This week’s episode is centered on Isobel’s return to Mystic Falls. Alaric has been obsessively searching for his wife. He only just realized she wasn’t dead, but undead. Their reunion isn’t quite what he imagined after all of this time. Isobel is cold, fierce, and couldn’t care less about Alaric. She is simply using him as her messenger in attempts to see Elena, her daughter. She threatens to start killing townspeople, starting with Alaric’s students until he arranges a meeting with Elena. This isn’t to catch up with the long lost daughter she abandoned. She hardly thought twice about what she did, even when she was still human.
Elena’s reunion with Isobel wasn’t much better than Alaric’s. She tries to ask about who her father was. Isobel just complains about her asking too many questions and claims it’s not important. Isobel questions Elena on why she is with Stefan and not Damon (she does make a good point). She questions how much Elena is like Katherine, assuming she’s foolish and vulnerable and like Katherine won’t get out before the Salvatore brothers become the death of her. She’s really only after one thing; getting Jonathon Gilbert’s device. Elena knows Damon won’t give it to her though.
Isobel isn’t taking no for an answer. She pays Elena a little visit while she is surrounded by everyone she cares for the most. She attacks Matt and kidnaps Jeremy. She has been working with Elena’s Uncle John to get the device they are after. Isobel makes it clear she is only doing this if working with him benefits her. If not, he is only holding her back and a waste of time and protection. Bonnie finally reconciles with Elena to help her deal with what happened with Isobel. Bonnie uncovers what the device does. It’s not Jonathon Gilbert’s creation, but it is powered by supernatural forces. Bonnie thinks she knows how to take away the spell. Damon doesn’t trust Bonnie enough, but he has trust in Elena, enough to get him to surrender a vampire hunting weapon to the man who wants him dead.
Isobel has been shown before, but mostly just through flashbacks and as a human, not as a vampire. Mia Kirshner gave an incredible performance as the cold, vicious, and seemingly soulless, Isobel. No matter, the relationship, she shows no hints of humanity or concern for anyone. She’s not particularly snarky or mocking. Isobel doesn’t show joy in exerting harm over others, she is not at all bothered by it either. It’s simply the way she is wired now.
When all of the new vampires were unleashed on the town they were all evil or villainous enough, but Isobel is the first that really serves as a great villain. She wants revenge, whatever reason is still unknown. She’s a trader to her kind and at the same time couldn’t think less of humans. They are irrelevant to her. She’s close to a number of our main characters and holds an interesting perspective and knowledge of relationships and the character’s haunted pasts. I appreciated that they didn’t make her seem either overly evil or so cold that she had no personality to her. She shows very small and hidden moments of compassion, regret, and concern. Isobel wouldn’t dare let anyone see it.
Damon was particularly satisfying in this episode. Throughout the whole episode, Isobel is portrayed as the ultimate vampire; dangerous, completely inhumane, and cruel. Stefan and even Damon are thought to have some qualities that make them less dangerous. Something clearly comes over Damon. He makes Isobel believe in his weaknesses, giving in to them, only to set her off of her game. He makes it clear how far he will go, how far he is willing to push her to protect the very select people that he actually gives a damn about. He’s fierce, unrelenting, and protective against a vampire that doesn’t seem to have any weaknesses. Surprisingly enough, Stefan has his own intense moment, standing up for Elena. He refuses to back down from Damon until he promises that history won’t repeat itself. He can’t bare to see Elena hurt and he doesn’t want to create a century long riff between his brother.
Damon finds out Isobel has threatened to go on a killing spree, which Damon very nonchalantly responds, “Oh, I take it that’s not okay with you guys?” Damon tries to explain how Isobel is different from them. We even get a How I Met Your Mother reference, another one of my favorite shows. Damon tells Alaric that Stefan craves for the whole human experience and clearly a fundamental part of that is enjoying every episode of How I Met Your Mother.
One really interesting point that comes up in this episode is that Damon seems to actually envy Isobel. He wishes he could turn the switch and shut off all of her emotions, hang-ups, and humanity. Letting go of all of that makes her free. Damon has tried to do that and has fooled people among the years, but if he could do this he never would have been hurt by Katherine in the first place, he wouldn’t feel jealousy towards his brother over Elena, and he would be free of his demons. Yet, we find out that even Isobel isn’t completely free of this same regret and pain either.