Best Starting Point: ''Growing Pains'' (401) — A lot changed in last season's lead-up. It's probably best not to miss this season opener, which shows…

Sure, The Vampire Diaries is a show about blood, stakes and endless fog in the forest, but lest we forget, the show is also about teen angst and last night (your regular recapper, Mandi, had the night off) we took a ride on the roller coaster of post-adolescent drama — best friends, unrequited love, loss, loneliness, the works. All you need to know is that meant tons of pensive, forlorn staring.

It was Stefan’s birthday (his 162nd, but he doesn’t look a day older than 25) and in town for the special occasion was one of his oldest friends — 350 years old to be exact — Lexie. Best friends they were, but she didn’t seem at all like Stefan’s type. She parties, uses her powers for some perks (i.e. free booze) and is clearly more outgoing than Stefan. Actually, she seemed way more Damon’s speed at first, but as the episode progressed, I realized Lexie falls somewhere between Damon and Stefan on the vampire scale. She has the cunning ways of the former but the sweet side of the latter. Plus, she doesn’t maliciously feed on innocent humans. No, Lexie goes out with a lobotomist phlebotomist and satisfies her cravings with blood-filled IV bags.

I didn’t know what to think of Lexie at first. Was she flirting with Stefan? Did she have an ulterior motive? Was she going to corrupt our good vampire? No. It was actually none of the above. With her time on the show so short (more on that later), she was merely there as a good friend (and there to further Damon’s plotting), one who clearly made Stefan happy. “Stefan smiles? Alert the media!” Damon says, observing the bffs playing pool. It’s all well and good to see Stefan happy, but I’d rather have the brooding (preferably shirtless) stares that he’s perfected over the season.

So Lexie made stone-cold Stefan smile and even helped bring he and Elena back together—at least a little more than before. After Elena’s awkward run-in with a towel-wearing Lexie in Stefan’s home, she had a heart to heart with Elena. See, the love of Lexie’s life was human, so she could imagine Elena’s pain. Elena was finally beginning to accept Stefan and a reconciliation between the two was in sight, but hopes of that came to a screeching halt with Lexie’s painful death. Too soon, I say. Lexie could match Damon’s verbal sparring and it would’ve been nice to see them have some word play action. Plus, if her strangling him was any indication, she could’ve totally kicked his butt back from whence he came.

Let me back it up in case you missed the staking. At a soiree at The Grill, Damon stepped out for a second to — what else? — feed a craving by attacking a couple making out. (Can you say c— block?) He killed the boy but left the girl scared and cowering outside. When the cops arrived and asked her to pinpoint the culprit, she pointed in Damon’s direction, but the sheriff went after Lexie—no!—and stuck her with a needle of vervain, provided to her earlier by Damon no less. The vervain didn’t really do the trick, though, so Damon put a stake through her heart. He clearly did the deed to cover his own butt and keep up the farce that he’s so totally normal, but ouch. Bigger ouch for Stefan, who went from mournful to vengeful in about 2.53 seconds, and with it, he left Elena in the dust, explaining that she should stay away from him since wherever he goes, pain (i.e. Damon) follows.

Then in very un-Stefan-like fashion, our good vamp basically busts a cap on Damon’s a– only to spare him a stake through the heart. Instead he drives it into his stomach (nice and deep — ouch again) to prove a point. OK, if this were real life (and by real life, I mean not a TV show and I mean a life with vampires), Stefan would’ve totally killed him. Thankfully, Damon will stick around, which is good because a.) he’s pretty, b.) he has some of the best one-liners on TV right now and c.) the show must go on.

But did anyone else think Damon’s evil ways reached new, scary heights this episode? Apart from killing Lexie, which was cruel enough, I really felt for poor Caroline. “Shallow”? “Useless”? That’s harsh, dude, and I know how much you hate the word dude. But the silver lining is that Candice Accola, who plays Caroline, showed us she has just as much chops to play the sad, lonely girl as she does to play the perky cheerleader. I’m not too keen on this potential Caroline-Matt hook-up, but we’ll see how far that goes.

My only gripe with the episode — not enough Bonnie! All we got this week was a confession to Elena about her witchery (snooze), a lame feather-raising trick and the glowing necklace. But it seems like next week’s is a Bonnie-filled episode. It’s about time! I know it’s really strange to see Jasmine Guy play her grandmother, but I’m oddly fascinated by seeing her go from A Different World to CW granny in what feels like an instant. So here’s hoping to more Jasmine, more Bonnie and more details of Damon’s “diabolical” plan.

What did you guys think of the episode? Did you like Lexie? What do you think Damon’s ultimate plan is? And are you ready for some Bonnie witchery? (I’m a wuss, but it looks kind of scary to me. Scary for CW primetime I guess.)

Photo: Guy D’Alema/The CW

Episode Recaps

Best Starting Point: ''Growing Pains'' (401) — A lot changed in last season's lead-up. It's probably best not to miss this season opener, which shows…
The Vampire Diaries

Ian Somerhalder, Nina Dobrev, and Paul Wesley star in the CW’s romance-infused vampire soap opera.

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