Stefan still hasn’t fully recovered from his brush with death and the evil that was infused in him. He has moments where he becomes a completely different person; one that has no moral judgments, but just acts on pure animalistic instinct. When this inner demon comes out of him, there is no controlling it. He’s lucky if he can snap back in time before he does damage, particularly when Elena’s around and exposed to this part of him. Meanwhile, Jeremy is still having trouble accepting Vicki’s death. It has been labeled an overdose, but he can’t let go of the fact that she was buried. Someone had to have buried her and Jeremy suspects this person also murdered her. He suspects that Elena might know something that she isn’t telling him and he finds out just what this is.
For the past couple of weeks the antagonists have been the tomb vampires. None of them make an appearance in this week’s episode and there appears to be a new enemy in town: John Gilbert, Elena’s uncle. Not only is he a great annoyance to Elena, Jeremy, and their Aunt Jenna, but he appears to be a real threat to all vampires in town and is specifically targeting Damon. Damon has done a good job of keeping the evidence of vampire inhabitants down and even befriending the sheriff and making the council fall in love with him. John Gilbert has charmed the council himself, being a beloved descendant of the town’s original founders. John doesn’t just know far too much about Damon, Alaric, Isobel, Katherine, and every other vampire that has been around since the original vampire outbreak, but he is strangely immune to them. He essentially rises from the dead, clearly having great power and keeping it a mystery just what he plans on doing with this power.
It really is for the best that Stefan got kidnapped, tortured, and had the evil force fed to him; it makes him a far more wildly interesting character. He has been developed and made a bit more dynamic as the series has gone on. Still, this pulls him in an extremely intriguing direction. As Damon notes of the drunken dancing Stefan, “Have I entered an alternate universe where Stefan is fun?” For the past century, Stefan has been able to suppress his urges and keep everything locked in. Even when it has been difficult, he always stayed in control. That has changed now; his urges are more powerful than he is. It has finally got to the point where he can’t deny what he is; the hunger has changed him. He even tries Damon’s method of drinking away his problems with alcohol, but of course that does nothing. Stefan begins to fear being around Elena considering what he knows he’s capable of now.
While Elena is concerned with Stefan, Damon takes it upon himself to up the flirtation while helping Elena. When Elena isn’t around Damon she’s with Matt. The two have good energy and chemistry together, but do seem a bit too close for an ex-boyfriend and girlfriend at times. Most of the material was engaging and this seems natural. The other vampires as well as Bonnie and Caroline were all missing from the episode. Caroline’s absence was actually explained, but it has been quite some time since Bonnie was around, which seems a little weird. I don’t know if they’re just lacking story lines for her, but this doesn’t seem like this should be the case since they essentially combined the characters of Bonnie and Meredith from the book in creating Bonnie’s character in the show. Between these two character’s story lines, background, and everything the character in the show is going through with her grandmother and mentor’s death makes it seem like there should be plenty of story lines available. She is a big part of what’s going on and it would be good to see her back on the show.
The dynamic between Damon and Stefan is more give and take, something that has been building up for a number of episodes. It makes sense since they have so many common enemies and both care a great deal about Elena and keeping the secret of their nature under wraps. Of course, Damon still wittily eggs Stefan on, encouraging him to give in to his inner nature forcing its way out. He even simply tells him to get blood from a blood bank, very different from the more vicious taunting where Damon tried to get Stefan to be more beastly and powerful. Damon is less of an antagonist while still being snarky, aggressive, and determined. This is simply because there is plenty of other enemies and problems threatening their eternal lifestyle, causing them to band together.