In 1953, Damon returns to the then-Salvatore Boarding House. Joseph Salvatore welcomes him home with a vervain injection, so Damon thanks him with a glass to the carotid. As Joseph dies, Dr. Whitmore (we learn his name later) appears and rejoices in the fact that now he doesn't have to pay his pawn. He injects Damon with more vervain, and experiments on him and keeps him for at least five years. The only thing that helps Damon is the friendship he cultivates with a vampire named Enzo. Patsy Cline's "Walkin' After Midnight" plays over their scene and makes me forget which show I'm covering. Regardless, Enzo teaches Damon to keep his eyes on the prize and that prize is revenge. Focusing on pretty girls is not the worst way to forget your worries. Enzo even gives himself up to Whitmore's torture in Damon's place.
Presently, Damon wakes up in the Whitmore dungeon. Dr. Maxfield injects him with more vervain to keep him calm. Damon asks why he's there. Maxfield says, "I lost a test subject last night and you're going to replace him." He brags about how he's trained Augustine vampires to crave vampire blood rather than human blood. Now he's ready to take it to the next level.
Elena catches up with Aaron. She mentions that it's weird that both Jesse and Megan killed themselves before the term was up. She admits she's found Megan's body. "She was murdered and Wes [Maxfield] forged her death certificate." He's part of something much bigger. Aaron says he needs to hear Wes's side of the story. Thanks to Aaron, Elena gets an invite into Whitmore House. He's Aaron Whitmore and inherited a huge trust when his folks died.
Elena notices a faculty photo in the Whitmore House foyer and identifies her father. Maxfield appears, sings Grayson's praises and then injects vervain into Elena's neck. While Elena is passed out, Maxfield admits to Aaron that he studies vampires and his work has been going on for generations. The Whitmores pioneered it. By way of disclosure, Maxfield hands Aaron a huge dossier.
Meanwhile, Elena wakes up in the Whitmore dungeon in the cell next to Damon. She's trying to deal with how her father could have been part of this society. Damon promises to get her out of there. Elena is optimistic that Stefan will save them, at least until Damon admits he never told his brother what happened there.
Damon is afraid Elena will judge him once she learns what he did to escape. She assures him she loves him. Following his plan with Enzo, Enzo drank only enough of his rations to prevent desiccation, while Damon drank the lion's share. In 1958, Dr. Whitmore uses Damon as a display at one of his secret society parties, but Damon has been well fed. He attacks Whitmore. The partygoers flee. Well, Damon feeds on some of them first -- but you get the picture. Damon tries to save Enzo, but he can't. Vervain and fire are to blame. Damon flicks off his humanity switch, flees and lives with his regret ever after. Elena lets this all sink in.
Back in Mystic Falls, Katherine has summoned Caroline to help Stefan deal with his PTSD. Caroline shows up with Stefan's summer home, i.e. the safe. There's bitchery about what Elena had to do versus what she thought she had to do. And then Caroline, the drama major, pretends she's a Psychology major. She locks poor Stefan up in the safe, and then rifles through her textbooks for information on Prolonged Exposure Therapy. Katherine decides that while Stefan can't always come through for himself, he always comes through for someone else. While Stefan is unconscious, Caroline locks Human Katherine in the safe with him. Stefan says he can't be in there with her. Katherine says, "You're Stefan Salvatore. Suck it up." Katherine tries to bring him back to the present and get him the hell over Elena. And so say all of us. Other stuff happens, but their scenes end in smoochies.
The episode ends with Stefan mostly cured, and Aaron rescuing Damon and Elena. Well, "rescuing" might be an oversell. He has a loaded gun and isn't afraid to use it. Aaron is ready to take out Elena as the vamp who (couldn't have) killed his parents. Damon admits, "That was all me." Damon says that in 1958, after the fire, Enzo was dead. Damon flew Air Revenge solo for generations of Whitmores. Aaron asks how many Whitmores he's killed. Damon says he's lost count. Elena demands to know when he killed the last one. Damon says, "It was a few months ago. Her name was Sarah. I had to go all the way to Charleston to find her. It was a weekend trip." Elena realizes Damon undertook this revenge mission during the summer of their lives. "I had no idea." Damon says, "I told you it wasn't pretty." Aaron fires his gun and shoots Damon, who falls. Elena screams out, "No!" Later she wakes in a lab, next to Enzo.
I'm finishing one of the worst, non-deadly weeks of my life. If I screwed up anything, I heartfully apologize. I just want to go to bed. I'll be back with the recap, ASAP. In the meantime, please grade the episode at the top of the page, and then come on over to the forum, where we go out walkin', after midnight.
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I'm not sure when I flipped my switch, but I know it was because of "The Cell," specifically Damon's revelations. Oh, I don't care what he did to Enzo in the 1950s. Damon did what he had to do to survive -- what he had to do, that is, once the script stipulated that Damon would be too stupid to grab the keys off Dr. Whitmore's corpse and set Enzo free.
I do care, however, about Damon's revenge-inspired murder of Sarah Whitmore -- a murder we now know took place this past summer, i.e. Damon and Elena's supposedly perfect summer. I won't pretend it is out of character for Damon to perpetrate a decades' long revenge campaign. This is the sucker who waited a century and a half for a comet so he could rescue Katherine from desiccating in the old tomb. Damon has stick-to-it-iveness. I can't argue with that, Show.
Even surrounded as he is by moral relativists, Damon morals are arguably more relativistic than those of any other member of the Fellowship of the Falls. I get that while Damon will try to act nobly or at least ethically, where Stefan or Elena are concerned (or where those who matter to Stefan and Elena are concerned), he doesn't give a damn about how he treats anyone who doesn't matter to him or his pet Velveteen Rabbits. Fair enough.
My objection lies in this: Damon cares terribly about how Elena sees him. He knows her to be less of a relativist than he is -- at least in the abstract. He's spent the better part of this season (and last) struggling (often against himself) to do whatever it takes to be good to and for Elena. And he's spent the better part of the last few seasons (particularly once Klaus grabbed Stefan and sent him off into Ripperdom) trying to be better overall.
Now we find out that during their personal summer of love, Damon left Elena for a weekend in Charleston (or took her with him and snuck away), where he murdered an utter stranger -- one who probably hadn't even been born at the time that the Dr. Whitmore used Damon in his Augustine Vampire experiments. The Damon I thought I'd come to know over 4+ seasons of intense coverage, would not have given a damn about murdering someone who was so far removed from the person who hurt him, particularly since the person who hurt him has been dead for more than half a century -- at least not while he was happily in requited love with Elena.Now, had Elena spurned him for a half a moment all bets would be off; but for eight prior episodes, we've heard how it was the summer of their lives. That's why they forgot to worry about Stefan's protracted silence. Are you telling me Damon's generations removed vengeance quest is more important to him than Stefan? Balderdash. I mean, I guess it's true of this Damon, but if that's the case this is not the Damon I thought I'd come to know.