After numerous trips down memory lane between Stefan and Catherine, we learn that the fine line between love and hate only gets blurred with time.
When Catherine returns to remind Stefan she is in town to stay, he takes the opportunity to get answers out of her...one way or another. While Stefan spends time with a chained Catherine, he realizes that his feelings may not be as one sided as he originally thought they were. Armed with peach cobbler, Damon invites himself to a barbeque with Elena, Rick, Jenna and Mason Lockwood but it's only after the party that Damon learns werewolves aren't easy prey.
After two mediocre episodes, The Vampire Diaries returns to true form in "Memory Lane". This week's episode was simply fantastic while balancing multiple characters and plot lines at once. While we have watched the history of the Salvatore brothers unfold in last season's "Children of the Damned", "Memory Lane" gave us an entirely new perspective of the entire situation in Catherine's experience. Each flashback gave more depth to both Stefan and Catherine not only for who they once were but for who they have both become over time. Their love/hate relationship is given more layers each time they meet but this time we see Catherine not just as the ruthless and cunning vampire but as a character with genuine feelings for Stefan. With Catherine's return we see just how far Stefan is willing to go to protect the ones that he loves but it seems like it is only a matter of time before his limits are tested.
I have said it before and I will say it again, Nina Dobrev is superb as Catherine Pierce. Although Catherine has made only a few appearances in the series, I believe Dobrev actually plays that character far better than Elena Gilbert. Dobrev displays such a wide range of emotions as Catherine but always reserves the character just when Catherine could easily become a parody. In my opinion, she elevates each scene she is in as Paul Wesley and Ian Somerhalder also give better performances in their scenes with Catherine.
The barbeque scene was a refreshing break from Stefan's interrogation of Catherine. The peach cobbler and humour were provided by Damon with his constant wolf related quips directed at Mason Lockwood. This could have been cheesy if they didn't have Ian Somerhalder's sarcastic wit but each line was well executed. It has seemed lately that Damon has been demoted from series badass to comic relief which is a waste of Ian Somerhalder and the character Damon. I hope things pick up for Damon because other than showing how he has been getting the cold shoulder from Catherine for that past one hundred and fifty years, he has taken the back seat to Stefan.
Taylor Kinney has been one of the most interesting guest stars I have seen as Mason Lockwood. Taylor plays Mason as such a reserved person and the writing seems to drive this further. Rather than a character to be discarded after a few guest appearances, his developing relationships with Damon and Tyler make him the wild card of the series with a hidden agenda. The story between Damon and Mason is quickly becoming one of the most interesting parts of the show because each character appears charming but both have a dark past.
Memory lane only had one true negative: advertising. When Elena is driving to Stefan's with Caroline there is blatant product placement for a feature in whatever car they are driving (I will not say what it was). For a show as highly rated as The Vampire Diaries with commercial breaks, it took me completely out of the show for a few moments because I wanted to find out what would happen next, not what song was playing on the radio and the artist. This just reminded me of Smalllville and Heroes, both shows that have compromised their integrity with deliberate advertising.
Besides the terrible advertising, "Memory Lane" was an incredible episode on par with the season premiere. What will happen with Catherine and Stefan is still anyone's guess but due to Damon's actions, the Salvatores have a new enemy in Mason Lockwood. It appears that next week Mason will begin to stir the pot in Mystic Falls in the episode "Kill or Be Killed" and hopefully Caroline (played by Candice Accola) won't ruin that episode.