An era is coming to an end! On the eve of the backdoor pilot for The Originals, the Mystic Falls teens (and creepily too-old-for-high-school Damon) head to prom to pay homage to a time of their lives (hopefully not the best) drawing to a close. But as they find themselves already grieving — both the actually dead and the dead-to-you friend in Elena — the high school rite of passage that is senior prom played out a little less than the Best Night Ever that Caroline hoped and dreamed for her pals. But hey isn’t that what prom is all about?
A night about memories and friends fittingly saw the return of two dearly departed cast members, with both Tyler and Jeremy making appearances, as the rest of the gang — led by the Salvatore brothers — tried to get that heartless Elena to feel something. The nostalgia of seeing old pictures flash by her didn’t work. The heartfelt pleas from Matt and Bonnie didn’t work. A little reminder of lusty times gone by from Stefan failed too. The only thing that Elena is capable of feeling? Fear. The fear of death is so primal it can’t be shut off, not even by a delightfully cruel Ms. Gilbert. I know she was behaving terribly — stealing prom dresses and eating the prom queen and all — but I’m still enjoying Evil Elena. She’s always been able to understand people: to get to the heart of them. In the past, that power became empathy — she knew just how to talk someone out of a crisis and help them. But now she uses for that power to cut to the heart of someone and them gutted. She targets Caroline’s love for all things prom, she calls Bonnie a brainwashed crazy person, she makes Rebekah feel like she’d make a terrible person. And with the boys who love her, she’s just plain dismissive, knowing that her that hurts them the most. So now she’s tried to kill both of her best friends and her two (ex)boyfriends have teamed up to trap her in the Salvatore holding cell. It’s a nice bit of history repeating, the brothers now watching over their prisoner and figuring out how to bring her back to herself, like she has done for both of them in the past.
As Elena eschews any glimmer of humanity with a firm hand, her temporary roommate Rebekah (hilarious that they’re staying together) tries to be good. Elijah’s be human for a day test leads Rebekah to that paragon of human decency, Matt Donovan. The loyal, the honest, the busboy with a heart of gold, Matt helps Rebekah appreciate the spirit of being decent, though she technically flunks her test. It’s interesting that both Klaus and Elena have rather cynical views of what it means to be human: Elena suggests “death” is a more human experience than hitting senior prom, while Klaus rhymes off all the clichés we trot out time and again after a tragedy or death. And they’re both right: being human isn’t necessarily about saving lives or being good or having special prom memories. It’s all the terrible stuff too. But the appeal — what Rebekah wants so desperately — is in the grasping for greatness with only our mere mortal abilities.
And that difference lies at the heart of the discord between Elijah and Klaus. Elijah hopes that his only living brother will spare Katerina for him, in the name of his chance for happiness, while Klaus thinks of him as a lovesick fool who has betrayed him. And while Klaus threatens to run down Katerina, Elijah feels only pity for his brother and his “hollow” life. Of course what we see is that Klaus is as wrapped around Caroline’s finger as Stefan proclaims him to be: letting Tyler escape so Caroline’s perfect evening can be realized, in all her Princess of Monaco hotness. Despite all his bluster, Klaus wants the same thing as Elijah, as Damon and Stefan: to love and be loved in return.
Those human feelings — the desires and insecurities — are just the things that our astral-projecting Phantom of the Opera Silas preys on: he uses these vulnerabilities to manipulate minds and to get his way. But what drives him is at its heart no different: he wants to be reunited with his true love — he’s just willing to destroy the world to get to her. And that’s the question: is it worth it? It’s what Klaus asks of Tyler, and it’s what Bonnie must ask of herself when she contemplates bringing Jeremy back by taking down the veil to the other side. What price are they willing to pay to be with their loved ones?
With Katerina’s letter giving Klaus a reason to scamper off to New Orleans in the next episode, I’m curious to see what will happen next with the whole Bonnie-Silas superpower duo. He can’t get what he wants without her help, and she’s insistent she doesn’t need his. Why did she seek him out? With her insane Expression ability, could she single-handedly destroy him? Does she want to?
Compelling moment: While the various couples dancing was lovely and all, the Bonnie v. Elena moments, with Bonnie overpowering Elena with ease and gruesomeness, was kickass.
The Rules: Bonnie shows off her new powers in this episode: she can heal from Elena’s bite, her blood seems to be poisonous to Elena (who spews it up), she can overpower the vamp no problemo, and she is able to do a locator spell without needing a talisman from the person she’s looking for. While Silas is chilling with his disfigured face in some dank cave, he can manipulate people’s minds from a distance, exploring their emotional weaknesses and preying on them.
Foggy moments: Klaus has amazing vintage gowns in Caroline’s size lying about his mansion? A good friend to have. (I had assumed Caroline’s ballgown from last season had been ordered new and just for her.) While Bonnie had her memory wiped, she does know what Silas’s powers are and how he’s manipulated her in the past; yet she doesn’t immediately clue in to the fact that she’s dancing cheek to cheek with Silas, not ghost-Jeremy or something? Cmon, Bon. Similarly, despite Klaus’s very clear warning that Silas can appear as anyone and has sufficient powers to fool him, Elijah hands over the cure to “Rebekah” no questions asked? I guess Elijah was right last week: Rebekah doesn’t have a smart brother! (Zing!)
Other thoughts & questions before The Originals (420):
- In Bonnie’s dream, was it the real spirit of Jeremy warning her to wake up, or Silas-as-Jeremy, or just Bonnie’s subconscious? (My guess is Silas-as-Jer…) Did Silas set Bonnie on fire while she slept or did she do that to herself?
- Matt’s a pretty good secret keeper: he knew Tyler was back, invited him into the Lockwood mansion, and didn’t even hint at it to Caroline.
- Can Silas appear to more than one person at once, or is he stuck with one-on-one trickery? How deeply into a mind does he go? Does he know everything? Did he need the tip-off from Klaus about Elijah giving Rebekah the cure if she passed the test? Couldn’t he just have read any one of the three Originals’ minds? (Or Elena’s for that matter.)
- Why isn’t there vervain in the water in Mystic Falls anymore? Has Bonnie’s dad just given up?
- Who delivered Katherine’s letter to Klaus? One of her townie minions?
- Will Klaus follow Katherine’s lead and head to New Orleans? Ha ha, not much of a question — see you there Thursday night, Niklaus!
Was the prom episode the night of your dreams? Sound off below!
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