The Vampire Diaries Review: Game. On.

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Elena: What happened?
Damon: Katherine happened.

On "The Return," viewers were welcomed back to Mystic Falls with a slow three-quarters of an episode, as the show caught us up on events from the finale, moved pieces and characters around and laid the groundwork for what was to come.

And what, exactly, was to come? The same fast-paced, action-packed, oh-no-that-didn't-just-happen-did-it?!? twists and turns that made this the best new show on television last year.

Come to Me!

We must, of course, start with Katherine. Nina Dobrev seems like an entirely different person when she blows out her hair, dons this character's tight, black clothing and scowls in a manner of which Elena simply isn't capable.

But while Elena and her doppelganger vary in their fashion choices, facial expressions and overall outlook on life, they remain similar in one vital manner: both are in love with Stefan. And this revelation was enough to drive Damon over the edge.

We praised Ian Somerhalder's work every week on season one, but it must be highlighted again. I personally didn't believe Katherine's cutting words ("I never loved you. It was always Stefan."). She's clearly up to something. But Damon believed them, and that's what matters here - and, man, did Somerhalder sell his character's pain well.

I'd also be driven to drink if the woman I loved and and obsessed over for 145 years showed up, flirted with me, teased me with some (HOT!) foreplay, and then dropped that bomb on me.

But the alcohol at least helped Damon confront Elena over a truth fans have known all along: there's something between these two. She's lying to herself by denying it. Of course, that's no excuse for snapping Jeremy's neck, D. That was simply cruel.

In many ways, we're now back to where we were a year ago: Elena hates Damon and Damon is intent on not caring about anyone or anything. There's a dangerous difference this time, though: before, Damon held out hope for Katherine. He had a mission in life, it even gave him a certain wit and charm. But now? A vampire with an eternity of nothing to live for is a creature that has no reason to hold back. Look out, Mystic Falls.

Other thoughts/questions/observations:

  • Anyone else notice a glint in Stefan's eye when Katherine reminded him of how she plays her games, with "no rules?" There are still feelings there. Elena might not be the only one lying to themselves.
  • I need a reminder on how humans get turned: Caroline had Damon's blood in her when Katherine suffocated her, right? Does this mean she'll awaken as a vampire? That would be hard to imagine. She'll hate getting blood on her fashionable clothing.
  • Mason is a werewolf who has learned how to channel his primal rage and urges? Hmmm... did he and Stefan go to the same supernatural university? Wonder if they took the same courses there.
  • "She'll try to break us, and how we respond to that will define us." Great speech by Stefan to her brother. Too bad the pep talk didn't have much affect by the end of the episode.
  • So, why is Katherine actually back? It's too early to say. But I can't wait to find out.

Catch up on our favorite Vampire Diaries quotes now, return to TV Fanatic tomorrow for a Round Table discussion and sound off: WHAT DID YOU THINK?

The Return Review

Editor Rating: 4.2 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.9 / 5.0 (350 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.

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The Vampire Diaries Season 2 Episode 1 Quotes

He kissed Katherine, not me. I wouldn't do that.

Elena [to Stefan]

Katherine wants you dead, there's zero you can do about it. You will be dead.