26 April 2011

The Vampire Diaries S2 E19 "Klaus"

Spoilers Ahead

"Klaus" is making my head hurt. Not only because there's so much going on within the episode but Damon alone is a storyline unto himself. The writers are not making my life any easier. On the other hand, I haven't been this engaged in a show probably since Buffy. That's saying something.

We start a short while after the end of "The Last Dance." Elena is still waiting for Elijah to revive after she removed the dagger. He seems to be taking a long time to come back but when he finally does the process looks (and sounds) painful. Disoriented, he confuses Elena for Katherine. In a series of short flashbacks, Elijah recalls meeting Katherine for the first time. He reacts strangely when he first sees her and apologizes, claiming she reminds him of someone. Back to the present he's not doing so well. He claims he can't breathe and says he has to get out of the house. I was wondering what would happen to him--a vampire who suddenly finds himself inside a house where he isn't invited. Now I know. He's better as soon as he runs outside, where he waits on the threshold for Elena. She promises to tell him everything--away from the Salvatores, who are elsewhere in the house. And to prove that he can trust her, she gives him the dagger. Never mind that she's already betrayed Stefan and Damon by removing the dagger in the first place. Oh, Elena.

The camera cuts to Stefan, waking in bed as though from a nightmare. He goes looking for Elena but only finds Andie and Damon, who are too busy being sickeningly cutesy and kissy to be overly concerned about Elena's whereabouts. You'll notice that Stefan spends the episode scoffing in disgust at Damon, starting with the way Damon treats Andie like his personal "wind-up toy" (although, strangely, when Stefan criticizes Damon's behaviour he calls Andie "it" rather than "she"). In any case, Andie doesn't seem to mind, telling Stefan it's none of his business. But does she really not mind the way Damon treats her or is she under his compulsion? And if she really is okay with it, does that indicate some kind of 'abused woman syndrome' on her part? More on that later.

As Andie leaves to get ready for work, Damon notices Stefan reacting to the open basement door. They both run downstairs where they discover that Elena revived Elijah.

At Alaric's apartment/Klaus's lair, Klaus is ready to depart Alaric's body and return to his own. To that end he sends Maddox to retrieve it. In the meantime he tells Katherine that all the elements are coming together to break the curse (the full moon is the next night). He also claims that the spell has to be performed in Mystic Falls because it's the birthplace of the doppelganger. Good to know. He then compels Katherine not to leave the apartment and heads out to meet Jenna.

It turns out that Elena and Elijah went for a drive and now they pull over to have their discussion. Elena offers him her help in exchange for his to kill Klaus. He's not quite as vengeful as you would expect but he's not exactly trustful, either. At this point Stefan calls and Elena promptly blows him off, refusing to tell him where she and Elijah are. Then she manages to soothe Stefan (sort of) and kiss up to Elijah by telling Stefan that she can trust Elijah because he's a noble and honourable man who knows she'd be "incredibly stupid" to betray him again. She also mentions she's proven herself by removing the dagger and she wants Stefan to respect her decision. Oh yeah, and she tells him to make sure that Damon doesn't do anything stupid (she should talk). When she hangs up Elijah reaches out his hand for the phone and she gives it to him.

Stefan's conversation with Elena prompts an argument between Stefan and Damon; Stefan says they need to trust Elena while Damon snaps that she'll get herself killed and they need to find her. When Damon makes a move to go after Elena, Stefan stops him and menacingly tells him to back off. Interesting how Stefan got so forceful all of a sudden.

Jenna's back in the picture, proving herself as useless as ever. She calls Stefan because neither Elena nor Jeremy are answering their phones (btw, where's John?) Apparently Elena left her a bunch of "crazy" messages (why wasn't she answering her own damn phone?) telling her to keep away from Alaric...but she's supposed to meet him for lunch at The Grill (I also love how she tells her teenage niece's teenage boyfriend about her man troubles). Stefan tells her not to go anywhere--he'll be right over. Damon declines to assist since he knows Stefan wouldn't want him to do anything stupid. I say it's about time people started cleaning up their own messes anyway, instead of constantly relying on Damon.

As soon as Stefan's gone Damon grabs Andie so they can do their own thing (so much for her going to work, I guess). This turns out to involve a trip to Alaric's apartment where they find Katherine. Damon can't enter the apartment and Katherine can't leave it but they can chat just fine. He ends up giving her a vial of vervain. It can't undo the orders Klaus has already given her but it will prevent her from being compelled any further. And now she owes Damon.

When Stefan gets to Elena's house he finds "Alaric" already there and acting super creepy ("I find chopping calming") as he prepares lunch. Suddenly he starts talking about vampires and how he's obsessed with them. He mentions the curse and claims that the creatures who have been cursed would do anything, kill anyone, to break it. Jenna and Stefan look less than impressed. When Klaus finally announces that vampires are real Jenna has had enough. She tells him to get out and when he won't she gets up to go. He decides to encourage her to stay by pointing the big knife at her. Stefan steps in at this point, easily grabbing the knife and pushing Klaus against the wall where he pins him with the knife to his throat. Stefan tells Jenna to get out now but she's confused and scared. It doesn't help when Klaus starts threatening to take over her body if Stefan kills Alaric's body. Stefan ends up vamping out and screams at Jenna to go. She finally listens. And then Stefan beats Klaus into unconsciousness.

Meanwhile Elijah experiences more flashbacks. In one he first introduces Katherine to "The Lord Niklaus" ("Call me Klaus"). He and Elena then pay Carol Lockwood a visit (among other things he needs a change of clothes. Being dead in a cellar can really wreak havoc on a guy's ensemble). Via another flashback we find out that Elijah and Klaus are brothers. How did something that seems so obvious now come as such a total surprise? Elijah ends up telling Elena that his entire family--parents and seven kids--are Originals. They did start out as humans (I hope we eventually find out how they became vampires but for now Elijah claims the story is too long) but they're the oldest vampires in existence and all other vampires come from them. Interesting addition to TVD's vampire mythology.

Elijah's next flashback brings even more startling news: there is no curse. It was Klaus and Elijah who made up the story and spread it throughout the world (the "Aztec" drawings are really Klaus's work). I'm a fan of this twist--I never liked the whole "sun and moon curse." It just seemed lame. But they did spread the rumours for a reason--Elijah says the easiest way for a moonstone and a doppelganger to be found is to have every member of two warring species looking for them. So why do they need the stone and the doppel? Elijah claims that there is another curse, a worse one, on Klaus. Before he can elaborate Elena takes a call from Stefan and finds out that Jenna is traumatized yet again. She has to go to her but she gives Elijah her word that she'll be back.

Elijah passes the time with another flashback, one of him and Katherine enjoying each other's company and a game of tag (hey, it was 1000 years ago--what else did people have to occupy their time?) As they take a break she complains that Klaus was supposed to spend the day with her but he never came back from the night before. She also wonders why he courts her when he doesn't seem to have any interest in her and she says she wants more--true love. Elijah says he doesn't believe in love but Katherine can't accept that, asking what the point of living is if you cease to believe in love. That's when Klaus shows up, covered in blood, and leads Katherine away. As they depart Elijah looks after Katherine wistfully. There's clearly something between them that's not being said.

After Elena apologizes to Jenna, calms her down and fills her in on what's been happening, she tells Stefan she has to get back to Elijah. He doesn't want her to go but he relents when she says she can't break her promise. Unfortunately as she's leaving Damon shows up and he's not quite as easy to convince as Stefan is. Once again Stefan has to step in and get menacing with his brother, although Damon's not going to put up with that much longer. But Elena does get to keep her word to Elijah.

When Elena returns we finally get the real story about what all the hoopla this season has been about. It turns out that after they were turned into vampires, Elijah's family discovered mom's deep dark secret: she had an affair. That affair produced Klaus, making him a half brother to the others. Elijah's father decided to get revenge by killing Klaus's biological father and his entire family. Unfortunately he unknowingly ended up igniting the war between the vampires and the weres. Yes, Klaus is a were-vamp (vamp-were? In any case, a hybrid).

Okay, I have to take a minute here to comment on some of this. Elijah said they'd invented the curse to get everyone looking for the doppelganger and the moonstone. Sounds reasonable enough. But how is it the Salvatores had never heard of either, let alone the curse? Damon thought werewolves were a myth. And I can't remember but I'm not sure they even knew about the Originals. You'd think they might have picked up on some part of it over the last 150 years, especially with their close connections to Katherine and Isobel. Next: is it just me or is it a little too coincidental that one of the first vampires in existence just happened to be fathered by a werewolf?

Anyway, apparently Klaus the hybrid is stronger by far than any other were or vampire. Too powerful for the witches--keepers of balance in the world--to let slide. So they cast a spell to make his wolf side dormant. Now Klaus wants to bring back his inner wolf so he can sire his own race of uber-monsters that would threaten everyone else's existence. So while Elijah initially helped his brother out of love, Klaus has gone too far now and has got to go. Did you get all that? Good because there's more.

The magical dagger won't kill Klaus because it's silver and werewolves heal from wounds made by silver. And since only that dagger will kill an Original they have a bit of a problem. Elijah is sure Klaus can be killed by a powerful witch at his most vulnerable point during the curse-breaking spell (and for that he needs Elena's help). Here we're treated to another flashback in which Elijah tells Klaus that he spoke to the witches and they think they can spare the doppelganger (in this case, Katherine). Since she's human Klaus couldn't care less about saving her and he's not too happy that Elijah feels otherwise. He orders Elijah to tell the witches to forget about sparing the doppelganger. By this point in the episode even Elena has picked up on Elijah's concern for Katherine (a mistake, he tells her, that he won't repeat again). My theory? The witches who originally "cursed" Klaus based the doppelganger on his sister in the hopes that he'd be less inclined to kill someone who is an exact replica of someone he had to have loved. That's why Elijah reacts when he sees Katherine and cares about her, but not in any kind of romantic way. We'll see if I'm at all close.

Speaking of Katherine, Klaus returns to the apartment in a foul mood. He compels her to sit down and shut up and although it doesn't work thanks to the vervain, she plays along. Klaus's mood improves a few minutes later when Maddox returns with a ton of luggage, Klaus's own body, and a witch who could well be Luka's kidnapped sister (although she looks pretty happy to be there so she's either compelled or Luka and his dad got the story wrong).

Damon's also in a foul mood, but in his case it looks as though nothing is about to improve it anytime soon. Andie's trying but he just snaps at her to go away. Then Stefan comes in and continues his episode-long lecture on the crappy way Damon treats Andie. Damon smirks back that Stefan should be happy Andie's there because it keeps him (Damon) from going after what he really wants (Elena). I guess Stefan feels he's kept quiet long enough because instead of walking away he escalates the situation by calling Damon on being in love with Elena. He also mentions that Damon can love her all he wants as long as it means he'll protect her, but Stefan has the one thing that Damon never will--Elena's respect. No surprise when Damon throws the first punch (and a good one at that) or that it degenerates into growling and choking and general hatred. But they break apart as soon as Elena shows up with Elijah and shouts at them to stop.

This leads to another flashback. This time Klaus is enraged at Elijah because, as we know, Katherine ran before he could sacrifice her and he believes Elijah warned her. Elijah swears that he didn't say anything and gives his word that he'll find her. In turn Klaus gives his word that if Elijah doesn't find Katherine then Klaus will kill him. I take it brotherly love only lasts as long as there are no chicks around.

Back in the present Elena announces that she and Elijah have renewed their deal, and he adds that he won't harm Damon or Stefan if they apologize to him. Damon's reaction to this request is priceless. Stefan, on the other hand, barely hesitates before he's kissing Elijah's ass. He claims he was protecting Elena and always will protect her. This is an echo of what Damon said at the end of "The Last Dance," when he told Elena he will always choose her, only instead of being met with a cold response as Damon was, Stefan gets a warm, almost smug, smile at his words. Damon is completely disgusted with all of them and tells them to go to hell before he storms out.

Back in his own room he discovers that Andie didn't leave after all ("you didn't compel me"). He tells her that he's upset and she knows what happens when he gets upset. He tells her she has to leave. But she refuses. She says he has to know that somebody cares about him. This prompts him to bite viciously before pushing her to the ground where she collapses in tears. Then he compels her to go away before he kills her. She finally goes leaving him to be upset on his own.

This scene is disturbing on so many levels. I like Damon (a lot) but it's hard to like an abuser, which he clearly is. He controls and uses and hurts Andie. But equally disturbing, albeit in a different way, is that the abuse stems from his own self hatred. He's not malicious; he's tormented. But does that mitigate his actions at all? (Btw, that would be no.) Meanwhile I get the sense the writers are trying to make the abuse seem not so bad by having Andie exhibit some free will. She tells Stefan to mind his own business and when given the option she chooses not to leave. But is this really a sign of free will or is it (a) compulsion (remember he compelled her to be in love with him) and/or (b) the classic mindset of a battered woman? On top of all this I think Stefan and Elena are doing to Damon what he's doing to Andie. They treat him like a joke ("make sure Damon doesn't do anything stupid") or a pest until they need him (which is frequently) and then they're happy to use him until he becomes an inconvenience again. Stefan even mocks him by saying he can love Elena all he wants as long as he protects her, while Elena masks manipulation as "friendship." I also mentioned several reviews back that Katherine victimizes him as well. So not only is Damon a self-hating abuser but he's also the abused, suffering from his own version of battered spouse/sibling/child syndrome. I need a consulting psychiatrist to write this review. So where does this leave Damon fans? Should we sympathize with him or revile him? Can he be redeemed as a character? Is he too badly damaged to ever be a true hero? I have no idea.

"Klaus" ends, fittingly, with Klaus being returned to his own form. Alaric seems to be himself again for the split second before he collapses, unconscious. I hate to think what's going to become of him trapped in his apartment with malevolent witches and vampires. Klaus, meanwhile, seems pretty pleased with the whole situation. Which is interesting because when Elijah was revived in a house where he wasn't invited, he was instantly sick and had to get out. Anyone recall Alaric inviting Klaus in? I don't think it counts if Klaus invited himself in while still in Alaric's body (besides, how would that even be possible?) And it has to be a resident that does the inviting. Is this a mistake or is Klaus really that special?

This episode is going to take a long time to process, I think. There's been an entire paradigm shift in the storyline and established mythology, not to mention big questions about Damon and various other lesser ponderings. Makes you wonder what the writers could possibly do next.

Fang Files

Appearance: Pale human until the vampire emerges, then dark/red eyes, dark facial veins, and sharp fangs.

Strengths: Ability to compel humans. Originals can compel other vampires. Super strength and speed.

Weaknesses: Being compelled by an Original. Witchcraft. Vervain. Inner demons.

Mythology: Originals are indestructible; only a special silver dagger dipped in the ashes of a specific oak tree and plunged into their hearts will "kill" them, and then the effect only lasts as long as the dagger remains in place. A vampire needs an invitation into a private residence; Elijah becomes extremely sick when he's revived inside a house where he has no invitation. Elijah's family are all Originals--they are the first vampires.

Sound Bites

Stefan: What are you doing? It's not a wind-up toy.
Andie: It's really none of your business, is it Stefan.
Damon: Yeah. What she said.

Klaus: [to Katherine] Let's just hope that Elena isn't as stupid as you were.

Stefan: We need to trust her. We've just got to let her do her thing.
Damon: That might be your plan. Mine's better.

Stefan: You're seriously going to be like this?
Damon: You and your girlfriend are calling the shots, Stefan. I'm just backing off.

Damon: Thought you might be dead.
Katherine: Unfortunately not.

Damon: [to Katherine] You owe me. And I will collect.

Damon: [to Stefan] That's twice today you stood in my way. I wouldn't try a third.

Klaus: Love is a vampire's greatest weakness and we are not weak, Elijah. We do not feel and we do not care.

The Vampire Diaries, Season 2 Episode 19 "Klaus." Written by Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec. Directed by Joshua Butler. From The CW.

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