Spike has mommy issues; Angel has daddy issues; and Damon and Stefan--well, they have daddy issues too, but mostly their issues are with each other. And at this point, I don't know who to feel sorrier for.
"Blood Brothers" starts out with Stefan still locked in the basement room (see last episode) and looking like he's going through some serious detox (or he could just be expressing his inner turmoil--this is Stefan, after all). He flashes back to 1864 (not positive on the year--speak up if I'm wrong) and the vampires being rounded up and taken to the church for their imminent immolation. As he and Damon try to free Katherine (slowest rescue ever), the human hunters return and shoot, first Damon, then Stefan. Damon dies instantly, but it takes Stefan a few minutes. As he lies there dying, he and Katherine stare at each other, and Stefan suddenly flashes between her face and Elayna's. As Katherine tells him she loves him, Elayna says the same thing back in the present so it's not clear whether Katherine ever did really say it.
We switch briefly to the present, where Damon continues (from the previous episode) to insist he couldn't care less about Stefan--he just doesn't want him running around "chewing on people" while the Town Council is on the hunt for vampires.
Back to the past, Stefan wakes up with a blood-stained shirt and a ring on his finger. The ring, in fact (no, not the one true ring dumped into molten lava by a couple of hobbits--the one he still wears in order to tolerate the sun), which Emily soon informs him Katherine had her make for him and Damon weeks ago. She lets Stefan know that Damon is fine too, and that they're both transitioning; not quite vampires yet, they either need to consume human blood or permanently die. Stefan's confused, claiming he couldn't have vampire blood in his system, but Emily informs him that Katherine had been compelling him to drink her blood. Damon, on the other hand, didn't need any compelling.
At this point I had to ask why, since Katherine went to so much trouble to ensure the brothers would become vampires (even giving them magically charged rings like her own), did she simply abandon them? Why not catch up with them again, or at least contact them in the many years since she turned them and left Mystic Falls? Hopefully the show will eventually clarify this.
I also want to point out that the bloodstain on Stefan's shirt in this scene looks like a particularly beautiful flower set against the white backdrop. I don't know if it was intentional, but if so--nice touch.
Back to the show, Damon tells Stefan he woke up earlier and watched the church burn down with Katherine in it. He believes Katherine is dead so he plans on just letting himself die as well. Now that's love (that, or pathological stupidity--six of one...). Stefan still isn't sure what he's going to do. Really, you'd think one or both of them would want revenge against the people who killed Katherine and, oh yeah, shot them both. Hey, if someone killed me, I'd want to get my vengeance on.
Getting tired of dealing with an "extra broody" Stefan (and once again claiming he doesn't care about him), Damon decides to leave Elayna on her own while he heads out with Alaric to check on a house that may be Isobel's. At the house Damon finds he can enter without an invitation ("no permanent resident") but they find bags of blood in the fridge. Before Damon can tell him, Alaric is attacked. Luckily he has a handy pair of "brass" knuckles with mini stakes on them (they're very creative with the weaponry on this show). Before the fight goes too far, though, Damon steps in and realizes the vampire is one of the ones from the tomb. Henry says he met John Gilbert shortly after he escaped the tomb, and that John has been teaching him about the modern world (match.com!) in exchange for watching (spying on) the other vampires and making sure they stay out of trouble. Henry claims he doesn't know Isobel, and then suddenly John calls. Pretending to be John's friend, Damon asks to answer the phone and then hesitates, and hesitates, and hesitates some more. Henry realizes he'd been had, but before he can do much about it he ends up on the receiving end of a stake (courtesy of Alaric). Too bad--I kind of liked him. Over blood and beer, Alaric realizes he's wasted too much time looking for Isobel. He decides it's over and it's time to move on (come on--guess what happens next...)
Meanwhile Elayna's been trying to get through to Stefan, cajoling him to drink some blood. He just wants to be left alone to wallow in the misery of everything bad he's ever done. He claims he never should have taken the step to become a vampire. When she enters the room and won't leave even after he goes all scary vamp on her, Stefan finally breaks down and tells her how he was turned. In another flashback we see Stefan secretly listening to his father discussing the official story (versus the real one) about the events at the church with Johnathon Gilbert, who's recording it all. They decide to make the vampires human Union sympathizers, and Giuseppe insists that his sons be remembered as innocent victims. When Johnathon leaves, Stefan enters the house (oops--how did he get invited? Or does a transitioning human not need an invite?) and asks why even in their deaths Giuseppe only feels shame.
I think it's apt to say that Giuseppe is shocked and appalled at seeing Stefan. Stefan tells him he only came to say goodbye, that he's going to let himself die, but that's not good enough for dad. Giuseppe tells Stefan that not only did he approve of his sons being shot, but he himself pulled the trigger. He says both of them were dead to him the moment they sided with the vampires. Giuseppe is clearly not a nice man. (I think my own parents' reaction to me being turned would be more along the lines of them asking if I can't just stop being a vampire, and then fretting that I couldn't eat real food anymore. What can I say--they're Greek.) Anyway, despite Stefan saying he was planning on letting himself die, Giuseppe decides he can't wait that long. Grabbing a stake, he tries to finish Stefan off. Stefan, despite being suicidal, decides to fight back and ends up accidentally throwing Giuseppe hard against the wall, where he ends up staking himself. Stefan initially tries to help him, but the blood is too hard to resist. Stefan drinks and completes the transition.
Back in the present, Stefan is filled with self-loathing but Elayna thinks he needs to talk, to tell her these things and work out his issues (how twenty-first century). She gives Stefan back his ring and leaves the door unlocked, urging him to join her upstairs for more sharing. A little while later Damon returns and asks how Stefan's doing (not that he cares). For some reason, Elayna thinks this is a good time to tell Damon that he's at least partially responsible for Stefan's misery because of all those years he spent blaming Stefan for what happened to Katherine. Damon is not impressed (Ian Somerhalder also does righteous anger very well; he's one of my new favourite actors). He demands whether Elayna got the rest of the story, at which point she pleads with him to tell her.
Another flashback and we see new vampire Stefan return to still-transitioning Damon with a compelled girl to snack on. Stefan goes on about how fantastic it is to be a vampire, how strong he is, how unbelievably fast he can move, and--best of all--he can turn off all the guilt and pain inside him like flicking a switch. Damon's still not interested, Katherine still being dead and all (at least as far as he knew). But Stefan won't let him die. He bites the girl and ultimately Damon can't fight the urge for blood. After a moment of drinking, the monster comes out and we see the Damon we know from the early episodes of the show. When he comes back to the present, Damon claims that from the moment Stefan first drank human blood he was never the same person (he could have been saying that about himself, as well). And then he reminds Elayna that he doesn't care if Stefan dies (anyone else catching a whiff of 'protesting too much'?)
Elayna then goes back downstairs to fetch Stefan and discovers he's gone. And he left his ring behind! Oh noes! It turns out Stefan's hanging out by the Falls (where he convinced Damon to turn), brooding about the past and presumably waiting for the sun to rise. The next flashback takes us to the moments after Damon became a vampire. He tells Stefan that he got what he wanted and now they can explore the world together, for eternity. But, dear brother, he's going to make sure it's an eternity of misery for Stefan. After that, Stefan talks to Emily, who isn't happy that they decided to become vampires (which is why she never told Damon that Katherine was actually still alive). She tells Stefan that what seems like a gift now will soon feel like a curse, because even in death she can feel that his heart is pure. So, basically, sucks to be him.
Elayna manages to find Stefan, where she proceeds to give him a pep talk about what a good person he is, despite whatever happened in the past, etc., etc.,. He begs her not to say those things. He says that every person who's died or been hurt since the night he and Damon became vampires is because of him. He claims that being a vampire hurts him, that it hurts to know he could snap at anytime and the next time it happens he might hurt her. All things considered, Elayna is pretty understanding about everything (and possibly has a bit of a death wish). She tells him she knows he won't hurt her, then she gives him his ring, kisses him, and tells him it's his choice what to do next. Ooh--dramatic. For a second, as she's walking away, it looks like Stefan might still let himself fry, but then he calls her name, puts on the ring, and kisses her. Countless teenage girls just sighed contentedly.
Back at home, Damon is indifferent about Stefan's renewed interest in life (he said earlier that Stefan's "typical martyr stuff" would pass, as it always does). They chat a bit and then Damon tells Stefan that he hated him--and still does. Not because Stefan forced him to turn, but because Katherine turned Stefan too: it was just supposed to be Damon. On the one hand, Damon's grudge seems on the extreme side of petty. On the other hand, I can understand it. The love of his life betrayed him. So why doesn't he hate her instead of his brother? Or maybe he does (he could have a stake hidden away somewhere with Katherine's name on it, for all we know).
Anyway, as if that all wasn't enough, there still more going on in Mystic Falls this week.
Things are progressing well between Anna and Jeremy. She likes him enough to enroll in high school just to be near him. The feeling seems to be mutual, and in between talk of Johnathon Gilbert's journals and Uncle John's vamp hatred, we get to see Anna and Jeremy get smoochy in various stages of undress.
Speaking of John, he confronts Elayna about her relationship with a vampire. After a moment or two of denial, she just can't be bothered to hide her scorn anymore. And since he struck out with one woman, he decides to keep the ball rolling by setting up a meeting with Pearl. She's not happy to be there but she wants to know what he wants. He asks her about Johnathon Gilbert's invention and assures her he's going to convince her to give it to him. How is he going to do that, you ask? By promising to use his influence with the Council to make sure she gets the quiet life in Mystic Falls that she wants. Oh yeah, and also telling her that Johnathon Gilbert loved her until the end of his life, and then mocking her when she believes it. Uh, good plan there--way to get her onside. Then again, Pearl still ends up helping him (always get the villain monologuing) Disgusted with him, she gets up to leave and, not sure why, tells John she gave the artifact to Damon and that he should talk to him about it. Maybe she thinks John will be more scared of Damon than her, never mind that she's far older and stronger. Someone please tell me why I keep analyzing these shows?
When Anna gets home again she discovers Pearl hurriedly packing. She insists it's not safe there anymore, but Anna doesn't want to go. Pearl--for the first time treating Anna as the adult she actually is--tells her it's her choice whether to leave Mystic Falls or not (besides brotherly hate, making choices is the other big theme this episode). While Anna disappoints by going to Jeremy's and saying goodbye (even though he's asleep and doesn't hear it), Pearl answers a knock at the door and is greeted with a stake through the chest. When Anna returns home she finds both Pearl and Harper dead. She's distraught, shaking Pearl and begging her to wake up (regressing, as she always does, to a child-like disposition when it comes to mama). Meanwhile, John is tossing his weapons into the trunk of his car and calling the Sheriff to tell her he's got an update on the local vampires. Please tell me Anna shreds his ass next week.
The last shot is of Alaric, having a drink alone at the bar. Remember how he said he was done with Isobel? Yeah, not quite. With the uncanny timing inherent in TV land, Isobel shows up! Cue dramatic music.
Okay, so overall not a bad episode. It's clearing up mysteries and setting up more for the future. You also can't go wrong with deep psychological trauma. And I have it on good authority that Damon will be spending quality time shirtless in the next episode. As Damon says, all is right with the world.
Appearance: Human until the vampire emerges, then dark, red-rimmed eyes; dark facial veins, and subtle fangs (not too long or sharp--very natural looking). A dead vampire leaves an extra-veiny corpse behind.
Strengths: Super speed, strength, hearing. Can see in the dark. Ability to compel (hypnotize) humans.
Weaknesses: Vervain, sunlight, stakes.
Mythology: If a human dies with vampire blood in their system, they will return to life but they'll be in the process of transitioning. The revenant needs to make the choice whether to consume human blood and become a vampire, or allow themselves to die permanently. A vampire needs an invitation by the owner or a "person of entitlement" in order to enter a private residence (in other words, there are loopholes).
Stefan: I'm not hungry.
Damon: Yes you are. You are eternally hungry.
Damon: I'm not going with you--you tried to kill me.
Alaric: You did kill me!
John: What do you think your mother would say if she knew you were dating a vampire?
Elayna: Which mother?
Elayna: How was the errand?
Damon: Futile. Although I think I witnessed a history teacher having an existential crisis.
The Vampire Diaries, Season 1 Episode 20 "Blood Brothers." Written by Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec. Directed by Liz Friedlander. From The CW.