Last night's episode of The Vampire Diaries revolved around not just one, but two ironic role-reversals, and made it look easy. This is like watching storytelling gymnastics. And now we see why it might be a good thing that everybody on the show's a monster at this point. Spoilers ahead...
We've been sort of uneasy about the fact that there are no humans left on Vampire Diaries, except for the quarterback and the preacher's daughter. But honestly, last night's episode shows just what TVD can do with an entirely monsterrific cast. The kind of irony that the show wrings out of the interactions between all the different monsters is kind of fantastic.
So, the two reversals that happen in last night's episode are:
1) Damon gets played by Elena, the same way he played Lexi.
Actually, he sees through Elena's gambit in time, but it doesn't save him from Rebekah's neck-snap. And the larger point is, Damon gets bamboozled, has his car and hot clue stolen, and is generally pwned by the two ladies, right after he gets done telling a whole long story about the time he conned poor old Lexi. In a series of flashbacks to 1970s NYC, we discover that Damon was preying on punks until Lexi tried to "fix" him — at which point Damon pretended to be in love with her, so he could strand her on a rooftop in the sunlight. In the present day, Damon's searching for the cure for vampirism so he can "fix" Elena, but strands him on the same rooftop. The larger point, though, is that Elena is acting like Damon, and he's not enjoying being on the receiving end.
2) Caroline looks down her nose at the evil Klaus, only to sink below his level.
Klaus probably hasn't done anything quite as bad as what Caroline does in this episode — not only does she kill twelve nice witches, she also inadvertently completes the last ritual that the evil Silas needs to destroy the Other Side, where supernatural creatures go when they die. Which would mean that every supernatural creature who's ever died would come back, as some kind of unkillable nightmare. Hell on Earth, as one person puts it. Thanks, Caroline! The irony of Caroline being totally horrible right after she's spent a whole episode lecturing Klaus about the notion that only horrible people do horrible things is somewhat ruined by Klaus pointing it out. Honestly, this storyline was perfect until Klaus turned and explained it to the audience, and then it felt a bit too on-the-nose.
This is the kind of thing you can do when everybody is a monster, but also when everybody is morally gray — even Caroline, who seems to think she's almost stainless. And Elena, who was already kind of Machiavellian before, is now becoming more and more about the backstabbing, even when it doesn't necessarily advance her aims. It's just a sport. It's sort of hilarious to watch Damon try to lecture Elena about not doing something she can't ever take back, considering how many of those he's done over the years.
So yeah, if you love shows about morally gray characters who are navigating an ethical fog, then you really ought to be on board with this show.
In any case, this episode covers a lot of ground, in a way that feels pretty fun. Evil Elena is a lot more interesting this week than she was last week. Silas shows his manipulative scrunginess to full effect, twisting Bonnie around his finger and playing her father. Those of us who are still mad at Damon for killing Lexi get a new retcon to explain why he wasn't just being a random dick. (It doesn't help.) Elena and Rebekah form one of the show's famous "five minute alliances," based on the fact that neither of them wants Elena to be cured. And we get Damon in a leather jacket eating punks. So, a win-win.
And the upshot? Silas now has everything he needs — except he wants to cure his own immortality, so he can die once there's no longer a special monster afterlife. And he makes a pretty convincing argument to poor Klaus as to why he should help him.