This wasn't the best episode of the Vampire Diaries, but it contained what were possibly the best moments of the show. Sometimes it's the moments that matter.
"Rose" starts off with an SUV pulling into a parking lot in the middle of nowhere, where another car happens to be waiting. A man gets out of the vehicle and we see the mask worn by Elena's kidnapper on the passenger seat. The man approaches the waiting car, where another man sits waiting behind tinted windows, sunglasses, and a hat. It's a pretty safe bet he's a vampire (and may I just say: finally--a vampire that can't go out in the sun!) The first man retrieves Elena from the trunk of the SUV and delivers her to the man in the car. Then he makes the mistake of asking if there's anything else he can do for our mystery vampire. The vamp beckons him closer and a moment later is chomping down on the guy's neck. The kidnapper is dead, but it's pretty much a frying pan/fire sort of deal for Elena.
Meanwhile at Elena's house, Jeremy clues in at last that Elena never came home the night before. Hey, it's not like she was seriously hurt or anything--why would anyone have checked up on her? Oh...wait... He's still not really worried--not until he sees Stefan at school and discovers she didn't spend the night with him.
At her place Caroline is filling Damon in on Ty's transition to werewolf. Damon wants to know as much as he can about weres, and he makes it clear that Ty is not to find out anything at all about vampires. Ever. Does anyone else love it when Damon gets all menacing? He then snaps out of serious mode and lightheartedly suggests that if Caroline wants to save her mom (and the search party) some trouble, she could drop a hint that Aimee (killed by Katherine but thought to be missing by everyone else) is at the bottom of a certain ravine with a cracked spine. His mood is a lot less lighthearted later when he finds out Elena is missing.
Speaking of, Elena is being carried into a decrepit old mansion (also in the middle of nowhere) by mystery vampire. He's about to sample the wares when a female vampire comes in and stops him. Before we can start thinking she's the good cop, she backhands Elena into unconsciousness (to be fair, Elena should really shut up when strange vampires repeatedly tell her to be quiet).
Back at the high school, Damon and Stefan are debating whether to open the tomb and talk to Katherine to find out more about what might have happened to Elena. Stefan is for and Damon is against, but it ends up being moot anyway when Bonnie offers to try a location spell and discovers Elena is in a town about three hours away (in the process Bonnie ends up with a nosebleed, which she hides from the others). Aerial photos of the area reveal a large house all by its lonesome, which seems like the best place to start looking. Road trip time for Stefan and Damon.
Left behind, Jeremy and Bonnie keep having tension-filled moments (the good kind of tension). I'm still not thrilled at the thought of the two of them hooking up, but maybe that's just me. Anyway, they're interrupted when Bonnie realizes there's another spell she can try in order to get a message to Elena. In the process her nose starts bleeding again and as the spell is completed she goes catatonic and passes out. Eventually she wakes up and is more or less fine but she admits to Jeremy that she's been pushing too hard with the magic and it's pushing back. Jeremy promises not to tell anyone about her weakness, after which they bond over how alone each of them is in the world.
Back at kidnapping central, Elena overhears the vampires talking about sending a message to Elijah. The female vamp claims she's sick of running and that giving Elena to Elijah will somehow save them from having to run anymore. Not having learned her lesson the first time, Elena starts badgering the female vampire (aka Rose) about who Elijah is, what he is, why they want her, etc., etc. Rose is more tolerant this time and tells Elena that Elijah is one of the "original" vampires. She and the male vampire (aka Trevor) have been running for 500 years because Trevor disobeyed Elijah and saved the "first" Petrova doppelganger (aka Katherine). See, the moonstone Katherine was after binds the vampire/werewolf, sun/moon curse but the blood of a Petrova doppelganger (in this case, Elena) will break the curse. Handing Elena over to Elijah in order to be sacrificed will free Rose and Trevor from running. Yeah, this is where a lot of the episode (and season) breaks down.
First of all, how can there be more than one doppelganger (which by definition means double, as in one person and one doppel)? Not to mention that they're taking other serious liberties with the doppelganger mythos. Secondly, if Katherine is the first Petrova doppelganger, who is the original Petrova and where are all these doppelgangers coming from (and how many others are there)? Next, if the moonstone binds the curse, then breaking the stone should release the curse--so why the need for a blood sacrifice? And why sacrifice a doppelganger? And lastly--why break the curse in the first place? Yes, it'll free the vampires from the tyranny of the sun, but it'll also free the weres from turning (only) at the full moon. Do you really want your enemy to have more opportunities to kill you? Besides, it doesn't seem particularly difficult to get a daywalker ring made--wouldn't that be a hell of a lot easier than all this kidnapping/sacrificing/curse-breaking rigmarole? It's like the show suddenly brought Rube Goldberg in as a writer.
But it is what it is and the show must go on. Realizing she's in deep trouble, Elena wanders back to the room she was first in and finds a piece of paper. It's the message Bonnie sent her: Damon and Stefan are coming for you. Now who wouldn't want that handy skill? Although I'd settle for the message.
Damon and Stefan are still on the road and not exactly bonding. As Damon sucks blood from a plasma bag like it's a juice box, Stefan asks for some, admitting he's been building up a tolerance to human blood. When Damon asks if Elena knows what Stefan's up to, Stefan admits it's her blood he's been drinking. Suddenly Damon gets cold and mean, as he always does when he's reminded of Stefan and Elena's relationship. It's impossible not to feel for him (particularly if you've been in a similar situation). But they'd better get to Elena soon because Elijah has arrived.
Trevor is freaking out, thinking that Elijah will still kill him and Rose even if they do hand Elena over. Rose is more reasonable and greets Elijah at the door, where she soon gets his word that he'll be lenient (too bad she doesn't clarify who exactly he'll be lenient to). Elijah (played by Daniel Gillies, True Blood) is polite and calm but definitely menacing--the kind of man you wouldn't want to cross even if he weren't superhuman. When Rose takes him to see Elena, he's amazed to find that she's human, claiming it's impossible. Elena's so freaked she begs the others not to give her to Elijah, as if they could do anything about it at this point. Trevor is equally terrified, begging Elijah for forgiveness, which Elijah grants--right before tearing Trevor's head off. Rose is devastated but not enough to retaliate now that she's been finally given her freedom.
Luckily the cavalry have arrived, and after Damon makes sure Stefan knows the risks of going up against an ancient vampire, they move in.
Inside Elena gets the bright idea to try negotiating with Elijah, using the moonstone as leverage. It takes Elijah about 10 seconds to rip off her vervain necklace and compel her into telling him about the moonstone and Katherine. Well, so much for that. But suddenly he hears a noise upstairs. Rose swears she doesn't know anything about it, so he takes her and Elena to go investigate. Suddenly a blur streaks by him and keeps doing so, doling out wounds every so often. Elijah seems more annoyed than anything, but also assumes it's just one other vampire. Suddenly we see that Stefan has grabbed Elena and Damon has grabbed Rose, both of them getting the women to keep quiet.
Really annoyed now, Elijah makes a giant stake out of a coat rack and goes looking for his adversary. Suddenly Elena steps out and says she'll go with him--just don't hurt her friends. Then she throws one of Alaric's vervain grenades at him. It barely has an effect. Stefan steps out with the crossbow and starts shooting at Elijah, who easily deflects every bolt. So Stefan jumps on Elijah, knocking them both down the stairs. This hardly slows the older vampire down and he's about to finish Stefan when Damon comes out of the shadows and (forget about mere staking) impales Elijah to the front door. And he enjoys every second of it, watching with satisfaction as Elijah dies.
Rose takes off and Elena stops Damon from going after her. Then they look at each other, elated, and start moving toward each other. Of course, Stefan takes this moment to step in and hug Elena. Damon looks crestfallen, but Elena sees him over Stefan's shoulder and mouths 'thank you.' He smiles and mouths 'you're welcome' back. Why does that minor exchange seem so much more intimate than Stefan's embrace?
Back home again, Stefan and Damon share a drink and Stefan points out that they can't protect Elena if they don't get along. Stefan then apologizes for what he did to Damon all those years ago when he turned him. Damon brushes it off but Stefan insists, admitting he was selfish and that he didn't want to be alone and needed his brother. It's kind of sweet and it actually seems to get through to Damon.
While all this has been going on, Caroline and Ty have been dealing with their own issues. He confronts her at school about what she said the night before and what she knows, but Caroline plays dumb, telling him he was in shock and must have misunderstood. Later, after an impressive jump during a basketball game, Ty spots Caroline and runs over to confront her again. She's still in denial mode and when he tries to grab her, she puts him in his place, vampire-style (it's actually pretty cool). He's strong but she's stronger and he's not too happy about that. Later still, when Caroline returns home she instantly goes on alert. Behind her Ty steps out of the shadows. He claims he knows what she is--that she's a werewolf. Caroline breaks into laughter when she hears this, which pisses Ty off and riles him up, which in turn pisses Caroline off so that she vamps out, thus scaring Ty enough that he skitters away from her as fast as he can. Well, now he knows she's not a werewolf. They end up comparing were vs. vampire notes, although Caroline lies and claims she's the only vampire around. Ty admits he's scared and alone and Caroline hugs him sympathetically. While he's hugging her a strange look passes over his face, which I'm not quite able to interpret. Could be he's surprised at Caroline's support; could be he suddenly realized she smells like dinner. This is going to be interesting.
Back to Stefan, alone now, and suddenly a vampire is speeding around the room. He picks up a stake and the vampire stops. It turns out to be Rose, and she tells Stefan that Lexi once told her that he was one of the good ones. Now that Trevor's gone Rose needs some new companions. Stefan says he can't help her but her response is that she can help them. She tells Stefan that the other originals won't stop coming after Elena--they can't stop: Klaus is ordering them to find her. New uber-villain!
Elsewhere, Damon is waiting for Elena in her room. He's returning her necklace, which he managed to retrieve. But before he gives it back to her, he has something to say. He loves her, but for once he can't be selfish. He doesn't deserve her but Stefan does. He kisses her on the forehead and says he wishes it didn't have to be like this. I have to say, the close up shot of his eye as he compels her, with tears slipping out--it's beautiful and sad and completely lacking in the schmaltz inherent in those cliched scenes where the character has a single tear drip down their face so dramatic-like. No, this was perfect. You can tell whoever wrote this understands heartbreak, as does Ian Somerhalder. So well done. An instant later, Elena snaps out of the daze, looking confused. She's alone in the room and the necklace is around her neck. Damn--and I thought Spike's love for Buffy was tragic...
Unfortunately the very end of the episode kind of sucks. We're back at the abandoned mansion, where Elijah is still impaled to the door. It's no surprise when he wakes up very much alive and fully pissed off. Did Damon and Stefan never read/watch Dracula? Come on, guys--vampire killing 101: stake the vampire, then behead and burn the body. Why would they just leave him there? I hate it when smart characters do stupid things. The one potentially good thing about this, though, is it means some of the other older vampires (Lexi, Anna...) may have survived (or it could just be an original vampire thing). Either way, it gives us plenty to ponder.
As I said, not the best episode ever what with the plot holes you could steer a ship through, but those moments with Damon and Elena...they were something else altogether. Here's hoping for more moments like those...
Appearance: Human until the vampire emerges, then dark eyes and facial veins and prominent fangs. Dead vampires are extra veiny.
Strengths: Super strength, speed. Enhanced sense of smell. Ability to compel humans. Quick healing.
Weaknesses: Sunlight (for some of them), stakes, vervain, blood lust.
Mythology: Ancient/original vampires are much harder to kill than younger vampires (a stake won't cut it). Rumour has it that once upon a time vampires could walk in the sun and weres could turn at will, but eventually the mere mortals got tired of dealing with all the monsters all the time so they cursed the vampires to walk only at night and the weres to only be able to turn at the full moon (whether they want to or not). At least it wasn't a gypsy curse--those things are nothing but trouble.
Damon: Can we not do the whole road trip bonding thing? The cliche of it all makes me itch.
Damon: Keep it up, Stefan. I can step out of helping just as easily as I stepped in.
Stefan: Nope--that's the beauty of it. You can't.
Elijah: [to a terrified Elena] Hello, there.
Damon: I need to say it once. You need to hear it. I love you, Elena.
The Vampire Diaries, Season 2 Episode 8 "Rose." Written by Brian Young. Directed by Liz Friedlander. From The CW.