WARNING! THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS!
“Until we have seen someone’s darkness, we don’t really know who they are. Until we have forgiven someone’s darkness, we don’t really know what love is.” – Marianne Williamson
This week’s mid-season finale of The Vampire Diaries sets the stage for some mind-blowing plot twists with no cheesy cliffhanger in sight. In this episode, Damon confronts his dark past and makes a heartbreaking decision. Katherine decides to fight for her life, and Elena discovers a shocking family secret.
As the episode opens, Damon (Ian Somerhalder) is punching the wall of his cell until a piece of concrete breaks off. He grabs an unspent bullet just outside of the cell (that’s quite a reach he has!) and places it inside the cell door’s key lock. He smashes the concrete against the lock which makes the bullet explode but to his surprise, it doesn’t open. In frustration, he violently kicks the door a few times and it slowly swings open, in defeat.
At the Salvatore house, Katherine (Nina Dobrev) wakes up in Stefan’s bed and to her horror, discovers a big lock of her hair has fallen out. (Aging sucks, doesn’t it). She wraps herself up head to toe in a blanket and tells Stefan who is now awake, not to turn around. Stefan (Paul Wesley) smiles as she tells him nothing’s wrong, bumping hard into one of the bedroom walls as she leaves. Enter a bloodied Damon through the front door, as Katherine is leaving. She asks what happened to him; he responds the same to her and asks if she’s seen Elena. When she says no, he calls out to Stefan. Katherine says he hasn’t seen her either because of they were enjoying a passionate night together, to which Damon replies as only he can, with “Barf!” and a shudder.
Elena (Nina Dobrev) meanwhile, wakes up strapped to a lab table. She looks at the stairs at the opposite end of the room. A flashback shows a ball bouncing down the stairs and a girl giggles. Back to the present, Elena asks Dr Maxfield (Rick Cosnett) where she is, and he asks if it looks familiar. He has her hooked up to a blood dialysis machine and then administers anesthesia to her.
Back at the Salvatore house, Damon gives Stefan the abbreviated version of where he’s been for two days and he lies that he can’t find Elena. He suggests that Dr. Creep Ken Doll (hilarious!) has her. They find Aaron (Shaun Sipos) at the college where Damon gives him a multiple choice question: Should Damon call the police, get a new girlfriend, or kill someone close to a mad scientist. A shocked Aaron tries to run, but Stefan blocks his escape.
At the lab, Maxfield notes that he has drained 4.1 units of blood from Elena and is surprised that she is still conscious. He notes a previous subject wasn’t after only 2 units. Elena asks what’s going on and he says he’ll release after he’s done with her. He tells her about Damon killing off generations of Aaron’s family and asking how one justifies that. Elena asks how he justifies his “work” and he replies it’s for science. Maxfield starts reading from a journal that her father, Grayson Gilbert, kept of his experiments on vampires. Maxfield says everything he’s doing to her, he learned from her father. (Quite a shocker!)
Meanwhile, Stefan and Damon grill Aaron about where Maxfield could be holding Elena since she’s not at his lab. Damon paints a picture of Stefan as being the unhinged one and that Aaron should watch himself. Stefan objects but Damon acknowledges that he knows about him and Katherine and that confirms Stefan is crazy. (Stefan’s expression is priceless). Aaron asks how Damon is still alive after he shot him. Damon suggests Aaron go for the heart, not the head next time. Damon gets Aaron to call Maxfield and relay their threat of removing his arms if Elena isn’t released.
Elena recognizes that she is being held in her father’s clinic. Maxfield confirms it, saying that the Mystic Falls council burned some vampires down there and the building is now condemned and no one will find her. Aaron calls Maxfield saying that Damon and Stefan will kill him unless he lets Elena go. Maxfield says Damon is in a fortified cell. Aaron replies that he’s right in front of him, “imagining what my kidney might taste like”. (Now there’s a visual!) Maxfield tells Aaron to meet him in his classroom where he can see he’s safe and he’ll give them Elena (Can we say, set-up?). Back inside the clinic, Maxfield wakes up Enzo (Michael Malarkey), injects him with an insurance policy, and sets him after Damon.
Out in the woods, Katherine is doing a handstand while Matt (Zach Roerig) holds one of her legs and counts to six on his stopwatch. She falls at that point, and Matt says that was a good try. Katherine counters back with that she’s paying him to make her hot again. When she can’t hear what Matt says, she swears she’s going deaf. Matt asks why she just doesn’t have someone turn her, but she says her body rejects vampire blood. She bends over and her back cracks; then she can’t see Nadia approaching them in the distance (Fun getting old, eh?). Matt says he told Nadia to come by. Nadia (Olga Fonda) reads out loud Katherine’s suicide note that Stefan gave her. When Katherine asks her what’s the point, she plants a big slap across Katherine’s face, to which Matt’s jaw drops and he says, “Daaamn!” (Priceless).
Back at the Salvatore house, Katherine admits to Nadia it was in a moment of weakness that she wanted to kill herself and she’s now over it because of someone (Stefan, perhaps?). She asks Nadia if she can be forgiven for all the horrible things she’s done and Nadia says yes (thinking it’s her that Katherine is referring to!). Nadia says she has a plan that will keep Katherine alive longer.
At the clinic, Elena remembers coming down to the basement of the clinic as a child and being creeped out by it. She asks Maxfield when he met her father. He tells her when he was working with the Augustines to find a world wide cure for cancer and other diseases. Elena mentions seeing Enzo to which Maxfield replies that he sent Enzo to find Damon.
Meanwhile, Aaron brings the Salvatore brothers to Maxfield’s classroom. Once inside, Enzo greets a shocked Damon and introduces himself to a confused Stefan. Damon explains he’s another Augustine vampire and that their cells were next to each other. He asks Enzo if he knows Maxfield who they are supposed to be meeting there. Enzo is angry that this is Damon’s first question to him instead of asking how he is, and how did he escape the fire. A puzzled Aaron wants to know what’s going on. Enzo invites them to sit while he tells them his story.
Elena tells Maxfield that she’s figured out it was Enzo who killed Megan, her roommate, that he’s the Augustine vampire. Maxfield ignores that says he’s drained enough of her blood to start Phase 2 which he won’t tell what that is. Elena asks why Megan had a photo of her father on her cell phone. Maxfield says because her parents funded most of his projects. They weren’t Augustines, but they knew that her father had an unregulated compound — vampire blood — that could cure most injuries. Maxfield said that Megan got suspicious and enrolled at Whitmore, got a room with Elena, and started snooping around. She found Enzo in his cell, got too close, and he killed her. Stefan calls Maxfield and asks him where Elena is. Maxfield asks who he is, and he says they have Aaron and are deciding how to kill him. Maxfield threatens if they do, they’ll never see Elena again. Stefan says that works both ways. (Ouch!).
Back in the classroom, Enzo is recounting how he and Damon were held captive in the cells and tortured. Stefan interrupts to tell Damon about his call, and Enzo throws a temper tantrum with a few chairs to get their attention back to his story. He explains how they plotted their escape but once the fire started, Damon couldn’t get the cage open and left him to die. He was rescued by one of the scientists and has spent the last 50 years being experimented upon. He then leaves to go find some alcohol. Stefan asks why he didn’t know this and Damon retorts that he doesn’t remember every moment of his life. Stefan asks him how he can’t be fazed by all it and Damon ignores him. He asks Stefan which one of them should kill Aaron, then decides he will. Aaron says he has files in his dorm room that Maxfield gave him that might help them find Elena. Enzo returns and orders Damon to stay or else. As Stefan and Aaron leave, Damon tells Stefan to kill him if he doesn’t have what they need.
At the Salvatore house, Nadia reminds Katherine that her father was a Traveler and suggests that Katherine find someone who can do the passenger spell. Katherine rejects the idea that she is a Traveler and that her father banned the use of the spells. Nadia tells her that she (her spirit) can live on in someone else’s body, just like her boyfriend Gregor did in Matt’s body after Gregor died. Katherine hates the idea. She points out that Stefan likes her current body and tells Nadia about their tryst. Katherine wants to know that Stefan still cares when she dies. Nadia figures out that Katherine wasn’t asking forgiveness from her, but Stefan. Nadia tells her to go kill herself and see if anyone misses her.
Damon asks Enzo what he wants. Enzo cringes in pain, telling Damon that Maxfield injected him with poison and if he doesn’t return for the antidote, he’ll desiccate. Damon suggests they kill Maxfield together, free Elena and finish things off. Enzo asks him if he ever thought about him or what had happened to him all these years. Enzo tells Damon he won’t see Elena again because he wants the antidote and Maxfield told him not to go back until Damon was dead. Then Enzo flings him through the classroom window. Outside, Damon peels himself off a car hood and they have a brief fight until Enzo collapses from the poison.
Aaron takes Stefan into his dorm room and pretends to take out the Augustine files from a drawer. Instead, he brings out a gun but Stefan takes him by the throat and body slams him into a bookcase. Aaron tells him to he’s dead anyway and explains how Damon has been killing off his relatives for generations after he escaped, leaving just one member alive to create another generation so he can kill them off. He asks Stefan to kill him so Damon can’t have that satisfaction. Stefan refuses, saying not all of them are like Damon. Aaron then gives Stefan the files and says he saw Elena’s last name on a few pages and thinks it might help find out where she is. Stefan looks at the pages and back at Aaron (He’s figured out where she is! Good job!).
Meanwhile, back at the clinic, Elena has a flashback. As a child, she chased her ball down the stairs into the basement of the clinic. Her father finds her and reminds her that she’s not supposed be there. She says she heard someone screaming, as she looks at a locked door. He tells her that he’s going to save a little girl’s life, who’s the same age as Elena. Back to the present, Maxfield tells Elena that her cells have mutated and that the compound will work. He explains one shot of the compound will make her salivate at vampire blood and she’ll feed only on other vampires. The result is she’s patient zero. Vampires who get the shot will turn into rippers and feed on their own kind until vampires are eliminated. Elena tries to fight him off but he stabs her chest with the syringe. Before he can inject her, Stefan calls out to her. She yells for him, and then head butts Maxfield who falls onto the floor, unconscious. (Wow, that’s some head butt!) Stefan appears and rescues her. (Tender moment!) Elena takes her father’s journal as they leave.
Nadia meets with Matt outside the Mystic Grill. She hands Matt the Traveler’s knife and asks him to hold on to it, but he refuses. She says it’s not about him. She wants to know it’s safe as she’s leaving Mystic Falls. She’s tried to convince Katherine to live a little longer and if she changes her mind, she’ll need the knife. But Matt is convinced she won’t. Nadia doesn’t know whether to hate her or be there when she does die. She wants to hold out hope that Katherine will do what she’s asked of her. Matt tells her he understands about crappy parents and recounts how his own mother was. Matt agrees to keep the knife in case Katherine changes her mind.
Inside Maxfield’s lab at the college, Enzo wakes up and asks Damon what he did. Damon injected him with a bunch of stuff labeled antidote to see if any of them would work. And apparently one did. (Got to love that analogy!) Enzo is not happy about Damon trying to make amends, but Damon denies his is. Since Elena is safe, he didn’t want Enzo to desiccate in vain. Enzo attacks him, but Damon grabs his heart (ewww!) to get him to listen to his side of the story. After Damon escaped he didn’t think about him or feel remorse, regret, or pain, because in order to escape and leave Enzo to die, he had to turn off his humanity. Enzo says that forgiving him wouldn’t make Damon less of a horrible person. Damon says they’re even now. Enzo retorts that Damon was once the most important person to him, but Damon ruined him. He says that is who Damon is and always will be — a monster. (Oh, bulls eye!)
Back at the Salvatore house, Elena is reading her father’s journal. She figured out Megan had a congenital heart disease and he saved her life with vampire blood. Damon points out that only she could find the one good thing out of a hundred pages of vampire torture documented in the journal. Elena believes her father saved lives, regardless. Damon says she defends her father like she defends him. She comes back that she doesn’t defend his actions of wiping out Aaron’s family. So he asks her why she stays around when he’s bad for her. She responds because she loves him and stands by her choice. Damon says he’s making a choice now. He’s choosing to let her go so she can stop defending him for every awful thing he’s done. She counters that she’s done the same; she’s not perfect and won’t judge him. He yells at her to stop defending him. He can’t change who he is and refuses to change her. He leaves the room while Elena tries to process what just happened (Did they just break up?).
Stefan finds Katherine agonizing over finding wrinkles as she looks into his bedroom mirror and she’s annoyed that he finds it funny. She asks him to talk about their night together and he calls it “a moment” they had. He can’t think of it as anything else because he can’t forget what she’s done to him for the past 147 years (long time to hold a grudge, eh?). She counters that she’s dying (she shows her hair loss under her hat). He says she’ll find a way out of it, but she says she can’t get out of it; it’s real. What she wants is redemption. Stefan says 147 years is a long time to forgive in one night. She asks him if he’d ever look at her the way he does at Elena. She gets her answer from the look on his face. As walks away, Stefan clasps her hand in his and says he’s sorry she’s dying. Katherine with tears in her eyes, says she is too, then leaves the room.
Aaron meanwhile, goes to the clinic. He sees Maxfield on the floor, and looks around at the equipment. He grabs Maxfield off of the floor (he’s only just coming to?) and asks him what this place is. Maxfield tells him it’s one of Augustines’ research labs. Aaron asks him if he thinks he’s really helping people with “this vampire crap” and accuses him of selling Aaron and his family out. He throws Maxfield back on the floor. Maxfield apologies but Aaron grabs the syringe off the floor that was going to be used on Elena (interesting!) and tells Maxfield to leave him alone. He runs out of the clinic as Maxfield calls after him (Maxfield is still sprawled on the floor. He must have one hell of a headache or at least a concussion after all that head banging).
Back at the Salvatore house, a tearful Elena throws her father’s journal into the fire. As Katherine is leaving the house, she’s telling Nadia on the phone to find a Traveler to do the spell. Nadia says she suspects that Stefan inspired her re-thinking, but of course it has to be on her terms. (She knows her daughter too well!). Katherine thinks Stefan believes a part of her can still be redeemed. When Nadia asks her if she believes that, Katherine drops the phone as she suffers a heart attack and falls down the stairs. (Kind of a soap opera style scene ender).
So, here was quite an epic episode! When the show returns in January, for their 100th episode, there will be many questions hopefully answered. Will Katherine die or will she have time for the Traveler spell? Will she become a passenger in Elena’s body? If Katherine dies, how will Stefan handle it? Will he care? If Katherine survives, what will become of them? Will Elena and Damon reconcile? Will Enzo be out for revenge against Damon? Will he figure into Caroline’s life? What is Aaron planning to do with the syringe? Is he going to get revenge on Damon by injecting him with it? Is he going to blackmail Maxfield? Will Maxfield attempt to capture Elena again?
What are your thoughts on this episode?