This episode evoked many emotions, none of which live in the “shipper” realm. This was all about brotherhood and family, with a touch of romance and madness. I loved it.
The action takes place in flashes between the present and 1912.
1912: The first scene in the episode is a conversation between Zachariah Salvatore and Gerald Forbes, who are discussing the recent murder of a founding family member. Mr. Salvatore departs and is stabbed en route to his destination. Another Founder murdered.
2012: The second scene is in the present – a conversation between Carol Lockwood and Sheriff Liz Forbes. Carol knows someone’s in jail, but Liz isn’t going to jeopardize the legal process and protects the rights of the accused, even though her ex-husband is one of the victims. Go Liz!
Alaric wakes up – in the jail cell. He’s the accused. Damon arrives to protect his buddy, but Liz tells him to get lost. There she is all “sheriffy” again, and Damon actually listens to her this time.
Elsewhere, Elena is jogging with Matt following and tells her she can’t run away from her problems. Ah Matt – the voice of reason. Matt explains why there is no Bonnie or Caroline in this episode. Abby is going to transition and they are helping her. Elena’s feeling guilty – Matt tells her it’s not necessary. Elena feels guilty any way. Then there’s a phone call – and Elena’s at the jail.
Damon meets her – Season 1 Damon! He makes a joke, she doesn’t find it funny. “I’m mean, you hate me, the earth is back on its axis.” His squirrel imitation is priceless.
Back at Casa Salvatore, Stefan has a monkey on his back and it’s beating a rhythm on his desk with his ring finger. Damon cracks a hilarious joke, but the humor is lost on Stefan. In best Big Brother fashion, Damon determines what Stefan needs and sets a plan in motion to provide – with no expectation of gratitude. This is the first true hint at the emotional underpinnings of the episode.
1912: Stefan is attending the funeral of his “nephew” and is surprised to see Damon there. And he’s genuinely happy. It’s been 50 years and Stefan has missed his brother. However, his brother does not appear to have missed him! Damon behaves as if he’s spent the past 50 years hating Stefan – all the time. He still resents him for his current fate, AND having to live it out without the love of his life. But Stefan is undeterred. He asks Damon to share a drink with him – he’s missed him. Damon’s response “Sure, why not” has a contemporary feel about it.
2012: At the Mystic Grill, Rebekah is chatting it up with the Mayor – asking about the town’s trees! The Mayor tells her most of them were cut down during the 1900’s to make the homes in the town – and the Salvatores owned the mills! Interesting. Damon and Stefan are now at the bar as well, and Damon divulges an interesting Salvatore family history tidbit. Their father, Giuseppe had an illegitimate child, so the bloodline continued. Stefan mentions Sage and we’re back in…
1912: Damon and Stefan are drinking, getting reacquainted and find themselves in a tent at a boxing match – but the fight is not exactly regulation. A redhead in scanty dress is beating up a guy! She knocks him out and looks for more challengers – $100 a pop. Out of the ring, she challenges Damon by sticking $100 in his pants!
2012: Elena confronts Meredith, who tells her more than she ever wanted to know about Alaric’s history. Seems he had an aggressive streak – Isobel had two restraining orders against him. Surprise – Alaric had anger-management issues.
Later, Elena and Matt break into Meredith’s house and discover a secret closet in the closet – she’s a Founder, after all! They find a box of interesting papers and a Gilbert journal just as Meredith returns – and catches them red-handed!
Back at the bar, Damon and Rebekah are doing dramatic readings from Stefan’s diary – the subject is Damon, who was joyless and living a largely utilitarian life in 1912.
1912: Enter Sage. She suggests he can do more with a woman than feed. Like an uptight virgin he responds “I’m spoken for”. What? Damon has been living a monk’s life for the past 50 years, waiting for Katherine?
2012: Rebekah interjects that Sage had it on for Finn 900 years ago! How old is this broad? And Finn? Talk about joyless!
Stefan’s jones is growing by the second, and Damon jumps in to get him to admit he’s got a problem (name it and claim it!). You can’t fight a problem if you won’t admit it’s there. Good man, Damon.
At the jail, Matt and Elena are getting quite a dressing down by Liz, who explains that what they found is not “news” (she’s got a copy of the coroner’s letter changing the medical examiner’s time of death) and she’s just waiting for authentication before she sets Alaric free. And she lets them go…
…just in time to find Stefan in mid-feed on an innocent stranger. Damon and Bex have performed an intervention of sorts. They have served up a passerby, and he’s gorging himself.
To some, this may appear cruel – but I think it is perfect. Stefan is a vampire, and he needs blood. It’s not like drugs – it’s a food thing. He needs to eat or he will die. Stefan confronts his demons, and Damon supports his brother. And he will stop Stefan when he is in danger of going too far.
This scene was one of my favorites in the episode. Stefan just gives himself over to the feeding and loses control, and is then shocked by his own behavior. Damon, recognizing the depth of his problem, intervenes to keep him from going too far. Elena is shocked, scared and surprised – and is on the outside looking in for a change.
And Matt, perfect at every turn in this episode, says “Elena, let’s just go.” I love Matt.
Stefan, horrified by the fact that Elena has just witnessed him at his (nearly) worst, quickly makes his exit, hanging his head in shame.
At the Gilbert House, Elena and Matt have a fairly normal conversation for two people who have just witnessed a bloody vampire feeding. This was another favorite scene.
Elena reveals something that – in retrospect – makes a great deal of sense. When she first met Stefan, shortly after the death of her parents, she felt safe because she knew he’d never die – like her parents did. She is reflecting on her feelings at the time from her now more mature perspective.
As for Damon, she admits he just got under her skin and she can’t shake him. Matt says “Once you fall in love with someone, I don’t know if you can ever shake them.” Elena doesn’t disagree. In so many words – or lack – she is acknowledging her love for both Salvatore brothers.
And Matt, in his quiet and sensitive way, is admitting he still loves Elena! As such, he delivers to her a copy of the journal they found in Meredith’s secret closet. As Matt explains, he was able to sneak it out of the Sheriff’s office because in a town filled with supernaturals, the “normal” folks are invisible,
Alaric arrives, and Elena welcomes him.
Back at Casa Salvatore, my favorite scene of the episode unfolds. Damon is gentle with Stefan when he says “I know it may not seem like it, but you did really well tonight.” Simple, straightforward, snark-free words of encouragement from a big brother to a little brother. Can’t you just see these guys as kids, Damon teaching Stefan to ride a two wheeler, Stefan falling off, Damon offering encouragement? Priceless.
Stefan reminds him that Elena is between them. He’s sure Damon is helping Stefan out of guilt. He can’t believe Damon cares about him because he doesn’t feel worthy. We saw the same thing with Elena. Stefan is feeling ashamed and unworthy of anyone’s understanding and compassion.
1912: Damon, encouraged by Sage to acquire his swagger, convinces his brother to try drinking human blood again. Damon says “Let the past be the past” and Stefan interprets it to mean his brother has forgiven him for “turning” him. We know how Stefan felt – he turned Damon because he didn’t want to face his life as a vampire without his brother.
So, Stefan goes for it. And, to Damon’s horror, he goes too far, all the way back to his original ripper origins. After ripping off Marianna Lockwood’s head, he feels immediate remorse and tries to put her back together again. When that won’t work, he blames Damon and runs off.
Lots of blame flying all over the place – Damon blaming Stefan for making him complete his transition, Stefan blaming Damon for turning him back into a Ripper.
And lots of guilt as well.
2012: Damon reveals “I watched you go over the edge and I didn’t do anything to stop you.” So while Stefan became the Ripper of Monterey, Damon built of a boatload of guilt.
Damon: Whenever you go too far I will be there to pull you back. Every second. Every day until you don’t need me.
Damon: Because right now, you’re all I got.
This is one of my all-time favorite moments of the series. As much as I love a good love story, there is nothing like the emotional pull of family ties. Every scene between the Brothers Salvatore in this episode was pitch-perfect, touching, and true.
Later, Damon is playing the piano (really?) when Stefan brings him a rather large book with information about the possible identity of the killer in 1912. It seems that Samantha Gilbert went insane, but not before she confessed to the killings in 1912. She was committed to an asylum and the Founders kept her secret. Damon is surprised by this, because he’s sure he killer her. Ah – she had a Gilbert ring. All evidence points to her ring being the source of her insanity. There were two rings – and two people who wore them went nuts – the original Jonathan Gilbert and his granddaughter, Samantha. Now, Jeremy has one, and the other is on Alaric’s finger.
Back at Elena’s house, Meredith arrives with the same information. She convinced that Alaric’s ring has been driving him crazy. Either the ring itself makes it wearer crazy, or the process of dying and coming back to life does.
Elena, who’s been reading Samantha Gilbert’s journal, comes down the stairs and announces that she agrees with the good doctor.
This is not good news for Alaric, or Jeremy, who is wearing the other Gilbert ring!