Allow me to clarify a couple things. First, this list is by no means inclusive. I limited myself to two best moments an episode (except a couple cheats) and in a season this good, that means leaving quite a few things out. Second, my moments may look a little different than most lists. While occasionally that is because I really did like other moments better, usually it’s because I know that many other recappers will cover the same scene so I figure that gives me the freedom to be a little different. Take the Stefan/Elena phone call at the end of the premiere. That is a fantastic scene with brilliant acting. But nearly every other critic will be talking about it. And better than I can. So I pick other favorites. Plus, I like little moments or things that have a lot more subtext so that causes variation. So please read and comment away. If you want to know my thoughts on a different scene though, please just ask what I think. Don’t go on about how awful I am for leaving it off. If I included all of my choices for best moments, I’d just post a link for you to buy the S3 DVD.
Lastly, for those of you who know me, you may note that a lot of my favorite moments involve characters that I don’t like or flat out hate. This is exactly why I encourage fans not to watch for a single character or couple. Not only will you end up disappointed at some point, you miss out on some truly great moments with other characters. No show is ever going to make you happy all the time. Hell, even the cast and crew of a show aren’t happy all the time. We all have favorites but the best story isn’t always told by catering to one person’s favorite story or individual. Embrace the show as a whole and I can guarantee you’ll be much happier.
Caroline & Tyler kiss. Yes the sex was hot. No I’m not a “Forwood” shipper at all. But that kiss was every single thing a kiss should be. (Caroline gets all the best kisses, btw). It felt like it was straight out of every YA novel that I love in the best way possible. I love the way she yells at him because she’s totally jealous and wants him and he’s like I AM RIGHT HERE. I HAVE BEEN HERE THIS ENTIRE TIME. And then she just kisses him because Caroline knows that’s all the answer he needs. Gah! That moment is such perfection and I adore the show for being able to sweep me away in a moment between a couple I don’t even like. Damn good writing and damn good acting.
Damon tears apart Stefan’s room. I know picking this as my third moment of the premiere may confuse people, since there are other great moments. To me, the best bits are in the details and those come in small moments. Damon might be ripping Stefan’s room apart after he kills Andie but that’s not why he’s doing it. Ian does a fantastic job of showing how much Damon needs his little brother and how scared he is that he’s never going to get him back. When Damon goes out of control, he’s very much in control if that makes any sense. It’s like Damon chooses to snap so he can choose to rein it in. Stefan lives at extremes and for the first time in centuries, they are brothers again. And now Damon feels like he’s lost all of that and he’s clearly angry at Stefan & at Klaus & at himself and he lashes out at Stefan’s room. I confess I started crying in earnest at this moment. Nothing beats the family dynamics on this show.
Elena convinces Alaric to help her find Stefan. This scene cracks me up because I just want to shake Alaric. Elena is of course hilarious in that she knows exactly what to say to Alaric and throws back his whole you can take care of yourself speech at him. But I think it’s hysterical that Alaric says he meant frozen dinners and SATs. You have been around for 2 seasons, Alaric. First off, Stefan usually cooks so I don’t get where you think Elena would resort to frozen dinners. Second, no one shows up to class so why would they take the SATs. Third, this is the doppelganger who is in love with vampires, has a vampire, witch, werewolf, and human for best friends and her brother wears a magical resurrection ring. Take care of herself my ass. There are a lot of dramatic moments on this show but it can be fun to just rewatch the ones that make you laugh.
Klaus gives Stefan his blood. I think this was the first moment that we clued into Klaus’ humanity and what he longs for most (family). Klaus was upset about the hybrids but the fact that he hands Stefan his blood in a bottle shows us that there’s more to the story. We know Klaus doesn’t have some weird germ phobia, he freely gives his blood straight from his wrist. But with Stefan, Klaus offers a choice. We don’t really know why at this point (that’s the next episode) but still, Klaus gives Stefan a choice to come with him or not by drinking the blood. Err, more of a choice to come with him or die but still there’s an out. Because deep down, Klaus wants Stefan with him because he wants to be, not because he has to be. Stefan needs/wants Klaus too. Based on his history, we know Stefan craves a family or at least a place to belong. That moment when Klaus put his blood in the bottle, did his puppy eyes, and said Stefan was his only comrade and walked away; he gave Stefan a choice. Not much of one but it was there. Stefan still chose to follow Klaus. They both need each other.
The End of the Affair
“We were friends?” The Chicago episode was pretty flipping fantastic on all counts, but for me, the moment when Stefan realized that he and Klaus were friends once was particularly touching. Yes, touching (though not the way Klaus wanted to touch Stefan). While we were of course shocked to find out that Stefan & Klaus knew each other back in the day, let alone that Stefan taught Klaus some of his favorite tricks, there was more to it. If you take a look back over the seasons (including flashbacks), you’ll find that while a lot of people LIKE Stefan, he doesn’t have very many friends. There’s Lexi. And ____. It pretty much ends there. People talk to Stefan, they’re more likely to trust Stefan, but as far as good friends that he can hang out with, they don’t really exist. Damon makes friends a lot more easily. (Which not to go too off topic, is probably a big reason why Damon misses his humanity more than Stefan does. Stefan may go vegetarian a lot but Damon tends to live like a human a lot more often, creating a closer bond with them.)
Anyway, I loved that little moment because it seemed like Stefan was realizing that he hasn’t always been the outsider, the loner. There was a time when he had good friends and Stefan knows himself well enough to see that he looks genuinely happy in that picture. It was a revealing and heartfelt moment in the midst of a greater reveal.
Katherine was there in the 20s. I just love that Katherine is always around. She’s like a whack-a-mole. Just when you think you’ve knocked her down, she pops back up. Funniest thing ever to me. PS. I miss Katherine. Can she come back in S4?
Caroline kicks Damon’s ass. So here’s the thing. Technically, older vampires should be stronger than younger vampires. But not only do I love that Caroline is like ‘excuse me? I can talk shit about my dad all day long but he is my dad and you will not torture or drain or do anything else to him’ at Damon. Plus, I’m big on shows setting precedent. This moment implies that anger can give a vampire added strength. So down the road when Damon gets the jump on Kol, his ability to do that has already been set up. And honestly, that school showdown right after Caroline turned wasn’t enough. She so owed Damon another ass kicking.
“I’ll let you pick who we eat.” This was the moment Klefan went from being an awesome bromance in my mind, to having a history of a secret love affair back in the 20s. I’m telling y’all, Klaus and Stefan are each other’s true loves. Instead of elaborating further, I’ve simply included a couple videos to demonstrate.
“Turn it Off!” I can’t skip this moment. Everyone talks about it and with good reason. It was absolutely phenomenal. Paul Wesley gets most of the attention (as he should) but I think there’s some great work from Joseph Morgan and Nina Dobrev as well. Joseph is perfect as Klaus who is furious that things aren’t going his way and just erupts in rage. There’s no more control, no more manipulative vampire. He wants his way NOW. Then Nina gives Elena this wonderful display of utter heartbreak as she literally watches her boyfriend be completely lost to her. The fact that Elena knows how much Stefan didn’t want this makes it even more amazing. But of course, let’s not forget Paul’s work because the bulk of the moment hangs on him. Stefan’s eyes accept the compulsion and do in fact show him turning off his humanity but it’s more than that. In just a few seconds, his eyes also show relief. Being a ripper is easy. He doesn’t have to think or feel or worry about other people. And for a guy like Stefan, who is constantly in control, his ripper status has to feel like collapsing into bed after traveling for like 3 days straight. It’s comforting, it’s a relief. (Damon knows this, hence the reason he’s often trying to get Stefan to find a balance). In this scene though, Paul shows Stefan’s relief and horror at the same time. He doesn’t want to be this guy and yet at the same time there is something so simple about just being a ripper.
Matt’s face in the gym when Klaus kills Tyler. I love Matt’s face here because it reveals so much about Matt as a person. Klaus feeds Tyler his blood and snaps his neck and every other person in the room is standing there in shock & horror and fear of Klaus. And Matt just glares at Klaus like ‘bitch, I’m gonna fuck you up’. I love that! Matt’s not stupid, he doesn’t attack Klaus, but he’s also not afraid of him like the others. I get the feeling that Klaus notices this as well because Klaus seems to have a bit of a soft spot for Matt.
Smells Like Teen Spirit
Rebekah informs the Salvatores that she’ll be staying with them. This is just a small and silly moment but I love the banter. Everyone’s all snarky with each other and it’s just so much fun. Plus, I like that it shows a bit of old-fashioned etiquette in Rebekah. She assumes the Salvatores have a room ready for her because that’s what you do for guests. You don’t just meet them at their hotel, you make them a guest in your own home. I love when the show has tiny details to remind us that the Originals are of a different era. Also, I really like Rebekah’s hair in this scene. So there’s that.
Elena stakes Stefan (in the stomach). Elena gets her Buffy on throughout the episode by training and learning to fight back (something that I think a lot of people haven’t realized how often she’s used that training through this season. Just because she isn’t staking people, doesn’t mean her reflexes haven’t improved) against vampires. But I have to pick a favorite as the moment when Elena stabs Stefan. It is so a “my ex-boyfriend has turned into a total asshat” moment and Elena pretty much does what any girl would want to do in that moment. Then she just looks at him like “you asshole. I liked you. The only person I NEED is me. Get over your damn self.” Hot chicks with superpowers for the win.
(I just want to note that this is one of my absolute favorite episodes this season so picking only two favorite moments was so hard. So I cheated).
Damon/Bonnie/Caroline chat on the street. I’m odd. I don’t really like Damon or Bonnie but I love these two together. Plus, I feel like while all 3 of these characters have issues, on some level they understand each other better than the others. Bonnie and Caroline have working through their S2 problems (thank goodness! I need my girls together) but there are moments between these three that I really enjoy. Caroline has moved on past Damon’s treatment of her and I love that she gives him attitude right back. They will probably never be friends (a good thing in my opinion) but she’s snarky with him and assertive and keeps them on an even keel. Bonnie and Damon though have an understanding. They bitch at each like all get out but they also make choices in the exact same way. And what’s truly interesting is that Damon doesn’t sugarcoat things with these two, especially Bonnie, something he does do not only with Elena but also with Stefan & Alaric. These are people who say tell me the problem and I will fix it, we’ll analyze later. That means needing the facts. There aren’t too many scenes between Damon & Bonnie or just Damon & Caroline but when there are, I always enjoy them.
Lexi beats down Stefan. The gif says it all. Lexi is such a fucking badass. I miss her. I still think Klaus should kick Damon’s ass for killing Lexi on Stefan’s birthday.
Pearl & Anna Reunite. Yes, I’m cheating by having three moments. I will cut one out later on. Trust me the Sage episodes are easy to cut down to one favorite moment. This reunion between Pearl and Anna y’all. I weep during this scene. Only a few seconds and yet these two characters sum up what this entire show is about. Finding your family. Biological or found family, this is the core of the show and the core of the characters’ desires. So simple, yet so profound.
Double cheat. I love the line when Bonnie tells Jeremy that the only thing he owes her is the respect to not make her listen to his explanation. I so wish more people who were cheated on would say shit like this.
*Mythology Comprehension* I feel like the ghost thing, as in who can/can’t see ghosts, has confused a few people. A human who has died a non-supernatural death and been brought back can see ghosts. That’s why Jeremy can see them after being shot by a human and why Matt can after drowning. The others were able to see the ghosts because Bonnie gave them physical shape long enough to be able to fight them. Also, as Anna noted, the human has to want to see the ghost as the ghost wants to see the human. That’s why Rose could appear to Jeremy. Because she’s a creeper who likes to watch Damon in the shower.
Elijah & Klaus sword fight. That one scene is basically everything I love about all the HoYay in Mystic Falls. It’s also fun and innocent and just a nice moment between brothers. A lot like the football with Damon & Stefan in 1864. Joseph and Daniel also look like they had so much fun filming that scene. I can’t wait to see if the bloopers reveal that it took a few takes for them to stop laughing.
Rebekah breaks down. All Rebekah has ever wanted is her family to be happy and whole and what we basically consider nuclear. That’s it. Everyone else on the show is still figuring out how important family is but Rebekah’s always known it. And when her parents turned out to be jerks, she gathered her brothers to her and made her family whole again. Every time it has fragmented, she’s pulled them together, even down to her and Klaus. That’s what she wants. What she’s always wanted. And in a few minutes, it’s all been ripped away from her. She goes from knowing who she is to completely lost. We meet a lot of lost souls on their way to redemption and healing on The Vampire Diaries. It’s rare we get to see the moment a character loses her sense of self. Claire Holt portrays Rebekah’s heartbreak brilliantly.
Elena stabs Rebekah. First, I really hope that in S4 Rebekah will get to go to a dance. Maybe prom. She and Matt would look so cute at prom. Second, it was good that Elena kept Rebekah from homecoming because that red dress was not flattering. Third, Elena was seriously badass. It’s kind of impressive really. On the one hand, I don’t think that Elena was lying to Rebekah. She’s not that type of person. I truly believe that Elena knew how much it would matter to Rebekah to have her necklace back and that Elena, knowing what she was about to do, wanted Rebekah to have that comfort. Then Elena proves that while she may still be compassionate and care about others, she’s changed too. She’s a little bit darker, a little more cutthroat, and ready to do whatever it takes. Including temporarily killing a girl who just wants to be loved.
Stefan and Katherine were in cahoots. I like that word. Cahoots. I also like this moment though. See while of the Salvatores, I prefer Stefan with Elena, I’ve always thought that there’s a level where Damon and Elena completely understand each other. Stefan doesn’t get this side of Damon or of Elena but they get each other. It forges a bond, for better or worse. The thing is, when Stefan allows it, he has the same bond with Katherine. Every once in a while, they get each other better than anyone else. This scene did a really good job of showing it. Katherine may love Stefan best, but she knows (and so does Elena) that their bond as brothers is stronger than anything else. “Humanity is a vampire’s greatest weakness. No matter how easy it is to turn it off, it keeps trying to fight its way back in. Sometimes I let it.” That last sentence is key to understanding Katherine. She comes off as uncaring in her self-preservation but sometimes, she chooses to care.
The New Deal:
Jeremy chops off a hybrid’s head. This moment spoke legions to how much Jeremy has changed over the last year. I know there’s a lot of controversy over Elena having Damon compel Jeremy to forget at the end of the episode but I feel like this scene at least allows us to understand why she did it. Jeremy never chose to get involved with vampires or werewolves or any of it. He’s what could best be termed collateral damage and unlike Tyler & Caroline, who have ended up in the supernatural world, Jeremy’s still a boy in the wrong place at the wrong time. He doesn’t want to be here and yet Elena watches as he chops off a man’s head. I think that gets missed in this scene. The hybrid wasn’t in wolf shape or vampire eyes or in some weird transition where he didn’t look human. Jeremy shot a man in the back and chopped off his head. A man who a few weeks earlier was living his life, possibly not even aware he was a werewolf, let alone could be a hybrid, and forced through a sire bond to follow Klaus’ orders. I’m not saying save the hybrid but he’s not this super evil guy. But in that moment, he’s the bad guy, so Jeremy takes him out. It’s telling in showing us just how dark Jeremy has become. I think that’s something Elena saw too. She wasn’t there yet. She couldn’t go that far and if she couldn’t kill a hybrid so brutally, despite choosing this life, how can she possibly accept that her little brother can?
Elena gives Rebekah to Klaus. I love the end of this scene when Elena tells Klaus that Rebekah knows he killed their mother and then says he can let himself out. It shows a start to Elena taking things back into her own hands. And I think it’s also a moment of her realizing that while Klaus might still be scary, he can be reasoned with. There are things he wants and he’ll negotiate to get them. Elena gets that and she adapts. Her attitude though is the best.
I very nearly cheated and added the Damon/Elena kiss on the porch because I absolutely loved it. So instead I’m just slipping in a clip of that scene.
Klaus/Caroline. Oh c’mon. If you thought I would put anything else, you clearly don’t know me. That whole scene was perfection. So much so that I’ve just put it here in the post and then copy/pasted an old comment I wrote about it because I basically still feel all the same things.
“So why did this pairing affect me (and so many others in the TVD fandom) so strongly? I have a theory. (It could be bunnies). And my theory doesn’t involve Klaus nearly as much as it involves Caroline. In fact, I would argue that if the actions were the same, you could put nearly any male character with Caroline and we would be swooning the same way. Though Klaus does have that accent and delightful way of saying sweetheart.
I noted in my part of the reaction post over at The Salvatore Boarding House the following: “There’s that moment where Klaus is just saying his normal cultish spiel about how she’s free and Caroline looks at him and says “I’m dying” and Candice puts all the weight of the world in her eyes in that moment. It’s genius. She’s not commenting on the fact that she’s dying because of Tyler’s bite. She’s saying she’s dying, and has been, ever since Katherine turned her and that she’s been telling herself it will get better but she’s never believed it and tonight on her birthday it all came to a head. And it’s like she made this peace with her life ending in the next couple days because she believes it ended months ago. And Klaus just looks at her and sees all of it. It felt like he just went ‘what have you been told that you think your life is over and that you aren’t worth anything. How could anyone have possibly let you believe that your life wasn’t worth anything. Let me tell you how magical you are and how genuinely beautiful you are.'”
I’ll backtrack a bit to say that I identify so much with Caroline. And I do so in unexpected ways. If you listen to fans say what character’s death could get them to stop watching, 9 times out of 10, the answer is Caroline. (Assuming you’re aware that Damon, Stefan and Elena aren’t going anywhere). Something about Caroline speaks to me and until last Thursday, I wasn’t sure what that was. I certainly wasn’t popular in high school, in fact very much the opposite. I’m not that cheerful or fought over by boys or really any of the things that seem to make up Caroline. Then I watched “Our Town”. And I realized that I identify with Caroline because she dreams and she hurts and she keeps part of herself hidden because no one ever told her she could have the world. I do that last one. In this world of social media it can seem easy to know someone but there’s a lot I don’t share. Hell there are aspects of my life that my best friends over the last couple decades don’t know. I have one friend, just one, who knows all of my deepest secrets. And he knows them in part because he was there and in part because he always seems to know exactly what I can’t say. Caroline has, especially since she’s become a vampire, been about pulling herself up by the bootstraps and making the best of situations. And I’ve been begging for a moment where Caroline sees that the best isn’t happening, her life just sucks. In “Our Town” we did. We see a depressed Caroline who no longer has teenage distractions and is faced with the reality of her eternal existence. Her friends want to celebrate birthdays and Caroline is pointing out that she’s not the same girl and I think there was a hint of Caroline not knowing exactly what she wants. I get that. Oh I so get that.
There are so many times when I don’t know what I’m feeling or what I want but what I really need is for someone to get me without explanation. That’s what Klaus did for Caroline. He didn’t hear her “I’m dying” response as a sarcastic retort. He knew what she meant and he knew that no one had told her about all the good things this new life could offer. And so he painted a picture of a world so magical and so beautiful that Caroline finally believed. She believed that this glimmer in her heart that knew things had to change and that high school couldn’t be everything was right.
I’m certain that’s why I (and many of you) fell so hard for this ship. We all know what it’s like to have dreams or fears that we can’t quite voice. And I think on some level, we all hope that someone will understand us. Not always romantically (though that’s a perk) but just that someone out there will understand what it is we don’t know how to say. Caroline represents each of us but Klaus represented that someone. He saw the real Caroline. In the end, aren’t we all hoping someone will see who we really are?”
Stefan nearly drives Elena off Wickery Bridge. I could honestly wax poetic about a whole hell of a lot of this scene but I’m going to focus on one part in particular. Most of us know that the actors don’t find out what will happen too far in advance. Obviously because of filming they know what’s going on before we do, but they often have to convey emotions in a scene that will still fit later twists. Specifically, Stefan will later reference this moment as the one where he realized just how far he’d gone and that he didn’t want to be this guy anymore. But I doubt Paul knew that yet. So I find it very impressive that in the briefest of flickers, Stefan’s eyes give his humanity away, before they quickly revert back to revenge. It’s a tiny moment, but it indicates so much of his journey still to come.
To end, here are a couple of my favorite fanvids made by people much more talented than me. The first is from @tinatvd and the second from @ellecandyy.
Part 2 will be up Tuesday of this coming week.