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The Vampire Diaries “The Descent” 

Photo Credit: Bob Mahoney/The CW

As my compadre, Tina Charles, has already expertly covered, The Vampire Diaries returned from its ridiculously long hiatus and promptly bade farewell to Rose. On top of that, we found out that Uncle Daddy is still around and Stefan reneged on his promise to kill him (booo) and poor Caroline had two boys smooching on her and driving up the vamp angst. Oh, and we found out that Jules is a sick twist who can literally tear you limb from limb and keep her hair and makeup intact afterward. On with it!

We begin with Jules waking up post-wolf and naked in the woods. She sees that she’s massacred a campsite, and unlike the lovely Mason, there’s not an ounce of remorse about her, but she does at least clean up after her meal, gathering the scattered limbs for a bonfire. When she’s interrupted by a deputy, she feigns tears and terror and then bashes him with a (tree) limb.

At Casa Salvatore, Elena is looking for Stefan, he finds her, and they smooch a bit. She gives him a belt of diluted vervain, which still takes him to his knees, and then he begs off that he’s got to find Isobel and see what’s the what about Elijah and Klaus. Downstairs, Rose is deteriorating rapidly and Damon’s attempts at levity and redirect aren’t working, so he begs off to get answers about how to undo the damage from Jules’ bite, leaving Rose in Elena’s care. That goes from sad to bad to worse, as Tina recapped. The one unintentional light moment was that this exchange between Elena and Rose, which caused garment rending among the fans for a month, didn’t make the final episode. Points to CW for master manipulation. Elena ends up running for her life when Rose slips into dementia and winds up delirious and terrified at the school and munching on teenagers until Damon takes her home, lulls her to sleep, and stakes her.

Also at the school, Caroline is helping prep for (yet another) shindig and hems and haws with Tyler about the fact that he’s A-OK after his maiden wolfing and she lets slip that next time they need to reinforce things because he could have killed her, being a vampire and all, which was news he didn’t have. Matt comes up, so Tyler takes off, and then he cuts to the chase that he wants to be with Caroline. He kisses her and then she stops him and then tells him she loves him and bolts away from him, leaving him rightfully confused. Later, when she goes home, Tyler catches her on the porch and wants to know why she jeopardized herself to help him and she says she didn’t want him to be alone, and then he kisses her, and she wigs and bolts into the house, leaving him also confused. I’ll have to leave it to y’all to review the tape, but it seemed like she really kissed Tyler back, whereas with Matt, not so much  (out of fear…?), so I’m going with Tyler for the win.

Sheriff Liz and Alaric drive by the episode long enough to hand Isobel’s last known number to Stefan, and do Rose’s clean up, respectively. Damon brings Rose’s body to Liz as proof he caught the vampire responsible for massacring the high school students, but he doesn’t leave her with Liz. Sidebar: I don’t think the MIA deputy was mentioned after the teaser so that was a lost thread in the episode. And Stefan, who sits out most of the episode, returns to Elena at the end, toting Uncle Daddy with a promise of big news.

Despite how busy all that sounds, it actually felt almost lackadaisical for this show—we didn’t have a Bonnie or Jeremy arc and with Stefan gone for most of it (and no Katherine),  it felt like fewer threads than normal, which was OK. Jules did get a couple of follow up scenes—first with Damon, where she essentially Bwahaha’s about Rose, and second, where she chats with Tyler about being a baby wolf and spills it that vampires are everywhere. And finally, Damon goes off the deep end, faking out a driver by lying in the road, compelling her and then stopping, and then killing her anyway.

So we have our setup for the second half of the season.

Major props to Lauren Cohan, Nina Dobrev, and Ian Somerhalder for the Rose/Elena/Damon scenes—it was an interesting dynamic to watch Elena care for Rose when Rose’s first interactions with Elena were fairly brutal, and to see Damon try to disengage his heart because he really didn’t intend to give a damn about Rose but then did, despite himself. I liked that Rose admitted she’d been afraid for 560 years—unable to love or give herself over to trust except for Trevor, who was her closest (platonic) friend—and yet, fortunately, she opened herself up enough when she came to the Salvatores and tried to help Elena that she didn’t die alone. It was also poignant that the wolf bite essentially unvamped her as her body faltered. It was a hell of a performance from Cohan, who I felt was given too much to do too late when she was Bela, so that we only realized as she was leaving what her role could have been if it had been done right. So glad she had a showcase opportunity here. Her dreamscape scenes where she was human again were just lovely.

Glad this show is back.

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