'The Vampire Diaries' recap: The Howling

I once read that if you don't originally like someone, but then you grow to, you'll actually like them more than you would have if you'd liked them from the start. It's because you feel guilty. I've privately dubbed this the Vincent D'Onofrio Effect in honor of the years it took me to finally watch him on Law & Order: Criminal Intent after being traumatized by The Cell. I think that guilt is part of the reason why Tyler's torturous transformation in this episode was so effective. We all thought he was a verbally and physically abusive douche in season 1, and it turns out, he doesn't want to feel that aggression at all. If you've listened to our latest TV Insiders podcast (in which Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec call in to discuss the episode, as well as the companion series they're developing), you know that I watched this midseason finale with Dalton Ross and Annie Barrett, clutching a pillow and alternately shouting at the TV and whimpering.

This was Michael Trevino's episode to shine, and he seized the opportunity. Seeing him with tears in his eyes guts me. I wasn't sure if he was saying "I'm sorry" to Caroline because he'd snapped (verbally) at her during his violent reaction to drinking the wolfsbaned water (now a verb!), or because he was sorry he was putting her through the pain of watching him. And when his right arm hit that bone-breaking angle and he cried out "It hurts, it hurts," I was torn between praying for the scene to end and praying for it to continue. No one from the show was lying when they said this was going to be a long, brutal process. They really went there.

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