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The Vampire Diaries Recap: Stefan vs. Damon, Round 22 — Revenge Is Patient

So after last night’s episode, I couldn’t immediately write this recap. For one, I needed to take a cold shower (safe sex — get it?). But I also knew something had changed, I just couldn’t put my finger on it. Luckily the water pressure in my building is really good and it finally came to me: Humans are now the big bad.

Just follow me here. TVD is a show about teenager vampires. Sure, they look 35, but they have limited vocabularies and they are incredibly moody, so a mean age of 18 seems right. They are always being antagonized. Usually by other supernatural creatures who are more powerful than they are. Sometimes by each other. One of the things I have always loved about this show is that they are constantly challenging us to question who our heroes are. I mean, we know them, we love them, but what makes them any less evil than the guys they come up against?

I hadn’t really been able to answer that question until last night. There is something about this Augustine story line that just feels … adult. This isn’t about love or moonstones or curses. This is about human beings and science. Turns out villains with beating hearts are the most terrifying of all. The stakes feel lower with the supernatural. They just do. When a vampire kills someone, or dies, it’s not really a big deal. When it’s a human being, it’s worthy of a closing montage.

This is a very long-winded way of saying that I think this Augustine story line is very good, and very brave, and very risky. Good, brave, risky could very well be the tagline of TVD.

Last night we found out Damon was tortured by the Augustine vampires and has been on a mission of revenge ever since. Elena was captured; New Guy learned a lot about his family tree; and Katherine and Stefan had sex (or did something close).

Let’s debate!

Stefan Is a Sentimental Idiot Who Writes Down Everything He Feels

KATHERINE IS JOURNALING?? “He says it will be therapeutic for me to write down my feelings.” Plus 40. This is when I knew they were going to do it. Diary-writing is Stefan’s foreplay.

Caroline showed up as Stefan’s Sober Sponsor and brought a safe with her. Stefan wasn’t happy but who cares what that dude wants. Plus 20 for these two bonding over trauma.

Caroline and Katherine talking about Stefan. There are not enough capital letters for me to adequately expresses how much I loved this scene. First off the friendship between Katherine and Caroline is phenomenal. I can’t wait for Caroline to start wondering why she’s been hanging with the wrong doppelgänger all these years (she already is). The cherry on the sundae was: “He’s great in bed.” I mean we definitely already knew that, but hearing Katherine tell a flustered Caroline was just too good to be true. Plus 20.

“Any reason you chose to have this conversation locked in a safe?” It was a good question, but Katherine totally had this. She was making some excellent points. About Stefan being in emotional pain over Elena dumping him for Damon. And then it got crazy hot. Like, seriously, Paul Wesley and Nina Dobrev were just born to be in small spaces together. Stefan fighting his urge to kill her and Katherine gently drawing him back from the edge and then their lips almost … I actually hated Caroline when she pulled open that safe and prevented them from going at it. I hated CAROLINE. Plus 30.

“I need to move on.” Yes. Yes. Yes. I will never fully understand what it’s like to be Stefan. I genuinely believe he loved Katherine and we know he loved Elena. They are identical. You may think I’m hung up on this. I bring it up a lot, I know. I’m just not sure it’s moving on if you immediately latch on to a person who shares a face with your ex? They don’t share a personality, though, so maybe what TVD is trying to teach us is that it IS what’s inside that matters? Whatever. Plus 20 for the sex. That was a win.

Total: 130

Damon Has Been Here Before

Flashback! Damon looked adorable with that fifties haircut. It went pretty quickly downhill from here. Plus 10.

Elena called Damon her boyfriend. Is that the first time she’s used that word? Plus 4

“How I got this amazing body has nothing to do with science.” Plus 7.

Brutal flashbacks. They were hard to watch. Again, this show felt pretty grown-up last night. Minus 20.

Elena and Damon in that cell. Okay. I think we all forget sometimes that these guys lived entire lifetimes before they ever met her. Which is fine, for us, because despite what some of you think, we are not actually dating them. Elena, however, is. Why has she never asked about his history? Why was her reaction not: “Why did you never tell me about any of this?” Or: “That is horrible. Let me hold you and make it better”? Because she is Elena, that’s why. And Elena’s reaction to everything is to point the compass back to her. “My dad was involved! This is all about me!” Minus 20. I just feel bad Damon has to put up with this bullshit, honestly.

Damon and his cellmate bonding was nice. We’ve seen Stefan and Klaus in the twenties but we’ve never seen Damon have a friend besides … well, you know (R.I.P.). It was sweet to see him care. Plus 15.

Of course Elena’s first reaction to Damon’s story was “Stefan will find us.” I think I used to like her, but I can’t remember anymore. Minus 6. Despite that one obligatory moment when Damon promised to get her out of there (snore), he seemed to be legitimately irritated by her presence. So plus 6 for that.

No, I did not find it believable they would let him keep his daylight ring. Minus 2.

Damon chose to save himself. It was pretty powerful that Damon left Enzo and also that we found out that’s the moment he turned off his humanity, because I think we’ve all been kinda fuzzy on the timeline of that. But why wouldn’t he have done it when he was being tortured? Also, do you just decide to turn it off? I guess when Elena and Stefan did it, it seemed more dramatic (and provoked). But Damon is more adept at things, so I’ll buy it. Plus 20.

Damon’s revenge plan was revelatory. Huge. He’s been carrying out this secret mission of killing Whitmores even with his humanity on. Even with Elena. Is it weird this made me like him even more? I love Damon with a plan (and a plot). Plus 30. Those points will haunt me, though.

Here is what happened: I thought Elena went with Aaron and left Damon in that cage. And I was not remotely surprised. Minus 5.

Total: 39

Bonus Points:

Only Katherine can make the First Scene Plot Catch-up totally riveting. She was phenomenal in this scene with Stefan. “Blah blah blah my hand’s tired.” Plus 20.

I love Caroline more than anything. I just want to be clear about that. She is the bright light on this show and without her, life would be dark and not worth living. I need Steroline like season-two Stefan needed blood (and a sandwich). Which is why the recent annoying-ness of her character is so disappointing. Can she please stop being so pep-squad-y? Caroline’s powers of positivity don’t come from her cheering; they come from how gentle she is, how incredibly patient and kind. Which is why she will wait this Steferine (?) thing out beautifully. If you let her.

“My day’s not going to get any worse,” says Aaron to Elena. Oh, Aaron. Minus 10. “Everyone around me ends up dead.” “My sunny disposition makes me so many friends [sarcasm].” Elena was all uh huh, yeah, so anyway — about my boyfriend? She is staring herself in the mirror and doesn’t even see it. No points, though, because maybe if I knew 40 people who looked like me I’d start getting foggy on my emotional landscape, too.

It was weird to see Elena hovering at the door to Whitmore House. I don’t know. Sometime it just strikes me that she’s a vampire, you know? Plus 5. I guess.

Elena’s father was a Vampire Doctor. Cra-zy. Plus 7.

YES! Caroline is a drama major. Maybe we knew this but I’ve never given points for it before, so plus 20.

“You know that this is kidnapping, right?” says Aaron, the new guy who doesn’t yet know that’s not a felony on the CW. Also, he seemed to get over Elena being tranquilized pretty quickly but to be fair — fair. Plus 7.

Enzo is alive. Has he been tested for 60-some-odd years? Minus 9. But Plus 9 for Enzo in general. Team Enzo.

Total: 44

This episode goes to Stefan, because Katherine and Caroline, but if I gave positive points for torture and brilliant backstory, it would be Damon’s. Ian killed it last night. I’m so glad he’s getting such a satisfying story now.

See you all here next week for the mid-season finale!

If you want to chat, I’m here: @RebeccaASerle

Photo: Anette Brown/CW