Elena and Caroline are in the running for Miss Mystic Falls, essentially a beauty pageant for the girl who most embodies the spirit of community in Mystic Falls. Caroline is determined to win, but Elena nearly backs out. The only reason she goes through with it is it was very important to her mother. Stefan agrees to be her date. He seems to be far more upbeat and optimistic lately. Elena assumes that this is just because he got past the cravings and is happy to get out of it alive. Damon learns that all of the tomb vampires are either dead or skipped town, except for Pearl and Anna. Thanks to John Gilbert the sheriff is on to the vampires. John knows he has the power in the situation to expose both the Salvatores and any other lurking vampires. He tries to use Damon to get to Pearl as she has something very vital to running the vampires out of town.
What really exposes the vampires, after Damon worked so hard to keep them off of their radar, is Stefan. He isn’t doing quite as well as he has let Elena believe. He hides that darkness within him; the brutal nature that he can’t say no to any longer. It is deeper, hungrier, and more vicious than it has been in the last century of Stefan’s life as a vampire; something completely new to him. It doesn’t take Damon long to recognize the signs of what brought on this “new and improved Stefan”. A massive amount of blood has been stolen from the blood bank, which Damon finds stashed in Stefan’s cooler.
Bonnie makes her return this week after dealing with her grandmother’s death. We do get some explanation on why she was gone for so many episodes. Bonnie blames Elena, Stefan, and Damon for her grandmother’s death. She stayed away for so long, because she couldn’t stand the thought of being back and being around these people she believes are responsible for her loss.
During last week’s episode, Stefan was going through some definite dark spells. This week we finally get to see him go over the edge. During most of the episode with Elena we see him as a chipper young fella with a spring in his step. Yet we also see him as an animalistic creature with no thought process, just acting on instinct.
After praising Ian Somerhalder all season long, at long last it is time to praise his co-star, Paul Wesley. For awhile now, his character has gotten more interesting than the very stock character we were presented with in the beginning. The character has developed a lot further than even the Stefan of the books. This episode is a perfect example of that. He brings out the energetic Stefan and nails the vicious, unstable Stefan as well. The suspense is built up throughout the entire episode, but I had my doubts whether they were going to really go all the way with this or pull back at the last minute. I was pleasantly surprised though. There was no holding back, bringing us to a startling, but thrilling climax.
Damon is still his sly, power driven self, but is actually more of a good guy than Stefan. Stefan has a break down and goes hunting and Damon is the only one there for Elena. I don’t want them to make Damon too good, but I really like how they are inching Damon and Elena closer and closer together. This role reversal makes for some compelling material. From the beginning Damon has been begging Stefan to give in to his nature and embrace what he is. The main difference between Stefan and Damon at this point is that Damon enjoys embracing his blood thirsty nature but can ignore it and control it If need be while Stefan is terrified by the hunger that owns him.