'The Vampire Diaries' recap: The One with the Almost-Kisses

tvd-trevino-sacrifice.jpgWhew. After two cold, lonely, dark, painful Thursdays without "The Vampire Diaries," those Mystic Falls kids came back with a vengeance tonight. This episode, "The Sacrifice," moved so fast I nearly gave up on taking notes.

Previously on "The Vampire Diaries": Klaus is looking to break the moonstone spell that prevents vampires from walking in the sun. In order to do it, he's going to need to sacrifice Elena... and almost everyone she cares about. To get to her, he'll stop at nothing.

There's a catch, though. That moonstone binds not only the vampires' spell - but also the one that forces werewolves to transform at every full moon. It's a bit of a race to the finish line, because once one spell is broken, the other will be eternal.

I needed a little bit of clarification on the whole spell situation, so I checked in with executive producer Julie Plec, and she confirmed that if the werewolf spell is broken, the wolves will be able to turn whenever they want to - or to never turn again, if that's their preference.

Now that that's all cleared up, let's cue up our DVRs. Spoiler alert: Nina Dobrev is awesome.

8:01 - Elena needs her own personal Whoopi Goldberg to tell her, "You in danger, girl!" every. single. day. After everything she's been through, I'm impressed that she doesn't build a cage around her bed. You know, the kind that they use to lower divers into shark-infested waters? Elena Gilbert is permanently in shark-infested waters.

Wait... has Elena's trouble-magnet been turned off? It appears that the only menace in the Gilbert house is a mostly-naked Alaric (which some might consider a welcome surprise) brandishing ice cream.

Nope. Manwitch Luka's creepy Witch Doctor Dad is up to no good in Elena's bedroom, collecting stuff from her shelves.

"Well, I'm naked, so I'm gonna go." Ha! It's a little weird to me that Alaric ( Matt Davis) has been used so sparingly in the first half of the season, but I'm hearing that there will be lots happening for him and Jenna ( Sara Canning) this spring. 

8:02 - Let me get this straight. Damon ( Ian Somerhalder) and Stefan ( Paul Wesley) have to do that whole one-two-three-heave-ho thing to move the rock slab in the tomb, but Caroline can lift it like it's styrofoam? Better start eating your wheaties, Salvatores. The tiny pretty blonde is out-awesoming you.

I have to confess, I'm not a fan of all this cutting back and forth between scenes. I'm getting whiplash. I am, however, a fan of Damon playing with an orange - I may not have read the "Vampire Diaries" books (I'll get around to it, I promise) but I can appreciate an homage when I see one.

This scene was released earlier, and I commented on it here, but I'll reiterate - I do think that it's significant that Elena pointedly includes Damon on her list of people she cares about. The last time she verbalized feelings for him she said she hated him. Progress is good - and whether or not you think Elena belongs with Stefan or Damon, it's in everyone's best interest for them to all get along.

8:06 - Whenever Bonnie ( Katerina Graham) talks about her Grams I (1) really miss Grams from "Dawson's Creek" and (2) am sad that we lost Sheila Bennett so early. I would've liked to see drunk Grams rambling about Bonnie's witchy powers.

Bonnie and Manwitch Luka are bonding - emotionally and magically. I have to say, I'm so very Team Jeremy here (especially given Luka's creepster Dad), but with all the nosebleeds and passing out and doom and gloom lately, it's nice to see the light-hearted, happy, magical witchery that happens when Bonnie and Luka "channel" each other.

Graham's work in this scene is fantastic. Suddenly all the stress on Bonnie's shoulder's is gone, and she's just having fun with her powers. It's a lot like the scene with the feathers when she first told Elena her secret.

That said... the whole dog-tag/bracelet switch is a yawn. There's too much enchanted jewelry on this show. God forbid a dude move to Mystic Falls who isn't a fan of man-jewelry.

8:08 - Poor Jeremy ( Steven R. McQueen). His hair looks spectactular, but he will never be able to make autumn leaves dance with the powers of his mind.

8:09 - "It's not nice to leave a girl naked so early in the morning," Rose says. She does realize that Stefan lives in that house too, right? Just wondering. It's good to know that Damon is still tapping that at night, while running around saving Elena is his day job.

Elena offers Bonnie's daylight savings ring services in exchange for something from Rose. In the last 500 years, has Rose really not been able to convince a witch to make her a ring? She's been slacking. It's not like those things are hard to come by these days.

8:10 -  MATT! Tyler! Basketball! Their shirts are on, but I'll take it. "The Vampire Diaries" does friendships between guys really well, and even though Jeremy seems to have abandoned Tyler ( Michael Trevino) in his time of need to make eyes at Bonnie, I'm glad that Matt ( Zach Roerig) still has his back. (Even if Matt doesn't know about the lycanthropy issue.)

Poor Matt. He looks like he's going to cry, and he's being so honest. He's devastated by what happened at the maquerade - and unlike Tyler, he doesn't really have anyone to lean on, because he doesn't know anything about all the mind manipulation that led up to that tragic moment in the study. Somebody fix him, please!

(Awesome soundtrack junkie moment: "Only Happy When it Rains" by Kat Graham. That "pour your misery down on me" line in the background is aces.)

8:11 - Caroline ( Candice Accola) and Matt or Caroline and Tyler?! I can't choose! They're all so wounded and moody-broody.

8:12 - Okay, I don't want you guys to think I'm drinking the Bonnie haterade, because I'm totally not. I think she's just as awesome as the rest of the girls on this show. But when she says she's "learned a few new things" since opening the tomb literally killed her grandmother, I had to roll my eyes. Her grandmother had decades to perfect her craft. Bonnie holds hands with a Manwitch at school and now she thinks she's got it under control? Girl, you in danger.

Stefan notes that unlike Katherine, he and Damon have been feeding. Are we to assume that Elena is still giving him her blood despite their break-up? Or has he been raiding the O-neg bags in the basement?

Damon's continued disdain for Jeremy's mere presence amuses me. Just so long as he keeps his hands away from the neck-area.

8:13 - Slater's apartment looks like Ben and Sean's loft from "Felicity," only without the cool deli fridge and the book of Smoothaise and fruit-selling ideas. Oh... and plus one dead vampire on the floor. They didn't have those at UNY.

8:17 - Hello, Alice. Who are you?

8:18 - Stefan is giving up that photo of Katherine without a care in the world, showing once again that he's over her. Though, I guess, technically, since she's back in the picture he could just snap a photo with his blackberry (or with whichever phone is sponsoring this week).

Damon didn't hold onto anything of hers? Interesting.

"I can turn the metal to ash, blow the ashes on her, incapacitate her," Bonnie says. Okay... but if your nose is bleeding just from that, do you really expect your brain not to hemorrhage when you try to take on the tomb?

8:19 - More Caroline and Tyler bonding! The more time these two spend together the more I like the idea of them together, but I'm still not totally convinced that she doesn't see him as her latest extracurricular activity. Tyler takes her to Mason's cellar, where they find chains and scratches in the stone from werewolves past.

I can't help but wonder - between the well, the cellar, and the tomb, there's a whole lot going on underground in this town. Are there hidden tunnels out of that tomb that no one knows about?

Caroline finds Mason's journal stashed in the cellar. It doesn't make a ton of sense that he'd leave it there - sure, he had to bail in a hurry the night he turned, but he had plenty of time after that to go back for it. I'd like to think he left it just in case, when he realized the Salvatores would be gunning for him, as a road map for Tyler. Uncle Mason pulls through again!

He chronicled everything... and even left a memory card tucked between the pages.

8:22 - When Jeremy asks Bonnie, "What are you doing?" I don't understand why she freaks out and shushes him so fast. Is she afraid Damon and Stefan will change their minds? Or is she just looking for an excuse to touch Jeremy's mouth? I wouldn't judge her or anything.

Bonnie tells Jeremy she's doing this to keep Elena safe. But has anyone filled her in on the fact that to break the spell, she'd be part of the sacrifice, too? Isn't it a package deal - the doppelganger, the witch, the vampire, and the werewolf? Elena's friends are constantly sacrificing themselves for her.

Oh, Jeremy. Stealing the ashes in true I-was-a-teenage-druggie fashion.

8:23 - Okay, so Alice is one of those girls who wants to be turned because she's read "Twilight" too many times, and Slater's computer password was "Kristen Stewart." I'm so disappointed. (Also... I've seen this before.)

8:25 - Uh-oh... Elena is on a suicide mission. With all the sacrifices her friends have been making on her behalf lately, it sort of seems like it's about time she make a sacrifice for them. Of course, I'm only saying this because I know she's never actually going to die, but seriously.

8:26 - Oh, Jeremy. You're so brave. And so, so dumb.

8:32 - So now Jeremy is vamp chow, and Damon has to bolt to Virginia to save Elena's life for the zillionth time. Jeremy can't die, so he's literally going to be Katherine's personal fountain of fresh blood in there - she'll drain him, and then he'll come back to life, and then she'll drain him.

"I'm just going to be in the back playing with my new little toy, and you guys just give me a holler when you've got the tomb open." Nina Dobrev is my hero. Also I'm a little bit afraid of her.

8:34 - I don't get it. Witch Doctor snuck into Elena's house... while she was home... to steal stuff from her... to do a spell to find out where she is. Why didn't he just snatch her, or call Elijah, right then? Logic fail.

8:37 - Hmm. Is Manwitch Luka on Bonnie's side? Does he not know what his dad is up to?

8:38 - Oh. My. God.

Bonus shirtless Taylor Kinney weeks after Uncle Mason's death? This is like finding an extra Christmas present under the couch a week after New Year's Eve.

Of course, it's not exactly shiny happy Pictionary Mason we get from the video footage Tyler and Caroline found. This is ugly, and painful, and downright hard to watch. I'm always impressed when actors really go there in scenes like this. Agony is awkward to play, and writhing on the floor in front of a bunch of camera guys can't be exactly comfortable. If this is any indication of what we'll see from Trevino next week, bring it on.

Speaking of Trevino... amazing in this scene, as usual. Tyler not only grapples with the struggle of seeing someone he loves in pain, but with his own inevitable future.

8:41 - "When have I ever made a decision?" Elena's little mission is misguided and perhaps stupid, but at least she's thinking for herself. I'm almost proud of her, even though it all backfired, as usual. She and her little brother have a lot in common.

8:42 - Surprise! Bonnie isn't actually more powerful than her wise, practiced grandmother.

8:47 - Stefan and Katherine stuck in the tomb. Oops?

8:48 - Okay, I know Tyler is a new member of the Badass Leather Jackets club, but he doesn't need to wear it inside. He looks like he's ready to bolt.

"There's a reason it's called a curse, Tyler." Now it's time to gush about Accola. How does she make her performance feel so real when her hair stays so perfect?!

And the doorbell rings. I woooonder who that could be... ... ...

8:50 - MATT! "I was driving home from work and I kind of found myself here. I miss you." I am dying right now. Their little smiles! The music! And--

Oh, come on, Tyler. I hate you. You couldn't have waited like one more minute to be a kiss-block!?

8:51 - Does ripping out a heart always work, no matter the monster? It's kind of messy, but it's effective.  

8:54 - "I spared him. He'd die before he'd let anything happen to her. They both will. She'll be kept safe," Elijah drones. Ew. The Salvatores are like walking talking Elena incubators. Their entire purpose is to keep her safe and warm and like, fatten her up for the sacrifice. Gross.

8:55 - Jeremy and Bonnie, alone at last! Nevermind their friend stuck in the tomb with the psycho bitch! There's romantic music and dim lighting and Jeremy being all open and honest and talking about his feelings. "Don't act like this is one-sided," he says. "Like I'm some kid that has a crush on his sister's friend."

Bonnie's willpower is extraordinary.

Seriously. Extraordinary. The fact that she can walk away from that, but she can't break the tomb spell for a minute is mind-blowing.

8:57 - Why does Elena even waste her breath defending Rose? Maybe she actually likes the idea of Damon having someone to occupy him while she's busy still being in love with Stefan. If he's distracted by Rose, he might lay off the longing looks and close-talking.

"If I had a dollar for every time some evil vampire surprised me," Damon says... Elena could echo that sentiment.

Uh-oh. Here's Jeremy with the bad news.

Damon throws some of the blame for Stefan's precarious situation Elena's way. "I was too busy saving you from your crazy kamikaze mission," he hisses. I love Dobrev in this scene. Elena knows better than to go in after Stefan - she just needs Damon to be her punching bag for a minute before she comes to her senses. This is going to be tough.

8:58 - "You martyr yourself into a tomb and I get partnered with a semi-competent witch." Awww. Brotherly love.

That was one hell of an episode. There was a lot going on - and a lot of kissing not happening. I don't care who, but somebody better start making out on this show. All these almost-but-not-quite moments are really harshing my buzz.

In other news, Rose continues to be just shy of totally boring, and Luka is going to have to step up his game tenfold if I'm ever going to care about Bonnie giving him magic seizures.

The preview for next week looks absolutely bananas. If that hot scene between Stefan and Katherine is a dream sequence, I'm going to be so mad.

I want to give MVP to Trevino, but I'm saving that for next week. (I have a lot of faith in him.) So Kinney gets it. For the best surprise appearance ever.

Your turn, vamp fans! Tell me what you thought in the comments below. What are you most anticipating about next week's fall finale? More importantly, I'll be visiting the "Vampire Diaries" cast on set next week, so let me know if you've got any burning questions. I'll get as many answers as I can!