Damon ends Rose's suffering, but his continues as Jules tells Tyler more wolves are on their way and Uncle John returns
Vampire Diaires Descent
Credit: Bob Mahoney/The CW
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…
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We all guessed Rose was not long for this world, and probably that at some point, Damon would have to stake her. I assumed it would be to save Elena during one of Rose’s bouts with dementia that made her think Elena was Katerina and chase her around the Salvatore mansion. Even after Rose begged Damon multiple times throughout the hour to make the pain stop, I cried when he finally did it, holding her in his bed, tears in his eyes, giving her a peaceful dream of the two of them enjoying the sun in her favorite childhood spot in the English countryside. But was that the emotional climax of the episode? No. That would be the bender it sent Damon on at the end. But let’s back up.

So the problem with the Scrappy Gang having multiple life-threatening issues to deal with at once is that they can’t always work in the buddy system. There is no way Elena should have been left in the Salvatore mansion alone with Rose. I realize they couldn’t have predicted the dementia, but if I was a teenager taking care of someone who could possibly be dying, I would want someone else to be there with me. Like my boyfriend, Stefan. But Mr. Sure Knows How to Ruin a Shirtless Moment had business elsewhere. After Elena made him a vervain cocktail — he’s now building up tolerance to that, just like Katherine — Stefan went off to find Alaric at the Grill. He needed the last number Alaric had for Isobel so he could ask her about the Originals. He dialed the number, left her a message, got a call back, and then was AWOL for like EVER. If I was Elena, I would have been pissed that he didn’t come running when I phoned him after barricading myself into a room to get away from Rose. (I’m assuming she phoned him.) But Stefan didn’t return until after Rose had died. He was waiting at Elena’s house when she got home. She wanted to know if he found Isobel. “Not exactly,” said Uncle John, stepping into frame. I forgive you, Stefan, but only because the sight of David Anders made me yell “Un-cle Jooooohn!” in my Oprah voice. As if we don’t have enough wild cards in Mystic Falls right now, they add him back into the mix. Bring it, John. Bring. It.

We didn’t see Bonnie and Jeremy at all this episode. I feel like they could have taken a break from witch business and pining, respectively, to help Elena play nurse. But at least Caroline had a legitimate excuse for not being on Rose Watch 2011 — the Mystic Falls Booster Club Barbecue. God these events make me miss Gilmore Girls.

NEXT: Everyone just needs to start, we mean stop, kissing Caroline.

Caroline was at the BBQ to check on Tyler, and remind us that he’d just made it through his first full moon transformation without hurting anyone. I love that Candice Accola and Michael Trevino always make a point to acknowledge that they are standing in public talking about being a werewolf and a vampire. They looked around and no one was listening, but they still had to stand close when he thanked her for staying with him. He said he didn’t know what he would have done if she hadn’t been there, and there was a long silence as they both smiled — probably knowing that they were sharing a moment that would have 35-year-old women like me squealing at the TV. Caroline, wanting to change the subject, said they’d need to reinforce the wall next time, because he almost got her once, which wouldn’t have been good. Tyler made her tell him what she meant by that, and she told him she read somewhere that one werewolf bite would kill a vampire. Matt saved her from having to say more when he interrupted their conversation.

Caroline was quick to tell Matt nothing was going on between her and Tyler, they were just talking. And Matt said he believed her — she’s always been straight with him. He wanted to make his intentions clear, and he kissed her. She liked it, but eventually had to pull away because the guilt of all she’s hiding from him is too much. She walked away, and I was left wondering if Zach Roerig has been working out. His upper body looked huge. (Did Trevino’s look larger, too, or is that hiatus just playing tricks with me?) Eventually, Matt caught back up with Caroline, wanting to know how she felt when he’d kissed her. [Insert your own joke here.] She admitted she loved him, and he said if that’s true, she’d tell him whatever she’s hiding that’s holding her back from being with him again. Would he finally get off Team Oblivious Human? No! He had to go because some cheerleader ran out of burgers. When he turned back to Caroline, she was gone. Caroline went home, and Tyler was waiting on her doorstep.

Tyler wanted to know why she would risk staying with him for as long as she did during his transformation if a werewolf bite could kill her. He said he didn’t understand her, and she went off on him because she thought he was refusing to let someone help him. She was sorry if she overstepped her boundaries by caring, and that’s what he didn’t get: Why she hadn’t admitted she cares about him. He grabbed her as she was opening the front door, turned her around, and laid one on her as she was apologizing for “actually giving a [kiss].” He used force to spin her, but the kiss itself was gentle. Can you tell I rewound? He pulled back, then he kissed her again and she returned it… Until she pulled away and told him he couldn’t do that. She apologized, but like the frustrated teen that she used to be, the only explanation she gave him was, “Everyone just needs to stop kissing me.” She went inside and left him confused on the porch in his football jersey. Oh, high school.

NEXT: I thought Damon would have black satin sheets.

Now back to Elena we go. Like us, she got her first look at Damon’s bedroom and adjoining bathroom when Rose needed to rest. Also like us, she was expecting silk sheets. Here’s some trivia for you: The exec producers wanted the room to be void of personal mementos, because Damon is a man who travels light. Unlike Stefan, he doesn’t hold on to the past. Aside from his bed, which Ian Somerhalder told us can fit an entire sorority, we saw what I assume was a first edition of Gone with the Wind and — this is awesome — famous pieces of stolen artwork on the walls. So he does hold on to something. I was sort of sad that we didn’t actually see Rose deliver the line that was in the promo about how it was okay for Elena to love both Salvatore brothers. Instead, the girls’ heart-to-heart revolved around Rose’s envy of Elena’s ability to love. Rose had never been more than friends with Trevor. She didn’t put down roots and make a family of friends since they were always on the run from Klaus. She wanted to know why Elena was so willing to give hers up and be Klaus’ sacrifice/Elijah’s puppet. Before we got a good answer, Rose got sleepy. Then crazy. That shot of her suddenly appearing behind Elena — scary. Rose thought she was Katerina, but Elena was able to bring her back to reality and the comfort of Damon’s bed. Hearing a 560-year-old vampire say she’s scared and that she wants to go home — heartbreaking. Elena asked where home was, and Rose described the field and horses Damon would later use in the dream. Rose lamented how much time she’d wasted, just being afraid. DID YOU GET THAT, ELENA?

And cut to Jules pensively eating a salad.

Damon tried to make Rose a deal: If she told him how to cure a werewolf bite, he would let her live. Guessing that he killed Mason, she didn’t buy that. “Bite me,” she said. Then we at least got the trash talk we saw in the promo. She asked if the chills and dementia had started for Rose, and told Damon the only cure was him taking a stake and putting it through her heart. How are we feeling about Jules now? She’s there to avenge Mason’s death, and all she has to go on for how vamps treat wolves in Mystic Falls is Damon, so part of me doesn’t want to hate her. And yet, she did kill a bunch of campers in wolf form after attacking Rose, and in human form, she used some blunt force trauma to off the cop who discovered her right as she was about to burn the bodies. Is it a double standard if we hate her but still root for Damon? It’s not like she could compel the cop and make him forget what he saw. Maybe she normally chains herself up in Florida, so this killing spree was out of character for her. All we really know is what she told Tyler when he eventually agreed to meet her at the Grill. She wants to be his friend because Mason would have wanted that. The longer you’re a werewolf, the better you get at sniffing out vampires. Oh, and even though his little friend Caroline lied to him about being the only vampire in town, he shouldn’t worry — there are more werewolves, and they’re on their way. She also told him Caroline and her vamp friends killed Mason. Man, Mystic Falls is about to get messy. Tyler didn’t look like he trusts Jules yet. I know he’ll feel betrayed by Caroline — and according to the promo for next week, put her in a cage? — but I hope he remembers that she risked her life to see him through his first transformation. I know Stefan tries to talk some sense into Tyler next week, and there’s a big, violent confrontation in the woods when the vamps and wolves (in human form) meet. Tyler will have to decide whose side he’s on at some point. I’m excited for Trevino and Accola to get these meaty scenes, but sad, too, that they’re probably going to break our hearts.

NEXT: I admit I saw Obsessed while praising Elena for being a badass this week.

The only good thing about Damon not immediately rushing home to be with Elena once he heard Rose would be a BLOODSUCKER WITH DEMENTIA, was that Elena got to be pretty badass. The girl is a fighter. She found rabid Rose downing Damon’s blood stash. Rose thought she was Katerina again and chased her. Elena knocked stuff over to slow Rose, and when Rose pounced on her and took her to the floor, Elena reached up and pulled the curtain to let in the sun. Smart! Elena ran to the front door, but before she could open it, Rose was there and turned her around. She leaned in to bite Elena, and Elena dug her fingers into Rose’s open wound. Rose dropped and Elena ran upstairs, locked herself in a room, shoved something in front of the door, opened the curtains to let the sun in from the balcony, and kicked off a piece of wood from a piece of furniture to make a stake. In my mind, I know the fight had gone on long enough, but in my heart, I wanted it to continue and rival the Beyoncé/Ali Larter fight in Obsessed. Rose was outside the door, and she said she knew it was Elena now and asked her to come out because she needed her help. I would have hated Elena forever if she’d been stupid enough to risk that. She stayed. And waited.

Once night fell, I guess Elena figured she might as well venture out into the house again because she was tired of waiting for one of the boys to return home. She walked downstairs with her stake in hand, and we expected Rose to pop up any second. That one dramatic music cue was slightly weird, right? I had to rewind to see that it was punctuating a shot of the open front door, then it made sense. Poof, Damon was there. And he wanted to know where Rose was. Elena couldn’t tell him. The answer: Puking by a dumpster at the Booster BBQ and munching on a concerned maintenance man.

Welcome back, Sheriff Forbes! If you’ve been wondering where she’s been, actress Marguerite MacIntyre has been off her feet for a while with a leg injury. But now Liz is back, and ready to do her job — or rather, call Damon and have him do it. Damon patrolled the school grounds with Elena and they found Rose after she killed a young couple. That was another nice fakeout. You thought Rose would be hiding in the backseat when the girl checked her makeup in the mirror, but she hit the guy first as he walked around to his side of the car. Moral: Do not be chivalrous. Rose flung him onto the windshield and the girl got out of the car and bye-bye. Damon arrived and Rose went after him, but he landed on top of her. He talked her back to reality, and she saw what she’d done. He said he’d get her home and she said she hadn’t had a home in so long. Sobbing, with blood covering her mouth like it was chocolate, she begged him to make it stop. You thought he might stake her there — Elena had wood — but instead, he picked her up and carried her. [High-pitched squeal: Damon!]

NEXT: We cry.

Rose awoke, clean but sweaty, in Damon’s bed. She apologized to him. “You went on a murderous rampage. It happens,” he said. And then she apologized to Elena for taking those human lives, which she never wanted to do. Damon didn’t want Elena there. Perhaps because Rose was about to drop some more insight into his soul. “Damon’s a lot like me,” she said. “He wants to care. The minute he does, he runs away from it.” She told Elena she needs to fight, not sacrifice herself. Then she coughed and Elena was at her side. Rose asked why Elena was so nice to her. “Us humans,” Elena said. Rose said you never forget what it’s like to be human. It haunts her. It’s the only thing that’s kept her going. The pain was gone, for a second. Then it came back worse. She wailed and begged Damon to make it stop. He told Elena to leave, and he held Rose.

The next time we saw them, Damon was sitting in his bed, holding Rose with her hand in his as she marveled at him actually being a nice guy. “I’m not nice. I’m mean. I like it,” he said. Then he told her to just sleep. Cut to the dream sequence. She was in the countryside, wearing an old-fashioned dress, looking like a human, and petting a horse. She spotted Damon, who was sitting in the grass. She asked how he knew this was her favorite place when she was a child, and he said Elena mentioned it. She was happy to be in the sun. (For that moment, I wished they’d gotten Bonnie to make her a ring so she could have really sat outside again before she died. Too saccharine though.) Rose told Damon she missed being a human. She hadn’t had a family or friends, she didn’t matter. But he still does. Whether or not he wants to admit it, he’s built a life. She spent 500 years just existing. I’m watching this scene again as I write about it, and I’m crying at this point already. Rose said she wanted to enjoy the fresh air for a while and asked Damon to stay with her. For a little while, he said. He held her in the field and she thanked him because the pain had gone away. She asked if she’d see her family again, and Damon said he thinks she’ll see whoever she wants to see. She got excited thinking about seeing Trevor again and realized she wasn’t afraid anymore. In Damon’s bedroom, he took his hand from hers and reached for a stake. He held it above her chest, and in the dream, Rose suggested they race to the trees. He said she would lose, he’s controlling the dream and could cheat. (Nice way of letting us know exactly what was going on here.) On the count of three, Rose said. One. Cut back to Damon, tears in his eyes, stake above sleeping Rose. Two. And he drove the stake into her heart. She left out one breath, and a tear fell from his eye. Cut to commercial so we could all sob, and feel guilty for thinking the start of that dream sequence, when she first showed up in the field, looked mildly cheesy.

You know what I liked about this: As much as this show likes its quick twists and surprises, the writers understand the power of building emotional suspense. We knew that was coming. We may even have wanted Damon to do it sooner in the episode. But we couldn’t rush it or him. He loaded Rose’s body into the trunk of his car, met Liz in the woods, showed her he’d caught the vampire who’d killed at the BBQ, and said he would bury the body. He returned home and Elena was waiting for him, a drink of alcohol in hand. She wanted to make sure he was okay, and he just wanted her to leave. He didn’t want to admit that he cared. But he did. “I feel, Elena. Okay, and it sucks. What sucks even more is that it was supposed to be me. Jules was coming after me.” Elena said he felt guilty. But Damon said that was a human emotion and he wasn’t human. She had told him not to give up when he was so close to getting his humanity back, and he told her she was one to talk about not giving up when she’s on a suicide mission. He told her he’d had enough gloom, doom, and personal growth for one night and asked her to leave. She did — but not before she hugged him. He held back tears and you could see in his darting eyes, he was deciding whether or not to hug her back. If he did, it would’ve admitted what he wasn’t willing to. At least not to someone he couldn’t compel to forget it.

NEXT: Damon goes on a murderous rampage. It happens.

Elena went home, and, if I was her, I would have suggested Stefan and I go back and be with Damon, who tends to make bad decisions when he’s feeling vulnerable. Uncle John could be brought up to speed another night. But then, we wouldn’t have gotten what could be Damon’s best scene ever. He was laying in the middle of the road, drunk. “I’m lost,” he said to the beautiful woman who stopped for him. “You’re laying in the middle of the road,” she said. “Not that kind of lost,” he said. “Metaphorically, existentially.” She asked if he needed help, and when she saw his flask, her flight instinct kicked in. She headed back to her car, but he stopped her and compelled her not to move. She said she didn’t want any trouble, and he said, “Neither do I. But it’s all I got is trouble.” He offered her a drink and asked for her name. He told Jessica he had a secret, a big secret that he’s never said out loud. “What’s the point? It’s not gonna change anything. It’s not gonna make me good, make me adopt a puppy. I can’t be what other people want me to be. What she wants me to be,” he said. “This is who I am, Jessica.”

Jessica asked if he was going to hurt her. “I’m not sure,” he said, in a voice that was truly frightening. Then he touched her face. “Because you are my existential crisis: Do I kill you or do I not kill you?” She begged him not to. “But I have to, Jessica. Because I’m not human, and I miss it. I miss it more than anything in the world. That is my secret. But there’s only so much hurt a man can take,” he said holding back tears.

“Please don’t,” she said.

“Okay,” he said, and moved close to her again. “You’re free to go.” She ran to her car, but before she got in, he was there. He violently bit her neck and dropped her to the road. The last image we saw was a close-up of Damon’s vamp eyes and bloody mouth. I’ll be honest: I’m happy to see them again, though I sort of wish he hadn’t KILLED her. Why couldn’t he have just compelled her to come back to his house with him, taken a swim in his tub with her, fed, and then compelled her to forget? Because that’s bad, but not bad enough. He needed something this cruel to erase the pain of losing a friend, the pain of knowing he cared, and the pain of knowing he couldn’t handle caring, which meant he still wasn’t worthy of Elena. I thought Ian Somerhalder (who shot this episode at the end of a two-month battle with walking pneumonia) found just the right level of unglued — terrifying, but vulnerable enough that we could still care about Damon. Playing that crucial scene opposite him had to be a pressure situation for that guest actress. She had just the right amount of tears and control.

Your turn. What did you think of the episode? Which part did you rewind the most? (It doesn’t compare to kisses or death scenes, but I’d like to give Paul Wesley’s claw and roar gesture to Alaric when asking about Jules a special shout-out.) Where would you rank Rose’s death among TV vampires? It hit me harder emotionally than ANGEL SPOILER ALERT Darla’s death — and has set Damon off on a journey sure to keep him wearing his Ultimate Sexy Beast crown — but damn, does anything top a pregnant vampire staking herself to instantly deliver her baby? How excited are you for Uncle John’s return? What do you think will happen between Caroline and Tyler? And do you think it’s possible that Damon won’t be able to “perform” in his bed after having staked Rose there, and that’s why we’ll be getting the steamy bath and shower scenes in future episodes? (What, you don’t like the idea of a vamp with a performance problem?)

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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