Episode 3.11 TVD – “Our Town” or “The Hardest Part of Playing Chicken is Knowing When to Flinch”

“The only way to call someone’s bluff, Stefan, is to be willing to lose everything if you’re wrong.”

Damon Salvatore


For me, the high points of this episode – which left me breathless at every turn – were:

  • Stefan’s game of chicken with Klaus
  • Caroline coming to terms with being 17 forever
  • Klaus and Caroline

There was a common these in this episode for many of the main characters – coming to turns with their lives.

Tyler is trying to come to terms with being “sired” and admits to Caroline that he can’t put her first – and he’s sorry.  So is she.  He gives her a birthday gift – a charm bracelet.  This is significant.

Klaus and Stefan are locked in conflict.  Stefan is pushing all of Klaus’ buttons.  This is also significant because Klaus likes to do that – and Stefan’s pretty good at it.

Klaus is moody – just ask his siblings.

Stefan gives him an ultimatum – get your hybrids out of Mystic Falls.

Klaus pushes back – I’ll be forced to retaliate – kill people.

Stefan pushes further – go ahead.  Or maybe I care enough to drop Elijah in the Arctic.

Klaus – maybe I’d be willing to lose one brother if it meant killing yours.

Stefan – try me.  Let’s find out.

Mindy? (Really? I haven’t heard a name like this since “The Preppy Handbook” in the 1970’s).

Stefan takes her out with a single, decapitating blow (shades of Elijah!)

Caroline is not “feeling” her birthday.  She’s stuck at 17 – a filler year, between Sweet 16 and the significance of 18.   Being Caroline, it’s clear she will persevere, but she wants time.  Her friends encircle her to help her along that processing path.

Meanwhile, Klaus is compelling Tyler to take a nip out Caroline, and Tyler doesn’t even realize it.  This is a chess move – and it’s going to happen.  And I hate Klaus even more than usual now because he’s going to use Caroline as a pawn in his chess game with Stefan – sweet Caroline!

Elsewhere, Damon and Alaric are contemplating whether or not there may be a gray area between the on and off switch for Stefan’s humanity.  A dimmer switch.


Elena, Bonnie, Matt and Caroline take the birthday party to the Fell crypt at the cemetery to give the “old” Caroline’s life a proper funeral.  Honestly, I thought this was a terrific idea and it worked well, right down to Bonnie lighting the candles on the birthday cake.

Caroline’s wish!  Don’t you wonder what it was?

The Founder’s Council is having one of its meetings and there is a fund raiser for restoring the infamous Wickery Bridge, scene of the death of the Gilberts.  And who shows up?  Dr. Melanie Fell, who is fully aware of the history of Mystic Falls (she’s a Fell, don’t you know) and is also a member of the council, undoubtedly brought in to replace the Fell who was sacrificed during “Ghost World”.

It strikes me as rather creepy that the citizens of this town behave so “normally” in the midst of all these supernatural creatures and their plans and schemes.  Carol, Klaus and Damon standing around talking about no more hybrid decapitations over cocktails is just too absurd in any other reality but the one in Mystic Falls!

At the birthday party/funeral, the drinks are loosening inhibitions, judgment, and tongues. Caroline is texting Tyler (who just broke it off with her) to join the fun, Bonnie is judging Elena’s controlling of Jeremy’s destiny (and thus his removal from Bonnie’s life) and Matt seems to be the only one with the sense to realize that the party is not the right occasion for this.

Sheriff Forbes, being a mother, knows that Carol is only complying with Klaus’s desires because he’s “protecting” Tyler, but she wants Damon to get Stefan to back off before someone gets hurt – little does she know.

Alaric, meanwhile, gets a taste of who Meredith might be – a “psycho” according to her boss and former prom date.

And Stefan takes yet another provocative turn – until Damon intervenes with the rules, one of which is “no dead hybrids at the Founder’s Party”.   It’s nice to see Damon taking Liz Forbes’ warning seriously but Stefan is pushing for all it’s worth and declares that Elena’s safety is Damon’s responsibility now – he’s not going to let anything stop him from exacting his revenge on Klaus. Damon says he’s got to be smarter, but Stefan responds that you’ve got to fight fire with a bigger, badder fire.

Tyler shows up at the party.  And he’s sure he has everything under control.  Things heat up and wham, Tyler takes a nip at Caroline.  I don’t know who is more shocked – Tyler, who realizes that Klaus is still controlling him – or Caroline, who knows exactly what the bite of a hybrid means – and can’t believe it came from Tyler!

Stefan snatches Elena as she and Matt search for Caroline in the woods. Next thing you know, he’s racing down in the road with her in his car and calling Damon with Elena’s phone to tell him he’s making his next move – he’s going to feed Elena his blood and drive his car off Wickery Bridge – thus rendering Elena useless to Klaus as the tool to create more hybrids.

Say what?????

Damon tells Klaus that Stefan has just upped the ante, but at first, Klaus is sure Stefan would never do anything to hurt Elena.  He claims that even if Stefan is “operating on crazy”, that kind of love never dies – he’s bluffing.  But Damon reminds Klaus that no one knows Stefan better than his brother – and Damon doesn’t have a clue how far Stefan is willing to go.  He thinks Klaus should blink.

All of this reminds me of another classic game of chicken from the film “The Hunt for Red October” – the infamous submarine challenge.  There is a great line in that film….

“The hardest part of playing chicken is knowing when to flinch.”

Damon is sure it’s time for Klaus to flinch.  I am sure Klaus has his next (and next, and next) moves already set up in this chess game, but when Klaus answers Stefan’s call, Stefan is feeding his blood to Elena and planning to drive her off Wickery Bridge.

With Elena screaming in the background, Klaus blinks!

Matt, who has found Caroline and carried her home, arrives at the Forbes house where Liz tells him to bring her in.  What is Caroline’s reaction to her mother’s concern?  “I’m sorry Mommy.”  Even in this situation, Caroline’s first concern is not with herself – it’s for her mother.

I LOVE Caroline Forbes.

Back at the bridge, Elena leaps out of the car in a rage.  Stefan tells her that Klaus had to believe that he would go through with his plan – so her fear had to be real.  Elena wants to know what would have happened if Klaus hadn’t backed down.  But Stefan is sure he’s latched on to Klaus’ single weakness, and that knowing it is the key to being able to destroy him.  And ultimately that is what he plans to do.

Elena questions Stefan’s priorities – is that what matters most?  Destroying Klaus?  Stefan believes that he lost Elena when he left town with Klaus and that he will never get her back so the only thing he has left is his humanity and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to get that back.  For her part, I think Elena now knows that Stefan no longer believes that he deserves her – after everything he’s done, whether he did it of his own free will or not.  And if Stefan believes he doesn’t deserve her, where does that leave Elena?

Back at the Forbes house, Klaus shows up.  And yes, this is all part of his plan – the plan he set in motion at the beginning of the episode when he told Tyler to bite Caroline.  He wanted Tyler to bite Caroline so he could save her with his blood.  And of course Liz is going to allow him in to her home because what mother would not want to save her child at any price?  So although Matt and Liz are not happy about it, it’s Klaus to the rescue.

And here starts one of those absolutely incredible scenes on TVD – you know the kind I mean.  Intense, shocking, emotionally devastating.  These scenes leave you crying, or breathless, or both – but they reach deep into the heart and stay there.

Klaus walks into the room.  Caroline asks “are you going to kill me?”

“On your birthday?  You really think that low of me?”  says Klaus, with a look on his face that is total despair (as in “I am hurt to my very core that you would think such an awful thing of me”) – even when we know that what he really means is “I’d kill you on any day unless I could use this occasion to my advantage.”

And sweet Caroline is no fool – she knows it too.  Her response?  “Yes!” YOU GO GIRL!!!!

As he looks at Caroline’s wound (notice, please, that Caroline is wearing Tyler’s bracelet gift) Klaus explains that she is collateral damage.  How comforting.

He touches the bracelet – “I love birthdays”.

Caroline – “Yeah, aren’t you a bazzilion or something?”

Klaus “As a vampire you have to adjust your perception of time, celebrate the fact that you are no longer bound by trivial human conventions, you’re free.”

Caroline doesn’t see it that way “No, I’m dying.”

Klaus sits on the bed next to her and begins the seduction – what else can you call this?  Twisted and sexy at the same time, the man is nothing short of devastatingly charming – in the way I imagine Ted Bundy must have been!

“I could let you die, if that’s what you want. If you really believe your existence has no meaning.  I’ve thought about it myself (tears in his eyes!) once or twice over the centuries, but I’ll let you in on a little secret (smile, no more tears).  There’s a whole world waiting out there for you, great cities and art and music.” (He touches her bracelet again). “Genuine beauty – and you can have all of it.”

Klaus – You can have a thousand more birthdays – all you have to do is ask.

Caroline – I don’t want to die.

Klaus – There you go sweetheart – have at it.

Happy Birthday Caroline!

Did you see that momentary waiver in Caroline’s face?  Totally heartbreaking.  She’s going down and she knows it.  But honestly, what 17 year old could give it all up just to prove a point?

Elena, still smarting at Stefan’s methods, is not willing to agree with Damon that Stefan was the better villain – he got Klaus to blink.  Damon is proud of him.  And he exercises control, not pushing Elena to kiss him because he knows she is more conflicted than ever.

Stefan may have been the better villain – but Damon (as always, in my eyes) is – finally – the better man.

Good bye Jeremy.  I am so glad we knew about this and that we know he’s coming back because otherwise this would have been really ugly.

Caroline wakes up – fine.  And finds a jewelry box.  With a card – from Klaus.  Inside – a bracelet.  Platinum hearts and diamonds.

Uh oh.

Matt meets Elena on Wickery Bridge.  She reflects on his comment about being stuck.  Elena feels that she is holding on to the girl who was supposed to die here with her parents and had a normal life.

Matt tells her she’s not that girl any more – and it’s OK to let her go.  Matt believes in this Elena and symbolically lays the old Elena to rest.

And we end with Alaric and Meredith about to bond at the Mystic Grill bar….

…and Damon and Liz discussing the murder of the medical examiner.  And not by supernatural means.

Wasn’t this the guy who called Dr. Meredith “a psycho?”

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