Tonight’s episode proved that the producers of The Vampire Diaries know exactly who their key demographic is, and they are not above pandering to it. “Daddy Issues” started and ended with a naked Damon in the shower and in a bubble bath, respectively, giving teen girls everywhere enough eye candy to last them until…well, next week’s episode.
Meaningless nudity aside, this week’s episode should be renamed “Showdowns” as there seemed to be an endless amount of them. First we started with Tyler confronting Caroline about the truth behind his Uncle Mason’s disappearance. She admits to knowing that Stefan and Damon killed Mason, and Tyler shoves her against her car before walking away. Looks like Jules succeeded in convincing Tyler all vampires are bad.
The next showdown we see is between Elena and Uncle John in her kitchen. She still hasn’t managed to get any information out of him and he refuses to reveal anything until he knows he can trust her. He throws this line around a lot in this episode to a bunch of different people, so much so that is sounds almost rehearsed. It’s clear Uncle John has not changed, no matter how good he is trying to appear. Exhibit A: Jenna walks into the kitchen to find John there for the first time, and surprise, doesn’t even begin to cover the emotions she’s feeling. He oh so sensitively (note the sarcasm) drops the bomb on Jenna that he’s actually Elena’s biological father, something Elena had been meaning to tell Jenna — in a nicer fashion of course — but had yet to do. I sense that another showdown may be coming soon between Jenna and John. They are certainly not each other’s biggest fans.
The next scene is a cross-cut between Stefan and Caroline and Jules and Tyler, each trying to persuade their younger proteges to follow their way of life: Stefan advocating for peace between vampires and werewolves, and Jules advocating for the complete annihilation of vampires. The only person needing to be convinced is Tyler, however, as the other three are already set in their ways, especially Jules, who is hardcore prejudiced against the vampire species — I guess that makes her specist?
Damon shows up at Elena’s house looking for a showdown with John (presumably ending with John’s murder) but Elena catches him before anything can happen. She wants to find out what information he has first, but she still doesn’t trust him.
At the town’s memorial service for all the citizens who died so tragically over the past year (pretty much Stefan and Damon’s fault for coming back to Mystic Falls…oops), Bonnie has a showdown with Jonas, Luca’s father, about them deceiving her about working with Elijah. Jeremy notices their conversation growing heated and comes to her rescue with a casual arm thrown over her shoulder. Um, did I miss something? The last we saw of these two Bonnie had blatantly rejected Jeremy. Clearly we are missing some back story here.
Jenna brings up a very good point to Alaric at the grill: Elena has some weird-ass family ties to her. Jenna’s sister’s husband’s brother is Elena’s father, and Jenna’s boyfriend’s deceased (but actually vampire) girlfriend is her mother. Imagine what that family tree would look like. And then we cut to another showdown, long overdue, between John and Damon. John spits out the same “trust” line he’s feeding everyone and promises to share Isobel’s findings with everyone once he feels sure he can trust them. It must be some good intel, or else he’s going to pay dearly for making Damon wait.
The next showdown: Stefan vs. Tyler. Caroline told Stefan that Tyler found out about Mason’s death and the existence of more vampires in Mystic Falls, and Stefan just wanted to do some damage control. Unfortunately, he only caused more damage as Tyler alerted Jules that he was in Stefan’s custody, leading Jules and new werewolf Brady to capture Caroline. They stick her in a cage and keep shooting her with wooden bullets and spraying her with vervain, the vampire’s equivalent of torture. Jules calls Stefan and gives him 20 minutes to trade Tyler for Caroline, or Caroline dies. Tyler hears Caroline’s screams through the phone, and let’s all hope he starts to get some second thoughts. Otherwise, that is one cold dude.
Stefan shows up with Tyler at Jules’ trailer, trying to avoid another showdown. Damon complicates things a bit when he shows up, freely admitting to killing Mason. Jules brings out the ace in her sleeve: She has a whole posse of werewolves, all armed with wooden weapons. Damon loses some of his snark when Stefan admits that they can’t take all those wolves, even though it’s not even a full moon. They let Tyler go and a battle ensues, with some pretty sick action shots. Tyler frees Caroline from her cage, but Stefan gets staked in the back, Damon gets shot with a wooden bullet, Caroline gets caught again, and Tyler just freezes and does nothing. All of a sudden, Jonas appears out of nowhere, working some magic on the wolves so they all faint, in his act to uphold Elijah’s promise that none of Elena’s friends would get hurt. The vampires leave, a little worn and torn but alive. Tyler is told to warn his wolf friends to leave town, and now he really doesn’t know which side he’s on.
Stefan walks Caroline home, and am I starting to detect some flirtation between them? That is not OK. These characters are way too incestuous, with love triangles all over the place. I really hope that is just my imagination. Matt calls Caroline after she forgets to meet him at the grill, and she tells him she’s with Bonnie, who Matt sees is clearly at the grill with Jeremy (on a date? What?). This doesn’t look too good for Matt and Caroline. At least we don’t need to worry about Tyler and Caroline anymore, because when he shows up to apologize for what Jules did she shows him just how big a mistake he made when he sided against her. They are no longer friends, or even allies. He has no choice but to side with the wolves now.
John finally reveals to Damon the secret he’s been holding on to this whole episode: The truth on how to kill an original vampire, also known as this season’s baddie Klaus. All you have to do is dip a dagger in ash and plunge it into their heart. And apparently, Isobel is also taking some steps to ensure Klaus never steps foot in Mystic Falls. I wonder what she has against the curse being broken? John then takes a visit to the tomb to visit Katherine, and promises her he is working on a way to get her out of there. I knew he wasn’t the good guy he was pretending to be, as Katherine unleashed on Mystic Falls only means way more murder and manipulation…
And we come full circle at the end of the episode, with Damon naked in a bathtub with a news reporter Jenna had tried to set him up with at the grill earlier. He had brushed her off then but booty calls her later. He has another existential conversation mostly with himself about Elena’s everlasting belief in his goodness, and just like last week’s unfortunate girl, the news reporter is dead within minutes. Clearly, Damon is going to make a move soon on Elena, as this whole random girl being murdered just so Damon can have a drunken soliloquy about loving Elena plot is getting kind of stale.
“Kill him.” — Damon
“I’m joking! …OK, I’m not.” — Damon
“Would you have let me in otherwise?” — Stefan
“But stupid’s so much more fun!” — Damon