Flashbacks. Why is this show on more solid ground whenever it does those? We’ve had ridiculous wigs for the middle ages, pretty nice flapper dresses for the roaring 1920’s, plenty of ante-bellum and Victorian suits and gowns, and now we get decent military uniforms and floral dresses (and hats!) for the 1940s. Something about Damon and Stefan looks just right in old sepia tones. Here we’re dealing with a Stefan just coming down from his Ripper mode, which means we get his sponsor Lexi too, every bit the fierce “girl Friday” to his dapper soldier boy. She can go toe to toe with any of the Jakes who happen by. Well, this time her Jake is Damon, and he’s pretty hard to go toe to toe with, safely.
The writers have taken the only route they could after the corner they wrote themselves into last week. The only way we could still care about what Damon thinks of Elena is if he didn’t know he had sired her. And whether it was wishful thinking or not, he claims not to have realized and seems pretty bummed over the possibility. Even though he did it once before, in New Orleans, to Charlotte (played by that charming waif Madeline Zima), who took his every command quite literally indeed, so much so that he enlisted the aid of powerful witch Valerie to break the bond.
It didn’t work, but we learned a lot of other things about siring from all angles this week. Tyler lets Elena know that you can hate the person you’re sired to, but still do their bidding. Siring affects your actions, not your feelings. This is important because he’s on his own quest of sire-bond-breakage at the moment, not for himself but for all of the Klaus victim-hybrids. When Stefan and Damon do find the still loyal Charlotte in the Big Easy (Damon told her to count all the bricks of every building in town, which she now does as kind of an obsessive tribute to his memory, wistfully), he does finally set her free (though I fully expected to see her walking out into the sun and burning to ash in the background after he left the bar). Somehow she never decided to come looking for him, and they even find her on the same street corner where he left her, believing a witchy spell had done the trick.
They don’t find the same witch from 70 years ago, but they do find her daughter (remarkably well preserved for 80), who remembers meeting Damon as a child. At this point the episode becomes almost a redo of 3.04 (“Disturbing Behavior,” with the Chicago gangster flashback), except that Naomi’s mom and Chicago Gloria both trafficked in some quite black arts (given a name for once and for all, doing this is called “expression”), which Naomi refuses to do. I’m a little distracted by the actress also having been on American Horror Story as the patient so boring the therapist wasn’t sure if he’d killed her or not in one of his mental fugues, but Naomi is much more intense and explains to Damon that Valerie fooled him for her own reasons and the only person who can break a vampire sire bond is the vampire himself. He has to set his little captive free.
Over in werepire land, Kimberly, recently unsired, tries to stage a coup to take the hybrid pack away from Tyler, meaning she kidnaps Caroline and threatens Elena. Tyler has to pull a trick from the Klaus playbook and plunge his hand into Kim’s chest until she backs down. The alpha dog battle isn’t as sexist between these wolves as it is, for example, in the Anita Blake world (where there must always be a king and queen), but Tyler does prevail. Does that mean he’s turned the Klaus army to his cause?
Bonnie, Elena and Caroline have a girls’ night in that ends on a sour note, and Hayley and the Professor are still plotting something that needs twelve free hybrids. Hmm, an echo of the twelve souls Damon killed for Valerie’s spell? Ominous. Hayley wanted info on her parents, but she doesn’t like what she gets. Neither does anyone this episode, especially Elena, who doesn’t want to be unsired by Damon, even though she’s probably in her wrong mind.
Shawn Hill knows two things: comics and art history. Find his art at http://cornekopia.net.