The Vampire Diaries has returned with a sepia trip back through time. It’s actually a double dose of nostalgia: for the brothers Salvatore, a reminiscence of Mystic Falls in 1912, and for us viewers at home, many call backs to past episodes — crow in a cemetery and all.
In a town where history is always repeating, Damon’s plan to reopen a century-old unsolved murder is a solid one — and, with some unpredictable twists thrown in (in true TVD style) — it leads the brothers to the answer, while Elena and Alaric simultaneously learn he’s the Mystic Falls Murderer. The Gilbert ring is not just a force for good, protecting its wearer from death from a supernatural being, but an agent of darkness — somehow causing Alaric (and Samantha Gilbert, a hundred years before him) to become a murderer without consciously knowing it. Just as there was a price when Bonnie resurrected Jeremy last season, it seems that this magic demands a cost for resurrection too. Certainly seems like there’s more to learn here, but the long and the short of it? Meredith ain’t a psycho case.
Okay, maybe a little. Why did she clear Alaric from suspicion, knowing he was the killer? Does she care so deeply about him in such a short amount of time that she’d risk innocent lives to protect him? If that’s her motivation, than her conversation with Elena in the parking lot — which was awesome — can be read a little differently than it seemed at the time. She questions Elena’s ability to judge character based on the fact that the girl dates vampires — vampires who have killed in the (not-so-distant) past. But is Meredith thinking any more rationally than Elena? Despite their clash, it seems as though Meredith and Elena may have a fair amount in common, in particular belief in that oft-heard refrain on The Vampire Diaries: protect the ones you love.
And that’s just what Damon is doing by steering his brother onto the Road to Recovery. Damon has been keeping a close eye on his little brother and doesn’t need to hear that incessant tapping of Stefan’s ring to know that the former ripper is about to freak the frak out. It’s interesting that Stefan made the cold turkey choice: has he not learned from his past mistakes? Or from his successful human-blood-in-moderation lifestyle from last season? Estranged as they both are from Elena, it’s up to Damon to help Stefan from repeating the same mistake — winding himself up so tightly that when he loses it, he loses it — helping his brother now though Damon chose not to when they were in this same predicament a century ago. Though Damon sasses Elena (hilariously telling her that he’s mean, she hates him, and the earth is back on its axis), he’s actually grasping for moderation just as he hopes his brother will. Instead of being the vampire who waited, “spoken for” and alone for 50 years before re-discovering pleasure (albeit of an inhumane monstrous kind), or being the vampire devoted to Elena putting himself at the mercy of her affection, Damon is choosing to step up and help his brother — the one person he is bound to eternity, for better or worse. It’s great to see them together, snarking and teasing each other but at each other’s side. Team Salvatore forever.
What I never really thought about before Sage walked into the picture is how open to suggestion the Salvatores are. We see Damon in 1912 and learn that he has spent his vampire-lifetime feeding to sate his hunger only; Sage gives him a little pep talk, and boom — he’s a lothario. As with 1912 Stefan: it takes very little for Damon to convince him to have a drink of human blood after Lexi’s (probable) decades of convincing him to respect human life. One thing that did not sit well with me about this whole sequence of events, in both 1912 and present day: while a vampire basking in the pleasure of their power — Sage saying women are not just for food but for pleasure, that if a target won’t give in to seduction, then take what you want anyway — is fine for creating a creepy bad vampire character like Sage, it seems unrealistic and borderline offensive for the women in the episode to behave as if what Sage says is true. That women are all secretly burning with desire, waiting to be forcibly unbuttoned by random strangers. In present day, the woman Damon pounces on in the alley responds to him — a stranger getting all up in her personal space at night in a secluded place — as if she is so flattered that this handsome weirdo calls her pretty. And that’s before he compels her. Really? Are the women of Mystic Falls so desperate for male attention?
With so many TVD characters off hither and thither — five main cast members were AWOL this episode — aside from the brother bonding, we were left with a lot of room for quality Elena-Matt time. The scene at the Gilberts, home after they stumbled upon bloody-mouthed Stefan and Damon up to no good in the alley, was pitch perfect, in my opinion. Matt finally asks the question that so many of us have wondered over the last few seasons: what is her thing with the Salvatores? And beautifully, this moment too circles back to the pilot episode: her loss and grief has changed her, and made her accept certain dark realities, and fall in love with vampires. Elena knows her feelings for Stefan and Damon don’t make much sense, and in a strange way her estimation of Alaric mirrors it. Earlier in the episode, she tells Matt that she knows Alaric, knows that he’s innocent. But she’s wrong: he’s guilty. Just as with Stefan and Damon, there is goodness and humanity there, a side that is completely loveable, but there is a dark side. A side that could lose all sense of humanity and rip a woman’s head off or stab a council member or take away a person’s will in order to use them. For everyone in Mystic Falls, moderation is elusive, and the best way to stay this side of crazy is agreeing to take care of each other.
Compelling Moment: “You’re insane.” “No, but I think you are.” Meredith, for the win.
The Rules: We don’t know the hows and whys just yet, but the magic Gilbert ring has a dark side, giving its wearer a second homicidal maniac personality.
- So… Giuseppe Salvatore knocked up a maid, who had a bastard son, but then Giuseppe died rather suddenly in 1864 after killing Damon and Stefan: who decided to give that bastard son the family name and inheritance? Did Giuseppe have a clause in his will, in case my acknowledged sons become vampire sympathizers..? Seems an odd turn of events for 1864, and even odder that there were no other living Salvatores to protest this.
- Damon’s comment that Meredith isn’t the killer because she’s a woman makes no sense. She’s been his #1 suspect (which is why he calls her psycho), she took him down easily with the surprise vervain attack, and women murder grown men all the time.
- Why did Meredith tell Elena all that stuff about Alaric’s violent, stalkery past if her end goal was clearing his name because she believes it’s his magic ring that’s making him a secret killer? Why didn’t she confide in Elena to team up with her, or at least to stop Elena from meddling in the situation, as Meredith could easily guess Elena would?
- Sheriff Forbes says she’ll release Alaric after verifying that the coroner’s letter is authentic. Later, Meredith tells Alaric that she forged the letter. Couldn’t Liz just call the coroner and ask about the veracity of the letter? How else did she authenticate it?
Thoughts & questions before Break On Through (EP317):
- Is there some part of Alaric that is choosing his victims or does the magic ring somehow target council members?
- What made Samantha Gilbert stop her killing streak? Or did she stop? Seems like the councilmen killings didn’t continue unabated for an entire decade between her 1912 murders and her confession that landed her in an insane asylum. Did she remove her ring? Get some witchy assistance?
- Will Alaric ditch the ring? Will Elena bring Jeremy home or just tell him to take off his ring?
- What’s Klaus up to? When will Stefan or Damon clue into the weirdness of Rebekah asking 1,000 questions about old trees in Mystic Falls?
What did you think of 1912? 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.