“Our Town” is one of those episodes that grabs you, you know? Well, at least it grabbed me. As soon as it was over last night, I had to watch it again — not for the sake of this job, just because of the story. I’d originally felt a bit skittish when I heard the episode title, because Thornton Wilder’s profound play, Our Town, is especially precious to me. I first saw it (the television version, starring Glynnis O’Connor and Robby Benson) when I was just a little girl and even then, it hit me where I live. I was afraid that this little-show-that-could-and-often-does, shouldn’t even try to evoke Wilder’s sandbox, never mind play near it. While I’m not trying to say that this “Our Town” episode of The Vampire Diaries, is anything other than a great episode of The Vampire Diaries, it hits all the right emotional notes of love, life, loss, coming of age, and yearning that I had feared it might miss, because it goes so fast.
It is Caroline’s 18th birthday, and my only hope to keep this close to a “recaplet” is to concentrate on her story, so that’s what you’re going to get. The most festive senior at Mystic Falls High School, who regularly insists her friends celebrate every event with their utmost gusto, wants nothing to do with her own special day. Care Bear is down, not just because of her estrangement from Tyler, or the fact that her town is being terrorized by a maniacal Original Hybrid, but because as a vampire, she’ll be forever 17. She is, as Caroline puts it, stuck in a “filler year.” Nice writing, that. I remember thinking exactly the same thing on my 17th birthday. Sweet sixteen is culturally significant (in the U.S.) and 18 is when you become an “adult” (which usually doesn’t really happen ’til either you move out on your own, or have a kid, or turn 30 — which ever comes first, but if you’re 30 and you haven’t moved out on your own, and you’re not taking care of an invalid relative, or have some other serious mitigating circumstance, get the heck out of your parents’ house, m’kay? You’re starting to moulder).
Matt, Bonnie and Elena throw a little surprise party for Caroline anyhow, but when she tells them how she’s feeling, Elena comes up with an impromptu Plan B. They head for a crypt and throw Caroline a funeral (well, with the Tequila they’re swilling, it’s more of an Irish wake via Mexico). It’s beautiful, moving and seems to helps Caroline a little. Our birthday girl doesn’t have a breathalyzer app on her smart phone though, so she surreptitiously drunk-texts Tyler, who comes to the crypt, and asks for a word with Caroline, outside.
Oh, about Tyler…. At the top of the hour, when Tyler meets up with Caroline at school, he tells her he finally understands that, because of his sire bond with Klaus, he can never put her first, even though he so wants to. He then gives her a bracelet bearing charms that represent the two of them. Later, he meets with Klaus who is annoyed with Stefan (I’ll get to that), so he orders Tyler to bite Caroline (because a werewolf or hybrid’s bite is fatal to a vampire). Tyler is surprised and pleased to realize he can refuse his master’s bidding — and does just that. By the time he arrives at Caroline’s birthday wake, he tells her he was wrong. He can put her first. He can ignore the sire bond. They get all smoochie-woochie, and then son of a bitch (take the pun, it’s all I’ve got), he BITES her.
When Matt and Elena decide Tyler and Caroline have been gone too long, they go searching for them. Just as they find Caroline, bleeding on the forest floor, Stefan arrives and kidnaps Elena. Matt rushes Caroline home, and by hour’s end, Klaus is at the Forbes’ front door, telling Matt and She’s-the-Sheriff that his blood can cure the birthday girl, if only the Sheriff will give him her support (I’ll explain the support thing in the full weecap, but basically, Klaus is trying to win the town’s sympathies and good will). Against her better judgment, Sheriff Forbes lets him in. If he showed up at my door, I’d have made a counter offer — my support for him filling up a glass with his blood, but I guess Klaus never would have gone for that, so I suppose Sheriff Forbes does the right thing for her daughter, without wasting time.
When he’s alone with Caroline (which…what — how can Matt and Liz let that happen), Klaus talks to our girl, who is not just dying — she is devoid of hope. Klaus tells her he will let her die if that is what she wants, but then he talks to her about art, music, beauty, and this great big old world. Caroline decides she wants to live, and drinks deep.
I’ve seen people suggest this means Caroline is now a hybrid, too. I can’t find my mythology hat this morning, but I’m pretty sure that’s wrong. I mean if that’s all it took, why would Klaus have gone to all the trouble to hunt down werewolves and sire them? He could have just forced his blood on the much less elusive vampires crawling all over the place. Klaus fed his blood to Stefan who got bit when they were on their hybrid quest, and Stefan is many things right now, most of them bad, but he’s not a hybrid. Likewise, Damon drank Klaus’s blood to heal from a werewolf bite, and he’s no werepire, either, thank you, very much. He’d bite you at the mere suggestion.
Anyhow, this gorgeous scene between Klaus and Caroline is far more sweet and touching than it has a right to be, and in an instant, a new ‘ship is born. When Caroline wakes in the morning, she finds a little velvet-covered box on her nightstand. Inside it, is no girlish charm bracelet, but rather the diamond encrusted bracelet of a woman. The gift tag simply reads, “Klaus.”
Earlier, I mentioned that Klaus is annoyed with Stefan, and that’s not just because Stefan has the Original caskets. No, Stef has upped the ante in his Coffin Contrivance. He wants Klaus to get his hybrids out of town, or he will kill them all off. This infuriates Damon, who points out that if Stefan kills off this pack of werepires, Klaus will take more of Elena’s blood to make more, and Elena has been through enough. Stefan doesn’t care about that. Stefan only cares about revenge. Stefan offs a couple of hybrids to prove he’s not bluffing, but Klaus refuses to order his babies out of town, so Stefan steps up his plan. Remember, how I said he grabs Elena from the woods? Yeah, well he forces her into his car, force feeds her his blood, takes her cell phone and then calls Klaus and tells him, if he doesn’t get his hybrids out of town, he’ll drive his car right off Wickery Bridge, and his little Hybrid Wet Nurse will die. Klaus blinks — agreeing to disperse his pack.
When Stefan screeches his car to a halt, right in the middle of the bridge, Elena, who is all sorts of horrified, indignant and furious with Stefan, gives him a double ration of Hell. Stefan knows damn well how upset she was when Damon planned to turn her (to make her too tainted to serve as the Petrova Doppelganger ingredient in the Hybrid creation spell). What’s worse — Wickery Bridge is where her parents died, which Stefan also knows, because it was Stefan who saved Elena’s life. Stefan says he no longer cares what she thinks, and while I’m sure Elena believes him, I’m less convinced. At any rate, he drives away, leaving her standing on the bridge.
Damon gets Elena and brings her home. I’m not sure how he knows where she is, since Stefan tossed Elena’s cell phone out the window during their death ride, but details schmetails. (When I teased Julie Plec about this on Twitter, she joked that Elena walked right to a pay phone, like at the end of The Firm.) At Elena’s front door, there is all kinds of unresolved sexual tension and other post-kiss feelings swirling around the two, so Elena cuts to the chase and tells Damon he’s not going to kiss her, again. When he says that he knows, Elena tells him, “It’s just not right.” Damon smiles at her. “It’s right. It’s just not right… now.”
There’s so much more, with Jeremy saying goodbye to Bonnie, another Event O’ The Week, some more Alaric/Meredith scenes, and who knows what else? I’ll hit that in the full weecap, which will be up ASAP. In the meantime, please grade the episode up top and join us in the forum, where it’s your party, you can die if you want to.