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Love You to Death: Season 3

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"Show me a hero and I will write you a tragedy."
—F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Crack Up, 1945)

Love You to Death: Season 3 is the third book of the Love You to Death series, the unofficial companion to The Vampire Diaries.

The Vampire Diaries’ ultimate fan bible returns for season 3

Go deep into the heart of Mystic Falls with the latest volume in a series School Library Journal called “well written and thoroughly detailed.” Love You to Death features insightful explorations of each episode of season 3 with information on the rich history, supernatural mythology, film references, and character development; chapters on the supernatural lore that inspired the series; and details on the making of the show, the people who put it together, and the audience that keeps it alive. The Vampire Diaries’ popularity and acclaim continue to grow, and Love You to Death feeds the frenzy by engaging the fandom with a companion guide that readers return to again and again.

The Cast

Episode Guide: Season

Excerpt from Love You to Death: Season 3

In a Town full of witches, werewolves, and vampires . . .

If you asked a random person on the street for a description of The Vampire Diaries, you might hear about the love triangle — a girl and the two vampire brothers who love her. But ask The Vampire Diaries fandom or a cast member or TVD writer, and the answer you’ll get could involve any number of things: Breakneck pacing and twists. Thousand-year-old hybrids. Grief and isolation, and perseverance in its wake. Teen drama with supernatural stakes. An exploration of the importance of choice. Shirtlessness. Family, family, family. The Vampire Diaries — like Caroline Forbes — has always been more thoughtful and interesting than it appears on the surface. It’s no kiddie pool. And that’s why I am quite happily back here again: writing my third Love You to Death companion guide on a television series that to the uninitiated doesn’t require this amount of ink spilled. But we know better.

As the series has grown and changed since its now wonderfully idyllicseeming pilot back in September 2009, it’s slowly and surely gained in both critical reception and popularity. While recognition of TVD’s accomplishments is not likely to be forthcoming from the Emmys, there are other ways it’s recognized; beyond the Teen Choice and Saturn Award nominations, the fans make their voices heard with moments like Nina Dobrev’s People’s Choice Award in 2012. Not only did fan votes win her the award, she was on the ballot thanks to them, making Nina the first write-in nominee and winner. Season 3 marked the first Entertainment Weekly cover for TVD, and while the story and photos focused on the love triangle and shipper wars, the three collectible covers were a milestone for The CW series. Another sure sign of a devoted fandom is the proliferation of conventions: big-time convention company Creation Entertainment joined the con party with official TVD conventions in the U.S. in 2012, and Europe’s and Australia’s cons kept the cast jet-setting during their time off.

In the ramp-up to the season 3 premiere, the series promised to look both forward and backward. Fan favorites Kayla Ewell and Malese Jow made a cliffhanger return in “As I Lay Dying” and would feature in the first arc of the new season. In interviews leading up to the September 2011 premiere, showrunner Julie Plec touted the upcoming year as the “Season of the Originals,” promising viewers more of the Original family we learned about in the tail end of season 2. But the big character moment everyone was keen to see was Stefan’s — and Paul Wesley gave us something to look forward to by promising sweet, heroic Stefan would return as a “freaking nutbag.” How could we resist that?

Just as the series has evolved over the years, so have my companion guides to it (though hopefully we’re not in nutbag territory . . . ). What was covered in the first two volumes is not rehashed here, and careful readers will notice that the format of the episode guide is slightly different. I’ve grouped all the song-by-scene information at the back of the book (page 162) so that it can function as a handy-dandy music reference. And since we all love to interpret the significance of which cast member delivers the opening “Previously on The Vampire Diaries” line, I’ve added it in to each episode’s details. (Gone are a few sections: “Bite Marks,” “The Diabolical Plan,” and “Meanwhile in Fell’s Church,” R.I.P.)

Each episode’s write-up begins with a bit of dialogue that stood out for me either because it captures the episode in a pithy few lines . . . or it was just too well written not to acknowledge. From there, I provide an analysis of the episode, looking at its main themes, the character development, and the questions it raises, followed by these sections:

  • COMPELLING MOMENT Here I choose one moment that stands out — a turning point, a character standing up for herself, a shocking twist, or a long-awaited relationship scene.
  • CIRCLE OF KNOWLEDGE In this section of the episode guide, you’ll find all the need-to-know info — the details you may have missed on first watch, character insights, the cultural references, and motifs or recurring elements. Often, an episode’s title is a play on another title (of a film, book, song, etc.); those are explained in this section.
  • THE RULES Any work of fiction with a supernatural element has its own particular spin on how that world operates. Here I catalog what we’ve learned about what goes bump in the night.
  • HISTORY LESSON The only class at Mystic Falls High School that ever got considerable screen time is history. History, both real and fictional, is important in this series — and for the characters’ back stories, the town’s history, and subtle references, “History Lesson” is your study aid.
  • PREVIOUSLY ON THE VAMPIRE DIARIES History repeats itself in Mystic Falls, and here I outline the incidents, motifs, and key moments that are revisited or echoed in each episode. Included at the back of the book is a quick refresher on the previous seasons’ episodes (see page 215), which I refer to by title in this section and throughout the book.
  • OFF CAMERA Here we leave the fictional world behind to hear what the cast and crew have to say about filming an episode; sometimes I provide background details on a guest star, director, or other filming details.
  • FOGGY MOMENTS Elena, surprised by Stefan in the cemetery in the pilot episode, tells him the fog is making her foggy. “Foggy Moments” is a collection of confusing moments for the viewer — continuity errors, arguable nitpicks, full-on inconsistencies, and mysteries that may be explained later.
  • QUESTIONS TVD fans love to theorize about what will happen next or what motivates a character. In this section, I raise questions about characters, plotting, and mythology for you to consider as you watch the season unfold.

Make sure you watch an episode before reading its corresponding guide — you will encounter spoilers for that episode (but not for anything that follows). Within the pages of the guide, you’ll also find short biographies of the actors who bring the recurring characters to life as well as sidebars about other elements of the show and about its influences. I’ve updated the timeline included in my first companion guides to include season 3’s info on the past thousand years in the TVD universe.

Finally, in the interview section, I’m thrilled to have four whip-smart, insightful members of the TVD family: director J. Miller Tobin, editor/ director Joshua Butler, photo recapper and internet hero Price Peterson, and executive producer/writer/showrunner/genius Julie Plec. Four different perspectives on the series, which I hope will provide a nice counterpart to my pages of heartfelt rambling.

Speaking of . . . if there’s something you think I missed, or that I completely read your mind about, drop me at a note at, @reply me on Twitter (@CrissyCalhoun), and/or stop by my Facebook page at Being a part of The Vampire Diaries conversation is just about my favorite thing ever, and the TVD family has come to mean a great deal to me personally. So thanks for reading, and for letting me to spend so much time in Mystic Falls.

Crissy Calhoun
July 2012[1]

3.01 The Birthday
"Stop looking for him. Stop waiting for him to come home. Just stop. Stefan is gone and he’s not coming back. Not in your lifetime."
—Damon to Elena

Original air date: September 15, 2011
Written by: Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec
Directed by: John Behring
Guest cast: Dawn Olivieri (Andie Star), David Gallagher (Ray Sutton), Cherilyn Wilson (Samara), Sarah Cooper (Keisha), Lilly Roberson (Sofie), Diany Rodriguez (Claudine)
Previously on The Vampire Diaries: Paul Wesley

It’s Elena’s 18th birthday: Caroline throws her a massive party, Damon tracks down his brother, and the birthday girl’s wish actually comes true.

When season 2 of The Vampire Diaries ended, Stefan had sacrificed himself to save his brother, agreeing to be Klaus’s wingman in exchange for some precious werewolf-bite healing blood. With “The Birthday,” we meet Stefan two months into his sentence and he’s not the man who left Mystic Falls. He’s a ripper. The horror-movie-style opening sequence lets us know that Stefan’s heroic act has made him a villain: he kills those two women at Klaus’s command and, before the day is done, has tortured a werewolf and killed Andie Star, who he used to be concerned about. The writers make it clear from the top: this is not your season 2 TVD.

The jump ahead in time is one of many ways this episode signals a new beginning for the series; most notably “The Birthday” marks Elena’s official entry into adulthood as she turns 18. But hitting this milestone day on the calendar doesn’t mean the past will be easily forgotten. In Mystic Falls, the characters struggle in various states of limbo until they ultimately force themselves to choose between letting go or holding on. Despite trying their darndest to be normal and boring, their attempts to cover up the messy truth fail when they pretend to be something they’re not. Elena sucks at being the chipper birthday party girl, Jeremy’s mundane existence at the Grill is punctuated with ghostly visitors, Caroline and Tyler can no longer deny their physical attraction, Alaric feels like a fraud acting as a guardian to the Gilbert kids, Damon has been hiding his search for his brother from Elena, and Stefan’s ripper act isn’t as convincing to Klaus as he thinks it is. Even Klaus himself puts on an American accent, telling the suspicious Floridian that he’s not a serial killer.

While no one has an easy time letting go of the past, for Jeremy, it’s ever present. His past is literally haunting him and he’s been holding on to a huge secret all summer. Until he opens up to Matt after the party, he is alone with a terrifying reality: Anna and Vicki appearing to him as a result of Bonnie bringing him back to life. Jeremy’s been playing at normalcy, but judging from his reluctance to get out of bed and his pot-smoking at the party, he’s regressing to his season 1 stoner self instead of dealing with his supernatural problem. In the same way that Elena is drifting, purposeless except in her hunt for Stefan, Jeremy is in a kind of limbo, just like Vicki and Anna. Matt describes Jer as on a “downward spiral” and himself as “out of it”; neither one knows where they fit in the new supernatural normal. Though Jeremy opens up to Matt, Matt isn’t ready (or sober enough) to hear that Vicki’s ghost is real and not imagined, a product of Jeremy’s grief.

While Jeremy’s exes interrupt his phone conversation with his current ladylove, Bonnie, Matt has to deal with watching his own ex dance around a relationship with his best friend. Matt reminds Caroline that she and Tyler are supposed to be, like, mortal enemies; as much as this werewolf and vampire duo act like everything’s normal, they’re actually quite subversive with their inter-species relationship. The tension between these two supernaturally horny teenagers is palpable, and the payoff a racy kickoff to season 3. But Werewolf Road and Vampire Boulevard may not meet again if Carol Lockwood has anything to say about it. Though Sheriff Forbes has changed alliances — she’s feeding information about vampire attacks to Caroline and company to help them find Klaus and Stefan — in the wake of her breakthrough with her daughter in “As I Lay Dying,” the acting mayor of Mystic Falls is still maintaining the old founding family philosophy: vampires are the enemy.

The self-proclaimed “chaperone teacher from hell,” Alaric Saltzman has been living in his own limbo: on the couch for the two months since Jenna was killed in the sacrifice, drinking excessively and feeling like a bad role model and an unfit guardian to Jeremy and Elena. In a heartbreaker of a scene, he tells Elena it’s time she take care of herself, and he leaves, a man broken by the relentless tragedies he’s suffered. Alaric may have moved out, but he hasn’t moved on; his grief and disconnection just have a new address. Though Elena still has her little brother (and his adorable birthday drawing), she feels very much on her own, holding down the Gilbert fort and holding on to hope that Stefan will come home — in her lifetime.

In “As I Lay Dying,” Elena told Jeremy that they had to start going through the motions of their lives, so that at some point it would feel normal again. But, in addition to mourning Jenna over the summer, Elena seems to be stuck in a kind of Stefan-less limbo. It’s no wonder that Caroline is concerned about her friend not living her life. As Elena insists on tracking down Stefan, clinging to the possibility that he’s alive and not already one of Klaus’s innumerable victims, there’s an interesting tension set up between her and Damon: they are at odds despite sharing the same goal. Damon is just as single-minded and determined to find his brother. But he has a second, contradictory, motivation: protecting Elena. By keeping his intel from her, he’s shielding her from the truth about Stefan’s murderous deeds, letting her hold on to the idealized Stefan, the Stefan she loves who would never dismember and reassemble victims. Or kill Andie in a “cool” way just to drive home his point to his brother.

But, having witnessed a murder firsthand, by the end of “The Birthday,” Damon’s faith in his brother is shaken, if not destroyed. Stefan had been Andie’s defender and, while it seems like Damon’s “complicated dynamic” with his “fake compelled girlfriend” was on slightly more equitable terms than last we saw them, the safe bet would have been on Damon killing Andie one of these days, not Stefan. In a quiet moment before the raucous party, Damon returns Elena’s necklace to her, the symbol of the “good Stefan” and of the love shared between Stefan and Elena. But by the end of the night — after Andie’s death and Stefan’s insistent growl that Damon let him go — Damon loses it with Elena, finally coming clean to her about what Stefan’s done, that those are his victims up and down the eastern seaboard, not Klaus’s. In a small but telling gesture, Elena clutches her necklace: she wants to hold on to her faith in Stefan.

Alone in Stefan’s room, Damon tears up the place that stores all of Stefan’s memories, revealing how upset Damon is by Stefan’s dark turn. Though it wasn’t his choice, Damon is the cause of Stefan losing himself. It was to save Damon’s life that his little brother gave up his identity, his values, and the woman he loves. Stefan is trapped in a kind of purgatory, he’s descended into a dark prison guarded by the biggest (and potentially indestructible) baddie of all time. No wonder Damon’s drinking champagne before breakfast.

This true introduction to Stefan the Ripper is masterfully done. Villainous but sympathetic, Stefan straddles the roles of romantic hero and gruesome imaginative killer with subtle gradations in Paul Wesley’s performance that reveal Stefan’s internal conflict. In a very deliberate moment, Stefan delivers Damon’s “Hello, brother” line from the pilot — signaling the role reversal between the Salvatores from season 1 to 3 — and it’s Stefan, not Damon, who racks up an impressive body count while Damon is left to cover up his brother’s bloody tracks. It’s more than a little bit cool to see the transformation from the Stefan we know and love to this unflinching killer. But as much as Stefan plays his part as Klaus’s dutiful henchman, it’s clear to Klaus, if not to Damon, that Stefan is doing just that — playing his part. He hasn’t truly given in to his dark side; it’s serial killing by numbers. Though Stefan’s not following his moral compass, he’s still holding on to it; his love for his brother and for Elena is buried but burns bright. Stefan acts like he’s enjoying himself — “It’s a little bit cool, no?” — but his duties are a burden, not the pleasure Klaus wants them to be.

As if leashed to Klaus, Stefan can only escape as far as the bar’s parking lot. Stefan knows the truth of Damon’s warning — that it’s a fine line he’s walking — and his façade is breaking as Klaus’s words ring true: every time he feeds, the blood makes it easier to give in to the Ripper. It’s a testament to Paul Wesley’s command of his character that he can bring us to very different places with Stefan in this single episode — from murderous rampages to desperation in his wordless phone call to Elena. She knows it’s him though he can’t speak to her, and she says just what they both need to hear: never let go. This show is never more accomplished than when it goes to dark twisted places while maintaining its firm grasp on the emotional heart of the story, the motivating forces that drive its characters to such extremes.

Isolated but hopeful, Elena remains unwavering in her faith rather than accept reality; she’ll never stop fighting no matter how dire things are. And with Klaus now one step closer to enacting his master hybrid plan, it seems like things are going to get a lot worse before they get better.

  • COMPELLING MOMENT Elena and Stefan’s phone call. From that crack in Elena’s voice to the way Stefan holds back his tears and says nothing, it’s a short scene that’s powerfully emotional and beautifully performed.
    • Damon quips that Stefan could be “alive and well and living in Graceland,” Elvis’s Memphis, Tennessee, estate. Like Elena whose hope for Stefan’s safe return is unwavering, some Elvis die-hards still believe the King lives on.
    • In response to Elena’s glum birthday girl attitude, Damon references the 1963 Lesley Gore song “It’s My Party,” where the birthday girl is thrown over by her boyfriend and says she’ll cry if she wants to.
    • The pins on Damon’s Stefan-tracking map are in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. The newspaper articles are from fictional Tennessee papers: one from Memphis, another from Sylva (which is actually in North Carolina) and reference is made to Meeman-Shelby Forest Park, near Memphis. The article “Body Discovered at Drive-In” includes this quote: “What kind of sick [expletive deleted] chops somebody into pieces and then puts them back together for someone to find?” The answer is provided by Damon’s stickie note: Stefan.
    • Klaus lets Stefan leave to deal with his brother in a test of trust proven by Stefan’s return. It’s a moment that nicely contrasts with another Original’s relationship with one of the gang. In “Klaus,” Elijah allows Elena to tend to Jenna, and she proves the value of her word when she returns to him. Here, instead of being tentative allies like Elijah and Elena were then, Klaus and Stefan are master and slave.
    • R.I.P. Andie Star, Action News. Though it seems as though she spent her final days exercising a little more independence and control over herself (if that get-the-champagne-yourself moment was any indication), Andie’s murder is one that Damon may feel culpable for, despite not actually being her killer. Because Damon wanted someone to feed on, she was vervain-free and therefore vulnerable to Stefan’s compulsion and attack.
  • THE RULES Unable to compel a werewolf, Klaus resorts to torture, but he leaves handling the wolfsbane to Stefan. As a hybrid vampire-werewolf, both vervain and wolfsbane are poisonous to Klaus. To turn Ray into a hybrid, Klaus is trying the usual human-to-vampire three-step transition: Klaus feeds the werewolf his blood, kills him, and, presumably once Ray resurrects, he’ll be forced to drink human blood.
  • PREVIOUSLY ON THE VAMPIRE DIARIES In this season 3 premiere, there are a number of echoes of the pilot episode: a grieving Elena forces herself to face the day, she prods her brother into at least going through the motions (getting him out of bed and off to work) and helps out her slightly inept guardian (Alaric now, instead of Jenna). Jeremy is back to feeling morose and smoking weed to avoid his problems, while Elena’s not into partying though Caroline is gung-ho (“Pilot,” “162 Candles”). The photo of Elena and Stefan dates from before she knew he was a vampire; it was taken on the day he gave her the necklace (“Friday Night Bites”). Though Stefan gave her that necklace, Damon has had some key moments with it, as he does here in “The Birthday”: he put it on Elena in “Fool Me Once,” and he returned it to her at the end of “Rose.” Damon escorts Elena down the stairs in a moment that recalls when he stood in for Stefan at the Miss Mystic Falls pageant (“Miss Mystic Falls”). Damon trashes Stefan’s room like he did in “Lost Girls,” but instead of that gleeful destruction, it’s more of a breakdown akin to Stefan’s own in “History Repeating.”
  • OFF CAMERA David Gallagher plays hybrid–guinea pig Ray Sutton; Gallagher is best remembered as Simon in 7th Heaven and was more recently seen in Super 8 as the stoner, Donny. He actually auditioned for both the Stefan and Damon roles on The Vampire Diaries, and the producers were happy to finally find the right fit for him on the show with Ray.
  • For the first released scenes of season 3, the producers chose a great teaser: the clip shown at San Diego Comic-Con in July 2011 was of Elena getting an eyeful of Damon wearing nothing but bubbles.
  • The phone call at the end of the episode was Kevin Williamson’s idea, and when he outlined it to Julie Plec, as she related to Entertainment Weekly, “I started to cry. I was like [in weeping voice], ‘That’s the best thing I’ve ever heard in my entire life.’ And then he started to cry. Because that’s what we do, we get each other going, because we’re complete saps. . . . There’s something about seeing Paul Wesley trying not to cry that is so sad. So he just nailed it. That’s one of my all-time favorite moments emotionally.” It was also one of the most difficult season 3 scenes for Paul Wesley to film. Shot on location, a group of fans had gathered across the road (on public property) to watch the filming, and unfortunately they were directly in Paul’s eyeline and trying to get his attention. It was a big distraction for the actor, and he modestly credited the editor, Sean Albertson, with pulling together such a powerful scene from the performance he gave.
  • FOGGY MOMENTS While it’s believable that Alaric still can’t operate the coffee maker after two months of living at the Gilbert house, it’s incredible that, after Elena takes over, the coffee brews in a matter of seconds. On Damon’s tracking-Stefan wall, the newspaper article with the stickie note that reads “Neck Wounds” is actually a sports report about a local baseball team. Klaus tells Ray that he’s the first werewolf he’s come across “in many moons.” But in “The Sacrifice,” Klaus had Tyler lined up as his werewolf to sacrifice; has he forgotten about him, or is Klaus more interested in Ray’s pack than a lone Lockwood wolf?
    • Will Damon tell Elena that Stefan killed Andie?
    • Where is Katherine?
    • Vicki asks Jeremy to help her. What does she need him to do? Are she and Anna on a ghostly quest together?
    • Does Carol Lockwood know better than to turn to Sheriff Forbes for dealing with her outed vampire daughter? Will people ever quit it with the surprise attacks on Caroline? [1]

3.02 The Hybrid
"—Know what you’re doing there?
—No, I don’t.
—Alaric to Elena

Original air date: September 22, 2011
Written by: Al Septien and Turi Meyer
Directed by: Joshua Butler
Guest cast: April Billingsley (Paige), David Gallagher (Ray Sutton), Jason Mac (Derek), Kelly Sutton (Anchor Woman)
Previously on The Vampire Diaries: Nina Dobrev

Elena leads Alaric and Damon on a hike through werewolf-filled woods on the night of a full moon in a quest to find Stefan . . . who doesn’t want to be rescued. Tyler shows his mom the monster in him.

No one would call The Vampire Diaries a comedy, but when it goes for funny moments, man, does it ever deliver. In “The Hybrid,” an episode that explores determination in the face of mounting obstacles, our heroine is tossed off a cliffside into a lake in mid-sentence and you can bet that doesn’t slow Elena Gilbert down. In a continuation from the season premiere, her focus is on saving Stefan, and Elena’s refusal to give up on “lost causes” eventually wins over Damon and Alaric. All three accept the risk involved in this attempted rescue op; with werewolves and Klaus roaming the woods on a full moon, and a ripper who doesn’t want to go home, it’s not the most surefire of half-baked plans. But the importance of their connections to each other — Elena’s love for Stefan, Damon’s for his brother, and Alaric’s for both Elena and Damon — overrules any pesky sense of self-preservation. Beyond the bickering trio of would-be rescuers, it’s an episode full of failed attempts: bitten Stefan is at Klaus’s mercy again, Carol thankfully realizes the flaw in her plan, and Klaus fails spectacularly with his bleeding-from-the-eyes hybrids.

Elena isn’t a total failure though. Easier than dragging Stefan from Klaus’s side is reminding Alaric who he really is. Since leaving the Gilbert household, Alaric’s been boozing it up, eating pizza, and passing out (pants open, boots on, shirt off). You could practically smell his rank apartment through the tv. While Elena uses the specific info Alaric has about Stefan and Klaus in Tennessee as an excuse to come over, what Elena really needs is Alaric’s help and support, both as a weapon-making vampire slayer and as a friend and confidant. It’s clear from their bantering in “The Hybrid” that these are two people who know each other. They’ve lived through crazy supernatural trauma and adventure together, they’ve mourned Jenna and worried about Jeremy, they’ve been annoyed and frustrated by Damon but ultimately care deeply for him, and they share the weird connection to Isobel. Alaric is already Elena’s pseudo stepfather (as her birth mother’s former husband) and stepped up as the adult-of-the-house after Jenna died. But when Elena gives him John Gilbert’s ring and he finally accepts it, Alaric becomes an honorary Gilbert.

On their trek through the Smoky Mountains, Elena not only helps Alaric rediscover his purpose, but she leads Damon to a place where he’s able to rediscover his own. It takes Stefan ripping the heart from a “hybrid zombie mountain man” for Damon to realize the truth of what Elena had told him that morning: Stefan would never give up on them, and they owe it to him not to give up either. The bond between the Salvatore brothers means that even when they’re at odds, each would die saving the other; after Stefan killed Andie and told him to let him go, Damon felt that connection had been cut. But Stefan’s actions speak louder than his words.

With so many ties to loved ones cut, Jeremy had been drifting, unsure of what to make of his spectral visitors. But with Vicki’s request for help, Jeremy has a goal and purpose again. He seems more like his season 2 self, when he was involved in the gang’s plans, as he springs into action, roping Matt into a world he keeps fighting to stay apart from. Given the piles of boxes of Vicki’s stuff in the garage, it’s evident that Matt just can’t let go of his dead sister; his raw grief still sits right there on the surface, the possibility of contacting Vicki too painful to pursue. But ignoring grief won’t make it go away, and the same holds true with ghosts: Vicki makes her presence known to Matt, and ultimately he reaches out to Jer and helps him contact Vicki. Despite the emotional risk, and the danger inherent in communication between the living and dead, both Matt and Jeremy feel bound to Vicki, a girl they both loved and understood better than anyone else.

Matt makes the distinction that Jeremy understood who Vicki was more than anyone else and loved her in spite of what others judged in her as “bad.” It’s a crucial lesson for Carol Lockwood in this episode, as her son reveals his true self to her and radically alters her closely held beliefs. Last season, when Brady and Jules were torturing Caroline, Tyler failed to stand up for her in a life-or-death moment, but here he wastes no time in confronting his mother despite the risk involved in outing himself. Instead of starting a fight with Carol, the leader of the anti-vampire council, he opens up to her as his mother and leads her to acceptance with a little monster show-and-tell. He counts on her unconditional love for him, and she does him proud by understanding that being a “monster” isn’t what she once believed. If only all coming-out moments went this way!

Not all is so rosy in “The Hybrid”: while some characters find strength and purpose in their connection to loved ones, others suffer the consequences of isolating themselves. Bill Forbes, a character Caroline fans were once eager to meet, proves to be emotionally distant; after the cliffhanger reveal that he is Caroline’s dad, his earlier comments to Carol seem incredibly icy. Though he may live out of town, he is harboring some old-school Mystic Falls attitudes towards vampires.

Even when you’re the oldest, meanest vampire in the history of time, the best-laid plans can go awry, and for Klaus, there is no greater failure than that of his much-ballyhooed hybrid army. His desire for an army so great that he’d be invincible seems to be about more than just self-preservation; once his rage has passed, Klaus seems almost broken. The price of being feared and powerful is isolation, and in Klaus’s insistence that Stefan enjoy himself and stop whining, it seems that Stefan’s true part to play is as much companion as foot soldier to the Original hybrid. It’s incredibly entertaining to watch Stefan act the sullen, mouthy, put-upon underling to Klaus’s leader. But by episode’s end, Stefan has obeyed Klaus’s order to “lose the attitude” (at least temporarily); he supplicates to Klaus and is shown mercy — in the form of blood in beer. Klaus calls Stefan his only comrade, and it seems that next on his To Do list is getting Stefan to lose that self-loathing, brooding thing that Klaus can’t abide.

Stefan could learn from the warning in Klaus’s example; Stefan is isolating himself from those who keep his humanity alive (his brother and Elena) in order to protect them from Klaus. When the two brothers meet in the woods over a hybrid heart, Damon sees through Stefan’s denial of late-night phone calls to Elena. Paul Wesley’s a great actor, but Stefan? Not so much. Without saying much of anything, Stefan manages to give his brother purpose: he admonishes him for allowing Elena so close to Klaus (who still believes she died in the sacrifice), and Damon seems to be newly committed to protecting her while simultaneously finding a way to deliver Stefan home to her. But what will happen to Stefan as Damon continues to fill his former role in Elena’s life? His “insufferable martyr” instincts mean isolation, and there’s an even greater danger to Stefan if he loses the very people who make him human at heart.

Elena may be the impetus for much of the action in “The Hybrid,” but Damon is the one forcing her to confront her feelings. Last episode, Elena called the “deathbed kissy thing” a goodbye, a relatively uncomplicated characterization of a fraught moment, but her conception of it could easily unravel if she continues to be more conscious of all the things Damon makes her feel. It’s a messy situation, and one she readily admits to Alaric she’s not in control of. Her Gilbert stubbornness and determination may not help her out in this situation.

  • COMPELLING MOMENT Elena bringing Alaric back into the Gilbert family fold.
    • No Bonnie in this episode.
    • In the season 2 dvd commentary for “Masquerade,” Julie Plec and Kevin Williamson joked that in season 3 Carol Lockwood should drink more, and here she is starting her day with a glass of whiskey.
    • Ray’s werewolf pack gathers in the Smoky Mountains, a range along the Tennessee–North Carolina border, part of the Appalachian Mountains. Home to bobcats, coyotes, foxes, and the occasional mountain lion, that area is wolf-free — save for the supernatural variety.
    • Matt tells Jeremy that he doesn’t remember the last moment he had with Vicki before she was a vampire, when she was still his sister. . . . Seems like Matt hasn’t let go of his perception of vampires as monsters, believing that vampire Vicki was no longer his “real” sister. That feeling likely extends to Caroline, that she’s no longer the “real” Caroline with whom he fell in love.
  • THE RULES As a werewolf, Tyler has a keener sense of taste than humans, and he can detect the vervain laced in with the coffee at home and at the Grill. Making further use of his excellent online research skills, Jeremy discovers that family members and personal items help make a connection between the living and spirits. Because he was brought back from the dead, Jeremy can see and hear the ghosts, while Matt can’t. In addition to making the lights flicker, the ghosts can move physical objects: Vicki’s ghost sets the framed photo upright, and one of the ghosts smashes the backdoor at the Gilbert house.

Klaus’s attempt to create more hybrids fails: instead of being “true hybrids” like him, he winds up with shivering, suffering, rabid, not-a-werewolf, not-yet-a-hybrid creatures, who die quickly. But, like Klaus, they can turn into wolf form even when the full moon is not at its apex (unlike a werewolf that only turns during the full moon).

  • HISTORY LESSON Stefan scoffs at Klaus’s failed hybrids, calling them “some master race.” It’s a loaded term tied to Nazism, eugenics, and (closer to Stefan’s own past in Civil War–era Virginia) slavery in the American South. Then, it was used to describe a white slave owner in relation to the person enslaved (the “master” to the “slave”), as well as in a boastful way to distinguish Southerners (“the master race”) from the Northerners. Stefan’s use of it is appropriate in both contexts: Klaus believes he’s creating superior creatures, ones that will be dutiful to him (Stefan terms them slaves, while Klaus spins them as comrades or soldiers), and with this “master race,” Klaus will have a loyal force so powerful he will be forever unchallenged. He will be the master of the master race. But his attempt is an utter, foaming-at-the-mouth failure.
  • PREVIOUSLY ON THE VAMPIRE DIARIES Unable to leave Klaus (or, at least, not without dire consequence), Stefan watches and listens as Damon and Elena passionately bicker, as Damon hustles her into Alaric’s car; it’s a nice echo of “The Sacrifice” when Stefan was trapped in the tomb with Katherine, listening to them fight in their heightened, emotional way. At the end of the episode, when Damon appears in Elena’s room, she asks him if he’s drunk; in “The Return,” he was and, after she refused his pushy come-on, he snapped Jeremy’s neck. When it comes to the ladies Tyler dates, Carol Lockwood is super judgmental: she compares Caroline to a prostitute in “The Hybrid,” and back in “Family Ties” called Vicki Donovan trash. Bill Forbes makes his Vampire Diaries debut after only being mentioned in previous seasons: in “Family Ties,” we learned that Caroline’s dad had left Liz and had a boyfriend named Steven, and in “Let the Right One In,” before the storm took Caroline on a dark detour, she was headed off to celebrate Steven’s daughter’s birthday. Raised to believe such things, Liz once felt the same way about Caroline’s vampire status as Bill Forbes does, telling Matt in “The Last Day” that they’re “monsters.”
  • OFF CAMERA The childhood photo of Vicki and Matt (and a giant present) is actually of Kayla Ewell and her little brother. “My youngest brother, my real brother, looks so much like Zach — blond hair, blue eyes, same height,” Kayla explained to “When I sent [the production team] the photos, they said, ‘Instead of trying to superimpose Zach’s head on these pictures, can we just use your brother?’ [My brother] is so stoked. He keeps calling me, like, ‘So, when do I premiere again? When am I on?’” Playing a ghost was a strange experience for Kayla Ewell: she had to be very aware of everything around her, so as not to touch it, as she didn’t want Ghost Vicki to interact with the physical world in a way outside the “rules.”
  • FOGGY MOMENTS Why didn’t Damon just snap Ray’s neck when he was all tied up and not yet turned into a wolf?
    • Are Klaus’s hybrids failing because Elena is still alive? How did Klaus successfully turn into a hybrid if her resurrection is the problem?
    • Will Jeremy tell Matt what Vicki told him? Will he admit that he’s also seeing Anna? What did Vicki mean about “coming back”?
    • Why is Klaus keeping Stefan around? [1]

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