The Miss Mystic Falls pageant proves to be a serious turning point for the show

By Mandi Bierly
November 30, 2012 at 03:41 AM EST
The CW
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Well, how are you feeling Delena fans? Happy that they got busy, or sad that it comes with the bombshell that Elena may only have done it because she has a sire bond with Damon? Let’s dig in.

We opened with a tank-top wearing Stefan doing push-ups while updating his “sober sponsor” Caroline — who was busy organizing the Miss Mystic Falls pageant — about him breaking up with Elena because she has feelings for Damon. Caroline vowed to talk sense into her, and when their call ended, Klaus was there to put Stefan in a choke hold. He’s not happy that Stefan let the vampire cure secret out of the bag.

After Stefan told Damon about the breakup back at Salvatore Mansion, I believe Damon genuinely wanted to be there for his brother when he offered to tag-team Professor Shane to find another vampire hunter or get drunk and brother-bond over some sorority girls. If there’s one thing Damon understands, it’s heartbreak. But Stefan doubted Damon was really thinking of him at that moment. “Let’s not pretend like this isn’t the best day of your life,” Stefan said.

At the pageant, Caroline made her disapproval of Elena’s newbie vampire confusion of the heart known. Then, she backed off. Elena just wants time to figure out what these intensified feelings for Damon are (read: love or lust). They got interrupted by Professor Shane, who’s judging the pageant, and yes, finally!, someone thinks it might be creepy that Bonnie is as obsessed with Shane-approved magic as she is. (We wouldn’t see Bonnie at all this episode. Did you miss her? Kinda interesting that Shane is getting more screen time than her these days.) While they unloaded kegs for the party, Jeremy and Matt informed us that Matt is escorting reigning Miss Mystic Falls Caroline and Jeremy is current contestant April’s date. Oh, and Jeremy now has superhuman strength as a freshly-awakened hunter, and so much energy all the time. (Do not think dirty thoughts. Do not think dirty thoughts. I blame this photo.) Matt was worried, but not Jeremy. “I’ll be fine,” he said. Famous last words.

Stefan, meanwhile, was at the hospital looking for someone he could turn into a vampire so he or she could be killed and fill out more of Jeremy’s hunter’s mark. He got lucky because a convicted murderer just happened to be a patient. Buh-bye. Klaus showed up at the Lockwoods to confirm his date with Caroline for tomorrow’s pageant. Reluctantly, she agreed to bump Matt for Klaus because it would help convince Klaus that she was over Tyler (also because of those puppy dog eyes). I thought for sure she would turn around and correct herself after she told Klaus not to buy her anything, not even a corsage. I mean, jewelry is nice.

Speaking of Tyler, he showed up at the abandoned farm where Hayley was “helping” another hybrid break her sire bond to Klaus by having her turn so many times that it would no longer hurt. The hybrid was right — breaking every bone in her body was torture enough, she didn’t need to hear Hayley try to convince Tyler that they should go to the pageant, too, to keep up appearances. Hayley got her way.

Over at the Gilbert house, Elena’s vampire superskills didn’t include being able to undo her own necklace clasp, so Jeremy offered to help — then he tried to strangle her with the necklace to the point of decapitation. His hair looked off to me, so I’m glad that was just a dream. He woke up in bed, sweaty. Kinda hot. Apparently he’d been whittling a stake in his sleep. Not hot.

NEXT: Creating a monster

The next morning, Matt was at the house helping Jeremy get dressed. Really wish Jeremy would’ve gone ahead and put down his shirt collar before they had their disagreement about whether Jeremy was having a psychotic break like Alaric had because of the ring, or, as Matt determined by reading the hunter research, it was Jeremy’s subconscious pushing through so the urge to kill vampires would become a basic instinct. (Remember how Jeremy referred to vampires as “them” earlier in the season to Elena.) Matt said either Jeremy tells Elena what’s happening, or he will.

Elena had bigger concerns at the moment, like disagreeing with Caroline over whether April should wear a safe blue dress (Caroline’s pick) or a more revealing red one (Damon’s choice). Elena decided it should be red April’s choice and ran after Damon, propelled by the fact that he’d remembered she’d worn blue to last year’s pageant — which was sweet. I’m sure we all appreciated the callback to the staircase — at last year’s pageant, it was Damon who surprised Elena at the foot of it to step in for bloodthirsty Stefan, now it was Elena asking for Damon to wait for her there so she could tell him the reason she broke up with Stefan was because of him. Damon’s surprised reaction was also sweet. Not now, Shane! Damon went off to ask him about a new hunter, but he couldn’t help but look back at Elena and smile. I think this Shane quote sums up how that convo went: “Did you just accuse me of mass murder, in the middle of a high school pageant?”

It wasn’t a mass murder, but Stefan had brought that killer into the Lockwood cellar and summoned Jeremy. He used Jeremy’s blood to make the guy a vampire, and then Stefan grabbed the chains so the vamp could advance on Jeremy. That was disturbing. Jeremy finally staked him, and the look he gave Stefan — I hope Stefan knows he’s creating a monster, I thought.

Above ground, Caroline was about to metaphorically murder a waiter and the band when Klaus showed up looking perfect, which annoyed her even more. Tyler made his entrance with Hayley, who was wearing a tiny red dress that Mayor Lockwood would not approve of, I’m sure. She mocked the contestants and Tyler warned her not to. “Those girls will cut you. They have nails,” he said. “I have claws,” she quipped. Oh, no we’re getting to see that Secret Circle sass come out.

Matt realized Jeremy wasn’t there to escort April as Caroline announced the contestants for the traditional dance number, so he told Elena that Jeremy had been having nightmares in which he killed her so she’d be motivated to go find him — and then he escorted April. That look. I paused. I howled. I photographed it.

Was April falling for Matt? Are we seeing the start of a new love triangle with her, Jeremy, and Matt? We’d didn’t get to find out, because we had to watch Damon and Elena remember their first dance at the pageant. Loved seeing Caroline run through the grass in heels, trying not to seem like she was running. She wanted to know where Jeremy was. Damon told her and Elena not to worry. Jeremy had probably just enjoyed the open bar — because you know how easy it is for kids to get their hands on alcohol in this town. Elena said Damon was probably right, and that set Caroline off. She reminded Elena that Damon is sneaky, manipulative, and rude — never right. Sneaky and manipulative Klaus appearing to tell Caroline she was making a scene probably didn’t help Caroline’s moral high ground routine.

Damon called Stefan and learned that Stefan had enlisted Jeremy in Operation Cure Elena. Stefan wanted to know how much Jeremy’s mark had grown, and Jeremy wouldn’t tell him. In fact, he staked Stefan in the stomach when he tried to compel him to talk. Yep. Now Stefan knows he’s created a monster.

NEXT: Falling Slowly

Back to Caroline: she and Klaus took a walk as the band played “Falling Slowly” (nice touch) so she could cool down and show us that slit in her tiny yet sophisticated dress. He opened champagne (ANY ADULTS SEE THAT?), and they talked about whether he’d ever take the cure (no). Then, he teased her about her Miss Mystic Falls application. Tyler watched as she genuinely laughed. Klaus does put in effort. Damon called Tyler over to ask how Shane knew Hayley, with whom he was chatting and pouring champagne (hope she’s 21!). Tyler said she didn’t.

Jeremy suited up for the party in his finest slaying weaponry, and what could have been another sweet moment — him telling April how many times he’d watched the dance online to practice — was over too quickly because he’d zeroed in on Elena. Damon was off targeting Shane and threatened to kill him if he didn’t give him the name of another hunter. He didn’t have one for him, but Shane told him that the map in the mark leads to something that is sealed by a spell that only a Bennett witch can handle. So Shane gets to live so he can help Bonnie.

April won Miss Mystic Falls. Again, Elena stole her moment as she chased after Jeremy. He doesn’t want to stake her, only everything in his body tells him that he does. Eventually, he went for it. She thought she knocked him out, only she hadn’t. He stabbed her in the neck using his stake rail-gun. Matt arrived to try to talk Jeremy out of finishing the job, but it was Stefan who finally saved Elena.

Tyler and Hayley found a spot totally out in the open to drink champagne, and she said she didn’t know Shane. We also learned that Hayley never knew her parents and triggered her werewolf curse by killing someone in a drunken boating accident. (Do we buy that?) Tyler could hear Klaus telling Caroline about the one time he thought about being human again — when he heard the tiny heart of a hummingbird and thought how great every day must be when you appreciate it because you had to work that hard to live it. Nice story. Tyler wants him gone.

Elena wanted to do the worst possible thing she could — go find Jeremy. Stefan stopped her and told her that he’s beginning to think when a hunter kills, the urge just gets stronger. Duh! Elena told him she didn’t want her humanity back if it meant stripping Jeremy of his, but Stefan said this was the only to “fix” her. Oh, yeah, that should push her into Damon’s arms. Elena told him he doesn’t have to love the new her, he just has to let the old one go. And Damon walked up, putting Elena literally in the middle of the two brothers.

NEXT: Sex! But wait…

Jeremy was already back at his house, packing up. He couldn’t live there if he wanted to kill his sister. Matt (and his biceps) showed up to tell Jeremy that Elena knew that. So she’d asked Matt to move in and keep an eye on Jeremy. (I hope we get workout montages!) Where would Elena live? Salvatore Mansion. Yes, they have many rooms to choose from, but why would she want to live under the weight of the triangle. She should have gone to Caroline’s, but then, they’d just had their falling out. Stefan told Elena to pick a room and he’d crash elsewhere.

After we learned that Hayley is working with Shane to break the hybrids’ sire bonds for a plan from which she wants him to spare Tyler (?!), we cut back to Damon and Elena sitting in front of the fire and welcoming her to the whiskey club. He thought she hated whiskey. “My brother wants to kill me,” she said. “Welcome to the club,” he answered, clinking glasses. After she recapped how everyone else hated her at the moment, Damon told her he’d never seen her more alive. Ah. And then she told him the dance today had reminded her of their dance. She’d wanted to dance with him again. He stood up and offered her his hand. I don’t want them to rush it, I thought. Let’s take this slow. Tease us. (Silly me!)

In front of a fire at Caroline’s house, Stefan was also drinking. He told Caroline that Elena had told him to move on, and Caroline made him promise he wouldn’t stop looking for the cure. He said Klaus wouldn’t let him because he wants her human to make more hybrids. He’ll need them, Caroline said, because the others were breaking their sire bonds. And then, it hit Caroline: As we watched Damon and Elena have hot lamp-shoving, shirt-tearing sex in the living room and then bedroom, she pieced it together — Elena is sired to Damon. That’s why she does everything he says now and changes her opinions to match his. Are you suddenly allowed to throw that concept into the show for vampires, just by admitting it’s rare? If it wasn’t a staple of vampire mythology (and on True Blood), it’d feel like more of a cheat. I’d say it’s within their rights. So let’s go with it.

I like it for the show’s sake: It gives us something to look forward to. So they had hot sex, but the emotion felt more like lust than love. We can still watch them “make love” for the first time in the future, for Elena to CHOOSE to be with Damon for the right reasons. I don’t think Damon knows that a sire bond is at work. I think he’ll be crushed. That should lead to some good moments for him. Perhaps another drinking binge. (Then again, maybe that’s not what’s happened? Maybe it’s real. Regardless, the brothers have a reason to fight over her again until they figure it out. So win-win.) But the reveal did kinda throw a bucket of cold water on the sex scene, didn’t it? I mean, yes, I rewound. But not as many times as I expected to.

Your turn. What’s your theory for how this plays out?

P.S. That Gabby Douglas cameo, as one of the minions helping Caroline prep for the party, would have been better if they’d been subtle and not given her a close-up.

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