Elena listens to no one, while Klaus strikes a new deal

Vampire Diaries Recap
Credit: Annette Brown/The CW

This season of The Vampire Diaries is teaching me an interesting lesson: Sometimes there are arcs that you can appreciate from a storytelling perspective, but if they make you not like the central character of a show — the one everyone is fighting to save and you’ve always related to — you may not enjoy those arcs, however clever, as much as you thought you would as a viewer. It happened with Elena’s sire bond to Damon, which, when you think about it, is a great way to complicate that love triangle — Elena can leave Stefan for Damon, but it’s not entirely her own doing, so the Stelena fans can’t hate her. The Delena fans get what they want, but they still have something to root for because the question remains whether she would ever have allowed herself to act on her feelings to that degree without the sire bond. I can see how poetic it is: Stefan used to let Elena make her own calls, while Damon always assumed he knew what was best for her. The rub: Knowing she was being manipulated took some of the enjoyment out of watching her have sex with Damon and made her seem weak.

The sire bond has grown on me because it both divided the Salvatore brothers and forced them to work together, and it gave Damon the power to have Elena turn off her humanity (which we know she definitely wouldn’t have done on her own). Those plot points have produced some of the season’s best moments. But now, the flipping of Elena’s switch comes with its own poetic twist: You want Elena to get her free will back and own being a vampire in a way that didn’t involve a cheesy motorcycle shot? You got it, but now she’ll do whatever she damn well pleases — and that includes trying to kill Caroline. You can see what it’s all building to: Now Elena doesn’t care how bad Damon is, so he’ll have to decide if he does like her best this way. (I think not: He wants to know she really loves him, and “I don’t care how bad you are” is different from “I accept you for who you are.”) Moments like Elena letting Caroline fall during the cheerleading stunt and trying to stake Caroline in the woods are cool, but it’s tough to watch our Elena being a Mean Girl. Bottom line: No Humanity Elena may just want to have fun, but really, the stuff she’s doing is serious. I should be sitting right next to Caroline when Stefan says we have to remember this isn’t the real Elena and we can’t give up on her. (Or maybe I need to stop thinking about the old Elena entirely so I can enjoy the new one properly?)

With the therapy session out of the way, let’s dig in. I suppose my frustration at not being able to reach Elena means Nina Dobrev is doing a great job making her seem distant. That’s our Elena, right there, but we can’t shake sense into her. It must be tricky to play both dead in the eyes and someone looking for a party. How many of us said to ourselves, “That’s Damon’s trick!” when she played injured in the middle of the road? I liked how they set that up: Letting us think that before showing that Damon was there, hoping to show her a little fun. A woman stopped her car to see if Elena was okay and asked if she felt any pain. “I don’t feel anything,” Elena said. Eventually, she fed on her, and Damon had to ask her to show a little restraint. They’d agreed no killing. Elena reluctantly walked away with a blood-soaked chin. There was a lot of that this episode.

Hayley made her grand return that same night at a truck stop. She was about to get bitten by a vampire when Klaus arrived to save her. He bit the vamp, and it seemed to fly away. Or was that just a quick, giant leap? Hayley is now just a loose end that Katherine needs rid of, so Hayley did the smart thing and called Klaus, the person Katherine is afraid Hayley will help find her. So Klaus agreed to protect Hayley in exchange for the chance to get her to talk.

The next morning at the Salvatore Mansion, we learned that house has the only vervain-free water supply thanks to their fancy filter, so Caroline had come over to shower. Can she please just move in, I thought. While Elena showered, Caroline, Damon, and Stefan made their game plan: Damon would work on finding Katherine; Stefan would go talk to Sheriff Forbes, who needed to tell him that the hospital’s blood supply and reserve was stolen (we all knew it was Silas); and Caroline would take Elena to school for some normalcy. “Sounds like fun,” Elena said, not yet wearing the towel she had with it. “What, it’s nothing you guys haven’t seen before,” she said to the brothers. She was fine with the school plan because she had nothing else to do. They all assumed the sire bond was working and trusted that she wouldn’t feed there because Damon asked her not to.

Maybe don’t leave the feeling-less vampire alone. She didn’t even wince at the flier on the billboard for Jeremy’s memorial service. She was more interested in the one announcing a cheerleading competition. Caroline, meanwhile, left another unreturned message for Tyler before Matt walked up and asked her about Bonnie (still recovery = you won’t be seeing her this episode). Elena then asked Caroline if she could get her back on the cheerleading squad. Caroline’s the captain, so she said yes. (Would the girls REALLY have allowed that? Then again, Elena’s brother had just died, so perhaps they’d be that kind.) Caroline thought this was Elena having fun, a feeling that may encourage her to turn her feelings back on. Man, she was wrong.

NEXT: Bye-bye, sire bond

Having obtained Klaus’ phone records offscreen, Damon paid Casa Klaus a visit to tell him he sucked at two things: Find Katherine and covering up his secret phone conversations with Hayley. Damon tried to convince him to let him speak to Hayley since they’re back on the same side again: Katherine most likely wants to shove the cure down Klaus’ throat, which neither of them wants to happen. Klaus said Hayley was off-limits but told him about the vampire who should soon be dying of a wolf bite who’d attacked Hayley on Katherine’s behalf.

We cut back to the school, where I swear Elena’s cheerleading uniform has gotten even shorter. Caroline went to stretch while Elena followed a cheerleader from another school who’d forgotten her makeup bag to her bus. She bit the girl and stole her blue hair ribbon. That color with her red uniform annoyed me more than it should have. It would have been stupid for Elena to kill that girl and wear her hair ribbon, but the length of drink Elena took from her, it really seemed liked she should have died. She lived, however, with a scarf around her neck. Caroline figured it out first: Elena no longer listens to Damon.

Stefan called Damon, and we got the explanation: the sire bond was based on her feelings for him, so without her feelings, the bond was gone. What happens if they turn back on her feelings? Don’t think about that now. Damon was busy anyway. He was now at the truck stop, where he was quickly joined by Rebekah. She was back from the island, where, she told him, she saw Shane’s dead body. Now she’s looking for Katherine, too. They joined forces because she’d brought some of Klaus’ blood, which they could use to save the vampire and interrogate him about Katherine.

Klaus had stayed at home so he could wine and dine the information out of Hayley. This connection still seems a bit forced but let’s go with it. Klaus has lost hope of getting with Caroline, so he’s more lonely than usual. In that regard, it makes sense that he’d entertain Hayley. She told him she’d been in New Orleans trying to find her real parents when Katherine found her and said she could help her. And so the bonding over being abandoned began.

At the school, it was Elena’s turn to stretch and she threw her leg up on Stefan’s shoulder. I wonder if they thought about having Nina do that suggestive yoga move she used on Conan O’Brien? This way, we got to admire Nina’s muscular thighs. Stefan was fishing to find out if she’d stolen the blood bags. She assured him she prefers something warmer. He tried to tell her she’s better than that, that she should be afraid of becoming him in 1912. She thought maybe this was the best version of herself. It was the Mystic Falls squad’s turn to go. “No way, you are not cheering,” Caroline told Elena, trying to punish her. Elena wouldn’t be stopped. During the routine, she let Caroline fall to the ground when she was spotting her on a toss. I may have yelled the B word at my TV. Not proud. Elena just walked out.

Stefan followed her, and he figured out she’d joined the squad so she could feed on the vervain-free victims who’d come in from out-of-town for the competition. Elena said they all want her to be okay so badly, they’ll hear whatever she wants them to. He had a trick up his sleeve though: He made her think he wanted to take her to a dive bar where she could have fun with few witnesses, but when she caught the helmet he tossed her, he shot her up with vervain. That’s when I yelled, SUCKER!

NEXT: Art is such a turn-on

Damon and Rebekah had made their way to the Grove Hill medical center, where Damon believed the wolf-bitten vamp would go to avoid the fun and feed. After seeing the blood supply there was gone and thinking about what Stefan had told him about the Mystic Falls hospital having been robbed, he figured they had another vampire to worry about — but not now. (Why wasn’t anyone saying Silas?!) Rebekah distracted him by telling him that he’s better off if she gets the cure because if Elena takes it, she’ll go back to Stefan. In Elena’s current state, she’s still leaning Team Damon.

Over at Klaus’ house, the conversation turned to his art. Hayley was unimpressed until she saw a painting of a lone man that “doesn’t make me want to puke.” She asked him why he painted it, and he told her painting is a metaphor for control: Every choice is his. He never felt that he belonged, and art taught him that his vision can be achieved through sheer force of will, as in life. You could see where this was headed: She challenges him like Caroline and she’s hot, so he does enjoy spending time with her. And more importantly, they need something from each other. They talked about why Klaus was letting Tyler live for now: Is it because a lifetime of paranoia and fear is worse than a quick death, or because Klaus knows Caroline will never forgive him if he kills Tyler? Hayley said for Tyler to survive, it will take allies, a network of people willing to do anything for you. That’s how Katherine has escaped Klaus all this time. Klaus heard that she has a name or two she might tell him; I heard that she would do anything to save Tyler.

Speaking of Katherine, Stefan compared Elena to her when Elena changed out of her cheerleading uniform in front of him at Salvatore Mansion. Like Katherine, he said, Elena is now manipulating people with sex. Elena said she’s nothing like Katherine, who’s been on the run so long that she’s afraid of her own shadow. Elena’s afraid of nothing now, she’s shut everything off including her feelings for Stefan. He looked a little hurt, so she clarified: She looks at him and can see he’s hot: “I remember our sex, and it was good sex. I just don’t feel anything about it anymore.” She asked Stefan why he still cared about her, and he said because he brought this all into her life. She told him his whole world revolves around her — so maybe he needs to turn it off, too.

I was asking WHO IS SHE TEXTING long before Stefan finally did. The answer: Everyone. If he wouldn’t let her go to a party, she’d bring the party to her. When Caroline finally made an appearance, Elena was dancing on a table. Yes, it’s bad, Caroline said, but watching Elena made her want to let go, too, she told Stefan. His only concern was that if he partied too hard, he’d kill people. As his sober coach, she gave him permission to cut loose: He’s single at a kegger with hot girls, and “Well, you’re you,” she said. The Stefan and Caroline ‘shippers (like my colleague Nuzhat Naoreen) must have gone crazy when he picked Caroline up and carried her over his shoulder. So cute.

Back at the medical center, Damon bit a nurse and sent her bleeding to her car as bait for the bitten vampire, who’d be looking for his last meal. Damon grabbed the guy and knew him. His name was Will. Will asked for help, and Damon ripped his heart out. He didn’t tell Rebekah he knew him, he just said he was too far gone for help. She had to know he was lying.

Rebekah reported in to Klaus about Katherine’s assassin being dead, and then it was time for Hayley to make a decision: She could leave, or she could stay and tell Klaus what she knows in the hopes that he’ll do something for her. He told her he’d never let Tyler live, and she again reminded him that he’ll never have a shot with Caroline and she’ll never get Tyler that way. Suddenly were to believe that Hayley can read Klaus better than anyone: Through their art chat, she’d seen how twisted he is and she can relate. (Would that be her willingness to sacrifice the 12 hybrids for her vision of learning about her parents?) Klaus moved in with his foreplay eyes working overtime. “So what’s it gonna be: going…,” he said, pausing long enough for us to wonder if he was actually going to say “or coming” instead of “or staying.” Hayley’s answer was fairly obvious. “You like to be in control, you tell me,” she said. He touched her face gently, then roughly grabbed her below frame. It’s about time Klaus got some. They kissed. The shirts came off. He picked her and plopped her on a table in Original Hybrid speed.

It was hot, but I think there’s definitely room for more steam. It’s funny, I should love seeing Klaus get played — and I can appreciate someone preying on his loneliness — but I’ve never fully warmed to Hayley. Knowing she goes over to the Originals spinoff makes me curious: Could real feelings blossom, or will they just be friends with benefits? How are they going to make us see Hayley as worthy of associating with Klaus, Rebekah, and Elijah? Is she still working with Katherine, and this is an elaborate scheme for Hayley to get close enough to him to help Katherine try to give him the cure and kill him? Killing Klaus would free Tyler up, too. Though if Hayley really wants Tyler, isn’t her best case scenario being with him on the run? If Klaus calls a truce, Tyler could return to Caroline. I think Hayley would choose information on her parents over helping Tyler.

NEXT: Are we setting up Caroline and Stefan?

The party at Salvatore Mansion was now in full swing. Stefan was dancing and laughing with Caroline (rewind!), which caught Elena’s eye. She seemed jealous, which Stefan pointed out to her. But that would mean she’d have to start feeling something — nice try, Stefan! She told Caroline to take him out for a spin. Then things took a turn. Liz showed up, no doubt having received complaints about the noise. Elena threatened her, and I again yelled a choice word at my TV. Caroline separated them, then Stefan held Caroline back from going after Elena. Elena bolted.

Stefan said Elena had thrown that party to distract them so she could leave. He told Caroline to search the woods, and he’d take the road. They agreed to snap Elena’s neck if they needed to. Damon arrived home and smiled at all the beauties there. He told Rebekah that losing the cure was the best thing that ever happened to her. If she wasn’t a vampire, she’d just be ordinary. Ouch. Stefan texted Damon that Elena was AWOL and he needed help.

The brothers arrived just in time to save Elena from staking Caroline after a pretty badass fight sequence in the woods. Caroline is an older vampire and should be more powerful, but Elena’s training with Alaric gave her the edge. Elena didn’t care that she hurt Liz. She wanted Caroline to turn off her humanity, too, because then she’d stop whining about Tyler leaving her and she wouldn’t have to feel guilty for having dirty Klaus thoughts. When the Salvatores stepped in, Damon noted that under other circumstances, Elena fighting another chick would be a major turn on. Classic Damon.

Back at Salvatore Mansion, Caroline left Tyler another message and got a text to meet Matt at Tyler’s house. Before she left, Stefan gave her that pep talk and made her shake on their deal not to give up on Elena because she never gave up on him. Even though Elena’s life sucks, they’ll find a reason for her to come back to them. But what will that be if she’s willing to kill Caroline, feels nothing for Stefan, and isn’t bound to Damon?

In Damon’s bedroom, Elena sat impatiently as he looked for something that turned out to be a picture of him and Will. I assume the life mystery he spoke of was how Will knew Katherine. Elena was annoyed that Damon of all people was judging her when he’s tried to kill Stefan multiple times. She told him she doesn’t care how bad he is now, and that if he were to be honest, he likes her better like this. Again I say, “I don’t care how bad you are” isn’t the same as “I accept how bad you are,” which is what Damon is after. Next time we saw them, they were in his car on their way to New York City. Maybe Damon thinks that’s where Katherine is hiding out now if Will was from there.

When Caroline showed up at Tyler’s house, she couldn’t enter. It’s because Tyler had signed the deed over to Matt, who told Caroline that Tyler had sent him a package that included a letter to her. It said he missed her, but as long as Klaus is alive, he can’t come home because she won’t stop trying to protect him. He left the house to Matt so it would be a place that could protect her. He said he’d always love her. She broke down. She realized he’s not coming back. (But are they never, ever, ever getting back together, or does Klaus moving to New Orleans for the spinoff count?)

While Hayley put back on her shirt, Klaus noticed a crescent moon shaped birthmark behind her shoulder. He said he’s only seen it on a handful of wolves, all from the same clan that once thrived throughout Louisiana. Family > Tyler. Something tells me the race to find Katherine is about to heat up.

As Damon drove north with Elena, he got a call from Stefan who told him that Sheriff Forbes had said six other blood banks within 30 miles of Mystic Falls had been robbed. Stefan finally said it: Silas had followed them from the island and was gorging on blood. Damon didn’t turn around.

What has Bonnie been up to?

Your turn. What did you think of the episode? How would you feel about Stefan and Caroline becoming more than friends? Are you a fan of Klaus and Hayley’s arrangement? Is there any way Elena could be super interesting and not at all annoying? (Or is that role called Caroline, and that’s why the writers have to take bigger risks with Elena?)

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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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