An episode that felt kind of old school, Disturbing Behavior brought Mystic Falls back to the heart of the show — with characters coming home, the council becoming relevant again, and yet another Lockwood estate party that no one really wants to go to. While there was no shortage of disturbing behavior from a few of our MF friends, the rest of the gang decided that it was time to be straight with each other.
The Honesty Police: Led by the always-blunt Ms. Caroline Forbes, Elena is forced to face the reality of her current situation. She’s cooking with Damon … trying to keep his Damonness in check, and using him as a Stefan substitute. It seems, judging by her final conversation with Caroline in the episode, that she knows exactly what she’s doing and how it’s keeping her from breaking (over Stefan), but she feels she has to repress those feelings. That it would make her a bad person to “switch Salvatores” or even admit that she’s attracted to Damon. When you strip the supernatural trauma out of Elena’s life as well as her relationship with Stefan, there’s not much left — that’s the core of what we’ve seen her live with over the past two seasons. What will she build in its place with Stefan gone (sort of…) and Damon getting the hell out of Dodge?
Alaric is in a somewhat parallel situation and, with Elena’s urging a few episodes ago, he’s decided to stop waffling around and step up into the role of guardian — both for the Gilberts and for the people of Mystic Falls. He’s stood up to Damon before, demanded his respect and temporarily received some, but Alaric reaches his breaking point here — and it’s his neck being snapped one times too many. Though Damon saw Alaric as a Buzzkill Bob, Alaric telling Damon to “take a beat” with Elena was sage advice — and eventually Damon takes it. Though Bill Forbes is in the bad guy role, some of his points about the council and the well-being of the people of Mystic Falls are right on the money — and Alaric sees that. Assuming the role of the Gilbert family representative on the council (aw), Alaric can use his unique position as a supernatural insider without compromised personal interests — in the way that Sheriff Forbes and Mayor Lockwood have. Three cheers for Mr. Saltzman. Next on your to-do list: sort out the Jeremy and the Ghosts of Girlfriends Past issue.
It’s a Two-Way Street: Oh, Anna. I feel so conflicted over your return. Can I trust you? Are you the real Anna? We’ve been ghost-free since the double-whammy of Vicki saying she can come back and Anna telling Jer not to trust her, and in Disturbing Behavior we learn more about the afterlife — as far as Anna tells it, anyway. Anna tells Jer that she lives in “the other side”: she can see his world but no one can see or hear her. Except for Jeremy when he’s open to it. His past relationships are literally haunting him; he understandably still harbors feelings for Anna (and, I’ll assume, Vicki too). And that’s part of what held him back from telling Bonnie. But having your dead vampire girlfriend creeping around while you’re hanging out with your recently returned alive witch girlfriend is not a tenable situation. With Bonnie’s return, Jeremy can’t keep his secret any longer. Will Jer just try to shut out Anna and Vicki? Is Vicki really a danger to Jeremy, or is that just Anna’s perspective? She didn’t give any reason for fearing Vicki besides a feeling of “darkness” and being pushed out. Is Vicki just a lonely ghost like Anna? Is there any significance to the fact that the grimoires lit on fire when Bonnie and Jeremy were investigating the necklace? Is there a link between the ghostly world, the necklace, and/or the Original Witch?
Can’t Be Tamed: Damon lets it be known in this episode that his Damonness should not be underestimated: don’t tell him what he will or won’t do, don’t make assumptions about how self-destructive he will be. Acting a little brattier than usual, Damon decides he’s sick and tired of being Stefan’s stand-in. If he thinks it’s a good idea to teach Bill Forbes a lesson, he will. If Alaric’s in his way, he’ll snap his neck, no hard feelings. The sip of human blood after (presumably) abstaining since Andie’s death, may have a little to do with Damon letting loose, but his behavioral modification seems more connected to the big Stefan shaped hole in his life. In Disturbing Behavior Damon’s become a funny mix of Old Damon, the one who arrived in Mystic Falls mocking everything and killing at will, and New Damon, protecting those he’s grown to care about. He stands up to Bill Forbes for Caroline in a perfectly Damon way: one that mocks Caroline (calling her annoying) and goes against her wishes. Where he fits in in the new order of Mystic Falls is unclear — and with Katherine arriving at his doorstep looking for a partner in crime, Damon can “take a beat” from his life there and have some diabolical fun with a woman who knows how.
What Damon doesn’t know (yet?) is that he’s once again the second choice for Katherine. She wanted in on Stefan’s diabolical plan against Klaus and Rebekah, and judging by how it’s turned out so far, he could have used her help. There are certain truths Stefan can’t keep from revealing, and his love for Elena is one of them. In an amazing witchcraft torture scene, Gloria draws the truth from him despite his valiant fight to prevent her from getting to it. And Rebekah’s uncanny ability to always know when Stefan’s lying reveals him to be a would-be traitor. A sidekick with a secret plot brewing against his would-be bestie. Klaus claims not to be angry, just curious about what it is that Stefan is holding on to from his old life. But will our vengeful Original be so calm when he discovers what Stefan’s been keeping from him? A living doppelganger, and one who can’t even appease the Original siblings by handing over the necklace now that Katherine’s swiped it from Bonnie. Trouble is brewing!
Gonna Be Okay: Let’s talk about Caroline Forbes for a second. No matter what the universe throws at her, she manages to stay true to herself. And in how she handles her father in this episode, it’s never more apparent. He’s hurt her and judged her in a fundamental way, and she still loves him — he’s still her dad. She doesn’t hesitate to come to his rescue, and at the end of the episode, she’s brave enough to approach him and let him know she’ll be okay. Of course, since this is The Vampire Diaries, we don’t get the simple closure of Daddy and daughter reunited, we get Bill Forbes telling Caroline that she’ll never be okay again. Cruel, but so completely honest. Rarely in life do we get those perfectly scripted moments where everyone says just what we want to hear, and Caroline is denied the understanding she deserves. What I love about her story arc in this episode is how multifaceted it is — she isn’t just dealing with her dad. We see her and Tyler’s relationship (which is, like, the best) and we see her being the best friend who tells it like it is with Elena. Whatever Caroline has going on doesn’t prevent her from reaching out to those who need her. And while I was happy to see Bonnie back this episode, I still feel like we’re waiting for that kind of nuance with her character. She helps with spells, she loves the Gilberts, but even after two seasons, I don’t feel like I know Bonnie all that well. Here’s hoping that between the ghosts, the Original Witch, and the personal complications that will surely go with it, season 3 will give us more insight into Bonnie Bennett.
Compelling Moment: Caroline coming to her dad’s rescue. I’ve been waiting for her to beat up Damon for some time, and seeing her tell her dad to “grow up” was amazing. Long live Caroline Forbes.
The Rules: Bill Forbes has figured out a way to resist vampire compulsion, honing that skill for decades with “human focus,” something that Damon has never seen before. In a variation on what we usually see, instead of using an object to trace a person, Gloria uses a person, Rebekah, to trace an object, the necklace. Later, Gloria puts Stefan under a paralysis spell to keep him still while she extracts the information she needs from him. Using herbs (including vervain, naturally) and by drawing Stefan’s blood (creepy!), Gloria is able to access his spirit or essence and find out what she needs to know about the necklace and Elena. The necklace has magic of its own and was a talisman of the Original Witch.
- Did Tyler get to skip the party that was in his own house?
- How do you practice resisting vampire compulsion? Has Bill been compelled before?
- Why did Katherine show Damon that she had Elena’s necklace? Is she planning on telling him its significance? Seems like that’s the kind of card Katherine would hold close to her chest.
Other thoughts & questions to ponder before The Reckoning (305):
- Let’s assume that Anna has been respecting Jeremy’s privacy despite her ability to watch him all the freaking time.
- Loved that the irony of Bill Forbes trying to “fix” his daughter and out the vampires was made explicit with Damon’s quips.
- “You’re harshing on my juju.” R.I.P. Gloria. Taken too soon!
- “It’s good to want things, Katherine.” Oh, Stefan, I love it when you get saucy.
- Should we be concerned about the Gilbert ring taking longer to resurrect Alaric? Does it expire from overuse? Let’s get Bonnie on that post-haste.
- Klaus describes Rebekah’s instincts to be “borderline supernatural” — is there something extra to them, or is her ability the result of a thousand years of experience and a natural predilection?
- How many coffins is Klaus carting around? In the back of the truck that arrives in Mystic Falls, it looks like four. In The End of the Affair I counted five in the warehouse (which would make sense that there’s now one less, with Rebekah un-daggered); looked like the shipping container in As I Lay Dying held five too. Does Klaus have family cargo elsewhere, or are there Originals alive and un-daggered?
- We learn a little more about the man from The End of the Affair — his name is Michael, and he is known as a hunter (Katherine heard stories centuries ago…). If he’s lived that long, then he must have some supernatural ability — part of the Original Family? A witch who has extended his life span? A vampire who hunts other vampires? A ghost who can break through from “the other side” at will? Some other creature we’ve yet to meet? And what power does he yield that scares Klaus and Rebekah?
What did you think of Disturbing Behavior? Sound off below with your likes/dislikes, theories, and predictions! And please keep it spoiler-free.
Crissy Calhoun is the author of Love You to Death: The Unofficial Companion to The Vampire Diaries and Love You to Death — Season 2. When not obsessively re-watching CW shows, she works as managing editor at ECW Press in Toronto. She blogs at crissycalhoun.com and tweets @crissycalhoun.
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