Tyler suffers through his first full moon, while Elena and Elijah cut a deal, Damon gets marked, Rose gets bit, and Stefan and Katherine don't (actually) get busy
Tyler Vampire Diaries
Credit: Annette Brown/The CW

I once read that if you don’t originally like someone, but then you grow to, you’ll actually like them more than you would have if you’d liked them from the start. It’s because you feel guilty. I’ve privately dubbed this the Vincent D’Onofrio Effect in honor of the years it took me to finally watch him on Law & Order: Criminal Intent after being traumatized by The Cell. I think that guilt is part of the reason why Tyler’s torturous transformation in this episode was so effective. We all thought he was a verbally and physically abusive douche in season 1, and it turns out, he doesn’t want to feel that aggression at all. If you’ve listened to our latest TV Insiders podcast (in which Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec call in to discuss the episode, as well as the companion series they’re developing), you know that I watched this midseason finale with Dalton Ross and Annie Barrett, clutching a pillow and alternately shouting at the TV and whimpering.

This was Michael Trevino’s episode to shine, and he seized the opportunity. Seeing him with tears in his eyes guts me. I wasn’t sure if he was saying “I’m sorry” to Caroline because he’d snapped (verbally) at her during his violent reaction to drinking the wolfsbaned water (now a verb!), or because he was sorry he was putting her through the pain of watching him. And when his right arm hit that bone-breaking angle and he cried out “It hurts, it hurts,” I was torn between praying for the scene to end and praying for it to continue. No one from the show was lying when they said this was going to be a long, brutal process. They really went there.

You may have been yelling for Caroline to leave before Tyler’s werewolf teeth came in, but every time you saw her cradling him, and him clasping her hand, you had to be happy she didn’t listen to him and stayed until the last possible second. I loved that shot of him laying on the floor with his head in her lap. It was like he was a 16-year-old dog, about to be taken to the vet, shivering from pain. And then those shots of him spinning around on all fours, ripping out one of those chains that was supposed to withstand 5,000 pounds of pressure, and clawing at the cell door as Caroline left? So good. She sobbed outside the entrance door until his screaming stopped. Then it was quiet until he started trying to break that door down. We’d seen him transform (what was the worst part? that arm? the ribs and spine? the leg?) but all she saw was teeth through the holes he’d slashed. She reinforced the door, and super-sped away.

She eventually came back. “Tyler?” “Caroline?” Their voices were so innocent and sincere. It was the kind of moment that made me agree with the person (@Steer_Displaced) who tweeted me post-episode that she “wants to ship Tyler and Caroline. But not romantically. They’re like the supernatural Harry & Hermione.” I could get behind that. Even though part of me wanted Harry and Hermione together in the movies, I appreciate the idea that a teen boy and girl could have that deep of a friendship. And clearly, the man behind Dawson’s Creek does this well. Tyler, however, may not: In the promo for the show’s Jan. 27 return, Tyler and Matt both try to kiss Caroline. I don’t really care either way, as long as Tyler still gets to be shirtless a lot. Contrary to what Dalton says, I was not “panting” when Tyler first got half-naked and later walked around the cellar in chains. I just made the occasional audible “ooh,” as in “someone really knows how to shoot him.”

NEXT: “I’d like to suggest to Tyler that he invest in a pair of male stripper pants, the kind that have velcro down the sides.”

When Caroline entered the torn apart cellar, Tyler was on the ground, naked in the fetal position, looking like he had the same amount of energy as a woman who’d just gone through 18 hours of labor. She ran to him, covered him up, and told him he’d made it. He didn’t get out. He was okay. “No, I’m not,” he said, and he couldn’t hold back the tears. Did you notice how he reached up for her hand then as she held his head? Candice Accola talked to us about how hard it was watching her friend film those scenes. (She wanted us to note that those were all real chains constraining and weighing Trevino down for two days of filming.) Bravo, to them both. Caroline and Tyler have now become my favorite pairing on the show. In fact, I’m so invested in this story line at the moment, I’d like to suggest to Tyler that he invest in a pair of male stripper pants, the kind that have velcro down the sides. I assume those would just pop off when he becomes four-legged and furry.

Of course, the closer these two get, the more painful it will be to Tyler when it comes out that she’s been lying to him about being the only vampire in Mystic Falls and that a vampire (Damon) killed his uncle Mason. I’m curious how soon that will be revealed to him… Maybe Jules, Mason’s friend from Florida who arrived in town to tell Tyler’s mother it was time for Sheriff Forbes to declare Mason a missing person, will need to recover from Damon’s sword before she goes to visit Tyler again. (Though she looked fine in the promo for the next episode.) She’d heard Tyler’s message to Mason freaking out about the impending full moon and finding his transformation video, and she got suspicious. After meeting Tyler and his mother, she phoned someone and told him or her that he or she had been right: Mason had lied, he wasn’t the only werewolf in Mystic Falls. Of course, Tyler hadn’t activated the curse before Mason’s death, so he wasn’t technically lying. But I wonder if he kept Tyler a secret anyway from his werewolf friends. Mason didn’t want to get caught up in the ancient battle between the beasts. He didn’t want to be a werewolf. Maybe he wouldn’t even want them to know he had a relative, on the off-chance Tyler transformed.

The question is: Is Jules really someone we should be hating? Maybe she was raised with the wolves vs. vamps mentality. Or, perhaps she’s a peaceful wolf like Tyler, and she only “marked” Damon because he’s a vampire who insinuated that Mason was dead. And then doesn’t she have a right to be upset with him and want revenge? Damon really is stupid sometimes. He reveals way more than he needs to, usually to hot, dangerous women (see also: Katherine).

NEXT Damon gets marked, Katherine gets into Stefan’s head (and out of her dress).

Jules said Damon picked the wrong night of the month to pick a fight. At first, he was mostly annoyed that he didn’t know what the werewolf throwdown term “marked” meant. (Safe to assume marked for death, yes?) But then he went home, and, having to lock his door for the first time since 1864, I’m sure he was annoyed because he actually felt physically vulnerable. He’s been feeling emotionally fragile, thanks to Elena. He did not need this. Rose was there to apologize for fleeing at the first sight of Elijah, and Damon told her there was nothing for her at the Salvatore Mansion any longer. But then, they heard a noise, and saw a broken window. Damon grabbed a sword. Rose, who’s been on the run for 500 years but suddenly wasn’t smart enough to arm herself (?), got attacked by the werewolf instead. It (Jules, we presume), took a bite out of her shoulder before Damon stabbed it, and it fled. The myth says a werewolf bite is fatal to a vampire, so Rose naturally dissolved into tears and Damon’s arms when they realized the bite was healing. Or, so they thought…

Later, Rose joined Damon on the couch in her robe for a drink and a heart-to-heart. He told her he was glad that myth was busted, and she told him she was going to stay and help him protect Elena. She liked him, she believes in friendship, he needs one, and she has an opening herself. Damon running his hand up her thigh clearly signaled that he wanted to be adult playmates again. She tried to resist him. She doesn’t fall in love with men who are in love with other women, she said. She thinks more of herself than that. But, the way Damon lingered by her lips with his mouth open could make anyone feel willing to compromise. She could be his “special friend,” she said. Damon joked that he liked her now, too, and they started making out. But then her shoulder started hurting. They peeled back her robe, and there was a bubbling rash. I originally saw a rough cut of the episode so we could record our chat with Williamson and Plec Thursday afternoon. In that version, the wound looked more gray, like how a vampire looks on this show when they’ve been staked and are dying/dead. The final effects were more reddish in hue, which leaves it a bit more up in the air. Is Rose dying? (Plec said in the podcast we’ll get our answer to that question Jan. 27.) If she is dying, how slowly will it happen? I want to say they’d drag it out for a few episodes to really screw with Damon and make him suffer by having to watch someone he’s allowed himself to care about die. That would balance the scales: The vamps have an easier time transforming, they should have a harder time dying. But I’m always wrong when I make predictions on this show’s plots (though I guessed Rose’s wound wasn’t really healed, didn’t you?), and this show moves at lightning speed. Wouldn’t it be great if Damon and Co. figured out that Rose was dying a slow, painful death, and Damon had to mercy stake her? That would eff with him nicely. (Update: The extended promo for the next episode makes that look like a definite possibility.)

Speaking of being effed with, let’s talk about that promo that made us think we’d be seeing a lot of Katherine and Stefan this episode. I mean, we did see a lot of Katherine, so to speak, but I was surprised we didn’t see her toying with him more in the tomb. How pissed were you when you realized that tomb sex was a dream Katherine put in Stefan’s head? Dream sequences are always a bit of a letdown, but we laughed at Stefan reclining all centerfold-like, and again when he sat up and paused to take in Katherine’s cleavage. I also yelled, “You’ve been in the tomb for a daaay!” when he gave in so quickly to her manipulation. So yes, this should have been a dream. Katherine’s curves were supersexy in that bra and panty set, but there’s no way Stefan would’ve taken her to the wall at that moment. I do wish they’d been shown thrashing about the cave a little longer, though.

NEXT: Aunt Jenna gives Elijah an invitation, and he gives Elena an offer she can’t refuse.

Elena desperately wanted to get the moonstone and rendezvous with Elijah to resume, as Damon told Stefan, “a martyr trail that rivals your greatest hits.” Bonnie, Jeremy, and Damon expected that, which is why Bonnie put a spell on the house so Elena couldn’t leave. Both Elena and Katherine were trapped this episode. Poetic! While Jeremy was on Elena duty (and the floor), Bonnie went off to make up with Luka for channeling him without warning. He forgave her a little too quickly, and showed her how his father collects witches’ spellbooks to keep the family’s heritage alive (witches have a code of loyalty that binds them as family). She asked him if he could help her break a spell on a talisman, then, they lit some candles on a rooftop, did some chanting as they joined hands while she held the moonstone, made magic once again look semi-orgasmic (I’ll have whatever spell she’s having), and the stone exploded into sparks all around them. Or, so, Bonnie thought. Apparently, Luka’s magic skills include sleight of hand. He got the stone and took it to his dad. Luka seemed genuinely upset about having to lie to Bonnie, but I still can’t get a read on that family. They had to do one more thing for Elijah before they lost the full moon, Jonas said: Cut to Elijah arriving at the tomb — surprise, Stefan! — and telling him he was free to leave.

Let’s back up: Aunt Jenna got to do something this episode she wouldn’t have done if they’d just clued her in already — invite into their home a strange man claiming to be an author researching small towns and needing to see the historical society archives that Elena’s mother (not Isobel) kept. Another great poof! there he is! entrance for Elijah. Elena freaked appropriately, but clueless Jenna didn’t notice. Elijah told Elena they needed to talk. He told her he wants to use her to lure the reclusive Klaus out of his paranoid hiding — so he can kill him. (How, Elijah?) All she has to do is stay put, live her life, and when the time is right, work with him. He has his witches who can keep her loved ones safe from Klaus. We didn’t get an explanation as to why Elijah is no longer in Klaus’ trusted inner circle and why he wants to kill him. All we know is Elijah says he doesn’t want to break the curse. He insisted he’s a man of his word, and when he makes a deal, he keeps it.

Man, I have no idea whether to believe Elijah. I’m just so happy he’s around. That actor’s stoic poker face is a nice contrast to Damon’s ever-moving eyebrows. On the one hand, you want to trust Elijah because then Luka and Jonas are good warlocks, but we know from Bonnie’s relative Lucy that not all witches are good. Also, if Elijah is telling the truth, he and Damon may form an unlikely friendship, which would be highly entertaining. What do you think?

NEXT: I hope Alaric and Stefan meet in the hallway on ice cream runs

Elijah showed up at the tomb and told Stefan that Elena had negotiated a deal, which she would explain. Jonas and Luka must’ve taken off the spell, because out Stefan came. Katherine, however, Elijah compelled to stay in the tomb until he told her to exit. He says Klaus will want to know where she is when he arrives. Katherine had tried to make nice with Stefan by suggesting to him that he look up Isobel. She was the one who had found Katherine, so maybe she could help with Klaus. That wasn’t enough for him to not leave her in the tomb when he had the chance. “Goodbye, Katherine,” he said. I felt a twinge of sadness. But really, Katherine is safer in there for now, even if Elijah will use her to lure out Klaus as well.

Stefan went to Elena’s, and she saw his reflection in the window she was staring out of, almost like she had seen Elijah’s face at Slater’s. Nice touch. Stefan actually smiled, and then they kissed and fell onto her bed. At least one of the Salvatore brothers will successfully get some.

Your turn. What did you think of the episode? It wasn’t as jaw-dropping as the May season 1 finale, but what would be? (The season 2 finale will have a lot to live up to.) Was the Tyler transformation all you thought it would be, as opposed to, say, the return of the Alaric-Damon bromance? Their little game at the Mystic Grill to slip wolfsbane into Jules’ drink wasn’t their best work. But at least we found out that (some) wolves can sniff out vampires. What are your theories on Elijah, Jonas, and Luka? How did you like that Ford Fiesta product placement? And, do you think Rose will die after she (apparently) goes to bat for Damon with Elena? Damn, she’s a good friend.

Mandi on Twitter: @EWMandiBierly

EW’s TV INSIDERS PODCAST: This week, Dalton Ross, Annie Barrett, and Mandi Bierly debate the sexiest scene in Vampire Diaries‘ season finale, then call executive producers Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec to break down the episode. Plus: Michael Slezak calls in from vacation for a look ahead to the final two episodes of Survivor: Nicaragua, and the Insiders reveal their secret shames — cheesy and horrible TV shows that are downright embarrassing to enjoy. To join in all the fun, just click on the audio player below. And in the best news of all, we’re now on iTunes! You can subscribe for free right here and take the TV Insiders with you on the go. And to send a question to the TV Insiders or learn about upcoming editions, follow us on Twitter @TVInsiders!

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The Vampire Diaries

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

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