I'd might as well get it out of the way: Katherine and Elena are not the same person. Which really sucks because not only was it one of my better wild theories but it would have made more sense. I can see how two people could look very similar or bear a striking resemblance to each other, but no one is completely identical to anyone else. Even "identical" twins have differences. But Elena and Katherine look like mirror images, sound alike, move alike, and even dress the same way (except that Katherine wears black leather, so we know she's got to be evil). All I can say is there had better be a good explanation in some future episode. A really good explanation. But other than this, I enjoyed the Season 2 premiere. Death, mayhem, and Damon without a shirt--could we ask for more?
"The Return" starts with something of a recap of the end of last season's finale, although this time we get to see not only what's happening in the kitchen with Katherine and John, but also what's going on with Jeremy upstairs and Elena as she returns home. Hearing the noise in the kitchen, Elena goes to investigate while Katherine flits around in the background until she finally escapes out the door. Why didn't she kill Elena? That's not for us to know (not yet, anyway).
Speaking of characters not being killed, disappointingly all three of our potential goners from last season (John, Jeremy, and Caroline) survive. Elena gets John to the hospital, Jeremy didn't take enough pills to kill himself, and Damon gives Caroline blood to help her heal. Of course, that doesn't prevent two of the three from being killed anyway by the end of the episode. More on that later.
Out of curiosity, can anyone stand Bonnie anymore? I know I sure can't. Clearly she's supposed to be the pillar of morality on the show but she's become extremely unlikable. Then again, most morally righteous people are. But it's nice to see she'll use a vamp when it suits her (Damon to help Caroline, for example) while going on about how much she hates them and wants them dead. Although I'm no fan of Katherine, it was pretty satisfying to watch her laugh off Bonnie's trump anti-vampire spell.
But that also comes later. In the meantime, at the hospital Damon wants to talk to Elena about the kiss he believes they shared. Of course Elena has no idea what he's talking about. When he then overhears Elena arguing with Jenna over a conversation she's sure they never had, Damon realizes that Katherine's back in town. Meanwhile back at Elena's house, where Stefan is keeping an eye on Jeremy, Katherine shows up impersonating Elena. It doesn't take Stefan long to clue in, either, and a pretty decent fight ensues.
After getting the upper hand, Katherine takes off just in time for Elena and Damon to show up. The brothers are not only agitated that Katherine is back but Stefan is riled knowing that Damon kissed her thinking she was Elena (forget love triangles, I think we're getting into quadrangle or polygon territory now). Damon's up for a fight but Elena puts a (temporary) stop to it, seeing as how they've got bigger things to worry about. While Elena and Stefan decide to go talk to John to see if he knows what Katherine is up to, Damon decides to ignore "the bitch." He figures that will draw her out at which point they can stake or behead her, "something poetic." Things are about to get rough for Damon.
I have to say, I do like Stefan a lot more when he puts on his big boy fangs. I can almost see how Elena would prefer him over Damon. In this case, when John refuses to tell them anything about Katherine (but says plenty about how sickened he is at seeing his daughter with Stefan), the normally laid-back Stefan forces his own blood down John's throat and tells him if he's not out of town within 24 hours, Stefan will turn him into a vampire and watch him hate himself even more than he already does. Nice. (John does leave town, by the way, but not before having a chat with Jeremy in which he emphasizes that there's no such thing as a good vampire and tells his nephew that he'll have to take responsibility sooner or later for the Gilbert anti-vamp legacy.)
Later, as Katherine puts Bonnie in her place before threatening to put her in the ground, Stefan walks in and tells her to leave Bonnie alone. Katherine basically shrugs, says okay, and walks away. As the episode progresses, you start noticing that Katherine is one complex vampire. On the surface she doesn't take anything seriously, but the level of manipulation she employs has to take both skill and forethought. I can't tell if she's evil or just enjoys chaos. And she can hold her own in a fight too. Maybe I am a fan of Katherine, after all.
While Katherine convinces Stefan to take a walk with her, Elena checks in on Damon. She's concerned that Katherine's sudden reappearance is going to send him over the edge. He's another complex one. Flippant on the face of things, fiercely loyal to the one he loves, but ultimately sad and lonely underneath it all. Unfortunately Damon's depression has a body count. So what does Elena do? She tells him she's not surprised that he would try to kiss her, but she is surprised that he thought she would kiss him back. Ouch. I guess you can't accuse Elena of leading Damon on, but it's impossible not to feel for him when she tells him that. There's nothing like unrequited love to rip you to shreds from the inside out. And it gets worse!
But first, Katherine and Stefan have a little chat. He tells her that he never loved her, but Katherine isn't exactly buying it. So Stefan tells her that if she doesn't leave he will hunt her down and rip her heart out. He's really getting serious this season (I approve). Katherine informs Stefan that she's back for him. He responds that he hates her. She runs him through with what looked like a branch (I didn't see it well enough to be sure) and tells him that hate is the beginning of a love story, not the end. Either she's on to something or she's in deep, deep denial. In any case she takes off again.
When Elayna and Damon find Stefan (already healing from being turned into a live shishkabob), Damon is itching for a fight over that kiss. But Stefan has had a change of heart and refuses to let Katherine play them against each other again. Damon made me laugh in this scene, even though it's pretty clear his facetiousness is just a coping mechanism (apologies for sounding like a pop psychologist this review--I think I'm letting my tendency to over-analyze get away from me...)
At home again Damon finds Katherine, who claims she's come to say goodbye. They trade quips until Katherine taunts Damon to either kiss her or kill her. Of course he makes the mistake of choosing option 1. As they kiss the clothes start coming off. Unexpectedly, Damon pulls away. Looking incredibly vulnerable, he tells her he needs to know the truth about a question he has, and if she gives the right answer he'll forgive her for everything, and they can have a fresh start together. Katherine replies that she already knows the question and that the truth is she never loved him--it was always Stefan. She walks away while Damon practically chokes on his unhappiness. (By the way, this entire episode is a testament to Ian Somerhalder's acting skills. Somebody get him into movies, please.)
Later, at her own place, Elena walks into her room and is startled to find Damon sitting on her bed looking absolutely miserable. I had to laugh when she asks if he's been drinking (is he ever not drinking?) But drunk or not, he insists that there's something between them, no matter what she says. He tries kissing her and she insistently pushes him away. She doesn't even hesitate. And then she delivers the real kicker: she tells him she loves Stefan and it's always going to be Stefan (what is wrong with these women?) Honesty might not have been the best policy in this case, though. When Jeremy comes in to see if everything's okay, Damon deliberately and maliciously breaks his neck. I don't know why I'm surprised every time someone is killed on this show, but I have to give the writers props for making these scenes unpredictable. Damon watches for a moment as Elena breaks down at the sight of her dead brother, and I can't tell if he's completely empty or if there's just a twinge of regret in his eyes (I might be imagining it because I want him to regret what he's done). But after he leaves Elena notices that Jeremy is wearing John's immortality ring. Handy that.
Alone again Damon contemplates his altered circumstances, while Stefan (now at Elena's) tries to rationalize what his brother did. He's sure Damon must have seen Jeremy's ring, but Elena is just as sure he didn't. She claims he wants to be hated and that it's easier for him to be hated. Just before Jeremy comes back from the dead Elena tells Stefan that Damon succeeded--she does hate him. She really does. Thinking about what Katherine said about the place of hatred in a love story, this could get very interesting.
Speaking of Katherine, she's not done yet. She pays Caroline a visit in her hospital room, telling her after waking her up that she wants her to deliver a message to the Salvatore brothers. Anyone want to hazard a guess where this is going? Still groggy, Caroline doesn't catch on quite as quickly. Katherine's message to the boys? "Game on." Then she smothers Caroline with a pillow. Another satisfying, if short-lived, moment for me. Sadly, Caroline is of course chock full of Damon's blood (something Katherine was aware of), so we'll be seeing the oh-so-annoying one again. Who knows--maybe vampirism will make her less irritating.
In the only bit of non-Katherine related happenings, Ty is trying to deal with the death of his father. He also gets to start bonding with his cool uncle Mason, who begins teaching Ty about the Lockwood family "curse," and how to "manage" it. Weirdly, it also seems that Ty's mom has no idea her husband or son are anything but human. Oblivious doesn't even begin to cover it.
Overall I think this was a good start to the second season. Putting more of an emphasis on Damon was definitely the right way to go, as is giving Stefan a little more bite. The situation with Katherine promises to be interesting, as long as they don't rush through the storyline (it had better not be resolved before the very end of the season, if then). And hopefully we'll finally get to see some werewolf action as well. I think The Vampire Diaries is finally finding its footing. Let's just hope it doesn't slip.
Appearance: Human until the vampire emerges, and then dark eyes and dark facial veins. Fangs aren't too sharp and can be extended at will to varying lengths (Stefan's are particularly prominent as he first goes after Katherine).
Strengths: Super strength and speed. Ability to move silently. Fast healing.
Weaknesses: Magic (sometimes).
Mythology: In order to become a vampire a human must die with vampire blood in their system (the blood passes through their system in about a day). Vampire blood is healing.
Elena: [seeing Stefan out of sorts] What happened?
Damon: Katherine happened.
Elena: Hey, how are you doing?
Damon: Great, Elena. Walking on sunshine. Thanks for asking.
Elena: You scared me!
Damon: Just doing my part for the neighbourhood watch.
The Vampire Diaries, Season 2 Premiere "The Return." Written by Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec. Directed by J. Miller Tobin. From The CW.