1) And tonight we start with the DSMH (3): Damon chained to a chair with a hot poker rammed through him, ring on the floor, as Mason yanks back the curtains and burns him. Damon! Stop pissing people off! You're gonna miss an arm by the mid-season Christmas break at this rate.

2) So in a town with a history of vampires, you have the Night of Illumination, in which the entire town goes out AT NIGHT and celebrates with lanterns and shit. And possibly booze. Okay, at this point I'm just going to assume Katherine, as part of her "Colonize Fell's Church" plan, whammed the Council into doing a lot of pointless shit outdoors at night. Like, say, bonfires. And masquerade balls. And EVERY EVENT IN THIS TOWN EVER, OH MY GOD.

3) I...didn't realize high schools were organized so thoroughly that Alaric needs to suck up to Tobias Fell (head of the history department), but oooookay.

4) "When I kill someone, they're supposed to be dead." I suspect Damon has that on a sampler somewhere.

5) Gilbert breakfast! With extra Saltzman! Shut up, that shit kills me.

6) "They can't interact with the living.
"Vicki could interact. She blew up my car."

Mental note: Alaric holding grudges is really hot. Oh man, is he walking everywhere? At least it's autumn.

7) Bonnie is focused on getting rid of the swarm of ghosts, not whether or not her boyfriend is cheating with his dead girlfriend. This is because Bonnie is goddamn awesome. Priorities, she has them.

8) "I think some of them find peace." Which explains why, say, Rose isn't there. I didn't cry, but my throat felt all weird.

9) Ghosts with unfinished business are stuck in town, unseen and unheard, instead of moving on to wherever they're supposed to go. Which is in line with ghost lore in general, but in Mystic Falls, as usual, the idea becomes fucking horrifying.

10) "I don't like you anymore. We're not friends." Mommy, Daddy, just stop fighting! You're ruining Jeff's birthday!

11) AW SHIT, GRAMS! ...who basically tells Bonnie this is because she did a dumb thing and brought back the Littlest Gilbert, which I've been saying since it happened. But Sheila does it more nicely, because, you know, grandma.

12) LEXI! Lexi I missed you so much can you stay forever please please please I love your hair SHUT UP OKAY I MISSED HER.

13) "--or maybe I should do this." WHAM! Cracks Stefan's head against the car window and drags him off to detox, then gets Elena. UGH SERIOUSLY SHE IS MADE OF PONIES AND JOY. I would watch an episode that's just Lexi and Elena having ghost/doppelganger adventures six times a week, you guys. (For the record, I still want to write that Lexi/Rose AU.)

14) "I didn't have a choice." There's always a choice. I should stitch that on a sampler."

15) "How do you know this?" "Witches talk." Look at that! Perfectly good explanation in two sentences. I feel like I should send the first 2 seasons to Andrew Miller and tell him to learn about pacing, because seven weeks in and exactly two things have happened on TSC, both involving dead people. Seven weeks in, we had like 15 dead people and 27 plot threads.

16) Bonnie needs to destroy the original witch's/Elena's necklace to end the spell and close the wedged-open door to the other side. MCGUFFINS AT THE READY.

17) Man, watching Mason, Damon, and Alaric at the bar is like watching an awkward session of couples' therapy.

18) "I do a lot of things I don't have to do." Maybe the truest thing Damon's ever said. And Mason just starts laughing, because a) not actually an apology, Damon, and b) that's the closest he's ever going to come to actually apologizing.

19) Ghosts are just nosy little bastards, aren't they? "Well, we don't have cable, so it's mostly brooding, regretting things, and watching people fuck."

20) Lexi's version of tough love detox to Stefan is brutal, and mean, and sort of lovely. The ghosts we've seen are either regretful or pissed; Lexi falls under "pissed", because she's got to fix Ripper!Stefan for like the nineteenth time, and that shit eventually gets old. But she clearly still loves him, just not when he's a big dumb murderer and UGH LEXI COME BACK FOREVER YOU ARE THE BEST.

(Seriously, I am legit sad we got no scenes of Lexi and Caroline hanging out, because they are basically the same person separated by centuries. Which means Carolines Forbes is the best. But we already knew that.)

21) "...what?" Okay, for real, stop wasting Kat Graham, because the way Bonnie's voice broke OH MY GOD JEREMY YOU HOSER I WILL GET TO YOU IN A SECOND.

22) Jeremy. Look. I want to like you. I have wanted to like you since you showed up looking an assistant manager at Hot Topic, dodging Tyler's Pete Wentz joke and occasionally being awesome. But then you do things like try to be a Nice Guy to Vicki and CHEATING ON BONNIE WITH YOUR DEAD EX-GIRLFRIEND, YOU ASSHOLE, and I just--no. No no no. Totally not worth everyone almost dying eleven times for your ass, kid. If we're picking a death pool--and we always are, it's TVD--you're back at number one on my list.

23) Aaaaaaaaand oh look! The tomb vampires are back, led by Frederick! And they've murdered Tobais Fell! So...we're about on time at the 30-minute mark, then.

24) Ahahahahahahahaha Caroline checks the bath soaps in Damon's room for the necklace. See? When people listen to me, things go okay (coughPHONETREEcough).

25) Extra awesome: Caroline being all "you want me to kill him? I can kill him! It won't even stick!" to Bonnie re: Jeremy.

26) "You have trust issues, anyone ever tell you that?" ...right before Damon gets pierced with like eleven stakes, like it's Indiana Jones or something. I will give ancient vampire hunters this: they were fucking thorough. Y'all could learn from them, Team Salvatore. (DSMH: 4.)

27) "I love [Anna]. I've always loved her." Then maybe break up with your girlfriend before you make out with your dead ex, okay? Jesus.

28) Aaaaaaand Anna gives Jeremy the necklace, but not because she wants to stay with him; she wants to find her mom. "--maybe she's at peace, if that's even real." Uh, I would say so, otherwise that town would be SRO. Seriously, 48 people died in the FIRST TWO SEASONS. I'm pretty sure that's not counting Logan Fell's chambermaid run, either.

29) All the ghosts vanish, to someone's cover of Kate Bush's This Woman's Work, which makes me start crying like a little bitch.

30) ...but not as bad as Anna waiting to disappear and seeing Pearl again, and running to hug her before they both disappear forever. Goddammit, show, I'd like two weeks in a row where I don't start crying. (Note: this has not happened since, like, early last year.)

31) "You're stronger than all of this. I am so proud of you." Oh, look! Crying again!

32) AND THEN, OH GOD:

"Why'd you call me?"
"Because other than Elena, you're pretty much the only one I trust."

"...I do a lot of things I don't have to do."
"You're gonna give me the same stupid crap-ass excuse you gave Mason Lockwood?"
"[pause] I didn't mean it with him."

CRYING AGAIN, JESUS CHRIST. Because--goddammit, Damon, making me do this shit again--it was obvious last week, but it's really obvious this week: Damon does not have a lot of friends. Realistically, he has two; Stefan's family, Bonnie is a reasonably reliable ally he can work with in a pinch, Caroline may one day become useful, Jeremy he's not allowed to kill anymore, and Tyler is really hard to kill (and besides, Elena might get mad). I am still not sure he actually knows who the fuck Matt even is.

And he's in love with Elena, so the friend is a backup position, but Ric? He likes Ric. Ric gets mad at him and punches him, but always has his back; Ric has come to grudging terms with the whole "hey, I fucked and turned your wife" thing. Ric stabbed Elijah so he wouldn't have to. For real, you guys, I think even human Damon would like Ric, because Ric seems dorky and pretty awesome in those couple of flashbacks we saw back in NC. And Ric, who will probably never let him live this down, possibly with a side of stabbing, accepts it, and gets on with the business of being friends.

So yeah, basically: YOU GUYS, TRIAL SEPARATION'S OVER, DADDY'S MOVING BACK IN WITH MOM.

33) And then the soundtrack started playing a weepy emo love song, which made me snortlaugh. Look, I'm not saying anyone but the fans ships them; I'm saying if one day Julie writes an episode where Damon and Ric drunkenly make out, I will not have on my surprised face.

34) And finally, finally, Elena gets it: she can love Stefan, she can have hope for him, but she can only do so much until he gets his shit together and starts doing the work himself. "I won't love a ghost for the rest of my life."

Nope! Not when his brother is right there and emotionally available. Think about it, Stefan: Damon is now the emotionally available one. Just typing that gave me a nosebleed.

35) I do love that Elena left him chained up, though. She still loves him, but she's not stupid; he's starving and pissed off. Let him get himself out. Quick! Someone get him a bird friend and a distant relative!

36) And then Jeremy's all "let me explain!" and Bonnie, quite rightly, is all "Matt let go of his sister before you let go of Anna. His sister, Jeremy." And then they break up, because for real, that town has one witch, and all of her friends constantly do dumb things without warning her beforehand, so she is a little busy.

37) Caroline vs. the tomb vampires was...not so much a fight as a rout, but come on: "I'm gonna get out of the car, and you're gonna go do the spell." Caroline's the bruiser! Caroline can handle her shit. CAROLINE IS THE BEST, YOU GUYS.

38) Aaaaaaand the magical thing to kill Klaus, hidden away safely beneath the Lockwood Memorial Werewolf Bondage Cellar? Cave paintings. Did not see that one coming.

Next week: Viking script in said cave paintings! Alaric using his history degree in his second job! Flashbacks! Joseph Morgan gets to wear his Hex wig again! ELIJAH! It's Original family flashback time in "Ordinary People", next Thursday at 8 PM EST.
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