Well, now that was one heck of an episode, wasn’t it? While I normally (and somewhat annoyingly) prefer to approach these pieces from a bit more of an analytic angle, when an episode is full of that much unadulterated fun sometimes you just have to sit back and say HELL YEAH. We were already on high alert for a good time because of the impeding evil Stefan flashback extravaganza teased in last week’s promo, but “The Dinner Party” delivered that and much, much more: Katherine, Elijah, murderous dinner parties, gut stabbing, witch power theft, and everyone double crossing everyone else, all perfectly pitched for maximum audience delight.
Let’s deal with Elijah first, since he is quite obviously the fairest of them all. Despite all of the implied threat and doom surrounding the potential arrival of Klaus, Elijah has effectively been the main big bad so far this season. In the skillful hands of Daniel Gillies, he’s been more than effective, projecting more charisma-laced malice with a single glance than many actors can do with pages upon pages of dialogue. Tonight’s episode was an absolute showcase for the fabulousness that is Elijah, full of all of the snark and threats we’ve come to love. The bad thing about super-beloved villains on The Vampire Diaries, however? They aren’t afraid to kill them off, which is exactly what happened to Elijah tonight.
Elijah’s murder didn’t go down without the usual twists and turns, though. No less than three separate double crosses had to occur to finally put him down, and having Elena deal the final blow was just right. Yes, things had to work out a little too perfectly for this to all make sense, but sometimes you just have to go on down the road the writers are taking you on, because that road is too fantastic not to take. The beautiful thing about the way they killed Elijah is that he can literally be brought back at any time. All they need is a character to find him and remove the dagger, and voila! Instant crunchy Elijah goodness. When you have a character this fun, leaving yourself a window to bring him back in the future is just a smart writing choice. Goodbye, sweet Elijah. Here’s hoping we see you again (but not too soon, lest your death not mean anything at all).
Tonight’s episode wasn’t content to just have twisty, turn-y murder plots, though. It also had flashbacks! Evil flashbacks! Despite the potential for letdown due to intense anticipation, these did not disappoint, as we learned that young vamp Stefan was basically Damon, until he met Lexi, who showed him how to be a kinder, gentler sort of vampire. Seeing the actors in period garb is always a lark, and the flashbacks generally explore character roots, so they're always a welcome sight. Here, we got the bonus of learning that Stefan was the vampire who attacked Jonathan Gilbert. They also set up the premise for future flashbacks: If Damon was so good as a young vamp, what happened to turn him into the Damon who first showed up at Mystic Falls? Beyond simple exposition, the flashbacks also neatly tied into Elena’s story of martyrdom and Stefan’s struggle to get her to turn away from this path by showing her the hope he was himself shown in his past by Lexi. The show also deftly used Elena’s martyr complex to fool us in the audience (along with Elijah) into thinking her stabbing herself in the gut was real. Bravo, show. And one more thing: That Elena Gilbert is pretty hard core, no?
Another majorly good advancement in this episode is the return of Action!Alaric. After not having much to do for most of the season so far, the dinner party was a fantastic return to form for the former badass, with him balancing being a boyfriend, friend, and vampire killer all within the span of a few quick minutes. Welcome back, Alaric. We’ve missed you.
I do feel the need to address one thing that became more prominent in this episode and continues to be a problem: Jenna’s ignorance of all of the supernatural happenings around her. Yes, the story is pushing her closer and closer to finding out the truth, but it’s hard to understand the purpose of keeping her in the dark at all. Why not have Elena sit down and explain why her life has been so epically weird the for the last year? If the excuse is keeping Jenna safe, I call shenanigans on that entire reasoning. It’s a trope that appears in so many supernatural and superhero-themed works, and frankly, it’s bullshit. A family member or friend is actually far less safe not knowing the evil that lurks around them than living in blissful ignorance. If they are using this as an excuse to give Jenna a storyline, they could easily just give her storylines that intertwine with everyone else, rather than making her look like a fool most of the time. This was only a small complaint in the midst of the sea of awesomeness that was “The Dinner Party,” but complain I must, and I’ll probably keep complaining until she’s either in the loop or dead.
- Something to watch out for in the future is what Dr. Martin going to do when he realizes Elijah is dead and who killed him. Elijah was his only connection to Klaus and to getting his daughter back. I doubt he’ll be very pleased when he learns what Elena, Stefan, and Damon have been up to. I don’t think this will be a good thing for Bonnie, now that he’s taken her powers.
- The Damon/Alaric friendship continues to delight. Their angry pantomime was gold, and nothing compares to Alaric telling Damon they need to stop lying to each other. Truly, boys. You are the loveliest.
- John setting up Damon’s murder? Not very smart. If only Alaric hadn’t given him the ring. It would have been fun to see what sort of fun torture Damon would have inflicted on him.
- Oh, yeah. Katherine's back. Did I forget to mention that?
- “Yes, Stefan. I’ve become you. How tragic for both of us.”
- “It sounds like you were Damon.” “I was worse.”
- “There’s no such thing as a bad idea, just poorly executed awesome ones.”
- “Now get rid of him, before Jenna comes back with dessert.”
- “That’s all I want you to do. I just want you to fight for it.”