2×01 – The Return

Okay, I am writing this recap in an airplane and operating on less than five hours asleep. Please forgive any incoherency in advance 😆

So this episode actually goes backwards a bit from where the finale left off. We come back to John in the kitchen opening the fridge with absolutely no idea that Kat is about to come in and slice his fingers off. The more I look back on it, the more I think the only reason that no one clued into the fact that it was Kat and not Elena is because they just weren’t expecting her. Once you start paying closer attention it becomes obvious that it’s not Elena. There’s an edge to Katherine that Elena simply doesn’t have. They share the Petrova fire but in Elena it exists without the bitterness that 500 plus years of being on the run, of having your entire family murdered and all the rest of what we’ve seen Katherine’s been through, will do to you.

Cut to Jeremy. Still human? New vampire? We don’t know yet.

Elena coming up the steps and home for real now and still on the phone to Stefan. We still have no idea why Katherine wanted John dead. Perhaps his return after the break will shed some light on that.

Elena’s nuts. I love her but she’s just a little crazy. I mean picking up and knife and going in search of the intruder? Kind of brave but mostly stupid. 😆 Katherine of course, has no intention of allowing herself to be seen. That would ruin her fun.

“He looks fine but then again so do you,” 😆 I know Elena wasn’t trying to be funny but that line kind of amused me. Now as for Stefan in this scene. This was the first that I found him out of character. He’s rougher with Jeremy than you’d expect. The tough love thing is much more Damon’s style. When I originally watched this episode I had high hopes that we were about to get seriously stuck into Stefan’s character development. I was actually kind of excited. But those hopes are no more. There has been absolutely no explanation of Stefan’s change in behavior – and there has been a change in his behavior – and I don’t think that there’s going to be. It’s a mistake on the part of the writers in my opinion but what do I know? I just watch the show.

Bonnie the bitch er witch. She’s all upset over Caroline but to be fair it’s partly her own fault. I’m not saying she is the only one to blame. Of course she isn’t. But if she hadn’t lied about de-spelling that device, Tyler wouldn’t have been affected and he wouldn’t have crashed and Caroline wouldn’t be in the hospital. And Bonnie is only going to compound her mistake when she pushes for Damon to go ahead and give Caroline his blood.

Damon & Liz. I really love their friendship. And you know, I said in my recap of BTLOM that the awkwardness between Damon and Rose is partly due to Damon’s continuing discomfort with his emotions. But he comforts Liz here when she’s worried over Caroline and that is much less awkward. Maybe Damon’s feeling even more now than he was in the Premiere. I suppose it’s possible and I definitely think he’s feeling fear that wasn’t there ten episodes earlier. He’s got threats to deal with that he can’t master and he’s running a very real risk of losing the people who matter most to him.

I really hated Bonnie in this episode. But I am still curious about Damon’s relationship with Emily and his experience with witches in general.

Interesting look that Elena shoots Bonnie when she says that Damon will help Caroline for her sake.

This conversation was uncomfortable to say the least but I have to say that I was surprised that Damon brought the kiss up with Elena. In fact I’m surprised by how much he talked about it throughout the whole episode. I didn’t really see that coming but I think it’s a measure of how much things have changed and an indication even in these early stages of the season that he’s over Katherine. He doesn’t get the real closure he needs until the end of Masquerade but even without it, Elena is the one who has power over him now.

The look on Damon’s face when he puts two and two together and equals Katherine is priceless. He looks like he either wants to be sick or kill someone. Probably both.

I’m still slightly annoyed that Stefan was able to recognize Katherine so easily and I wish we’d gotten an explanation for it. *sigh*

This kitchen scene with the three of them provides an interesting contrast to the scene we got in The Sacrifice. In this scene, Elena is saying she’d never be with Damon and in the Sacrifice she’s admitting that she cares about him. In this scene, Stefan is highly on edge when it comes to Damon and his feelings for Elena and in the Sacrifice he seems totally oblivious to the undertones between Damon and Elena. Part of that is that he was focused on the curse in 2×10 but I also think part of it is because he seems to sense that Damon has backed off – thanks mostly to Stefan’s neat emotional manipulation at the end of Rose.

Its interesting to rewatch this now because you can see how much more anger Damon had in him in this episode compared to ten episodes later. The desire for vengence, that epic line “Stake her, rip her head off, something poetic”. It all shows than Damon’s on emotional overload and his go to coping mechanism is anger and violence. He’s evolved so much since then and in the face of even more emotional overload now with all the threats I’ve mentioned before, he’s actually more stable emotionally. He’s learned so much about how to cope with his feelings and in fact I think this too accounts for some of the extra awkwardness. Before he’d have covered that up by lashing out. Now, he’s trying to find other ways to channel it which is harder.

Matt and Bonnie. I still hate Bonnie but I love Caroline and this scene was cute.

Damon the peace maker 😆 😆 Up there on my list of unexpected Damon moments togther with the Pictionary scene in Memory Lane.

And the introduction of Mason Lockwood. I never trusted him and it honestly took me all of two seconds to find his return to town coinciding with Kat’s highly suspicious.

Stefan/Elena/John scene. I don’t like John but I don’t blame him for not liking Stefan 😆 Out of character incident number two though with the way he threatened John. And Elena being okay with it was a little bit weird although I suppose I understand her dislike for John.

Irony of epic proportions for Stefan to be lecturing anyone on self hatred.

Damon sniffed out that something was up with Mason immediately. That just goes to show how observant and ahead of the game he normally is. It also contrasts with his emotional state that night on the porch and how dulled his instincts were for him not to recognize Katherine.

I love that Elena tells Stefan not to fight with Damon. One of my favorite things about this episode is how at basically every single turn Elena demonstrates just how well she’s come to understand Damon. And because she – wrongly in my opinion but apparently not the writers – believes that Stefan is immune to Katherine, she’s actually more worried about Damon than she is about Stefan. She knows that he’s still vulnerable to Kat. What she doesn’t yet realize is that he’s much, much, more vulnerable to her.

Another thing they set up here early doors are the similarities between Damon and Katherine in terms of their habits, mannerisms and mo’s. Here we see Damon nibbling on food while he’s talking to Bonnie and later we see Kat doing the same while talking to Stefan.

Bonnie so needs to get over herself. It’s not even funny. She is on a power trip and she’s so blinded by hatred that it’s making her irrational. Yeah, have I mentioned how much I hate Bonnie? I’m just sorry, Kat didn’t give her a rougher time.

The only thing Stefan and I agree on in this episode is that Bonnie is a pain. The look he gave her there said it all. I’m no longer sure what the writers meant and didn’t mean to imply as far as S/K but to me this scene smacks of familiarity and nostalgia. I believed watching this for the first time that Stefan missed Katherine. It’s in the easy way they fall back into bantering. It still feels like that to me but maybe it wasn’t meant to *shrug*

This scene between Damon and Elena is amazing. It’s angsty and it’s bittesweet but it’s beautiful because as I said before, Elena is showing just how well she’s gotten to know and understand Damon. She’s showing that she sees him in ways that other people don’t. I think that’s what gutted him so much about the kiss not being real with her. He knows that what’s between him and Elena – whether you want to call it love or an understanding or friendship – is something so unique and special.

<insert shallow moment>Ian’s eyes with this lighting are even more crazy gorgeous than usual.

I love the pause right after he says “You’re scared,” and Elena’s expression. For a split second and before he interject Kat back into the conversation, I think Elena thought he meant that she was scared of how she feels about him.

Also interesting, after Damon says that he doesn’t need Kat to send him over the edge, he walks away right. But then he stops and starts talking to her again. I never realized how long it took Elena to turn around and look at him. That tells me that she was turning over his insinuation that she has power over him in her mind.

Jeremy/Tyler a bromance is born.

Stefan’s denial never gets any less unpalatable. And when the words of a psychotic bitch like Katherine ring with more sincerity than yours, you know that your denial runs way deep.

How pissed does Damon look when he says that his and Stefan’s bond is unbreakable? He was really itching for a fight here, he needed it in order to evacuate his frustrations and his emotions. And Stefan says that they have to stay united. Did I miss something? When were they united? Last I checked, they’d spent the last 145 years being not united. It’s interesting that Stefan is willing to accept – at this point anyway – that Damon’s feelings for Elena are worth living with if it means that Damon starts to feel again. How sincere he is and how long it’ll last, I have no idea. What I do know is that Damon is not ridiculously frustrated as well as being hurt from his conversation with Elena on the Lockwood porch.

I know a lot of people consider the JNSI a reaction to the scene between Damon and Kat where she says that she never loved him. But I actually think that the make out with Kat was a reaction to the conversation with Elena and the frustration that Stefan intensified by refusing to fight him. I think if he and Stefan had had it out, the D/K make out never happens.

John leaves. Not gonna miss him. Though it’s a good thing he gave Jer the ring of not dying.

I completely forgot about this Tyler scene. I love the song and Tyler has really grown on me this season. I feel so bad for him.

It is no coincidence at all that Kat describes Damon as being sweet and innocent. That’s what he was as a human and while the innocence is undoubtedly lost forever, the sweetness is still there. Caroline referred to it early in season one but with her it was never sincere. With Elena it could be, but only if she lets it.

The fact that Damon stops to get answers just goes to prove how much he craves something that is real and I think he knows that what he had with Katherine wasn’t what he thought it was. But he needed to hear it. And I’ve always felt that his speech here was layed with multiple meanings. If Katherine had said she loved him, yeah he would have gotten back with her and in part because of Elena’s earlier rejection. He would have forgiven her. On the other hand, if – as she did – she said that she’d never loved him, he was free to close the door on her and move on however painful it was.

Another interesting parallel. This final scene starts with Elena in her bathroom and then walking into her room to find Damon. It’s the exact same sequence before THE scene in Rose. I think it’s meant to show Damon’s evolution as well. Elena’s reactions between the two scenes are also contrasted and that to me shows how her understanding of her own feelings has evolved. In this scene, she’s back pedaling and she’s scared. She does not want to deal with whatever it is she feels for him and what it could mean. And she doesn’t want him to force the issue; that really what she’s asking for when she begs him to stop. It’s not that she doesn’t know there’s something between them. I think she does. But she isn’t ready to deal with it and she wanted Damon to let her off the hook. But in part because of how much time he wasted on Katherine, Damon didn’t want to do that. He didn’t want to be in limbo.

In THE scene however, Elena’s much more accepting. She might not be ready to jump into a relationship with him but I think she was ready to face the fact that he’s in love with her and that she has feelings for him too. It would have been all kinds of complicated and messy but I think that Elena was ready to admit that it needed exploring. I question whether S/E would have reconciled if Damon hadn’t compelled Elena to forget. Also I am convinced that that “no” she breathes when Damon says he can prove that he’s right about her feelings is not a “no don’t kiss me” it’s a “no, don’t prove it.’

This is slightly random but I’m just realizing that Jeremy almost more than anyone else gets to see Damon and Elena interact. And he also more than almost anyone else – at least until recently – got to see Damon vulnerable. One of my wishes for this season or Just in the future is a convo between Elena and Jeremy about Damon.

This moment – the JNSI – was Damon’s defining moment more than I think any other. He realized once and for all that what he’d just told Jeremy was a lie. Flipping the switch, not feeling…it’s not the easiest thing in the world. It’s the most impossible thing. And I know a lot of people are still mad at the writers for this but I stand behind it. The character growth and development that it inspired for Damon is nothing short of monumental. Nothing else could have had this impact on him. He tried to break the one person who means the world to him; the one person who in the last 145 saw something in him worth saving. When that sank into him, I think it shook up everything he believed about himself and made him ask some serious questions about who he wanted to spend the rest of eternity being.

Tyler/Mason/wolf foreshadowing.

Interesting to see Stefan defending Damon for once although he’s quite wrong about Kat being the one who got under Damon’s skin. What strikes me here more than anything is how despite what he’s just done and how hurt she is and how angry she is, Elena still understands why Damon did what he did. It’s an extraordinary thing and it testifies to just how deep the bond between them actually is.

No other relationship could survive something like this. To be honest, I have to question whether S/E would have. And it’s not because I think Elena loves Damon more than Stefan. I do however think that she has a better understanding of Damon than of Stefan. And that’s because Damon has never held back from her. He’s never hidden the worst parts of himself. And she understands what drives him. What does Elena know about what drives Stefan? She knows he wants to be good and not a monster but she has no idea why. I don’t think that Elena could explain Stefan’s emotional behaviors the way she did Damon’s on the Lockwood porch.

Simply put, Elena might be in love with Stefan (or think herself to be anyway) but she knows Damon much better. And since I find it hard to understand how you can love someone you don’t really know…I conclude that when Elena falls in love with Damon, it’s going to be so much more profound and so much more real than what she’s experienced with Stefan.

I should be mad at Kat for killing Caroline. But vamp!Caroline is so freaking awesome that I’m kind of contemplating having a fruit basket delivered to the tomb 😆 😆

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5 Comments

  1. About J/E/D, I wouldn’t be surprised if Jeremy would be the first to confront Elena with her feelings towards Damon, just as Rose was confronting Damon. He sees them most often, and I bet he notices things. And he could really understand Elena, since if he could already forgive Damon, he wouldn’t mind her sister to forgive him too.

    About the JNSI, Elena still didn’t tell Stefan about what really happened, that Damon wanted to kiss her. Probably it was because she knew how unstable Stefan was at that time, and didn’t want them to fight, but a lot of time has passed since, and still no sign that she’s gonna tell him any time soon. And as more time passes by, the harder it will be to tell ti, and the impact will that much bigger.

  2. I totally agree with the last part about Elena not knowing Stefan. Actually, I agree with almost everything that you said but that part is the most interesting to me. I know a lot of D/E fans think that Kevin and Julie are siding with S/E a lot but look at how much time they’ve given Damon’s character. Why don’t we know more about Stefan? He’d be a heck of a lot more interesting if we did. We only get to see Stefan when he’s providing background to some more interesting character, Damon, Katherine etc. We don’t know why Stefan stopped being “bad” in the first place. We don’t know why he stopped feeding on people. We don’t know anything about him other than his saintly persona. That’s why we love Kat and Damon, because they’re flawed, it’s why we love Elena too. She’s right up there with Stefan in the “good” department but we’ve seen her mess up and admit it and deal with her mistakes and look at the world in a new way. I know I’ve spent too much time talking about him but I really feel like we could like him a lot more if he had more meat on his character. Damon might be the underdog but we do KNOW him as you said. Elena know’s him and the audience knows him and how could we not love him?

  3. Hi, i absolutely agree with your recap and love your recaps!! they are the highlight of my fridays 😉 completely agree with you on every point and of this is the road to redemption for damon thank you so much for taking the time out to post these recaps…however i was wondering if you have done any recaps for season 1? I would love to hear your thoughts on season 1 and the development of delena thanks again so much appreciate it so much x

  4. Agree with most of your points.
    i do think the the JNSI was brought on by the conversation Damon and Jeremy had earlier about Anna.
    Jeremy was crushed when Anna died… (and vicky).
    I think in that split second – Damon was also thinking that he would be doing Jeremy a favour by turning him into a vampire… then Jeremy could switch off his emotions…
    Which is exactly what Damon is feeling in that moment… the desperate need to flick the switch on his emotions as her has just been rejected by Katherine (after thinking that ‘they’ were in love for the last 145 years) and more importantly.. Elenas rejection of him when he has just poured his heart out to him.
    He is feeling unloved, unworthy and miserable. And thanks to Elena… he cant find that switch.

  5. I rewatched The Return last night and I noticed something interesting (that I’m sure others noticed awhile ago, lol). In an earlier scene in the episode, Stefan tells Kat that he hates her. Kat tells him that hate sounds like the beginning of a love story, not the end of one. Later after the “JNSI,” Elena tells Stefan that she hates Damon. Beginning of a love story? 😉


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