This week we feature the triumphant return of a fan favorite, The Highlander aka Uncle John Gilbert aka Elena’s long lost birth daddy and Jeremy’s uncle.  OK let me be clear, I can’t stand this guy.  Every time I see him I think to myself why is an old Doogie Howser on the screen, and why has he forgotten how to act.  He annoyed me in Heroes, he annoyed me in 24, he annoys me in Vampire Diaries.   When he’s on screen I can’t help but wonder how he keeps getting work, and why it’s always on my favorite shows.  So that’s the bad news.  He’s back in town professing to want to help protect Elena and the gang but poor guy, no one seems to trust him.  Maybe it’s because he tried to kill pretty much everyone last time around, or maybe he just annoys them as much as he annoys me.  The opening scenes are mostly people bitching at him while he tries to ingratiate himself back onto the show.

Here’s the good news though: somehow his grating presence doesn’t take away from yet another awesome episode.  We start and end with naked Damon dealing with his “issues” – is he good, is he evil, why is he fighting his nature for someone that doesn’t love him.  He has another great scene with Elena (they have about 10 times the chemistry that Elena has with Stefan) where every look seems fraught with meaning and sexual tension. 

But quickly the plot goes elsewhere as the gang is faced with Tyler and his new WW friends causing problems.  They capture poor Caroline and proceed to torture the crap out of her.  I must say the girl does a great job of screaming in pain, I found it tough to watch and couldn’t wait for her to get out and kick some WW ass.  While it’s not explicitly said, I believe they wanted to convey this was the equivalent of her getting raped in terms of being violated.  Apparently the WWs know all the buttons to push and exactly how best to torture a vampire.

Stefan and Damon proceed to try to liberate her (of course they conveniently don’t bother bringing their uber witch offense, or even Alaric to help.  Heck even Jeremy and Elena might have been useful in this fight).  I guess they weren’t expecting an entire wolfpack to show up out of the blue so I guess I won’t blame them.  After a great fight sequence, they eventually get worn down.  Tyler is dumbstruck for most of it and doesn’t do a thing except for finally freeing Caroline from her cage.  It’s too little too late as the remaining WWs get the drop on our beat up triad of vamps.  And then comes the deux ex machina.  Out of nowhere the even more uber Daddy Warlock appears and neutralizes all the WWs with a wave of his hands.   I love how easily the witches and warlocks render everyone else worthless.  Apparently he is honoring the deal Elena made with supervamp Elijah to keep them all safe.   Now any smart (or vengeful) vampire would have likely taken the opportunity to kill all those crazy killer WWs, but that’s just not the style for our gang.  I guess they want to make sure the bad guys rest up for the rematch.  I don’t know about you, but if some psychopathic WW dude just horribly tortured me for hours, I would go and chop his head off to be sure he didn’t come back and bite me.  But I guess that’s just me.

Caroline is suitably hurt, both physically and emotionally, and tells off the worthless tool Tyler for not doing more to help.  You go girl.  She also pushes Stefan away, who keeps offering to help her as she insists she is fine, and lies to Matt about it as well (sadly he catches her in the lie).  But this all just a classic Kevin Williamson setup, as he ends the plotline with the best scene of the night, as Stefan enlists Elena and Bonnie to come to her side for an all-girl sleepover while some awesome music from the soundtrack plays in the background.  If that didn’t bring a tear to your eye, you’re just mean-spirited and a Caroline hater.   

Speaking of Bonnie, another winning episode for her.  She changed her hair again and it looked great.  Plus she had very little dialog, aside from brushing off Daddy Warlock and making googoo eyes at Jeremy.  This is just the right amount of all these side characters, keeping them literally in the background is perfect.

The ep ends with another classic “twist” – Daddy John visiting Katherine and alluding to some sinister plan he is working on with her and Isabelle.  Was anyone really surprised to find John had an ulterior motive? 

Anyway, easily the best episode of 2011 so far.  Caroline is quickly becoming my favorite character on the show and she gives yet another remarkable performance.