It seems such a long time ago, doesn’t it. That moment when – after staying with Stefan that first night – Elena wanders across to her boyfriend’s bedroom table and sees a faded, yellowing photograph of a girl identical, sitting there staring back at her with a dark but almost Mona Lisa smile. Indeed, for a long time, Katherine Pierce wafted like a heady but undiscernible perfume at the edges of what used to be this one main story: about a girl, and the two opposing supernatural brothers who loved her.
A world where Tyler Lockwood was still just a jock with a temper problem, Caroline Forbes was just another shallow beauty queen in waiting, and Elena Gilbert was just another human girl dealing with the pressures of life in love with a tortured vampire.
In Katherine’s case, we spent that season being teased mercilessly by the writers about exactly where, when and how she was going to emerge from the murky past to wreak her own particular brand of havoc. And when she finally did, her sheer heartless, conniving viciousness took our collective breath away like a hurricane. From the moment Nina Dobrev stepped into the doppelganger’s shoes, we knew she would be as evil as she was spectacular. (As an aside, I believe this whole second series could simply be re-named ‘Proof That Nina Dobrev Deserves An Emmy or Ten’ and I don’t reckon you’d find many people arguing. Cause wow. Girl, you are BLAZING.)
As such, I don’t know about you, but between Aimee Bradley getting her guts rearranged on the dance floor and Uncle John meeting his own end at the end of a carving knife, there has never been a moment for me where I was able to look at Katherine as a character, and wonder if there was as yet, still, a shred of humanity left somewhere inside her.
A House Divided
In yet another sublime use of the flashback, we are thrust immediately into the brutally harsh reality that was Katherine Pierce’s world prior this one: it is Bulgaria, 1490, and she is Katerina Petrova – a human woman, about to give birth to an illegitimate child that will heap shame upon her family no end. She screams in pain, but soon a beautiful baby girl comes to lie in the arms of Katherine’s mother, who has acted as midwife throughout the whole ordeal of the birth.
But no sooner is she born, than the baby is stripped from her grandmother – not to mention a desperate mother, who just wants to hold her child – by Katherine’s father, and whisked out of the room leaving Katherine to weep brokenly in her mother’s embrace for the baby she has given birth to but will never see.
In one fell swoop, gone is the cocky, brutal, self-assured Katherine of Masquerade; in her place, a shamed, grieving and vulnerable girl who has just had her daughter snatched away.
The beauty of this whole scene? Simple. How do you make the coldest, most calculating of killers into someone worthy of an audience’s sympathy: you give her a mother who loves her and that she loves back.
Old Habits and New Recruits
Back to the present day, and – arriving at the Salvatore Mansion after receiving a call from Stefan – Elena stands at the front door to find herself greeted by Damon. I don’t know about you, but I was silently yelling at her with the same vehemence of someone who’s just discovered some idiot on a moped has put a giant dint in their Ferrari.
HOW CAN YOU NOT REMEMBER?
There was Damon! And the THING! With the NECKLACE and the HIM, oh I don’t know, professing his LOVE for YOU!
Bah! What are you? A sieve?!
This is so frustrating! It’s like trying to eat soup with a fork!
I don’t care that you’re compelled!!
CAN’T YOU FEEL THAT SOMETHING’S DIFFERENT?!
I know, I know. It’s not her fault; Damon was the one who compelled her, and it’s clear that that compulsion can make you forget pretty much anything. But still. That moment was heavy in the air when she finally made her way into the house.
When Stefan greets her, she knows that something’s up, and looks behind him to see that Rose is standing there. Putting aside the fact that this was the same woman had her kidnapped and had been planning to hand her over to some ye olde….olde evil undead dude so he could kill her in order to lift a spell, Elena sits and listens as Rose explains exactly why this guy – Klaus – is such a big deal.
According to Rose, Klaus is a first generation vampire – in actual fact, the oldest of them all. So old that both Stefan and Damon even initially argue him to be more myth and legend than man. So when Elena states facts plain – that Klaus is the Big Bad of Big Bads, he’s real, and he is after her, it’s Damon who tries to play the positive card. He says that even if Klaus really does exist, the chance of him looking for her is still that – a chance. Stefan also points out that as Elijah is (apparently) dead, no one else from the Klaus Club has actually even seen Elena. But Rose sticks to her guns (Oh Lauren Cohan – ADORE you) and vouches for the fact that Klaus is every bit as real and motivated as they are. As Elena heads off to school – alone, just like she wants it to be for now, she reminds Stefan – it’s easy to see that all of them are spooked by the concept of something worse than Katherine turning up to wreak havoc on their lives.
Friends in Awkward Places
Oh Bonnie and Jeremy. I don’t care what the rest of fandom thinks. I just want you to have an epic life-saving, life-altering moment and then kiss like it’s going out of business.
In your A-typical boy-flirts-with-girl-under-charming-circumstances moment, Bonnie is walking from the school car park to class and drops her books. Jeremy is conveniently near by, sweeping in to pick them up with chuckle and an easy smile, and when he asks her out on a date – to the Grill, to shoot pool = BLESS, the boy is old school – she agrees. After a few hesitant ‘Oh but you’re Elena’s brother and you’ve never asked me before – why now?’s, of course. But as they are on their way to class, a new guy – who introduces himself as Luka – stops and asks them for directions to the school office. Not one to waste time, Luka immediately puts the How You Doin’ a la Joey Tribbiani on Bonnie and uses his best come hither face to flirt with her.
Seriously? If Jeremy had have rolled his eyes and yelled ‘Dude, I’m still here y’know’ it wouldn’t have been out of place. Jer however ends up saying he’s heading that direction anyway, and indicates he would be more than willing to take Luka to the office (and subsequently away from Bonnie – slick move kid ;)).
Elsewhere, having – as we say here in Oz – chucked a sickie and left school early, Elena is trudging through the forest with a big bag and Caroline in tow. She is determined to see Katherine – now safely holed up in the tomb where she should have been all along – to ask her more about Klaus and what he wants with her, but Caroline isn’t shy about expressing her doubts in Ms. Pierce’s word, whatever that maybe. But Elena – as Caroline so eloquently puts it – plays the ‘girlfriend code’ card, and swears her friend to secrecy, asking specifically that Caroline keep Stefan distracted so he doesn’t come and interrupt her plans to talk to Katherine alone. As transparent as Caroline seems to think her efforts in fooling Stefan will be, she agrees to Elena’s request, and the pair of them head down into the tomb…well, ‘foyer’ for want of a better term.
When Caroline moves the giant stone door, it takes a moment before the raspy, weak voice of Katherine echoes in the dark. After assuring her friend one last time that she’ll be okay, Caroline leaves, and for the first time in a while, Elena comes face to face with her now powerless doppelganger.
Interviews with Vampires
Stumbling barely, her bare feet dragging over the ground with each step, and her face bearing the sunken expression of a starving vampire, Katherine Pierce is a shadow of her former self. Not to say that she doesn’t have a few snarls still in her system – she asks mockingly if Elena has come here to watch her wither away and die. When Elena pulls the Petrova book from her bag, Katherine practically snorts in her general direction: did she come to bribe her, did she?
But Elena – no fool, her – plays hardball straight off, and pulls out a bottle of blood, which Katherine instinctively launches for, only to find herself blocked by the tombs curse. It’s clear Elena means business. She wants to know who she is being hunted by, and why. And for all Katherine’s bravado, it doesn’t take long: she sinks to the ground by the door and gives in, as Elena fills a small cup like a shot glass, using a stick to push it to Katherine’s side.
In a nod to their combined family history, Katherine remarks that Elena definitely has the Petrova fire. As it turns out, the story of their family history is a long one. Her story however, especially the part related to Klaus, really begins in England in 1492. Katherine tells Elena how she was thrown out of Bulgaria – disowned by her family for having had a baby out of wedlock. Unlike what the book says, the Petrova line did not die out with Katherine; rather it kept on – all the way down to Elena – courtesy of the baby girl, which was kept secret and given up. After being banished to England, Katherine caught the eye of Klaus – a nobleman. In the beginning she liked him, until she found out a) what he was, and b) why he wanted her, so she made a run for it.
In a flashback, we see her running in the dark through the woods. Katherine falls and hides, while in the background we once again see Elijah who has come to hunt her. Along with them is Trevor. When she thinks they’re just far enough away, she turns to run to find Trevor standing before her, alone. He says he can’t distract them for long: Katherine needs to run to the cottage he tells her about and wait there. Which she does.
The reason? Klaus hunted Katerina/Katherine for the same reason he is hunting Elena now: because she is a doppelganger, and therefore the key to breaking the Sun & The Moon curse that binds werewolves and vampires to their respective supernatural fates.
Back at the Salvatore mansion, Damon walks in to find a very tearful Rose still grieving over the loss of Trevor. Ever Captain Sensitive, Damon is narky towards Rose, and continues to scoff at the idea that Klaus is not to be ‘found’, rather, he will find you if he wants to. When he asks her how they initially got in touch with Elijah in order to use him to get Elena to Klaus, Rose tells Damon about her contact in Richmond – a man named Slater. As it’s daylight and she has no protective ring to keep her safe, Damon and Rose leave under her conditions in order to go and meet Slater – they need more answers about Klaus, and he is their only lead at the moment.
Elsewhere at the Grill, Caroline is doing her bestest to keep Stefan occupied. She has been trying to distract him all day from going to find out about Elena, who he has heard went home sick from school, and in all fairness she’s actually doing okay. But then telling a vampire that you’ve just told a newly formed member of the Creatures-That-Can-Kill-Vampires community, that you are in possession of a pair of fangs and a nasty case of blood lust…well, it does the job.
Nerds With Fangs
Having just arrived in Richmond with Damon, Rose pulls into an underground car park, where he decides to get out and pull his ‘Don’t mess with me – I pull werewolf hearts out with my bare hands AND I look good doing it’ act.
But it’s to no avail.
Older and stronger, Rose thumps him face down against the back of the SUV and lets him know she could care less. She is the more powerful one between them, and he needs to stop worrying – he can trust her with this. Either way, CLEARLY some unresolved sexual tension there. What ever shall they do about it?
Upstairs, they find themselves in a vampire friendly café – built with special glass to stop the UV light from getting through. Slater appears, looking sort of like if he wasn’t a member of the undead community, he would fit right in with Sheldon and the Gang over at the Big Bang Theory (cause lets face it – neither group of societal outcasts are really known for their penchant for sunlight). He greets Rose with a hug and Damon with a fangirl-worthy detailed description of his name, rank and turn-date which sort of freaks the elder Salvatore out a bit, I think ;) It’s clear from the outset though – Slater knows who and what he’s talking about when it comes to the Vampire world, even mentioning the tomb curse to Rose in the course of their discussion. They’ve definitely come to the right place.
Meanwhile, back at the tomb, Elena asks Katherine what their blood line has to do with Klaus. Katherine tells her that the curse was bound by the sacrifice of Petrova blood; the Doppelganger was created as a means of breaking the curse.
In another flashback, the moonstone (pesky little gem that it is) finally makes an appearance that gives it a little more context than we have seen before. Katherine finally makes it to the cottage, and after a brief exchange with the old woman who lives there – in which Katerina says she’s been sent by Trevor – a voice from out back says with a wry grumble to let the knocker in. Appearing from the house, it’s Rose – in all her former old school apparel. She realises who Katerina is and ushers her inside, compelling the old woman to go get their guest some food and water. Once inside, Katerina shows Rose the moonstone as proof of who sent her. Rose doesn’t want the risk, though – sent by Trevor or not, she knows what Klaus is capable of and determines that as soon as it’s dark, Rose will return Katerina to Klaus in the hope he’s feeling merciful. When Rose leaves the room to do something, this is all the opportunity Katerina needs for the moment, and tries to kill herself with a knife. When Rose returns and discovers this, she gives the injured girl blood to save her life, knowing also that Klaus will not appreciate a dead Petrova being returned to him. As all of this is going on, Trevor arrives. Despite Rose’s chastising for the young man’s stupid mistake in trying to help the girl escape, one thing is clear: he loves Katerina. It was like watching 1864 Damon all over again in another man’s face. But as they continue to argue outside her door and away from potentially prying ears, Katherine quickly seizes her second and most important opportunity. Hearing the cracking thud in the room behind them, Rose and Trevor rush back into the room, horrified to find Katerina has hung herself – knowing she knew that to meet death with vampire blood in her system would turn her.
Revert to present day, and Elena is gobsmacked at Katherine’s revelation of having committed suicide. Why did she do it? Simple, Katherine says. She knew that as a vampire – Petrova or not – she will be useless to Klaus; being useless meant being able to escape. The fallout of this being that it reveals that Klaus needs a human doppelganger to break the curse. Elena points out the obvious though, saying that in essence she didn’t really escape at all – she’s just been running away for 500 years. In a provocative twist, Katherine offers Elena the same choice having Rose’s blood gave her: nicking her wrist with her nail, she begins to bleed and offers her blood to Elena. Katherine heals quickly though – with a ‘going, going, gone’ the cut disappears and the blood stops, Elena none the more accepting.
When Katherine describes the fallout of her suicide – how she apologised for her part in setting Trevor & Rose up, but ended up with Rose trying to drive a stake through her heart (accidentally killing the old lady instead when Kat uses her for a human shield) – Elena accuses Katherine of not even caring about the damage she did to the lives of Trevor and Rose by implicating them in her escape. She doesn’t deny this, rather saying she was looking out for herself, and that if Elena is wise, she will do the same.
Meanwhile at the Grill, Caroline is running out of ‘oooh shiny’ topics to distract the younger Salvatore with. She asks an incredulous Stefan if he’s mad that she’s spilled the beans to Tyler, and he says yes, in the sense that if Damon finds out she could have put both herself and Tyler at risk. When she sees his worry, Caroline grins and asks Stefan why he is such a good friend to her by looking out for her. Stefan tells Caroline she reminds him of Lexi (*lighters in the air and a minutes silence for a former badass we loved*). Caroline laughs though, at the idea of Stefan having a friend; he tries to leave again, but again she tries to use Tyler as an excuse for them to talk.
Birds Of A Magical Feather
Maybe it’s my Jeremy bias talking. Or maybe it’s my natural dislike for lurky creepy father figures. Either way, when Luka calls Bonnie over to his booth at the Grill – where she’s arrived to meet Jeremy, who’s now perfect and grown up enough for ye olde fan girls like me (at 28) to fancy him – it didn’t sit well. Also in the booth is Dr. Martin, Luka’s father who after approximately two sentences determines that having a surname like Bennett…well, could she possibly be somehow related to the Bennett’s he knew in that Banner Town of Witchcraft, Salem?
Dude, you are about as subtle as a gun.
Thankfully, Bonnie notices this, and sensing a vibe, she pats Luka on the arm – trying to get a vision of his real intentions – and says goodbye, as Jeremy (the hero) has now arrived. Either way, whatever Luka is though, Bonnie senses that there is much more to him – let alone Captain Subtlety, Dr. Martin – than he is letting on.
Betcha Didn’t See That One Coming
Back in Richmond, Damon, Rose and Slater sit discussing how someone might potentially get in touch with Klaus. Carrier pigeon? Secret messages spelled out in his Spaghetti O Negative soup? Nope. As it turns out, it’s through the beauty of Craigslist. Slater says he posted a message which got passed on, then passed on, then passed on, then passed to Elijah. Now that Elijah is dead though…well, there goes that connection.
Y’know, it’s funny. All this stuff hinging on Elijah being dead. Cause as it turns out, he’s not so much. The three co-conspirators sit oblivious as (again, wearing a fabulous suit and sporting a perfect side part) Elijah walks up to a buskers case, throws in a hundred and retrieves all of the coins in change, tossing them idly from hand to hand as he eavesdrops and watches them through the treated glass shopfront from outside.
Elsewhere at the Grill, Jer and Bonnie are hanging out and having a good time as he absolutely thrashes her at pool, when Luka arrives – again – and asks if he can play the winner. As she sits in the nearby booth waiting for her turn, Luka sidles in across from her, and reveals in hushed tones that he’s sorry about his father’s behaviour. Bonnie tells him that she sensed something about him earlier, and – tipping some loose salt on to the table, only to make it float like Bonnie did last season with the feathers – Luka reveals himself for what he is: a warlock. As it turns out, he and his father have moved here and just want to do what they need to do to fit in without being conspicuous for their true nature. Engrossed in this new discovery, Bonnie doesn’t see Jeremy looking over at her and Luka, before he gets the idea and leaves the Grill on his own.
At another table, a now exasperated Stefan has seen through Caroline. He knows she’s been covering and trying to distract him, so this time he asks for the truth, straight up: where is Elena? But Caroline, bless her unbeatin’ heart, sticks to her guns. Stefan tries to play the friend card, saying that if Caroline is the friend to him that she truly professes to be, she’ll spill Elena’s location, but she says no, staying true to her promise to Elena. Stefan stalks out in a hurry.
Theories of Relativity
Back at the tomb, now that the majority of Katherine’s story is out in the open, Elena asks which part is true. But it’s Elena who puts two and two together as to why Katherine came to Mystic Falls to seek her: she wanted to be the one to hand Elena over to Klaus. And then you hear the deafening click click click of all the other pieces of Katherine’s plan falling into place, even if it is too late for her now that she’s in the tomb. The doppelganger is just one part of the recipe of individuals that Klaus needs to break the spell of the sun and the moon. He needs a werewolf, hence her triggering Tyler’s curse once she realised Mason was dead; a witch to do the magic, which for conveniences sake will be Bonnie, because now that Lucy is gone, Bonnie is the only other option; and a vampire. This, Elena realises, is why Katherine killed Caroline. Katherine herself states that in reality it could have been anyone, but she just liked the poetry of Caroline. And then once Katherine had procured all three, she was just going to hand them all over to be killed.
Back in Richmond, Damon and Rose are also learning more about the curse from Slater, including the fact that if the curse is broken by a vampire, the Were- curse will remain alone forever, and vice versa should a werewolf break the curse. As they talk, Elijah listens, and eventually shatters the glass with the coins he has been toying with, sending sunlight streaming into the vamp-filled café with the barest of effort. Inside, vampires begin to burn en masse, Rose included. Slater runs, as the small crowd of hysterical vampires scatter in pain and frenzy. Damon – fine because of his ring – rescues Rose by sheltering her with his jacket, and runs her down into the underground car park where he puts her swiftly in the back of the blacked out SUV. He tells her she’ll be okay, but Rose is hysterical. She says it’s Klaus, and that as of right now they’re all dead; the words tumble out of her in sobs. Clearly freaked but still managing to hold his nerve, Damon shuts her in the car and gets going.
Secret Lives of Us
Having deduced where she is, Stefan arrives at the tomb, only to find that Elena has already done what she came to do. When he asks her why she wanted Caroline to distract him, Elena says because she knew he’d try to stop her. Still, Stefan says, Katherine’s a liar. She cannot be trusted. Katherine tells Stefan that there’s nothing he can do for Elena. How does she know? Why, she says to Elena. She hasn’t even gotten to the best part of her story yet.
As we flash back to Bulgaria, we see Katherine arriving on horse back at night to her family home. Seeing the bodies strewn outside in the dark, she rushes in to discover that her whole family has been massacred. Her father is pinned to the wall with a sword, while her sister lies dead by the bed. But it is her mother, who lays flung across the bed her daughter had only given birth upon some two years before, that splits Katerina’s now unbeating heart to pieces. Weeping, she grieves over the body of the mother she loved, knowing that Klaus has slaughtered them all in vengeance for her having run from him.
Whatever you do to escape, Katherine tells Stefan and Elena, Klaus will have vengeance. Stefan however tells Elena not to listen, and when Katherine produces the moonstone he says ‘there’s the hook’, the thing she would try to use to barter her way to freedom. Walking up to the door or the cursed tomb, Stefan looks Katherine in the eye and calls her a manipulative, psychotic bitch. He says she’d do or say anything to get out, but here’s the brilliant twist: Katherine says this isn’t the case at all. She doesn’t want to escape, because if and when Klaus arrives to take Elena for himself, he will wreak destruction on anything and everything else, but still, he won’t dare enter the tomb that he knows will entrap him forever. Katherine smiles and begins to retreat into the darkness, saying she will be the only safe manipulative, psychotic bitch in town.
Well. Stick THAT in your pipe and smoke it, as they say!
A Girl By Any Other Name
Back at the Salvatore mansion, Damon sits in the living room, drinking the devils of the day away. Now I don’t know about you, but ever since his erased and heartfelt confessional to Elena in the previous ep, I’ll be honest: I’ve been well and truly under the Damon Spell. If he were, as they say, a phone, I would pick the boy up and dial him faster than you can say DASHING.
But ultimately, I think the appeal now of this character is that you do actually care for him, and want to see him cared for as well at some point, in some way. So when Rose wanders in quietly, having recovered from her earlier blistering exposure to sunlight, and apologises to Damon for what happened that day, you can’t help but think that the pair of them could use a little something other than watching the people they love die, turn or choose someone else.
As they share a drink by the fire, she says also that she wishes they could save Elena. Defiant, he says he will. The way he acts, Rose says, reminds her of Trevor. That on the outside he talked big and was all about the epics plans, however bloodthirsty, but that on the inside, he really was the best friend anyone could have. Ultimately though, good as that is, it was being that kind of person that lead to his death, also noting that her loyalty to Trevor almost killed her too.
This in mind, she says Damon is right to fight his love for Elena, because she sees now that the only way they will survive is by not caring about others – the unsaid part of that sentence being ‘enough to give up their lives for them’. She says they need to switch off their emotions, something he says he’ll do if she will, knowing where she is leading him. She places her glass down and he goes to her, kissing her as though doing so is the only thing that will stop him from going mad. In the same way, she kisses him back.
Now home, the woman he truly loves – Elena – arrives hysterical on her front porch, with a tortured Stefan by her side. She was determined. She wanted to know the truth and got it; as such, she knows now, she can’t blame anyone but herself for the danger the people she loves are in. It’s not because Stefan came there and brought his world into hers, or because of anyone else. It’s her, her fault, she cries, as Stefan gathers her up like his life depends on not letting her go.
Meanwhile, the woman at the heart of all of this grief sits reading the family history book Elena gave to her earlier that day. As she turns the pages, she comes across a drawing of her family, and in the privacy of her solitude, Katerina Petrova grieves anew the loss of the people she loves.
Back at the Salvatore house, Rose and Damon lay beside the fire. The switch off of emotion they had spoken of earlier? It’s a lie, says Rose. But just as they are about to discuss things further, a call comes in on her cell. It’s Slater, who tells her in a nervous and somewhat stilted voice that he wants out of whatever they’re planning, but still did some digging. He says they need the moonstone to break the curse, and asks if they can get it – Damon hears, and nods that they can. Slater also tells her they’ll need a witch, and says a final good luck.
Luck, it would appear, Slater himself was more in need of.
Ending the call, he turns to face his company. Elijah stands before him, and somehow compelling him to do his bidding, despite Slater being a vampire as well. The ill fated student asks how Elijah can do this, but Elijah just says he’s special. And, handing Slater a stake, Elijah compels Slater further to drive it into his heart.
As he sinks to the floor a weirdly familiar voice asks if that was really necessary; Dr Martin comes out to stand beside Elijah, looking down at the fresh body on the floor. The ancient vampire nods: Slater’s job was to bait.
Confident that it’s been taken, he’s sure: it won’t be long now.
When not working, shopping, tweeting or trying to find her house keys, Erin Brown is a writer and blogger based in Sydney, Australia. She loves rain, thunderstorms; brooding vampires, reading, Coldplay, Bill Shakespeare, winter, red wine, killer heels, everything Bruce Springsteen, and has a clinically-proven penchant for chocolate, the supernatural and action movies. For more of her writing, you can visit her website @ www.mythconception.wordpress.com. If you’ve lost her, your best bet is to look in Borders or the shoe section.