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'The Vampire Diaries' recap: Diggin' up bones

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Image Credit: Quantrell Colbert/The CW We talk about it every week (in hopefully a different, colorful way), but it bears repeating: This show’s pacing — the speed at which we’re being given answers — is so satisfying that I genuinely believe my DVR would like to speak to me and say “thank you for letting me record this.” It also has to tape Brothers & Sisters, and that show is the king of having killer previews for episodes that just end up spinning their wheels. When we see a preview for Vampire Diaries that looks juicy, as the one for this flashback episode did, we trust it. We were not disappointed.

So, throughout the episode, we flashed back to 1864, the year Katherine and the 26 other vampires were encased in the tomb that Damon so desperately wants to open. We saw that human Damon was willing to kiss Katherine after she’d fed and still had blood on her lips. (All together now, ewww!) And that Stefan let Katherine feed on him during sex. At least, he didn’t look surprised to me when she bit him on that fateful day when Stefan’s father, Giuseppe (guest star James Remar), had slipped him some Vervain to expose the vampire with whom he “sympathized.” Giuseppe was among the men leading the charge to destroy the vampires they believed were responsible for the killings in Mystic Falls. Damon begged Stefan not to tell his father about Katherine, but Stefan had faith in his father, and tested the waters, merely suggesting that, perhaps, not all vampires were evil. Dad saw through this, told Stefan anyone who stood by the vampires and brought shame to his family would also be destroyed, and secretly doped Stefan. Once he heard Katherine gagging in Stefan’s room, he rushed in and told Stefan to go get the sheriff, who rounded up the angry mob.

Here’s my question: Did Stefan really believe that Katherine wasn’t evil at that point? If he had Vervain in his system, then didn’t he mean it when he told her he wanted her for himself? Remember when Stefan first told Elena that he was a vampire, he said Katherine used mind compulsion so the brothers would never know she was bedding them both — when did that change? With the Vervain or earlier? Did she never kill people in front of Stefan, only in front of Damon? What happened to finally make Stefan see how evil she was? We still don’t know which brother was turned first and how. Katherine was carted off with a muzzle like Hannibal Lecter. Did she see them both again and turn them before tomb time? Had she already turned Damon when she was caught, and we just didn’t see it? I feel like Doc Jensen here. Can’t wait for those reveals. But we did find out that Stefan putting his faith in his father, when Damon had faith in him not to, is why Damon blames Stefan for Katherine’s “death.” And why Damon no longer trusts Stefan, and, you know what, rightfully so.

Like Elena, I do believe that Damon believes he loves Katherine, and now I understand why. His father was disappointed in him because he was a deserter, and he felt Stefan would always side with his dad. He was just as lonely then as he is now. I think Damon actually enjoyed “Family Night” at the Gilberts, cooking dinner while getting Aunt Jenna drunk, playing video games with Jeremy while smirking when he overheard Jenna call him “ridiculously hot” and rolling his eyes when Elena referred to him as “an ass,” and repeatedly asking Elena if he could trust Stefan. He knew he couldn’t compel her to tell the truth — he just trusted her to. He wanted to believe her so badly, you could see it in his face. She lied, and he bought it. But he did issue a warning: She knows he’ll do anything for Katherine, which means she knows what he’ll do to anyone who gets in his way…

While “Family Night” was happening, Stefan had gone to the high school to look for Jonathan Gilbert’s journal, which would give a clue about where to find Emily’s spellbook, which would tell them how to undo the spell guarding the tomb. Damon had tasked Elena with finding it when he popped up on the end of Stefan’s bed at the start of the episode between the couple’s spooning and morning sex sessions. (Side note: New all-time favorite Damon line! Damon: “Oh, stop being smutty.” Stefan: “Seriously, get out of here.” Damon: “If I see something I haven’t seen before, I’ll throw a dollar at it.” Ha! Nice touch having Elena pull the covers over her head for an extended period of time. One would want to pretend that moment wasn’t happening.) Anyway, Alaric, who’s apparently afraid to turn on the lights in his classroom, decided to make a copy of the journal in the teacher’s lounge. Smart. He then put the journal on his desk. Dumb. Of course, when he sensed a vampire was lurking in the hallways and went to get his homemade superstaker gun, Anna snuck in off-camera and took the journal.

Alaric returned to his classroom and fired at Stefan, who caught the stake. For some reason — Stefan’s dreamy, soothing voice probably — Alaric believed him when he said he wouldn’t hurt him unless he was fool enough to try firing his weapon again. Within like 30 seconds, he spilled his backstory. His wife was a paranormal psychologist who spent her career researching paranormal activity in Mystic Falls. He’d walked in on Damon draining his wife, but Damon must have heard him because he fled with the wife in tow, and her body was never found. There’s another mystery we can look forward to unraveling: Had Damon and the wife “met” through her work? How did Alaric end up with the ring? Where is the wife? Stefan told Alaric he could help him, and Alaric “allowed” Stefan to take the copy of the journal. I don’t think Stefan would actually let Alaric kill Damon, so I’m not sure where this working relationship is headed. I guess Stefan is going to help Alaric find his wife?

Reading the journal, Stefan learned that the spellbook was buried with his father, who’d told Jonathan Gilbert he would carry it to his grave. While Stefan and Elena got out the shovels, Damon was off discovering that Jeremy’s “hot trumps weird” stalker was Anna, aka Annabelle, the daughter of one of Katherine’s vampire friends, Pearl. Pearl knew trouble was brewing in Mystic Falls as the sheriff had her stocking up on Vervain in the apothecary, but Katherine insisted upon staying in town until she could turn the Salvatore brothers. She assumed they were safe because they could walk in the daylight thanks to Emily’s magic. Seeing Katherine captured, Pearl sent Annabelle to get Emily, but the two of them returned just in time to see Jonathan Gilbert’s compass reveal that Pearl, the woman he’d been fancying, was a vampire. He outed her, which was upsetting even though we’d seen them together all of 30 seconds, so we’re to assume Pearl is in the tomb as well. That explains why Anna is jonesing as bad as Damon to open it. He confronted Anna, and after they realized neither was going to be able to choke the other one to death, they talked out the situation. She likes to let others do her duty work, which is why she changed Logan when he was dying (and she thought his family journal contained the location of the spellbook) and then bartender Ben, who’s so new he forgets that he’ll burn in sunlight. She showed Damon the journal, thinking they’d work together. He looked at it, figured out he needed to go to his dad’s grave, and said, “Sorry, I work alone.”

Before we get to those repercussions, let’s talk about Damon arriving at the grave right as Stefan was opening the spellbook. As Stefan pointed out, neither brother trusted each other if Damon arrived at the grave solo as well. Damon was like, You’re right. But he was fooled by Elena, and that visibly hurt him, enough to make him say he could rip her heart out. Stefan didn’t think Damon would hurt Elena, but Damon grabbed her, threatened to break her neck, bit his wrist and shoved it in her mouth. If Stefan wasn’t going to give him the spellbook so he could get Katherine back, they would just share a vampire Elena. Stefan surrendered the book, and Damon, clearly not quite as big of a monster as he wants us to believe, let Elena go. It sounds like vampire blood doesn’t come with the same sexual fantasies that it does on True Blood. Pity. Elena had a drop of Damon’s blood, and all she got was a lousy headache. When Stefan went downstairs to get her aspirin, he found out that Jeremy had invited Anna over and into the house. He pieced together who she was and flew up the stairs to find Elena missing from her bed and the bedroom window open. Gasp!

How did I not see that coming? I mean, looking back, I should have since Stefan had to leave her alone to go find aspirin. Eyeroll. And Ben had kidnapped Bonnie, which you knew was coming from the moment she told him that she and Elena were so close, she’d die for her. I so do not like Ben, which you know because it barely registered that he was shirtless in a towel getting ready for their date. She took him karaoking and he sang Metallica (seriously bad choice, dude), but she was still into him. So much that she wanted to kiss him, which Elena encouraged during an emergency mid-date cell conversation that included the only line of dialogue that made me groan in the episode: “You’re a powerful witch goddess. Come on, seize the day, Broomhilda.” Bonnie kissed Ben and [sound effect!] felt something was off. She said she was tired, and I was like, girl, you are not playing this off well. But then she said that meant they should get more coffee before heading out and doing something crazy, and I was like, look at you! She excused herself but took her jacket off to indicate that she’d be right back — convincing — but Ben caught her, all veined-out around the eyes, as she tried to flee. Boo. So what now? Anna and Ben are going to threaten to kill Bonnie and Elena until Stefan produces the spellbook from Damon, then they’ll threaten to kill Elena until Bonnie does the spell to open the tomb?

That would explain why Stefan is forced to go to Damon next week. The promo said, “Saving his soulmate means turning to the one without a soul,” but at first, I thought it said, “Saving his soulmate means turning into the one without a soul” — which, frankly, sounds hotter. Thinking of Stefan kicking fellow vampire ass is so hot, that I got a little giddy and suddenly channeled Bridget Jones mumbling to myself, “Definitely an occasion for genuinely tiny knickers” as I typed into my laptop. I blame that on two things: (1) taking notes while watching TV makes you more likely to speak aloud (to yourself) because you’re already sort of having a conversation with your computer and (2) Operation Rescue Elena is going to be awesome! Stefan goes to Damon, who tells him he hopes Elena dies?! Really, Damon? If he didn’t care about her, he would’ve killed her already. I’ve no clue how this will play out, and that’s exciting.

Your turn. What did you think of the episode? Any theories you would like to share? And I know I use the word “hot” for Stefan a lot, but how hot is Damon’s total disregard for personal space? It was supposed to be intimidating when he got right up in Anna’s face or towered over/behind Elena, but…