Season 1, Episode 21 (“Isobel”)
“I wanted this, I needed this. And I’m going to regret it forever”
After the past few episodes focused so heavily on Stefan’s blood problem and the history of the Salvatores, this episode returns to the vampire problem in Mystic Falls. There was a lot of character development in those episodes, now it is time for a bit more forward plot momentum. This episode centers around a character we have never met, but have heard a lot about, and provides a lot of set up for the finale.
We finally meet Isobel. Elena’s birth mother, Alaric’s ex-wife turned vampire, and old friend of John Gilbert’s. Ever since we met Alaric about mid-way through this first season, he has been obsessed with finding out what happened to his wife. In the previous episode he seemed finally ready to let go and stop searching, only to have her show up in Mystic Falls. Her return doesn’t exactly give him the closure he has been hoping for. Her decision to turn had nothing to do with him, there is nothing he could have done to stop it. There is no reason that he could ever understand.
She gets Elena to meet with her by threatening everyone she loves. But Elena was probably fairly willing anyway. How could she not be curious? With her adoptive parents dead, she is searching for a parental figure even more. But Elena is also disappointed by what she finds. Isobel doesn’t seem to care about her, is only using her to get Jonathan Gilbert’s vampire weapon. She spends most of the episode pretending not to care about Elena or Alaric but she is doing all of this for them. She wants to protect Elena, she feels remorse for abandoning Alaric. It is better to have them hate her because they are safer away from the world of vampires.
Isobel also speaks some uncomfortable truths that are probably out of wanting to protect Elena but come across as bitchy. She tells Elena that she can’t have a future with Stefan because she is human. This is true and Elena has been in denial about that fact, but it probably wasn’t the time or place to bring it up. She also outs Damon by telling everyone that he is in love with Elena. This doesn’t really seem to be news to Stefan who has noticed how much he cares about Elena. Elena is maybe more surprised by it. But it has not been spoken before now and that changes things.
Bonnie is enlisted to help destroy the device but she only pretends to do it. She doesn’t want to protect Stefan and Damon, they are the reason her grams died, and they are vampires. She has no loyalty to them. I can understand her point of view, but lying to Elena about it was not the right move. Elena is her best friend, and she is knowingly putting people that she loves in danger. Bonnie has every right to be apprehensive about helping vampires, but she is now in a position where choosing to side against vampires means she is also choosing to side against Elena.
This episode is a lot of set up for the finale. It introduces the anti-vampire weapon, which they annoyingly just call “the invention” or “the device”. It doesn’t make it sound like a very good plot line, and it’s in truth only okay so I don’t know if giving it a better name would have helped. The episode is dominated by Isobel and everyone’s reaction to her. Elena is disappointed, Alaric is compelled to finally let her go, and the Salvatores are in danger. Uncle John is Elena’s father which makes his purpose in being in town much clearer. He also wants to protect her and he believes that keeping her away from vampires is the best way to do that. He doesn’t believe that there is such thing as a good vampire and he may not be entirely wrong. It cannot be denied that Elena’s life got much more complicated once she got involved with the world of vampires. Stefan is for the most part a model vampire, but even he could pose a danger to her if he goes off the rails again.
Episode Grade: B-
- The actress who plays Isobel is very robotic. I get that she is going for a humanity-less vampire thing, but her face doesn’t move when she talks and her voice is so monotone. It makes it difficult for me to buy her character. Also when she was watching two people she compelled being intimate with each other was super weird. Is this what bad vamps do?
- The whole scene where Damon and Isobel are at her foreclosure house was super weird. They were like kind of fighting but also on the verge of making out the whole time. It was uncomfortable.
- Damon on Stefan, “He’s just back to boring, straight-laced, off the junk. You’ve successfully cured him of anything that was interesting about his personality”
- Product placement: Bing again!
- “This is what they did last year and it’s exactly what we don’t want to do” I would let Caroline plan literally anything.
- Isobel: “That gaudy ring on your finger, it comes off” if only that were true
- Body Count: none that I noticed!