'The Vampire Diaries' Recap: The Season 2 premiere bite by bite

tvd-salvatores-201-320.jpgKatherine: 1. Salvatores: 0.

The Season 2 premiere of "The Vampire Diaries" was beyond epic. It's the best TV I've seen in way, way, way too long.

Ian Somerhalder just steamrolled all over my heart. I don't really have the words to describe his work here.

Nina Dobrev had better get ready for an extraordinary career, because she just proved that she can pretty much do anything. Paul Wesley's controlled violence gave me the chills -- while Michael Trevino's complete loss of control as Tyler was heartbreaking. Steven R. McQueen outdid himself in scenes where he didn't even have any dialogue.

Oh, sorry, am I gushing? Let's just get to the episode. Cue up your DVRs. Let's watch together. Don't forget to let me know what you do and don't agree with in the comments.

8:01 - We open on another point of view of the scene we ended on last season, with Katherine chopping John's ring (and fingers) off and Elena approaching the front door. It's a little bit clunky, because Aunt Jenna had to be explained out of the house. Still, once Elena sees John bleeding on the floor, all bets are off. Kevin Williamson's inner horror movie geek is on the loose in this scene. It's that classic suspense moment where you want to yell at the protagonist, "She's right behind you!"

8:03 - Jeremy! I worried about this kid all summer. I already know what happens because I chatted with McQueen about it on set, and my heart is STILL pounding.

8:04 - I'm going to ignore the fact that the cops are letting three teenagers hang out upstairs when there's a potential murderer on the loose who hasn't been found, but only because I'm so happy that Jeremy told Elena what he did with Anna's blood and the pills. Leave the web of lies to "Gossip Girl."

I love how physical Stefan gets with Jeremy as he's checking him for... what? The secret vampire barcode tattoo? Is he doing a retinal scan? Stefan's panic and anger is really palpable. He loves Elena enough to be protective of Jeremy, which is good -- Jeremy needs someone to look up to, and he doesn't trust Elena right now.

Also notable in this scene: when Jeremy says he wanted to be a vampire, Elena looked completely horrified. "Why would you want that?" If she has considered it, like Isobel suggested, she's definitely decided against it. Thank God. There's already one Bella Swan too many.

8:05 - MATT!! Oh, I missed crying out his name at my television.

8:06 - I can't figure out Damon's relationship with Sheriff Mom. It seems like he kind of cares about her right now. They're sort of on the same side now, because even though she's not vamp-friendly, protecting Mystic Falls is in their best interests, and he seems to really look out for her. I can't help but wonder what it would take for him to turn on her again. I almost hope she finds out Stefan is a vampire so we can see Damon's reaction.

8:06 -  Okay, did Katerina Graham go to Witch Camp over the summer? Bonnie got creepy. She must really be blaming herself for Caroline's accident if she's going to let Damon and his blood get involved.

8:07 - This conversation is so awkward. I have second-hand embarrassment for Damon -- Elena has no idea what he's talking about, and he's in panic mode. Freaked out is not a good look on him - I like my Damon drenched in cooler-than-you sauce. Still, how classic is Ian's face when Damon finally connects the dots?

8:08 - Nina carries herself so differently as Katherine. It's incredibly easy to differentiate out as a viewer, even when we're supposed to be wondering who is who. I'm curious as to how Stefan knew that she was Katherine, not Elena, but Damon had no clue. Point to Team Stefan.

8:13 - Elena seems more frustrated with Damon in the scene in the kitchen than she has been in a while. Maybe she can tell something's up with him... or she's just not in the mood for his games.

8:13 - Best line of the episode: "To risk another frown line encroaching on that very crowded forehead... we kissed."

When Elena tells the Salvatores that she wouldn't kiss Damon, the look of hurt on his face is so sad! But hello... Stefan's right there. What did you expect her to say? "Oh, damn, sorry I missed it. When's the rerun?" Damon and Stefan have come a long way, but Damon's risking everything they've built now. His vulnerability is backfiring -- and he's scared, getting reckless again.

8:14 - MATT! Doesn't it bother him that Damon stopped by to see Caroline? Doesn't he wonder why? People in this town need to start asking questions.

8:15 - The scene with Matt, Bonnie and Caroline in the hospital bed almost makes me cry.  Soundtrack junkie moment: "Out of Our Hands" by Gemma Hayes. It's highly appropriate -- the things that are happening around the three of them have very little to do with them, but they can't help but be sucked into the consequences.

I think it's really telling that Elena is absent from this scene. The four of them grew up together and have been friends forever, but she's being pulled further and further from them the more she involves herself in the vampires' world. It's a little bit heartbreaking -- she's so far from normalcy now that I doubt she'll ever find her way back. Even Bonnie can still balance her supernatural world and her life with her friends.

8:16 - Enter Uncle Mason! Definitely check out my interview with the impossibly hot Taylor Kinney if you haven't already.  Can I just take a moment to say that I'm so glad that Tyler is getting more story this season? He took way too many vacations last year. Trevino has some serious skills up his sleeve -- I was so impressed by him when I observed his scenes on set -- and I can't wait for everyone to see him show them off.

8:17 - First of all, I hate Elena being referred to as John's daughter. She's his niece. If he wants to refer to her as his daughter he should've manned up a long time ago.

When Elena steps out of John's hospital room, Paul Wesley really shows off his chops. His acting is usually very subtle, so when Stefan's unhinged, it's all the more powerful. In some ways, that makes Stefan scarier than Damon. Damon gets violent when he's emotional or scared, but Stefan is far more controlled about it.

I mean, he bit a chunk out of his own arm and shoved his blood down John's throat. That's the guy Elena feels safe with. I love this show.

8:19 - Uncle Mason doesn't believe in vampires, apparently. "He's too preoccupied finding the perfect wave." I think he just might have more on his mind than that.

8:20 - Katherine's in the Lockwood mansion... and she's wearing awesome shoes.

8:27 - Why hasn't Bonnie commented on Elena's sexed-up hair or slinky outfit? You'd think you'd notice if your best friend showed up to a funeral dressed like Sandy at the end of "Grease."

8:33 - Katherine says Matt is delicious! "Oh, his eyes are so blue!" Ahem. #teamkatherine.

8:35 - I LOVE the banter between Stefan and Katherine. I find him infinitely more interesting when he's teasing! He treats Elena like she's something breakable -- which I guess she is, to him, since he's used to the whole immortality thing. But I love his chemistry with Katherine, too. The whole cat-and-mouse game they have going on is phenomenal TV.

8:37 - I love Elena's line, "That's not a surprise. I'm surprised that you thought I'd kiss you back." When I was on set watching them film this, that line stood out to me, and I'm glad it made the final cut. She's committed to being honest with him, even when it hurts. Ian's faces in this scene are awesome. He's smirkier and scowlier than ever.

As much as I love Elena, this episode is so Katherine-heavy that it makes Elena appear boring in contrast.

8:36 - Oh, man. Jeremy has been promoted to the Leather Jacket Club of Awesomeness. I love any scenes between Jeremy and Tyler - they can relate to each other a little bit. I hope to see a bond form there, even though Trevino told me that Tyler has other things on his mind right now and isn't really in the mood for new BFFs.

8:37 - Kinney is so hot. Look at him with that flask. I mean... I'm a professional journalist.

8:38 - Stefan says, "I haven't spent 145 years obsessed with you," and Katherine replies, "Based on your choice of women, I'd say otherwise." Zing! Stefan can deny it all he wants, but if Elena didn't look like Katherine, they never would've met. That said, even if Stefan wasn't compelled to love Katherine 145 years ago, he's over her now. That's written all over his eyebrows.

I hope Stefan gets some human blood soon. The squirrel diet isn't working for him. I can see his entire skeleton.

Another killer line: "You hate me, huh? That sounds like the beginning of a love story, Stefan, not the end of one."

8:44 - Hi, Paul Wesley's abs, so good to see you again. I love this scene SO much -- I was on set when they filmed it! Sorry, sorry. I'll stop bragging. It's clear here that Damon wants Stefan to come at him. He's wrecked by everything that's going on right now. He was so hopeful about Elena returning his feelings... and then Katherine squashed those hopes under one of her amazing boots.

8:47 - I really can't stand Uncle John, so I hope he doesn't get into Jeremy's head too much. "With great power comes great responsibility, blah blah." Go away, Uncle John. (Sorry David Anders, I still love you.)

8:48 - I don't know what song this is, but I'm obsessed with it. "It hurts to see you burning oh so bright" -- have there ever been more perfect lyrics? If anybody knows the details, let me know -- until then, I'll just be hanging on music supervisor Chris Mollere's every tweet.

8:49 - Wow. Tyler just completely lost it. I can't believe he went after his mom! Knowing what a nice guy Trevino is, I'd almost forgotten what a psycho Tyler can be. I can't help but wonder how much his mother knows about the curse, since it's obviously in the Lockwood bloodline, not hers. Still, you think you'd notice if you were sleeping next to a werewolf.

8:50 - I don't know what to say about this Broodinghouse scene between Damon and Katherine. I think it's the best acting we've seen out of Ian, ever, in the span of his career.

"Don't pout. It's not attractive on a woman your age," Damon says, and here comes the tango. The angry playfulness between Damon and Katherine is incredible because they're so alike. Still, it's clear that he's unnerved by her, whereas she's unshakeable. It sort of seems like he's letting her overpower him, until he finally turns on her and kisses her.

This scene is so hot that I didn't take a breath the entire time, but it goes from sexy to sad so fast you can practically hear your heart break - and Damon's. Damon has never been this vulnerable, and it makes me wonder how much of Damon's love for Elena comes from his love for Katherine. "I've never loved you. It was always Stefan." Oh, ouch. Stefan is such a chick magnet.

8:54 - Soundtrack Junkie moment: One Republic ft. Sara Bareilles - "Come Home." I can already feel myself getting all verklempt. Damon is drunk, and of course he shows up to Elena's house. Why does she ask if he's been drinking? He's always been drinking. He'd have a glass of bourbon surgically attached to his hand if he could.

"Upset is an emotion specific to those who care," Damon says -- but he's upset enough to push Elena to admit that she has feelings for him. When she won't speak up, he kisses her.

This is not a romantic kiss. It's not sexy, it's not "epic." It's just really, really sad. He's so desperate for someone to meet him halfway that he's willing to force it.

8:56 - I'm sorry, but I'm so disturbed by Damon snapping Jeremy's neck. Maybe it's the older sister in me, but that crossed a major line. I know that he was devastated and drunk, and that he's spent more than a century doing whatever the hell he wants - but he claims to have feelings for Elena , and then he makes her watch as he kills her little brother. That's not something you get over, regardless of whether Jeremy wakes up. I can't think of anything worse than watching a sibling die.

That said, there's regret all over Damon's face immediately, so he hasn't completely fallen off the edge.

She hurt him, and he was childish and responded by instantly wanting revenge on her -- but her brother isn't a toy. Next time he should just key her car. Jeez.

8:58 - Stefan defends Damon, which is a pretty significant detail, but I don't believe that Damon actually saw Jeremy's ring. Jeremy was outside for two seconds, Damon was too drunk to be observant, and his eyes never dropped to Jeremy's hand.

"He doesn't want to feel, he wants to be hated. It's just easier that way. He got his wish," Elena says. "I hate him, Stefan." Ouch. I'm not sure she'll forgive this one. On the other hand, as Katherine said... plenty of love stories start in hate.

Dobrev and McQueen are amazing as Jeremy wakes up. He tries to be so tough but he's such a little boy here, grabbing his sister in complete terror. He may have been through a lot, but he's a kid, and he's a little brother.

9:00 - Here's all I have to say about Katherine and Caroline: OH. MY. GOD.

This makes that warm-and-fuzzy moment between Caroline, Bonnie, and Matt even more poignant.

There are so many questions running through my mind. Let me know your thoughts, Zappers! Will Elena forgive Damon? (She certainly won't forget.) If Caroline turns into a vampire, that means she has to feed after she dies -- who will be the lucky donor? Will Matt ever catch a break? When will Uncle Mason fill Tyler in on the whole wolf puberty thing?

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Photos: CW