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'The Vampire Diaries' 'The Cell' recap: History repeating itself

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"The Vampire Diaries" season 5 continued Thursday, Dec. 5, with episode 9, "The Cell," which revealed a part of Damon's past he had kept secret from everyone and saw Katherine get to what was really bothering Stefan.

Torture, parties, and blood, oh my! This week's "TVD" flashed back to the 1950s and revealed what Damon went through while he was one of Augustine's lab rats after a relative sold him out. However, Damon did get back at him before collapsing with a nicely placed glass to his throat. Dr. Whitmore claimed his experiments were for the advancement of science. Vampire blood healed others, and a vampire's body healed itself. His torture methods were gruesome and included taking out pieces of vampires' eyes.

Damon had been there five years and had made a friend in Enzo, who had kept Damon going all those years. He told him to live for the future, the future where he would get his revenge. Enzo told him about the girl he had met there, who had worked for Dr. Whitmore and been kind to him until she learned that Whitmore was doing more than just observing him. She had left, but Damon told him the relationship would have been doomed from the beginning since she was human.

When Dr. Whitmore came to choose a subject, he drifted towards Damon, citing that he had more energy, but Enzo got his attention instead. When Dr. Whitmore returned, after Damon could only listen to his friend being tortured, Damon asked the big "why" question. Whitmore said he wanted to understand them so he could put them to use. However, they were let out of the basement once a year, for the big New Year's party, where they were put on display and Dr. Whitmore showed off the healing power of their blood, and Enzo came up with a plan: if one of them drank the two daily rations of blood for a year, he'd be strong enough to fight.

Damon won the rock-paper-scissors, and when he got out at the party, it wasn't pretty. His feeding frenzy and first victim began with Dr. Whitmore once the doctor brought him out of the cage for his guests, but in the panic that followed, a fire began, and Damon couldn't free Enzo from the cage because of the vervain on the bars. It was his only chance to save himself, and so he turned off his emotions so he'd stop caring about Enzo. He left him there to die.

Back in a familiar place As last week's episode ended, Damon found himself in the cell he had been kept in his first time around with Augustine, replacing the test subject Wes lost, the mad scientist explained, adding he was ready to take his research to the next level after seeing Jesse had craved vampire, not human, blood. However, this time, Elena turned to Aaron for help, bringing up the suspicious "suicides" of his friend and roommate (campus security declared Jesse's death a suicide), and told him that Damon had went to talk to Wes the night before and no one had heard from them. He took her to the Whitmore House, and fortunately he could invite her in because he technically owned it. Yes, Aaron was a Whitmore. Wes showed himself, and Elena ended up in the cell right next to Damon's, the one that had been Enzo's, and she was armed with a new piece of information: her father had been a doctor for Augustine—and one of their best.

While Wes told Aaron the truth about his parents' deaths, his research, and vampires (and offered a slightly better birthday present in a watch that was his great grandfather's), Damon promised Elena he'd get her out of there and told her about his not so pretty past with Augustine. She figured Stefan would find them, but Damon explained he never told his brother because he didn't want to give him something else to feel guilty about. After Wes was done talking, Aaron punched him, grabbed a gun, and went down to talk to Elena and Damon.

Since Aaron knew Elena was a vampire, he blamed her for killing Megan and his parents, but Damon revealed he was the one to kill Aaron's parents—and his aunt a few months ago, on a simple weekend trip to Charleston. Yes, when he and Elena were together. The revenge he had focused on while locked up in the 1950s was killing everyone in the Whitmore family, but always leaving one to carry out the family name before he started killing again, generation to generation. Aaron shot him in the head, and when Damon came to, Elena wasn't in her cell. She was strapped down to a table, and Enzo was on the table next to hers.

About that PTSD… Stefan had Katherine on suicide watch, and this doppelganger didn't take to writing in a journal like Elena did. She also pointed out that having PTSD-boy who destroyed chairs look after her wasn't exactly a solid plan, and so she called in backup: Caroline. Caroline had her own ideas about how Stefan should face his problems, and with her best friend making poor decisions (in her opinion, and not just when it came to killing Jesse, but also when it came to choosing boyfriends), she was focused on helping Stefan her way. That meant locking him in the safe, and after a question from Katherine about whether she and Stefan had ever… that actually got a "seriously?!" reaction from the blonde vampire, Katherine came up with an idea to help the guy who was always busy rescuing everyone else and climbed into the safe with him.

Stefan needed to get over his PTSD or he'd kill it. "You're Stefan Salvatore," she told him, throwing his words back at him. "Suck it up." Katherine had realized that his problem was that he was still in love with Elena, miserable she chose Damon, and couldn't bring himself to leave town and get away from their happiness. It was easier for him to focus on the physical pain than his emotional heartbreak, Katherine explained, as she did a much better job of diagnosing him than Caroline did trying to read a textbook. Katherine was there to help him, and just as they were about to kiss, Caroline opened the safe, worried about how quiet it had been. Later, as he was cleaning up a broken chair, he admitted Katherine was right, and that was when they kissed. However, Caroline overheard and added a "call ASAP" to the end of her message for Elena.

As for the MIA… Presumably Bonnie and Jeremy were too busy "registering for classes" in this episode and Matt was celebrating having his body back to himself.

"The Vampire Diaries" season 5 airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on the CW. What did you think of episode 9 "The Cell"?

© Meredith Jacobs 2013

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