'The Vampire Diaries' 'Pictures of You' prom recap: Have Stefan and Damon found the key to unlocking Elena's humanity?

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vampire-diaries-pictures-of-you-elena-matt-bonnie.jpgIt's prom night on "The Vampire Diaries," and everyone hates each other! Normally on TV, prom episodes tend to be all about romance. Which couples go together, who dances, etc. And usually, at the end, everybody realizes that the point of high school memories is friendship. Etc, etc, etc. But not on this show! Tonight's episode was mostly about destroying all romantic hopes and dreams, proving how isolated these characters have become, and reminding everyone of what they don't have.

If there's anything that this episode drove home, though, it's that Elena really was the center of their little group. With her "gone," everyone's falling apart. Bonnie and Matt are hanging out by default. Stefan and Caroline are dreaming of life without Elena. Damon is reevaluating everything that's happened to him in the last six months. It's just kind of broken and sad.

8:00 -- Kat Graham is pretty fantastic in this scene at Jeremy's grave. I imagine it's pretty tough to carry a scene like this -- where you're talking at nothing -- but she does a great job. I particularly love this scene because it's so human (well, for a minute). She doesn't try to communicate with him on the other side, she's not concocting a spell to see him... she's just talking at a piece of rock and pretending it means something, like we all do.

Of course, it's always great to see Steven McQueen back, though sometimes bringing actors back too soon after their characters die kind of dulls the impact of the death. But listen... I just really love his face on my television and I'm not ashamed to say it. Jeremy should just ghost it up all the time.

Meanwhile... Bonnie is on fire. Whoops?

8:02 -- Love this brothers-being-brothers scene. It's really expositiony. Things are a little complicated right now, so every episode seems to start with someone (usually Stefan) explaining what's going on as if the audience needs a refresher course. Whoever decided to put the football action into this one gets 10 points to Gryffindor because I could watch these guys toss around a football for 150 years, happily. It is kind of nice seeing Stefan at least try to bow out gracefully.

8:04 -- I have to confess, I'm not really into the cure. It's kind of tedious to watch it change hands over and over when nothing actually matters until someone takes it. What I am into is the Original family being the Original family. I'll take Elijah bossing his little sibs around over just about anything. The challenge he issues here to Rebekah is pretty great. I do think it's interesting that Elijah doesn't mention Katherine once here. She's supposed to be his epic love, right? And didn't she expect him to use the cure to leverage her freedom? And yet... he doesn't seem to give a hoot.

8:06 -- Rebekah and Awful Elena as roomies is the best thing I can possibly imagine. All I want is a sitcom where they torture each other all day long. This mean-girl off at the prom dress shop is really fun to watch. It's kind of cool that with Elena's humanity gone, Bonnie is the only straight-up nice girl left in town. (Fine, April. Ugh, April.) Caroline's always had her Queen Bee edge, and now with Elena and Rebekah out-snarking each other at every turn, this is basically Gossip Girl. Only not terrible.

8:08 -- Even though Elena isn't really Elena right now, it does seem weirdly nice that both Salvatore brothers are taking her to prom. It's like the writers decided to end the shipper war for five seconds by making everyone equally miserable.

vampire-diaries-prom-nina-dobrev-elena-gilbert.jpg 8:11 -- Meanwhile, Caroline goes to Klaus for help with a prom dress emergency. It's a little annoying that she's totally cool with him when she needs a favor, but that's also very Caroline, so I almost like it. I do like that they actually seem to be friends now. Having them on equal ground makes a potential romance more believable. I saw some griping about Klaus not actually attending the prom, but I'm really glad he didn't. Klaus represents the whole big world of culture and intrigue. Going to the Mystic Falls High prom is way, way beneath him.

8:13 --
The prom theme seems a little cruel, given the number of people in these photos who have died, but I don't even care because I just love seeing old pics of the cast hanging out together behind-the-scenes. Cuuuute. I hope it's Matt that ultimately gets Elena to turn her humanity back on. He's the representation of what's true and good about humanity. Plus, he survived losing his sister. He can help Elena out here.

8:14 --
Oh, Damon using the B-word. A couple of B-words, actually. Elena says she wasn't in love with him, she was just under the spell of the sire bond. We won't ever actually know whether her feelings for him were the sire bond until her humanity is back on and the sire bond is gone, but frankly... I don't really believe her here, and I don't think we're meant to. I will say, though, that if this is Damon's big attempt to win her over with emotions, he's doing a pretty lackluster job.

8:15 -- I think it's funny that the girls were the first to give up on Elena's humanity. I don't think it speaks to how much they love her so much as how tired they are. They've been fighting for Elena for years now. I'd be over it, too.

8:16 -- I mean, really? You couldn't have taken the dead kid out of the prom pics? This scene between Bonnie and "Jeremy" is very sweet, but i's kind of hard to enjoy it or to feel the emotion of it when I'm more distracted by screaming at my television. BONNIE. YOU KNOW IT'S NOT JEREMY. YOU ARE DANCING WITH THE DEVIL. WHY. STOP.

8:17 -- Stefan's play for Elena's emotions is much more active than Damon's. Unfortunately, he's doing a much better job of stirring up his own emotions than hers. "What heart?" Oh, such a good line. And of course Damon is watching. Of course.

8:24 -- Caroline looks stunning, but there's something really sad about her showing up solo. Then all that sadness goes away with the Stefan dancing. He doesn't even judge her for her Klaus business. I mean, obviously, they're just friends, because they're dancing with room for the Lord between them, but I still love the idea of them eventually being perfect for each other, someday. As for right now, I like that Caroline is now done wishing for Stefan and Elena to get together and instead she just wants him to be happy. You can't tell me that there's not a little flicker of something his face when she says that he might meet someone new and realize that he's already over Elena. That might just be Paul Wesley intentionally ruining my life, though. He does that.

8:26 -- Stupid April. I'm still confused as to why Elena cares if Rebekah gets prom queen, but... at least someone cares about Rebekah? Rebekah is making a super pathetic human so far. Begging someone to make her prom queen? Really?

8:27 -- Honestly, the fact that it took Bonnie this long to figure out the fact that Jeremy wasn't Jeremy is really annoying. That said, I don't mind them casting plot aside in favor of sentimentality, at this point. It's prom, we're supposed to be getting emotional.

8:28 -- Rebekah gave Elijah the stake -- so Elijah gives the stake to Klaus. It's a pretty huge gesture, given Klaus's impulse control issues. Essentially, Elijah gives Klaus the gift of fearlessness... in exchange for backing off of the Klaus situation. "I would ask that you provide me with this opportunity to feel, to care, to love," says Elijah. It's interesting that he still bothers to try and appeal to Klaus's human side. Particularly because it doesn't work. Klaus says he'll keep chasing Katherine and won't ever let Elijah be happy. Surprisingly enough, Elijah isn't particularly concerned with that. Seems like Klaus has officially lost his touch.

8:30 -- I'm really sad for Rebekah. She looks absolutely stunning but she's not getting to live her school dance dream at all. She says please three times to get Matt to dance with her. So embarrassing! Their dance is pretty sweet, if only for the fact that it really drives home how important Matt is to this show, and what he represents. "You're so beautifully human," Rebekah says. That's such a great line. (One of many in this episode. The dialogue is on point tonight -- a great balance between realistic teen banter and truly memorable words.)

8:31 -- Caroline having no prom date is just too depressing to bear. I do kind of like this odd... truce moment between her and Damon. And now she's leaving her own event! Nothing from a flask can cure what ails her.

tvd-prom-caroline-damon.jpg 8:32 -- Elena says that she doesn't fear her enemies on the other side -- she fears Jeremy and Alaric, because they'll want her humanity back. But... won't she want her humanity back on if they come back from the dead? Jenna would come back, too. Why wouldn't she just... go on being happy (ish) Season 1 Elena? Only with some more blood in her diet?

8:33 -- Matt and Bonnie win prom king & queen but I really don't care. One of the things that The CW asked us the press to reveal to you guys about this week's episode was who won prom king & queen, which I thought was so weird, because I didn't think "Vampire Diaries" fans would care about that at all .Stuff like that is for other shows. Meanwhile, Elena decides to murder Bonnie to get rid of Silas. Well. That is for this show.

8:36 -- Tyler came home for prom! I love that he risked his hide for one dance with Caroline. Of course, there's this cloud of "Is he Silas?" hanging over all of this, which takes the heart out of it a little bit, but whatever. These two have come so far since the beginning of the series. Tyler and Caroline's development as individual characters took this show from a show about three people to an ensemble drama. It's nice to see them get their moment as a couple, because of what it means for them as individuals.

8:37 -- Outside, Stefan tries to get to Damon with the Stelena of it all. And he turns out to be Silas. Sigh. When are these people going to realize that if they all stick together they won't be fooled by fake-thems.

8:38 -- Rebekah warns Matt about Elena being a crazy psychopath, but it's too late -- Elena's already vamped on Bonnie. Oops... it doesn't really work, because Bonnie takes Elena down. Whether it's expression or her usual aneurysm thing, it works. Elena, still hungry because the appetizers at prom were no good, takes a bite out of April instead. Poor Matt, always always left taking care of April.

8:45 -- Matt asks Rebekah to feed April her blood, but if she does it, she loses the cure. Doesn't Rebekah know that when she was stuck in a box, April was literally the only person who gave a crap?

8:47 -- Bonnie and Jeremy-as-Silas are having a pretty epic argument. Graham is owning this episode, honestly. The thing is, Bonnie has failed a lot over the course of the last few seasons. I've lost count of how many times she's said she can do something, and then not been able to do it. This arc is essential to turning Bonnie into... whoever she's going to be post high-school. She needs to be stronger than this. She needs to succeed.

Suddenly, Silas is gone -- just as Elena appears to take a bite out of Bonnie. (I think it's interesting that Silas only appears to people one-on-one. He can't keep up the ruse if there's more than one mind to mess with?) Somehow, Bonnie's blood makes Elena sick -- and Bonnie's bite magically heals. Has she been able to do that before? Or is that just a part of her expression? Bonnie's had about enough -- she starts to try to kill Elena. Honestly, Elena's cries of pain and fear in this moment is the most Elena we've seen in weeks. Stefan and Damon convince Bonnie to back off, but it's all pretty tragic. "The shell of my best friend almost killed me," Bonnie says. Another A+ line from Caroline Dries.

Stefan and Damon resort to Plan B: They knock Elena out with vervain.

8:49 -- Rebekah has fed April her blood, and Matt promises not to tell that she used a vampire power. They kinda-sorta have a moment. I know that she's leaving for New Orleans, so there's no hope for Rebekah and Matt to be a real thing, but I kind of want them to hook up before she goes. He's never hooked up with a monster that he knew was a monster! There's a first time for everything.

8:50 -- Meanwhile, Elijah gives Silas the cure because nobody in this stupid town has figured out that they need to not trust people when they randomly appear alone. Ugh. Sorry. I can forgive everyone else on this show acting like an idiot, but not Elijah. Looks like Silas and Klaus were in cahoots all along.

8:53 -- Tyler and Caroline dance, but then they have to say goodbye. It's really kind of weird, them sharing this extremely romantic moment, with her wearing Klaus's dress. Symbolism, anyone? I don't know how I feel about Tyler's return at this point. It annoys me that he came home just to leave again in exactly the same way -- running from Klaus like a coward, when a few short months ago, he was building an army against him. Klaus doesn't kill him as a noble gesture or whatever. And now we're all supposed to applaud Klaus and thank him for his romantic contribution to the night of Caroline's dreams, right? Sigh.

8:55 -- Stefan and Damon take Elena to their cellar lock-up, where they decide that fear is the most accessible of her human emotions. They are going to use it against her, now, and make her life a living hell until she flips the switch. Meanwhile, they're not as worried about Silas manipulating Bonnie, since Bonnie has made it very clear that she's not going to be kicked around anymore.

And, of course, Damon is still a little jealous of Stefan., and Stefan is still a little in love with Elena.

Is no one going to talk about Bonnie's blood making Elena violently ill? Isn't that a new thing?

8:57 -- You know how sometimes, you're playing a video game, and you make it to a new level and someone or something comes pops out to explain your new quest? That's basically Katherine's letter. "I've caught wind that there's a witch in New Orleans named Jane-Anne Deveraux plotting a move against you," she writes to Klaus, warning him that he'll be "rattled to his core" by what she has to say. I really can't wait for next week.

8:58 -- Oh, yeah, and also, Silas is a beast. That's why he tends to borrow other people's faces.

MVP tonight goes, easily, to Kat Graham. What a great episode for Bonnie!
Photo/Video credit: The CW