'The Vampire Diaries' recap: Nice is overrated

tvd-caroline-bite.pngIt's that time again! "The Vampire Diaries" is about to go on a brief hiatus, so let's enjoy tonight's episode, "Kill or Be Killed" and try not to fret about our empty Thursday night next week.

Can I just say that the Mystic Falls crew is the most involved group of moody teenagers on the face of the planet? They're always putting on carnivals and competing in pageants and washing cars to raise money for something or another.

Whatever happened to the good old days? When I was a kid, teenagers on TV sat around watching movies and talking about how much they wish their first kiss was like "From Here to Eternity."  (I'm old.)

This week, the Salvatores and their merry band of angsty whipper-snappers are at a Historical Society Volunteer Picnic. I've been waiting all week for this Lockwood-Salvatore showdown, so let's get the party started. Got your remote ready?

8:01 - I'm sure you guys are sick of hearing about how attractive I find Mason Lockwood ( Taylor Kinney), but you're not going to stop hearing it any time soon. Sorry! Hot uncle is hot, so I'm happy that his is the first face we're seeing tonight.

Uh oh, did Uncle Mason sleep with somebody's girlfriend? Tyler's whoever-whenever attitude could be genetic. Still, this jealous boyfriend's pushy attitude reminds me of when Damon compelled Carter to pick a fight with Tyler. I'm betting that Jimmy is compelled here.

Ouch. So the big kill that Mason teased last week was accidental, which answers a lot of questions - it doesn't have to be an intentional murder to trigger the curse. Mason says that his kill was entirely in self-defense, but are we sure that he can be trusted? I mean, I'm sure he's hot, but the hot ones are usually trouble.

8:04 - The behind-the-door trick isn't scary on television anymore. Every single time someone opens a door, I know that when the door closes, a surprise visitor will be hiding behind it. I really like the fake-fighting thing Stefan ( Paul Wesley) and Elena ( Nina Dobrev) have planned. Yes, it's juvenile. Yes, Damon ( Ian Somerhalder) and Katherine will both see right through it. But it's fun, and it gives us adorable romantic I-love-you scenes. They're usually so serious, so I like this little game that they're playing. It's like role playing! It keeps things spicy.

8:06 - Caroline ( Candice Accola) and Sheriff Mom have never been close, but now Caroline has a reason to actively keep her mother at an arm's length. I can't say I blame Caroline for being a brat, though. Her mom did kinda-sorta forget to fill her juicebox with vervain last year while Damon was using her as his own personal feeding tube.

8:07 - There's something so likable about Mason, even when he's threatening everybody's favorite bloodsucking bad boy. He's just so earnest about everything, even when you know he's lying. (This forgiving attitude got me in trouble in high school. And college. And now.) I don't understand why he's remotely worried about the vampires coming after him. What could they do to him? They don't know how to kill him and when Damon stabbed him last week he healed up immediately. He may not be invincible, but he's pretty damn resilient. 

"The nice one." Poor Stefan should get that embroidered on a pillow.

8:09 - I have to ask that everyone pause their DVRs right now. The entire screen is filled with nothing but Salvatoreface. I commend you, director Jeff Woolnough.

And play.

8:10 - Oh, are we going to get Tyler ( Michael Trevino) and Jeremy ( Steven R. McQueen) being BFFs who pretend to hate each other in this episode? That's my favorite flavor of Tyler and Jeremy. Michael Trevino and Steven R. McQueen are really good at playing up the cautious "I'm only hanging out with you because everyone else on the entire planet is building treehouses for the Historical Society and I'm not going to enjoy one single second of it" thing.

8:11 - Mason outed the Salvatores to Sheriff Mom! He's going to make it really hard for me to love him, isn't he?

I'd like to randomly interject here and say that Sheriff Mom is so pretty. She always looks stressed out and exhausted on the screen - being in charge of Mystic Falls, of all towns, would do that to a girl - but when I met Marguerite MacIntyre in person, she's stunning. Whatever, so I'm shallow.

8:15 - There are moments when it's very, very clear that Elena and Katherine are related - not just because of their faces - and the scene where Elena is convincing Caroline that she and Stefan are on the outs is one of those moments. Elena is a very, very good liar. She doesn't even flinch.

8:16 - Sheriff Forbes, on the other hand, is not a good liar. At all. Ouch.

8:17 - I'm so happy that Caroline's contempt for Damon wasn't just a one-off burst of badassery -- it's carrying through the storyline. And if I were her, I'd be ticked off at him, too. His "Why are you being such a bitch to your mom?" line would bother any kid. As far as she's concerned, it's none of his business.

On the other hand, it's becoming clear that Damon genuinely cares about Liz. That makes three people in the whole universe who matter to him. Fix your shirt, Damon, your humanity is showing.

8:17 - When Elena asks if Stefan still cares about Katherine, I can't help but wonder if fake fights might bring real feelings and hang-ups to the surface.

8:18 - What the hell did Tyler put in those margaritas? Day drinking never looked so good. Aimee Bradley is back, which is always fun -- but she reminds me that the only thing that would make this little nooner boozefest better would be Matt. Yes, I know that every regular can't be in every episode. I just miss typing his name in all capital letters. It's soothing to me.

Wow. Jeremy is carrying a sketchbook full of werewolf art around while hanging out at the Lockwood mansion. First of all, that's dumb. Second of all, why is he constantly drawing them? That's bordering on creepy.

I can't believe Jeremy admitted that he knew about the wolves -- but I guess we need someone outside of Mason for Tyler to talk to about it.

8:20 - "Nice is overrated." "That's what I think!" Oh, if we can't have Alaric for Damon to taunt, I'm glad Mason is around to fill his shoes. I hope he stays forever. tvd-mason.png

8:21 - Damon sees right through Stefan and Elena's fake fight. I figured that by now he'd know Stefan well enough to have his number on this one, but the thing that tipped him off is very telling. "You and Elena don't fight, especially not over me."

He wants so badly to be a point of contention for Stefan and Elena, and yet he knows he's not. This is a real flip from how fiercely in denial he was about Elena's feelings (or lack thereof) in the premiere. Damon is more grounded in reality now. He knows he's back to being on the outside looking in.

Ouch. Vervain in the lemonade. Well that's one way to use those lemons life gave you, Sheriff Mom.

8:26 - Again, a little bit of Katherine's attitude is showing up in Elena. "It's not for the best, Caroline. None of this is for the best," she snaps, and it's like she channeled her evil doppelganger for a moment. Just being forced to deal with Katherine's presence in her life is hardening Elena up a little bit.

Caroline seems like she's about to spill the beans about being Katherine's latest minion when she's distracted by her mother's vampire-killing face.

8:28 - Stefan and Damon are very handsy with each other in this episode. When their lives are at risk they get clingy. They'd better not kill Mason, now. I'll have to change my whole world view.

8:28 - They just shot the Salvatores. Holy cow. Sheriff Mom, way to show no mercy! I expected her to be all tortured and sad that her only friend in the world is a vampire. I expected long talks over whether she should switch teams. But no. She just whips out her wooden bullets and bam! Show no mercy.

8:33 - It's fascinating that Tyler is being honest with Jeremy about the curse. If it were Matt, it'd be one thing, but Jeremy is someone who he's had such a contentious relationship with for longer than they've been civil acquaintances. Where are the margarita girls during all of this?

"I have to cause death and then next full moon I'm howling on all fours," Tyler says, before showing Jeremy the moonstone. "He's not here for me. He's here for this." Poor kid. Mason is playing this whole "I'm here to take care of my family" angle, but he may be just another person on the list who has let Tyler down.

8:35 - Speaking of Mason letting people down, he's letting me down right now. "Does your mother know what you are?" he says, and it's just so ugly. Does your mother know what you are, Jacob Black?

Caroline is amazing. She's the definition of amazing. I'm so glad that the women on this show aren't written as damsels in distress. I hope she never, ever dies. Insert more gushing here. 

8:37 - Torture time in the old slave dungeon. "But you're my friend," Damon begs Sheriff Mom. Who is this guy and what has he done with Damon Salvatore? He's suffering through her wooden bullets, but when she starts taking it out on Stefan - who is still out cold, probably as a result of the bunny diet - he looks a little bit more concerned. Aw.

Cue the bravest girls in town, swinging in to save the day! I hope that Elena and Caroline get back to being actual friends after this episode, because together, they can probably move mountains.

"Hi mom." Wow. Perfect delivery by Candice Accola. I officially have a girl crush.

8:43 - Bold move, having Damon feed on the cops post-mortem right in front of Liz. Marguerite MacIntyre is playing this beautifully. When I spoke with Accola last week, she said that the whole "My daughter is a vampire" thing is actually a very relatable story, if you take the whole supernatural aspect of it out.

Caroline didn't choose to be a vampire, but she is one, and now her mother has to deal with it. A lot of kids don't turn out the way their parents imagined they would. "Is there still going to be that unconditional love that a mother's supposed to have for her child? Is that going to still exist? It's not just a vampire story. It's a growing-up story," Accola says.

That said, if she wiped the deputy blood off her mouth before having this conversation, it might make things a little easier on her mom. Vampires are such messy eaters.

8:44 - I can't believe Damon is letting Liz off the hook with a simple "She's my friend." He's come so far! This is going to go a long way in making Elena trust him again. It probably won't go all the way, but it'll put a dent in her armor, for sure.

8:45 - I'd almost forgotten about Jeremy and Tyler's story. "Why didn't you give it to him?" "Because he wants it? I'm a dick that way." Perfection. He doesn't need a reason, he's Tyler Lockwood!

8:46 - If this stupid drunk random is the kill that ruins Tyler's life, I will be mad. I want his kill to be epic. I hope it's someone that will just tear him to shreds. (But not Matt! Are you listening to me, writers? Matt is not expendable!)

Phew. She was just being stupid and drunk and random.

8:47 - Liz Forbes is breaking my heart. If she shuns her own daughter, how am I supposed to call her Sheriff Mom? Damon's involvement in this is touching, especially because his own father was so vehemently opposed to vampires. Poor Caroline. Every teenage girl feels like she doesn't need her parents until the moment that she needs her parents. This is brutal.

Uh-oh, Stefan's getting into the blood cabinet. Is he really going to go there?

I don't understand him using Katherine's vervain method as justification - vervain makes a vampire weaker, so it makes sense that you'd want to build up an immunity, but human blood makes Stefan stronger, so he doesn't want to build up a tolerance. He just wants to quench his thirst a little bit. I can see this being the ultimate downfall of his and Elena's relationship, though. There's no denying that when Stefan drinks human blood he's a different person, and while that's not bad, he may not necessarily be the person Elena fell in love with.

That said, I totally love him on the juice, so bring it on.

8:52 - Katherine threatened Matt to get Caroline on her side? I will light her on fire.

8:54 - Mason, I loved you so much just 54 minutes ago, and now I don't know what to think!

Once again, Trevino is selling this beautifully. "For a split second I hope she died," he admits to Mason. That's kind of a new twist. I wonder if it's a curiosity thing about being a wolf, or that curse that makes him drunk on anger. I wish he'd held onto the moonstone, though. We all know that Mason wouldn't have left town before he got his hands on it... and despite his bad attitude, I don't want Mason to leave town. I want him to stay and have barbecues with Jenna and throw witty rejoinders back and forth with Damon and wander naked and muddy through the woods.

8:56 - What'd I tell you? Elena's starting to show some major sympathy toward Damon again. He'll chip away at her ice castle eventually. Watching them circle each other is one of my favorite things about this show. If and when they finally get together, it's going to have to be pretty epic to compare to all of this tense build-up.

"Stefan didn't drink the people blood, if you were curious, but he needs to," Damon says. He's really been there for Stefan this week. Ian Somerhalder and Paul Wesley are brilliant together. They should go out for drinks with Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki and talk about how awesome they all are at being awesome brothers all the time. (Also, they should invite me. I'd have a lot to contribute to that conversation.)

8:57 - Hold the phone. Stefan's feeding off Elena!? I didn't see that coming. I just cursed at my television. I can't decide how I feel about this - it seems very out of character for both of them not to have a long emo conversation about this beforehand.

Also, it seems like drinking out of a bag would make this a little bit easier on both of them. The sexualization of the feed blurs the lines and makes it less clinical. The way Stefan described it in the basement, he acted like he was taking the blood as a sort of daily vitamin. This is... not that.

8:58 - Mason and Katherine? I sort of figured they might go there, because most of the newcomers in this town can trace a direct connection back to Katherine, but I'm still a little bit taken aback here. By compelling Jimmy, she more or less turned Mason. How perfect is that?

And hello, hottest make out scene ever. I could take or leave those vampires, but now? Mark me down in the super-jealous-of-Dobrev list.

I couldn't decide if I wanted to give Candice Accola or Michael Trevino the MVP award tonight, so I asked my Twitter followers for help and almost all of you voted in favor of Candice for her crazy range in this episode. From kicking Kinney's butt to finally doing the right thing for Elena to begging for her mother's love, Candice nailed every angle. MVP!

Next week on "The Vampire Diaries" ... there is a rerun. But don't worry! Zap2it will have tons of TVD goodness for you this week. Tomorrow, I'm hopping on a plane to go meet up with the cast and creators at the NYC Comic-Con, where I'll be moderating the panel! There are still tickets available, so if you're in the NYC area, come into the city and meet the cast.

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Photos: CW