Everyone has a dark side — and in Mystic Falls, the dark sides are really dark. After the big reveal of the council member murderer last episode, Break On Through explores the options available to a secret psycho. So put away your knitting needles, and break off the neck of a bottle of wine . . .
Looks like too much fun was had last season when Matt Davis played the possessed AlariKlaus, and in Break On Through, the girlfriend-terrorizing, knife-wielding wacko was back — and scary as heck. (Someone give that guy a slasher franchise.) In the very cool opening scene, we see the split in Alaric between his selves — his reflection no longer representing the Alaric he knows, and over the course of the episode, he takes precautions, realizing that he very well could be a killer, that the violence he exhibited in his younger days may not be a thing of the past. And like his fights then, where he felt his victims “deserved” it or had it coming, when Psycho-Alaric takes over, he reveals that he’s just as motivated: the council has failed to protect the citizens of Mystic Falls from vampires. There’s no denying that! But his eye-for-an-eye tactic, like beating the pulp out of a jerk at a bar, is no solution either. Alaric’s life as a vampire hunter (semi-retired) focused his darkness on what he thought was a clear target — nothing wrong with killing evil murderous monsters, right? — but, as Meredith’s question about killing Damon raises, nothing is that black and white.
With the help of Bonnie’s spell, a daily dose of some herbs, and no more resurrections, Alaric’s dark side may be successfully repressed. For Stefan, there is no magic trick to get rid of the ripper; it’s a self-control issue. Damon’s advice is to embrace who he is, a vampire, and behave like one. Drink and be merry — but learn how to stop. Control it. Stefan has been, for the most part, isolating himself, and Elena gets the message that he doesn’t want her around in their incredibly awkward conversation at the Salvatore house. But by episode’s end, Stefan has realizes that sometimes he does need her dogged insistence that everything will be okay and he can use her help. Despite everything, she hasn’t given up on him and won’t, and the strength of her conviction helps him control himself in the presence of the bloodied Meredith. It was a bite-sized flash of old Stefan — the guy he doesn’t think he has the control to be anymore. Damon may think hope’s a bitch, but for Elena, hope dies last. Even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Elena denies that Alaric is in mortal peril, that he’s the one who wrote that creepy-ass note to Jeremy and collected souvenirs of his kills, that she could find herself without him and soon.
As Meredith and Elena help the psychos in their lives, out-of-towners Caroline and Bonnie are on a parallel journey. Like Meredith’s instinct to protect Alaric because what he’s become isn’t his fault, Caroline convinces Jamie to reconnect with Abby by helping him to understand that this wasn’t her choice, but she’s trying to make the best of it. Bonnie and Caroline both try to instill hope and perseverance in Abby: being a vampire, being disconnected from your former life, is tough, but you have to fight to reconnect. But Abby gives in to her weakness and fear, and runs, abandoning Jamie and Bonnie again and, as Caroline has gone through the what-might-have-been with her dad’s transition, crushes her too. In a beautiful moment, Bonnie embraces Elena after shutting her out as she dealt with her mom’s transition; she knows that this situation is well out of Elena’s control, that it wasn’t her choice, and she forgives her best friend.
That moment of reconnection, like the fleeting one between Elena and Stefan together saving Meredith, doesn’t change the fact that at the end of the episode Elena is, heartbreakingly, alone in that big family home. And that tearful call to her little brother? We miss you too, Jeremy!
Did I forget anything? Oh yes. Sage, Rebekah, and Damon. Whereas Meredith, Bonnie, Caroline, and Elena see weakness in another as a reason to help a friend out, Sage thinks weakness is something to be exploited and mined. Continuing her anti-woman stance from 1912, Sage suggests that Damon seduce Rebekah — and the plan works. At what point did Sage and Rebekah team up? And why did these three devilish schemers reveal so much information to those they don’t trust? Rebekah lets Sage and Damon know about a weapon — a whole bridge full of potential weapons — that can kill her and her entire family. Not very crafty. Damon blabs what he finds out about the white oak to Sage. Not at all crafty. Sage is painted as the ruthless vampire secretly a fool for love, pining for Finn for 900 years. But instead of being a character that fascinates — like Isobel in season 1 who loved compulsion, sex, and violence but whose torch still burned for Alaric — I find Sage to be a repulsive figure. And my theory about that is that while Isobel was an equal-opportunity user and abuser, Sage’s vitriol against women — Rebekah is a girl and therefore weak? What? — prevents her from being a villain you can delight in watching or feel a touch of sympathy for because of her undying love for Finn.
But the problematic Sage aside, the Salvatore brothers end the episode on a high note: Stefan happy about his triumph over his will to kill, and Damon feeling pretty clever. Not only did he choose the right milling ledger from a century of options on his first pick, and not only was the oak tree used to construct the very bridge under revitalization in this episode, but he knows about a stash of oak that Rebekah didn’t get her paws on. The game is back on. Watch out, Originals.
Compelling Moment: The super scary turn in Alaric, confronting and chasing Meredith through the house, and her counterattack scissor stab.
The Rules: Apparently vampires can draw the precise information they are looking for from another vampire’s mind (presumably they can do this to a human too), provided that that vampire is “comfortable” — sleeping or sexually sated or happily smooching in the shower. In the past, we’ve seen witches extract information (Bonnie from Mason and Luka, Gloria from Stefan) with the help of magic, but never vampires, whose abilities seemed limited to mind control — manipulating dreams — rather than fishing for secrets. Seems strange the vamps never thought to use this handy trick before!
Repeatedly dying and being resurrected fractured Alaric’s psyche, according to Abby, allowing the darkness inside him to easily take control — something that also happens to dark-magic obsessed witches. Even if Alaric doesn’t have the ring on, the psycho personality can still take over (as it does before he attacks Meredith). Bonnie’s spell, which has herbs as its binding element, should help give Alaric control again.
- How did Sage know about Klaus’s habit of daggering his siblings and putting them in coffins? She may have known Klaus “killed” Finn, but wasn’t keeping family members in coffins a big old secret? (Remember how Elijah wanted to kill Klaus at the end of season 2 in revenge for the lost siblings, and he refrained from doing it because he found out that he could be reunited with his fam?)
- Psycho-Alaric has a clear plan and purpose — to cleanse the council — so why did he stab himself long before his work is done?
- So…Samantha Gilbert was on suicide watch at the asylum, with no personal effects, nary a magic ring, and she managed to kill a nurse and a guard. Then the geniuses in charge gave her a knitting needle and left her alone with it?!
- With Damon threatening to kill Finn, why wouldn’t Sage just rip off Damon’s head right there and then, like she said she would? Her problem would be solved!
Thoughts & questions before The Murder of One (ep318):
- Sunshiny Caroline Forbes’s favorite type of blood also doubles as her motto: B positive!
- Perhaps even more surprising than Alaric having not one but two bank accounts (with one uncrackable password, vampslayer): he has parents! Alive and well and living in Massachusetts.
- Will Elena warn Jeremy about the ring, or let him keep wearing it while he’s in a vampire-free zone?
- With Abby gone, will Bonnie come back to Mystic Falls?
What did you think of Break On Through? Sound off below with your likes/dislikes, theories, and predictions.
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