The Vampire Diaries: Family Day at Vampire Rehab

2/19/12 Major Update: This is how this recap was Originally supposed to look (I couldn’t help myself, sorry)

After much fretting, this recap is incredibly late. Shady is eternally apologetic for her flakiness, but we finally have for you the re-cap from the penultimate mid-season episode, sans second by second play by play. Much praise to the eternally reliable Antigone and her incredible take on this week’s episode.

This episode was a hearty slice of mythology in the grand tradition of Season 1’s “Blood Brothers” and last year’s “Katerina”, but unlike those “what it says on the tin” titles, 3×08 was simply called “Ordinary People” (and should have been subtitled “A Story of an Extraordinary Family”).

Nerd Note: Not to go all ‘Doc Jensen” on you guys (though seriously, his Lost recaps are legendary feats of exegesis), but one more comment on this title: beside its association with one of John Legend’s breakout hits, it also shares a name with Robert Redford’s 1980 Academy-Award winning film about  a family falling apart in the wake of the mother’s “favorite” son. Something to chew on.

Attendance Note: Caroline, Tyler, Jeremy, and Matt were all absent, and we’re beginning to be concerned about Katherine….

This was one of those straightforward episodes where the A, B, and C stories are all different names for the same thing. Alaric’s discovery of the Nordic runes (put that liberal arts degree to good use!) sends Damon and Elena on complimentary missions to gain vital information on Klaus (and thus break his hold over Stefan).

Elena pulls Rebecca away from ultra-important homecoming preparations (who wouldn’t want the ability to compel that runway show?)  to hear the Legend of the Originals from a primary source. Over the next half hour Rebecca spins a tale that’s far more Grimm than fair, and it goes something like this:

Fleeing a plague, a Family follows a witch across the sea, to a magical land where everyone is healthy and strong. The Family is safe, but the Father senses a lack of necessary cruelty in one of his elder sons. One night, the son in question takes his little brother to see the neighboring men transform into wolves, instead of hiding in the caves beneath the village. The little brother is mortally wounded, and the village witch refuses to bend the laws of nature to save him. Desperate to save her family from further danger – and fulfill her husband’s desire for power – the Mother (who is – wait for it – a witch. WHAT. The Original Witch is the mother of the Originals?!) completes a ritual that turns the ones she loves into a little less than angels – fast, strong, and utterly lethal to the wolves. But unforeseen problems emerge, as nature rebels against their existence: sunlight hurts the Family, the plants at the base of the white oak burn them, their neighbors have the power to ban them from their homes, and, worst of all, the blood that changed them left everyone hungry for more. They burn the tree to the ground, and “the predatory species is born”. The son that so worried the Father appears more like the enemy wolves than he should, post-transformation – evidence of a treachery so abhorrent that the Father forces the Mother to shun the son (and bind his lupine side), before killing her in a jealous rage.

Or at least that is what the son tells his sister and remaining brother, who then swear loyalty to him, “always and forever”. Elena then goes totally Law & Order on Rebecca, revealing that the cave etchings say  it was Klaus, the son, who killed the Original Witch (which puts a whole different spin on her “curse” of him), and not their father, Mikael. Much as she attempts to deny it, the immutable evidence destroys Rebecca’s centuries-old faith in her brother, and Elena leaves with a newly embittered ally.

Damon, meanwhile, “goes off book” and breaks his brother out of “vampire rehab” for a drink in hopes of getting Stefan to feel something (these boys are developing a taste for dive bars this season…) There’s a lot of back and forth about how Damon lives on the edge and Stefan is constantly falling over, but the addiction counseling is cut short when a vampire-hunting vampire walks into a bar – and no one’s laughing. Mikael wastes no time informing the Salvatores that he’s been on Klaus’ tail far longer than they’ve been alive (one day they’ll appreciate how young they truly are) and tries to force his son’s location out of Stefan. The hyrbid’s compulsion holds – until Mikael starts torturing Damon. This is, of course, the loophole Damon didn’t know he was looking for, and the advantage Mikael hoped he’d find. The brothers and the vampire-vampire slayer decide to join forces, because “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”, but also because these boys know a little something about the ghastly poetry of fathers killing their sons.

Missions accomplished, the non-couple then reunites that night for their strongest scene of the season. Now, avid watchers of this series know that Elena’s bedroom doesn’t have the happiest history for her and Damon – his presence usually upends her sense of home-field advantage. Unlike her porch, this the one place he’s usually a total trespasser, forcing issues, killing her brother, erasing her memories. This scene starts like any of those, with her coming out of the bathroom and finding him where he shouldn’t be. But the beauty of it lies in what happens next – her subconsciously making the choice, just once, not to fight what he’s offering. Tonight, they’re ordinary people, taking it slow.  After some irritated blanket-tugging she joins him in bed, while they gently banter and comparing notes about the day’s successes. Elena’s summation of Rebecca’s plight – “loving blindly, and recklessly, even if it consumes her” – hits close to home for both of them, and leads to a discussion of family bonds, where Elena basically calls Damon his brother’s Wonderwall. “I think you’re gonna be the one to save him from himself…it won’t be because he loves me. It’ll be because he loves you,” she murmurs. As she drifts off, promising to tell him the rest tomorrow, he just looks at her for a little longer, like he can’t quite believe she’s let him in this far. “So if I were you, I’d have a little trust” James Vincent Morrow sings. Tonight, she does.

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