'The Vampire Diaries' recap: The takeover, the break's over!

tvd-dobrev-dobrev.jpgYes, I did just use a Fall Out Boy song title as my headline for this recap. Stop judging me.

The break's over and "The Vampire Diaries" is back. After spending some time on set recently, I've been incredibly anxious for the return -- the cast has been very cryptic about the amazing (and horrible) things that are in store for our Mystic Falls favorites.

Tonight's episode employed a host of our favorite "Vampire Diaries" gimmicks: the Elena/Katherine bait and switch, the reincarnation by ring, and Bonnie moving leaves around with her brain. Just as we were getting comfortable in some familiar territory, however, everything was upended with a shocking twist. It took me a good 20 minutes to remove my jaw from the floor after that final scene.

Ready to re-watch it with me? Let's go, team!

8:01 - Is it just me, or does Isobel speak like a zombie, not a vampire? Sara Canning's performance in this scene is fantastic. She generally hasn't had a lot to work with on the show, but my heart is breaking for her in this scene. Realizing that your boyfriend and your niece have been conspiring to keep crucial information from you has to be devastating, and she's just completely wrecked here.

Fun fact -- they built Jenna's bedroom just for this scene! Hopefully, it'll be used more often in the future. I'd like to get a chance to see into Jenna's world a little bit more, as up until this point, we've rarely seen things from her point of view.

8:02 - Katherine and her push-up bra are trying to convince Damon and Stefan that she's on their side. I'm glad they're appropriately wary of her. When I chatted with Paul Wesley on set, I asked him whether Katherine could be trusted, and he laughed at me. "No! Never. Don't ask rhetorical questions," he teased.

8:03 - Back at Casa Gilbert, Jenna has moved on from sad and devastated straight to infuriated. And apparently she's still working on that thesis. Can we get some " Jenna Sommers Graduates" picket signs made up?

I hate to say it, but a teeny part of me agrees with John's sentiment, if not with his smug face, when he suggests that Alaric should've been more honest with Jenna from the beginning. That said, a bigger part of me agrees with Alaric's fist in said smug face. You go, Mr. Saltzman. (Side note: Love Elena's freaking delighted look.)

8:04 - Looks like Sheriff Forbes interrupted Matt's meltdown last night, which is a shame, because I wanted to see if the veins in Zach Roerig's face would actually rupture. Caroline makes a point to mention that Matt is currently vervain-free, which I'm sure will play a part later. And... sorry, what was I saying? I got distracted by the sudden overwhelming urge to run out of my house and spend all of my money on a Ford Focus. That was weird.

8:05 - Oh no John did not just invite Isobel in to have the slowest most monotone conversation ever! Basically, what they're saying is that lots of vampires might be after Elena to bring her to Klaus to get in his good graces, hence the tomb vamp massacre from last season's finale.

Isobel mentions that she has a house with a deed in Elena's name, which will protect her because no vampires can get in. I can't help but feel like the fact that there's paperwork involved with this ancient magic kind of takes the.... well, magic out of it. It makes sense that if you're living in a house, calling it a home, a vampire can't come in without an invitation. But if it really comes down to the name on the deed, why don't the Mystic Falls humans just change up all their deeds so that all the houses are vampire-proof again?

I'm glad Elena isn't buying Isobel's "I care about you" act. When we spoke with Nina Dobrev on set, she told us that Elena's guard is definitely up around Isobel. "Based on the way Isobel acted the last time she was here, what kind of hope can that possibly give Elena that her mother actually cares about her?" Nina says. "Actions speak louder than words and Isobel's actions gave her no hope. It's almost a waste of time. She knows it's a lost cause, so why invest her time when so much is going on?"

8:07 - How sweet of Bonnie to want to give Luka a proper burial as she steals his dad's spell books! I can't wait for Luka's sister, Greta, to show up. I have a feeling it'll really complicate things for Bonnie.

8:08 - I've been dying to see Katherine and Isboel's interaction with each other, and this is such a great tease - the viciousness between them quickly melting away into friendship and laughter. I wonder if these women are genuinely friends, or if one is about to betray the other, but in the meantime, it's kind of nice to see Katherine at ease with a girlfriend. She's still so very Katherine, of course, still feline and wild-eyed, but her interactions are more relaxed.

8:12 - Ha, of course Katherine and Isobel drink their blood from wine glasses. They're so classy. It's interesting that she's been in close contact with John all this time -- and that a bit of jealousy, a very human emotion, got the best of her. "Auntie Vanilla" is a great line.

I have to say, I thought Mia Kirshner's work was better in Season 1. Her dialogue sounds so forced, especially compared to Nina's.

8:13 - As it stands now, the plan is for the Salvatores to never let Elena out of their sight. This should be fun. The best part of this scene is the shot of Elena and Katherine's faces in the same frame. For some fun conversation about just how that works, watch this video interview with Paul Wesley. Here's a hint: it's either a hologram, Paul's scotch tape skills, or, you know... a special effects team.

"Don't mistake the fact that we haven't set you on fire in your sleep for trust," Damon quips. Oh Damon, I've missed your way with words.

8:15 - Good to know that even though her temperamental teenage son has run away from home with a stranger, Carol Lockwood and her BFF Sheriff Forbes are making sure that the historical society meetings go uninterrupted. Hello. You're a worried mother. Your friend is a cop. Sound the alarm? Perhaps?

At least there's a Tyler mention in this scene .Sorry if I sound bitter; it bugs me that Tyler's disappearance hasn't gotten more attention from his friends, family, and the authorities. This is a high school student who went missing in the midst of a vampire infestation in town, and nobody's worried that he could be in grave danger here? Helloooooo?

8:16 - Ha, even when he's in the background of a scene, Steven R. McQueen just embodies Jeremy so well - I love his little chuckle when Damon uses the word "bitch." That's such a high school kid thing to do.

How creepy is this mansion? I'm fascinated by the fact that the ghost-witches are still powerful enough to cut the power on Damon's ring. Is that just Emily, strong enough to do that from beyond the grave, or is it the combined energy of all the slain witches?

8:17 - Nina moves like a cat when she's playing Katherine; it's fun to watch her slink around the house. Of course she steals Damon's emergency cash stash.

While I love Damon's hiding spot -- the best place to hide something is in plain sight, my co-worker Mikey O'Connell said it best when he tweeted:

mikey-likes-tv-tweet-tvd.jpgI mean, can't you just imagine that trip to the Body Shop? "Maybe if we get a variety of scented bars it'll add a pop of color to the powder room, Stefan!" "Brilliant, Damon! I know just the pewter dish we can use; I've just been dying to showcase it."

8:24 - Uh-oh. Isobel is doing weird human-things, like assuring Alaric that she loved him. Are we supposed to be feeling sympathy for her? Because I'm really not, and it looks like Alaric isn't, either. He's moved on from her entirely. After the scary witch (who I'm pretty sure is the first white witch we've seen on the show, unless he's just a really pale black dude) gives him the brain-scramble, Isobel appears, for a moment, to be a little regretful.

8:25 - The haunted mansion is amazing. I'm not sure whether it's a location or a set, but it's giving me the uh-oh feeling all over the place.

Poor Jeremy. Why can't he fall in love with a normal girl, without vampire fangs or a self-destructive streak a mile wide? When Bonnie tells him the witches saying "nothing," she's definitely keeping something important from him. I know I've said it before, but I don't think her chances of surviving the season are very good.

8:28 - Um, what was John doing upstairs at the Lockwood mansion anyway? Checking out Tyler's porn stash? Checking out Carol's porn stash?

At least Katherine took the time to put on a very "Elena" outfit before she swapped their clothes. I'm not sure Elena would've appreciated the tiny camisole, so it's nice that she'll be bundled up in one of her ever-present henley shirts.

Stefan's getting better about recognizing Katherine! Her words are just a little bit more clipped than Elena's are, her voice a little more antagonistic. Unfortunately, he realized a few minutes too late and got tossed into the shrubbery. (Who is going to send me a .gif of that?)

8:33 - Back at witch manor, Bonnie is completely freaking me out, and I think Jeremy shares the sentiment. I'm starting to worry that he's going to break up with her, simply because he can't bear the fear of her dying. Three dead girlfriends is more than any kid can handle.

8:34 - I'm surprised by how flippantly Damon explains the Gilbert ring to Carol and Liz. It seems like the fewer people who know about those rings, the better. I wouldn't be surprised if their knowledge of the rings comes back to bite Damon in the ass later.

8:35 - MATT! Thirty-five minutes into the show, and finally, finally we see my favorite. This is probably the most heartbreaking performance we've seen out of Zach Roerig, including when he found out about Vicki's death. He doesn't even look like himself here; the rage transforms his face. (It reminds me a little of his work as Cash on "Friday Night Lights." Which you all need to watch, by the way.)

He's almost channeling Tyler here with the belligerence and the anger. It makes me sad. tvd-enemy-zr.jpg

8:36 - So typically Damon to just dump John on the ground in the front hall. Also, so typically "Vampire Diaries" that he got blood on his shirt and thus had to remove it before getting that phone call from Stefan.

So many soaps!

8:36 - "I'm sorry, Katherine," Isobel says. "I had to do what I was told. He wanted the moonstone, and he wanted you." Oh, snap. Klaus still has it out for Katherine, and Isobel has been betraying her all along. It's kind of nice to see the tables turned on Miss Petrova for a change!

I can't figure out if Isobel is compelled or not. She says she had to do what she was told, but did she have to do it to protect Elena, or did she have to do it because she was compelled?

8:42 - Aw, I'm glad the sheriff didn't arrest Matt. It's almost sweet that she took him home to her house to cool off, especially because he has no one of his own to go home to. His flinch away from Caroline is really breaking my heart. I don't really have an opinion on Tyler/Caroline vs. Matt/Caroline -- I love both of them and I think Candice Accola could have chemistry with a brick wall -- but I do want to see Matt happy. Bad things just keep happening to him.

8:43 - Bonnie is a rockstar! Jeremy has to think that's sexy. The special effects in that scene are fantastic.

8:43 - When searching a house for Elena, why don't the Salvatores use their special vamp speed? Just wondering.

8:45 - This graveyard scene kind of breaks my heart, and not just because Elena's poor Skipper Barbie feet are being shoved into Katherine's sky-high heels. Remembering the fact that Isobel used to be human and that she could have been a mother to Elena makes me sad. When I saw the stills of these two in the graveyard, I thought they were visiting the headstones of Elena's dead adoptive parents. This is an interesting twist.

As is the fact that Klaus doesn't want Elena brought to him. Perhaps he's looking forward to the game of cat and mouse that's about to ensue?

Oh, now I'm pretty much sure Isobel is compelled. I don't buy that she is capable of feeling the kind of guilt that would actually make her kill herself, so I'm sure Klaus compelled her to remove her ring. She looks almost relieved by being released from her duty to Klaus.

I feel sorry for Elena, having to watch her mother burn. Regardless of her bad intentions, she was still Elena's flesh and blood, and she probably could've learned some things from her.

8:50 - Okay, now I'm crying. "I'm all alone," Matt says. "My mom doesn't care, my sister's dead, and all of my friends are liars." Seriously, can he just have one good thing happen without it being instantly set on fire?

His rage in this scene freaks me out a bit. This isn't the guy we've known before. As Zach said, in the past, Matt has taken to feeling sorry for himself, but now, he's just getting angry and being a man about things. I feel sorry for Caroline, having to compel him, when she was so optimistic about telling him the truth the night before.

8:52 - The Salvatores are giving Elena their house. Uh, jackpot? That;'s going to be an awesome place to party if these kids ever get to have fun ever again.

8:53 - Here's the Bonnie stuff that we'd already assumed was true -- if she kills Klaus, she'll probably kill herself, but she's willing to do that for Elena. "Everyone is going to do whatever's in their power, whatever they need to do to protect the town, protect each other, and I'm no exception," Kat told me.

8:55 - Oh. My. God. Matt and the sheriff are working together!! I'm completely gutted right now. The music isn't helping any.

( Soundtrack Junkie moment: Chris Mollere, the music supervisor, totally pulled the Snow Patrol card. It's a card music supervisors keep in their back pocket when they want me crying all over my couch. This song is called "Give Me Strength.")

The fact that both Matt and Liz are essentially mourning Caroline is what hurts the most. They don't understand that all in all, Caroline really is the same girl they've always known. Vampires are monsters to them; that's it. Despite the legends, Caroline has proven strong enough to remain true to her character even post-vamping.

I'm concerned that Matt is in way, way over his head here. Not knowing about the vampires kept him safe from their wrath. If he actively goes after Caroline - or worse, the Salvatores - he may be in some serious danger. (I mean... while Stefan may hesitate, Damon would have no qualms about snapping Matt's neck if he felt threatened .)

8:55 - The scene between John and Elena is  pretty emotional one, too. He's a jerk, and I don't like him, but Elena doesn't have a lot of options when it comes to parents. Now that Jenna knows about the vampires, Elena is going to be in a position where she has to comfort and protect Jenna -- she'll be the guardian for a while. So the fact that John does feel some paternal instinct with his daughter makes me feel better. After all, unlike Isobel, John did watch Elena grow up. From afar, sure, but we can assume that he was around for the occasional Gilbert family reunion to see his brother, drop off Christmas gifts, sleep with Jenna... the usual.

It looks like Elena really can trust John from here on out. I can't believe I'm about to say this, but I hope David Anders sticks around full-time next season. He needs his own house, though.

8:57 - Post-game recap at the Salvatore broodinghouse! Stefan and Damon look incredibly pleased with themselves when they realize they've successfully kept a secret from Katherine. They also don't seem to be too concerned about Katherine's whereabouts...

8:58 - Oh, hey, Katherine's whereabouts!

This scene is so creepy. Ominous chanting, witchy contraptions, the whole thing. At first, I thought that publicists and producers had pulled one over on the media and that we were about to meet Joseph Morgan. It's actually pretty brilliant that so much happened in this episode that I literally forgot about Alaric being kidnapped, too. I was shocked when we saw his face - and as soon as he opened his eyes, I knew Alaric had left the building.

I'm thrilled that Matt Davis is going to have this acting opportunity. His voice is just so startlingly evil here, and I don't think we've really gotten to see him show his skills up until now. The look of terror on Katherine's face is incredible.

And, of course, I'm left with a million questions, with the most important one being: once Klaus leaves Alaric's body, will Alaric be back?

The first half of this episode felt a little lukewarm to me, but the last 15 minutes were a real standout, not only with the twists, but with the real emotional weight of these events.

I'm giving MVP to Zach Roerig this week -- because he totally freaked me out when Matt was angry, and because I actually cried when he confessed that he feels like Caroline is dead. That said, Nina Dobrev is always a rockstar, and that last two minutes belonged to Matt Davis (who I'm sure will blow us all away as Klaus-the-school-dance-chaperone next week.)

Your turn, friends! Tell me everything you thought. I read all of your comments and have been loving your theories, so tell me your opinion of the episode and what you're expecting for us down the line!
Photo/Video credit: The CW