28 February 2011

The Vampire Diaries S2 E16 "The House Guest"

Spoilers Ahead

The producers of The Vampire Diaries are evil. There's no other explanation. First the show goes on hiatus from 9 December until 27 January. Fine--everyone deserves a holiday. But after only five episodes it's another month-long hiatus. In the judicial system I think this would qualify as cruel and unusual punishment for the fans. I suppose we'll have to make do with Being Human until TVD is back, but Aiden is a poor substitute for Damon (or Stefan, or even Caroline).

Anyway, "The House Guest" begins with Elena at Stefan's getting ready for *gasp* school! So she is still enrolled. Of course, getting an education is no match for Stefan's smouldering charms and I'm not sure she ever actually makes it to any classes. Later she rushes past the den/living room, pausing to greet Damon. A second later he's got her up against the wall, hand around her throat. Figuring out that he thinks she's Katherine, Elena starts asking whether Katherine is still in the tomb (she isn't). By now Stefan has shown up and--oh crap--he realizes he just spent the morning with Katherine. Back to his room and another girl pushed against another wall. But it turns out this really is Elena and Damon was right in the first place. I wonder just how long Katherine could fool any of them. Future trouble?

It turns out Katherine has invited herself to crash with the Salvatores. Lucky them. She also isn't afraid to get threatening ('maybe Jenna is free for a bite') when the boys and Elena don't show enough enthusiasm at her insistence on helping kill Klaus. Talk about a nightmare house guest. But she does have a point about knowing Klaus better than any of them (e.g., what he looks like) so maybe it won't be so bad. Maybe.

The most satisfying moment of the episode happens in this next scene, immediately followed by the least satisfying moment. Damon finally takes a flamethrower to Elijah! I swear he's the only character with any real sense on this show. Too bad we discover within seconds that the body's not burning. Katherine shows up and informs him that Originals are indestructible. That's a handy trick for them. [My SO suggested they should just encase Elijah in concrete. Hey, it worked on Russell in True Blood...] Damon is clearly weary of Katherine, and when she claims she's still there because he hasn't made her leave he aims the flamethrower at her. Alas, her logic wins him over and he relents (Come to think of it, this is another highly unsatisfying moment in this scene. I still wish he would have singed her a little). Never one to leave well enough alone Katherine has to make a point of mentioning that she knew the dagger would kill Damon if he tried to use it on Elijah--but she really wanted out of the tomb so she didn't particularly care. That's it--twist the knife (or the dagger). And she wonders why no one welcomes her with open arms.

She can't leave Damon alone, either; she spends the episode clinging to him trying to get information, alleviating boredom, or just being hurtful. As he pores through the Gilbert journals trying to find out the location of the witch massacre Katherine vies for his attention like a little kid whose mommy is on the phone. At least she is somewhat useful, letting him know that witches who die violently release mystical energy on the site of their deaths.

Speaking of witches, Luka and his dad agree to meet with Stefan for a chat, although they're not exactly open to hearing what he has to say after he tells them Elijah is dead. They finally grudgingly admit that Elijah had been counting on them to channel enough power to kill Klaus, the power being located at the witch burial ground. They all agree to work together to find the massacre site/burial ground, kill Klaus, and get Luka's sister (Greta) back. At least, that's what they tell Stefan. Doc Martin has other plans: he's going to let Elijah kill Stefan, Damon, and anyone else who gets in his way.

In other news, Matt tells Caroline to make up her mind about the two of them, so she does just that...in song. Granted, Candice Accola has a (surprisingly) good voice but I could have done without this scene. If you didn't know the episode was written by a woman you definitely would after watching the musical number followed by the big romantic moment complete with giddy girlfriends cheering and hugging each other in triumph. One word: ick, followed by pronounced eye rolling. I also have a problem with the choice of song; I doubt anyone Caroline's age would be that familiar with the Bangles' "Eternal Flame." The writer maybe should have remembered that the characters are not the same age as she is.

Meanwhile, powerless Bonnie seems to be coping just fine. I was hoping for a little more angst at the loss of her witch abilities. I was also hoping for this storyline to last a little longer, but sadly we reach a resolution all too soon (more on that in a bit). At least she finally tells Elena about her and Jeremy and we're "treated" to another sappy girl moment.

But all is not well in romance land--tension between Jenna and Alaric mounts with plenty of cold shoulders, wistful looks, and heartfelt confessions. Alaric even asks Elena's advice on the situation, which is just weird considering he's not only her aunt's boyfriend but her history teacher (then again, Jenna hangs out with Elena and the girls like she's one of their classmates. Because kids these days love nothing more than socializing with their authority figures). In any case he reaches the conclusion that things with Jenna have to go on hold until he can come clean with her--after they deal with Klaus. Jenna still has her insane sense of entitlement re: full disclosure of Alaric's past. Unless he killed his wife, you really don't need to know--and he certainly isn't obligated to tell you. They haven't even been going out that long. I can't tell if this is TV drama or if this is really the general attitude people have these days.

While all this is going on Luka and his dad perform a spell to find Elijah. Basically Luka astrally projects to Elijah's location (the Salvatore mansion) where he can see, hear, and touch but can't be seen, heard, or touched himself (although both Damon and Katherine pick up on something in the room with them). After continuing to get on Damon's nerves Katherine goes to the basement to retrieve a blood bag. While she's gone Damon lets Stefan know that he found something important in the journals. Back downstairs Katherine senses something but can't quite figure out what. She's about to leave when she sees the dagger slowly being removed from Elijah by some invisible force. Why Luka didn't wait until she'd gone back upstairs is either poor judgment on his part or (more likely) poor writing (the kind that makes characters temporarily stupid in order to conveniently move the story forward). Whatever the reason for Luka's decision, Katherine jumps on the dagger and holds it in place.

Back in spellcasting central, Luka tells his dad what's going on and Jonas realizes it's Katherine. He tells Luka to find a stake and kill her. Again--why not retreat and try the spell again later? It's unlikely the vampires are going to guard Elijah's body 24/7. Anyway, Luka does manage to get a stake into Katherine's stomach but by then she's called for Damon, who came running. Damon helps her remove the stake but then she alerts him to the dagger being removed yet again (okay, really? The vampires are on to you--it's time to leave). Ever the practical and direct one, Damon hauls out the flamethrower (and that's really when Luka should have left). When Stefan comes running Damon tells him matter-of-factly that it's a "crazy psychic witch attack" and orders Stefan to head over to see what's happening with Luka and Jonas.

What's happening is that Luka burst into flames when Damon turned the flamethrower on the area around Elijah. It's pretty brutal as he burns and promptly dies. I guess we've got some mystical witch energy to work with now. Dad is understandably devastated and then enraged. He grabs the items he stole from Elena's room way back (I'd forgotten all about that) and starts working some magics. When Stefan shows up Jonas brings him to his knees with pain (looks like the same multiple aneurysm spell Bonnie used), at which point Stefan notices the Elena paraphernalia on the floor.

Back at his place Damon and Katherine showcase their mutual cruelty (although I have to say I think Katherine is more vicious by far). Damon brings her blood and then stakes her in the stomach again for not telling him the dagger would kill him. Katherine then informs him that she made a deal with John--if she stayed in town and helped get rid of Klaus/protect Elena, he'd spare Stefan. See--she could only choose to save one of the brothers and she chose Stefan. The pain on Damon's face as he realizes this...I can't praise Ian Somerhalder enough for his amazing, expressive acting. Mute the volume and just watch him sometime. After her admission Katherine keeps twisting the knife, blaming him for the hurt he feels because, you know, he wanted her to be honest. What choice did she have?

At the Grill Elena gets a call from Stefan warning her about Jonas, who happens to show up just then. Bonnie sees him first and, without knowing what's happened, asks if he's okay. Jonas is in the "blame everyone else" stage of grief, demanding to know where Elena is and deciding that no one leaves until he gets her. As he shatters glass and starts fires, Stefan and Elena fill Caroline in on the situation and ask her to create a diversion. When Caroline tries attacking Jonas he throws her into a world of hurt. Matt, seeing her in distress, tries to get to her at which point Jonas breaks a glass and shoves it into Matt's neck. WTF? Overreact much? But at least Caroline's going to finally come out of the coffin to him after having to give him her blood to save his life. Too bad he flips out when he hears what she has to say.

At Elena's Bonnie is there with Jeremy when Stefan and Elena arrive. Elena goes upstairs to wash her hands when suddenly Jonas appears behind her. It's no surprise at all that "Elena" is actually Katherine, although her attack is brilliant: quick and effective (kudos to everyone involved in this scene). The others run upstairs and Bonnie, upset, moves to close Jonas's eyes. It turns out he's not quite dead and it's actually pretty frightening when he grabs Bonnie. At this point Stefan reacts and breaks Jonas's neck. Hey--more mystical witch energy!

Afterward Elena is less than grateful to Katherine for her help, which Katherine is none too pleased about. And even though she admits she's not Elena's biggest fan either, she still maintains she's no threat to Elena. It's a disappointing night in general for Katherine--even her "sure thing" (Damon) denies her, pushing her aside as she tries to seduce him. I guess 150 years of abuse and rejection will dampen a guy's ardour.

The powerless Bonnie storyline comes to an abrupt end when she admits to Jeremy that rather than attacking her, Jonas returned her powers when he grabbed her. He also let her know that he wanted her to kill Klaus and free his daughter. And, oh yeah, he told her how she could do it. Not bad for the split second before Stefan stepped in. I really think the Jonas revenge storyline should have been stretched over two episodes, which would have given us more time to watch Bonnie deal with her loss of power. Unfortunately The Vampire Diaries has had a tendency from the beginning to rush storylines. They've gotten better but they still don't seem to quite have the hang of it.

The episode ends with late-night ice cream therapy for Jenna when the doorbell rings. She answers it and finds--dramatic pause--Isobel, Alaric's supposedly dead wife and Elena's biological mother! Oh, the irony...

This wasn't the best episode ever, and it was definitely a disappointing one to lead us into the hiatus. It did give us some good moments, however, as well as a few surprises and maybe some interesting future storylines. Still, let's leave the sap for the Lifetime network from now on and keep TVD's focus on the fangs.

Fang Files

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

Strengths: Super strength, speed. Heightened senses. Quick healing (physically at least; emotionally not so much).

Weaknesses: Fire. Stakes. Magic.

Mythology: An Original's body is apparently indestructible (and they're only "dead" as long as the special dagger remains embedded in their heart). Vampire blood heals humans.

Sound Bites

Matt: [to Caroline] So just make a decision or leave me alone.

Katherine: You can hate me. But we want the same thing. And you know I always get what I want.

Katherine: [to Damon, after having admitted she knew he would die if he tried to kill Elijah with the dagger] If it's any consolation I'm glad you're not dead.

The Vampire Diaries, Season 2 Episode 16 "The House Guest." Written by Caroline Dries. Directed by Michael Katleman. From The CW.

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