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'Vampire Diaries' recap: Let the right one in

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Image Credit: Bob Mahoney/The CWHmmm, Stefan gets tortured, while shirtless, and I still just kinda wanna talk about Damon? Even though the idea of Stefan’s new “hunger” for human blood makes me nervous, I can see that he does need a character shake up. He can’t just always be decent.

So Stefan went hunting for squirrel to get his strength back after the attack from Frederick. Problem: A big, bad-CGI storm had hit Mystic Falls, so Frederick and his mutiny-loving minions could also roam about the forest with their hoods up. Frederick staked Stefan and took him back to the house, which anti-revenge/pro-patience Pearl had left for the day to go do reconnaissance in town so she could assess who’s on vervain. When Stefan didn’t return or answer his cell, Damon got worried and went to see snarky Elena, who was avoiding his calls because, you know, he turned her biological mother into a vampire and, in her words, is “a self-serving psychopath with no redeeming qualities.” That’s so not true, and she knows it. Damon has many redeeming qualities, such as his abilities to bulls— someone (he told Alaric Pearl could help him find his wife so he’d help Damon get into the house) and to cut through the crap (loved how he finally told Elena she couldn’t help him rescue Stefan because he couldn’t protect her and she’d get them all killed, and how he just snapped the human homeowner’s neck).

I am seriously hoping we’ve seen the beginning of a beautiful (love/hate) friendship between Damon and Alaric. Alaric and his vervain stakes saved Damon’s Bourne-esque butt in the house, and I think he’ll tolerate Damon’s existence now that he’s seen Damon do some good rescuing Stefan and showing some vaguely human emotion. (Damon would know what Elena was going through having her lover trapped, wouldn’t he?) My favorite scene of the episode was definitely Damon and Alaric at the bar afterwards.

Damon: That was fun. Oh, don’t look at me like that. I know you hate me. Guess what? Everyone hates me. But you can’t deny we were bad-ass.

Alaric stands to leave, and punches him in the face.

Damon (to bartender): It happens.

Man, his loneliness makes me sad. If I were in Mystic Falls, I would be his drinking buddy. I feel like he’d tell great stories when he’s drunk, and I’m a good, excitable listener.

Of course, Elena didn’t just stay in the car during Operation Save Stefan. But it’s a good thing: She was able to break into the basement because the vampire watching Stefan and Harper (who’d gotten staked in the legs for trying to help Stefan), had figured out how to work an iPod and couldn’t hear her breaking the glass. He finally noticed her, but Damon got him before he could hurt her. “Are you insane?” he asked Elena. Yes, but he put her to work freeing Stefan from the vervain-soaked ropes he was hanging from, and Stefan asked her to free Harper, who he hadn’t allowed Damon to kill (“Whatever”– Damon). She was supposed to get Stefan out of there while Damon caused a distraction. Which he did by getting his butt kicked. The speedy fight scenes always look cool.

Meanwhile, Elena and Stefan fell trying to get back to the car and she cut her hand. We all knew where this was headed — that Stefan would be drinking from her for strength — but it took Elena a while to figure it out. After she locked the car doors (such an unnecessary thing to do when vamps have superstrength, but a nice human touch), she realized the keys were gone. Cue Frederick ripping Stefan out of the car. As Frederick staked Stefan, Elena nailed him with one of Alaric’s vervain weapons. Stefan was unresponsive until Elena, seeing Frederick begin to stir, forced him to drink from her wrist. Did anyone find that at all sexy? It was shot a little too cheesily for my taste, so they must not have wanted us to. Stefan played dead until Frederick tried to stake him again. Then he vamped out (did his eyebrows change?) and killed Frederick dead, dead, dead while snarling. Not hot. At all. Pity.

Elena knows it was her idea to save Stefan with her blood, so she’s trying not to judge him for losing control, but we haven’t seen them kiss after that. They were talking about it when Jeremy called to tell her that Vicki’s body had been found. How did I not see that coming? I kept thinking there had to be a reason we were seeing Caroline stranded in the storm, but I didn’t think she’d fall down a riverbank while trying to get a cell signal and see Vicki’s arm. Poor Matt. There’s no way his mother, who’d just stepped up and tried to make him dinner, is gonna keep it together now. (Will she let hungry, hungry Stefan feed on her?!) I’m guessing we’re supposed to think that Elena rushing to Matt’s side (and Matt hugging her right after he’d told Caroline he wanted to be alone), means she’ll start to wonder whether she should get back with him because he’s normal. Perhaps they will get closer, but I think he’ll turn on her when he finds out she’s known Vicki’s fate.

Speaking of Vicki, are we thinking an Anna rampage now that she’s figured out Jeremy only wanted to be turned because he thought Vicki was a vamp and wanted to be with her? Jeremy is such a tool, but his biceps are sure looking good. I was digging Anna in this episode. She didn’t want to turn Jeremy because everything he knows about vampires he learned from Netflix. (Technically, it was the Internet, Anna. He was too lazy to watch Buffy.) She said there are four reasons vamps turn people: they’re in love, they’re bored, they’re in need of minions, or they want revenge. She was hoping he’d grow to love her, which is why she refused his vervain bracelet when he offered it to her — she wanted to know that whatever was between them was real. How awesome would it be if she now tried to turn him for revenge, because he no longer wants it?

Damon returned home to find Stefan on the floor surrounded by a few blood bags. Honestly, it took me a minute to decide whether he was somehow trying to get Elena’s blood OUT of his system (the blood on his mouth could have been from biting his own wrist) or binging on the soccer mom Damon had in the fridge. The preview for next week’s episode, in which Elena says Stefan’s not himself, Damon argues that maybe Stefan spent too long not being himself, and Stefan speaks of his hunger, made me think the latter.

How are you feeling about Stefan’s hunger? Does it make you nervous or excited? Where do you see Elena and Stefan headed now? Are you ready to see more of Tyler? (I’ll try to keep an open mind.) And are you, too, secretly hoping that we’ll eventually see some sexual tension between Pearl and Damon? I doubt it — she doesn’t respect him, he finds her “scary” — but a girl can dream. Maybe he’ll find her power intoxicating (she saved him and Alaric by calling off the other vamps when she got home), and she’ll be turned on one night and he’ll be drunk, lonely, and available. Hello, it’s been 145 years for Pearl. She needs some. And that would definitely get her on Damon’s good side. If he has one.