by Dianna Berrian
Parties and anchors and lab rats, oh my! If you wanted a mashup of college, torture, science and a little bit of lovey dovey, tonight is your episode. As of now, Jesse is a full fledged vampire by Dr. Maxfield’s reckoning. Predicting a positive outcome to his theory, he begins a blood transfusion from an undiluted bag. However the vamp’s strength was an unforeseen side effect. Gee, doc. You would think with all your standard vampire mythology you’d know they’re super strong. But I guess being held captive as a guinea pig to the mad scientist’s tests the last two weeks took a toll because Jesse finally gets a chance to stretch his legs and take a bite out of life. Maxfield’s life, that is.
The newly alive again Bonnie embraces her second chance by doing what every resurrected being would do – she makes a video blog for her mom to let her know she’s okay, touching on all the basics: new haircut, tour of her dorm room, and some silly antics from her two roommates in the midst of planning her welcome party. With jello shots. Ooh la la. She leaves out all the non-important things like the fact that she’s not a witch anymore because she’s the anchor to the “Other Side”. So, technically, she’s still a ghost that people can see and touch. And after getting brought up to date on what’s been going on, she leaves her friends with the urgent need to go “register for classes” at the office of Jeremy’s lips. But their makeout session is cut short by an old woman looking for her way into the supernatural limbo. Bonnie tries to run away but anchor duty calls. Ouchies.
Okay. This is gonna sound lame, but – “Elena, any time you start a sentence with ‘this is gonna sound lame – guess what, it is.” You go, Damon. And it is kind of a lame way to invite your boyfriend to a party. But even lamer, to leave him hanging on the line while you run after another guy and then proceed to mention things you compelled him to forget. Whoopsies. Let’s just compel him all over again. And for the hell of it, include that he will be coming to the party. Way to give the guy a choice, Elena. Back to Damon, she urges him to invite Stefan but the PTSD victim is busy brooding in front of the fire. Scratch that. He’s reliving his drowning misery, choking and all. Poor baby! Whoops, he also ripped the upholstery of Damon’s favorite reading chair. Reading, huh? More like favorite sex with Elena chair, I bet. …What?
Meanwhile at the Mystic Grill, Katherine has reduced herself to begging Matt for another drink. He’s absorbed in watching something she recognizes as sounding Czech so he makes a deal – drinks for a translation. He shows her the video he captured of the Traveler inside him leaving him a message. It was a couple episodes ago, I forgive you if you forgot. Katherine lays it out for him – “some guy named Christoff activated you. (Wait, I thought his name was Gregor? Am I really that bad with names?) He’s a Traveler. … They’re a faction of witches … who are big on spirit possession. You have one inside you – it’s like a human parasite hitching a ride in your brain.” And while she watches, he mentions the girl he met in Prague who followed him back to put her boyfriend’s spirit in her. Didn’t Nadia say she was going back to Prague in last episode? Yes, Katherine, his Nadia and yours are one in the same.
And just as Caroline starts to belittle Damon, doubting he’ll show at the party, she gets a call from Jesse. “Look who rose from the dead”. Ha. He’s in his room and needs her help before his roommate – who turns out to be Aaron – gets back. Too late, Aaron shows up and Jesse munches on his neck. But of course, Caroline shows up in time to save him and shout, “Who the hell turned you into a vampire?” He explains to her what Dr. Maxfield did to him, running tests and locking him in a cell. Elena shows up with their “stash” of blood bags to help curb his hunger. Caroline’s eager to show Jesse the good perks of being a vampire, starting with healing Aaron with his blood and ending with compulsion.
Back at the Grill, Stefan shows up and Katherine coerces him into having one “pity drink” with her. She rambles a bit about their doppleganger destinies, with one of my personal favorite lines – “Like it or not, you’re gonna end up with somebody who looks like me. But at this point, the universe seems to have all of its eggs in the Elena basket.” It’s evident she’s drunk but that pretty much means she won’t remember anything so he can go ahead and talk to her. And he does, confessing that he thought killing Silas would help him move on, but he was wrong. “Classic PTSD.” Toldaja. Katherine and me? We’re right here on the same wavelength. Offering to give his life a purpose, she asks him for a favor. Because let’s face it – having her newborn ripped from her arms and her family slaughtered by a psychopath wouldn’t induce any PTSD side effects, not at all. And speaking of her newborn, Nadia walks up wondering why she called. And Katherine’s all, ‘Hey, Stefan. Meet my baby girl.’
The show must go on with a party in an entirely unrealistic huge dorm room. Bonnie is talking with Jesse about his newfound vampirism while on the lookout for her kind of, sorta maybe boyfriend, while Damon is in the lab questioning Dr. Maxfield. Caroline wonders about Elena’s readiness to trust: “you realize he’s going to kill him right?” Come on, Caroline. Damon wouldn’t do that. “You realize you are wrong, right?” I admit, I chuckled. But we (and Elena) get it, she doesn’t like Damon. But she argues she’s fine with them being together as long as Elena can “acknowledge the kind of person you are together with.” Cut to Damon being a torture artist with Dr. Maxfield, enforcing Caroline’s point. He injects him with a flesh eating bacteria. “If you answer correctly, you get some of my delicious vampire blood. If you answer wrong, we’re gonna see just how much flesh these little guys eat.” Bad Damon is my favorite kind of Damon.
Now that Stefan’s officially met all of the Petrovas, they rendezvous to the back of the Grill with Matt who brings in his trusty Traveler knife. Now sit. Good boy. Nadia calls forth the Traveler inside Matt. (His name is Gregor, by the way. Guessing Christoff was just the guy who put him there in the first episode. Shhsh I’m blonde.) When he comes forward, he’s skeptical and wants to know why he’s been summoned. Katherine is eager to clarify – “Here’s the thing. Nadia’s my only child. So naturally, I’m suspicious of anyone who wants to date her.” Obviously he came to Mystic Falls to kill Silas, but he was also assigned to kill Katherine after that. “See why I don’t want you dating my daughter?” Seriously, how do you not love the queen of sass? And she knows that all Travelers are ruthless, manipulative, hypocrites. How? Fun fact: Katherine’s father – Nadia’s grandfather – was one. To eliminate Gregor, she stabs Matt with the knife he told Matt to keep safe. Don’t worry, Matt’ll be fine. But Gregor on the other hand… “There’s a reason why he wanted the knife so badly. It’s the only thing that truly kills a passenger.” Aha! But really, who didn’t see that coming?
During the party, Bonnie sees a familiar face and switches off the human side for the “Other Side” and notices the same elderly woman lingering. She was a witch and seems to be a sweet lady just happy to see a friendly face on the “Other Side”. Sidenote: I wonder how she looks to everyone else while she’s doing that. Like is she just standing there talking to the wall? Jeremy interrupts with jello shots and they go off to “register for classes” again. I bet tumblr is blowing up with that one. Meanwhile Maxfield is undergoing a rabies injection when he finally confesses that his work is for the greater good. When he doesn’t clarify, Damon moves on to Ebola. Finally some answers are spewed: Dr. Maxfield wanted to turn Jesse into a new kind of vampire and change their food source so they’re not dangerous to humans. “Human blood will only satiate Jesse temporarily until he gets a taste of what he really craves.” And while we’re all wondering what he really craves – okay, not really wondering because it’s kind of predictable at this point – he’s cozying up to Caroline on the dance floor at the party, hesitant to kiss her after how she reacted last time. So girl takes matters into her own hands – literally, she grabs him and kisses him. But he gets a little overzealous and bites her lip hard enough to bleed. Aha. He craves vamp blood. Raise your hand if you’re surprised.
Aaron finally wakes up from his vampire induced coma and shows up to meet Elena at the party. They banter over jello shots and she discovers Maxfield is his legal guardian. They swap ‘how my parents died’ stories. Interestingly enough, Aaron’s parents were killed on a camping trip. He woke up to his mother screaming, blood everywhere and saw bite marks all over their necks. Of course he was told it was just a bear. Just! Not gonna lie, there looks to be set up here for some romantic interest. Uh oh, Damon. You’ve got competition that isn’t your brother!
Looks like that “pity drink” turned into one too many for Stefan. He’s drunk and having flashbacks of his drowning and instead of clawing a chair, smashes a shot glass in his fist. He stumbles outside, clearly out of his mind. Fortunately, Katherine finds him, and though he wants her to go away, she continues to follow and tells him to relax. He turns around and chokes her to the point where she can barely breathe but she talks him down by forcing him to tell her the name of the first person he killed. And the next, and the next, and so on. By focusing on the names she proves to him that he’s “in control on solid ground…not drowning…not dying.” Aw. I kind of like their moment here. But the moment is ruined by a distraught Nadia upset that her mother killed her boyfriend. She was just being a good mother… But Nadia’s having none of it. “Rot in hell.” Oh, she is. Oops. Sorry Katherine!
Elena calls Damon to tell him not to kill Maxfield. And he finally agrees and bites his wrist to heal the heavily diseased doctor. Except he doesn’t get a chance to drink it because Jesse bursts in angrily yelling at him for what he did. But, whoops. There’s vamp blood in the room. And apparently whatever tests Dr. Evil did to him rendered him stronger than Damon even though Damon is older. Whoa. This is not okay. He wrestles Damon to the floor and chows down on his neck. Luckily Elena shows up to save him the only way she knows how – by staking him, RIGHT when Caroline runs in. She catches him in his fall but it’s too late. He’s dead. And she’s pretty torn up for a guy she’s only just met a few episodes ago. But then Caroline’s whole storyline always revolves around a guy, doesn’t it? Yeah, I get it, he was one of the good ones and they were supposed to help him. She’s also disappointed in Elena because “the Elena that [she] used to know would’ve given Jesse a chance.” I mean, to be fair, he was stronger than Damon and on the verge of killing him…
While Stefan is sobering up, he sees a note inside the leather check case on the table. It’s a note to Nadia from Katherine.
Sorry I had to kill your boyfriend. But it was the motherly thing to do. Suicide, however, not very motherly of me. I ran from my enemies for 500 years. And then one day I stopped. Now a new enemy wants me dead. Sure I could run from the Travelers but there’s still one enemy I can never escape. Time. So call it pride or vanity but after the life that I’ve led, I refuse to break off into the sunset. Goodbye, Nadia.”
Ohhhh noooo, it’s a suicide note! And Katherine is atop a clock tower, bolstering her courage before finally taking the plunge off! NO! SAY IT AIN’T SO! Oh. Okay. Stefan caught her. Whew! Thank you Stefan. “What are you doing?” Yeah, seriously, Katherine! You’re a survivor. As Stefan put it, “You’re Katherine Pierce. Suck it up.” Hmmm. Do I detect some Steferine in the future? I could get down with that.
Bonnie and Jeremy are getting busy, registering for more classes. But, shoot! That gets cut short quickly when Jesse arrives to cross over. Bad timing, dude. Since she can’t exactly hide the excruciating pain, she’s forced to tell Jeremy what it really means to be the anchor. “We knew there’d be consequences.” Apparently Jeremy is worth the price of being an anchor. “Any consequence is worth it.” Hm. I’m sensing foreshadowing in that statement. Wonder what other consequences are going to come about…
Later at the dorm, Caroline apologizes for what she said earlier but keeps talking about how Damon is dangerous, not hesitating to lay it on thick about how Elena needs to be aware of who she takes to her bedroom. So…am I the only one wanting to cry hypocrite to Caroline, just a little? I mean all of her mentioning how Elena should be aware of the dangers of her boyfriend are sounding like something subconscious is nagging at Caroline. Perhaps something named Klaus? Come on, someone else was thinking it too, right?!
Since Jesse’s death, Damon’s had a change of heart and decides he’s going to kill Maxfield. Rummaging through his fridge he finds a blood bag labeled 12144. It’s familiar to him because he was 21051. Yes folks, Damon Salvatore was an Augustine vampire, one of the vampire lab rats with coded subject names and some really short and creepy flashbacks to him on a lab table. And just when he’s about to kill Maxfield he hits the red button and vervain steam pours in the room, neutralizing him. Dr. Maxfield dons a sinister little smirk, cackling: “I’m sure Augustine would be thrilled to have you back.”