Ditching the glitz of the previous episode, All My Children takes the weekly battle for survival underground as our Mystic Falls residents pick sides on Esther’s plot — righting the wrongs of a thousand years and restoring peace, or an immoral atrocity that would remove five of the most entertaining characters from our show in one fell swoop?
Though the stakes were high for the Original family (I don’t think I’ll ever grow accustomed to calling them the Mikaelsons), this episode lacked the excitement and tension of the previous one. Though The Vampire Diaries has made bold choices in the past — with characters killed off and unexpected plot twists — rarely do events unfold as heralded. Maybe it was just me but I didn’t feel there was any real threat that Rebekah would kill Elena, that Esther’s plan would be successful or that Bonnie would be killed as collateral damage as a Salvatore plays knight in shining armor to Elena. Instead, the episode felt like redirection after the buildup in the second half of the season: a way to break up the happy Original family, put distance between friends, and allow the Salvatore brothers to continue their role swapping. Complaints aside, there were some truly enjoyable parts to this episode: Klaus and Caroline could just stare at each other and it would be compelling TV; Alaric and Damon’s brief conversation was hilarious, and anytime the Original siblings want to tease each other and bicker it’s A-OK by me.
Elena has a not-so-terrific time in All My Children and hurt feelings abound — on all sides of the Salvatore triangle, and with Rebekah, who’s not over the time Elena faked being her friend and then stabbed her in the back. Nothing like her otherwise buzzkill big brother asking her to kidnap and possibly kill Elena and on the day after Damon and Rebekah have “Original sex.” There are some exciting moments in the kidnapping scenes, despite Elena realizing, like we had, that Rebekah won’t actually kill her — who would she torment should she live to see tomorrow? In particular, the clever gasoline and lit matches attack was terrifying (though next time, Elena, just ditch the gasoline-soaked clothes; way better to be naked shivering in a cave than burned alive).
In Elijah’s interactions with Elena, he speaks of her what’s in her nature — being compassionate, not being deceitful — but she’s capable of both. She has an “attack of conscience,” as Damon phrased it, after each morally shady thing she does — from stabbing Rebekah to compelling Jer to letting Elijah drink the champagne. Just as the vampires struggle with what is truly in their nature — to be uncaring monsters or to strive to be the best parts of humans — Elena is figuring out who she will be in the high-stakes mortal peril world in which she lives. The crappy part for Elena is that even when she isn’t the one at fault — here with Esther’s actions and Damon turning Abby — she’s still feels she’s somehow the cause. Is the darkness in her best friends’ lives a result of who she is — her supernatural status as doppelganger and who would do anything to keep her alive because of how much they love her? Caroline’s explanation of why Bonnie is shutting Elena out brought back Bonnie’s feelings after Grams died. Bonnie went to Caroline in her grief, and shut Elena out. Though admittedly I don’t have any feelings about Abby one way or the other, it’s a terrifying situation for Bonnie: being in the witch-house basement with Stefan telling her that a Bennett has to die. Creepy times!
But fair or not, Elena spends the episode experiencing the consequences of her past actions and of her status as perfect kidnap target. Esther, on the other hand, is raring to deal with her regret: she’s watched her children make others suffered for a thousand years, and now can make peace with the spirits and find peace for herself. Though he successfully stops his mother’s plan, Elijah hears truth in her words, telling Rebekah that they made themselves monsters, that his morality is exercised only when convenient, and in his apology letter to Elena that he will carry his regret with him — always and forever. It’s an impressively self-aware moment for Elijah, and one that highlights the kinship between Elena and Elijah. If he’s really leaving Mystic Falls, here’s hoping he doesn’t go far or for long.
But the Original family is scattered — Finn and Esther vaporizing as soon as the spell went south, Kol fled, and Elijah saying his farewells via handwritten note — save for Rebekah, who realizes her loyalty remains with Klaus. (And that they have a magical tree search on their to-do list.) Like these siblings re-bonding, so goes Damon and Stefan’s fraternal bond. Damon has his eye on Stefan, seeing his brother going back to his old ways and he makes room for him to do that by being the bad guy. Damon selflessly picks up the mantle of doing what needs to be done, whatever the fallout may be — a role Stefan had been playing even up until the last episode. Will both brothers take a step back from Elena? They don’t deny their feelings — “Pot, kettle, brother.” — but they also seem to think that to avoid any more hurt, it’s in their best interests to retreat. These brother moments are the best, as Damon supports Stefan’s decision to take the path away from ripper life and back to bunnies. As Elena tearfully insisted that night on Wickery Bridge that was the turning point for Stefan, there’s more to life than destroying Klaus.
Anything I missed? Oh ya, that Alaric cliffhanger . . .
Compelling Moment: Elijah taking Elena on a stroll in the woods — and ending their conversation by smashing a hole in the ground.
The Rules: Esther requires the mother-daughter Bennett duo of witches in order to maintain the connection to the power of the ancestral line. By Abby turning into a vampire, she loses her witch status — you can’t be both — and Esther loses the power of the Bennett line that she was using to reverse her original vampire-making spell. As she explains to Bonnie, the pentagram represents the connection to magic, salt to the earth, and one torch for each child.
- Were the clothes-ripping noises added to the final scene of the previous episode after the Rebekah-in-intact-ballgown scene was filmed?
- Did Rebekah somehow have cell phone reception in the cave, even though Elena didn’t? She was filming Elena to inspire the bros — but had no way to actually send it them? It seems like this was just slightly illogical (and product-placement-y) way to lead her to the sapling cave drawing by the olden ‘native’ calendar. Blerg.
- Why didn’t Elijah tell Kol or Klaus that their mother was going to kill them in a few hours’ time?
- How is Esther alive (or at least, not dead) if her power source has been cut off? Where did Esther and Finn disappear to?
- Abby is at Caroline’s house to turn, not Bonnie’s: this wasn’t actually a foggy moment from my perspective. I think we can safely assume (a) that Abby hasn’t been staying with her estranged husband at Bonnie’s, and (b) even if she were, it’s a better idea to have her transition at Caroline’s — where Sheriff Forbes knows and understands about vampires — rather than at the dad’s place.
- Stefan won the coin toss and was supposed to be the one to kill/turn a Bennett: why was he creeping up on Bonnie? Was he planning on killing her? Or had he already agreed to let Damon do the dirty work and turn Abby?
Other thoughts & questions as we brave the brief hiatus and wait for 1912 (EP316):
- I think Elena needs to start training in an obstacle course (in case of another cave kidnapping/chase scene) and to start actually carrying the weapons she’s learned to use.
- Will Abby complete her transition or will she Bill Forbes it?
- What’s Meredith’s deal? Why did she take Alaric to her apartment if she didn’t want him to see her stash of Mystic Falls Murderer stuff? Or was she planning on killing him at some point anyway — assuming she is actually the killer and not just totally overreacting to him snooping?
- We get a Mystic Falls history lesson in this episode, and perhaps an explanation of why that cave is secure from vampires. If the “natives” were recording history and the existence of vampire-killing weapon there, it’s like another founders’ journal: cave edition. How will Rebekah and Klaus locate the killer oak tree? As soon as one way to kill Klaus dissolves, another one appears . . .
- Will that necklace that Rebekah tossed back at Elena come in handy again?
What did you think of All My Children? Sound off below with your likes/dislikes, theories, and predictions.
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.
Everyone is subject to these rules and guidelines, whether they read them or not.
If you have problems with any of the comments posted, flag them to bring them to our attention. You can do this by hovering your mouse over the comment so the 'flag' link appears. You're also welcome to contact us to let us know about any problems.
Do not flag comments you just disagree with - it wastes moderator time. The flagging system is not there to give a post a thumbs down, it's there for genuine problems.
Be excellent to each other.