Oh my goodness. Just when I thought Damon Salvatore’s whole bad-boy-with-just-enough-good-to-make-you-think-maybe-we-shouldn’t-stake-him thing was the hottest act since Logan Echolls first punched out an FBI man and Spike started singing about letting him rest in peace, they upped the awesome factor.


This week’s episode of The Vampire Diaries featured the return of vampire-mama, Isabelle. And boy was it a return. The highlight of a fairly spectacular episode, however, had to be within the first twenty minutes, just when you thought Damon in a spectacularly steamy scene, was taking moral ambiguity to a whole new level by boinking mama-vamp right after she told him of her evil plans (set sexily to “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked”, no less) , he slams her down on the ground and gives her this speech: “Now that I’ve got your attention, listen up. You do not come into My town and threaten the people I care about. Threatening Elena? BAD MOVE. You leave her alone or I will rip you to bits because I do believe in killing the messenger. You know why? Because it sends a message. Katherine wants something from me? You tell that little bitch to come get it herself.”


Given that Damon has literally spent the entirety of this season in pathetic supplication to the mere idea of Katherine, this was a ginormous, hugemongous and fantastic step forward for his characters development. Plus he was half shirtless at the time.


Now while I loved all the character development stuff, I have a few problems with the direction the show is going that, while currently not overwhelming the awesome, threaten to overshadow the best stuff:


Stefan. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a hater of the brooding supermodel. In fact, back when he was dealing with his human blood addiction and dancing around in a drunken stupor, I kind of loved the guy. But this episode asked Paul Wesley to do nothing more than glower and make glances at Elena and Damon’s ridiculously close bond at this point. Even his episode ending confrontation with Damon, while a showcase for Somerhalder’s ill skills as Damon at his most manipulative and defense mechanism-y, felt almost perfunctory. It was like he’s the guy the girl is with at the beginning of the TV show (think Luke on The OC or that floppy haired dude on Smallville, or even to an extent Duncan on Veronica Mars) who you just know she’s going to dump for the more alluring badboyishness. But… that’s not supposed to be his role. He’s Stefan… he’s Angel… he’s Edward… he’s Bill. He’s not Luke.


Elena. I actually dislike her a lot less than I did back in the day, but at the same time, I don’t buy that she’s Damon’s epic love. The thing that makes these relationships so engaging is feeling like the back and forth is worth it. Veronica and Logan’s sparkle, Spike and Buffy’s sexy wrongness, Phoebe and Cole’s* demonic tet-a-tets. Although I can totally see why Elena finds it all so alluring, I find it hard to fully understand why Damon finds her undeniable outside of the rules of television that say that he should. I also didn’t need the words, “He’s in love with you.” Said so early into the television show.


Katherine. Can she ever really live up to what we’ve heard of her? Especially with Nina Dobrev playing her? I don’t think she’s awesome, but I just don’t know if she has the sparkle to pull of what Katherine should be outside of her petticoats.


However, moments when Ian Somerhalder says shit like, “Me too. She’s a very good friend. In fact, she might qualify as my only friend,” in a way that makes it seem simultaneously manipulative, sincere, and like the idea just hit him makes me think that the show can navigate these waters well, if it does so carefully. As for all the bombshells the show dropped in its last five (the device is still 100% vampire-killing-goodness, John is Elena’s father) could hardly top the Damon-osity. In fact, this show is in danger of becoming too Damon-reliant, like the way a bad episode of Gossip Girl is only saved by how amazing Blair and Chuck are on an ordinary basis.


*yeah that’s right, I name dropped Charmed.