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Illustration for article titled iThe Vampire Diaries/i: “The End Of The Affair”
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Tonight, The Vampire Diaries added another entry to the long list of things it’s doing better than almost any other show on television: Most entertaining info dump. Really, that’s all “The End of The Affair” was: just a way to fill in the entire backstory of Klaus and Stefan so we can better understand how Stefan got into the fine mess he finds himself in today. Luckily for the audience, TVD delivers its backstory in the form of screamingly fun flashbacks, this time from Stefan’s Ripper days in Prohibition-era Chicago. Now, I’m a notorious flashback whore, but these ones were especially amazing, no?

The sheer amount of story packed into this one episode was fairly impressive, in scope and also in importance to the season narrative. The one thing that’s been slightly holding back the Klaus and Stefan story so far is Klaus’ seeming lack of motivation for dragging Stefan around like a little lapdog. Well, it turns out he had a darn good reason: They used to be the best of buddies in the ‘20s. Self-professed “brothers,” in fact. Stefan even fell in love with Klaus’ sister, fellow original Rebekah, and the three of them had a grand old time tearing up the Windy City (and its residents). That is, they did until a strange, shady character came chasing after Klaus and Rebekah, and Klaus forced Stefan to forget they ever existed. He not only forced Stefan to forget Rebekah but also put a dagger in Rebekah’s heart when she tried to choose staying with Stefan over running away from danger with Klaus. (It appears Klaus’ policy with disobedient family members is dagger first, ask questions never.)

The big question with all of this is where does Stefan and Klaus’ relationship go from here? Their flashback scenes together were pretty marvelous and show a pair perfectly in sync. Now that Klaus has restored Stefan’s memories of those days, will Stefan be less reluctant to fully join in on all of Klaus’ plans? Stefan already has such a complicated road to travel this season, and this newfound remembrance of his past affinity for Klaus will surely only add to his confusion of allegiance. What’s been most compelling about his journey so far is how he’s more than simply caught in his circumstances. In some way, what he’s doing is slowly becoming more than obligation. Keeping Elena safe from Klaus (and also from what he is becoming) is a large part of his motivation to stay, but now that he remembers this past bond with Klaus, will those motivations become secondary to him simply wanting to be there?

The bigger question is where does Stefan and Rebekah’s relationship go from here? It’s obvious Stefan is still very much in love with Elena but has convinced himself—and her, in a heartbreaking scene—he can no longer be anywhere near her. Klaus pulled the dagger out of Rebekah so she could help him summon the original witch to figure out his hybrid breeding problem. Now that Stefan remembers her and is trying to cast aside Elena, will their romance pick up again? Things are bound to get even more complicated, as the summoning of the original witch directly involves the necklace Stefan gave Elena, the same necklace that once belonged to Rebekah. Elena always finds herself in the center of such delicious messes.

The biggest question, though, is who was chasing Klaus and Rebekah in the flashback, and is he still around? Is Sebastian Roche’s character the reason Klaus is attempting to form a hybrid army? If he’s still around, why is he so interested in the originals? This is a very intriguing development and bodes well for the overall story arc of the season.

While the Chicago of present and past was the fun portion of the episode, poor imprisoned Caroline was the pathos. In what appears to be some sort of cruel irony, her gay father thinks he can “cure” her of her vampirism by using blood aversion therapy to help her suppress her true vampire nature. Just like the gays, am I right? Sigh. Caroline may not have been born this way, but that’s okay! The poor misguided man then tortures his own daughter by exposing her to sunlight and basically sitting back and listening to her scream while she fries. Considering all the issues Caroline has had with her mother since the start of the series and the utter absence of her father’s presence, to have him return and treat her this way is nothing less than completely devastating. Thankfully, Tyler summons Sheriff Forbes, and together, they rescue Caroline before she is too badly physically damaged. Mentally, however, it’s hard to know how she will ever be the same. How do you come back from “my dad hates me,” even as a vampire?

This was yet another great episode, one that signals just how much season three is shaping up to be potentially something really special. Not only are the performances strong, the writing excellent, and the overall arc of the season intriguing, but all of the plots are so much more emotionally complicated than they have been in the past. The more emotionally complicated the characters get, the more interesting the entire show gets around them. To that, all I can say is bring it on.

Stray observations:

  • KATHERINE is in Chicago. Katherine, please go remove Elijah’s dagger so you two can have your own little bitter vampire buddy comedy, featuring lots of snarking and fabulous hair.
  • The scene where Stefan finds Elena hiding in the apartment was so deliciously tense. So much emotion and danger was conveyed without a word ever being said. (My notes were less elegant and more like CLOSET OMGZ LONGING LOOKS BE QUIET HEART ATTACK.)
  • I’m sure this says very disturbing things about my psyche, but 1920s Stefan torturing that poor married man was very intriguing. In a sexy way. (I know.)
  • Klaus vs. Damon is a very pleasant dynamic. More of this, please.
  • I love how in ‘20s Chicago, Damon was off reading library books or something while Stefan tore up the town.
  • No Jeremy, Matt, or Bonnie and no vampire ghost storyline. It’s wonderful how the show is confident enough to let complete storylines take a week off when they don’t fit into the narrative of the episode. Other shows should take note. (Ahem. True Blood.)
  • “What were you doing in the 1920s? Paving the way for women’s liberation?”
  • “So this is the famous Stefan Salvatore I’ve been hearing about. You’re right; he does have funny hair.”
  • “I’m confused. If we were such good friends, then why do I only know you as the hybrid dick who sacrificed my girlfriend on an altar of fire?”
  • “You shouldn’t have to cover your tracks… unless you’re running from someone.”
  • “I’m a little boozy, so forgive me if I miss your heart the first few tries.”
  • “Would now be a bad time to give you crap about sneaking out on me?”

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