'The Vampire Diaries' recap: 'American Gothic'

Klaus and Caroline spark while Katherine hides the cure

"The Vampire Diaries"

 "The Vampire Diaries"

Credit: The CW

You know how every episode of "The Vampire Diaries" tends to have a central theme or issue? This one might be "Psyche!" or "Everything you know is WRONG" or "Only suckers assume, ha!" Nothing is quite what you think it is on this episode, which is all about messing with our expectations. Not that you can have a lot of expectations with this show, which tends to toss more curve balls than Nolan Ryan. But even your eyes will deceive you, whether or not you need glasses. So, that person? Looks like Caroline, but maybe it isn't. Might be Silas. Might not be a person at all. Or maybe it is. Gotcha!

We kick things off with Thelma and Louise, aka Elena and Rebekah, rolling into Willoughby, the creamed corn capital of Pennsylvania. I really can't believe that Katherine would ever want to hang out here, as she seems like a big city girl who looks down her cynical nose at friendly, small-town folk. But I guess that's exactly why she wants to be there. I'm sure it's easier to compel nice, trusting people than people who always have a hand on their wallet and never stand too close to the subway tracks.

Their first hint that Katherine is in town comes when Elena is about to chomp down on a sweet redheaded girl, who says hello to her and reminds her their deal was for her to drink from the wrist, not the neck. In other words, a Friend of Katherine's. Elena and Rebekah pump her for information, only to realize Kat's compelled her (and seemingly everyone else) to not know who she is unless she's addressing the person and keep secrets they can't even remember. I'd say Katherine's pretty crafty but this one just makes my head hurt. Needless to say, they eventually find Katherine, who tries to kill Elena, but is stopped when Rebekah tries to kill her. Fun, fun, fun!

Meanwhile, poor Klaus still has a sliver in his paw. He thinks Caroline has come to help him out… only to discover the pretty blonde is just Silas in Caroline form. Psyche! "Resist me all you want, Klaus, but until you bring me the cure I will bring you nothing but misery," Silas/Caroline purrs. Dammit!

When the real Caroline finally does show up, he begs her to take the shard of white oak out of his back but doesn't have considerably more luck than he had with fake Caroline. She says she'll do it -- if he promises to let Tyler come back to town. And, of course, doesn't kill him. Klaus does not like these terms one bit. And why doesn't he like them? Honestly, because he doesn't like anyone telling him what to do. Caroline rightly points out that Klaus gets in his own way, and she's not wrong at all. I would think Klaus would just accept the terms of the deal. He could always kill Tyler some other time. Jeez. 

Back in the creamed corn capital of Pennsylvania, Rebekah, Elena and Katherine hang out in a dinner and scowl at one another. Katherine can't be compelled to reveal where the cure is, as she's on vervain. However, she does tell her captors why she wants the cure. Obviously, not for herself, but to barter with Klaus. "I've spent the last 500 years running from your big brother," she tells Rebekah. "I give him the cure, he gives me my freedom." Easy peasy! 

Katherine makes promises no one expects her to keep, until finally Elena has the bright idea to steal her phone. She discovers her doppelgänger has an appointment at 2 p.m., and all she has to do is take Katherine's jewelry, shoes and jacket to take her place. Katherine scowls and glowers, so we know this will be problematic. Probably because it's kind of gross to share shoes with someone you don't know that well. Just because someone's your doppelganger doesn't mean they can't have athlete's foot. 

In other news, Stefan and Damon just kind of wander around, theoretically trailing Rebekah and Elena but mostly just talking about the cure and providing exposition. I hate to see these two stuck in this thankless role, but luckily they eventually find Rebekah and Katherine (Elena is off to that meeting, of course) so they can actually do something. One detail I love -- they realize Katherine is Katherine almost immediately. And don't tell me that's because she's wearing different clothes, because guys just never notice stuff like that. 

So, that 2 p.m. appointment? Katherine was meeting… ELIJAH. Elijah! I've so missed him, haven't you? And then, another shocker -- he kisses Elena (thinking she's Katherine, of course). What? Elijah? Katherine? I don't have the time to think up a hybrid name for this one (Elitherine? Kathjah?) but woof. He's so noble, I just can't understand why he'd have anything to do with this chick, who is one step above a praying mantis.

Of course, it takes a hot minute for Elijah to realize Katherine is really Elena, and Elena has to start talking fast.

Back at the diner, Katherine reveals to Rebekah and the Salvatores that her meeting was with Elijah, who's her friend. As in, Friend with a capital F. Everyone groans, as if she said she eats her toenail clippings or swallows human hair. Katherine does admit that Elijah is part of her plan. She needs him to broker a deal with Klaus, who will kill her on sight. I feel terrible for poor Elijah, as he's not only being used, but everyone knows it but him.

Well, not exactly. Elena can't believe Elijah fell for Katherine's trap, and he tells her repeatedly that he hasn't. He's just… hopeful. Until Elena gives him a little more information. "My brother's dead, your girlfriend killed him. She lied. I hate to say I told you so, but duh." Poor Elijah looks completely deflated. Yeah, he fell for her trap, no matter what he said to the contrary. 

Damon and Rebekah decide to accompany Katherine to her home to get the cure. Damon, being a sneaky guy himself, sorts out where she's hidden it despite her attempts to fool him, but the problem is it's in an aquarium filled with vervain-infected water. So, Katherine shoves him face down into it, grabs the cure -- and bumps right into Rebekah. She asks Rebekah to decide between killing her or getting the cure, and that's how Katherine goes free. Rebekah finally has the cure. 

Huh. Can't decide how I feel about this, really. Rebekah has had so many poignant Pinocchio moments, pining to be a real girl, that part of me really wants this for her. But part of me would hate for her to be human, too. She'd be too vulnerable, and I can't see how she'd stay alive for more than a minute, at least not in Mystic Falls. There are too many scores to settle, not the least of which is between her and Damon.

But guess what? Rebekah takes the cure, takes a nap, and wakes up… still a vampire. Katherine had hidden away a fake. Oh, that Katherine is good! Damon and Stefan had already yelled at one another over Damon's incompetence and his inability to get on board with shoving the cure down Elena's throat and… well, really, that's about it. So, back to plan A. Find Katherine, find the cure. Didn't we already do this? 

Back in Mystic Falls, Caroline tries to be a good friend and carves up Klaus' back, only for him to realize he wasn't really in pain -- that was just Silas' mind control. I don't know how these vampires are going to get rid of Silas, but I'm thinking someone really needs to do it and soon. This guy makes Klaus look positively junior league. Klaus still thanks Caroline for helping him, because it was only through her distracting him with her feminine wiles (not intentionally, but let's face it, there's all kinds of Klaroline heat going on) that allowed him to realize he wasn't in pain at all. 

"Friends, then?" he asks.

"Are you going to let Tyler come back into town?" Caroline counters. 

"You might have noticed I'm not exactly scouring the earth for him, am I?" So, yes, sort of. And there's a moment, a Big moment, a big FLIRTY moment, and man alive, I don't want Tyler to come back simply because these two are thisclose to falling passionately into one another's arms. Come on, quick! Before Klaus leaves for "The Originals"!

Katherine finds Elijah and Elena together and, as you might expect, breaks Elena's neck so she can have some private time with her beau. But it's not exactly a romantic moment. Elijah is hurt and angry that Katherine not only killed Jeremy, but didn't bother to tell him. "Do you honestly feel nothing for this girl?" he asks her, looking at Elena. He can't believe she has no problem destroying her and, worse, her whole family.  Katherine tells him she loves him... and then admits she needs him if she's going to make a deal with Klaus. That's all Elijah needs to hear. Katherine and switched-off Elena aren't so different, but Katherine is, if anything, a notch lower. Like a feral cat, she'll do anything she has to to survive. Thankfully, Elena hasn't sunk to that level. Not yet, at least. 

Katherine runs off to pick up the cure from the nice redhead and finds Elijah again. She tells him she's starting to believe her own lies, and she wants to find out who she used to be, back when he first saw her. She gives him the cure. Yes, she could try to force it down Klaus' throat and then kill him, but she knows she would lose Elijah if she did. She needs him to trust her. I'm not sure he should, but I'm (like Elijah was) hopeful. Maybe there's still a glimmer of something human in Katherine. "You don't owe me anything. I'm going to let you decide where we go from here," she says. If this is more game play, it's definitely high risk.

Elijah walks over to Rebekah, who has just been hanging out nearby. She asks her brother to give her the cure, and what follows is yet another sad, poignant scene for Rebekah. You know another reason why I don't want Rebekah to be cured? Because Claire Holt is just such a good actress, that's why.  "I want to live a simple life as a normal person…You will always be my brother, and I will never stop loving you. But now it's time for me to live and die the way I choose," she says. 

And then this beautiful moment is interrupted with a phone call from Klaus. Elijah tells him he's bringing the cure back to Mystic Falls, which I guess means Rebekah is out of luck. I'm hoping Klaus, who wants to "settle this like family," isn't looking for a dagger to plunge into his big brother. I do like Elijah so much and I'm so glad to see Daniel Gillies back. Don't leave! 

After Stefan and Damon have yet another version of the "I'm over Elena/I'm done with this crap/You don't want to make Elena be human/Blahblahblah" conversation, in which Stefan says he's tired of it, too, and wants to leave town forever, Stefan and Damon find Elena in the diner. In the dark. Wow, I would think someone would flick on the lights in a damn diner, but no. It's a mood-lit diner. Elena informs the Salvatores she does not want the cure, and if they don't accept this, there will be consequences.

Like what? Well, she kills the waitress, so that's a consequence. Basically, Elena is going to kill people until they stop bugging her. Wow, remember when Elena used to be all doe-eyed and earnest? I can't believe I'm missing mopey Elena, but I am. We already have Killer Elena. She's named Katherine. 

The good news: next new episode is prom! Prom! Bad news? Nothing new until April 18. CW needs to order more damn episodes of this show. It takes more vacations than a member of congress. 

 

Do you think Elena should take the cure? Or Rebekah? Or no one? 

 

 

 

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Liane Bonin Starr is an author, screenwriter and former writer for EW.com. Her byline has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Variety and a lot of other places. Her last book was called "a scandalously catty, guilty pleasure" by Jane magazine. Expect the same from Starr Raving.
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