what Katherine did was right, but part of me was kinda feeling empathy for what she was trying to do. She really does like this guy, and I think that having to pose as Elena has tempered her bitchery a lot. I was definitely seeing traces of insecurity and open-hearted pathos in her behavior here, so I'm pretty much invested in seeing things turn out well for her. But on the other, other hand, it's VERY understandable why Stefan isn't really into it. I'm not sure he detects that something is off about "Elena," but I would understand if all the recent events have left him too frazzled to feel particularly romantic, you know? Like he's just not on that wavelength at the moment. I DON'T KNOW, WHAT DO I KNOW? NOTHING.
This dance had a shredder station for people to shred pictures of their exes, so Caroline shredded photos of Tyler and also the portrait Klaus had drawn for her that one time. Very poignant! But yes, as much as I enjoy the Klaus-Caroline relationship, I'd say this part constituted closure as far as TVD is concerned. Sorry, guys. I'm sad too.
So then Damon came out and informed everyone that if he didn't find a new witch he was going to kill Jeremy!
He even had a picture on his phone to prove it!
At this point Katherine had a crisis of conscience: Should she save Jeremy's life like Elena would, or let him die and then appreciate Stefan's soothing, comforting, sensual touch after the wake?
I loved how mad Nadia got at that idea! She was so mad at Katherine and shouted at her to go save Jeremy. For one thing, duh, letting Jeremy die would not only ruin Katherine's cover it would make all her friends like her way less, but also maybe Nadia has SEEN Jeremy and realizes that nobody should let an angelface babyhunk like that come to harm? Nadia may literally be a monster but she's not a MONSTER.
Anyway, Bonnie definitely did not want to see harm come to the #1 guest of honor at her bone zone so she cornered that other witch in the kitchen and asked her for help. Perhaps sensing that being associated with this crew essentially guarantees a premature and grisly demise, the witch turned her down.
But Caroline was admittedly very convincing!
The next thing we knew, Bonnie was talking the girl through a locator spell. The girl was new to magic and couldn't control her powers, but Bonnie reassured her that she was in good hands. (Obviously after five seasons of shenanigans we knew this was NOT the case.)
So yeah, the first attempt at the spell did not go well. Which caused Enzo to take matters into his own hands for some reason:
Um, so, he killed Jeremy and no longer had leverage? How does that work exactly? Enzo is the worst. Anyway, Bonnie didn't know that Jeremy had been smothered by a dry cleaner bag so she busted out the BIG GUNS to help convince this witch to keep going.
So they did it. They did magic and found Wes or whatever. I don't know, they didn't show that part specifically, but I'm pretty sure they did it.
Meanwhile Katherine and Stefan busted in and took care of business! By business I mean that Stefan roughed up Enzo and Katherine saved Jeremy's life while pretending to be grossed out about it.
Also Enzo randomly threw a stake and hit Katherine in the back which was SO rude. And even ruder, Damon pretended not to care.
Like, really? So Damon was one (falsely) dramatic conversation away from being apathetic toward Elena's safety? Yikes.
So then Stefan and Damon broke-up as well (brothers break up right?).
And guess who was STOKED about Damon's supposedly permanent departure? Man everything was coming up Katherine lately.
So meanwhile Tyler clued Matt in that Nadia had been compelling him, Matt took vervain and then watched as Nadia tried to compel him (it was for details about Caroline possibly having a crush on Stefan, because Katherine likes to keep her finger on the pulse of teen gossip). But just when Tyler was trying to take credit for being awesome, he failed to look behind himself!
Whoops! Then Nadia made Matt convince Tyler that he was crazy for caring about this stuff, and then they got a truck and she told him that she needed to drain his blood and compel him all over again.
Oh also, at this point Matt totally realized that Katherine was in Elena's body. Imagine that! Matt Donovan actually sussed something out before anyone else. Matt might be the human version of creamy, starchy comfort food, but sometimes the white pepper can be REAL spicy. You know?
This was fantastic: Damon and Enzo showed up at the abandoned hospital to confront Wes ontly to find THEMSELVES confronted by a gaggle of chanting bohemians!
WHOOPS! That new lady was a Traveler! And they incapacitated Damon so that Wes could shoot him up with the Ripper Potion! Uh-ohhhhhh. By the way, I just want to compliment this show on how cool the Travelers have ended up being. Much like how The Originals cracked the code on making witches scary again, these Travelers (and their ability to neutralize vampires) are way more threatening than any witches in the past, including Silas or Tessa. Also, what was up with that doppelganger blood situation? I'm suddenly so excited to learn more about their endgame, and how it now suddenly involves the Augustine vampire research. Anyway, yeah, credit where credit's due: I like this stuff a lot.
Meanwhile Stefan admitted that he's still hoping for Elena and Damon to get back together if only because it "improves" Damon or whatever to be with Elena. To me that is not a great reason for ANYBODY to be in a relationship--Stop trying to change other people, everybody--but still. I liked that Katherine saw the writing on the wall there and decided to just agree to Stefan's wishes and play the long game, I guess.
She basically agreed to keep helping "save" Damon, but only for Stefan's sake. That is obviously the biggest flirtation of the century, but Stefan seemed pretty grateful anyway. Oh, and then look who interrupted again:
Haha Caroline. Honestly, she's very correct to suspect something weird is going on, so it's hard to blame her for wanting to keep an eye on everything. But still, so awkward.
Oh, and then THIS happened:
Damon saved that one trapped vampire!
But then he BIT HIM UP SO MUCH.
HAHAH WOW. Damon is one of those Augustine Super Ripper Vampires now! Whuh-oh! That's much, much more serious than simply being a broken-hearted dickhead. Now there is legit SCIENCE behind his future assholery. Which I suppose makes him more sympathetic, but also, dang, how's the gang going to get Damon out of THIS pickle? Also, is he going to eat everybody's heads off now? Nobody is safe. I hope he starts with Enzo, though. Sorry, Enzo, I hope your head gets ate off. (Also, somebody please give Damon a moist towelette.)
"Total Eclipse of the Heart" was a sometimes too-painful, but frequently very entertaining hour of television. I don't claim to know or even care that much about the romances, but story-wise, things are coming together in really interesting and clever ways. Absolutely loving this new Katherine-Elena hybrid persona, and the straight-up horror of what Damon's becoming and how the Travelers fit in are very compelling to me. I don't really know what else to say, okay? Thumb up.
OK BYE FOR A FEW WEEKS, GOOD LUCK IN THE OLYMPICS EVERYBODY!
... What are the Travelers up to?
... Is Aaron really dead or will he pop out of a shallow grave at some point?
... How long will Katherine keep up her charade?
... Were you happy to see Dr. Maxfield again or should he jump in a dumpster?
AIRED ON 12/9/2016
Season 8 : Episode 7