Our Town is a Pulitzer Prize-winning play written by Thornton Wilder, examining the themes of daily life, love, marriage and death through the lens of a small New England town. The original 1938 production used chairs, tables and ladders as scenery, with the actors miming a lot of their interaction with props. Thankfully we don’t get a mime, but we do get Stefan chopping off heads, which is way cooler.
ACT I: Daily Life
(In which we get the return of Shirtless Somerhalder™.)
We open with everyday activities such as Damon showering and Elena working out. Both are clearly thinking about that smoldering kiss from last week. Damon’s at home, getting ready to meet up with Stefan at the haunted mansion. Stefan walks in on him and says he should have been there an hour ago. Damon’s smiling and cheerful; when Stefan asks him why, he replies, “No reason.”
Elena is at Alaric’s kicking the crap out of a punching bag. Alaric asks her what’s got her all worked up. She replies that she’s working out some frustrations but declines to name them. Then she asks if Alaric has talked to Damon today. “No. Why?” Alaric asks. Elena replies, “No reason.”
Next we cut to the haunted mansion where Bonnie is trying to spell open the magic coffin, to no avail. Suddenly the coffins disappear from view. Someone is lurking around. Stefan and Damon arrive to find one of Klaus’ hybrids. Damon rips the guy’s heart out. “These hybrids,” he quips. “Really bringing the neighborhood down.”
Then it’s back to school with Bonnie and Elena decorating Caroline’s locker. It’s her birthday and they want to make it special for her. The conversation is awkward because they’re both keeping secrets from each other: Elena about her kiss with Damon, and Bonnie about Klaus’s coffins. Elena tells Bonnie that Jeremy will be leaving town, and that she asked Damon to compel her brother. Bonnie looks sad and upset. She goes to see Jeremy, and tells him she’s sorry he’s leaving.
At the haunted mansion, Damon is beating on the locked coffin with a shovel. Stefan comes back from burying the dead hybrid and decides that all of them need to leave town. He decides to undertake a game of brinksmanship with Klaus:
Stefan: He does what I say, or I dump his family to the bottom of the ocean.
Damon: Then he kills you and everyone you know. Like, I dunno, me?
Damon argues that the only way to call someone’s bluff is to be willing to lose everything if you’re wrong. Stefan apparently is willing to take that risk, because he says nothing and walks away.
Caroline pulls into the parking lot at school and meets up withTyler. He tells her that he understands why she can’t be with him, after the events of last week (when he nearly got Jeremy killed). “Even though I want to put you first, before anything, I can’t.” He’s sired to Klaus and there’s nothing he can do to loosen that bond. Tyler is genuinely sorry that he can’t be the boyfriend she needs, and their scene is quite touching. He gives her a charm bracelet as a birthday gift.
At Klaus’s mansion, he’s putting his daggered sister to bed in her coffin. Stefan shows up and says he wants Klaus to make his hybrids go away. “You know, I’m hurt,” Klaus says. “I hoped that I’d free you and we’d pick up where we left off.” (You’re not the only one, Klaus!) “Friends don’t strip friends of their free will,” Stefan retorts. (OUCH to Elena, Alaric and Damon.) Stefan tells Klaus to get his hybrids out of Mystic Falls or he’ll drop Elijah in the Arctic. Klaus says, “I might be willing to lose one brother, if it meant killing yours.” Stefan replies, “Try me.” Then he cuts the head off one of Klaus’s hybrids and leaves with a smile on his face.
Caroline comes home to find Elena, Bonnie and Matt jumping out at her for a surprise birthday party. Caroline says she’s not feeling her birthday this year: “It’s a reminder that technically I’m dead.” She’s feels stuck at 17. Elena says what Caroline needs isn’t a birthday party, it’s a funeral – so they head to a crypt. She needs to say good-bye to her old life, so she can move on with her new one. They give her a birthday cake, and she blows out the candles. This is a nice callback to the season opener, “Birthday,” in which Elena turns 18 but isn’t quite moving on with her life.
Klaus calls Tyler to the mansion and tells him to bite Caroline. Since a werewolf bite will kill a vampire, and Tyler is half werewolf, he refuses. Klaus says, fine. “I’m disappointed, but it’s your choice. Free will, and all that. I’ll find another way to strike at Stefan.” Then he dismisses Tyler. Tyler leaves, bemused at what just happened.
Damon and Alaric are on a date – I mean, headed to a council meeting – and discussing Stefan along the way.
Alaric: I thought Stefan saved your life.
Damon: He did.
Alaric: And now he’s willing to risk it just to see how far he can push Klaus?
Damon: Seems so.
Alaric: Well, is his humanity on or off?
Damon: I’m thinking there’s another option here at play. A bit of a dimmer switch.
Damon says this is a problem, because he can’t predict how far Stefan will go until somebody gets killed.
Alaric: Suddenly you care who lives or dies?
Damon (screws up his face in annoyance): I have a small list.
Alaric: Talk about a humanity dimmer switch.
Damon: Screw you.
HEEEEEEEE. I loff them.
Turns out the council meeting is also a fundraiser to restore Wickery Bridge, the same bridge where Elena’s parents drove over the side and drowned. Inside, Alaric meets up with Dr. Fell, whom we met last episode. She confesses to Ric that she’s also on the council. Later, Ric finds her arguing heatedly with her ex-boyfriend, who also happens to be the town’s medical examiner, the guy who signs all the vampire deaths in town as “animal attack.” Ric comes to Meredith’s defense, but the ex tells him to watch his back – Meredith is “kind of a psycho case.”
Damon finds Klaus at the fundraiser chatting up the mayor. Apparently Klaus has made a very generous pledge to the cause. Damon tells Carol that she’s kissing the ass of the immortal hybrid who ruined her son’s life. Klaus argues that in fact, he saved Tyler’s life, now that he never again has to go through the pain of a werewolf transformation. Carol seems to agree: Klaus has promised to protect Tyler, and the town, and the mayor is behind him. All Damon has to do is get his brother to stop decapitating Klaus’s friends, or the council will be forced to take action against Stefan. (This whole battle is becoming increasingly complicated, with a series of skirmishes, alliances and negotiated truces. Damon must think he’s back in his Civil War days.) “Give peace a chance,” Klaus quips.
Damon goes to Sheriff Forbes for support. She’s not going to let Klaus hold the town hostage, “but I’m also not going to let anyone get caught in the crossfire of a pissing contest between a hybrid and a vampire.” Damon is impressed, calling Liz “all strong and sheriffy.”
Stefan shows up at the fundraiser and tries to decapitate one of Klaus’s hybrids with a butcher knife. Damon stops him: “No dead hybrids at the Founders’ party!” Damon reminds Stefan that even if they kill all of Klaus’s hybrids, he’ll just make more, and he’ll use Elena’s blood to do it. Stefan tells Damon, “Protecting Elena is your problem now.”
Damon: Don’t give me that no humanity crap. You can’t just flip your switch. Your switch is fried, Stefan, just like your brain. You wanna beat the villain? You’ve gotta be smarter.
Stefan: No, to beat the villain, Damon? You have to be the better villain.
ACT II: Love and Marriage
At her birthday/funeral, Caroline confesses that she texted Tyler. Elena reprimands her for it, and Bonnie says, “Give her a break. You can’t control what everyone does all the time.” She says it’s really wrong that Elena compelled Jeremy to leave town – she’s taking his choices away. Bonnie feels bad about ruining Caroline’s funeral, so she goes home to sleep it off.
Tyler shows up at the crypt and wants to talk to Caroline. They leave, and Elena asks Matt if he’s okay. Matt says yes, he wants Caroline to be happy. He wants all of them to be happy, in the middle of this crazy life they all got stuck with.
Elena: Is that how you see it? That we’re stuck?
Matt: I’d say it’s attached itself to all of you pretty tight, yeah.
Elena confesses that Bonnie is right: she has no business messing in Jeremy’s head. But he’s in danger in Mystic Falls, and Elena can’t lose anyone else she loves. I love this exchange for two reasons. First, it’s nice to see Elena admitting that she’s doing the wrong thing, and doing it for basically selfish reasons. Second, it highlights that she really is stuck, because she has so few choices. The humans – Jeremy, Matt – they have the chance to get out of Mystic Falls, to walk away and never look back. Elena the Doppleganger, Bonnie the Witch, Caroline the Vampire: they’re not normal folk anymore, and they really have nowhere else to go.
Out in the woods, Tyler tells Caroline that everything he told her earlier was wrong. He can put her first, and he will. “Klaus can’t control me, not when it comes to you. I won’t let him,” and it’s clear that he truly believes it. He tells Caroline that he loves her. They kiss, and it grows more passionate. But when Tyler moves to her neck, his teeth unconsciously come out and he nicks her. Caroline’s bleeding. It’s only a small bite, but it’s enough to poison her. Looks like Tyler isn’t in control, after all. “Get away from me!” Caroline yells, and Tyler runs off, stricken.
Matt and Elena comb through the woods looking for Caroline, but Stefan shows up and interrupts them. He knocks Matt on the head, grabs Elena and takes off with her in his car. He bites his own wrist and force-feeds Elena his blood. Then a high-speed, high-tension game of chicken ensues, in which Stefan phones Klaus, threatens to drive Elena off the Wickery Bridge and let her drown. She’ll come back as a vampire, in which case her blood will be useless to Klaus – he won’t be able to use her to make any more hybrids. Elena yells, cries and pleads with Stefan to stop, but he ignores her. Klaus finally gives in: “Fine, you win. I’ll send them away.” But Stefan keeps on driving. “Stop the car, Stefan!” Klaus yells into the phone, but Stefan doesn’t stop until the car gets to the bridge.
Elena screams and gets out of the car. “How could you?” she cries. “My parents died going over this bridge! I almost died! You knew that. You’re the one who saved me.” She’s sobbing, and it’s heartbreaking, but Stefan does his best to remain unmoved by her tears:
Stefan: He backed down. He has a weakness! If I know his weakness, I can destroy him.
Elena: After everything, that’s what matters? Destroying Klaus?
Stefan: Destroying Klaus is all I have left.
Elena: You had me!
Stefan: I lost you the minute I left town with him. You just haven’t let yourself admit that, yet.
Elena: Is that what you’re doing? Trying to make me hate you?
Stefan: I don’t really care what you think about me anymore, Elena.
Paul Wesley plays this scene so well. He does care, we can see it beneath his mask, but it’s so subtle you almost believe him. It’ll be a hard sell for Elena to forgive him for this.
ACT III: Death and Eternity
Matt rushes Caroline home, where her mother puts her to bed. Klaus shows up at the door, saying that Tyler came to see him. “Poor boy seemed quite distressed. He said Caroline had a terrible accident.” Matt accuses Klaus of making Tyler bite her. Klaus says he’s there to help – his blood will heal her. Sheriff Forbes asks Klaus what he wants in return. “Just your support,” he says, and Liz invites him in.
Klaus finds Caroline in her room. She’s wearing the charm bracelet that Tyler gave her, and Klaus says he loves birthdays. Caroline asks him, “Aren’t you like, a billion or something?” He replies that she has to adjust her perception of time, now that she’s a vampire. She’s free of human conventions. “No. I’m dying,” she says. Klaus will let her die, if that’s what she wants. He’s thought about it himself, once or twice over the centuries. “But I’ll let you in on a little secret,” he confesses. “There’s a whole world out there, waiting for you. Great cities and art and music.” He touches her charm bracelet, then continues, “Genuine beauty. And you can have all of it. You can have a thousand more birthdays. All you have to do is ask.” Caroline, in a small, frightened voice, replies: “I don’t want to die.” So Klaus cradles her to his chest, gives her his wrist, and she bites.
This scene is beautifully played. I love Joseph Morgan as an actor; he brings such tenderness to a truly villainous character, tempting his victims with a devil’s whisper. And Candice Accola shows just the right amount of hatred for Klaus and fear for her own life. You can see the struggle in her face, not wanting to owe him anything but knowing that she will.
Damon walks Elena to her front porch, and tells her that Stefan won this round for them today. He was the better villain. “Don’t sound so impressed,” Elena scoffs, saying that his methods sucked. Damon smirks, “Can’t help but be a little proud.” LOL. Oh, Damon. Happy to know you still have your priorities in order. Damon touches Elena’s face, but she says Damon can’t kiss her again – it’s not right. “It’s right,” Damon replies. “Just not right now.” AWWWWW. This almost makes me ship them. Then they say good night.
The next morning, Elena hugs Jeremy good-bye as he’s heading off to Denver. Bonnie shows up, and Elena is obviously worried that she will spill the beans about the compulsion. But she merely hugs Jeremy and says, “I came to say good-bye.” Then Jeremy heads off to his new life.
Caroline wakes up in the sunshine, healthy and whole in her bed. On the bedside table, there’s a box from Klaus. She opens it, and it’s a beautiful diamond bracelet. She looks both grateful and confused.
Elena meets up with Matt on the Wickery Bridge, and confesses to him that she does feel stuck. She’s been holding on to the girl who was in that car with her parents – the one who was supposed to die with them. The girl who had a normal life, and didn’t know about vampires. Matt says Elena’s not that girl, and it’s okay if she wants to let her go. Elena says she feels like she’s disappointed that girl, and her parents, with what she’s become. “My two cents,” Matt says, “as a guy who knew that other girl. You’re doing a lot better than you think.” He picks some flowers from the side of the road and says, “Here lies Elena Gilbert. A fun girlfriend, and an amazing friend.” They toss the flowers into the river below, and I get all teary-eyed. Sniffle!
At the bar, Alaric is day-drinking again. Dr. Fell meets up with him and says she lost a patient, and Ric should buy her a beer. Meanwhile, out in the woods, Sheriff Forbes shows Damon a body. It’s Meredith’s ex-boyfriend, the medical examiner, killed with a stake through the chest. Only he’s not a vampire: this is a murder.
Tune in next week, when our guest playwright will be Agatha Christie.
SHIRTLESS SOMERHALDER SIGHTINGS: This episode opens with Damon in the shower. I vote that the show makes this a recurring motif.
Caroline: Are you going to kill me?
Klaus: On your birthday? You really think that low of me?