The hits keep on coming – that is, every time I’ve had an issue with an episode this season, the next episode automatically answers it. Two weeks ago, I wondered why we were put through Bill Forbes’ death , and the next week Caroline and Klaus are bantering about their daddy issues; this week I wondered at Bonnie’s absence from the ball, and tonight she says Esther just swung by.
“All My Children” was, like most of the season, a true throwback episode where the audience’s thoughts manifested as plotlines, such as:
When is Elena going to understand that the hero is often the person that gets people killed? I’m borrowing from Serenity for that one, but it doesn’t make it any less true. Elena has done her best to “protect the people she cares about” (how many times did we hear that phrase last season?) but the problem with being human in the face of the supernatural is that you don’t really have the power to carry out that promise, excluding suicide. Elena is often blind to the extremes her friends will go to in order to prevent her going to extremes, but it smacked her in the face this episode.
First off, she picked the wrong time to grow a conscience about the enemy. It speaks to her strength of character, but this has been a year of people (her especially) making pragmatic choices, so her desire to save Elijah was not going over well with a crowd that could deal with a little less cool in their lives if it meant ridding themselves of the crazy that is Klaus.
But it lead to a beautifully tense scene with Elijah (more on that in a bit) that in turn led to a great chase/face-off with Rebecca in the tunnels that she managed to make all about Damon ( there is fishing for gossip, and then there is asking your torturer about the motivations behind her one-night stand. Just stamp “jealous” across your forehead and let it go). When Elena’s night ends with her safe, but with a door literally slammed in her face, we know she needs to re-evaluate her choices, because…
We knew Abby was gonna bite the dust. This has not been a good season for parents (if there ever was one after the one-two punch of last year’s penultimate episode) and when it was decided that a Bennett witch had to go, we sure knew it wasn’t gonna be Bonnie. That last scene, where Caroline – usually the odd friend out – has to act as go-between for Bonnie? Heartbreaking, but necessary – Bonnie’s been making sacrifices since the first season, acting in Elena’s best interest no matter the cost to her family, relationships, or general health. That night, waiting for her newly-returned mother to become undead, she needed some space.
The Salvatore bromance is back on! Damon and Stefan were at their Winchester best this episode, bantering, brawling, and trying their hardest to stay clear of their mutual object of desire. I’ve been waiting for The Civil Wars’ “Poison and Wine” to pop up all season, but I couldn’t believe there would be a moment where “I don’t love you/ And I always will” could apply to all three sides of this triangle simultaneously, so props to the music department for holding out. Damon cold-shouldering Elena over the phone after Stefan’s screened her call? Girl is not having the best morning.
The brothers’ decision to leave Elena alone doesn’t mean they stopped defending her, especially when she gets into a predictably tangled spot with those crazy Mikaelsons again. The ash stake idea was actually a pretty brilliant manipulation of Esther’s binding spell, even though looking at the clock we knew it wouldn’t hold. An awesome bar brawl with Klaus and Kol led to Elijah laying out ultimatums, which led to – a car scene! Stefan doesn’t ride shotgun nearly often enough for my taste. I loved that Damon went against the coin toss and turned Abby (a creative solution to the “break the bloodline” problem) because he “has practice being the bad guy”. Their acknowledgement that Stefan has changed less than he’d like to think (he’s back on the wagon regarding human blood), and that Damon’s attempt to “win her from [him] fair and square” hasn’t succeeded, was a nice nod to the story sort of returning to “normal” settings as we go into the last couple arcs of the season. The best part of this is that there isn’t really any going back at this point – the Triangle of Doom has started again – and the brothers know that too. I can’t wait to see how all this knowledge influences coming decisions.
Can the Mikaelsons stay forever? These Originals just keep getting better. Rebecca’s walk of shame scene made us understand Klaus’ single-minded efforts to reunite everyone – the Hybrid is at his most comfortable immersing himself in sibling banter. Him and Kol at the bar makes me think these kids were probably fun to watch in their Viking days – and his relentless pursuit of Caroline makes me think he must have been a favorite among the local girls, Elijah’s swagger notwithstanding. Even though we – and Caroline – know the whole encounter is a trap, you can’t help but be charmed by his eagerness (even though it’s really disconcerting that a thousand-year-old Original has to work this hard to land a eighteen-year-old baby vamp. If she were anyone else, the accent would’ve been more than enough.)
Esther’s enlistment of the Bennett witches reminded me how incensed I still am about their line not stemming from the Original Witch (a petty thought, but EVERY OTHER WITCH IS BLACK, I’m sorry) but it was well-worth it to witness her fight off the accusations of her three gorgeous sons (I could watch the BAMF brigade that is Klaus, Kol, and Elijah trade off attacking an enemy any day of the week, so thanks writers).
The MVP siblings of the episode, however, are definitely Elijah and Rebecca. His interrogation of Elena was just the right mix of menace and supernatural skill ( Super-hearing! Super-strength!), and I’m glad that those random tunnels weren’t just a one-off from “Ghost World”. He took his mother’s betrayal in stride, using his knowledge of the situation – and the Salvatores – to his advantage, while Rebecca took this opportunity to get a few things off her chest. My favorite thing about her capture/torture of Elena was how incredibly personal she took the other girl’s literal backstabbing; here is a person whose brother killed her mother (who’s now trying to kill her) and she’s hung up on the two-faced behavior of someone she’s known the total of what, a week ? Her fixation on it – along with her filming the whole thing on her phone, and wavering between instant death or drawn-out punishment for her hostage – struck me as childishly human, a nice shading to her character. That attitude spilled over into her last scene with Elijah – all of Rebecca’s actions are justified as responses to the actions of others. For Elijah, it’s not so simple; he wonders if his mother’s digs at his noble bearings are justified, considering how he just deployed his sister as an unholy weapon of vengeance against an eighteen-year-old girl. The title of this recap tells us that maybe the only thing harder than being killed by family is living with who you became to stay alive.
But wait there’s more! After the rest of the family flees (nooo!) we’re back to the early-season combo of Klaus and Rebecca (their “always and forever” bond is reaching non-incesty Nathan-and-Haley status), and they just discovered that the white oak tree survived. Obviously, burning down one tree doesn’t kill an entire species, but maybe people didn’t know that in Viking times. Anyway, mythology! I’m all for more stakes, I never remember how many there are in the first place.
I Knew The Doctor was crazy! Oh, they tried to fool us, with her rebuffing Kol’s advances at the pool table and tending to Alaric’s wounds, but Meredith’s “understanding superhero girlfriend” shtick was shot to hell when Alaric discovered that big shiny stabby knife in her things – and she shot him instead of explaining herself. I suppose this development means that the bad doctor is some sort of supernatural, because I refuse to believe we lost the Most Important Parent of All so ignobly. These poor kids can only take so much.
Three weeks from now (ouch): Episode 3×17,“1912”(Ooh, centennials ! Maybe this Sage woman taught Damon how to spit like a man or something) Fortuitously, I screwed up the recap for 3×08, “Ordinary People”, so the shiny new version should help us through this crushing hiatus. Plus, who doesn’t love time travel?