Elena learns what it really means to be Katherine’s doppelgänger

Season 2, Episode 9 (“Katerina”)
Nina Dobrev (Image: The CW)

Last episode planted the seeds for the information revealing festival that is this episode. Many of the questions surrounding Katherine’s return and her actions since the beginning of the season are answered. The mystery of Elijah and Klaus is further built up. And Elena is finally given a role in all of this that has nothing to do with her choice in boyfriend, and allows her to be more of the central character she is supposed to be.

Flashback episodes are generally good for this show, they fill in backstory, helping to flesh out characters’ motivations. In this one we learn about how Katherine became a vampire as well as what her connection is to Klaus and why she was running from him. From all of this Elena puts together Katherine’s reason for coming back to Mystic Falls and why she turned Caroline and Tyler. With Katherine it is never just about creating chaos and hurting people, she is looking out for herself and is always scheming a way to keep herself safe. Messing with Stefan and Elena’s relationship was a distraction from what she was really doing. She was putting together all of the pieces that Klaus needs to break the curse so that he will grant her freedom and she can finally stop running.

It turns out Katherine was telling the truth about Elena being in danger because she is the doppelgänger. However, she doesn’t want to save her, she wants to hand her over. It becomes clear in this episode that Klaus is the real bad guy. It is unclear at this point though what exactly Elijah’s role in it is. He clearly wanted Katherine to be sacrificed to break the curse, but was he just working on Klaus’s command? Much of the information about the Originals and the curse is based on legend and rumors. Klaus is supposed to be the oldest vampire, and we can say from Katherine’s story that he is real. However, he is nearly impossible to find. And if what Katherine says is true, Elena being the human doppelgänger means she will become Klaus’s new target if he finds out about her existence.

This information makes Elena realize that everything that has been happening this season is because of her. Caroline and Tyler were turned because they were close to Elena and therefore easy targets for Katherine. Having all of the pieces in one place is convenient. It is great that the show does this in the second season because it allows for the action to center around Elena and her mere existence as being the cause of it. It is not because she chose to date a vampire, all of this would have happened even if she had never met him. Giving her her own role in the supernatural world makes her much more independent, and less of a damsel in distress.

Elena is also starting to take things into her own hands in this episode. We will continue to see that a big theme for her character in this season is her making her own choices. Too often the Salvatores try to call the shots in her life. She doesn’t want to wait around and speculate with the Salvatores and Rose about whether Klaus is real and what he wants from her. So she goes straight to Katherine to get the story. She anticipates that Stefan won’t approve, so she doesn’t tell him and gets Caroline to distract him while she talks to Katherine. Elena is supposed to be the main character of the show but when writing these reviews I often find that I have very little to say about her. So much of her role so far has been about the action happening around her, but the character development and interesting stories have often been much more on the other characters. This season helps to change that a bit by giving her a more important role in everything and seeing how she responds to it.

Another theme explored in this episode is the idea of vampires being able to shut off their emotions. The exact parameters of this can be inconsistent throughout the series, but in this episode the narrative is that the longer you are a vampire the harder it is to truly turn off your emotions. They are more on a dimmer switch or you are just pretending. Damon and Rose bond over their desire to shut out their respective pain. Rose lost her best friend of 500 years and almost died as well because she cared too much. Damon suffers from unrequited love and the larger wedge it drives between him and his brother. They both talk about turning it all off but can’t actually do it. Damon often pretends not to feel but we already know that that is mostly an act. It is easier to survive if you don’t care about anyone else and take the Katherine approach, but it is also not a life. We even see Katherine looking emotional over the drawing of her family.

This was another good episode that both filled in backstory and moved the plot forward. I will say this many times but I think season 2 is the strongest season of The Vampire Diaries. It consistently strikes a balance of interesting plot and good character development. By the end of it, it makes you care about every single one of the main characters, even the ones that seemed unimportant for much of the first season. It also makes Elena a more independent character by giving her an actual role in the supernatural world and not just being surrounded by it. And as this episode introduces a bit with the Damon and Rose storyline, the lines between being human and being a vampire will continue to be explored. These are the things that make this show so compelling and much better than it is often given credit for.

Episode Grade: B+

Other Thoughts:

  • There really needs to be a vampire handbook. No one seems to know their vampire history.
  • We are introduced to what I believe are the first male witches of the show – Luka and his father. They are being very mysterious in this episode. Befriending Bonnie but then also secretly working with Elijah? Or at least the dad is.
  • In the episode in season 1 where Damon and Elena go to Georgia (“Bloodlines”) he jokes that he doesn’t know all vampires, because it’s not like they all hang out and the “vamp bar and grill”. Slater’s cafe though seems like it is exactly that.
  • Also Slater has spent like 35 years in college, has gotten multiple Ph.Ds all because it’s fun?? As someone who is currently working on a Ph.D I cannot imagine wanting to get more than one.
  • Caroline/Stefan: “You have a friend?” “You say that with such a discouraging amount of surprise”
  • Elijah shattering the windows of the cafe using quarters was pretty epic.
  • Katherine’s makeup has held up well in starvation.
  • Another way in which the Originals are not like other vampires – they can compel other vampires!
  • Body Count: 1, Elijah kills Slater.

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