After two solid weeks of vamp fighting, blood lust and a lovely lack of love triangles, we’ve hit our first lull of the season with episode three, ‘The Rager’. It’s not a bad instalment as such, but nothing really happens and the drop in excitement seems even starker when compared to the excellent first two episodes. Elena is still a vampire, and having more trouble with it than either Stefan or Matt would have hoped, Damon is searching for a new buddy to plot and plan with, and Tyler is on house arrest after being targeted by Connor yet again.
The titular rager comes courtesy of Rebekah, who returns to the show along with brother Klaus this week. Lost and alone as usual, she tries to court favour with those she’s previously wronged. This excludes Elena, and the two of them go at it like wild cats. With Elena newly undead and heightened in every possible way, she doesn’t handle the stress very well. Scrambling around for the white oak stake (which Damon reluctantly gives her), attempting to stab her with pencils in class and upstaging her at her own party, this is a new, more impulsive Elena. I have to say I like her, if only because the old Elena was become a bit of a drag.
Supposedly a temporary arrangement last week, drinking from Matt to stay on the wagon has now become a semi-permanent solution, and the poor guy has become a walking blood bag for the town’s bloodsuckers. I really wish the writers would give the character something proactive to do this year, since he’s usually just around to provide a human element to the group and help them out of peculiar jams. Things backfire towards the end of the episode when Elena loses control of her senses, almost killing her bestie before Damon runs in and intervenes. Compelled to forget the incident, I hope it can still put a stop to the dangerous arrangement before they have to bury him.
Connor is still around causing havoc, and the meaning of the mysterious tattoo Jeremy noticed last week is expanded upon a little. Apparently this mark can only be seen by potential hunters, making Jeremy a prime candidate to take over for Alaric in the future. It’d be a bit of a shame since his sister and most of his friends are already vampires, but does this mean that Jeremy could turn over to the dark side at some point? If he does, then it probably isn’t going to be any time soon, since he uses the connection this week to lure Connor into a trap set by Damon and Klaus. Here, we learn that Connor could be part of ‘the five’ (which, incidentally, is the title of next week’s episode), but Klaus doesn’t reveal much else about his intriguing proclamation.
We also welcomed Secret Circle star Phoebe Tonkin to the show as Tyler’s old flame, Hayley, and the only thing to note about her right now is the trouble she’ll undoubtedly cause between Tyler and Caroline. Did we ask for a love square? I don’t think so, but I’m still optimistic about what Tonkin can bring to the series this year apart from her romantic entanglements.
Damon’s brief union with Klaus demonstrates just how lonely the guy is after losing his drinking buddy. Going first to Meredith before deciding to fraternise with the enemy, we can see he’s lost without Elena and Stefan to pine after. Speaking of, the love triangle has become much more interesting with Elena now in need of a guide, and Stefan’s self-loathing has sabotaged his relationship yet again. Returning to Caroline just to feel good about his coaching, he leaves Elena and Damon to hatch their own training schedule, and I’m interested to see what this entails. Providing a lovely parallel between how Caroline handled the change and how Elena will, it’s a fascinating and unexpected way to go.
Even though this episode was slightly weaker than the two that came before, there’s plenty to ponder on for next week. Most importantly, will Elena feed under Damon’s tutelage? What does this mean for her relationship with Stefan? We’ll find out next week, which looks to be an interesting, twisty-turny, flashback episode.