By Mandi Bierly
We cried, we cheered, we got chills, and now, we can’t wait
When a showrunner like Kevin Williamson tweets the words “Epic Epicness” in anticipation of an episode, expectations will run high. I’m confident if we did a poll right now, at least 9 out of 10 viewers would say theirs were exceeded. I got Buffy-grade chills three times. I don’t bring up the B word because both series revolve around vamps. I do so because moments from “The Body” and “The Gift” episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer still elicit a physical response from me to this day, and that’s the level of epic epicness we reached here. And may I remind you: we still have four more episodes of The Vampire Diaries to go this season.
So exec producer Julie Plec has revealed that the writers began season 2 wanting to do some kind of Klaus fakeout wherein viewers would believe that we knew who Klaus was only to find out that we were wrong. It was Williamson who walked into the writers’ room one day as they were breaking the story for last week’s episode and said, “What if Klaus takes over Alaric’s body in a blood transfusion spell?” There was shock last week, this week there was awe. Right away, Matt Davis proved he was up to the challenge of playing Klaric (Klaus in Alaric’s body) when he took a shot at Alaric’s wardrobe (“Bad or badder?”) and told captive Katherine, who begged him to kill her already, that he would show no kindness. “I have searched for you for over 500 years. Your death is going to last at least half that long.” And then the torture began: “I want you to take this knife and stab yourself,” he said, and she did. He told her to do it over and over again while he was gone getting a look at the doppelgänger, and if she got bored, switch legs. He kissed her on the forehead, and told her, “Oh, don’t look so glum, Katerina. The fun is just beginning. Again please.”
Klaric had compelled her to tell him everything she knows about Operation Save Elena and maybe what she doesn’t — the latter being if the Scrappy Gang knew how to kill an Original without the dagger and whether Bonnie had gotten her powers back. From the second Klaric said the last thing he needed to do was resurrect Elijah, we should have seen the episode’s final shot coming. Should we also read into Klaric calling Elijah a “buzz kill”? Maybe Elijah will turn out to be a (relative) good guy after all? Either way, now that Elena has pulled the dagger out of him, I’m ready for him to get back in the mix.
The Salvatore mansion was officially signed over to Elena so it would become her safe house. In my opinion, Bonnie’s “I wouldn’t want to clean it” crack was funnier than Elena’s hesitation on Damon’s invitation to enter. (Damon: “What are we? 12?” Elena: “One of us is.”) She wanted him to promise that he’d let her call the shots, and really, no one believed he would. Elena didn’t want to become a prisoner in the house, so she informed the Salvatores she was going to school. Her argument that the safest place for her to be is next to Bonnie is actually only solid if they have every class together, but whatever. I loved that silent scene in Alaric’s classroom where Elena showed Stefan a flier for the ’60s decade dance and he shook his head no, and then she showed it to Bonnie, who shook her head yes. It took me right back to AP English, where my high school best friend Susi often found herself caught between her boyfriend and I (and taught me about paraphrasing: “So instead of ‘Do not weep, maiden, for war is kind,’ it’s like, ‘Don’t cry, honey. War’s okay'”). What was also great about that scene: we’ve seen so little of Alaric’s teaching style, we can’t actually say whether Elena, Bonnie, and Stefan should have known that something was off by his unprepared rant on the ’60s. (“Watergate was the ’70s, Rick. I mean Mr. Saltzman,” Elena said, getting appropriate what the? looks from her classmates. Then again, they could’ve just been confused because she was actually present.)
Had we not seen the girl who told Elena a hot guy named Klaus wanted to know if she was going to the dance in the preview, that scene would have been as unsettling as intended. Still, it served its purpose: It sent everyone back to the safe house, which we found out Klaric had no problem entering. He found out Bonnie was the secret weapon and went back to Alaric’s place to drink bourbon and confer with his warlock. The warlock said if Bonnie was that powerful, she’d be able to sense him before he could get to her, so Klaric was on his own. The good news for him was that channeling that power would kill Bonnie, just as it would kill the warlock. So all Klaric had to do was go Rocky IV on the Witch Bitch. (Paraphrasing!) He just had to provoke her to death. The warlock would put a spell on Alaric’s body so it would outlast Bonnie’s. That felt like a bit of a cheat, but you know what, totally worth it.
It was interesting to see how everyone dressed for the dance. Klaric was sexy beatnik, Caroline and Matt were sexy Jackie O and JFK, Elena was sexy hippy (thank god she lost her vervain necklace, it would not have looked good with that ensemble), Damon was sexy rock star, Stefan was sexy hipster, Bonnie was sexy go-go dancer, and Jeremy… well, no one could have made that shirt sexy. Part of me wishes that when Damon told Klaric he wasn’t impressed by Klaus’ musical dedication to Elena that Klaric would have snapped back something about Damon’s dancing. But you know why he didn’t? No one can deny Damon has moves. Certainly not Elena — who Damon took for a spin while Stefan went to update Caroline on the Klaus situation (so she could do absolutely nothing?) — nor Bonnie. Damon cut in on Jeremy because he’d overheard Bonnie and Jeremy arguing outside the dance about whether to tell Elena that Bonnie could die wielding all that power against Klaus. He wanted to know if she was willing to lay it all on the line for Elena, and when he found out she was, he asked her if there wasn’t a way she could use that power to increase her odds of survival. Bonnie told Damon to be careful — she might think he actually cared. And with that, the piece of me that once wanted those two together momentarily resurfaced. (Sorry, Jeremy.)
Jeremy took the opportunity to mope around the hallways solo, which Stefan rightfully told him was a bad idea. For real, Jeremy. Even though he still had his ring on — he’d offered it to Bonnie because he knows his track record with girlfriends, but she said it wouldn’t work on witches — he still could have gotten kidnapped or something. Jeremy told Stefan about the risk Bonnie would be taking, and Stefan, of course, told Elena, who grabbed Bonnie and took her outside as Damon got sandwiched between a couple of wig-wearing beauties on the dance floor. (Ian Somerhalder wanted us to feel as though Damon would never need to use mind compulsion again, just those moves, right?) And that is where the epic epicness truly began.
While Bonnie was outside trying to use the “You’d do it for me” line on Elena, Jeremy was again off by his lonesome and got his ass kicked in the hallway by three students Klaric had compelled. The producers took mercy on us by not making that scene as long as they could have. Thank you. (Could he have been killed because the boys were human, or would the compulsion factor have activated his ring?) Stefan and Damon showed up, and Klaric’s makeshift minions pulled weapons on them that Klaric had found in Alaric’s dresser drawer. “Let me guess, Klaus says hi,” Damon said after getting a stake in the shoulder. He was about to stake a kid when Stefan told him he had to go find Bonnie and Elena because this was clearly a distraction for something else. He was right: Klaric told Bonnie and Elena that Klaus had Jeremy, so they followed him. (Nice smile as Klaric shut the door, right?)
Once he got them far enough away from the dance (Klaus prefers the ’20s and jazz to the ’60s and a cover by Pearl Jam), it was game on. At first, Elena thought Alaric was compelled, but she pieced it together quickly. (“Klaus?” “Surprise!”) Klaric told Elena not to worry, she wasn’t on his hit list — tonight. But Bonnie was. He charged her and she sent him flying. Twice. He told her to go ahead — if she killed this body, he’d just get another one, maybe Jeremy’s. Bonnie and Elena hauled ass away and ran into Damon. While Elena went to get Stefan, Bonnie filled Damon in on Klaric’s protection spell. She couldn’t kill him, but he was there to kill her. Damon said no. Klaus wouldn’t get to win tonight. (They were going to be 2 for 2 at decade dances, damn it.) He asked her if she was still willing to do whatever it takes to kill Klaus. Did anyone see HER FAKING HER OWN DEATH COMING?
Don’t get me wrong: I knew something was up. I wrote, “I wish she could have had fake blood,” in my notes when her nose started to bleed, so she could make Klaric think she was more spent than she was. That would’ve been totally lame, but things were moving fast! I had no time to think! Anyway, Bonnie walked into a room, looking totally fierce, and found Klaric holding a knife. (Note: Klaus likes knives. Someone is going to die of a stab wound by season’s end, I bet. Jenna? John? Poetic for both, right, since they each escaped death by blade once before?) Klaric wanted to know if she wanted to do this the easy way or the hard way. Cue his broken finger and broken arm, and Bonnie saying that Alaric would want Klaric to die — and suffer. “Is that all you got?” Klaric asked. “Let’s find out,” Bonnie said. Bad.Ass. And then she started breaking his legs.
Elena and Stefan finally arrived and Bonnie slammed the door shut on them so they couldn’t stop her. Papers were flying and overhead lights were shattering and raining sparks like it was the end of The Natural. Bonnie kept assaulting Klaric, but he kept crawling toward her. As the blood from her nose fell down her face, Klaric started to rise. The vending machines blew out. It wasn’t until that second of silence when Bonnie turned to look out at Elena (chills) banging on the window, and that simple, moving (Buffy-esque?) score kicked in, that I thought She’s actually gonna die. Bonnie turned back to Klaric, and after he stood, she collapsed to the ground like a marionette whose strings were abruptly cut. The chaos in the room ended, Elena and Stefan rushed in, and Klaric was gone. Kat Graham did some of the best dead acting I’ve ever seen. Her body looked absolutely lifeless.
Sobbing Elena begged Stefan to do something but he couldn’t. She had no pulse. Damon came in and told Stefan to get Elena out of there. He’d deal with the body. They couldn’t have the sheriff getting wind of this. Damon put Bonnie in the trunk of his car, and when Jeremy approached him, Damon said they had to talk. I know I still thought Bonnie was dead, because in my notes, I wrote, “And Klaric didn’t even die? That’s bulls—.” We still had time left in the episode, so deep down, I had faith. Back at the safe house, Elena slapped Damon’s face hard when he admitted he knew Bonnie would die. But she should have let him finish. They knew Klaric wouldn’t stop gunning for Bonnie until she was dead. Klaus had to believe Bonnie was dead. Lying on the floor in the house where she’d channeled the power of the massacred witches, surrounded by lit candles and Jeremy, Bonnie took a breath. Second set of chills! It’d been a spell. It wasn’t until Stefan looked surprised then that I was certain he hadn’t somehow known what was happening. Did Mr. Empathy seem a bit too calm to anyone else through all that?
Damon told Stefan he couldn’t have told him what was happening because Stefan wouldn’t have wanted to put Elena through that pain, and she needed to be convincing, too, for the plan to work. Damon said he’d make the life-and-death decisions. Stefan could worry about the collateral damage. Everyone could think Damon was the bad guy, and he’d let Elena hate him for it. But in the end, Damon said, he’d be the one to keep her alive. After Elena had a teary-eyed virtual reunion with an apologetic Bonnie courtesy of Jeremy’s AT&T MiFi — will that hold up in years to come? — Elena went to Damon’s bedroom to offer her own apology. Elena said she understood why Damon and Bonnie did what they did and why they didn’t tell her beforehand. She shouldn’t have slapped him in hindsight. But, she said, she wouldn’t let Bonnie die for her. Damon said he hoped Bonnie’s death wasn’t the only way to kill Klaus but, prepare for the third and final set of chills… “Let me be clear about something,” he continued. “If it comes down to you and the witch again, I will gladly let Bonnie die. I will always choose you.”
Wasn’t it amazing how you hated him for that word choice — “I will gladly let Bonnie die” — and then loved him for his delivery of “I will always choose you.” The conviction conveyed so much, but I also found it comforting. To me, it was like he was saying he would always choose Elena over anything, even himself. They said their “goodnights,” and after looking at his bed (can’t blame the girl!), Elena snuck downstairs and lifted the dagger out of Elijah.
So what are we thinking? It’s a great move for the show to get Daniel Gillies back in action, but what about Elena? We haven’t talked much at all about Caroline and Matt (who totally fooled me with those kisses). The sheriff is asking him to buy her some time so she can figure out what to do now that she knows the truth about the Salvatores, the Gilberts, and Tyler Lockwood. What should she do? How psyched are you to see Aunt Jenna come face-to-face with Klaric next week? (Really? She leaves campus?!) Who else will admit to thinking it was kinda sweet that Damon was the slightest bit sad thinking Klaus had probably killed Katherine? Who else is horrified to admit they thought it would’ve been great if Bonnie and Jeremy had sex when she woke up? (That wasn’t me. It was my, um, friend.) And who do you think will be the next to die? If Jeremy is staying with Bonnie in the witch house, that means John is now alone in the Gilbert house until Aunt Jenna returns. Will John die to save Jenna? I assume someone texted him so he knows about Klaric. Go!