04 February 2011

The Vampire Diaries S2 E13 "Daddy Issues"

Spoilers Ahead

Damon fans, prepare to be happy. Not only does he have some great moments in "Daddy Issues" (Ian Somerhalder seems to be particularly on top of his game this episode) but he even looks especially good--and he gets two bathing scenes. The television gods have smiled upon us this week.

The episode starts with Ty approaching Caroline after his "illuminating" conversation with Jules last episode. When he tells Caroline they need to talk, she thinks he means about the kiss they shared. After they agree that they can't go there (Caroline still has feelings for Matt), Ty bluntly asks her what happened to Mason. He also mentions that he knows Stefan and Damon are vampires. Caroline is shaken and she apologizes for hiding things from him. His anger flares (kudos to Michael Trevino--he does rage well) but he keeps control and walks away.

But you'll soon forget all about Caroline and Ty as we cut to Damon in the shower. When I saw this scene I tried to be mature about it, commenting about the shower enclosure itself (nice...um...tiles). While it really is a great bathroom I don't think I was fooling anyone. This is a pure eye-candy scene--enjoy it while it lasts. Too soon his attention is grabbed by the TV in the next room. He gets out of the shower to watch a news report about the group of missing campers (courtesy of Jules), three dead people (Rose), and a missing girl (Damon). The town is planning on holding a memorial service later that day.

From there we go to Elena (also looking particularly good) as she exhibits her version of the episode's title. She and John are not getting along, which isn't exactly anything new. But it doesn't help that he refuses to tell her why he's there or what exactly he's going to do to help. And poor Jenna--first she suffers the shock of seeing John in the house when she never expected to see him again; then, just as she's about to exert her authority as Elena's legal guardian to kick him out of the house, he pours the cold water of biological fatherhood all over her (the first time she's hearing about it). Mind you, in reality I still think Jenna would actually have final say but it's a trifling point.

Elena isn't the only one who distrusts John; Damon's right there with her and he's beyond irritated at Stefan's decision to bring John back. Stefan, on the other hand, thinks they're too desperate to be picky. Since they can't trust or kill Elijah, and John can apparently help them with the latter, it seems John is the lesser of evils. Kind of like how I feel during elections. Nevertheless, John hasn't told Stefan how he can help any more than he's told Elena. Can you really trust an ally who keeps you in the dark? Damon decides to go have a chat with John.

After Damon leaves, Stefan suddenly has a whole new set of things to worry about when Caroline tells him what's going on with Ty. She begs Stefan to talk to Ty and convince him they're not his enemies. They both agree not to tell Damon about it as his response would be to simply kill Ty--something he wants to do anyway given Ty's werewolf status. Caroline is anxious not to lose her friend, though, and she thinks Stefan will say the right things to reassure Ty.

Meanwhile Jules is busy telling Ty that all vampires are their enemies. She's also trying to convince him to leave town with her. Something about pack loyalty and it being her duty and honour to help him. Whenever Jules is onscreen I just spend the time hoping one of the vampires will come along and kill her. She's one of those characters that seem to have a natural gift for eliciting revulsion. Meanwhile Ty is just confused about who he can trust.

Maybe it would help with Ty's trust issues if vampires weren't so sneaky and menacing. Stefan shows up without warning in Ty's house and proceeds to threaten him into listening to what Stefan has to say (but in a nice way--more or less). Yeah, that'll convince him you're not the bad guys.

Speaking of bad guys, it turns out Jules's werewolf boyfriend Brady (fellow Torontonian Stephen Amell, Heartland) has been hiding out in a trailer in the woods. And he makes Jules seem positively vamp-friendly. While she claims she wants the boy (Ty) more than vengeance for Mason's death, Brady decides he wants both.

Back in town John's not exactly getting a warm welcome. After finding out from the mayor's wife that Damon is now head of the (anti-vampire) Council, he gets told off by Jeremy for his anti-vampire sentiment. Then he pathetically has to ask Jenna and Alaric if he can sit with them at The Grill (they're less than enthusiastic). And finally he has to deal with Damon, who informs him that if he doesn't start talking about Klaus he will kill John in his sleep. At least John manages to stand up for himself, telling Damon he won't talk until he knows he can trust him.

John's not the only reject around. Luka's father gets the (very) cold shoulder from Bonnie, who informs him she wants nothing to do with either of them since he and his son are working for Elijah and are clearly not to be trusted (it's all about trust this episode). He attempts to defend himself and Elijah but gets shut down by Jeremy, of all people, who checks that Bonnie's okay and then walks away with his arm around her. Some days it just doesn't pay to even try.

Back to Stefan, who is still trying to convince Ty that the whole werewolf-vampire enemy thing is just an antiquated idea. He believes they can all get along fine and that Mystic Falls is their home. Ty nods as if he agrees, but when his cell suddenly rings he lunges for it, yelling "help" as he answers. Of course it's Jules on the other end, who proceeds to inform Brady that they have a problem.

The trouble begins as Caroline is getting into her car. Jules approaches from behind and starts talking to her sweetly. Caroline's not stupid but she is a little over-confident. As Jules starts getting nasty, Caroline vamps out and turns on her. Unfortunately Jules is ready and sprays Caroline in the face with vervain. Caroline turns away, her face burning, until she heals. When she turns back--really pissed now--Brady is waiting. He shoots Caroline point blank. She drops. When Caroline wakes up she's in a cage and she's in a hell of a lot of pain. She manages to get the wooden bullet out of her forehead but Brady's waiting. He shoots her again. Why? Why not?

Meanwhile Stefan is still trying to get through to Ty when he gets a call from "Caroline." It's Jules with orders to bring Ty to the woods within twenty minutes or Caroline is dead. In the background Brady continues to torture Caroline.

Damon and Elena are at The Grill; she's playing pool and he's drinking at the bar when Jenna brings over her friend Andie who wants to meet him (what--only one friend?) He turns down her offer to buy him a drink and walks away. As he passes her, Elena comments on his indifference. He says he's staying away from women at the moment, which is in the best interest of women everywhere. Just then she gets a call from Stefan telling her about the situation with Ty and Caroline. Elena begs Damon not to hurt Ty (when did everyone get so protective of Ty?) but Damon's not interested in playing nice anymore. She tries her usual tactic of guilting Damon into doing what she wants and I'm happy to see him call her on it. He also orders her to stay behind while he goes and takes care of things. No wonder Damon is stressed--he's the one who always has to clean up everyone else's messes, whether he wants to or not.

Brady continues to torture Caroline, both for fun and to try to get information about the vampires of Mystic Falls. Even screaming and writhing in pain Caroline doesn't give in. This character has done a complete 180--from whiny and useless to, frankly, awesome. And I have the feeling she's going to get even better. But back to the episode: as Jules waits outside the trailer she suddenly senses something nearby. Stefan walks out of the shadows with Ty in tow. He wants to be civilized about the situation, telling Jules it doesn't have to get any messier and that she should leave town. A moment later Damon arrives. As the latecomer he graciously allows Stefan to try it his way before he switches to his own methods, which--according to him--are a little bloodier.

I guess overconfidence is a general vampire characteristic because as Damon points out that Jules is outnumbered and overpowered she whistles and several weres come out of the woods, one of them carrying what looks like an industrial strength flamethrower. I like how the weres are disgusted with how vampires have "overrun" Mystic Falls (never mind that all three of them are natives--Katherine doesn't count as she's trapped in the tomb and it's not clear where Elijah is) but they have no problem showing up and causing all sorts of mayhem and violence. Reminds me of the idiot out-of-town "protesters" who showed up for the G20 summit last summer and smashed up local businesses.

Trying to remain confident about their chances, Damon tells Ty to go on back to Jules. Then the fight begins. It is quite an impressive melee, with--among other things--Damon ripping one were's heart out in an instant and Stefan catching a stake mid-air and whipping it back into the thrower's neck. The guys are kicking were ass but the wolves' greater numbers start overwhelming them. Crap.

As this is going on, Ty creeps inside the trailer and finds Caroline trapped and wounded. She begs him to unlatch the cage and at first it looks like he's not going to. But then he relents and releases her. As they head back outside Damon and Stefan are down and Jules is quick to put a gun to Caroline's head. Ty does nothing to help any of them--he doesn't even say anything. As Brady is about to stake Damon, the weres (all except Ty) start screaming and clutching their heads. Before long they're unconscious. It turns out Luka's dad has arrived to work some mojo and uphold Elijah's word to Elena. He tells the vampires to get out of there and then he tells Ty to inform the other weres that it's time for them to leave. Ty looks even more confused than usual. Meanwhile, I'm kind of wishing the witch had exploded all the weres' heads instead of just knocking them out for a while.

Stefan makes sure Caroline gets home okay and offers to stay with her if she wants. She insists she's okay, that she can handle herself now and just wants to take a shower. He acquiesces and leaves.

Meanwhile, John has showed up at the Salvatore mansion to talk to Damon. He claims that he believes Damon and Stefan will do anything to protect Elena, which puts them on the same side. He's brought along something that can kill Original vampires: a dagger and a bottle of ashes from a particular ancient white oak tree. To kill an Original the dagger needs to be dipped in the ashes before being plunged into their hearts. Rather ritualistic, I'd say. According to John, Isobel is the brains behind the operation and he claims that if she accomplishes what she's trying to do, Klaus will never step foot in Mystic Falls. This seems like a whole lot of effort. You'd think the witches could cast a protection spell on Elena or even over the entire town. But I guess since everyone seems to have ulterior motives of their own a simple spell would be counter-productive.

Back to Caroline appearing (understandably) traumatized as she's painfully digging splinters of wood out of her flesh. Suddenly she gets a call from Matt, whom she was supposed to meet. Shaken Caroline tells him she's helping Bonnie with something. Matt looks over at Bonnie and Jeremy looking pretty cozy at a table in The Grill. He goes along with Caroline's story but things aren't looking so good for those two right now. As soon as she hangs up Ty comes knocking. He actually has the audacity to ask if she's okay, claiming he had no idea they would go after her (it's so embarrassing when your wolf buddies attack and torture the one person who actually cares about you). He also whines that he doesn't know who to trust. Caroline is beyond angry at him. She informs him that she only lied to protect her friends and to protect him (she can't believe he doesn't understand that). Then she tells him it's too late for apologies as they're no longer friends. What happened that night will never happen to her again and she makes sure to tell him to let his pack buddies know.

Over at Elena's there's a fun echo of the scene from "Founder's Day" where John closed the fridge door and "Elena" (actually Katherine) was standing there. In this episode it's Elena who closes the fridge door and finds John standing there. John gives a sappy speech, claiming he knows he's not her real parent but he does care about her and wants to protect her and the family. He gives Elena a peace offering in the form of a charm bracelet that used to belong to her mother, Miranda. (I have the sudden notion that there might be some kind of actual magical charm attached to that bracelet.)

As John leaves, Stefan is there and he and Elena embrace. She tells him she doesn't believe John. When she asks how Caroline is doing Stefan says he needs Elena's help. They head back to Caroline's, along with Bonnie. The BFFs are ready and willing to offer some slumber party therapy, which--surprise--is exactly what Caroline needs. As the girls all hug, Elena looks over at Stefan and mouths "I love you" and he mouths it back. My romantic side thinks it's sweet, while my cynical side is gagging.

Back in the woods the weres are awake and dejected. Ty arrives and asks if it's always like this but Jules claims it's not, and Brady says it's only because Ty is in "vamp country." I guess Ty decided he can trust them because he tells them about the moonstone. They perk right up when they hear about it. Too bad Ty has no idea where it is (his exact words: "I couldn't tell you where it is," which may or may not be significant).

And finally we get back to Damon, this time sharing a bubble bath with Jenna's eager pal. Suddenly he says he has a problem he needs help with because it's really messing with his mind. He's in love with a woman he can never have. You have to wonder what it is about Elena that makes her so damn irresistible to vampires (and how do I get it?) Anyway, not being in control is driving Damon crazy. Yup, love can do that to you. Unfortunately he takes the confession a little too far when he admits he's a bad man who kills people. He compels her not to be afraid and she asks why he kills people. He says he kills because he likes it, because it's his nature. But Elena wants him to be a better man so to make her happy he can't be who he is (a killer). Thus his problem.

Andie suggests that maybe he is a better man now, that love changes you. The anguish on Damon's face and in his voice is just so perfectly executed (someone please give Ian Somerhalder a raise). He tells her to stop talking and to just be his distraction, which she's only too happy to do as they start kissing. Then there's a beautiful shot of Damon's fangs extending and a moment later he bites into her neck. The camera cuts between her face and the blood running down her back as Damon drinks. The whole thing is just so well done from the acting to the cinematography. It's also dead (no pun intended) sexy. And people don't get the appeal of vampires.

The episode ends with John paying a visit to Katherine. I'm sure no one had any doubts that Elena was right when she said John's motives weren't trustworthy. Now he proves her right. Katherine wants to know why Isobel didn't come since it was her she told Stefan to contact. John replies that Isobel got the message and was busy so she sent him instead. It seems John's real purpose for coming back to Mystic Falls is to get Katherine out of the tomb. Dumbass. I hope she finishes him off this time.

So this was quite the enjoyable episode: good story progression, vamp action, character development, and plenty of Damon awesomeness. I think we can now safely say that The Vampire Diaries stands up to (and even surpasses) all the other vampire shows currently out there, not to mention the fang-free shows. I'd even go so far as to say it's almost up there with Buffy and Angel, which is high praise indeed since they are the gold standard of all things vampire. Best turnaround ever; they've done themselves proud.

Fang Files

Appearance: Pale humans until the vampire emerges, then dark/red eyes, dark facial veins, and long, curved fangs.

Strengths: Super strength, speed, creativity. Heightened senses. Quick healing. Ability to compel humans (Originals can also compel other vampires).

Weaknesses: Vervain, wooden bullets, fire, stakes. Blood lust.

Mythology: Original vampires can only be killed by a dagger dipped in the ash of a specific ancient white oak tree. Stefan and Damon are now regularly consuming vervain in order to build up an immunity to it, as well as to make it impossible for an Original to compel them.

Sound Bites

Damon: [to Stefan] You brought back John Gilbert? That was your big 'save Elena' move?

Damon: [to Stefan] Better watch your back because I may just go out and get a hero hairdo of my own and steal your thunder.

Elena: Please don't do anything stupid.
Damon: Yeah, but stupid is more fun.

The Vampire Diaries, Season 2 Episode 13 "Daddy Issues." Written by Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec. Directed by Joshua Butler. From The CW.

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