What Vampire Diaries and Originals teach us about the meaning of life

When our civilization crumbles to dust and nothing remains of our great works of art and literature, we'll probably still have The Vampire Diaries and The Originals to teach us the secrets of a good and happy life. Centuries from now, these texts will continue to guide and enlighten. So what did we learn from this week's outings?

Spoilers ahead...

This week's outings of Vampire Diaries and Originals were all about A) People sacrificing family for loveB) People making incredibly stupid and self-destructive decisions C) People discovering terrible secrets and D) Someone trying to manipulate one sibling into killing another sibling. These four thingsbasically explain all of human suffering, making TVD and TO foundational documents for the new society I am going to be founding in my underground bunker soon.

Let's go through these one by one, OK?

A) People sacrificing family for love

The theme of "family" wasn't all that important in the VampDi universe at first — ironically, as everybody's family members have gotten killed off, it's gained prominence. There are only three members of the once-sprawling Original family left, and Elena just has Jeremy at this point. Back when Damon killed his "Uncle" Jesse, nobody really spared much of a tear for the last human member of the Salvatore clan, but now it's all-family, all the time.

And in the view of the shows' writers, not only is family super-important, but choosing to put other things over family will usually bite you in the ass.

This time around, Nadia realizes that even though she sacrificed everything to save Katherine by transplanting Katherine into Elena's body, Katharine will always put her lust for Stefan ahead of loyalty to her daughter.

The most affecting scene in last night's TVD is probably where the always-great Matt — as Katherine observes, "Everybody loves Matt!" — compares Katherine to Matt's own mom, who would take off for days at a time with her latest guy, before crawling home for Matt tomake her another grilled-cheese sandwich. (Matt neglects to mention that he actually kicked his mom out once and for all.) I love when this show actually remembers the backstories of its characters and brings them up in ways that make emotional sense like that.

Nadia is never going to come first in Katherine's life — and Katherine's messed-up priorities are the proximate cause of Nadia getting bitten by Tyler Lockwood and probably dying of werewolf venom.

Meanwhile, the Original Sin of The Originals turns out to be that Marcel and Rebekah, who were in love and knew Klaus would never let them be together, decided to put their love over Rebekah's family loyalty. And so they convinced a gullible witch named Genevieve in 1919 to summon Rebekah's psycho father, Mikael, to New Orleans to chase Klaus away. Except that it backfired in some way we haven't seen yet.

B) People making incredibly stupid and self-destructive decisions

Well, summoning Mikael to New Orleans probably comes under this heading as well. So does Katherine deciding to hang around Stefan instead of getting the heck out of Dodge with her daughter and running off to Europe while she has the chance.

But also, the witches in this weeks' Originals are dumb as rocks. So they have Klaus, by far the most powerful and unstoppable of the Mikaelson clan, already imprisoned and immobilized with Papa Tunde's magic knife. They also have Rebekah right where they want her. If it's revenge they're after, they're pretty much there already. This is the part where you dig a deep hole miles from anywhere, put the still-daggered Klaus inside, and then pour a few thousand tons of concrete on top of him. With Klaus and Rebekah out of the picture, you just have to deal with Elijah, who's like a cat with a laser pointer when anybody dangles shiny clues in front of him. (And now I want someone to make an Elijah/laser-pointer GIF, where his eyes are following a red dot.)

Instead of doing the obvious thing and pressing their advantage, Celeste and the witch gang come up with a Rube Goldberg plan to reveal Rebekah's 1919 treachery to Klaus via telepathic memory-flashes, so Klaus will be really really pissed until something distracts him. (Actually, all of the Originals are like cats with laser pointers, now that I think about it.)

Oh, also Dr. Wes? Even dumber than most doctors who use their first name instead of their last name. Dr. Wes has injected Damon with the "cannibal vampire" virus that makes him feed on other vampires, but instead of just moving on and maybe testing it on some other experimental subjects who are more easily controlled, he gets the Travelers to trap Damon and Enzo in a house together, to force Damon to feed on Enzo. Nothing about this test is particularly scientific, and there's no control group or research protocols.

Most of all, Dr. Wes has apparently decided to rely on the Travelers to be his "backup" without knowing anything about them or what their goals are — and judging by every other alliance of expediency on this show, this is clearly going to turn out to be a terrible, horrible idea.

I guess the main lesson here? Keep it simple. If you have your worst enemy immobilized with a magic knife, don't un-immobilize him. Don't infect your most dangerous test subject with an experimental virus and then trap him in a house with his best friend, just kill him and find other subjects. Like Paul McCartney says, "What does it matter to ya? When you got a job to do, ya better do it well."

C) People discovering terrible secrets

See Klaus and Rebekah — but also, at long last, thanks to the ever-lovable Matt, Caroline finally got the clue that Elena isn't Elena. And Stefan, who spends the whole episode acting as though he couldn't spot a clue if one landed between his freakishly prehensile eyebrows, suddenly twigs to the facts about Elena as well.

Oh, and we're still playing the fallout from Tyler finding out that Caroline slept with Klaus — because Tyler will never be okay with her sleeping with the man who killed Tyler's mom after Tyler tried to kill him first. I thought the statute of limitations on murder in Mystic Falls was down to a month, but apparently Tyler has a freakishly long memory.

The main lesson here: Umm... don't do anything you wouldn't want everybody to know about within three episodes?

D) Brother killing brother (or sister)

That's the climax of both of these episodes, and in both cases we know it'll never happen. I guess Klaus isn't really going to kill Rebekah, per se— just stab her with the magic knife, which will immobilize her in horrible anguish forever. It's not clear whether, having stabbed her with the magic knife, Klaus will be able to pull it out of her again. (Or, now that Elijah has re-stabbed Klaus with it, whether he'll be able topull it out.)

Even with Klaus still weakened by his ordeal and overcome by the psychic television feed of Rebekah's memories, he has to be aware that he's being manipulated here. I half-expected Klaus to turn around and stab Genevieve instead of Rebekah — but no, he's just enough of a slave to his own rage that he goes after his sister instead.

The witches' plan to get Klaus to attack Rebekah and Marcel is a masterpiece, compared to Katherine's incredibly dunder-headed plan to get Stefan to kill Damon. Really, the notion that Katherine is a mastermind or a brilliant manipulator is seeming less and less plausible the more we see of her. She tries to goad the blood-crazed Damon into feeding on her, and then kicks a stake towards Stefan, who just stands there looking even more bewildered than usual. And then instead of stabbing his brother, Stefan offers up his own blood as a substitute — then snaps Damon's neck and gets him chained up in his comfy old basement cell.

Because in the Vampire Diaries teachings, Stefan is the ultimate sage. He sees without seeing. He acts without deliberation. He knows when the Holy Roman Empire fell. He cannot be seduced in tawdry hotel rooms by his possessed ex-girlfriend, because his heart is a calm pond. He was once the Ripper, but now he is a weaver. Or something.