Credit: Quantrell D. Colbert/The CW ©2011 The CW Network, LLC Photo: Vampire Diaries Season 3, Episode 14: “Dangerous Liaisons”

Tonight’s episode opens with yet another attempt on young Ms. Gilbert’s life. Elena and Matt are leaving the hospital where Alaric is recovering from the attack. Matt walks Elena to her car, tells her to “Get home safe,” then exits.

Get. Home. Safe. Doesn’t Matt know “safe” is an ironic word in Mystic Falls? As Elena backs out of her parking space she hears and feels a thump. She gets out to investigate. And… nothing. When she turns to get back into the car, there’s Rebekah. “Drive much?” the vampire says. Rebekah bares her fangs and goes for the jugular. But just as killer tooth is about to pierce doppelganger neck, Elijah vamps in and pushes his little sister off Elena.

After Rebekah scurries away, Elijah fills Elena in on the arrival of Original Witch, Esther (a.k.a. Mama Original) and the other happenings over at Casa Klaus. Apparently, the Original Family wants to live in Mystic Falls as the peaceful vampires down the block. You know, just the Mikaelsons.

The next morning, Elena dutifully relays the facts to the Salvatores. Just as she assures the brothers that, once again, she trusts Elijah, a letter arrives. It’s an invite to the Mikaelson family housewarming ball with a special request from Esther. She wants to meet with Elena — alone. “It’s not bad enough they’re moving into town? Now they want a housewarming gift,” Damon says. God we love him.

Credit: Quantrell D. Colbert/The CW ©2011 The CW Network, LLC Photo: Kol in Vampire Diaries Season 3, Episode 14: “Dangerous Liaisons”

Irony of all ironies

Upstairs, Damon wakes up and pounces on Stefan. “Where’s Elena?” he demands. Stefan tells him that she’s gone to meet Esther then, in a role reversal of the season, Stef tells his big brother to stop being so emotional. ”Hang on. I’m the problem here?” Damon asks. “You’re a liability, brother,” Stefan replies. And, in this instance, it’s kind of true.

Back at the party, bratty Original Kol is “itching to kill something.” So Rebekah takes Matt outside to be murdered. But then as the walk across the lawn, Matt does a sweet guy thing. Sensing the cold, he takes his letterman jacket out of his truck and wraps it around her. “I’m a vampire. We don’t feel the —” Bekah starts. Then she stops herself. That moment of kindness changes her mind and she rushes Matt back inside, just as Kol approaches behind them. They return to the party just in time for Mama Original’s toast.

Credit: Quantrell D. Colbert/The CW ©2011 The CW Network, LLC Photo: Stefan and Damon in Vampire Diaries Season 3, Episode 14: “Dangerous Liaisons”

Belles of the ball

Damon and Stefan think it’s a terrible idea for Elena to go to the ball. So naturally that’s the one thing she must do.

While Elena updates the Salvatores, Caroline is busy listening to a voicemail from Tyler. “I’m going to fix myself and come home to you,” he promises. As the sweetness of his message sinks in, Caroline’s party invitation arrives. It is accompanied by a “Save me a dance” note from Klaus and a dress.

Don’t be tardy for the party

Half of Mystic Falls turns out for the Original Family’s shindig, including Mayor Lockwood who claims she’s making nice to protect the town. Elena arrives, looking stunning, of course. And we can’t stop ourselves from asking where she got that dress on such short notice. (An old prom gown perhaps?)

Couture aside, Damon greets Elena angrily. Stefan seems amused. Classy as ever, Elena takes one brother on each arm and enters the mansion like the vampire player that she is.

Meanwhile, Caroline’s still at home. She can’t find a thing to wear. So, she puts on the gown Klaus bought her. The thousand-year-old dude is an excellent judge of female body size because it fits perfectly. (Guess being older than Moses does that for you.)

After Mama Original welcomes all the guests, Elijah introduces “a centuries old waltz.” Immediately people line up to do a complicated dance that went out fashion hundreds of years before they were born. Elena partners with Damon; Caroline with Klaus; Matt with Rebekah; and Stefan with Mayor Lockwood.

When the dance requires that they change partners, Stefan conveniently ends up next to Elena. She takes advantage of the opportunity to take him outside — well out of vampire hearing distance — to talk. She needs him to distract Damon so that she can meet alone with Original Mama, Esther. Stefan pretends he’s not worried about her and agrees to help. She thanks him for trusting her like he used to do. It’s a tender moment.

Back inside, Elena asks Damon to meet her upstairs in the mansion. When he does, Stefan vamps over and breaks his brother’s neck. “You’d better hurry up,” Stefan says. “He won’t be dead for long.” Elena rushes out, leaving us to wonder when “help” became code for “kill.”

Credit: Quantrell D. Colbert/The CW ©2011 The CW Network, LLC Photo: Damon in Vampire Diaries Season 3, Episode 14: “Dangerous Liaisons”

A toast to death

“It gives me no greater joy than to see my family back together as one,” Esther says as she raises her glass. The guests follow and we watch as, one-by-one, her children drink. Elijah, the one she feared wouldn’t fall for the ploy, clinks glasses with Elena before taking the tiniest of sips.

After the toast Damon confronts Elena about setting him up with Stefan. She tells him she did it to keep him from playing hero. When she asks if he’s mad at her for including Stefan, he drops the L-bomb. “No I’m mad at you because I love you,” Damon says. “Well, maybe that’s the problem,” Elena replies. Then there’s an awkward pause. For Elena and for us. “No, I got it Elena. I care too much,” Damon says. “I’m a liability. How ironic is that?” He leaves.

Still itching to kill, Kol corners Matt on the balcony and introduces himself. When Matt extends his hand in greeting, Kol takes it and squeezes. Hard. Just as the bones start to break, Damon vamps in. Clearly redirecting his rage over the incident with Elena, he shoves the O.V. over the balcony. Then Sir Salvatore jumps down to the circle drive to finish what he started. He punches Kol then breaks the O.V.’s neck — just as Stef and the rest of the Mikaelsons walk out of the house. “Damon. Are you crazy?!” Stefan asks. The elder Salvatore looks up at Elena. “Maybe a little,” he says. “Far be it for me to cause a problem.” Snarling, he turns and walks away.

 

And now for the after-party

Back at home, Caroline finds another box on her bed — a third gift from Klaus. This time, instead of diamonds, it’s pencil drawing — a portrait of her with the horse she’d admired outside the mansion.

At Casa Klaus, Mama Original’s pissed that Kol and Rebekah got out of hand. Elijah promises to punish them, then leaves just as her servant son Finn enters. Not only is Finn in on her infanticide plan, but “he’s ready to die.” To prove it, he lets Esther cut his hand so that he can bleed on a scroll containing the family names. The final step in the spell, Finn’s blood erases their names as it draws a family three. Then the page erupts into flames.

Meanwhile Stefan drives Elena home and walks her inside. She asks him to call Damon and let him know that she got home safely. They bond, both admitting that they said things they didn’t mean to say that night. Stefan looks for a second, at Elena, like he used to. Then he walks out. She runs after him and asks how he manages to stop acting like he doesn’t care. She takes his face in her hand. He looks away. Then he steps in like he’s going to kiss her. But then, of course, he doesn’t kiss her. “If I let myself care all I feel is pain,” he says before walking away.

Credit: Quantrell D. Colbert/The CW ©2011 The CW Network, LLC Photo: Elena at the Ball in Vampire Diaries Season 3, Episode 14: “Dangerous Liaisons”

Mother knows best

“How are you alive? Are you a ghost?” Elena asks once she’s alone with Mama Original. That’s our question exactly. Apparently, after Klaus daggered dear old mom, her witch BFF Ayana (Bonnie’s ancestor) magically preserved her corpse.

After telling Elena her origin story, Esther gets down to business. She needs a drop of the teen’s blood to spike the champagne. Her plan is to use the drink for a binding spell that will link all her children in a way that will allow whatever happens to one to happen to all. It’s her way of killing Klaus and making things right in the world. “I love my family Elena,” she says. “But they are an abomination.” Stunned, Elena allows the witch to prick her finger for the murderous ritual.

Speaking of murderers, Rebekah wants to off Matt to make Elena suffer. She asks her bro Kol to do the dirty work. Ever-ready to disobey, he eagerly agrees — in a tone that’s so bratty we start to see why Klaus daggered him.

Credit: Quantrell D. Colbert/The CW ©2011 The CW Network, LLC Photo: Rebekah in Vampire Diaries Season 3, Episode 14: “Dangerous Liaisons”

Mystic Grill, hook-up central

Matt sits across town in the Grill when Rebekah approaches to apologize for Kol’s behavior. She offers to buy him a drink. He refuses. When she won’t back down he walks away, and a just as an inebriated Damon enters. “Burn. Rejected by the captain of the football team,” Damon says. “Welcome to adolescence.”

Damon tells Rebekah that Matt is too fragile for her. “Are you saying I can’t be gentle?” she asks. “No,” Damon replies. “I’m just saying you should find someone a little more durable.”

Cut to Rebekah and Damon in his bedroom doing the make-out mambo fast-forward vamp style. Clothes get ripped off. Necks nibbled. There’s heavy breathing and touching as some rocker sings, “we go down, down down together.”

 

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Credit: Quantrell D. Colbert/The CW Photo: Klaus Dances With Caroline in Vampire Diaries Season 3, Episode 14, “Dangerous Liaisons”

He’s no Santa, Klaus

Back at the party, Caroline steps out for air and Klaus follows to try and get his flirt on. For some reason he’s really into Blondie. “I fancy you,” he tells her. “Is that so hard to believe?”

“Yes,” Caroline replies before reminding Klaus that she’s with Tyler. Unfazed, the O.V. keeps pushing. He tries to make small talk. He tells Caroline that she’s pretty. He even shares a painful memory of the time his father killed his favorite horse. But Car’s not having it. More accurately, she’s not having him and she returns to the party.

Once again, Klaus follows. This time he takes Caroline to see his art collection. He has stolen something famous from the Louvre. When she calls him on the theft and asks where he’d klepto’ed the bracelet he gave her, Klaus tells her the bracelet “was worn by a princess almost as beautiful as you.” Then he looks away and blushes. Perhaps he’s embarrassed by how thick he’s laying it on.

At that moment Caroline notices some of the more personal drawings in the collection. Turns out, Klaus is the artist. He even has a landscape in a famous museum. When Caroline says she’s never left the country, he offers to take her anywhere in the world — Rome, Paris, Tokyo. “Wow. Must be really nice to just snap your fingers and get whatever you want,” Caroline says. “Is that why you collect hybrids... to have a little servant army to take you place and bring you things?” Blondie’s playing hardball and we’re impressed.

Caroline goes on to psychoanalyze Klaus. “Your father didn’t love you so you assume no one else will either,” she says, before basically calling him a control freak. She takes off the bracelet he gave her and gives it back, leaving Klaus speechless. And us too. But for different reasons of course. We were shocked that she returned the jewels. (Always keep the diamonds, girl!)