With "Family Ties," The Vampire Diaries delivered a slower entry designed to build up its characters (new and old) before, no doubt, returning to murder, revelations and football in upcoming episodes.
To say the episode was slow is not to say it was without surprises. The last quarter of the story featured two twists on top of one another. One of these story turns I saw coming, and the other completely surprised me while leaving this episode with a great aftertaste. More on that later.
What We Learned
The town believes they've caught and killed what's been ripping apart their friends and neighbors. Who do they think was the culprit? A 12-foot puma.
Aunt Jenna left Mystic Falls for a period of time because her relationship with now-local newscaster Logan Fell went south. Why? "Her name was Monica, wasn't it?"
The herb Stefan put in the necklace he gave to Elena in "Friday Night Bites" is called vervain. If only he had it in larger amounts, he might be able to beat Damon without feeding on human blood. Unfortunately, long ago Damon acted as the vervain DEA and made sure the herb could no longer grow in the town of Mystic Falls.
Zack has been growing vervain in the basement. Somebody's been preparing for Damon's return.
Damon doesn't care for Twilight and Caroline wonders why he doesn't sparkle in the sunlight.
Caroline's Mom is the sheriff and her father is in Memphis...with Stephen.
Bonnie's not only psychic. She's a...fire starter?
Aunt Jenna likes cheese fries.
Supposedly, Damon hid a crystal inside a chest long ago. At The Founder's Party, he retrieves this long-lost and probably powerful item. At episode's end, Caroline is in possession of the crystal.
Ty's parents, Caroline's mom, and even nice newscaster Logan seem to be making like the parents on Elm Street and are taking the fate of Mystic Falls into their own hands. After five bodies have been drained of all blood, the group is positive that "they've come back." Not only that, but the group needs a Gilbert family heirloom - a pocket watch currently in the possession of Jeremy. Logan volunteers to get it.
It was really smart of Williamson and Plec to tackle the Twilight issue head on. It might have seemed like such a little plot point, but making Twilight a pop culture phenomenon in the world of The Vampire Diaries goes a long way in separating the two stories even further than they all ready are. Plus, funny is funny.
The final revelation was a genuine surprise. It left me wanting more and that's a good thing. The world and characters of The Vampire Diaries continue to grow exponentially each week. Think about all we've learned in just four episodes. This story is about so much more than sibling rivalry.
Is Elena right about Stefan being too secretive, or has all that been implanted in her mind by Damon? Has Stefan earned Elena's trust, or should he open up if he really cares about her so much?
Lost fans: Did anyone notice a serious Jacob/Man-in-Black vibe in the Salvatore brothers' beef? I'm not sure they can't kill each other, like it seems the original island inhabitants are prohibited from doing so, but they definitely have the age old war thing in common.
Did seeing Ty's family life make him more likable to you?
Do you think Elena's parents once aligned with the group we saw at episode's end?
Great Lines and Moments
Damon: Bad dream? You know how easy it was to get in your head just now? You really need some human blood. It might even the playing field. Football reference! Too soon?
Damon: Some girls just can't resist my good looks, my style, my charm and my unflinching ability to listen to Taylor Swift.
Damon: This is John Varvatos, dude. Dick move.
The creepy, yet oddly sweet scene between Caroline and Damon where they flirted while talking about when Damon will kill her.
Reading Stefan's textbook.
Damon: Boy, this country has dumbed down the last 100 years.
Damon: I'm not some drunk sorority chick. You can't Roofie me.
Damon explaining what his "therapist" thinks of his relationship with Stefan.
Caroline: They look so cute together.
Damon: Don't talk, please.
Don't miss the next episode "You're Undead to Me" on The CW.