"Memory Lane," a.k.a. "Retcon Road," is a busy little episode. The A-plot takes place between Katherine and Stefan. First she vamp-mojos her way into his dream, where she causes him to see himself with her at the 1864 Founders Ball, and to watch modern-day Damon and Elena fall in love. Stefan wakes with a start to find Elena right by his side, but oops, it's Katherine. He figures it out soon enough and most of their present-day storyline consists of Stefan tricking Katherine, poisoning her with a vervain dart, locking her up in the Mossy Manse Dungeon, and asking her why she's back, only to hear over and over again, "You, Stefan." We're also treated to Katherine's perspective on her flirtation with the Brothers Salvatore. She says she never compelled Stefan to love her, only not to fear her once he learned her true nature. She says they were the real deal and in flashbacks, we're led to believe she maybe didn't sleep with Damon after the ball. We also learn that Katherine cut a deal with werewolf George Lockwood back in 1864. If he will lock up the 27 vampires in town, burn them to death and make it look like Katherine died too, she'll do him a favor in return. Stefan doesn't learn what that favor is, but we do, once we flashback to Katherine giving him a moonstone, the very one Tyler has today -- the one Mason so desperately wants to find.
Tyler uses the moonstone as leverage over Mason to find out details of the Lockwood's werwolf curse, but it takes the whole episode for Mason to spill, because he's afraid Ty will never get it out of his mind. Here's the deal: once an accursed one takes a human life, the curse activates and the beast within emerges.
Katherine has so much free time with Stefan because she sent Caroline to occupy Elena. The girls ride it out at the Contrivance Cookout hosted by Aunt Jenna. Alaric, Damon and Mason are the only guests, other than the girls. Damon splits his time between trying to get back into Jenna's good graces, and rubbing his obvious dog/wolf puns in Mason's face.
Elena and Caroline spend their time away from the crew for the entire boring event. When Stefan fails to show and won't answer his phone, Elena gets worried and wants to track him down. Caroline offers to drive and uses their time in the car together to be terribly mean (if rather truthful) about Stefan and Elena's chances for a long-lasting relationship. She also lets the air out of one of her own tires, so that they'll never make it to Mossy Manse. Once the tow truck driver shows up, Elena walks the rest of the distance, leaving Caroline to face temptation and fear repercussions from Katherine for failing at her assignment.
At Mossy Manse, Katherine, who has spent a century and a half building up a tolerance to vervain, is able to overcome Stefan and free herself. She also makes it quite clear that if he doesn't stay away from Elena, she'll kill everyone Elena loves and then the girl herself. When Elena shows up, she runs into Katherine first, who appears blind because the split-screen technique they used in this scene is laughably bad. Did they have a four-year-old standing in for Elena when the camera was on Katherine? Her sightline is like Mary Ingalls' -- after the blindness.
Stefan and Elena appear to break up publicly, at the Grill. Caroline overhears and thinks her mission is a success. Damon overhears and is intrigued. But back at Gilbert Gables, Stefan meets up with Elena in her room and they confirm what I saw coming for probably the last 15 minutes. It was all a fake-out.
In other news, Damon continues to suck at trying to kill people, and with this latest failed murder attempt, he has made a new enemy who might actually present him with a challenge: Mason Lockwood.
So, what do you think about this one? I like the story well enough, but there were moments I'm still chewing over. I'm holding my episode grade until I send in my full weecap. Don't wait for me. Please grade the episode right up top, there. I want your perspective.
I'll be back ASAP with the full weecap. In the meantime, join us on our forum, where the barbecues are way more fun than Jenna's.
See what vloggers Val and Beth think of vampires who prefer high school girls below, in TV is the Answer.
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"Memory Lane" is a provocative episode full of sharp dialogue, lies, betrayal, secrets, threats and violence. The acting (particularly Nina Dobrev's execution of dual roles) deserves a standing ovation, and "Memory Lane" is a rich story. Arguably A+ work, yes? And yet I'm only giving it a B-. How? What? Why? Well, where it suffers is in the telling. Here, let me show you...
Previously, on The Vampire Diaries: Stefan has to get to know Elena. Elena learns Stefan is a vampire. Stefan and Katherine meet for the first time since the 1800s. Stefan tells Katherine he was never in love with her. Mason "Brick House" Lockwood arrives in Mystic Falls and is particularly interested in locating a family heirloom -- a moonstone. Tyler finds the moonstone, but doesn't turn it over to his uncle. Thanks to Damon's prompting and Alaric's help, the gang figures out the Lockwoods' secret: they're under a werewolf curse. Ty, too, realizes Mason is a werewolf. Damon feeds Caroline his blood to save her life. Katherine smothers Caroline in her hospital bed, which kills her/turns her into a vampire. Katherine convinces Caroline to be her minion.
Now: We begin with a flashback, so perhaps my "now" is overstated. The chyron reads: "Lockwood Mansion, 1864." Stefan and Katherine, delectable in their period attire, dance and flirt. When Stefan looks across the ballroom at his brother, he finds him cozying up to Elena Gilbert, who is in modern day street clothes on account of being a modern-day woman and all around hip chick. So... this is a dream. That's all well and good, except it's a DREAM that opened with a damned CHYRON informing us we're at the "Lockwood Mansion, 1864." Either Stefan's subconscious is even freakier than we imagined, or that chyron is misleading, and not in the "What clever misdirection" sense, but in "that's ridiculously unnecessary" sense. I am so not one of those "I called it" people, mainly because (and witness my Lost recaps) I'm always calling things wrong, and yet I now know how the rest of the cold open is going to play out. That is annoying -- almost as annoying as a chyron in a dream sequence. Okay, it's not even close to that annoying. Who puts a chyron in a dream sequence? I'll tell you who -- people who think their audience is full of idiots who couldn't otherwise suss out (from the period clothing, intentionally blurry cinematography, and sudden switch to modern surroundings and costume incongruity) that they were watching a dream sequence. Please don't talk down to us, Show. We don't need that, and you're better than that.