Meanwhile, Stefan's pondering why any of them, including him, assume moral superiority over anyone else because they've all done bad things. TVD basically posed this question: what's redeemable about any of the characters? What does separate the good from the bad? Is the show more interested in portraying humans as not good or bad but as complicated and flawed? Is TVD now a show that ponders the Dostoevsky quote about the difficulty of understanding the criminal?
The worst character of the first season became the revolutionary figure in tonight's episode. Tyler Lockwood existed as a scumbag in season one, continued as a scumbag, became a werewolf, struggled during full moons, and eventually found himself as a protector of the other Hybrids and as a devoted son and boyfriend. Tyler reacted with horror when he found his hybrid friend sacrificed for the sake of a tattoo. He raised a good point by asking what gave Stefan, Caroline and Jeremy the agency to choose whose worth saving and whose worth killing for whatever they need to get. Tyler's plan for Klaus was to put him asleep, go to the ground for a couple months with Klaus in his body, while the hybrids escaped into a free life. Stefan and Caroline wanted to stop the plan because of Klaus' sword that will decipher the hunter's map. Tyler says no and reaffirms the plan. Stefan and Caroline won't decide who gets to live and who gets to die. The 'For Elena' response doesn't work.
Tyler's plan is doomed, though. Caroline and Stefan couldn't decide who lives and who dies, but Hayley worked behind the scenes to ensure the deaths of the people she helped over a span of weeks, all to meet her parents who aren't alive anymore. Klaus murdered the hybrids in the Mystic Falls woods, a place that bore resemblance to Klaus' post-modern painting of snowfall in a forest (Stefan described it as post-modern, not me). The themes of the episode boiled down to Trust. Tyler trusted the wrong person and paid for it dearly; his friends, and his mother, were murdered by Klaus. Caroline felt like she needed to tell Stefan the truth about Damon and Elena. He trusted her, and she wasn't honest with him. Elena took Jeremy to the Gilbert lake house to re-program his brain so he wouldn't try to kill her each time he saw her. She trusted she'd reach through the hunter and touch the little brother who grew up with her and stood by her while everyone they cared about got hurt or died.
Jeremy's re-programming is an after-thought in the Lake House story. The episodes more concerned about Elena and Damon's relationship and with Shane's exposition about finding the cure. Jeremy's a source of emotional manipulation. He's healed by romantic feelings for Bonnie, his detour from murder, i.e. a constant like Penny for Desmond in LOST. Elena trusts Shane because he's a college professor, articulates well, and shows off rocks during stories about ancient Silas and witch. Damon wants to kill him with an ax. Shane's a different villain for the gang because of his articulation, lack of menace, and genuine effort to help them (even if it's a load of crap). Shane explains the Silas again and offers more specifics about the getting the cure, but he's the untrustworthy antagonist who got Hayley to sacrifice twelve hybrids for him, who's involved in Pastor Young's sacrifice of the council (another group of twelve); so, yes, something's rotten in the town of Mystic Falls. It's good, though--better than the never-ending Original story of season 3. Oh wait, the Original nonsense CONTINUES.
Klaus was strangely neutered until the episode, except for the cruel dagger to Rebekah's chest. I saw comparisons of Klaus to Buffy's Spike. Klaus' brutal massacre un-neutered him (he was never close to Spike in characterization). I'm disappointed pissed off Big Bad Klaus is back because that well is dry. Rebekah's going to be undaggered by April and want her revenge. The Original narrative goes round and round and round. Stefan's moment of consideration for Klaus suggests he'll be crucial to stopping Shane's plan.
In a show full of characters who commit reprehensible acts, atonement's just an active choice away for any of the characters. The characters realize they've brought about the tragedy they experienced, so I wonder will the show choose to tell a story about recovery and atonement in season five or six; but, probably, the body count will continue to rise, the characters will make darker choices, and it'll be a harder show to love.
-Damon freed Elena from the sire bond. She insists she feels different to what she's doing when she says that, which is leave the Gilbert Lake House because he told her to. Damon will stay with Jeremy to complete the map sans possibility of sibling murder. Stefan reacted badly to news of Damon and Elena's copulation.
-Steven R. McQueen chopped wood for no reason other than TVD is a CW show watched primarily by females 18-34.
-Candace Accola looked pretty in her all-white wardrobe. Caroline's neck was broken by Hayley. April found her dead on the floor. Caroline's compulsion fails on her because April wears a vervain bracelet. I feel like April's arc is going to have a worthwhile pay-off.
-TVD abuses contemporary pop and alt-pop songs. Every scene in the final act had terrible music playing over it to intensify the beats or whatever. Let the scenes breathe, TVD.
-Michael J. Cinquemani & Julie Plec wrote the episode. Pascal Verschooris directed it.
-New episodes return on January 17, 2013.
THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK