We all know the story of Cinderella, who must flee the ball before her dress turns to rags and her coach turns into a pumpkin. In this version of the story, Damon plays the ragged wretch who reverts back to his old self before the clock chimes midnight. And I, for one, welcome the return of the psychopathic woobie – glass slippers bottles and all.
We start this week’s episode at the hospital, where Matt and Elena have left Alaric after he returned from the dead last week. Matt walks Elena to her car, like the chivalric dude he is, and she thanks him for all his help. When Elena backs her car out of the parking lot, she hits something. She gets out of the car but no one’s there. Then suddenly, Rebekah jumps her, threatening retaliation for Elena daggering her. Elijah then leaps to Elena’s rescue and tells Rebekah to leave. He tells Elena, “I believe we have a little catching up to do.”
Back at her house, Elena brings Stefan and Damon up to speed on the latest gossip: Mommy Original was in the final coffin, and now she’s awake and casket-free. The doorbell rings, and there’s an envelope on Elena’s doorstep. It’s an invitation to a ball at the Mikaelson mansion. (Mikaelson is the family name of the Original Vampires. Sort of like the Waltons. Goodnight, Elijah. Goodnight, Niklaus!) There’s also a note from Esther: “Elena, I think it’s time we finally meet.” Damon is against her going, afraid that the Originals will try to kill her. He tells Elena that he’ll go in her place.
Caroline gets a voice message from Tyler, saying he’s sorry to hear about her dad. He’s out trying to fix himself, so that he can come home to her. There’s a knock at Caroline’s door, and on her doorstep she finds a box with a beautiful ball gown inside. There’s also an invitation to the ball from Klaus, with a note: “Save me a dance.”
At Mystic Grill, Caroline and Elena are discussing this bizarre turn of events. “It’s some twisted Cinderella fetish,” Caroline quips. Just then, Rebekah shows up and invites Matt to the ball. Caroline throws a snit: “What time is this stupid dance?”
At the ball, Elena makes a grand entrance, looking stunning. Damon lays eyes on her and the music swells. He and Stefan both greet her at the door, and they each offer her an arm. The three of them make their entrance together, and all the guests fantasize about incestuous vampire threesomes.
Caroline shows up wearing Klaus’s gown and the diamond bracelet he gave her a few weeks back. Klaus greets her, clearly charmed. Caroline responds, “I need a drink.”
Finn greets Elena at the punch bowl and tells her that if she wants to speak to Esther, she’ll have to go alone. In other words, lose the bodyguards. She tries to go upstairs to speak with Mommy Dearest but Damon intercepts her.
Damon: You have to tell me before you walk into a lion’s den.
Elena: Why? So you can stop me?
BWAH. This exchange had me giggling like a loon. I love how the show blatantly calls out Damon’s control issues when it comes to his lady love. Elena acquiesces for the moment, and Damon leads her onto the floor for the first dance.
Later, Elena leads Stefan outside and asks for his help to get close to Esther. “You care about killing Klaus more than you care about anything.” Stefan gives her a look, and Elena asks, “Am I wrong?” After a pregnant pause, Stefan replies, “No. You’re not wrong.” Stefan agrees to keep Damon out of Elena’s way. Then Elena says, “When we were together, you used to let me make my own decisions. You trusted me. After all this, at least that hasn’t changed.” Elena then summons Damon into the study, where Stefan jumps him and breaks his neck.
Upstairs, Elijah intercepts Elena. He doesn’t trust Esther and doesn’t believe that she has really forgiven Klaus after everything he’s done. Elijah asks Elena to be honest with him about her conversation with Esther. Elena agrees.
When Elena knocks on Esther’s door, she’s busy burning sage. She has cast a spell so that they can talk without fear of being overheard. Esther tells Elena that when she died, her friend Ayanna preserved her body with a spell. Ayanna is an ancestor of Bonnie’s, which is how Bonnie and her mom were able to open Esther’s casket. Esther says she’s been on the other side for a thousand years: “Nature’s way of punishing me for turning my family into vampires.” But there is a way for her to undo the evil she created. To start with, she needs Elena’s blood. It will be mixed into the champagne toast later this evening. After her children drink the champagne, Esther will cast a spell to link them all together as one. Once they are linked, if one dies, they will all die. “I love my family, Elena,” Esther tells her. “But they are an abomination. I betrayed nature when I created them. It’s my duty to kill them.”
Klaus meets up with Caroline, who’s admiring the horse and carriage in the driveway. Klaus makes an unromantic speech about how horses are the opposite of people because they’re loyal, and how he loved his horse but Mikael killed it. Caroline is unmoved, refusing to speak to Klaus until he tells her why he invited her to the ball. Klaus replies, “I fancy you. You’re beautiful, you’re strong, you’re full of light.” Caroline replies that she’s spoken for and makes her escape back inside.
Later, Klaus leads her into a makeshift gallery to show her his etchings, which are actually Monet’s Water Lilies. “I take it the curators at the Louvre aren’t on vervain?” Caroline quips, and Klaus laughs, which is kind of nice to see. On the table are drawings that Klaus did himself, studies of Renaissance masterpieces. “One of my landscapes is hanging at the Hermitage, not that anyone would notice.” BWAH. Klaus offers to take her there, or anywhere else she wants to go: Rome, Paris, Tokyo. Caroline says Klaus is too accustomed to getting whatever he wants – controlling people through compulsion, or making hybrids, or through a sire-bond like he has withTyler. “You don’t connect with people because you don’t even try to understand them,” she snaps. She tears off the bracelet Klaus gave her, slaps it down on the table, and storms out.
Damon wakes up on the study floor, realizes what happened and charges at Stefan. Baby brother tells Damon that “maybe you should stop being such a controlling dick.” He tells Damon that his emotions are getting in the way of their plan because he cares too much. Damon is furious and makes his angry pouty face, but he knows that Stefan has a point.
Elena comes back downstairs, and Elijah asks her what she and Esther talked about. Elena reassures Elijah that Esther has forgiven Klaus; however, it’s probably the most transparent lie Elena’s ever told. I’m not buying it, and I don’t think Elijah is either. As the waiters pass around glasses of pink champagne, Esther appears on the stairs and makes a toast to the long-awaited reunion of her family. All her children drink.
Damon approaches Elena with her wrap in his hand and announces that they’re leaving. He grabs her arm, but Elena shakes him off. She apologizes for having his neck broken, which leads to a heated argument:
Elena: Do you think I like going behind your back? I don’t. But if I hadn’t asked Stefan for help, you would have tried to be the hero and you would have ruined everything.
Damon: Sorry for trying to keep you alive. Clearly Stefan doesn’t give a crap anymore.
Elena: Now you’re mad at me for including Stefan?
Damon: No, I’m mad at you because I love you.
Elena: Well, maybe that’s the problem.
OWIE OW OW OW. Damon makes his wounded woobie face and looks like he’s about to cry, then like he’s about to go off the rails. “I got it, Elena. I care too much. How ironic is that?”
Rebekah tells brother Kol that she brought Matt to the party so that she can kill him. “He’s Elena’s friend. If he dies, she suffers.” Kol says it sounds like fun and agrees to help, so Rebekah lures Matt outside. It’s cold, so Matt goes to get his jacket out of his truck. Instead of putting it on, he offers it to Rebekah to cover her bare shoulders. Touched that someone is actually nice to her, Rebekah decides not to kill him and leads him back inside to safety. Kol, however, has other plans. He follows Matt up to a balcony on the second floor and introduces himself. When Matt takes his proffered hand, Kol squeezes it until it breaks. Damon intervenes and tosses Kol over the balcony railing and down to the ground below. He then jumps down after him and starts wailing on Kol, breaking his neck. Stefan rushes outside and confronts him, followed by half the party guests. “Are you crazy?” Stefan asks. Damon replies, “Maybe a little.” Aaaaaaand we get the return of crazy!psycho!Damon. YAY.
Back at home, Caroline calls Tyler’s phone and leaves him a voicemail. “I’m grateful for what you’re doing, but I miss you. And I really wish you were here.” She then finds yet another gift-wrapped box on her bed. This one contains a drawing of her and a horse. The note at the bottom says, “Thank you for your honesty. Klaus.” I dunno, Klaus, but if it’s honesty you’re after? Comparing the object of your affections to Mr. Ed ain’t exactly the height of romance. No matter how awesome you think it is, a horse is a horse of course of course.
At the Mikaelson mansion, Esther is pissed that her kids ruined her special night by trying to kill one of the guests. Elijah promises that he’ll deal with Rebekah and Kol. She tells him, “I wish the others were more like you.” (Well, now that they’re all about to be linked together as one, maybe they will be?) Esther sends Elijah away, and then summons Finn – who is apparently in on Mom’s plan, because he tells Esther, “When it is time, I will be ready to die.” Esther and Finn then perform the last part of the ritual. She slices his hand open and his blood falls onto a sheet of paper with the names of all of Esther’s children inscribed on it. The blood creates the shape of a tree on the page, and Esther says, “The link is complete. You are one.”
Stefan takes Elena home, where she fills him in on Esther’s plan. Elena is feeling guilty because she lied to Elijah, and because she just signed the whole family’s death warrants. Stefan says the family has brought her nothing but darkness. He then asks, “What was with Damon going after Kol?” Elena replies, “Damon being self-destructive. I said something I didn’t mean.” Stefan confesses, “So did I.”
Elena follows Stefan out onto the front porch, asking how he can act like he doesn’t feel anything. She can’t do that – she feels everything, and she believes that he does, too. “Anything is better than trying to convince me that you don’t care.” Stefan pushes her away, saying, “If I let myself care, all I feel is pain.”
At Mystic Grill, Rebekah comes to visit Matt and offers to buy him an apology drink, but he politely tells her he’s not into her. Matt leaves her alone at the bar, where Damon stumbles up to her, drinking straight from the bottle. He says she should forget about Matt, because she would have broken him in a second. “Are you suggesting I can’t be gentle?” Rebekah asks. “No,” Damon replies, “I’m just saying you should find someone a little more durable.”
Cut to Damon and Rebekah back at the Salvatore mansion, ripping each other’s clothes off with vampiric speed, where we get:
SHIRTLESS SOMERHALDER SIGHTING! Now that’s the way to end a fairy tale.
QUIPPITY QUIP: “Burn. Rejected by the captain of the football team. Welcome to adolescence.”