First off, this is an abbreviated recap. I’m only focusing on four main scenes although I mention others.
Waking up -
The comparison between Damon’s attitude and Elena’s truly cracks me up. They’re both talking with family - with very different vibes going. Damon’s “singing in the shower” has definitely piqued Stefan’s interest. Lately, he’s been more in daydrinking mode. Here, he’s strutting around with a smile on his face. His non-answer about why he’s in such a good mood must leave Stefan with at least a hint as to what’s happened the night before.
Elena has every right to be frustrated. She’s having to send her one remaining family member out of town, but even though that seems to be what Alaric thinks has her worked up, her pause when Alaric mentions Damon cues us all in to exactly what her issue must be. She’s not going to share, but she seems to almost be expecting Damon to have talked with Alaric at some point. Since he still appears to be in the dark, she hides behind her coffee.
Witch Stuff Happens
Awkward Locker Decorating Moment
More Witchy House Stuff
Awkward Locker Conversations
Bonnie’s comment about “that’s exactly what Elena said” is so going to come back to haunt her. She didn’t clue Jeremy in to the compulsion deliberately, but I think Jeremy found it odd enough that he’s going to realize he was compelled - and arrive back in Mystic Falls in a few more episodes.
Dusty House of Renovations
Stefan wants the hybrids out of town. Wait....he wants revenge on Klaus. Wait...he’s mad that Klaus took his free will away.
I’m just confused about the Stefan storyline. I’m crossing my fingers that the question marks are deliberate by the writers - Stefan’s confused, so we’re supposed to be confused alongside him.
One point for later, this scene points out Klaus’ tendency for making rash decisions. He stakes his siblings when they anger him. He takes away Stefan’s free will. He tends to act first - think later....and Stefan knows that. More on this line of thought coming later.
It’s My Birthday...I’ll be Depressed if I Want To
I’ve gotta be honest, this is the first time I remember a song cue that seemed off to me. The “so it’s over” line seems a little heavy handed at trying to make us feel like this was supposed to be an extremely emotional scene.
Can You Really Throw A Vampire a Surprise Party?
Matt, Elena, and Bonnie have somehow snuck into the sheriff’s house and startles Caroline. (Honestly, that could have ended very badly. Two humans are in the room. If Caroline didn’t seem to be the vampire with the most control out of everyone else on the show, one of those humans would likely be dead in an accident with a startled vampire.)
Can’t We Ever Just Have a Council Meeting?
Alaric, truer words have never been spoken. Damon and Alaric’s interaction is one of the best points in this episode. And yet, Alaric still seems surprised that Damon truly cares about who lives or dies. Damon points out that it’s a short list, but there is one....Elena, Alaric, Caroline (saving her is how he got the wolf bite in the first place), Jeremy, Stefan, Liz....touch any of them, and you’re on Damon’s bad side.
Let’s Have a Birthday Funeral
Bonnie’s right - this is creepy, even for them.
Howdy, I’m a Founder Too
Unless Dr. Fell has been working somewhere else, why on earth hasn’t Alaric met her before?
We’re on Team Klaus
Heck, why is Damon even on the “keep Klaus’s family away from him” wagon? I don’t really understand what they’re doing with this - except that it’s Katherine’s plan (yep, I’m pretty sure that’s why she needed Stefan to get mad at the conclusion of Homecoming) - and her plans are normally pretty good.
Klaus is playing the townspeople like well-tuned violins. He saved Tyler from his curse, don’t you know. Suddenly, the mayor is on Klaus’ side.
Party at the Fell Tomb
Bonnie, so only one person in town gets to boss people around? (And...witches can’t be compelled, don’t you remember that?) Elena didn’t make this decision lightly, and she’s in charge of her brother - if he gets killed because of her, Elena won’t make it through that.
Drinking the Klaus Kool-aid
Sheriff Forbes doesn’t care whose side she’s on - as long as everyone stays alive. Pretty sure that’s why Klaus needs Caroline to be bitten.
Again, now we’ve discovered another council member that Alaric hasn’t met. Has he been skipping out on his duties as the Gilbert representative?
Nothing to See Here
In another moment of incredible lack of perception by the other residents of Mystic Falls, Stefan attacks a hybrid in the hall and no one notices - except for Damon.
The brothers argue....that’s not new, but the fact that Stefan makes certain Damon knows that all the responsibility for keeping Elena safe falls on him now is.
Stefan leaves, knowing there’s one person in town that’s likely more important to Klaus than his family.
And, since I have enough issues with the bridge scene, I think I’m going to stick this point here - Damon’s right. Stefan’s switch is messed up, but it isn’t off. Stefan knows how unstable Klaus is. Right now, Klaus is extremely ticked off at Stefan - and he’s going to get more upset as Stefan increases the pressure. Stefan needs to remind Klaus that, while Elena at least once was important to Stefan, she’s even more important to Klaus. His later threat to Klaus is as much to remind Klaus how important Elena is to Klaus as it is to threaten the creation of his second family of hybrids.
Conversations by a Coffin
Matt and Elena lament the lives they once had - back when it was simple.
Making out in the Woods
Really, Caroline, last time you were making out with a guy against a tree, it didn’t go so well either. Now Tyler realizes how strong his tie is to Klaus. Even when he thinks he’s going to be able to resist - he can’t.
Let’s Go on a Car Trip
After teasing about Matt being followed by the Fell ghost, something frightening does appear in the night - Stefan.
Stefan has set the whole experience up to freak her out. I’m not saying that she’d willingly go with him, but I think the jumping out at her - knocking Matt to the ground - was all part of the mood Stefan was trying to set to make sure her fear was going to be palpable through the phone.
Stefan answers Elena’s phone. (Why was Damon calling Elena in the first place? Was he just checking in or was he going to warn her that Stefan was unstable even for his current state of mind?)
Damon doesn’t know how far Stefan’s willing to go, and he’s as honestly concerned as I remember seeing him. Stefan is threatening to end Klaus’ ability to create hybrids, and Damon can’t predict where Stefan will stop.
Stop the Car Stefan
Elena’s angry at Stefan...and she doesn’t really understand how far Stefan’s apparently willing to go.
He calls Klaus (and I’m assuming Damon must still be within ear shot of the conversation, otherwise I don’t know how he picks her up later.)
Stefan feeds Elena his blood. Now, even if Stefan never intended to turn Elena, I don’t think there’s anything he could have done to violate Elena more deeply. Yes, Damon’s fed her his blood twice - once when he was still “season one Damon” and a second time to try to keep her alive. But it’s different with Stefan.
He was with her on that hill.
He knows how violently opposed to turning she is. He’s seen the tears at the thought of having that potential for a normal life taken away from her.
The fact that he’d take a risk of her accidentally turning (because...Elena doesn’t have the best track record in town) after his attempt to push Klaus to his breaking point - that shows how far Stefan has gone.
Unless....well, we’ll get back to that in a second.
I have to pause and say how much Nina knocked this scene out of the park.
I wanted someone to come wrap Elena in a hug after this moment.
Gah! How cruel was Stefan here? He fed her his blood...he threatened to kill her...by driving her off the bridge where her parents died.
Is there ANYTHING that could have hit her that deeply?
Stefan wants revenge over Klaus - for what Klaus took from him. But that’s just not adding up. Klaus didn’t take everything, except for Stefan’s self-control he’d worked so hard to refine. After that, all the people Stefan killed...the relationships he’s ruined....that’s all on Stefan.
“Destroying Klaus is all I have left.” Stefan’s words - present tense.
“You had me.” Elena’s words - past tense.
Elena’s single word here confirms it. For the first time, Elena signals that her ever-present desire to wait for him is gone.
He had her.
The words she spoke to Damon were true. While she may be confused as to whether or not Stefan’s humanity is resurfacing, she’s left Stefan behind.
“Are you trying to make me hate you?” I’m reminded of the conversation between the brothers that seems so long ago. Damon said he’d even make Elena hate him if that’s what took to keep her safe.
Stefan’s learned a few tricks from his brother.
Stefan thinks he’s too dangerous for Elena. He wants to make certain that any remaining feelings she had for him are gone.
My commentary - while Nina amazed me with the level of emotion she brought to this scene, I really think this was one break up too many. Because that’s what this scene was... Stefan wasn’t trying to kill her. He wasn’t trying to turn her. He was trying to make certain Klaus was reminded of how special and important Elena is, but most of all, he wanted to ensure Elena had no more romantic feelings about him.
I think we may have played that card too many times. Elena’s words in Ghost World were enough for me. Stefan couldn’t break through and feel for her. She said she was done with him...and she meant it.
I expected more reviewer-enthusiasm for this scene, but I think we’ve been here...done this one too many times. Sad. It was a great scene for Nina, but Stefan’s oh-so-barely-there trembling of his voice as he turned away really kind of took the impact out. We were able to see that he really never intended to do it. And it lessened the impact greatly.
I agree with Dianne Sylvan’s recap here - THIS is where we needed the Damon/Elena moment. Not every important scene between the pair needs to happen on the porch. We needed to see Damon’s immediate reaction to finding Elena here - on the bridge, Stefan’s blood still streaming from her face. We were cheated out of what could have been an amazing scene.
Not on Your Birthday
Klaus got in the house. He thinks Caroline’s cute.
It’s Right, Just not Now
Unless Wickery Bridge is amazingly close to their house, the timing of this scene feels off. Damon’s just now asking her if she’s going to be ok?
“I’ll survive. I always do.”
No more we....
After his conversation with Alaric at the Founder’s Event, Damon knows he moved too fast for Elena.
(I’m going to ignore the fact that Damon seems to be endorsing Stefan’s plan - there’s nothing right about this section of conversation between the pair of them. Stefan violated Elena’s safety, after Damon promised he’d never let his brother hurt her again. Damon had to be more affected by what just happened than he’s showing. He might not be mad AT her, but he’d be mad.)
“You going to be ok?” I don’t want Damon to become wishy washy, but I love that fact that when he needs to be...he can be gentle. Elena’s on his “short list” of people he cares about.
One thing I hadn’t noticed on first (or second) viewing is the fact that the tears don’t really become evident until she says he can’t kiss her. Her voice shakes. She’s so upset.
And the basis for that is because of shadows of another conversation they’ve had on this porch. She doesn’t want to be Katherine.
She knows how much she’s attracted to Damon, and that’s killing her just as much as everything else that’s going on in town. He’s become the better man just like she asked him to be...and now she can’t give in to her feelings.
It’s Right, Just Not Right Now
Damon waited for over 100 years for who he thought was his true love.
He can wait for Elena now.
You Going to Jump
Matt’s a very important part of Elena’s life. Her only friend who isn’t supernatural in some way. He’s one of her last “real” links to her old life.
She can be honest with Matt, even when she doesn’t realize it.
“The girl who had a normal life and didn’t fall in love with vampires.”
Elena knows she’s in love with Damon.
And she doesn’t know what to do with that. She doesn’t want to disappoint her parents. She doesn’t want to disappoint herself.
Matt’s funeral to her old life gives her the chance to move on. The Elena that fell in love with Stefan was part of that old girl...the simple girl who didn’t know about the supernatural.
This is a different Elena now. Hopefully, Matt’s words will give her the strength to move on.