'The Vampire Diaries' Recap: When the Bronco is a-rockin'...

vampire-diaries-bad-moon-rising.jpgAfter last week's lukewarm episode of "The Vampire Diaries," we kicked it up several notches with "Bad Moon Rising."

8:01 - To be completely honest, I barely noticed the absence of Alaric (Matthew Davis) in the first two episodes this season. That said, I'm glad he's back for more not-so-ambiguous bordering-on-homoerotic bad-guy hunting with Damon.

I'm lost on why Elena is so concerned about the Lockwoods. One of her best friends is a newbie vamp (and we doubt Elena's forgotten the Vicki Donovan story so soon) and her other best friend can set things on fire with her brain... but Elena is sticking her nose in Tyler's
business? Why? Also, I'm calling foul on Elena having any clue what the word "lycanthrope" means. She doesn't strike me as the type to have "Cursed" in her DVD collection.

8:02 - I Brake for Eye Candy pause: Hello, Lockwood men. Hello, Lockwood shoulders. Are these work-out tanks really necessary? Can we just get the full pectoral experience, please?

8:02 - Meanwhile, back in the Salvatore Broodinghouse, more exposition ensues. Ten points for Damon's Bela Lugosi reference! For those of you who are under 80, not horror nerds, and allergic to Wikipedia, Bela Lugosi played the first movie Count Dracula in 1930.

8:04 - Soundtrack junkie moment! I'm particularly thrilled about this one because I adore Meiko and her song "Under My Bed," which plays as Caroline and Matt play out their teen angst on either side of her front door. If you ever have the chance to catch Meiko in concert,
it's a can't-miss.

Here's my obligatory oh, MATT! One day he confesses his love. The next day she won't answer him because sunshine cooks her skin (and has, apparently, not considered other options, like maybe an umbrella or a blanket over her head).

8:04 - I can't help but laugh over Elena thinking that she and Alaric will bond over their "anti-Damon solidarity." For two anti-Damon people, they sure find a lot of excuses to hang out with him. I think that the whole "Elena wants answers about her lineage" thing is a bit of a reach for this trip, considering the much more pressing matters at home and her supposed hate for Damon.

8:05 - I wish Aunt Jenna didn't feel so extraneous, because I think Sara Canning is lovely, but whenever she's on screen I start to wonder whether Booth and Brennan are making out on some other channel. There also hasn't been a mention of Aunt Jenna seeing "Elena" kiss Damon in the Season 1 finale, which you'd think would be addressed since Elena is about to jump in a car with the guy and drive to a different state.

I love Elena's goodbye kiss with Stefan - hello, sexy - but if I were him, it wouldn't be very reassuring. There's a thin line between Elena trying to show Damon where she stands and Elena trying to make Damon jealous.

8:07 - The werewolf mythology is starting to develop, and by the looks of the weird forest dungeon room, the wolves can't control their transformation.

8:08 - I wish Bonnie would remember that she, too, is a supernatural being. Not everyone has Jasmine Guy to guide them through their witch-puberty. She's giving Caroline such a hard time. Bonnie needs to make her a ring. I like the idea of Bonnie and Caroline becoming this
century's version of Emily and Katherine.

8:09 - If Damon really saw Jeremy's ring, I will not be pleased. That scene had such a powerful impact -- negative as it may have been -- and to retroactively reduce that is disappointing and feels like a cop-out.

8:09 - "I don't get to choose the ring I have to wear the rest of my life?" Oh, Caroline. Just be glad it's not the size of an ostrich egg like everyone else's.

8:10 - Seriously, Bonnie's holier-than-thou shtick is getting irritating.

8:11 - Right off the bat, I don't like Vanessa. She's over-acting and feels like a plot device.

8:12 - A freakin' Crossbow? Really??

8:16 - Does Damon taking a crossbow in the back for Elena make up for the Jeremy thing? In both cases, Damon was operating on pure animal instinct - to hurt or to protect.

8:17 - "Katherine Pierce can't be ailve and Damon Salvatore died in 1864. I read Isobel's research." Uh, this is the research that's supposed to hold all the wolfman answers? It's a little inaccurate, no?

8:18 - "Isn't killing cute defenseless animals the first step in becoming a serial killer?"

I just saw the future of Stefan's life: Stefan Salvatore's Academy for Baby Vamps. I'll probably get skewered for this, but I'm thinking that Stefan and Caroline are fantastic on-screen together and the chemistry there is amazing.

That said, when Stefan is explaining the vampire transformation, I want to barf. "As a human, I was the most sensitive caring wonderful best human who ever humaned. Now, as a vampire, I feel the world's pain in my vampire heart."

It's like Stefan can't have a single fault other than "I care TOO MUCH." This isn't a job interview. The dude can't have a single fault or bad habit. "As a human, I was kind of gassy, but now I burp like all the time."

8:20 - Damon and Elena banter! Remember when Joey and Pacey "hated each other"?

8:20 - "Are you busting us, or are you joining us?" Yes, please, Uncle Mason, join us. Go for a swim. Remove the shirt.

8:22 - MATT! I'm pleasantly surprised by how firmly he calls Caroline on her bad behavior. Who is this Amy Bradley random, though?

"My entire personality is killing me," Caroline says. I officially adore her as a vampire.

8:23 - Why does this werewolf book look like something my 7-year-old cousin drew after a fever dream?

8:24 - Finally, the werewolf "rules" are starting to be revealed - though, again, Isobel's research isn't 100% reliable. When the full moon crests in the sky, the transformation begins - and it's a curse, not a choice, so the werewolf can't transform at will. Though they'll attack humans, "instinct and centuries of rivalry" have them hunting vampires. Most importantly, a werewolf bite is fatal to vampires.

8:30 - Seriously, Stefan/Caroline. I'm so on board!

Also, we get it, Caroline is insecure. Find a synonym or something.

Is she really heading off into the dark woods to make out with her boyfriend? You'd think that upon learning vampires are real, she'd brush up on her B-horror trivia. Don't go into the woods to make out, have sex, drink alcohol, or do drugs. You will get eaten.

8:32 - Mason chaining himself up in the dungeon just seems so sad. It really drives home the fact that wolfing out is a painful curse.

8:33 - Oh, look, Amy Bradley found somebody single to stalk.

8:34 - I didn't think we'd get to see the wolf transformation this early! I love Kinney here. Up until this moment I was more impressed by his shoulders than by his acting, but the agony of the transformation can't be an easy or comfortable thing for an actor to play.

8:37 - "Doppelgangers usually torment the people they look like, trying to undo their lives." Brand new information! I'm still dying to know how and why they're doppelgangers, though.

8:39 - "I like Matt." Amy Bradley, I sympathize, but don't piss Tyler off right now. It's a full moon.

8:40 - When the Bronco is a-rockin'... WOOOOLF!

8:45 - Why is annoying Vanessa hitting on Alaric? He better shut that down ASAP. He's been working on his fitness for Aunt Jenna all summer long.

8:46 - Ooh. Damon drops the bomb that Katherine was once Katerina Petrova. "Men snoop, too, you know."

I admire Damon's dogged determination to weasel back onto Elena's good side. "You have every right to hate me, I understand. You hated me before we became friends. It would suck if that was gone forever. Well, is it? Have I lost you forever?"

8:47 - Matt. Matt. Matt!!

CAROLINE! STOP. Oh, this makes me sad, because it means she probably can't be around Matt anymore, which means that his storyline is going to get shelved again. Poor thing. I wish that we'd seen a bit more of his face and his emotional reaction as she slurped up his blood. That's got to kill a guy's mood.

8:49 - In case I haven't shown Stefan enough love this week - I love him. He saved my Matt!

8:50 - Wow. Tyler Lockwood: Dog Whisperer.

8:53 -- It's a very sad scene as Caroline compels Matt. She'll always know she's done it; it sort of taints their relationship from here on out. Not to mention, compulsion or not, wouldn't he be a little bit suspicious that the "animal" attacked him the exact same way it attacked his sister a year ago?

I like Stefan's honesty when talking about Elena and the danger he puts her in just by being with him. His candor with Caroline is fantastic.

8:55 -- Hey, naked Uncle Mason. Covered in dirt. I have nothing safe-for-work to say about this scene.

8:55 -- Aw, Caroline, being all self-sacrificing for Matt. I can't blame him for ditching her drama - he's been through enough this year - but his face as he dumps her breaks my heart.

8:57 -- It's lucky for Jenna that Alaric came back to her, because he's the only thing keeping her relevant.

"Road trips work well for us!" Damon says. I'm glad that he was honest about the ring, because the one thing he's got going for him is that he generally doesn't lie to Elena about the important stuff.

This is a fantastic scene for Nina and Ian. He's so vulnerable here that you almost forget he's a vampire, not just some lovelorn guy. I think it's a bit of a stretch to compare Elena and Katherine, but I like these darker layers on Elena.
 
8:59 -- Another Katherine and Caroline cliffhanger. I'd like to see Caroline go bad, I think. She and Bonnie can be the new Katherine and Emily.

Also, how did Katherine get into the Forbes' home? Did she pose as Elena and get the country's most clueless Sheriff to invite her in?

All in all, I found this episode much more satisfying than last week's. There was more tangible fall-out from the events of the season premiere. I missed the interaction between Stefan and Elena, but their fantastic scenes with Caroline and Damon, respectively, made up for it. I'm going to give the MVP to Taylor Kinney for making the transformation scene everything we'd hoped.

Next week: the first flashback of the season! Will we learn why Katherine, or Katerina, left Europe for supernatural hotspot Mystic Falls? Will we learn more about the Lockwood family history? WIll Mason and Tyler continue their long-standing (two episodes in a row!) workout streak? I need answers.

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Photo Credit: The CW