When Damon said, towards the end of last night's Vampire Diaries, that there had been more than enough doom, gloom and personal growth," he was basically speaking for the audience. Get bitten by spoilers below!
I don't really have that much to say about this episode — it was not one of the really fun ones. Mostly, it seemed to be setting stuff in motion for future episodes, and tidying up some loose ends. But then there was also a vague, fumbling attempt to put together a Theme.
So let's take them one by one, starting with the stuff being set in motion for future episodes. In this installment:
1) We get hints that Elena is going to back out of her deal with Elijah, because Rose and Damon both think that Elena is being a coward and taking the easy way out by agreeing to let Elijah use her as bait for Klaus.
2) There are an assload of werewolves on their way to Mystic Falls to attack the Salvatore brothers, to take revenge for the murder of Mason Lockwood. And meanwhile, Jules the werewolf may have managed to turn Tyler against his new squeeze, Caroline. (I did like Jules waking up next to the slaughtered campers and dealing with the cop who showed up at the wrong time.)
3) Speaking of which, there's a love triangle developing where both Tyler and Matt have the hots for Caroline. Which led to one of the evening's few memorable lines, when Caroline says, "Everybody needs to stop kissing me." A love triangle always seems like a good thing, and Caroline just keeps getting cuter. Too bad Mason is apparently catching on to Caroline's role in killing his uncle.
4) Damon went and got in touch with Isobel, who in turn put him in touch with Elena's scummy uncle/father John Gilbert — who's going to share some knowledge. And prove that you don't have to be a vampire to leer/mope at young girls — or to act with your forehead and jaw simultaneously.
But that's all stuff that's been put on to simmer for the upcoming episodes? What actually happened last night?
Basically, there were two major plots: Rose, the awesome British vampire and one of the few really kick-ass female characters this show has featured, died reallllllly slowly. (While hallucinating, freaking out and killing random peeps.) It was one of those times a slow, agonizing death is slow and agonizing for the viewers. But at least Rose managed to spend time in happy Renfaire-land with horses before she went. And the other big plot was the aforementioned love triangle, with both Matt and Tyler mooning after the admittedly moon-worthy Caroline.
And then there was the Big Theme, as helpfully summarized by Damon at the end of the episode. It turns out that Damon's big secret is not that he's a giant softy pretending to be a jerk — which we all kind of knew already — or that he really cares about Rose even though he says he doesn't. Blah blah blah. No, Damon's massive secret is that, like Rose, he misses being human. Because even though he gets to live for centuries and live a life without consequences, there's something about plain old ephemeral humanity that he pines for.
And it's not just Rose and Damon who miss being human — Caroline and Tyler, the newly minted vampire and werewolf, both miss what they recently had, and the freedom that comes with being only regular-lethal, not super-extra-lethal. Everybody wants to be human again, except maybe Stefan — but he's a vampire muppet, which is two steps removed from humanity.
And so Damon has his big "existential crisis" where he has to decide whether to nom on a defenseless woman by the side of the road. I guess that because he misses being human, but he doesn't want anybody to know that because it'll blow his cover, he has to kill the woman to prove he likes being a vampire? Or maybe he has to kill her because it shows the essential tragedy of his inhumanity and thus shows why he misses being human? The head. It throbs.
Although don't get me wrong — Damon killing again is very good news. Fluffy stuffed-animal Damon is not nearly as entertaining as psycho-killer-qu'est-ce-que-c'est Damon. Yet another thing about last night's episode that makes me think this show could be ramping up to be a lot more entertaining in the coming weeks.
All in all, though, this really was one of the dullest episodes of Vampire Diaries — a character we haven't gotten to know all that well dies in realtime, while everybody acts fake-fatalistic. None of the whipsaw plot twists and demented drama we've come to crave from this show. Luckily, next week's episode looks like it'll deliver the goods.