After far too long a wait The Vampire Diaries is back and it was... kind of underwhelming. Not that it was bad. But it didn't exactly rock my world, either--and that's including the scene where Damon walks around wearing nothing but bubble-bath foam. Hopefully the rest of the season will be more inspiring. But for now we were treated to a few highlights.
"The Birthday" begins in Tennessee with Klaus compelling his way into a farmhouse, terrifying the residents into telling him where he can find their roommate Ray (David Gallagher, Super 8), and then ordering Stefan to kill both girls, which Stefan does without hesitation. It looks like Klaus has latched his metaphorical claws good and deep into Stefan. Is it too much to hope he's working against Klaus from the inside? (Find out how he ended up with Klaus here.)
Elena, meanwhile, has been gathering tips from Sheriff Liz on potential vampire/Stefan activity. Although it's her 18th birthday (and Caroline is insisting on throwing her a party) all she cares about is finding Stefan. Can't really blame her. Then again with Damon unabashedly showing off his suds-covered assets you'd think she'd be a little distracted. Unfortunately she makes him cover up and discuss the latest lead. He lets her know this lead, like all the others, is probably a dead end. But he'll go check it out just in case.
While Damon and Alaric follow up on Elena's lead, Klaus and Stefan have caught up with Ray, who turns out to be a werewolf. Klaus has started building his army of hybrids and wants Ray to direct him to his pack. It takes a fair amount of torture with wolfsbane and, of all things, darts but they finally get the information they want. Then Klaus forces his blood down Ray's throat before breaking his neck. Meanwhile Damon and Alaric discover the dead girls in the farmhouse and Damon recognizes Stefan's signature 'Ripper' style (he blacks out during the kill and when he comes to he feels remorse and puts the bodies back together).
Just when you're thinking Damon might be about to catch up to Stefan it turns out Klaus has someone reporting to him on Damon's activities. Apparently Damon is getting too close to them and Klaus can't have that. Stefan offers to deal with his brother, reminding Klaus that he's in his service because Klaus saved Damon's life.
Back in Mystic Falls Elena's party is in full force. I thought it was pretty daring of the producers to show kids smoking joints (Jeremy thought relaxing would help him stop seeing his dead exes everywhere and Matt--apparently a complete lightweight--just wants to forget). And without even following it up with horrible consequences (although Jeremy still sees Vicky and Anna--maybe he should take up meditation). TV has come a long way.
Things get complicated when Damon goes to pick up Andie from work and Elena discovers his closet of evidence of his Stefan investigation. The investigation he told Elena was pointless and was getting them nowhere. Damon is a little too preoccupied to respond to Elena's anger, though, as he discovers Stefan at the studio. Stefan tells Damon to stop following him, that he was supposed to let him go. When Damon mentions Elena, Stefan compels Andie to jump off a parapet and then prevents Damon from catching her. Well, it wouldn't be a TVD episode without at least one death of a regular character. But who woulda thunk Andie would be killed by Stefan instead of Damon?
When he gets back to the party Damon has a slight confrontation with Elena in which he snaps that they're both idiots for pursuing Stefan. He tells her that the brutal murders they've been investigating have been Stefan's work not Klaus's. After Elena leaves, Damon heads to Stefan's room and flies into a rage destroying things until he finally exhausts himself. But Elena gets a phone call from Stefan. Even though he doesn't talk she knows it's him. He holds back tears as she tells him she loves him and that he has to hold on to that. There's hope yet for the Ripper.
The other major development centres around Caroline and Ty. After seemingly endless smouldering looks and awkward silences they finally give in to their not-so-hidden naughty feelings for each other. At last the world can witness vampire-werewolf sex! It's surprisingly underwhelming, actually. But it sets things up for the next morning when Caroline is sneaking out early and Ty's mom is waiting for her. As Caroline touches her purse she's burned. That's all Mrs. Lockwood needs. She shoots three tranquilizer darts into Caroline and the last thing we see before the episode ends is Caroline lying unconscious.
Interesting twist with Caroline and Ty's mom. Methinks it was a bad idea for Caroline to stay in Mystic Falls after she was turned. Can you really continue living your usual life after something as extreme as joining the ranks of the undead? Which also leads to the question of whether Stefan can really come back after his time with Klaus. Sorry, Elena--this breakup might be for reals.
Appearance: Pale human until the vampire emerges, then dark/red eyes; black facial veins; and sharp, prominent fangs.
Strengths: Super strength and speed. Ability to compel humans (Klaus can also compel other vampires). Heightened senses.
Mythology: Vampires need an invitation to enter a residence.
Elena: You're late. Matt just called.
Jeremy: Well, maybe he'll fire me.
Elena: Aim high.
Caroline: [to Ty] Just because I tell you things doesn't mean you're allowed to know them!
Alaric: Your fake, compelled girlfriend wants you to be a chivalrous boyfriend?
Damon: Well, it's a complicated dynamic.
Damon: [to Elena] Stefan is gone and he's not coming back. Not in your lifetime.
The Vampire Diaries, Season 3 Episode 1 "The Birthday." Written by Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec. Directed by John Behring. From The CW.