When the Lockwood's host another weekly charity at their estate, Stefan and Damon decide to go on the offensive and take down Catherine once and for all.
It's another evening under the stars in a masquerade themed party but while Catherine straightens her hair, the Salvatores, Bonnie, Caroline, Jeremy and Alaric hatch an all or nothing plan to either save the ones they love – or write their own death certificates. At the party, Stefan's pursuit of the truth behind the purpose of the moonstone leads to a battle to the death against Catherine with Damon by his side until she reveals another trick up her sleeve with unexpected consequences. Never one to shy away from underage drinking, Tyler Lockwood has his own party in the office but before it can be just another high school get together, his family curse is finally unleashed.
"The Masquerade" can be summarized in one word: fantastic. Most shows will wait until the season finale to have an episode this good, but The Vampire Diaries managed to deliver a mere seven episodes into the season with a story line that has tied up all loose ends and arcs that have been developing since the beginning of the season. This episode is equally character, action and drama with incredible pacing. I'm pretty sure it was around twenty minutes into the show when I checked the time to see how so much had happened in such a short span. My only slight is that the Catherine story arc has been temporarily resolved because she was a great villain and it was remarkable how Nina Dobrev is able to portray her better than Elena.
Even when the action and tension were at their peaks, The Vampire Diaries did not forget to take the time to expose the truth. After the blistering pace of the clash of Stefan and Damon vs. Catherine, it would have been almost impossible to top that but rather than continue the fight, the show displayed restraint by forcing the three of them to talk. Not only did this raise the tension even further by preventing them from continuing the tussle, but it also set up future stories by vaguely introducing an unknown enemy and following through in the closing moments of the episode.
Moments between Catherine and Damon are always a standout and this episode was no exception. Each attack Damon (played by Ian Somerhalder) made against Catherine during their fight scene was meant to kill without hesitation and afterwards Stefan holds Damon back like an animal possessed. Their twisted love/hate relationship with over a hundred and fifty years of history felt like it was culminating near the end of the episode when Damon sealed Catherine into the tomb where he believed she was trapped.
Wherever The Vampire Diaries goes from here, I am confident they are headed in the right direction. "The Masquerade" was an outstanding episode that refused to hold back and brought the characters together in a way I did not think was possible. While Catherine could have easily been the villain for the rest of the season, The Vampire Diaries rejects the idea of stagnancy by going forward, taking risks and telling excellent stories.