Esther revealed her plan while Stefan took a step forward, and Damon took a step a back

By Mandi Bierly
Updated February 10, 2012 at 08:22 AM EST
Credit: Quantrell D. Colbert/The CW

I know the episode was called “Dangerous Liaisons,” but I opted for the teen version of that for my recap title in honor of the Mikaelson siblings acting like children now that their mother, Esther, is around. Which I loved. “Rebekah wasn’t even out of her box a day before she tried to ruin my life,” Klaus whined to Esther after Rebekah attempted revenge on Elena for that whole dagger-in-the-back incident. Who else thought someone was going to be in Elena’s backseat and maybe pop up to wave back at her after she waved goodbye to Matt in the hospital parking lot? Luckily, Elijah was there to stop Rebekah from biting Elena. I swooned; Rebekah called both Elijah and Elena “pathetic.” Why? Because they play nice? As Elijah said, he and Elena had some catching up to do. Let’s dig in.

Off camera, Elijah told Elena what we the audience knew: Esther was in the fourth coffin and says she’s forgiven Klaus for killing her and wants the family to live in peace with each other and the residents of Mystic Falls. As Elena updated the Salvatore brothers at her house, an invitation was delivered to her front door to join the Mikaelsons for dancing and cocktails that evening. (I guess Sheriff Forbes couldn’t be at that party because she would have had to enforce the legal drinking age.) There was a note from Esther on the back: “I think it’s time we finally meet.” Elena thought she should go to find out what Esther wants with her, and Stefan agreed. Damon didn’t. He wanted to go back to old Stefan who cared if Elena lived or died. Stefan said that was Damon’s job now. Damon said Elena can’t protect herself — which, of course, is true, but she doesn’t want to hear that. If she was going, Damon was going, too. I don’t know why Elena thought she could tell them she wouldn’t go and they’d believe her. But she did. She wanted Caroline to be her bodyguard.

Caroline had received an invitation (“Save me a dance. Fondly, Klaus”) along with a beautiful gown. Esther had urged Klaus to bring someone to the ball, which seemed sweet at the time because we didn’t know she wanted Klaus to be distracted so he wouldn’t see her and Elena plotting against him. I agree with Caroline that sending a woman a gown is “some twisted Cinderella fetish.” It’s like on The Bachelor, when every season used to feature a date on which the man would take a woman to a shop after hours and let her try on dresses and pick one to wear for their evening together, and she’d inevitably talk about feeling like a princess. But at least we knew how a high school student got that gown. Where did Elena get hers, in small town Mystic Falls, perfectly fitted in less than a day? When I decided to go to the homecoming dance in eighth grade on the day-of in my small town, I had to settle for peach dress pants and a turquoise sweater. (I assume one of the Golden Girls worked at Deb.) Caroline wasn’t going to go to the ball. For starters, Tyler is out of town. He left her a message saying he was sorry to hear about her father, but he was away doing what her dad had told him to — keep changing into a werewolf until it no longer hurts him — and he’d come back once he’d fixed himself. But then, Rebekah came into the Grill to invite Matt, and Caroline had a change of heart: “What time is this stupid dance?”

NEXT: Someone start making Team Elijah shirts

The Original mansion looked lovely, didn’t it? Who knew everyone in Mystic Falls was black-tie ready? Then again, they do have a lot of events in that town, so it’s probably cheaper to buy the tux rather than rent one 12 times a year. We got to see charming Kol in action as he introduced himself to Mayor Lockwood and dissed Damon ( “I’ve met a lot of people, and you don’t particularly stand out”), before Elena walked in and the music swelled. It’s a shame she couldn’t walk down a staircase to really milk the moment. Instead, Ian Somerhalder had to do the heavy lifting and make us believe Damon’s breath had been taken away. It worked. He made a beeline to her but Stefan swooped in before he got there. After they established she wasn’t leaving until she’d spoken to Esther, Stefan put his arm out to escort her into the party and reluctantly, so did Damon. How uncomfortable did that walk look?

Elena met Finn, who told her his mother would only talk to her if she was alone. But before Elena could orchestrate that, we had to have a group dance number. Fortunately, Caroline had arrived and answered “I need a drink” when Klaus wished her a sexy “Good evening,” so she didn’t miss Elijah’s welcome speech. Apparently, the Originals make a point of always starting the soirées they never are together to have with a dance. A “centuries-old waltz” had been chosen for that evening. Was there a quick tutorial we missed? Did they compel all the townsfolk to do the dance perfectly? Or, are we supposed to believe that like Miss Mystic Falls Caroline, everyone in this town learns to waltz in high school? I learned to square dance in fourth-grade gym class, which, incidentally, was the first and only time two boys ever fought over me. So I’ll allow it. (Also, how cute that Klaus had done some research and knew Caroline was Miss Mystic Falls?! I have to keep reminding myself HE KILLED AUNT JENNA.)

The dance sequence was great. Damon convinced Elena it would be rude not to partake, so they hit the floor as Stefan looked on. Klaus and Caroline were together. Rebekah was with Matt. “Who’s that b—- with Elijah?” I wrote in my notes. Not proud of that. Eventually, they had to switch partners. Elena did a fancy turn and landed right in Stefan’s arms, which was pretty hot. “He dances, and I didn’t even have to beg,” she said. He told her he couldn’t say no to Mayor Lockwood and — breaking news — he smiled! Stefan said it took her about 30 seconds to get Damon, who he must have heard tell Elena she looked “stunning,” in the mood. She said Damon was just looking out for her. Stefan said he thinks Damon needs to figure out that Elena can look out for herself. Again, HOT. Elena told him she needed to speak with him, but not there. While Damon and Rebekah danced — foreshadowing! — Elena took Stefan outside to tell him she needs to see Esther alone to find out if she’s secretly on their side. Why did she come to him? Because the thing he cares about most is killing Klaus, she said. He looked hurt, but he told her she wasn’t wrong. She said after all that’s happened, he still lets her make her own decisions and trusts her. I think “thank you” was implied, but I kept waiting for her to say those words.

Staying with them, Elena lured Damon into a room to speak to him alone, and Stefan broke his back and/or neck to keep him down long enough that Elena could speak to Esther — after promising Elijah, who doubts his mother, that she would tell him what Esther said. Esther burned spelled sage (“spelled” as an adjective? I’m doing it!) so they could talk freely without being overheard. Elena’s first question was everyone’s: How was Esther alive? When Klaus killed her, a witch relative of Bonnie’s preserved her body with a spell. That’s why only Bonnie and her mother could open her casket. She drew power from them and their ancestors on the other side. Esther had been on the other side for a thousand years as punishment for turning her family into vampires. She can undo the evil she created, she said. That means she’ll help them kill Klaus, Elena said. “One thing at a time, Elena,” Esther answered. “For now, I simply need your help.” Her children thought she held the ball to celebrate their reunion. In truth, she’d gathered them to perform a ritual, the first step of which required blood of the doppelgänger. [Record scratch.]

The essence of Elena’s blood would be in the champagne toast later that evening (making it pink champagne). Elena was understandably weary, but let Esther prick her finger with the dagger. The way Esther had talked about the kids ravaging the town with no remorse after they’d been turned into vamps? I suspected she wanted to take out more vampires than Klaus. But I thought she’d want to take out all vampires, including Stefan and Damon. But no. It was more specific and twisted than that: The spell binds her children together. Klaus can’t be killed, but now, if one of the kids go, they all go (including him, I guess). There was some shocked profanity in my notes here. They’re an abomination, Esther said. She betrayed nature when she created them, it’s her duty to kill them. To quote my notes again, “NOT ELIJAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.”

NEXT: Damon got some, Stefan probably could have had some

When it came time for the toast, Elena had to look Elijah in the eye and tell him he could trust his mother. She had to watch him drink the champagne as I willed her to give him a sign or knock his glass out of his hand, something. What would Esther have done if Elena wanted to save Elijah? Did everyone drink Elena’s essence at the ball? I guess so, but (a) ewww, and (b) why couldn’t Elijah have been handed an Elena-free glass? Why does he have to die because his siblings are a–holes? Even Esther admitted he’s a man with morals when Finn later asked her if she was having second thoughts about their plan. For a moment, you thought Esther had fooled Elena and must have some other plan if Finn is involved. But apparently not. Finn said when it came time, he’d be ready to die. Esther used his blood to complete the spell. It ran between the siblings’ names on a piece of parchment and formed a bloody family tree that ultimately burst into flames. I assume that was to signify it worked and the witch spirits are behind her? Or could it have meant something else?

When Damon awoke from his slumber, first Stefan, then Elena explained that his emotions would’ve ruined her plan to speak to Esther. She had to have Stefan step in. “Now you’re mad at me for including Stefan?” Elena asked. “No, I’m mad at you because I love you,” Damon said. “Well, maybe that’s the problem,” she answered. Ouch. Damon said he understood: He cares too much. He’s a liability. How ironic is that? As Katherine always says, humanity is a vampire’s greatest weakness. Here’s this guy we’ve been waiting for two and a half seasons to see have these deep feelings and be comfortable expressing them, and she’s telling him it’s a problem. We all knew Damon was going to do something stupid…

Rebekah, it turned out, had invited Matt to the ball so she could kill him and cause Elena pain. Having had her mother already scold her, she asked Kol if he’d do it for her. He was in. He wanted to kill Matt right on the stairs and make a spectacle, but Rebekah said their mother would kill him for ruining her party. She told him to give her time to lure Matt outside. When Matt put his coat on Rebekah, even though vampires don’t get cold, Rebekah told him it was time to go inside. It really is the little things that matter, gentlemen. Rebekah is a romantic. Kol had already told Rebekah that settling for a mortal was a sign of weakness, so when she officially called off the hit, you guessed he’d still find a way to cause Matt pain. Matt heard someone call his name on the outdoor balcony and he followed the voice. No one was there, but when he turned around, there was Kol. He shook Matt’s hand and crushed several of his fingers. Damon stepped in, shoved Kol off the balcony and followed him to the ground where he proceeded to snap his neck. I love how only the Original siblings, Stefan, and Elena heard the commotion. Stefan asked if Damon was crazy. “Maybe a little,” Damon said. “Far be it for me to cause a problem.” I worried that Esther would be pissed and call off the cease-fire, but again, she’s planning on killing her children herself and Elijah (you know it was him) must have told her the full story about Rebekah and Kol going after Matt first.

Damon headed to the Grill and had finished a bottle of booze by the time Rebekah arrived and tried to buy Matt an apology drink. (Again, he’s underage, at a bar and not a party in the woods, people. Let the boy have his coffee.) He told her she was fun and pretty, but he needed her to leave him alone. He wasn’t in the mood after finding out he had no health insurance. (Why did we find that out? Will Matt be doing something stupid soon for money?) “Burn. Rejected by the captain of the football team. Welcome to adolescence,” Damon told her. Ha. “Knew I should have killed him. Mother wouldn’t let me,” she told him. He poured them each a shot of bourbon and told her to never let people tell her what to do. I didn’t see this coming. Did you? Damon told her she would have broken Matt anyway. She needs someone more “durable.” And who would that be? HIM. Cut to them in serious TV-14 foreplay. She tore his shirt, he tore off her dress and pinned her against a wall facing away from him. Vampire-on-vampire sex for the win! It makes sense that they would fall into bed with each other on one hand — they were both just rejected, and drunk, and at least for her, it’s been a long time since she’s gotten any. You could be saying to yourself, but she just tried to kill Elena. Well, what better way for Damon to say “screw you, Elena,” than to screw Rebekah. I wonder if Damon will sober up and regret it, or if this is the beginning of another bender? Will he try to hide it from Elena, or bring it up to hurt her? I’m sorry, Delena fans, but this is definitely a point for Stefan.

Speaking of Stefan, he took Elena home and tried to tell her not to feel guilty about lying to Elijah and signing the siblings’ death warrants to get to Klaus. They’re just collateral damage, he said. Stefan wanted to know why Damon had snapped and taken on Kol. (Shouldn’t Kol, the older vampire, had been able to take Damon?) Elena said it was because she had said something she didn’t mean. Stefan said he’d done that, too. “Anyway, good night,” he said, and started to leave. She stopped him on the porch, and honestly, if something HAD happened between them there, at her and Damon’s special place, it would have been an eff you as great as Damon sleeping with Rebekah, in my opinion. Elena told him she refuses to believe he doesn’t feel anything. He stepped toward her and asked if she thought he wanted to be this person. He’d hurt her and bit her, and he hates himself for all he’s done to her. She held his face in her hands and told him to do something, anything, which is better than trying to convince her that he doesn’t care. He grabbed her forearms, and I thought he was going to pull her in and kiss her, right there on the porch (and then probably pick her up and carry her inside). Instead, he said, “If I let myself care, all I feel is pain,” and walked away. That was some top-notch sexual tension, and because they didn’t act, we still have more of it to look forward to. I think it’s also smart to wait for their reunion until we believe Stefan is 100 percent mentally stable. I feel like he’s at 70 percent now. He needs to be all the way there so we’ll buy Elena being able to forgive him. And funnily enough, the best way for him to prove he’s the old empathetic Stefan is for him to hold off on getting physical with Elena until his heart is fully open again. Starting something then closing her out would hurt her more than this emotional standoff.

NEXT: I think Klaus watches Titanic

Last but not least, we get back to Caroline and Klaus. I’ve said before it took me a bit to warm up to Klaus, but this Caroline story line is helping. I love the looks Joseph Morgan gets on his face when he knows Klaus has once again said the wrong thing to her. You can live for a thousand years and still not know how to talk to the opposite sex. It made you feel like he, as well as Rebekah, had been emotionally stunted to the age when they became vampires and will forever behave as teens. During the ball, Caroline went outside for some fresh air and hung out by a horse. Klaus followed her and wanted to know if she likes horses. He does because unlike people, they’re loyal. But she just wanted him to tell her why he’d invited her. “I fancy you. Is that so hard to believe?” he asked. Yes. He said she’s strong, beautiful, and full of life. He enjoys her. She tried to say she was with Tyler, but Klaus knew they’d had a falling out over his sire bond. They started talking about their fathers, and Klaus said the closest Mikael had come to killing him was severing the neck of his favorite horse as a warning. Caroline asked if he’d ever tried to sit down and talk to his dad. She was able to leave her father go with no regrets. She excused herself to go back into the party because unlike him, she likes people and they like her.

Klaus found her again inside and wanted to show her his passion: stolen artwork. She asked him where he’d stolen the bracelet from that he’d given her (and which she was wearing), and he said it was worn by a princess almost as beautiful as her. Caroline rolled her eyes, and Klaus gave another of his slightly embarrassed, I can’t win faces. Caroline saw some sketches and asked if Klaus had done them. He said he’d take her wherever she wanted to go to look at art: Rome, Paris, Tokyo. She laughed, and he smiled. But don’t get too excited. She turned on him. Is that why he has a hybrid army, to take him places and bring him things? Why couldn’t he let Tyler have his own life back? Then, it clicked: Klaus’ father didn’t love him so he thinks no one will. Therefore, he tries to buy people or sire them. That’s not how it works, she said. He doesn’t connect with people because he doesn’t even try to understand them. She left.

When she got home, she left Tyler a voice mail saying she appreciated what he was doing but she wishes he was with her. She saw a bracelet-sized box on her bed and assumed it was another piece of jewelry from Klaus. She opened it and instead, it was a sketch of her and the horse signed, “Thank you for your honesty, Klaus.” Cheesy? Yes. But I am intrigued: Does he sketch in vampire speed?

Your turn! Are you liking Klaus and Caroline’s slow-moving friendship? I really do like how fragile the most indestructible creature on the planet has become in front of his mother and a teenage girl. Are you enjoying Kol? (“Rebekah, tell me how handsome I am.” “Now, Kol, you know I can’t be compelled.” Original humor!) How are you feeling about Finn? I kinda miss the hair, but I want to know more about why he’s so on board with Esther’s plan. Are you angry with Elena for not warning Elijah? I mean, he had just saved her life, and he’s been a man of his word since he got out of the coffin. How many points does Damon sleeping with Rebekah cost him? I think that love triangle is no longer an isosceles — Stefan is winning again. I said it! What do you think happens next week when, I assume, Elijah learns what Elena and Esther have done? And if you haven’t already bought a copy of the current issue of Entertainment Weekly with The Vampire Diaries on the cover, you can do so here.

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