by Dianna Berrian
For the record, if you’re ever held captive in a basement dungeon by a mad scientist hell bent on using you as a lab rat for the sake of scientific advancement, jamming a wooden bullet into a lock and smashing it with a rock won’t open the jail cell. But if you go on a frenzy and kick the crap out of it, you might get lucky. Like Damon.
In the realm of the unlucky, however, resides Katherine. Sure, she just had a hot, steamy hookup with her former flame Stefan, but waking up and finding your hair greying and falling out kinda puts a damper on things. Before he can wake all the way up, she steals the blankets and wraps it over herself, (including her greying head) and begs Stefan not to look at her as she runs away. And he lets her. Apparently it’s too early for him to care. As she makes for the door, now fully dressed and her curls tucked beneath a hat as cute as she can get them, she bumps into a bloody Damon on the hunt for his Elena. Sorry, she’s not there, and Stefan hasn’t seen her either because he was busy shacking up with Katherine. Damon grimaces in disgust and Katherine gets a little pep in her step from grossing him out. Ha ha.
Meanwhile, Elena is still on the lab table where we left her, hooked up to a half empty blood bag. And on your left you’ll see an old staircase and a weird flashback kind of thing where they once looked normal. Let’s add some phantom child’s laughter to go with this creepiness. And speaking of creepy, Dr. Wes Maxfield returns with his voice recorder, taking notes on Elena’s progress. He knows the place is familiar to her but instead of giving her some insight, he talks science mumbo jumbo and continues her dialysis treatment, using some anesthetic to knock her out again. Night night, Elena. Enjoy your torture.
Since Damon is so good at bumping into people on their way out, he does it again with his brother just in time to let him know he can’t find Elena. Stefan, now miraculously cured of his PTSD in one episode, puts on his heroic hairdo and heads off with Damon to find some leverage to hold over the evil Dr. Wes who is their best bet at finding Elena. And what’s better leverage than the kid you’re a legal guardian of? Yes, I’m talking about Aaron. They find him at school and Damon has a nice, friendly little chat with him. When he tries to run, Stefan blocks his path and tells him to sit. Good boy. Now, where’s Elena? But Aaron’s more concerned with who the heck Stefan is and why Damon is still alive: “How are you not dead? I shot you.” I know you’re new to vampires and all, kid, but don’t tell me you’ve never read or seen a vampire movie. No, Twilight doesn’t count. Here’s Damon with a friendly tip: “You gotta go for the heart. Go for the heart next time.” Oh. And where’s Elena?
Well, Elena is busy getting her blood drained. 4.1 pints, to be exact. In…case anyone was curious. Wes rambles on to his trusty voice recorder about statistics changing since he did the test to Enzo, but dismisses it as a “mystery for another day.” Positivity is key, you know. Elena comes to and begins to struggle against her binds but her efforts are futile. Wes continues rambling, this time about Aaron and his tragic life thinking he was cursed when the real curse was Damon, her boyfriend. He can’t help but wonder how she justifies his barbaric actions. And she can’t understand how he justifies what he’s doing. One word: “Science.” Touché, Dr. Wes. Touché. He picks up a journal and reads off dates and I guess what could constitute as chilling observations. These are the findings of Grayson Gilbert. Even more chilling, Wes says “Everything I’m doing to you, I learned from him.” That’s when Elena realizes where she is – the basement of her dad’s clinic. (Coincidentally, the same place where they burned the vampires in season 2!) She keeps trying to struggle to no avail while Maxfield gets a call from Aaron informing him that Stefan and Damon are going to kill him unless he gives back Elena. They plan to meet in his classroom where, once he knows Aaron is safe, he’ll give back Elena. Clearly a lie. And proving as such, he goes back into his lab and wakes Enzo from his induced nap, ripping off the IVs and injecting him with something he says ensures he’ll come back to him. In essence, he’s freeing him for the day. “You and Damon have some catching up to do.”
Out in the woods, Katherine’s training with coach Donovan and practicing her 6 second long hand stands. She’s working with him to “whip [herself] into shape and prolong this death thing as long as possible.” But as soon as she realizes she didn’t hear him clear enough, she starts to go into panic mode, thinking she’s going deaf and starting to lose her breath. As a figure approaches, it’s apparent her vision is starting to go, as well. The figure is Nadia, presence requested by Matt. She has the suicide note Stefan gave her and slaps Katherine for trying to kill herself without saying goodbye.
Damon, Stefan, and Aaron are on the way to the classroom where Damon finally fills his brother in on some of the backstory. First off, Aaron is Aaron Whitmore, a descendant from a “long line of vampire probing blood testing organ removing freaks.” He finally confesses his secret of being an Augustine test subject. Aaron argues he should tell him the rest of the story but Stefan chastises him. “Did I say you could talk?”
Katherine and Nadia go back to the boarding house to chat in private about recent betrayals. Katherine argues her suicide attempt was a moment of weakness which makes Nadia beg the question, “What changed your mind?” Well, girl, it was more of a…who. “Do you think after all the horrible things I’ve done it’d be possible to be forgiven?” Thinking her mother has seen the light, she says of course. Then she proposes an idea to help Katherine stay alive – spirit possession. See, Nadia’s grandfather was a Traveler, which makes Katherine’s father a Traveler, which makes Katherine a Traveler. So she could just travel to another body. But Katherine’s not into it. She likes her body, and so does Stefan. It becomes clear to Nadia that when she asked about forgiveness, she was asking about Stefan, not her. “If I have to bow out, knowing that Stefan still cares may not be the worst way to go.” So I guess for all those “Steferine” shippers out there, here’s to you. Katherine’s love for him seems pretty genuine. So does Nadia’s anger at her mother. “No. You had it right the first time. Go kill yourself, see if anyone misses you.” Ouch!
Elena is still all pale and feeble on dialysis. She flashes back to when she was little, and her ball rolled down the stairs so she went to get it when suddenly she hears some sort of electricity buzzing behind a closed door. Thinking better of it, little Elena goes back upstairs. Vampire Elena, on the other hand, wants to know more about her father’s involvement in Augustine. It turns out he was working with Augustin to make vampire blood a cure all to fight diseases like cancer. Then she reveals she saw Enzo and knows he’s alive. Where is he? Wes tells her he sent him on a little day trip to settle some “unresolved business with your boyfriend.” And for some reason, Elena mutters mindlessly three times, “What did you do?” Seriously, once would have been enough.
Two vampires and a human walk into a bar. Oh. Sorry. I meant classroom. Another vampire is waiting inside. “Lorezno. Buy my friends call me Enzo. …Kidding I don’t have any friends.” He offers his hand to Damon for a shake but it’s refused. Damon tells them he’s an Augustine vampire and their cells were right next to each other. Stefan is beyond confused and wants to know what’s going on. Luckily, Enzo is all too happy to oblige.
Wes finally stops the dialysis machine and unhooks Elena from it. Piece by piece, she’s putting things together. Like Enzo being the one who killed Megan. Wes ignores her, muttering that he’s drained enough blood to start “phase 2”. But Elena seems more concerned with why Megan had the picture with her dad in her cell phone. Wes explains her parents helped fund Grayson’s projects. Eventually, Megan got suspicious, went to the party at Whitmore house and found Enzo in the basement. The rest, my friends, is history. Stefan calls to interrupt with a threat on Aaron’s life if they don’t get Elena but Wes cleverly shoots back: “How will she function without her cerebral cortex?” Yup. Threats work both ways.
In the meantime, Enzo is telling Aaron the tale of his and Damon’s past. Stefan returns to the room and he, Aaron and Damon bicker about what to do. Impatient, Enzo throws a desk to get their attention again so he may continue his story. Enzo’s only explanation for his survival is that he was spared by one of the scientists so he could be a lab rat for 50 more years. While he goes off to find something to “whet his whistle”, Stefan wonders why Damon never told him about his time in Augustine. Damon acts unfazed and wants to continue with the plan with killing Aaron, but Aaron thinks on his feet for once and offers the files that Wes gave him. Enzo, now back and armed with alcohol, demands Damon stay behind while Stefan and Aaron go to retrieve said files. The two old friends exchange a little small talk until Damon cuts to the chase. “Want me to feel guilty? I couldn’t save you.” He reveals to Damon that Wes injected him with a poison that’ll dessicate him if he doesn’t return for the antidote. Perfect! Enzo gets the antidote, Damon will save Elena, and they’ll kill Wes together! Wrong. “You’re not gonna see your girl again. Cause I want the antidote and Wes told me not to come back until you’re dead.” Boom! Damon goes flying out the window and crashing over the hood of a car. Enzo is at him with his fists for a good second, but the poison works its way into his system and he becomes dessicated in Damon’s arms. Well that was anticlimactic…
At Aaron’s dorm room, he tells Stefan all the files are in a trunk and kneels to grab them, instead whipping out a stake but Stefan is too fast and shoves him into the wall, threatening him. He’s not to bright, this Aaron, is he? But he does tell Stefan all about Damon’s revenge plot to keep killing Whitmores, except for one so that he can continue destroying future generations. Well here’s a newsflash from Stefan: “Not all of us are like my brother.” He’s about to leave when Aaron has a rapid change of heart and hands over all the files on Augustine. Atta boy!
Elena is still flashing back to the basement as a little girl again. This time, she’s hearing screams from behind the door. Little Elena inches closer…and closer… And then Grayson shows up to stop her. Boo. Back to reality. Wes has developed a compound that makes her salivate at the smell of vampire blood. The same thing he gave to Jesse that made him attack Damon. He’s about to inject her with it. “You can’t do that to me. You’ll turn me into a ripper.” Aw, come on, Wes. Don’t do that. Elena was bad enough when she turned off her humanity! But he goes ahead and jabs the syringe into her like he’s stabbing her to death. Honestly, was that even necessary? But it doesn’t look like he gets to inject her because Stefan calls her name and Elena head butts Wes to knock him out. Well why didn’t you just do that before, Elena?! Stefan runs in and sees Wes on the floor, the syringe appearing not to be pushed down. He frees Elena from the table and looks down at Wes again, then helps her out but she grabs her father’s journal before they go.
Outside the Mystic Grill, Nadia is sitting on the patio brooding about her mother. Matt walks out to clear a table and tell her they’re closing. She reminds him of their night in Prague but he says he’d prefer to put it behind them. I guess realizing you had a threesome with Katherine’s daughter might be a little traumatizing. She hands over the Traveler’s knife and asks him to hold onto it for safekeeping because she’s leaving. And if Katherine changes her mind, she’ll need it. “She won’t cause Katherine cares about Katherine and only Katherine. She doesn’t want to do something, then she won’t.” But Nadia can’t deal with the fact that she spent 500 years searching and finally found her mother only to lose her again. Matt relates with his own tales of his sucky mom. “Then you know what it’s like to hold onto the hope that maybe, just once, she’ll do what you want.” Right. In. The. Feels.
Enzo wakes up for the umteenth time in his life on a lab table. Damon had injected him with a bunch of tubes that said antidote. “Apparently one of them worked.” But he’s not making amends. “It would really suck if you dessicated in vain.” Enzo comes at him, furiously, but Damon shoves his fist into his chest, holding his heart to stop him while he tells HIS side of the story. He didn’t feel guilty or think of him after the fact, because in order to do it, he had to shut off his humanity. So he felt nothing. Enzo ain’t buying it. “Even if I forgave you, Damon, would that make you less of a horrible person? …You were the most important person in my life and you ruined him. Who you are. Who you’ll always be. A monster.” Well…yeah. Basically. But that’s why we love Damon, right? That whole love-to-hate and hate-to-love thing?
Later, Damon walks into the boarding house and sees Elena on the couch reading the journal of Grayson. Why, Elena? Why do it? She finds an entry from 1999 – Megan King. 7 years old. Congenital heart defect with a 2 month life expectancy. She connects it to her roommate, and that’s why she had the picture. Grayson used vampire blood to save her life. As always, Elena tries to see the positive in the negative. Even when it’s horrifically negative. But Damon argues the reality of it. “You are a vampire. I mean, do you honestly think he would sit here and see you as anything more?” It’s her dad, how can she not defend him? Oh he knows, she does it for him all the time. (Do I detect bitter undertones?) “I’m bad! I’m bad for you!” So why is she still there? Because she loves him; she chose him and she stands by her choice. Well now, Damon decides he’s choosing and he’s choosing to let her go because he hates that she keeps defending him when some horror from his past that depicts the real terrorizing monster he is comes back into his life. He won’t change who he is. He can’t. And he refuses to change her. Cue Elena trying to hold it together but inevitably breaking down and crying. And a short time later, she sucks it up and tosses her dad’s journal into the fire.
Upstairs, Katherine’s in Stefan’s room looking at herself in the mirror, evaluating the newly forming wrinkles. Stefan walks in, hesitant to disturb her: “Can I come in? Or are you gonna freak out and run away again?” She’s there to talk about what happened last night and makes him start. His explanation is that of any typical guy: “It was a long day, we had a moment, and got swept up in it.” Cue Kat’s heart dropping fifty stories. “What do you expect? You want me to forget everything you’ve done the last 147 years?” Um, newsflash Stefan. She’s dying. “What does someone have to go through to get a little redemption around here?” He argues, “147 years is a long time to forgive in one night.” But Katherine knows the truth: “One night, an eternity. You’d never look at me the way you look at Elena, would you?” He says nothing but has a sad, wistful look, unable to deny it. She bids him goodnight and starts to leave but he pulls her wrist back and laces his fingers through hers. “I’m sorry that you’re dying.” She’s fighting the tears in her eyes as she says, “Trust me. I am too.”
Sidenote: Aaron goes down to the basement and finds Wes still knocked out in his lab. He picks up the syringe and yells at Wes for using him as a bargaining chip, “I never wanna see you again. Get the hell out of my life!” And leaves. Wait…wait. Why did he take the syringe? No! Destroy it! Throw it into the fire! Destroy it! What are you waiting for?! …ahem.
On her way out, Katherine calls Nadia and takes her up on her offer. “I’m a survivor. Staying alive is my specialty.” Plus, she’s hopeful that Stefan thinks a part of her could still be redeemed. But suddenly, her bag drops and she feels a pain shoot up her arm. She grabs her chest, choking for air and tumbles down the stairs and slips out of consciousness. Oh no! Don’t worry, she’s not dead yet. But according to previews, she’s in the hospital on her death bed in the next episode fighting to last through the day. Well. Let’s just hope she lasts it through the 100th episode of “The Vampire Diaries” and beyond!
(By the way, I don’t think this episode was appropriately titled…….)