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'Vampire Diaries' recap: 'Downward Spiral'

Posted on

Guy D'Alema /The CW

The Vampire Diaries

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
run date:
Nina Dobrev, Ian Somerhalder, Paul Wesley
The CW

The last minute of that episode is the most I have enjoyed this show in a while. And I think that’s for a number of reasons. For starters, I love no-humanity Caroline (and her kickass hairdo). Then, of course, we have the amazing duo of no-humanity Caroline AND no-humanity Stefan. As heartbreaking as it is to see Stefan switch it off, it’s endlessly enjoyable to watch Paul Wesley morph into the sarcastic jerk who once called Elena a bloodbag. And then the final component of that minute was the season 3 factor. As someone who struggles with Elena from episode to episode, there was something about her panic in that final minute that brought me right back to my favorite season of the show. It was as if she was reliving the hell she went through the last time Stefan flipped his switch, and suddenly, I was transported there, too. Good times, right?

Okay, but before we get there, let’s start from the top.

Merely four hours and 42 minutes after her mother’s funeral, Caroline has managed to clean out her entire house and dorm room before heading to the bar to get drunk. The bartender tries to give her a tough time, but once she utters the words “cancer-riddled body” about her dead mother, he pretty much has no choice but to pour her another tequila.

Also enjoying his fair share of liquor is Liam, the boy we Caroline totally forgot existed. But if he’s anything, he’s pretty, so Caroline asks if he wants to get out of there. A rather rough makeout follows, complete with Caroline biting Liam and maybe killing him? We’ll get to that in a sec.

While Stefan and Elena try to find Caroline, Elena gets a nice—yet very tame—surprise when Bonnie shows up at their dorm. By this point, these two seem to be used to the “back from the dead” hug, because Elena, as emotional and sweet as she is, doesn’t seem too surprised. Then again, nobody’s really surprised Bonnie’s back. After all, as Kai puts it, she’s “plucky.”

Speaking of Kai, he’s currently hanging with Damon at the Salvatore family crypt, where Damon has dug up his mother’s grave in an attempt to prove that she is not in some 1903 prison world. Because if his mother didn’t die of consumption in 1858 but was instead in a prison world in 1903, she’d be in her 70s. And let’s just say that the woman Bonnie met definitely wasn’t starting to wrinkle… which means his mother would have to be a vampire. And poor Damon cannot handle that. But when he opens her coffin to find it empty, he realizes he might not have a choice.

Back at Whitmore, while Bonnie embraces all of her “not flannel” wardrobe and Elena gives an awful toast that reminded me of this moment in a way, Sarah Salvatore is sitting at a bar/coffee shop snapping pictures of Enzo. Enzo, ever the flirt, heads right down, tea cup in hand, to ask if she’d like to join him. Enzo quickly informs Sarah that he’s very fast, very strong, and very rich. The one detail he left out: very hot, though maybe that’s evident.

It doesn’t take long for Sarah to ask him what he is, to which he responds, “I’m a vampire.” Could this be the beginning of their love story, much like it was for Stefan and Elena? Let’s hope. But for now, Enzo’s more concerned with the fact that Sarah doesn’t seem at all worried about the vampire thing. As far as she’s concerned, she thought there’d be more to it. Thankfully, Caroline’s there to invite Enzo to a warehouse party tonight to give him an excuse to get away from the under-impressed Salvatore.

At the dorm, Bonnie asks Elena not to tell Jeremy about her return yet—coming back to life is complicated, and Bonnie knows because she’s done it before. But complicated doesn’t begin to describe things when Caroline enters the dorm with a bunch of shopping bags. No-humanity Vampire Barbie is ready to start over.

After reacting to Bonnie’s epic return with a “huh,” Caroline tells her besties all about her hot makeout sesh with Liam. Yes, Elena, she did bite him, because apparently, cute guys naturally taste better. (Now we know why everyone bites Matt all the time.) But she didn’t kill him. After Liam got blood on her necklace—rude, right?—she decided she wasn’t in the mood to drag a corpse through the woods in heels. The best part of this whole thing? Bonnie trying to chime in about Caroline eating Elena’s ex, and Caroline saying, “Oh Bonnie, how we all just missed your commentary.” Oh yeah, I can get on board with this (but really any) Caroline.

With that, Caroline offers Bonnie and Elena a deal: Leave her alone and she won’t kill anyone. But if anyone tries to get her to flip her switch, she’ll become their worst nightmare. Got it? Cool. Caroline’s gonna go get a latte.

NEXT: Stefan sends Caroline over the edge…


As Damon puts it when Stefan calls him, Saint Caroline keeps her halo even with no humanity. But Damon can’t worry about that. He’s staying focused on getting Kai to send him back to 1903. But things get tricky when Kai asks for the chance to apologize to Bonnie. You know, the woman he shot with an arrow, tortured, stabbed, and ultimately abandoned in a prison world. This should be interesting.

At the hospital, Stefan finds Liam and asks him a few questions. A very real part of me wanted Stefan to ask, “How much do you envy my hair/want to be me?” But alas, he keeps the questions to Caroline, which gets him information about tonight’s rave. And after Liam sort of invites him to a threesome, Stefan calls Elena and she and Bonnie head to the party.

Walking into the rave all I can think is, no-humanity Elena would’ve loved this place. But humanity Elena isn’t a huge fan of it. However, there’s a rather large shirtless man who seems to be a fan of her. Hey dude, nice bow tie.

After spotting Caroline, Elena tries to figure out a next move while Bonnie starts to experience a people overload. It also doesn’t help that a man—who’s much too old to be at this party, by the way—keeps trying to grab her around the waist and dance with her. He claims he can’t help it because she’s so hot. So Bonnie, in all her badass glory, burns his hand and says, “I can’t help it. I’m not.” YEAH YOU ARE.

Trying to get away from the madness, Bonnie answers a call from Damon and it’s as if you can actually see her spirits lift. I love this friendship. Although Damon is clearly calling to ask about Kai, he checks on Bonnie first. But at the first mention of the sociopathic caterpillar who turned into a “slightly less evil butterfly,” Bonnie shuts it down. She doesn’t want to hear Kai’s name ever again. (If only she could see how good Damon looks in that light blue V-neck maybe she’d help, amirite?) Damon tells Kai that his apology is a no-go, but when Kai tells Damon that his mother was captured on a dock in NYC in 1903 just after returning from Europe, Damon realizes that this butterfly knows something. And he needs to find out what it is.

At the rave, Stefan plots with Elena before bringing Caroline a shot at the bar. Having a lovely time, Caroline tells Stefan to smile more because he’s hot. (Fact.) But the smiles don’t last long when Stefan tells Caroline how he really feels about her. He tells her that he likes her in a more-than-friendship kind of way and that it scared him at first. Touching her face, he begs her to come back. Her reaction? He really shouldn’t have done that.

Heading outside, Caroline finds the “so boring no wonder Elena didn’t pick you” Liam, grabs him, and then runs into Enzo. After solving the mystery of Sarah’s lack of a reaction—clearly Stefan compelled her not to care about anything having to do with vampires—Caroline steals Enzo’s phone. Why? To call Sarah, of course.

Returning to Elena, Stefan tells her the good news: It worked. He now knows that he’s Caroline’s emotional trigger. He thinks he can get her back. The bad news: Caroline calls Stefan to inform him that she has Sarah Salvatore. Oh, and she’s going to kill her.

Also feeling a bit kill-y is Bonnie, when Damon shows up at the rave and surprises her with Kai. In his peacoat—and amazing scruff—Kai apologizes, but Bonnie can’t help but flash back to her time in the prison and all of the horrible things he did. She tells him, simply, “If I see your face again, I will melt it off.” This girl is quite literally on fire, and I love it.

Damon follows Bonnie back to her dorm to apologize, but Bon really isn’t feeling all the apologies tonight. Instead of hearing Damon out, she makes him feel everything Kai did to her in the prison world—the arrow, snapping her neck, the stabbing. Only, the one thing she can’t make him feel is the loneliness she experienced after Kai left her. Bonnie then screams at Damon to get out (in what might be my favorite Kat Graham scene to date).

NEXT: … and Caroline takes Stefan right over the edge with her


Back at our new favorite bar, Caroline is making margaritas when Stefan and Elena walk in. Now up-to-date on the Sarah Salvatore saga, Elena is ready to help. But here’s the thing: Sarah isn’t at the bar. She’s with Liam, whom Caroline has compelled to perform surgery on her. Elena tells Caroline that killing is awful—she knows because she did it. Caroline’s perfect response: “I compelled a student to perform surgery on Stefan’s niece, and you found a way to make this about you. You truly have a gift, Elena.” Preach! If only we could actually make Elena less self-centered, right, TVD?

But forget about Elena. Caroline has come to a decision: She knows that Stefan is the one who can bring her back, so she wants to change him. She tells him that he can save Sarah’s life by flipping his humanity switch. Elena says no, but Caroline is so over her: “Elena, Stefan unleashed himself from you months ago. He can think for himself now.” Ouch. Of course, Stefan says no, using his previous compulsion of Liam to find out that he’s at Whitmore Medical. Elena takes off to find them just as Caroline orders that Liam remove Sarah’s heart.

So while Stefan and Caroline physically throw each other around, Elena tries to find Liam. For some reason, she sucks at it. And when she calls Stefan to say she hasn’t found them—and Caroline gives the order to kill Sarah—Stefan tells Elena, “Bring me back. Just remember to bring me back.” Between his face and Elena’s “No!” on the other end of the phone, I am transported back to one of the most heartbreaking moments on this show. I have chills.

Just as Stefan reopens those beautiful green eyes, useless Elena finds Liam, breaks his wrists, and feeds Sarah her blood. She calls Stefan back only to realize something’s not right. She begs him: “Don’t you dare tell me that you shut it off.” So he doesn’t. Instead, he hands the phone to Caroline, who’s lying next to him on the bar while he drinks a margarita. “He shut it off,” she tells Elena matter-of-factly.

There are so many things I love about this, including the Bonnie and Clyde feel it has, and the season 3 Elena I’m looking at. But before I get lost in this moment, we still have more to talk about.

After Bonnie kicks him out, Damon returns home. And when Kai says he won’t help bring Damon’s mom back, the eldest Salvatore brother wants answers. Apparently, there are only two prison worlds—one for Kai and one created for Damon’s mother. Why? Because she’s a RIPPER! She turned into a vampire in 1858, faked her own death, and went to Europe, where her killing spree began. The Gemini Coven stopped her at the New York harbor, after she’d killed approximately 3,000 people, including everyone on her ship.

It’s a realization that breaks Damon down in a powerful scene—one that felt like some of my favorite older Damon moments. He’s such a fascinating character on his own, so I love that he’s getting his own story right now.

And finally, Bonnie calls Jeremy to say that she’s back, but that she’s still trying to figure out herself. Once she does, she promises to visit. Right now, she’s not sure if she’s scared of herself or if she likes the new her. (Personally, I like her.)

So, with a handful of moments that felt like callbacks to the good old days, and two great twists, this episode gives me a lot of hope for what’s to come. Personally, I’d love to watch Stefan and Caroline kill people all around the world. And yes, I realize how awful that sounded. I also found it interesting that Stefan asked Elena to bring him back. Is she still his emotional trigger? Will she always be? We’ll find out, because things are about to get bloody. Perhaps Mrs. Salvatore should return and join in on the fun, huh?

Also, props to first-time director Ian Somerhalder, particularly on that shot of Caroline sitting on the bar talking over her shoulder to Sarah. It was all very beautiful and creepy.