The end is near! And just when things are starting to get good. Only one episode of The Vampire Diaries left this season (but worry not--Season 3 of True Blood is starting soon...) And that's right--I said the show is getting good. There are still some annoyances like Caroline, plot holes, Caroline, teen melodrama, and Caroline, but The Vampire Diaries is getting better and better, in no small part due to the presence of Damon.
"Isobel" starts where "Blood Brothers" left off--with Isobel and Alaric at the bar. She seems genuinely happy to see him, but he's less than enthused. He asks where she's been and she basically tells him that this is what she wanted and he should really just get over it. Pleasantries aside, Isobel then asks Alaric to arrange a meeting with Elayna. His response? "Screw you, you selfish bitch." Nice. Catching up with him outside, any vestige of warmth is gone as she grabs him by the neck and tells him that if he doesn't give the message to Elayna, she'll kill everyone in town. One by one. Starting with his students. Apparently the vampire doesn't fall far from its maker (in this case, Damon, who's threatened similar things in past episodes).
Meanwhile, Elayna and Damon seem to be getting along. They chat on the phone, Stefan in the background looking confused. Seeing Stefan, Damon hangs up then hands the phone to Stefan and tells him Elayna called. This is why people root for the villain (personality really does go a long way). This scene is both good and bad. Good because it shows the deepening relationship between Damon and Elayna, not to mention providing a couple of good lines. Bad because Stefan's officially all better now (this time for real). I was worried they'd resolve the whole breakdown/addiction storyline too quickly and easily...and they did. I hope Stefan at least has a relapse at some point. You don't get over ingrained psychological issues just because your cute girlfriend tells you she loves you (if only that were the case...) I mean he's not even twitchy anymore--just the same old Stefan, like it never happened. Riggghhht.
The lighthearted mood is cut short when Alaric gives Elayna and Stefan Isobel's message. They fill Damon in, as well, and he's annoyed that his numerous questions can't be answered because Alaric never thought to ask. Confirming that a killing spree is not okay with the rest of them, he tells Elayna she doesn't have to meet Isobel if she doesn't want to. But Elayna does want to meet her birth mother, even if she is a heartless vampire bitch.
While Damon and Alaric wait outside, and Stefan keeps a watchful eye in the bar, Elayna meets Isobel. Not interested in answering too many of Elayna's questions, Isobel does tell her that her father was "a teenage waste of space" (name not important). Of course she also has to comment on how Elayna looks exactly like Katherine, admitting that she does know Katherine, after all (but how does that fit with Damon's statement that if she or John actually knew Katherine they would have also known that Pearl was her closest friend? I sense an oversight...) And just in case there's a risk Elayna might get comfortable with her, she takes a second to ask why Elena chose Stefan over Damon--or, like Katherine, is she enjoying them both? Interestingly, Elayna doesn't respond.
Isobel seems weirdly intent on convincing everyone, particularly Elayna, that she's all bad all the time. She claims human life means nothing to her, and then later that she doesn't possess any redeeming qualities. It's definitely believable--she is one icy vamp. She informs Elayna that both she and John want Johnathon Gilbert's invention ASAP, but when Elayna protests that Damon won't give it to her, Isobel retorts that the blood will be on her hands. Those are some decisive negotiating skills. Again, much like her maker.
And Damon doesn't disappoint. Not at all. When Isobel returns to her lair she finds Damon waiting. Actually she finds him playing strip poker with Cherie, one of Isobel's compelled humans. And he's losing. Yeah, we nearly got to see Damon take his pants off. But his shirt is open, so I guess that's something. (I actually wish there were more vampires like Eddie from True Blood, who don't have looks to rely on, and so draw you in slowly. When they have fangs and are ridiculously hot it's just way too easy. Um, not that I'm complaining.)
Damon asks Isobel what she's doing with John, and she claims they dated a few times back in high school, but that currently they share a mutual goal. She then tells Damon she doesn't know why he's fighting her since they're on the same side--Katherine's. That gets his attention. Apparently Katherine wants Johnathon Gilbert's invention more than anyone. After some sparring, during which it's apparent Isobel doesn't stand a chance against Damon, they start reliving the good old days when they were lovers as well as fighters. Ian Somerhalder must have girls (and probably more than a few guys) lining up around the block to get to him, if his onscreen charisma is any indication. His chemistry with the women on the show is amazing. I've mentioned it before, but damn--it's impressive. Rare is the actor who is that... attractive (never mind the piercing eyes and chiselled jaw, I'm just talking about his acting skills). Damon is definitely up there on my favourite vampires of all time list.
But I digress... just as Damon and Isobel seem to be getting lost in each other, Damon pins her to the ground. He lets her know in no uncertain terms that she made a big mistake showing up and threatening people--especially Elayna--and if Katherine wants the device "tell the bitch to come and get it herself." Suddenly Isobel doesn't seem quite so scary anymore. And is it just me or is Damon over Katherine? I can't wait to see those two meet up again. My prediction: he ultimately chooses Elayna (probably killing Katherine in order to save our heroine).
Back at home Elayna, still upset after the disastrous introduction to her birth mother, answers a knock at the door and finds Bonnie there. Apparently Bonnie is guilt-ridden after seeing Elayna in tears and walking away rather than supporting her. The girls make up and Elayna brings Bonnie up to date. Deciding to make herself useful, Bonnie shows Elayna the spell book that belonged to Emily. It turns out poor Johnathon Gilbert never invented anything useful. Loyal to Katherine but also opposed to vampires and their ways, Emily sneakily fought back by endowing certain objects with magic and then letting Johnathon think he'd invented them. The device Katherine, Isobel, and John want so desperately is some kind of powerful anti-vampire weapon (what it does isn't clear). Why would vampires want a weapon like that? And what does Katherine have against the tomb vampires (her main targets) anyway? Wasn't she the one who escaped at the last second, leaving them all behind to rot for a couple of centuries? Remember when vampires were simple monsters that only wanted to suck your blood (and maybe tempt you into a little illicit naughtiness)?
Just as Elayna is pondering all this at another fun-filled Founders' Day event (putting together floats for the parade), Isobel shows up with minions (her compelled humans) in tow. Distracting everyone by dropping a car on Matt (he's more or less okay, but had to be taken to the hospital), Isabel tells Elayna that she'd better get the device to her before Jeremy ends up dead. And this is where we wonder why Damon didn't just kill Isobel rather than give her a chance to regroup and cause more trouble. Sigh.
John isn't doing any better handling Isobel. Although he can't stand her now, John apparently once had something of a crush on Isobel. So when he sees she's kidnapped his nephew, he pleads with her to let him go, saying the old Isobel has to still be in there somewhere. In response she gets her minions to beat him up before she takes his immortality ring. (Another aside: shame on Canadian Mia Kirshner for her horrible French accent. I couldn't even tell what she was saying.) Anyway, at least John and Jeremy now have some uncle-nephew bonding time. John tells Jeremy about the device and lets him know that vampires are bad people. Jeremy's not quite so sure, but then John invokes his brother (Jeremy and Elayna's beloved dad), claiming he believed all vampires should be eradicated, so that should mean something to Jeremy. Do we have a future zealot on our hands?
Meanwhile Elayna, Stefan, and Bonnie are trying to convince Damon that it's possible to de-magic the device so that they can hand it harmlessly over to Isobel. Damon's not so sure, especially since he really doesn't trust Bonnie. But when Elayna says "But you can trust me," Damon's face softens and he hands it over, pressing his hand against hers for a beat too long. Anyone paying attention notices, including Stefan. Bonnie then performs a ritual and claims the device is deactivated.
Elayna and Isobel meet again; this time they both bring backup (the minions and the Salvatores). Elayna demands the return of her brother but Isobel tells her to call home, where lo and behold Jeremy and John are safely ensconced. Okay, that was a little anticlimactic. Elayna tells Isobel she took a risk going after Damon the way she did, but Isobel doesn't think so, seeing as how Damon's in love with Elayna. At last it's out in the open, although no one seems to know what to do with it. Elayna hands over the invention and tells Isobel what a monumental disappointment she is. Isobel retorts that as long as Elayna has a Salvatore on each arm she's doomed, which is precisely why Katherine got out. But then, she's not Katherine, is she? (Ooh...burn. Kind of.) I'd like to know what this is all about--how can the Salvatores be such bad news that they drove even Katherine away in fear? So far it's always been her labelled as the troublemaker. I'm curious to see where they're going with this.
After Isobel leaves, Elayna hugs Stefan in relief, taking a moment to look at Damon, who returns her gaze. When Stefan then looks at him, Damon finally turns and walks away. Ah, love triangles--see how much fun geometry can be?
At home again, Elayna tries to talk to Jeremy but he's apparently had enough of her and her lies. Elayna's stricken but he has no problem shutting her out. And then Anna shows up. Jeremy's been trying to get hold of her for days but she's been too busy grieving for her mother. She tells Jeremy what happened and tells him she has nowhere else to go. Um, okay. Sure--why would a centuries-old vampire be able to fend for herself?--of course she's going to need to stay with her human teenage boyfriend. Makes perfect sense. And it should be fun to see how sharing a roof with John Gilbert, vampire hater and mother killer, goes.
Before leaving town Isobel pays Alaric one last visit. I don't know why every mortal onscreen feels the need to prove something to the resident vampire, but in his anger Alaric decides it's a good idea to take off his immortality ring and the vervain he carries before urging Isobel to kill or compel him because, gosh darn it, he just doesn't believe his wife is all gone. She pushes him up against the lockers and goes on about how she wanted and needed to be a vampire but it's her mistake and she'll regret it forever. So we've got a self-hating vampire on our hands. She compels him to get over her and to forget about this encounter, then she places the ring back on his finger and takes off.
There are more confrontations as Stefan has a word with Damon about his feelings for Elayna. I think this might be the first time Damon is intimidated by Stefan, seeming nervous and moving away. But he claims he and Elayna are just friends (in fact, he thinks she's his only friend) and anyway, he'd much rather Stefan have to be the one to tell her. Tell her what, you ask? Damon's apparently the only one in Mystic Falls who figured out that which I put forth back in my post about "Miss Mystic Falls": that "Uncle" John is actually *gasp* Elayna's biological father! Cue dramatic music! Then Damon adds that, as her friend, should Elayna need someone to talk to about anything--anything at all--he's there for her. Who else is hoping she needs a good, long talk?
The last we see of Isobel she's calling John as she drives away, to tell him she left the device for him, as well as his ring. She reiterates that Katherine wants the tomb vampires dead but adds that she'd like to add two more to the list: Damon and Stefan. They agree that they don't want "this life" for their daughter and that they owe Elayna that much. Good thing the device is useless. But wait! The last scene is of Bonnie and Caroline as Bonnie confides that she promised to do something for Elayna but never did because it was wrong. She claims that once Elayna realizes what she did (or technically, didn't do) she'll never forgive Bonnie. Troubling indeed. But then, her statement is vague enough that she could be referring to something else. More likely is that Damon, who never felt comfortable with the deactivation plan in the first place, has already anticipated Bonnie's deception and has made a counter-move. Hope so, anyway.
So the soap opera definitely continues, but it's managed to suck me in at last. And don't you all feel sorry for people who don't get the appeal of vampires?
By the way, once the season ends, The CW is going to be airing Moonlight on Thursday nights at 9, after Vampire Diaries reruns (or "encores" if you're into euphemisms). I haven't seen this show but I'll be watching and reviewing it. It was cancelled by CBS but there's apparently a chance The CW might resurrect it. But if they don't, I'm not sure it's any big loss; judging by the description you'd be just as well (or better) to watch Forever Knight or Angel instead. But I'm willing to give Moonlight a shot--maybe it'll surprise me (and can you really have too many shows about vampire detectives?)
Appearance: Pale humans until the vampire emerges, then fangs, dark eyes and dark facial veins.
Strengths: Super speed, strength, hearing. Ability to compel humans. Ability to hatch diabolical schemes.
Weaknesses: Vervain. Other vampires, if they're older (which also means they're stronger). Arrogance.
Mythology: Vampires can switch off their emotions at will, and most do as it's the easier route to take. Magically charged jewellery (rings, Isobel's necklace) protect certain vampires from sunlight.
Alaric: (responding to Damon) I was too upset by my dead vampire wife to ask any questions.
Damon: (to Isobel) I do believe in killing the messenger. You know why? Because it sends a message.
Elayna: He'll kill you before he gives it up.
Isobel: Is that before or after I kill your brother, Jeremy?
John: You can't kill a kid.
Isobel: I'll kill him just to prove you wrong.
The Vampire Diaries, Season 1 Episode 21 "Isobel." Written by Caroline Dries and Brian Young. Directed by J. Miller Tobin. From The CW.