'The Vampire Diaries' recap: Roaring and ripping through the unlikeliest brotherhood

tvd-1920s-ripper-stefan.jpgI've practically been singing it (well, tweeting it) from the rooftops: tonight's episode of "The Vampire Diaries" was the best ever. I got a sneak peek at it on Wednesday at The CW, and I've spent the last 24 hours trying to figure out something I didn't like about it so that this recap wouldn't be completely gushy and obsessive.

Vamp fans... I hope you're into completely gushy and obsessive recaps. I have no complaints.

Previously on "The Vampire Diaries": Aw, Klaus's first Previously! Mrs. Lockwood shot the floozy. Bill Forbes showed up to destroy Caroline's hopes and dreams. Klaus attempted to build an army of soldiers-not-slaves (separate, but equal!) and failed so badly there were tears of blood. Tears. Of. Blood.

8:01 - Finally, the return of Katherine! Girl makes a phone booth look sexy. She's certainly been missed. It seems she and Elena have more in common than their enviable eyelashes... Katherine can't give up on Stefan, either.

8:02 - Meanwhile, Klaus and Stefan arrive in Chicago, the place of his greatest and grandest massacres. Stefan confesses that his memories of the 1920s are blurry, kind of like your freshman year of college, but with a lot more blood. (Unless your freshman year of college was super weird, in which case... keep that to yourself.)

Klaus refers to Stefan as "The Ripper of Monterey." How badass does that sound? He sounds like he has a regular poker night with the Count of Monte Cristo and the Phantom of the Opera.

I can not even begin to explain how much I love the Klaus voiceover that brings us into the flashback here. His tone sounds like he's about to tell Stefan a bedtime story. It's magnificent.

I'm going to say this only one time: Paul Wesley looks unbelievable in his 1920s costume. Nobody should be that hot with that much blood in his teeth, but my jaw is pretty much on the floor every time he's on screen. There. I said it. Now I'm not going to embarrass myself by saying it again. I'm not.

Rebekah's introduction is delicious. I already love her. "You're still wearing your date," she purrs, before taking a taste of her own. Scandalous! I like this woman. She can stick around a while.

8:05 - They head out to meet Gloria, Klaus's favorite witch. Somehow... I don't think I'd want to be Klaus's favorite anything.

8:05 - Is it just me, or is there always good music in the rise-and-shine scenes? For the soundtrack junkies, this one is "Distance" by Christina Perri. Appropriate, no?

Damon and Elena are now in bed together, and I can hear people frantically updating their tumblrs from here. I think it's so interesting that in recent interviews, Ian Somerhalder swore that Damon wouldn't try to make a move on "his brother's girl." If this is Damon not making a move, I can't wait until he actually springs into action. Elena's world is going to be rocked.

8:06 - For me, Caroline is the most relatable female character on the show. She always seems motivated by a survival instinct and a set of principles, whereas Elena is motivated by True Love Forever and Bonnie is motivated by saving Elena. So seeing Caroline tortured (again, might I add) hurts. It's infinitely worse when it's her father that's doing it. She's always spoken of him so reverently and resented her mother for not living up to her father. Bill understood Caroline, or so she thought.

"This is how I'm going to fix you," Bill tells her, and then burns her. I mean... this is pretty much the equivalent of a parent holding their child's hand down on a hot stove. My stomach hurts watching it.

8:08 - Really? After practically stalking him all summer and having his phone calls traced, reading a diary that's nearly a century old is too much of a violation of Stefan's right to privacy for Elena to handle? I'm going to ignore that because her dramatic reading wouldn't have been nearly as fantastic as Damon's. "I'm shocked! Stefan's not a virgin!?"

8:09 - Back in the 1920s, Stefan is the leader of his own little rat pack! I wonder if he was a Shark or a Jet when the '50s rolled around.

8:10 - Make a note, guys... witches can slow their aging process down. Maybe that's why Bonnie had such a fierce grandmother. We know that Klaus's hybrid farm is on hold because Elena is still alive, but since he can't figure out what's gumming up the works, he turns to Gloria to find him a loophole. (I'm glad we've acknowledged the existence of said loophole early in the story so it doesn't feel like a cop-out later when he inevitably doesn't kill Elena.) In order to solve his problem, though, Klaus needs to contact the original witch... which means he needs to find Rebekah.

8:12 - "This is me, with you." Stefan knew Klaus in the 1920s!! Oh, this is about to get juicy.

8:15 - Aww, Tyler's worried about Caroline.

8:15 - Meanwhile... Bill is conditioning Caroline to associate human blood with agonizing pain so she won't crave it anymore. As she insists that she doesn't need fixing, I can't help but think this is akin to some kind of horrific gay reversal therapy, which I know is ironic given the fact that Bill is gay. Of course, I'm not trying to equate homosexuality with vampirism, but the idea is similar -- a parent using terrifying negative reinforcement to try to change something that can not be changed, simply because they can't understand that their child leads a different kind of life than they expected her to.

Basically, it's all just really really sad.

8:16 - Damon and Elena go hide out in Stefan's old apartment, which is obviously an excellent decision. Damon has the power of compulsion. He couldn't have checked them into a hotel? I've already expressed my frustration with Elena in this scene. I just wish she would show a little bit of apprehension or fear for what she's about to walk into. Also, I'm really glad Stefan made a handy list of all his fun murder times. It'll make a great ripped from the headlines "Law & Order" episode.

8:19 - Elena's locket belonged to Rebekah! I always thought it was a little strange that Stefan had a necklace that was clearly meant for a woman hanging around in the first season, but I think most fans just assumed it had once been Katherine's. This is so, so much better. "Supposedly it's magical," Rebekah says.

And then, the revelation we've been waiting for: Rebekah is Klaus's sister. That's three Originals down.

8:20 - They find her in his creepy box of creepy bodies. Clearly, she didn't live long after she met Stefan, because she's still dressed in her flapper finest. Klaus makes sure to point out that her temper is worse than his, which is... cause for concern, to say the very least.

8:25 - How great is it, by the way, that even when she's been dead for 90 years, he's got such a brotherly relationship with her? "She's being dramatic."

Um... did Klaus just say he learned his tricks from Stefan? Oh dear.

8:26 - Rebekah calls Klaus "Nik." He's sure got a lot of names. She explains that their family was split, but ultimately, she chose to be on his side. I wonder if that's survival or if she actually sympathized with him. She says that she didn't side with him right off the bat. How many of her siblings did he stick in a box before she realized she'd be better off being his yes-man? It's reminiscent of Stefan's situation right now.

Oh, gross. Stefan forces a (human) man to swill his wife's blood. I might hurl. He's clearly a sadist. That is not a normal way for a dude to get his kicks, okay? No matter how good he looks doing it.

8:28 - Damon heads to Gloria's, obviously just missing the hybrid and the ripper. She says that she always liked him better. Well, at least somebody did. Damon is almost unrecognizable in this moment -- he's pulling a weird, vulnerable, innocent act, but it seems more genuine than it ever has before. He could charm a Gilmore girl in this moment. tvd-eota-joseph-morgan-vertical.jpg

8:29 - I love the little glimpses into Stefan's life with Lexi, even with the diary as a device for it, which I'm not a fan of. She wanted him to laugh, you guys. I can't believe Damon killed her and deprived us of all of this awesomeness.

Is it just me, or did Elena just use her vampire hearing? Juuust kidding. The vampires on this show hardly even use their vampire hearing. Klaus reminds Stefan that his kill ritual involved writing the name down so that he could relive the kill. This just gets creepier. I wonder if the Stefan of the 1920s felt remorseful enough to reassemble the bodies. Somehow, he doesn't seem the type to clean up after a meal.

8:30 - Oh, poor Elena. She smiles when she sees Stefan. She has no idea how far he's already gone from her. I have to admit, for a split second, I almost believed Stefan sold her out -- but he's not that far gone. I'm not sure he ever will be. He chooses a whiskey instead. "Let's go find someone to pair it with," Klaus suggests. Vampire foodies!

That was such a great first encounter since Stefan's extended absence. The hope in her eyes, and how close he came to destroying it. Show that scene to all of your friends who think "The Vampire Diaries" is a show for overeager teenage girls who spend all of their allowance at Hot Topic.

8:34 - "I had an hour to realize what a bad idea it was to leave you here alone, process it, and move on." This is one of my all-time favorite Damon lines. He did make a pretty grave judgement error here, considering the fact that his entire life purpose has become protecting her. Had Elena made one wrong move, she would definitely be hybrid chow by now. What's so great about this line, though, is actually the delivery. It sounds like Damon is being his usual insincere self, but the look on his face proves that he really was scared and he really is beating himself up about it. I appreciate the fact that when she says she's okay, he doesn't feel the need to dissect it.

"You're all roadtrippy and gross," he says. Did he buy her a dress? Seriously?

I can't wait to see what Elena's plan is to get Stefan back. It better be good, because this is the second time they've gone on a save-Stefan adventure. Something needs to pay off.

8:35 - "So this is why you asked me to be your wingman," Stefan asks Klaus. "Because you liked the way that I tortured innocent people." Ding ding ding, we have a winner!

Wait... back in the day, it was Stefan who encouraged Klaus to go full hybrid? Things really do come full circle, don't they? I am really enjoying these moments of seeing Klaus, Rebekah, and Stefan together. It's probably the happiest we've ever seen Klaus or Stefan. There's a genuine connection there and it comes across beautifully on screen. I think Joseph Morgan is at his absolute best playing 1920s Klaus. He's less diabolical than 1400s Klaus and somehow more sympathetic than current Klaus. You really get the impression that he and Stefan complemented each other perfectly. Rebekah, while gorgeous and interesting and definitely lending chemistry, is almost extraneous.

"To friendship," Klaus says. Cheers.

8:37 - Back to Caroline! Bill confesses that he cried when he learned Caroline was a vampire. Um, why did he even let Liz have custody of her in vampire town then? Just saying. This girl had boarding school written all over her.

"Why are you trying to fix me?" Caroline begs. "So I don't have to kill you," Bill says. True father-daughter bonding, right there.

Time for Competent Sheriff Mom to save the day! Oh, okay. So you miss your kid-torturing ex-husband, but you shoot Jeremy right in the heart. Go back to gun school lady.

Can we just talk for a moment about the symbolism of Tyler dropping to a knee, putting Caroline's ring on her finger, and then picking her up and carrying her across a threshold? Can we have that conversation? Because that was not subtle. And I loved it, obviously.

8:39 - Stefan's getting sassy as he gets sauced! "If we were such great friends, then why do I only know you as the hybrid dick who sacrificed my girlfriend on an altar of fire?" Point, Stefan.

All good things must come to an end: the police raid the speakeasy using wooden bullets. "They know!" Stefan says. Um, given the sheer number of people on his wall'o'death, it's a wonder no one came looking for him ages ago.

"He's here," Rebekah gasps. All together now: who?

She loses her necklace, but before Stefan can pick it up, Klaus compels Stefan to forget all about him and Rebekah. "Thank you," he says. "I'd forgotten what it was like to have a brother." (Was that an Elijah shout-out? Let's pretend it was.) Given the importance this series has placed on brotherhood, this is a particularly weighty line. Brothers, on this show, are bound for eternity.

8:42 - I hope Damon only calls Klaus "honey" from here on out. That was magnificent. Even Klaus was amused.

8:47 - "What can I say? I'm a thrill seeker," Damon tells Klaus. Dude. Jump out of a plane or something. Climb a mountain. Swim from Cuba to Florida.

8:49 - Was this really Elena's plan? Hug Stefan into coming home? ...Oh. Vervain. Well, people on this show have had worse plans.

8:50 - Klaus uses a toothpick to stab our intrepid hero. If that actually hit Damon's heart, would it count as a stake? Brilliant. Also, Gloria is what we like to call a BAMF.

8:50 - "It's never going to be the same, Elena," Stefan says. "I've left bodies scattered from Florida to Tennessee. Innocent people. Humans." Elena has comforted herself with the diaries she didn't want to read and the knowledge that so many years ago, Lexi was able to Dr. Drew Stefan's blood addiction away. Lexi, unlike Elena, had a whole lot of time on her hands.

"I don't want to see you. I don't want to be with you," Stefan says. "I just want you to go." Surprisingly, I actually believe him. No mean-tears this time.

8:53 - Close on the locket! It represents Stefan to her. If only she knew it was a hand-me down from Klaus's little sis...

8:54 - Candice Accola for the win. She's absolutely phenomenal. When Tyler shows up and Caroline starts to laugh but breaks into crying, it is such a perfect example of what Candice does best -- the crack in Caroline's shell, the vulnerability that she doesn't want to show. The moment sort of mirrors the one last season when she had been tortured and her friends came over for a slumber party. That time, Tyler had hesitated to save her when she needed him most. He's grown since then. He's there, no matter what. And also he looks awesome in red.

8:55 - "Go to hell, Nik!" Rebekah says, all full up on warehouse worker blood.

Back in the 1920s, little Becky had fallen hard for the Ripper. Klaus wasn't about to hesitate, though -- whoever they're running from is bad news. (Seriously, every time we think we've met the big bad villain, it turns out that big bad is running from bigger and badder.) "We have to disappear and he'll draw too much attention," Klaus says.

When he makes her choose, she genuinely appears to regret that she wants to be with Stefan. This moment is probably the most revealing we've seen with Klaus. Despite being a zillion years old, he's still such a child -- he doesn't want to share his toys. If he's not her priority, she's dead. You get the impression that she's the last one standing -- just by the look on his face as he's stabbing her.

8:57 - "Don't pout. You knew it wouldn't kill me," he says, tugging the dagger out of his own heart. And then... he summons Stefan.

For her, hasn't it only been about five minutes since she saw him last?

All of Stefan's memories come flooding back as he's compelled... and he smiles. Really? Even now, after all of his Lexidemption, he's still pleased to see the people who helped him blood-gargle his way through Chicago for the better part of a decade?

I can't wait to see where this goes. Obviously, his affection for them was genuine (despite his being under the influence) if he's still affected by it 90 years in.

8:58 - "Hey, buddy. Take a picture of my brother and me." Oh, those words sting -- both because of what these two become, and because Stefan has a brother. One that's not even all too far away at the exact moment the photo was taken.

Oh, god. Even the loophole involves Elena. They need her necklace. Let's just hope they're not in such a hurry to get at it that they take her head off, too.

It's notable that even now, even knowing what he knows about their history together, Stefan doesn't give Elena up.

8:58 - And back to Katherine. How hot was she in the 1920s? That wig is magnificent. Nina Dobrev would be gorgeous if she shaved off all her hair, but still... the bob is working for her. (Also, now that you've seen this scene... go back and watch my video interview with Nina. Takes on a whole new angle, doesn't it?) This is one of my favorite Nina moments ever.

This is our introduction to Sebastian Roche's character -- who, you'll remember, is the only one who scares Klaus. I'll take a wild guess that this isn't the last we'll be seeing of him, so I am thinking he's either a vampire or he turns after the 1920s. It seems too easy for Klaus to have escaped this guy due to something as simple as human mortality. (Also... that is a terrible drawing of Joseph Morgan.)

8:59 - And cut to Katherine... who didn't give up on Stefan in the century and a half they didn't speak to each other, and certainly isn't about to give up on him now. Stage 5 clinger. Seriously.

Next week: Bonnie returns to her hot lying liar of a boyfriend, Gloria... gives Stefan what appears to be a very painful massage (aromatherapy?), Tyler and Caroline do more naked stuff, Damon finally sinks his teeth into somebody, and Elena pulls the whole "why do you drink blood, vampire friend" thing again.

I am not awarding an MVP for this episode, because 1) it's a made up award 2) I made it up and 3) everyone was too awesome. It was easily Candice Accola's best episode -- which says a lot given the fact that she's had some of the most emotionally resonant scenes on this show -- but the A plot belonged to Paul Wesley and Joseph Morgan, and they elevated the episode to a whole new level.

I can't wait to hear what you all think! Drop me a line below or on Twitter (@cadlymack) and let's discuss. Like I said -- this is my favorite episode ever. This season is going to be spectacular.
Photo/Video credit: The CW
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