'The Vampire Diaries' recap: In which Elena is starting to get on our nerves

tvd-matt-tux-omg.jpgThursday's episode of "The Vampire Diaries" gave us some significant forward momentum in terms of the mission to kill Klaus, but also delivered a few blows when it came to various romantic entanglements.

Previously: After the best dinner party ever (my invitation must have been lost in the mail) the Original witch, Esther, woke up... and forgave her son, Klaus, for literally ripping her heart out. Elijah was awesome throughout.

8:00 - Elena and Matt do a little Stroll of Exposition to catch the audience up: Bonnie and Abby are fine after being witch-whammied in a cave. Caroline is coping with her dad being dead, and there are no suspects, except perhaps for the lurker watching them from the supply room where said dad died. Matt remains focused on what's important, here: He still has to wipe down grimy counters at The Grill tomorrow.

Why are they getting into separate cars? Matt, bless his heart, obviously has learned nothing about not leaving Elena alone ever.

8:03 - Looks like the lurker was actually Rebekah, who gets in the way of Elena's car. (Aren't Fords supposed to be smarter than that? They can tell you what song is playing, but not that there's a vampire behind you?) Rebekah is about to take a bite out of Elena, but Elijah stops her.

"You're pathetic," she says. Can't blame her for being bored by her brothers' thousand-year obsession with women who look like Nina Dobrev. She'd probably be more than happy to end the Petrova line.

8:04 - "Anyone else feeling a little used right now?" Damon asks, while he, Stefan, and Elena are enjoying coffee at her house for some bizarre reason. Yes, Damon, someone probably is feeling a little used right now. That someone is probably Bonnie. Seeing as she did all the work and isn't invited to the party.

Esther has really amazing handwriting, particularly given the fact that those characters didn't even exist when she was last on this "side."

8:05 - Back at the Klaus house, the originals have apparently snapped right back into their roles from a thousand years ago. We see that Kol is a bit of an antagonist, but I'm not sure the sheer terror on Klaus' face when Kol woke up is particularly validated. He mostly seems like an incredibly mercurial, pain in the butt little brother, but Klaus certainly has nothing to fear. Except perhaps a little mayhem.

Esther explains to Klaus that she's had a thousand years to stew and forgive him, but the others may take some time. I'm disappointed that we aren't seeing more of Rebekah's interaction with her mother, because the scene where she realized Klaus had killed Esther was easily Rebekah's most powerful moment, and I'd like to see some of the relationship that made it so devastating.

8:07 - "Can we go back in time to the old Stefan who cared if Elena lived or died?" Damon asks. Um, last night Stefan told Damon he still loves Elena, and was quite clearly emotional about it, so why is Damon revising history? Elena wants to go to the ball, and the Salvatores grapple over whether that's allowed. She sat at home alone during Homecoming. They can't lock her up forever.

8:08 - Tyler!! I'm not pleased by the way this story left off. It feels like there was a missing scene somewhere between Bill telling Tyler how to break the sire bond, and ... this. It's just coming off disjointed for me.

Apparently, he's chained up in a cave somewhere, turning and re-turning until it doesn't hurt anymore. That's pretty incredible and it's too bad we don't get to see any of it. He ends the phone call with an "I love you," which I think is pretty rad, seeing as she has yet to say it back to him. He doesn't need her to.

And then we find out that Klaus gives way better invitations than Esther does and totally took Caroline's measurements with his eyes.

8:09 - To be fair to Elena here, she didn't tell Bonnie about the kiss with Damon -- Damon did. Also, last time she told Caroline she kissed Damon, Caroline went and spilled the beans to Tyler, who is barely even Elena's acquaintance. The circle of trust is way broken.

Rebekah shows up to antagonize a bit and to invite Matt to the dance. (I love his "Who, me?" face.) That move alone convinces Caroline to go. I can't help but love the fact that even though she's very clearly moved on, Caroline still gets jealous and territorial over Matt. It just seems like a very Caroline thing to do.

8:11 - Whoa. Is this the Klaus house? Those hybrids did some exquisite work on the staircase. Carol Lockwood is at the party looking fancy and clinking glasses with evil vampires, but she doesn't mention the fact that oh, yeah, her son has run away. Again. Again.

Damon suggests that he and Hot Kol have met before. "You don't particularly stand out," Kol says. Fun fact: There's an upcoming episode that takes place in 1912, giving us a glimpse into the man Damon was after he left Stefan behind with Lexi, but before he became the badass we met in the pilot. (Damon-in-transition, shall we say.)

The writers had initially intended to include some interaction with Kol in the episode -- specifically, some drunken camaraderie concluding with a bar fight, which would've explained this awkward 2012 meeting. Unfortunately, they ended up going in a different direction with the script, so this particular moment between them will be left dangling a bit. (Have at it, fan fiction writers!)

tvd-matt-tux-omg.jpgElena shows up looking super sparkly, but are we supposed to believe she just had that dress hanging up in between her cable-knit sweaters and worn-in henleys? Damon is taken aback, but as he starts to approach her, Stefan runs interference. It reminds me of the moment in "Rose" when they all finally thought they'd taken Elijah out.

Ultimately, they both take her arm. Somehow, it appears that they refrain from engaging in a literal tug-of-war that rips her in half down the middle.

8:15 - Looks like Caroline doesn't have anything ball-worthy in her closet. She should've borrowed Elena's Miss Mystic Falls dress, but honestly, if I was her, I'd want to go with Klaus's suggestion, too. The beading is stunning -- I actually like it better than Elena's, so probably someone in the wardrobe department is getting fired this week.

As soon as Klaus spots her, she heads for the booze. Elsewhere, Finn meets Elena, but honestly, no one cares, because Finn is the Kevin Jonas of the Original family.

At Elijah's ever-so-debonair suggestion, the guests go to the ballroom (because of course Klaus built a ballroom, what respectable house doesn't have a ballroom??) to get their dance on. Elena begins to follow Esther upstairs instead, but Damon stops her so that they can have a stare-off. When he asks her to dance, though, she seems pretty into it. Like all the fans, she's remembering their first dance at the Miss Mystic Falls pageant, and it's a pretty adorable callback. After all they've been through! At least now they're allowed to touch each other while they dance. So racy.

Stefan looks very grouchy. Also very tan, though.

Per usual, the music choice is awesome. This soundtrack junkie moment is courtesy of "Give Me Love" by Ed Sheeran. "You look stunning, if it isn't obvious," Damon tells Elena. I almost like that he says it as if it's somehow obligatory, but she's charmed anyway.

Caroline is actually dancing with Klaus. What was in that drink she just got? Quaaludes? She's still eying Matt and Rebekah with that step-off-biatch look in her eye, though, so I suppose she has a hidden agenda.

Stefan intercepts Elena just in time for the lyrics of the song to get to the "It's been a while but I still feel the same" line. Well played, "Vampire Diaries."

Meanwhile, Rebekah's glare practically bores holes in Caroline's back while she dances with Damon. "Of course she looks beautiful. Nik gave her everything she's wearing," she says. Honestly, it sounds like she's more jealous of Caroline's relationship with Klaus than she is of Caroline's hold on Matt. This family. So weird.

Damon says something that might have been construed as nice, but then he qualifies it. "You tried to kill Elena last night. You don't get compliments," he tells Rebekah. This is important because (1) he thinks she's hot and (2) he does know that she has murdery feelings toward Elena. Both of these things will come into play later.

8:20 - Ugh, Elena, please stop fishing for Stefan to tell you that he cares about you. It's getting ugly and desperate. And if you beg for it, it won't mean anything important when it actually happens.

I have to say, as irritating as the whole back-and-forth has been between them, I do like that Stefan has always let Elena think for herself. Back in Season 2, that seemed like a passive, boring move. Elena didn't want to let Bonnie die, so Stefan didn't go along with Damon's plan. Now, he's still listening to what she wants to do -- it's just that she's gotten more aggressive in how far she's willing to go.

8:22 - Rebekah only brought Matt here to murder him. Straight up, Matt's life is terrible. Just the worst. He should never leave the Grill except for occasional outings to the Mystic Falls High School gym to lift weights while shirtless.

8:22 - Stefan snaps Damon's neck, which is pretty mean but honestly, it's about time Damon remembered what that feels like so that he can stop doing it to people just because they're wearing fancy jewelry. After actually seeing him die, Elena looks like she regrets commissioning the hit, but it's too late to turn back on her plan now.

tvd-matt-tux-omg.jpg 8:27 - Elijah stops Elena while she's headed to Esther's room. He's doubtful of his mother and trusts Elena to tell him what's going on. Elijah's morality is what makes him awesome (also his hair), but it's going to be his downfall, because he expects everyone else to be honorable, too. Which, come on. This is The CW.

8:29 - Finn is such a mama's boy. He had so much promise last week with the mad scientist hair and the crazy eyes, but really he's just pretty boring. I guess he's pretty overwhelmed, living in a world with microwaves.

Esther, who has been smoking pot burning incense to keep vampire-hearing out of there, tells Elena that Bonnie has apparently been relevant all along, because she's the descendant of Ayana. Despite the fact that this still did not earn Bonnie an invitation to the Ball, this gives me hope for Bonnie's future storylines being less awful.

I know I have made this clear one thousand times, but I'm going to do it again: I can't stand how Bonnie is written on this show. She's so disposable to everyone in town, and the entire idea of every vampire having a pet witch to do their bidding bothers me so much. The vampires treat the witches as property and given this show's ties to the pre-Civil War south and the fact that 90% of the witches are black, it's time for that to get addressed. On the show. Preferably by Bonnie herself.

Esther apologizes to Elena for trying to kill her from beyond the veil and then says she needs Elena's help. Being the doppelganger is the worst. All the spells require her bodily fluid all over the place.

8:30 - This horse was the dumbest thing about an episode. I'm really sorry that Mikael killed Klaus's favorite horse because horses are awesome, but given the sheer amount of death on this show -- a lot of it caused by Klaus -- I am having trouble caring. Besides. It's cold out there. Why is Caroline standing outside staring at a horse?

"I fancy you. Is that so hard to believe?" Klaus says. She should probably get on that immediately. (Though, come on. He likes her because she's "full of light" and he "enjoys her." They've interacted twice. Once he when killed her boyfriend in the high school gym and once when she was on her deathbed. Honestly, what is there to enjoy?)

8:31 - We get it, she upset the balance of nature. Does it need to be repeated 47 times? "I upset the balance of nature" is the new "Stefan doesn't care." Elena gives Esther a drop of her blood to help her kill the vampires. I understand that if Elena hadn't given it freely, Esther probably would've just taken it, but I wish we'd seen Elena ask a few more questions, because this is all working out to be a little too easy at this point.

8:36 - Kol wants to kill Matt in front of everyone and make a spectacle of it. Basically, slaughtering a human is his idea of a fireworks show. He's really into the violence. A while back I did an interview with Ian Somerhalder where he described Stefan's "Ripper" phase as "sloppy." I think Kol is the sloppy Original brother.

Upstairs, Damon wakes up to find out that Elena wanted Stefan to break his neck so she could get her espionage on. "How is this even happening right now?" he wonders. This episode, more than ever, illustrates the slow role reversal that's occurred over the course of this season. This entire thing could have easily gone down in Season 1 with Damon playing the role of Stefan and Stefan playing the role of Damon. 

8:37 - Sigh. This is the super duper Caroline fan in me, but it bums me out that Matt is even considering entertaining a vampire's romantic interest if that vampire is not Caroline. If he couldn't be with her, how could he possibly ever be with Rebekah?

"It's freezing. Let me get my coat," he says. By his coat, he means his varsity jacket, which is pretty amazing. And he got it for Rebekah. Thank you, Emily Post. Thank you. I actually love this moment between them. "I'm a vampire, we don't... thanks," she says. Just like before the Homecoming dance, under all the fire and brimstone, Rebekah is a girl who wants to have a fairy tale. Please can we keep her? She could totally be part of the gang.

8:39 - "Elena, should I be concerned about my mother's intentions?" Elijah asks. Elena has become a very, very good liar. Perhaps it's that "Petrova fire" kicking in. There's a toast, and  they all drink bloody champagne. That is just gross. The camera lands on each Original as they drink. At first, I had my doubts as to whether Elijah actually ingested his, as opposed to just tipping back the glass, but Julie Plec assures me that he did, in fact, drink up, and they're not going to retcon it.

8:44 - Like Tyler, Klaus is into drawing. (I'm not sure Tyler is quite so accomplished an artist, but to be fair, he hasn't had a thousand years of practice, and he got a little distracted this year what with howling at the moon and all.)

Caroline seems a little bit intrigued by Klaus's sensitive side, but since she's super awesome, she doesn't buy into his offers to whisk her away from small-town Mystic Falls life. Frankly, I don't think Caroline's ever really had big dreams -- Miss Mystic Falls has been crossed off her list, and I'm guessing she's got her eye on Senior Prom royalty this year -- so promises of Paris and Tokyo are probably relatively abstract to her. Right now, what's important to her is getting Tyler back.

"Stop controlling him. Give him his life back," she asks Klaus. He's not amused. He doesn't want his affections be used for Tyler's benefit. Bravely, Caroline tosses the bracelet at their feet. This is all a little heavy handed (I don't think the audience needed Klaus' daddy issues spelled out quite so obviously) but I do like how honest Caroline is with Klaus. Losing her dad made her even stronger, and she's not paying Klaus any lip service.

8:47 - Rebekah likes Matt, yes. But Kol likes murder more.
 
8:47 - This scene between Damon and Elena has been relentlessly picked apart all day. So, obviously, I'm going to pick it apart some more. First of all, I know he's mad about getting his neck snapped, but given his own penchant for neck snapping, I'm not sympathetic. Damon is really rough with Elena here when he grabs her arm -- and the thing is, it's completely unnecessary, because she'd probably have left with him at this point anyway, now that her plan for the evening has been carried out.

And then this happens: "I'm mad at you because I love you," Damon says, finally, without compelling her to forget it immediately. Hearing it doesn't inspire surprise in Elena; she knew this already, of course. She blurts out, "Maybe that's the problem."

Right away, she knows she shouldn't have said it, but she can't really take it back. I guess. I mean, she could have probably grabbed him and given him one of those long lingering looks she's so good at and insisted that she didn't mean it -- and at the very least she should have said that she cares about him and that him loving her isn't some kind of annoyance.

tvd-matt-tux-omg.jpgUnfortunately, Caroline shows up at that moment like Not Now Dana and rounds up the Matt search party. Matt's up on the balcony. I'm not sure why he was so curious about this balcony or what caught his attention outside, but predictably, Kol showed up feeling like a little after-dinner murder. He apparently likes to draw out his kills, because he began with crushing Matt's fingers.

Damon shows up, makes his usual "LOL, high school football" joke, and then launches Kol right off the balcony. I loved seeing some pilot-esque wirework here -- not to mention Damon finally, finally getting his old swagger back. I know people are worried about him regressing back to his old ways, but I don't think he's going too far. I think he's just gonna stop pining for Elena and writing in his diary and crying in his bourbon for a while.

8:52 - Somewhere in the midst of all this, Klaus had time to draw a picture of Caroline and a horse, sneak over to her house, and leave it on her bed. Again, I don't get the horse thing. He likes horses more than he likes people, so he likens Caroline to a horse? How romantic. I do like his little note about honesty, though, because it's nice that she wasn't afraid to yell at him about his dad and stomp all over his diamonds.

8:53 - At the Klaus house, Esther is mad at Rebekah and Kol for disgracing the family... even though Rebekah did nothing wrong... and Elijah's the one getting yelled at. This family. For a moment, I think she's about to hesitate with the whole plan thing, but she goes through with it, thanks to Finn. We spoke with Julie Plec a bit on Wednesday about Finn's motivations here. The idea is that Finn, like his father, is a self-loathing vampire, so he's willing to sacrifice himself to restore the balance. I'm curious to see whether Esther dies, too, in all of this.
 
8:55 - Stefan brings Elena home after Damon's outburst, but she's more concerned with having "signed death sentences" for Elijah and the rest of the Originals. I mean, even if Elijah is a really nice guy, he's been alive for the better part of a thousand years. He's done his fair share of living. If he's got stuff left on his bucket list at this point, he's just lazy, honestly.

This is where Elena starts to annoy me -- but I want to make it clear that it's the character that's flawed, not necessarily the writing. In fact, Elena's been up on a pedestal for so long that it's refreshing that the writers of the show are making some of her flaws more evident. She calls the outburst at the ball "Damon being self-destructive."

tvd-matt-tux-omg.jpgI'm guessing she doesn't actually know that he was saving Matt from painful, bone-crushing death, so this line is almost excusable. What I find less excusable is that Elena's not seeking Damon out and trying to undo some of the damage she knows she caused by rejecting his affections. At the very least, Damon is currently her best friend in the world, and he deserves that much.

As for the scene between Stefan and Elena on the porch, I honestly don't feel like I have much to say about it at this point. Elena begging Stefan to care about her is getting old, particularly because at this point, it should be obvious that he cares. I mean... look at his face. He keeps saying "I hurt you, I hate myself," and he's obviously waiting for her to tell him that she still loves him. She hasn't said that, so he won't say he still loves her, and it's this annoying cycle of longing gazes and pathetic fishing. I don't want to watch it anymore. I don't care who Elena's with -- Damon or Stefan or Tiki's Granddad - but she needs to pick. Soon.

8:58 - "I went to a dance and got my hand crushed. Found out that I don't have health insurance," says Eeyore. "You're really fun and pretty and all, but I really need you to leave me alone." Isn't it cute, how he thinks he has a choice -- and how Rebekah actually gives him one? I don't know, you guys, I might be changing my tune. These two could be cute together.

For now, though, she's more into the drinking-straight-bourbon type, not the hot-chocolate-and-vicodin type, so Damon is definitely in the right place at the right time.

My guess? Elena will head over to Damon's place in the morning to apologize, find a hot blonde vampire in his bed, and be pretty annoyed. In the end, though, I doubt this will impact their relationship much. When she pushed him away, I hardly think she expected him to wait around for "right now" without any hookups. Yes, it's got to sting that he chose the woman who tried to kill her the night before, but she'll get over it.

Man, but that vampire sex was hot, though, right?

Klaus gets MVP tonight despite the whole random horse thing, which definitely deducted ten points from Slytherin (he does get an extra five points for being the one dude with a white bow tie). Sound off about the episode in the comments below!

Oh, what, you wanted another photo? Fine.

tvd-cast-ball.jpg

Photo/Video credit: The CW