'The Vampire Diaries' recap: Fight night behind the ferris wheel

tvd-arm-wrestle.jpgPreviously on "The Vampire Diaries," doppelganger hijinks ensued, leaving just about everyone in town ready to explode.

"Brave New World" set its darkest moments against the sparkling brightness of the school carnival, which only served to increase their impact.

Plus, there was arm wrestling.

8:02 - Is it just me, or is Caroline's nurse kind of mean? Caroline ( Candice Accola) is complaining that she's hungry, and the nurse just barks at her that breakfast is at seven. Is she a patient or an inmate? For someone with a Sheriff as a mom, Caroline sure is a sneaky thief. Those blood bags are incredibly vamp-friendly, aren't they? They come with a straw attached. Just like a delicious fruit punch Capri Sun.

8:04 - Finally, someone brings up the obvious. "She didn't just resemble you like a family member would," Bonnie ( Katerina Graham) tells Elena ( Nina Dobrev). "She was you." I don't have any good guesses on how Katherine and Elena are actually related, but if the entire explanation is that they're distant relatives, mark me down as completely unsatisfied.

8:05 - Jeremy ( Steven R. McQueen) got a hair cut! Without the greasy bangs, he looks decidedly less like Jared Padalecki, so I'm less uncomfortably attracted to him. I think his relationship with Stefan is interesting to watch. Stefan ( Paul Wesley) has taken it upon himself to take care of all of the various puzzle pieces in Elena's world, but it's a dangerous balancing act.

8:06 - With her increased responsibilities in town, Carol Lockwood puts Damon ( Ian Somerhalder) in charge of the Secret Society of Vampire Hunters, officially. It's cute how no one realizes that he's been in charge all along..

8:08 - Oh, hey, sweaty Lockwoods. I can see the family resemblance, now. It's the shoulders. And the biceps. And the forearms. And the pecs. Does this show have a plot? In all seriousness, I appreciate the rapport between Tyler ( Michael Trevino) and Mason ( Taylor Kinney). Most of what we've seen from Tyler to this point has been short bursts of bullying and being bulllied by his father. It's great that he's so honest with Mason; it's a whole new side of him. "I'm an angry guy," he says. "It just amplifies and I go off. It's like I go blind with rage... I lose myself."

8:09 - MATT!! He's so cute when he's bewildered. And I want to sign his cast. I have to say though, I can't help wondering when he's going to stop by and offer his best friend condolences.

8:10 - "Aren't you worried that one day all the forest animals are going to band together and fight back? I mean, surely they talk," Damon says. I'm starting to think that maybe Stefan should just join Damon's nightly O-neg nightcap. He's a little more fun when he's all hopped up on human, plus a regular taste might help him curb his cravings when he does get them.

8:12 - I'm glad we get to see Caroline go through her transformation alone, scared, and clueless. It's a great contrast to Vicki last year, who had Damon in her pocket and Stefan in her ear through most of it. I'm shocked to see Caroline bite the nurse this early when she's got access to blood bags in the hospital, but I like it.

8:17 - Carter is a hottie, but wow, Bonnie is obvious. She should just rip her clothes off and throw herself into his lap. It'd be more subtle.

8:18 - Mason is rifling through Mayor Lockwood's study looking for a moonstone. Could it be an enchanted family heirloom? On "The Vampire Diaries"? I'm completely shocked by this brand new development.

8:18 - Damon really needs to leave Jeremy alone. At the end of last week's episode, it seemed like Damon felt some remorse about snapping Jeremy's neck, but now he's just playing it fast and loose. I really feel for Damon's heartache right now, but it's hard to sympathize with him when he's picking on a 16-year-old orphan whose neck he snapped just days ago.

8:19 - When you turn into a vampire, does your wardrobe automatically get an upgrade? Specifically in the shoe department? Hello.

8:20 - Dear Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec (and writer Brian Young). Thank you for this arm-wrestling competition. It's exactly what I wanted. Please let me know where I can send your check. xoxo, Carina.

8:22 - Carter is not having a good day. First he gets hit on by a hot girl who happens to be a witch with a bitter streak a mile long, and now he happens to be the nearest living thing when Damon is in the mood to play a game.

I love Damon calling Mason "the ambiguously supernatural mystery uncle." Was that how it was explained in the casting notice? As interested as I am in the whole love square between Katherine, Elena, and the Salvatores, the whole werewolf story is shaping up to be even more compelling. I'm glad Damon's found something to fixate on other than his brother's girlfriend, at least for now.

8:23 - I've long been bothered by the way that Damon treated Caroline in Season 1. It creeped me out, and it seemed out of character for Elena to just let her friend be treated that way. I'm glad it's being brought to the surface again now and that Caroline has the cojones to confront Damon about it herself. She didn't deserve that.

8:29 - Uncle Mason can leap tall carnival workers in a single bound! As cool as these stunts are, what stood out to me in the fight scene was Tyler's inner conflict. He actually did seem like he was trying to give Carter the chance to walk away. Oops.

8:31 - "Need I remind you of a tragic little story of a girl named Vicki Donovan?" Damon asks as the trio powwows about Caroline's predicament. I hate to say it, because I love Caroline, but part of me wonders if Damon is right about this one. Surely Caroline would rather be killed than actually do the killing, right?

8:33 - Oh my god. Carter is having a really bad night.

8:37 - MATT! "I'm used to the insecurities and all that. It's who she is, love it or hate it." It makes me a little bit sad that everyone defines Caroline by her insecurities. Her self-awareness is something that I love about her, but just because she acknowledges her faults doesn't mean her boyfriend should constantly call them up.

8:37 - I like seeing Stefan freak out and punch things. He's already decidedly less boring than he was last year.

8:39 - My heart is breaking for Caroline right now. One thing that's so great about this show is that they don't try to make feeding on human blood look pretty or sexy. She looks completely gross right now and that's exactly how it should be. It makes everything darker and more dangerous.

8:45 - "Damon, she's my friend." Ooh, there you go Elena. You show everyone that you don't have to be an ancient vampire with a smirk and skinny jeans to put Damon in his place.

8:47 - This scene in the bathroom as Caroline tries to clean up is fantastic. Aww. Stefan made a friend.

This is a good time to give Candice Accola this week's MVP trophy. She was great last season at being alternately perky, cute, and scared, but this episode has really shown what she's capable of. I hope that the show doesn't go the easy route and kill Caroline off in a few episodes, Vicki style. Accola has a lot to give.

8:48 - I don't know how to approach Bonnie's sudden desire to set Damon on fire, or her ability to do it with her mind. She went from being able to float some feathers around the air to this? I must admit, I'm not loving Bonnie this season so far. She's become a bit of a fun-sucker. "Everything that happens is his fault, Elena," she says. Famine! Terrorism! Cancer! The travesty that was this year's MTV VMAs! All Damon's fault.

I guess that Elena doesn't hate Damon quite as much as she thought she did.

8:52 - "It's not your fault, Stefan. It's no one's fault." Ehh. It's kind of Stefan's fault. I mean, he did return to Mystic Falls because he "had to know" Elena. Right?

8:53 - How did Tyler know about the safe under his dad's floorboards? They didn't exactly seem chummy when the mayor was alive.

8:54 - This scene between Damon and Jeremy is one of my favorites of the episode. I was so disturbed by the neck-snapping last week, and it soothes the burn a bit to see Jeremy and Damon metaphorically hugging it out. I'm impressed that Jeremy had the guts to enter the Salvatore Broodinghouse, fashion a stake, and lace Damon's booze with vervain, but I'm even more impressed that he sat there long enough to reconsider.

Steven R. McQueen told me that Damon and Jeremy relate to each other because they're both "broken people," and I like that description. Damon admits, "I don't do the big brother thing very well," but without intending to, he finds a way to comfort Jeremy. I'm looking forward to this relationship developing, especially now that Damon is heading up the council. With his ring, Jeremy could be useful there, against the "bad" vampires.

8:56 - MATT! I love this scene and may or may not have been unable to resist an "Oh my god" tweet as I watched. He sneaks in through Caroline's window and says, "I'm not in a position where I can lose someone else right now. Even though today I wanted to throttle you, I'm pretty sure that I'm in love with you." I couldn't adore him more. He's just so cute. Don't you want to cuddle him?

8:57 - Caroline was a control freak in life, so it makes sense that in her undeath, she's got a surprising ability to keep herself in check. I like the contrast between her and Vicki. Vicki was an addict with a self-destructive streak from here to Montana, but Caroline has always been put together, focused, and self-aware to a fault. I trust her.

That said, last season Anna told Jeremy that a vampire could never hide her condition from a parent. Even given Sheriff Mom's tendency toward neglectful parenting, I'm not sure how long Caroline can keep up the ruse. I almost want Sheriff Mom to find out, actually - it could make for a very interesting dynamic between her and Damon.

8:58 - Aww! Every so often between the blood and the secret magical heirlooms, it's nice to see a good old-fashioned high school romance on a ferris wheel scene. "I came back to this town to start a life with you," Stefan promises Elena. "We can't forget to live it." And then he grabs her and jumps to the top of the ride.

You better hold on tight, spider monkey!

Next week: werewolves in the woods! I can't wait. And if it turns out that a bite really can kill a vampire, that makes things even more exciting. Is it Thursday yet?

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Photo Credit: The CW