As much as I was looking forward to the return of “Vampire Diaries” tonight, I can”t say I wasn’t prepared for the worst. When we left our determined Klaus hunters, Stefan had thrown a pretty substantial wrench into what otherwise seemed like a nifty plan to overthrow the fickle, pouty, daddy-issue-plagued original. Mikael, the daddy in said equation, was dead before we even had much of a chance to know him, Stefan was off the grid – but off the grid with leverage (he just happened to have snuck off with Klaus” family, all conveniently pre-packaged and poked) and Klaus exactly who was out to get him.
But, as usual, nothing is as it seems, and this midseason premiere delivers not a follow-up slaughter-a-thon but actually pays off some dramatic tension from the last season and adds some unexpected but welcome twists to the already twisty plot. Klaus may be angry, yes, but he’s hobbled by Stefan’s little game of hide and seek — though that doesn’t mean he’s powerless. And what this means for Elena and her family is, yes, tragic. Yet again, Elena, Jeremy and Ric must face a new normal — and, as usual, that new normal pulls them deeper into a dark world that no high school kid (or really anyone) should have to face. While Elena’s been on a romantic roller coaster for a while now, the high price of her vampire dalliance is becoming crystal clear to her. Not that she can do much about it — she’s in too deep — but she makes some hard decisions in this episode. Though, depending on your point of view, it can be argued she gets one pretty decent reward at the end — a payoff that, again, comes with an emotional price tag.