Remember how boring Buffy's "First Evil" was? Vampire Diaries doesn't

There were a number of problems with the final season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer — but chief among them was the overuse of The First Evil, a malignant force that could appear as any dead person. Why did Vampire Diaries think copying that storyline was a good idea? Spoilers ahead...

I was all set for Silas, the First Immortal, to appear as Professor Shane from here on out, which seemed to be where the show was heading. It's a pretty reasonable solution to the problem of introducing a brand new villain this late in the season, since we were already used to seeing Shane be a major manipulative jerkwad. And actor TK TK has just the right oily creepiness to play an ageless dirtbag.

But instead, the writers decided to have Silas reveal that he could appear as anybody — not just any dead person, like the First Evil, but anybody at all. On the plus side, this leads to some good mindfucks, like when Tyler comes back to snog Caroline in the latest episode, and you think it must be Silas at first. But on the minus side, it's just a boring retread of a boring Buffy storyline. And the "villain who can be anybody" is a villain who doesn't get a chance to establish his or her identity in our minds.

So the main plot strand of last Thurday's episode involved Silas jerking the Salvatore brothers around, and then tricking Elijah into giving up the Cure for Immortality — which means he's nearly got everything he needs to bring all the supernatural dead back, a prospect which everybody seems to regard with as much alarm as a spot of rain. (Only Elena seems even mildly concerned this time around, and that only because there will be more people nagging her to turn her humanity back on.)

Elena, meanwhile, is being a megabitch once again, which is probably the most entertaining she's ever been. Watching her dance rings around the meatheaded Salvatore brothers is never not going to be entertaining. Elena correctly deduces that the easiest way to stop Silas is to kill Bonnie — which is the sort of thing they do every week on this show anyway. Kill whoever it's most expedient to kill. If they feel bad about it, they can do to Bonnie what they did to her mom: turn her into a vampire. But this time around, everybody fumbles for the high road.

The most interesting part of the episode, however, involves poor old Rebekah, who's still stuck on the idea of regaining her humanity. Elijah challenges her to go a whole day without using her vampire powers — and then Matt confronts her with a conundrum: in order to prove that she could be a good human, she has to use her inhuman powers to save April, who's just been mortally injured by Elena.

When Rebekah asks Matt if she would make "a good human," she doesn't mean "good" in the sense of "morally pure." She means "good" more in the sense of playing a part well . You get the sense that it's never even occurred to Rebekah that morality enters into any of this, or that having a frail, mostly powerless body means you have to try harder not to hurt other fragile, easily killed people.

The episode ends with Bonnie meeting the "real" Silas, who seems to have some kind of Phantom of the Opera thing going on — and she's clearly planning one of the feeble double crosses for which The Vampire Diaries is justly adored. Hopefully the reveal of "scarface Silas" means that the "First Evil Silas" thing is done with — on a show with so many people pretending to be something they're not, or impersonating their own doppelgangers, the "shape-shifting head-games-playing baddie" is probably just a bridge too far.

Oh, and sorry this recap is late! Will try to be more timely this week, as we watch the "backdoor pilot" for The Klaus Show. (Otherwise known as, Klaus!, in the style of all those great 1970s Mary Tyler Moore Show spin-offs. We'll be judging The Originals on a scale from Phyllis to Rhoda, with Lou Grant somewhere in the middle I guess.)