If Plan B is the kind of intense, shocking, emotional episode we get on a regular week in the season, consider me gleefully terrified for what the writers will deliver for the finale. After weeks of wondering what the moonstone does, it looks like we have the answer — but its mystery took a backseat to the consequences of retrieving it from Mason’s ingenious hiding place. While still pushing the mythology forward, The Vampire Diaries never puts its plot points ahead of its emotional impact, and this show terrorizes me and breaks my heart and I love that torture. It’s way more enjoyable than a hot poker in the chest.
Look Before You Leap: Both Stefan’s and Damon’s impetuous decisions have dire consequences in Plan B. Stefan ends up sizzling halfway to oblivion in a well full of vervain, while Damon’s decision to kill Mason and then taunt Katherine lands Jenna in the hospital and Matt in the brain-washing chair.
It’s been a while since Damon’s allowed himself to kill anyone and he seemed to relish ripping out Mason’s heart. Not unlike his comments before (temporarily) killing Alaric in A Few Good Men, Damon sees himself in Mason — a guy who’s fallen for Katherine, is willing to do anything for her, and believes that she wants to live happily ever after at his side. Damon kills Mason not just to get rid of a sworn enemy but also to hurt Katherine by getting rid of her boy toy and minion (is he motivated by jealousy or vengeance or both?), and to destroy that part of himself that was made a fool by falling for Katherine’s charms back in 1864. And just like Damon 150 years ago, Mason is neither a good guy or a bad guy — he did some shady things (other than setting up the Salvatore brothers to be killed, threatening to snap Elena’s neck comes to mind) but he truly loved Katherine and in his last words he begs Jeremy to protect Tyler from sharing his curse and fate. I, for one, will miss the always-smiling (except when being tortured) surfer-turned-werewolf. RIP Mason Lockwood.
As a Gilbert who can’t help but involve himself, Jeremy’s resolve to be a member of Team Badass is only strengthened by the end of the episode. Like his big sister who can’t stand being out of the loop (have we ever seen Elena as impatient and frustrated as she is in Plan B?), Jeremy doesn’t listen when he’s told to stay out of it. He may be comfortable in research mode and doing recon — was anyone else reminded of Anna trying to get the Gilbert journal in Jer’s attempt to get Tyler to show him the moonstone? — but he’s clearly troubled by the gruesome torture scene he stumbles upon and unwittingly participates in by bringing the wolfsbane. Will Jeremy adopt Damon’s kill or be killed philosophy? With his decision to walk away and leave Damon to kill Mason, he’s now in an unenviable position: he’s a friend to Tyler and (presumably) wants to protect him from turning into a werewolf, but he also knows that Mason hasn’t returned to Florida, he’s been murdered. While Jeremy’s not responsible for that, he certainly is complicit.
On a less morally sticky note, I love seeing Jeremy’s regained closeness with Elena. —Though he defies her order to stay away from Damon, it’s a disagreement rather than a divide between them, like we saw last season. He’s there for her at the hospital, providing comfort to her — and a chilling vow to make Katherine pay.
The Morality Police: Did Bonnie actually manage to “get over herself,” as Damon puts it? At first, she’s standoffish with the Salvatore brothers but consider her actions in the episode: she helps them kidnap Mason, she discovers the moonstone’s in the well, she spends time with Caroline for the first time since she turned (and isn’t mean to her!), and, after helping with the drop cloth, she walks away without asking what Damon’s about to do to Mason. What pushed her to cooperate with the Salvatore brothers seems to have been Damon’s point that Katherine and Mason, the “bad guys,” posed a threat to Elena. Bonnie’s firm anti-vampire stance softens when her best friend is at risk, and she trusts what Stefan and Damon tell her to be the truth. Could this be the beginning of a tentative alliance between the Salvatores and Bonnie? She’s been estranged from her best friends because of her position on vampires and, with no Grams, she’s all alone with no one she can confide in about supernatural stuff. In Plan B, she not only helps Damon and Stefan but she makes an effort to reach out to Caroline too, inviting her along on the moonstone-in-the-well adventure. It was refreshing to finally see Bonnie be something other than judgey and closed off, to get a glimpse of her struggle she’s having between what she believes is right and her friendships.
When Life Gives You Lemons: Oh Caroline, you break my heart. Since the pilot episode, she’s always tried so hard to be loved and admired, and here she tries to make things right with Bonnie and with her mother, even though she’s the one who’s been rejected for being something she didn’t chose. With her mother, Caroline puts on her smile and tries to take care of her. When Liz finally gives her the opportunity, Caroline shares what she’s been going through in a frankly honest way — she wants to kill but she’s fighting against being a killer. (And she seems proud of herself for the control she’s built.) Just as love and trust turned out to be mutually exclusive concepts for Mason with Katherine, the final scene between Caroline and Liz reveals how complicated their situation is — how far can Liz’s love and trust extend? Liz (finally) sees how amazing Caroline is and acknowledges that, even if she is a vampire, her daughter is still alive. What a huge moment for Caroline: better than winning Miss Mystic, better than Matt falling in love with her, this love and recognition could go a long way to bringing Caroline peace. Of course, since this show is terribly cruel, the breakthrough in the relationship between the Forbes women is one only Caroline will remember. As with her choice to end things with Matt to keep from harming him, Caroline makes the choice here (to wipe her mom’s memory) that she believes will best protect those she cares about — the Salvatore brothers as well as her mother. Compelling her mother through tears with a cover story about making salty soup and bickering so that “all is right in the world,” Caroline proves once again to be so much more than she’s given credit for. There’s been some debate as to whether Liz meant what she said to Caroline or if she was just trying to avoid a memory wipe. My personal feeling is that whether or not Liz had some self-interest behind her words (who wouldn’t want to protect their memories especially when they’re this significant?), Liz truly does love her daughter and wants her safe, and Caroline’s decision remains a noble one that puts the greater good over her personal happiness.
Katherine Won: Speaking of selflessness and sacrifice… Elena and Stefan have always known that their relationship is dangerous: it puts the two of them and those they care about at risk from whatever destructive force is in town. In You’re Undead to Me, Elena pushed Stefan away for that very reason; in History Repeating, he made the same choice. But neither one could hold their resolve for long; they believed that together they could overcome whatever dangers arose. But Katherine is relentless and focused, and her punishments are swift and brutal.
That breakup scene is one of the saddest I’ve ever seen (even sadder than some real-life breakups!): Stefan knew what Elena was there to say, and he knew there was no argument he could make to save their relationship. When their being together means that others are likely to pay for that happiness with their lives, Elena and Stefan have no moral choice but to be apart, no matter how deeply they love each other. They feel responsible for what happened to Jenna; their first reaction isn’t anger at Katherine, but with themselves. If they hadn’t persisted in seeing each other, Jenna wouldn’t be in the hospital. While Katherine is obviously ultimately to blame for Jenna stabbing herself, it would be hard for anyone not to feel the culpability Stefan and Elena do in this situation.
So far this season, we’ve seen so much more in Stefan than the brooding worried vampire Damon mocked last season; he’s been everything from more ruthless and violent to playful, funny, brotherly, and passionate. This more nuanced Stefan still stays faithful to Stefan of last season, thanks to a consistently strong performance from Paul Wesley. I bring this up now because of what he gave us in Plan B: Paul Wesley, I do not ever want to see you cry again; that was too heartbreaking for words. (It’s also an excellent reminder that we should all be writing him in for the People’s Choice TV Drama Actor category;. Let’s get both Salvatore brothers on that ballot.)
Compelling Moment: The jaw-dropping shock of Jenna stabbing herself.
The Rules: Since Katherine appears to enjoy licking blood off Mason’s neck (ahem), it seems a vampire can drink the blood of a werewolf. According to the Aztec legend, the shaman tied the werewolf’s shifting to the moon by sealing it with moonstone, which makes the stone a likely candidate for unsealing it. With the lunar tie lifted, a werewolf could turn whenever he wanted to, or never at all (according to Mason). Wolfsbane is to werewolves as vervain is to vampires, at least in so far as it burns and sizzles the skin and consuming it leads to unpleasantness. Damon confirms what we assumed after Mason’s quick recovery from the knife in the gut in Memory Lane: werewolves heal quickly. According to Damon (though it’s unclear how he knows this for certain), a vampire cannot compel another supernatural creature (e.g., Katherine could not compel Mason). One surefire way to kill a werewolf and pretty much any other living creature: tear out his heart.
With just a touch, Bonnie is able to sense more than just whether someone is a vampire — she gets visions but isn’t able to get direct answers to specific questions. Bonnie explains that when she disables a vampire with the “brain pain” spell, she’s actually causing aneurysms.
- Let’s assume that Caroline also compelled her mother to forget that Damon and Stefan are vampires.
Other Thoughts and Questions before it’s time for the Masquerade (EP207):
- Neither happy couple rolling around in bed at the beginning of the episode knew that those were their final moments together. By the end of Plan B, Mason is dead and Elena and Stefan are over. Knowing that on a re-watch of the episode makes that sequence bittersweet. (But still totally hot.)
- Mrs. Flowers! Stefan in a well! Loved the references to the book series in this episode.
- Whether or not the insults are followed by compliments as Tyler’s assessment of Caroline’s character was in this episode, I’m officially tired of people outlining all of her flaws. As Jennifer Lynn Barnes argues in her essay, “Sweet Caroline,” in A Visitor’s Guide to Mystic Falls, even in season 1 Caroline was never that awful.
- The way Elena describes Damon’s M.O. to Jeremy — he uses people and those people end up dead — is just how Damon thinks of Katherine.
- “Snakes. Why’d it have to be snakes?” Damon calls Jeremy “Indiana Jones” for involving himself in their adventures and research, but it’s Elena who has the true Indy moment: searching for a hidden artifact down a well full of vicious snakes.
- Wolfsbane in the mouth of a werewolf or a vampire sizzling in a well full of vervain? Which wins out as the grossest moment on TVD since the Eye-Gouging Incident in There Goes the Neighborhood?
- In Memory Lane, Katherine’s skin sizzled when Stefan touched it with vervain; how would she have fared in Mason’s vervain well? How far does her immunity extend?
- Notice how Stefan just tosses the hard-won moonstone to his brother, who pockets it. Their relationship is markedly different from last season, where Stefan would never willingly hand over to Damon an object of supernatural significance that Katherine was after. With a common enemy, the boys have regained so much of their brotherly bond. It warms the heart.
- The phone conversation between Damon and Katherine? Genius. Loved every word in that exchange, especially how she got one last jab in there: “Give my love to Stefan.” She can out-Damon Damon any day of the week.
- Matt’s clearly in peril as a pawn in Katherine’s plan B and this show always gives us unexpected plot twists, ergo Matt’s actually safe from being pummeled to death by Tyler, right? Right?
- What does Katherine need a werewolf for? (I mean, other than bed sport.) If she releases a werewolf from being tied to the full moon, she’ll have a powerful killing machine on her hands.
- Will Elena and company finally tell Jenna what’s really going on in Mystic Falls? It seems like the best way to protect Jenna is to tell her about Katherine and what she’s capable of. Either that, or keep the secret and kill Katherine…
Any favorite moments from Plan B — Damon’s apology to Elena at the end? Stefan being adorable with Elena in the opening scene? Jenna and Alaric getting more kissing scenes? Comment below! And please keep it spoiler-free and respectful of other people’s opinions. I’m off to find a mask for Thursday’s ball…
Crissy Calhoun is the author of Love You to Death: The Unofficial Companion to The Vampire Diaries. When not obsessively re-watching CW shows, she works as managing editor at ECW Press in Toronto. She blogs on TVD, Gossip Girl, and other random things she falls in love with at crissycalhoun.com and tweets @crissycalhoun.
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