I do love the mini cliffhangers each week on The Vampire Diaries, but this week’s just so rich! Caroline finally sees her captor, the guy who wants to kill all those terrible vampire monsters, and the ONE guy that Mrs. Lockwood calls just happens to be her Dad? I can picture all the giggling going on in the writers room when they came up with that one.
Then there’s Klaus, who wasn’t able to execute his dastardly plan and turn the werewolves into hybrids. He did everything! Oh, except that…erm we better not say anything. He could be listening.
“The Hybrid” turned out to be a real pleasant surprise. I loved this episode. Not that I don’t like watching any Vampire Diaries episodes, but sometimes there are those episodes where the twists happen so fast you wonder how you ended up on a country road in the mountains. Sometimes it gets queasy.
I was especially worried since this was such a loaded script. The challenge bestowed upon this week’s writers was to weave four very different and complex stories into one episode and make it easy to watch. Al Septien and Turi Meyer did it perfectly. The seamless transition between Jeremy and Matt, Tyler and his mother, Klaus and Stefan and Damon, Elena and Alaric didn’t happen at a frenetic and hard to follow pace. It was an very even and smooth riding episode that paid off in big ways for those that followed it through all the way to the end. It’s so rare to be rewarded like that in any television show, but The Vampire Diaries constantly makes it happen.
The common thread between each story is they all came with some emotional punch. There is Jeremy, who needs Matt’s help to get dead Vicki to appear to him. Zack Roerig is given his moment to shine when Matt and Jeremy are going through Vicki’s things. Matt couldn’t do it. One picture of them as kids and he couldn’t take it anymore. We haven’t seen a lot of Matt’s grieving process, and it was both interesting and heartbreaking to see how raw Vicki’s absence still is to him. The wounds are still too deep, and they’re likely to be opened now that Jeremy can see her.
Tyler wakes up the next morning to his unpleased mother, calling Caroline a prostitute and giving him some really strange tasting coffee. His uncomfortable run in with Matt at the Mystic Grill sheds light on that, everyone’s putting Vervain in the coffee as a precaution. Tyler apparently can taste it, but it doesn’t make him all icky like a vampire. On a side note, I thought it was really cool of Matt to offer to help Tyler knowing it was the full moon that night. He still obviously doesn’t like the idea of werewolves and vampires running amok, but he still has decency to care. There’s a parallel between him and Alaric in this episode in that regards, and I like it.
The Vervain revelation sets up a confrontation between Tyler and his mother, leading to a frank talk about what’s happening in this town. That’s when they admit to each other what Caroline really is. I know Mrs. Lockwood is not the sharpest tool in the shed so to speak, but she had no idea about the Lockwood curse? None? I’ll have to go back and recall all those council meetings, but vampires were their only concern? They didn’t figure out after all those years that other creatures existed? I’m stunned that Tyler decided to show her every gory detail of his transformation (what a convenient full moon), and he ultimately did it for Caroline. He truly does love her. I’m just dying to see how a vampire and werewolf can make it work. One bite and…
That leads us to Klaus and Stefan and their werewolf drama. Klaus is feeling a little lonely these days, so much so he actually tries to bond with Stefan on their gory werewolf hunt. Stefan shuts him down though, obviously using his vampire Jedi mind tricks to bury his emotions. They find the werewolf nest and in trying to turn all of them into vampires, poor suffering Ray bites Stefan before running away. Klaus can heal Stefan, but he won’t until he catches Ray. Of course that’s a setup for Stefan to be roaming the woods alone so he can conveniently run into somebody we know, but more on that in a minute.
Elena kick off her story by deciding to tell Damon about Stefan’s call. She had the call traced and knows where he is. Damon isn’t cooperative, re-iterating his comment from the end of the last episode that Stefan is gone. Elena isn’t about to give up, since if he was really too far gone, he wouldn’t have called. She somehow convinces Alaric to help and together they’re off to the Smoky Mountains. During a moment (not that kind of moment) she convinces him to put on the “I won’t die from the Supernatural” ring. Ah, she has a safety net. That net gets a major hole ripped in it though when she’s tossed into the water by one angry Damon. Alaric’s reason for calling him, they’re going against Klaus and a pack of werewolves by themselves and need backup. Smart man. She’s obviously tossed into the water and Damon follows so they can show off themselves in wet t-shirts. Smart producers.
Damon’s angry, but agrees to follow Elena’s lead since they’ll be alright if they find Stefan by sunset. Not so fast! They stumble onto Ray by accident in the woods and figure out he ain’t right. The bleeding eyes are always such a giveaway! That and he’s starting to turn before the full moon. Elena decides now is the time to run and they do. But yeah, it turns dark before they can get out of there. Ray attacks, Damon runs away as a decoy, Ray follows. So guess who they run into? Remember Stefan going off in the woods? Yeah, who didn’t call that one!
Predictable though their meeting may be, their actual exchange isn’t. After Stefan saves Damon’s life, he has an understanding of why he was there after Damon explains it. Elena went off on her own because he made that call to her. He gives Damon another chance to take Elena back and keep her away. This blows Damon’s reality, for he sees that his brother isn’t too far gone. Their whole meeting casual meeting is borderline awkward, but there are traces of the brotherly relationship there. That’s an improvement over their last meeting!
Time for the stories to wind down and each is pretty darned good. Elena and Alaric have another moment (not that kind of moment). Elena convinces Alaric to move back in. She doesn’t have to plead too hard for she has a point. She and Jeremy are in the same boat he is. They’re alone, they’re all that’s left of their family. They’re better off together and need each other. Alaric buys this, and his decision is cemented with a slight smile and declaration, “I’m keeping the ring.”
I have to admit, I haven’t felt much for Klaus since he arrived late last season. He’s just a bit too ruthless and uncaring for my tastes. I was more struck by Daniel Gilles as Elijah (who really needs to get back into this show!). But here, when the entire werewolf pack that he hoped to turn into hybrids dies, he takes it personally. When it’s just him and Stefan alone, and Klaus realizes that Stefan was all he had in the world, it was really sad. Granted he brought that on himself by taking out his entire family, but it was still sad. So the question is, did he heal Stefan from the werewolf bite for that reason, or because he suspected that Stefan knows why he can’t turn werewolves into hybrids? I think both, but that’s what ambiguous characters are all about. You tend to get these answers later.
Jeremy finally gets to see Vicki and Matt is there with him. She tells Jeremy she can come back. Before Jeremy can tell Matt what she said, Anna appears. Don’t listen to Vicki. Oh no, where is this going? Tyler wakes up the next morning and one very distraught Mrs. Lockwood agrees that maybe Caroline isn’t so bad. Oops, too late, Daddy is on the case.
Then there’s Damon and Elena to take our breaths away. Talk about sexual tension. Damon tells her he saw Stefan, something that surprised me. He’s normally not so honest. He’s going to help her get him back. Why did he change his mind? “I changed my mind because even in his darkest place, my brother still can’t let me die. So I figure I owe him the same in return.”
Elena is pleased to hear this, but Damon wants more. He wants her to admit why she changed her mind and chose to run away in the woods. She reluctantly confesses, she didn’t want Damon to get hurt. He’s very pleased to hear this. As he moves in closer, holds onto her and stares into those dark eyes, he tells her why he needed to hear this. “Because when I drag my brother from the edge and deliver him back to you, I want you to remember the things you felt while he was gone.” Elena is too stunned to come back from that one and even Alaric sees she’s getting in over her head. Hee, go Damon!
One thing I’ve noticed about season three so far is a great sophistication in the story telling. It’s always been good, but now it’s really good. The characters are richer and more layered, so there’s so much greatness to work with. Still, to put it all together and make it come across brilliantly, that’s something that hasn’t always worked in the past but is clicking now. It doesn’t feel like much of a teen drama anymore. We are now really invested in each one character and their story, as opposed to season one when I didn’t give a crap about Matt, Caroline, or Tyler. I often saw them as filler in between the dynamic leads. Now we see layers that are more fascinating than confusing when they are pulled back.
Al Septien and Turi Meyer are no strangers to building stories though, coming from Smallville. Their addition to the show late last year has so far made this strong show stronger and I can’t wait to see what’s next. Another A episode in my book.