Poor little vampire who nobody loves, what nasty secret are you hiding? With Katherine's (Nina Dobrev) return, she brought a few new tricks to unleash upon Elena (Nina Dobrev), Stefan (Paul Wesley) and Damon (Ian Somerhalder). After all, forewarned is forearmed, and the last time Katherine came across the Salvatore Brothers, she under estimated the power Elena had over them. This time, Katherine did not ignore that critical factor and worked hard to create a crack in Stefan and Elena's relationship. She needed to find a way to loosen Elena's grip over Stefan's heart.
However, Katherine is foolishly disregarding Damon. Katherine may still view him as a simple boy that she can play with and cast aside, but Damon has had over a century to learn a few tricks of his own. He may have been naive enough to believe that Katherine was waiting for him to rescue her, but now that he knows that she never once loved him and still does not want him, Damon will seize the first chance he gets to take her down. For now, he is content to let her tip her hand so he can see what she is up to and to see if she will push Elena in his direction. Damon can afford to wait. After all, he has learned that he is a patient man when it comes to love.
As for Stefan, after awakening to find Katherine posing as Elena in his bed and discovering that she had been manipulating his dreams, he wanted to get a measure of control over Katherine. Yet, Stefan too is still naive about just what Katherine is capable of. She let herself be chained in the dungeon and faked being tortured by vervain just to toy with him. Yet, with each round, Stefan learns a bit more about his opponent. It is like chess. Each move reveals something about the player. Katherine may not realize that each time she comes back, she gives away another clue to the puzzle. Let's just hope that Damon and Stefan are better at strategic board games than they are in affairs of the heart.
This is especially true now that there is an errant knight on the board. Damon provoked Mason Lockwood (Taylor Kinney) when he stabbed him with the silver knife, and the battle lines are being drawn. Mason may have thought they could all live in peace and not pick up where their ancestors left off, but Damon does not want to live with a potentially lethal neighbor nearby. Between the town council and Katherine, he has enough enemies at his door. Plus, as Mason admitted, he cannot control himself during a full moon. He may not mean to attack, but he will.
Then there is the little lost pawn -- Caroline (Candice Accola). Coerced by Katherine to do her bidding, Caroline has not yet learned that as a vampire, she does not need to be afraid. Katherine is the one who should be watching her back -- after all, everyone wants Katherine dead. It is about time Katherine started making friends and not more enemies.
The discovery that Katherine can enter a person's dreams and manipulate them is intriguing. She can not only command their conscious mind, but she can also control a person's subconscious mind as well -- and vampires are vulnerable too subconscious manipulation as well. Why would a vampire be able to withstand conscious manipulation, yet not when they are asleep? Imagine the fun that could be had if someone did that to Katherine when she was asleep. Payback can be a bitch.
Analyzing the dream, it would appear that Stefan's ultimate nightmare is Katherine. As she whispered: "We'll be together again. I promise," you could just about feel Stefan's skin crawling. Add that to the vision of Damon leaving with Elena, while Stefan was left behind -- stuck with Katherine -- Stefan was terrified. Is that Stefan's greatest fear -- that he will be the one stuck with the dead vampire, while Damon gets the real girl? When you think about it, Katherine was never real. She was always only an illusion. She can't be real. She was never real or even human when Stefan knew her. She has always been just a creature of the night that cannot truly love and be loved. Katherine had given up her humanity long ago. Whereas, Stefan clung to his humanity and Damon has a glimmer of it left. How much of the dream was Stefan's and how much was Katherine messing with his mind is not clear, but it gave great insight into both their fears.
Then, while Elena may still not be asking all the right questions, Katherine certainly had a few. When she asked Stefan, "Why did you keep this picture?," it was the question that everyone should have been asking all along. She then quietly noted: "You want to know why I came back? I have a better one: why did you? ... You came back to fall in love with me all over again, didn't you?"
Katherine is a master manipulator, but after seeing her road trip down memory lane, one wonders if she is manipulating herself as well. Her stubborn insistence: "I never compelled your love. It was real, and so was mine," smacks of someone desperate to believe something was real. But what kind of love vanishes for 165 years? Love is patient, but it is doubtful that it is that patient.
It was a great reveal when Stefan got Katherine to begrudgingly confess that she faked her own death in the church fire because someone or something was after her. Aren't we all just dying to know what terrifies Katherine so much that she faked her death, killed 26 of her closest friends and abandoned the man she loves for over 165 years?
One of the better light moments of the episode was when Damon playfully said, "I always pegged you for a lone wolf" and Mason pointedly replied, "Well, I'm sure I was not half the lady killer you were."
With lines like, "Let's not spark some age old feud that doesn't apply to us ... Let's be above this," Mason is fast becoming the true hero of Mystic Falls.
Another great zinger was when Katherine warned Damon: "Don't try to be the hero, Damon. You'll end up dead." To which Damon merely quipped: "Been there. Done that. At least this time, it will be worth it." Ouch. Yep, Damon is definitely moving on and he will be a formidable foe once he figures out exactly how to destroy Katherine.
What Didn't Work
A barbeque at the Gilbert residence and neither Bonnie (Katerina Graham) nor Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen) made an appearance? Their absence was not even noted, let alone explained. The complete absence was a gaping hole in the plausibility of the entire event. Was it even real? Imagine if that too were a dream manipulation.
Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due
"The Vampire Diaries" stars Paul Wesley, Nina Dobrev, Ian Somerhalder, Steven R. McQueen, Candice Accola, Katerina Graham, Michael Trevino, Zach Roerig, Sara Canning, Matt Davis. "Memory Lane" was written by Caroline Dries and was directed by Rob Hardie.
"The Vampire Diaries" airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.
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