407 – My Brother’s Keeper

 

The Good

Gilbert Family Matters









Sophy says: This is pretty much the best thing that’s happened on this show in a long time. And no, I don’t say that because it’s high time somebody stabbed Elena in the neck and tried to stake her. Get out, haters, get out. I say it because there is no relationship on the show that is more pure and more steadfast than the one between Elena and Jeremy, and I have been waiting with bated breath for the show to give them an arc. They’ve had plenty of awesome sibling scenes, but thus far they’ve all been incidental to other arcs, rather than integral to one of their very own. Even the adoption plot-line was more about Elena’s doppelganger status than it was about her relationship with Jeremy. So it’s really exciting to see them centre stage.

That’s why I’ll forgive them for the slight ridiculousness of Jeremy only wounding Stefan, a vampire who’s killed tens of thousands of innocent people, who abused his sister physically and emotionally only weeks earlier, who’s just physically and emotionally abused him, and about whom he does not personally give a fig. And then he goes directly to a party attended by Caroline, Tyler, Damon and Klaus, and tries to kill this vampire, this vampire who is still essentially good, who has killed only one person and only because he was trying to kill her and Jeremy himself, and who is his one and only darling sister – always has been – always will be. But maybe there is nothing to forgive. Let me fanwank this. It can be done.

There is a level on which it makes sense that Elena would be Jeremy’s primary target. Or rather, the hunter’s primary target. Sure, the hunter could force Jeremy’s hand to kill a whole lot of vampires, thereby gaining more and more control over his psyche. Or he could make a grab for that power in one fell swoop, by eliminating the person who matters most. If Elena dies Jeremy will be lost, rudderless and extremely vulnerable. And if he can kill her himself, he can kill anyone.

Not in practical terms of course. And that’s another reason the hunter targets her. She is the youngest vampire at that party and the most exposed to him by her relationship with the body he’s inhabiting. Basically, she’s his easiest mark in practical terms and his most agonizing mark in emotional terms. And I can see why that would work. And there again, maybe Elena is the most innocent of them all, but that one person she did kill was a hunter – perhaps the hunter in Jeremy actually wants revenge on her for that murder more than he wants revenge on all the others for their murdering of innocents. After all, Connor never really figured as a righteous avenger on behalf of humanity, given how willing he was to use humans as pawns, to the point of leaving an innocent girl bleeding as vampire bait.

Of course it still doesn’t really explain why he left Stefan alive. You might want to say that it was Jeremy who angry with him, whilst the hunter in him was somewhat grateful for being given a foothold. But I still don’t think these hunter guys really operate on gratitude to vampires. It seems to me that a vampire could devote his life to curing cancer and still get a swift stake to the heart from a hunter. So I guess we have to say that the hunter in Jeremy ebbs and flows – and maybe that it was more the Jeremy in Jeremy that gave Stefan a good old non-fatal staking. I kind of like that interpretation.

But whatever. This is glorious. Jeremy, who once said that nobody would fight as hard for Elena as he would, is now fighting against her. He has become a thing that wants to murder his own sister, by the very action that was motivated by saving his sister at all costs. How tragic is that? How poetic is it? And full marks to Steven McQueen. The way his face changes in this scene from cold, closed-off determination, to loathing and rage, to the deepest regret and sadness. Truly his best work to date.

And how genius is it that Jeremy/the hunter uses a trick on her that he learned in that episode when she saved him. When she fed him her blood and then gasped at the scent of his and hid her face from him. And he said she didn’t have to. He said he knew she would never hurt him. And how gloriously does it ache that when she echoes those words now, he doesn’t believe her? And how utterly brilliant is it that when he stabs her he stabs her in the neck, just as she did to him in her hunter curse-induced hallucination in the previous episode? The layering of real and imposed motivations here is just horrifying and enthralling.

My thoughts on Elena’s sire bond will be discussed below – I’ll let you guess how far below – but I do think it is interesting that both the Gilbert siblings are having their free will violated at the same time. I can’t help hoping the two arcs will intertwine in some way.

Also, Jer! You learned to whittle! Kudos! You could open up some kind of arts and craft store someday.

&

Klaus/Hummingbird OTP









Sophy says: I know many people feel that Klaus treads a little too heavily on the cheesy side of things with his pony drawings and his stories about hummingbirds and their little pattering hearts… but I love him. I really, really do. I actually find him to be an intriguing mix of opposites. On the one hand he is cheesy as hell, on the other he is culturally sophisticated on a level nobody else on this show is. On the one hand he is an adorable scamp, on the other hand he is a possessive, vindictive psycho-case who puts his sister in boxes every now and then. On the one hand he is extremely well-mannered, on the other hand he threatens to kill his date when she pisses him off.

Whatever facet of Klaus’ fractured psyche is in play at any given time, Joseph Morgan knocks it out of the park. And whilst he’s the most evil evil in town, he is good company. I can see why Caroline likes to be around him, and I can also see why she’s letting herself like it. I think in her mind she is so adamantly closed to the idea of ever letting herself have actual feelings for him that she can actually let herself like him in the moment. Let’s see how long she can keep that house of cards standing.

And man, she really is enjoying him in this episode, isn’t she? So much so that I wondered for a while if she was doing it to make Tyler jealous. But there doesn’t seem to be that vibe going on. In fact, if anything, she seems very resigned to the end of her relationship with him, having made no move to talk to him or try to work through their issues.

I know that Tyler/Caroline shippers must be bitterly disappointed by this, but I can’t say that I’m surprised. I never saw that relationship as a go-er long-term precisely because Caroline never seemed as into him as she was into Matt, precisely because they never really connected on an intellectual level the way she seems to be connecting with Klaus. I would never want to say that Tyler/Caroline was purely sexual, even if it did seem that all they ever got to do on screen was have sex. There was a huge emotional aspect to their relationship – and probably still is on some level. It was all about comfort. Caroline was there for Tyler when he was the most afraid and the most vulnerable he’s ever been. And in turn, Tyler was very good at soothing the wounds that Matt had left behind.

But whilst they were deeply important to each other in those ways and very attractive to one another sexually it wasn’t enough to take them to the next level. And I really feel that the ease with which Caroline is letting him go is troubling even to her. But more on that later. Below.

I loved everything about Caroline and Klaus’ interactions in this episode, from the fact that she was flustered and angry and wanted the date to be at the movies where she could put three seats between them and they didn’t have to talk – because, let’s be real, the talking is the best part with Klaus and Caroline knows it and she’s a little bit afraid of just how good it is. And then she realized maybe it would be best to have the date coincide with this function, at which Klaus would make a rather dapper date to anybody who didn’t know what he really was, and at which she would justifiably be so busy as to be spared any real one-on-one time. Except then she wanted the one-on-one time, didn’t she? Because there’s no denying that she took it at the first possible opportunity.

I loved Klaus coming up to her when she’s mouthing off at Elena about Damon and telling her that she’s making a scene. First because it was cute as hell, but second because it was just a hilarious way of highlighting how hypocritical Caroline was being in that moment. And then she was all “How did I become the bad guy?” because she really isn’t letting herself do much reflecting lately, because reflecting is hard and she is too full of feelings and it’s much easier to just try to control someone else’s life and make it neat and tidy, pretty Stefans all in a row and not a Klaus in sight, isn’t it? And then Klaus is all “I’ll tell you all about being the bad guy,” and it’s so corny and delicious and I love his stupid, adorable, crazy-ass face so much.

And then they talk and he teases her about her Miss Mystic application and she huffs and giggles and looks at him like he’s the cute boy in grade school who’s just punched in the arm and run off and she is all a’ flutter. And then she asks him real questions, like whether he would ever want to be human, and later he makes a point of answering her and tells her this amazingly sappy story about a hummingbird and her little face is all ‘Oh Klaus. Whatever will we do with you. Aside from really really like you when we really really shouldn’t.’

And I loved his hummingbird story even if it was sappy. He made an excellent point about how empty life can be when you have everything, how little there can seem to be to do when you have all the time in the world to do it. It really hit a nerve with me, and made me realize how much Caroline has lost by becoming a vampire, even as she has gained: she will never be so innocent again, and she will never be so driven.

And that’s the main thing I loved about the hummingbird story: how very much it was all about Caroline without seeming to be. Because that hummingbird is Caroline Forbes, you guys. Fluttering around, working overtime to keep up, trying and trying and trying till her little heart can’t take it, and curling up in relief every day that it doesn’t give out. That hummingbird is the Caroline Forbes we met back in season 1; the flighty, panicky, peppy, insecure, kiddie-pool Caroline. The one who felt so deeply unseen and unchosen and fought so valiantly against that. And what Klaus is saying is that the one single time in his whole thousand-year existence that he wanted to be human again? He wanted to be a human like her.

I really believe that’s what he is telling her, and it is pretty fucking subtle and romantic you guys. I know Klaus a raving psychopath and a cheesy motherfucker, but he’s pretty suave too. This cannot be denied.

And you know, he’s just so damn interested in Caroline, and in the Caroline she used to be, in the Caroline a part of her still sees as her authentic self, and I think that really gets to her. Because exactly what she didn’t feel back then was interesting. To Matt she was fun. To Tyler she was comforting. But to Klaus she is interesting. And that’s a big deal.

And I love that he didn’t have the privilege of being there when she poured her little hummingbird heart out to Bonnie – “I try so hard, and I’m never the one” – but he has made the effort to dig around to find that girl. And he reads this part out loud: “I promise to aspire, inspire and perspire,” and he makes fun of it, but it’s clear that he admires it too. Caroline was determined to be a little hummingbird every day of her little life. Working so hard everyday to be the best human she could be. And Klaus finds that beguiling.

And I find it interesting that Klaus was such a gentleman about the date having been something less of a gentleman to wangle it out of her. Because he really doesn’t push for sexual tension, but rather keeps them at a surprisingly easy and respectful camaraderie. And maybe he’s playing a long game, but he is certainly playing it well.

Something I found interesting: earlier in the episode when Klaus overhears Stefan’s phonecall and accosts him in the woods, he refers to his darling Caroline as a “teenage sycophant”. I call jealousy. Big, ugly jealousy. I guess someone else didn’t enjoy all the gushing on Stefan she was doing, huh?

Please let this be the start of my Stefan/Caroline/Klaus love triangle. Please.

OH. And major props to the show for its use of the instrumental ‘Falling Slowly’. Beautiful.



Sophy says: Is that seriously even a question, Caroline?

&

Matt, basically.




Sophy says: Oh Matt. You are the best one. If the world were a fair place in which everyone chose the most deserving candidate, you and Elena would probably end up together. Or you and Caroline. But the world isn’t fair, so on you solider, chaperoning one ex to a party another is hosting, stepping in at the last minute to dance with a forlorn teen with a crush like some kind of Mr Knightley, saving Elena’s life with the power of your good, good soul, stepping in to be Jeremy’s protector even though the guy is jacked and the hunter in him is more than capable of killing you if you get in the way of his plans or even just in service of them.

You are the best one. And when you read from Professor Shady’s hunter notes like it’s an unusually complicated recipe for cheesecake, you make my heart skip a beat.

&

All of this up until the point of it became apparent.










Sophy says: Oh god this was just so cute and shiny and bubbly and hilarious. It’s rare to actually get the see the girls being friends, and it’s even rarer to get to see them being friends in a cheerful, frivolous way. And April is hilarious. Really, her face when she butted in to say she cared about Damon’s opinion was the best thing.

I also died when Caroline threw whatever it was she was holding at Damon like a two year old and Damon just dodged it and was all “Lol whatever.” And Elena’s stupid face when he showed up. BE MORE IN LOVE, GIRL???

And then Damon was bringing up the last Miss Mystic Falls and I was dying all over the place, most especially because in true Damon fashion he was doing it in the least mushy way possible, by pointing out that he voted for the girl with the slit up her dress, and that Elena wore blue and she didn’t win. It just had this adorable teasing edge to it and everything was so light and alive and it felt like we were back in season 1 but a way better version of season 1 and just…

BEST BEST BEST.

And then Elena had to be all “The red is pretty……??????” And I was out. See below.

&

I’m not going to pretend I didn’t enjoy this.

Sophy says: Deserved.

&

Subtle.


Sophy says: I always love it when Damon faces off with the new super villain and they basically flirt via threats and eyebrow raises.



Sophy says: WOOF GENE FOR THE WIN. This totally makes up for her being on Team Evil.



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The Bad

Black tie not-ional for Bonnie Bennett.


Sophy says: Real question: Does Katerina Graham have some kind of clause in her contract that prevents her from wearing formal-wear?

I was very disappointed to see Bonnie not present at yet another one of the town’s glamorous functions, and with the flimsiest of witch-business excuses. Most of the time spells are the only reason she’s allowed to be somewhere. Now they’re the reason she’s not allowed to be somewhere. Bah.

And it really did feel artificial to have Elena going to Caroline about Stefan and not Bonnie. I know there’s this underlying tension between the two of them since Elena became a vampire, and I know Bonnie did get her judge on re: Damon when she saw Elena feeding at the party… but I really feel Elena should cut her some slack about that. First of all it would have been quiet a shocking image for her to see. Second, Elena herself was acting like she was traumatized and out-of-control. It’s kind of hard for Bonnie to not blame Damon in those circumstances. And I still do think that Bonnie would have been a better friend to her about all of this than Caroline was.

There’s always been this unfair perception of Bonnie as exceptionally judgmental, which I think has its roots in Damon whining about her not liking vampires because she’s a witch (or, you know, just smart). But it really is unfair. I’m not sure Bonnie would approve of Elena pursuing a relationship with Damon, but can we all please take a moment to remember her reaction when Damon told her they kissed last season? I fully expected Elena to get into that car with Bonnie and be lectured all the way to her Abby’s place and back to Mystic Falls. But she wasn’t. Bonnie played it cool. She encouraged Elena to open up. She actually asked her if it was good, like a normal girlfriend would about a normal boy.

And that’s why Bonnie is the one Elena should have been going to to help her work through her feelings. Either her or Matt. He’s shown a remarkable capacity for being a non-judgmental sounding board when it comes to her Salvabros issues.

BECAUSE HE IS THE BEST ONE.

&

 

Showed up just in time to get her crown, huh?


Sophy says: Okay, this was ridiculous. At the last Miss Mystic we were told that Elena had submitted her application months earlier when her mother was still alive. And Caroline was chosen over her at least in part because of all the work she’d done in the community. Now April can be a last-minute entry and win. When she’s been in town for five minutes thereby making it impossible for her to have much of a community work resume? Either all the other girls were jokes or someone was working the sympathy vote this year in a way they weren’t willing to for Elena last year.

But whatever. ENJOY YOUR TIARA, APRIL. ENJOY IT BEFORE QUINN SNATCHES IT OFF YOUR LITTLE HEAD AND PUTS IT ON RACHEL’S.

&

“Epic.”


Sophy says: I’m really not sure why the writers insist on having Caroline dredge up the epic word every so often. Are they trying to mock the Stefan/Elena relationship? I would have thought that any talk about the two of them being epic would be one of those things the writers would rather pretend never happened, like Damon and his crow/fog schtick.

But whatever. The issue I have with Caroline in this episode runs much deeper than her teen-speak.

Because Caroline, Caroline, Caroline. Way to sublimate! That’s what she told Stefan to do at the start of the episode and that’s what she did all throughout the episode herself. She feels out of control in her own romantic life so she sublimated by controlling someone else’s instead – and angrily planning and hosting an elaborate party helped take the edge off too. Caroline was projecting her issues onto Elena big-time in this episode, and that’s why we should all take her attitude with a grain of salt.

I mean, yes, she was a crappy friend to Elena. To the point where I began wondering if it was in fact Stefan who was her best friend these days. To the point where I in fact began to worry that she’d someone been mystically sired to him – yes she was that far up his ass and it was not pleasant to watch.

I can fully understand Caroline not being on Team Damon or Team Damon/Elena. But she should at least be making an effort to be on Team Elena. And she shouldn’t be a raging hypocrite. I mean, really, she gets all up in Elena’s face about having feelings for Damon, when she’s at a party with Klaus and not even pretending not to have a good time? Sure, Damon physically and emotionally abused her when he first showed up in town, and she should be angry about that. She has no responsibility to forgive it, and she has a right to feel hurt about it. But if she’s going to spend the whole time thinking it’s cool to drink champagne and ask real questions and tease and laugh and hummingbird around with the guy who killed Jenna and Elena in season 2, and who what? A few weeks ago was trying to drain Elena to death in the name of making his hybrid army… that is just hypocrisy of the first order.

And then she’s a double hypocrite, because she’s singing Stefan’s praises and acting like Elena is some kind of jerk because he’s “heartbroken,” and sweet mother of god, Caroline, it’s probably been, like, a month since he was slaughtering innocents, physically and emotionally abusing Elena, and not giving an actual fuck about whether Jeremy dies so he can get what he wants. I’ll cut Caroline slack for not knowing that Stefan was in fact doing that last one again in this very episode, because of course shady Stef didn’t tell her any of that. Because he is just that manipulative and sneaky.

It’s very clear from Caroline’s hypocrisy, from her hyperbolic tone – “Damon is never right!” – and from her surprise at Elena having feelings for Damon when she already knew full well that she did, that we’re not supposed to see Caroline as the voice of reason here. And yes, she’s mean and insensitive to Elena about the whole thing, but I don’t think we should to be too angry with her for that. And after all, Elena isn’t all that sensitive to her, either is she? I mean, she expected Caroline to be understanding about her feelings for Damon without so much as a ‘Hey I know this will be hard for you on account of how he violated the hell out of you back in the day.’

And maybe if Elena had brought that into play, Caroline would have been forced to acknowledge that it was unfair of her to cheerlead for Stefan when he had violated the hell out of Elena just recently, and that it was a bit on the nose to be going on about Damon when Klaus is her date.

But since neither of them were willing to go to that place they were in a kind of a deadlock. And, you know, Elena wasn’t willing to go there because she’s still not ready to face the fact that some of the reason why she broke up with Stefan is because he’s not the person she thought he was. And Caroline wasn’t willing to go there because she’s nowhere near ready to admit that she was anything but coerced into making Klaus her date.

I think that really is at the heart of the issue for Caroline. She’s overidentifying with Elena’s situation and colouring it with her own.

As fraught as the relationship was Tyler was a safe, comfortable choice for Caroline. Like Matt, he’s a guy she has known her whole life, who’s lived his whole life in the same small town as her. And in her mind she’s aligning Tyler with Stefan, and leaving out the part where Tyler has never done anything to her that compares to what Stefan has done to Elena. So she thinks Elena should stick by him, because he shouldn’t be heartbroken, because she’s really quite heartbroken that she may be breaking Tyler’s heart. Because she really, really cares about him.

And she really, really likes Klaus. So in her mind she’s aligning Klaus with Damon – the dangerous bad-boy choice that a Good Girl would never make. The kind of choice that would lead to her heart getting broken and miscellaneous people’s hearts getting ripped out.

And here’s where the overidentification gets really interesting. Elena can’t want her Damon because her Damon is Caroline’s Klaus. Because on a twisted subconscious level, Klaus represents the chance to try again with that Damon-fantasy she had right back at the start of the series – the one that turned out to be a nightmare.

Remember that time she got the hot brother except she really, really didn’t? That time it turned out to be all about Elena. And now it looks like Elena’s going to go ahead and want said hot brother and take him and have him, and don’t misunderstand me readers, I’m not suggesting in any way that deep down Caroline wants to date Damon. She would rather stab herself in the eye with a plastic fork till her eyeball came out. But on some subconscious level I’d be willing to bet that it still rankles that he wanted Elena all along – at first to screw with his brother and then to steal her from him – and that when he looks Elena’s way through a crowd now the way he looked Caroline’s way once through a crowd… it’s actually real. The entire mysterious older man fantasy Caroline constructed out of that one look at the end of a long, lonely night in 102… Elena is getting to live it for real.

And maybe a part of her really wants to live it now, with Klaus. And she’s terrified by that – as she should be. Because as cuddly as he can be Klaus is, at the end of the day, terrifying. But it’s more than that. If she lets Elena have feelings for Damon, she might let herself have feelings for Klaus. And if she lets herself have feelings for Klaus then she’ll feel like she’s told herself everything Damon did to her in season 1 was okay.

Now of course it’s not and it never will be. He can save her life till the cows come home, that trauma is never going away. He could even be nice to her and it would get him nowhere and that’s fair and proper and as it should be. And no matter who she has a relationship with in the future it’s never going to disculpate him either.

But I really do think that condoning Elena’s feelings for Damon is very much bound up in her heart and mind with not only the trauma she suffered at his hands… but the plain hurt and humiliation. And maybe it’s frustrating that she can’t talk to Elena about that out loud. But maybe it’s understandable too.

So yeah. Caroline is very much lacking in objectivity re: Damon/Elena. But it doesn’t suck. It’s actually awesome. And really this whole portion of the discussion should be up in the ‘Good’ section. Because it’s fascinating you guys! Look how much I just wrote about it! Look how it makes us all think!

Elena, Damon and Damon/Elena fans have a a complete right to disagree with Caroline’s attitude in this episode. But that doesn’t mean we have to hate her! One of the great things about Caroline is that she manages to be a bubbly blonde with a heart of gold and the spirit of a warrior… without being nauseatingly perfect. She is frequently domineering, invasive, and willfully blind. These are character flaws and they are a good thing. They are a human thing.

And that’s why Caroline fans shouldn’t be running around trying to defend her by pretending she was right or nice or fair or to-be-approved. A character doesn’t have to be perfect to be awesome. In fact I’d say a character had to be imperfect to be awesome. So don’t fight it! Fellow Caroline lovers, let her be unfair. Elena lovers, don’t hate her for it – and recognize that Elena was kind of unfair to her too.



Sophy says: Poor Caroline. Stanning Stefan/Elena can be so confusing.

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The Ugly
Stefan, basically.




Sophy says: Well wasn’t Stefan Salvatore the douchiest douche who has ever douched in this episode? I have to say, it’s pretty sad that in an episode in which Damon slept with his brother’s ex mere days after they split up, he still comes out looking like the more mature, kind and decent of the two.

Okay, so. Let’s start at the beginning.

You know how I mentioned last week that Stefan desperately needed to be able to move on from Elena in order to experience some personal growth?

Well multiply that by a thousand. “Elena and I broke up, by definition I don’t need to be anywhere,” was not romantic. It wasn’t even “depressing”. It was flat-out horrifying. Because it’s an outright admission that he still stands by what he said in season 3 – that nothing matters to him except Elena. And that sets my teeth on edge even more than Tyler’s puppy-loved-up “Everything I like about me is you”.

And it’s also why Caroline, however much I love their chemistry, is the worst possible sober sponsor for him. As if he didn’t already do a good enough job of it for himself, she attaches everything to Elena. What Caroline should be doing is sitting down with him and telling him to man up, that friends are important, that living is important, that not killing people is important, and it’s got nothing to do with whether he gets the girl or not. Instead she keeps him on the wagon in the most band-aidy way possible – by telling him to focus his energies on getting Elena back.

She tells him to sublimate, and she tells him to do it by focusing on the cure. And that’s exactly how Stefan ends up channeling all of the same qualities that make him a ripper – selfishness, ruthlessness, secretiveness, hubris, denial, a propensity for detachment and an overwhelming need to bend the universe to his will – into the search for the cure.

That’s why he goes to a hospital to find victims for Jeremy. Sure, he gets lucky and finds an unrepentant convicted murderer to turn, but exactly how often would you expect to find one of those shackled to a bed in a small-town hospital? 0.2 percent of the never? Stefan clearly went there with the intention of picking a patient he felt was close enough to death that it didn’t matter if he terrorized them, it didn’t matter if he traumatized their family, it didn’t matter if he stole their final moments with the people they loved and made their passing an ugly mystery to haunt them for the rest of their lives. And I hate that the show gave him an out in terms of what he actually ended up doing. But at the same time, given their propensity to absolve Stefan entirely, I have to give them props for letting him be openly and clearly shitty in this episode… even if nobody but Jer got to stake him about it.

So Stefan takes this guy he’s just turned and chains him up in the old Lockwood cellar, and texts Jeremy to come meet him and tell no one, and Jeremy does what he says, and it makes me so sad, because he does it precisely because he’s so desperate to not hurt his sister… and all it does is make him hurt his sister. And Stefan is responsible for that. He really is. But more on that later.

When Jeremy arrives at the cellar, Stefan plays on that desire, telling him he’s got a chance to make his sister human again, and poor Jer is so eager to do that – not because she’s become “one of them” – she’s still the same girl to him – he still recognizes her even if Stefan doesn’t – but because he’s changing, because he’s starting to see her through a hunter’s eyes, if only in his dreams at this stage. And so he’s willing and ready to help Stefan… only that’s where Stefan stops with the softly, softly approach. That’s where, once again, his ripper instincts kick in, and he starts terrorizing and bullying Jeremy, eventually resorting to assaulting him, using the homicidal vampire he’s just made as his weapon, and finally resorting to actively threatening to kill him with that weapon if he doesn’t comply. His behaviour in this scene is sickening, and there is nothing, nothing to justify it.

The only argument he might, and I say might have for doing anything remotely like this, is that he was threatened by Klaus, who is able to carry out any threats he makes due to him being bigger and stronger than everybody. But let’s look at the fact that Klaus threatened to kill both Stefan and Damon if Stefan told Damon about the cure… and then he finds that Stefan has been telling all and sundry and he what? Tackles him and whispers gruffly in his ear about it? He may be able to carry out his threats, but it doesn’t seem like he actually wants to. And something else that struck me: in the scene in the woods at the start of the episode Klaus did make a threat. But against Stefan and only Stefan.

That means that either way Stefan was acting out of self-interest. It was different in the last episode when Elena was being driven to suicide by the curse. In that context I can see why Stefan would encourage Jeremy to compromise himself. But in these circumstances? Where Elena is healthy and happy and in control and the only major symptom of her disease is that she likes Damon better than him? He really has no excuse for not even attempting to find an alternative to Jeremy.

And that’s the problem. At the start of the episode Damon warned Stefan about precisely this issue. Well, actually, he didn’t so much warn Stefan as casually mention that they needed to look for another hunter like it was the most obvious thing in the world because, frankly, it was. You guys, Matt Donovan knew the situation was dangerous for Jeremy. And that’s before Jeremy started having those freaky dreams. Did you all see his face when Jeremy lifted the kegs down from the back of the truck? Notice how he told him he needed to be careful because he didn’t want to end up like Connor, and you know, attack his sister? Stefan should have known that what he was doing would destroy Jeremy, even without being actually told by Damon. But he was channeling the ripper again, in that he was detached, refusing to respond to his brother’s sincere attempts to reach out; in that he was arrogant, thinking he didn’t need to listen to Damon despite the fact that Damon instincts are dead-on 90% of the time; and in that he was secretive, shutting Damon out even though he’d be an asset, lying to him and lying to Elena, because yes, he was still working with Klaus, and yes, he was being shady in the extreme.

So Stefan pulls this shit, and then Damon calls him and says “Please don’t tell me you’ve roped Jeremy into a world of crazy,” and this is where we know for sure that Stefan was aware of the probable consequences. Because he doesn’t say “Wait what? Sorry I wasn’t listening earlier today because I was too busy sulking, and I didn’t figure it out for myself because I have mushy peas for brains; how might growing Jer’s hunter’s mark make him crazy?”

No. He just blithely tells Damon that he “no choice” because “Elena needs a cure.” Which, no, you massive douchebag, you did have a choice, because there is always a choice, so man up and admit that you simply chose Elena over Jeremy, or, more accurately, you chose yourself over Jeremy, because Elena was fine until you started messing with this shit, and you didn’t even know about the sire bond yet, and the cure is all about what you need, not what Elena needs. But Stefan can’t man up. He just goes back to doing that quintessentially ripper, quintessentially Stefan thing: solving his problems with denial. That’s how he can say, with a straight face, that he didn’t have a choice, that Elena needs the cure. That’s how he can sleep at night. He is just that deluded.

Next, Damon correctly points out that he might be just a little bit self-serving and just a little bit blind to it, and Stefan incorrectly points out that Damon might be the one who’s self-serving and blind, and Damon tells him to leave it alone, which is remarkably mild by Damon’s standards, and I’m pretty touched even in the midst of wanting to punch Stefan in the face, because you guys Damon is cutting his brother slack on account of his being heartbroken, and maybe I don’t agree with it, because these actions merit no slack, but it’s still the sweetest.

Anyway, Stefan most certainly does not leave it alone. He keeps sublimating – channeling all the pain of being rejected and all the doubt that he might actually be a delusional asshole into this cure business. He walks back into the cellar where Jeremy stands hunched and utterly traumatized, utterly changed because of what he has just forced him to do, and he asks, with his particular brand of casual detachment, how far the mark has grown. Not a word of comfort or kindness or apology – because it would be ridiculous in the context of what he has just done to him – but beyond that because it would be ridiculous in the context of their entire relationship.

I’ve always believed that Stefan only made an effort to care about people because Elena did. I think I touched on this in a previous recap, but really, he’s never had half the bond with Jeremy that Damon does, despite being the ‘Good Brother,’ and now that it looks like Elena’s not into him anymore he’s not interested in making an effort.

Of course it would be better to be kind to Jeremy if he ever wants to get rechosen by Elena, but to be fair, Elena has taught him that it doesn’t matter what he does – over and over – she’s told him that he gets chosen no matter what, that he gets validated no matter what, that he gets brought back into the fold no matter what.

So Stefan makes no effort to be anything but a first class dick to Jeremy, and not in a funny way, in a seriously unnerving way that has nothing to do with him being a vampire, and everything to do with him being a bully. When Jeremy civilly tells him what should be obvious – that he’s not going to share information with him because he can’t trust him anymore – Stefan doesn’t even try to negotiate. He goes straight to getting up in his face, telling him to give him what he wants or he’ll make him – classic bully – and then he does make him, by using the brute psychological force vampirism affords him – and… bam. Sorry Stefan. Changed the locks.

Jeremy can’t be compelled anymore. And he stakes Stefan in the gut, and as mentioned above, it’s the best.

So all of that is pretty bad, huh? But we’re not even at the worst part.

Like I said, the worst things about Stefan have nothing to do with him being a vampire and everything to do with him being a douche. And that has never been more clear in this episode. It has never been more clear that the Angel/Angelus style dichotomy he has set up as an easy means of absolution is a crock. Stefan and the Ripper are one and the same, and this is how it looks when they are acting that way.

Stefan goes to save Elena. He launches himself at Jeremy just in the nick of time, and then Jeremy is gone, and Stefan is touching Elena’s face tenderly, and she goes to pull the knife out of her neck and he say, three times, in quick succession: “Let me do it, let me do it, let me do it.”

I nearly barfed. I know some of you will think I’m being a little unfair, since Elena was in a lot of pain and maybe she would have appreciated some help. But I couldn’t help but aghast at the symbolism of it – at how desperately Stefan wants to be the White Knight again, and how fucking eager he is to “fix” Elena.

Let me do it, let me do it, let me do it.

Me, me, me.

And then, when Elena walks away from him, off to solve her Jeremy problem on her own, because you guys it’s glorious how much she really doesn’t want him to do this stuff for her, he runs after her and… tells her the truth?

Could it be? Stefan willingly telling Elena an ugly truth about himself???!?!

Don’t get too excited. Sure, Stefan admitted that he had gotten Jeremy to kill another vampire. But why wouldn’t he? There was no way it wasn’t going to come out now, so he may as well admit to it. And notice that he omitted any and all gory details, like how he wounded her brother, threatened to kill him, and then tried to compel him about it.

And just when you think that’s enough douche for the day, he outdouches himself by trying to pretend that he’s only just now realizing the consequences his actions might have for Jeremy.

That is bullshit.

The only part Stefan is just now realizing is that he won’t be able to control Jeremy’s hunter ass, and that Elena might wind up getting hurt because of it. He knew all along that he was hurting Jeremy by doing this – jeopardizing his sanity – his humanity as Elena rightly assesses it. And he didn’t care.

And that’s depressing. But it’s even more depressing that his manipulation works, just the way it always has, as far back as season 1 when he waved the shiny adoption bauble at Elena to get her to stop being mad at him.

Because instead of telling him to get the fuck out of her life, Elena gets all soft-eyed and pitying, telling he doesn’t have to love her this way. And I’m like, what way, Elena? The way where he abuses you and controls you and lies to you and lets you die and stuff?

It kills me to see Elena have this much kindness and respect for Stefan when he really does not show her the same. And I pretty much feel exactly the same about the situation with Damon and Stefan.

As I mentioned above, I don’t blame Caroline for mouthing off about how awful Damon is and how sick it is that Elena would want him. But I do blame Stefan for lapping it up.

I mean, at the start of the episode he agreed with Caroline that Elena’s mind would have to be diseased for her to want Damon. DISEASED, you guys. Who says that about their own brother? Who let’s somebody else say it? I fully expected Stefan to undercut that statement, at least a little bit, but he didn’t. He underlined it, and then reconnected it to Elena having changed, to further underscore how wrong it all is that there’s a race and he’s coming last.

In the last episode I was so heartbroken for Stefan when he finished Elena’s sentence with the word magnified. Because he knew the truth, finally, and the truth was that Elena had loved Damon for a long time, and all becoming a vampire had done was make it impossible for her to ignore.

At the end of the last episode it really seemed that he’d understood that and accepted it and that he’d finally gotten over his ‘She’s a completely different person!’ rubbish.

But then Caroline had to go and break out the denial pom poms, and now he’s right back where he was. He is still completely unable to admit that while he has been white-knuckling and relapsing, Damon has been changing and growing, and that he is as worthy now if not more worthy of Elena’s love than he is. He is completely unable to see that Elena is still essentially the same girl she has always been – that she’s still good and kind – only now she’s strong too – strong for herself for once – now she believes she has the right to be alive and be happy about it. Basically the only difference between Elena in 322 and Elena now is that Elena in 322 was seriously depressed. And Stefan has made the mistake of thinking the depression was who Elena is. It’s not actually so much the vampire in Elena that confuses him, it’s the happiness. And especially the happiness with Damon.

What I really hated was the shameless pleasure Stefan took in Caroline’s expressions of disgust at Damon. At the end of the episode when Caroline is railing about how “ugh” it is for Elena to have feelings for Damon, he actually smiles, like he’s enjoying the show she’s putting on for him. And look, I would probably be more able to cut him slack about it in these particular heartbroken, unchosen circumstances if seeing the worst in his brother wasn’t becoming something of a habit.

And I would probably be able to cut him some slack if it didn’t make such a sharp contrast to the way Damon speaks about him. Neither Salvatore brother is really any better or worse than the other, at least not in any objective sense. So why is Damon so much better at seeing the best in Stefan than Stefan is at seeing the best in him? I mean, as far back as early season 2 he was telling Elena that Stefan deserved to have her, and as much as I find that notion laughable, the sentiment behind it was quite touching. And then last season he was telling her how Stefan could be saved, how he wasn’t the bad guy, how he was proud of him for pulling one over Klaus, how he gets it – it’s always going to be Stefan. And then this season he’s been actively rooting for Stefan with Elena, even in the face of severe temptation. “You should call Stefan,” “Everything he’s been doing he’s been doing for you,” and the biggie – the fact that he agreed to go on a suicide mission to find a cure for Elena for Stefan, because it would help Stefan get the girl he loved back, when Damon loved her either way and was that much more likely to get her to love him as a vampire.

On the other hand, the one time I can remember Stefan saying anything positive about Damon was back when he insisted in those panicked moments that Jeremy was dead on the floor, that Damon must have seen the ring. And I did love him for it. But it’s slim pickings other than that, you guys.

This particular douchery is why I would so dearly love for Stefan to be wrong about the sire bond, at least on some level. Because he is in dire need of being taken down a peg or 60. The bottom line is that the guy thinks way too highly of himself for someone who has recently murdered people in cold blood.

And regardless of the extent to which Stefan is right or wrong about the bond, the takeaway from this storyline is that Stefan doesn’t know Damon or Elena nearly as well as he has always thought he did. He has been, for so very long, so very dependent on his own constructions of them as opposed to the reality of them. Elena is the anti-Katherine against whom he defines her “Evil”, and Damon is the “Bad Brother” against whom he defines his “Goodness.” The part Damon sometimes plays for Stefan is not the sum total of who he is. And the girl Elena is becoming is not a completely different person. She’s just a person he’s been refusing to see.

Look, I do believe he loves them both, but at the same time he uses them both to prop up his own fractured psyche. And that is very unhealthy. It’s why Stefan and Elena as a romance needs to be over, regardless of whether it’s Damon’s “turn” or not.

&

 

Thanks for the kick in the feelings, show.
















Sophy says: Let me begin by saying that I didn’t enjoy this episode at all. That is rarity for me with The Vampire Diaries. It’s one of the most reliably enjoyable shows on TV. So what went wrong?

Well, nothing really. I can’t say that there was anything wrong with the episode. But as a fan of Elena and Damon and Damon/Elena, I pretty much spent the whole episode on the edge of my seat with my face like this: D:

Having said that, I have faith. I do. I have no doubt that the writers are moving towards a positive resolution for Damon and Elena. And the reasons why will be outlined over the next 10,000 words or so. I apologize for the long-windedness, but I have to say that this recap has really served as a kind of therapy session for me, in that it wasn’t until I got to the end of it that I felt some kind of peace about the whole sire bond situation.

Okay, let’s dive in.

There’s been a lot of talk over the past season or so about holding on and letting go. First there’s the obvious example: the time Damon kissed Elena and she didn’t push him away and Ross Copperman passionately intoned that they were holding on and letting go. Then there’s the fact that Elena told Damon, with steely resolve, that if Stefan was gone then they would let him go – and that they would survive it. Contrast this to her bitter tears when she told Damon she had to let him go – when she thought nobody was going to survive – when she herself didn’t. Then there’s the fact that at the start of season 3 Elena told Stefan that she loved him, and that he should hold onto that and never let it go. Now? She’s telling him to do just the opposite. “Let her go,” she says, of the girl who made him her first and only choice time and time again.

Elena finally emancipated herself from Stefan. This time it wasn’t about wanting Damon. It was about wanting to live her life on her own terms. It was about unshackling herself from the responsibility of loving Stefan through everything. When she says he doesn’t have to love her like this, it’s a mirror of what she feels about herself – she doesn’t have to love him like that anymore. And she can love Damon if she wants to. Maybe Damon has earned her love. Maybe he hasn’t. Maybe he never will. Maybe he doesn’t need to. The point is that Elena has earned the right to love him if she wants to.

This would be exhilarating character development if it weren’t for the sire bond coming in and crapping all over it. Where there is no free will there is no growth, and with the sire bond in play all of Elena’s actions this season are tainted. Every choice she has made is moot.

Now, when she killed the hunter, it wasn’t because she wanted to stand up and protect the people she loves. It wasn’t because she was fed up with being victimized and demonized in the same breath. It was because of the sire bond. When she feeds at the party and feels good and has fun and does it without Stefan and with Damon… it’s not because deep down this is what she wants – to be free of the constraints of Stefan’s guilt and of her own. It’s because of the sire bond. When she listens to Damon and negotiates with him and lets him soothe her, it’s not because they’ve developed a bond that makes all of those things entirely right and entirely right now. When she cannot do the same with Stefan, it’s not because a part of her that is too afraid to speak aloud is acknowledging the abuse he subjected her to last season and the damage that’s done to their relationship, it’s not because he projects his own issues onto her and he always, always has, and she’s done being projected onto. It’s because of the sire bond. When she wakes up from the curse and wants to live and loves Damon, it’s not for the thousands of words’ worth of reasons I gushed about in the last recap. It’s because of the sire bond. When she hallucinates Damon telling her she’s like him? It’s not because he is like her and she likes him just the way he is… it’s because of the sire bond.

And the worst part about that last one: the hallucination was entirely bound up in sex. Her subconscious manifested Damon in place of Stefan when they were getting hot and heavy, and at the time it was such a thrilling contrast to that time way back in season 1 when Damon forced her subconscious to do the same thing. This time it was all Elena… except it wasn’t. Her subconscious was infected. We are to believe now that it was because she was, in fact, “diseased”. And when she pushes Stefan away as a sexual partner, it’s because she has substituted Damon against her will.

That particular scene is one that really should have been excised if they were going to play the sire bond card and accompany it with sex. That is, unless they do want us to believe that Elena’s consent was compromised in that scene, and that she was essentially raped, in the absence of an actual rapist.

Let’s be clear: Damon didn’t rape Elena. To suggest that he did is ludicrous, unless you really think he’s still such a shady character that he might have known or suspected that there was a sire bond and taken advantage of it. If you do, I strongly suspect that you’ve been fast-forwarding his scenes since at least the end of season 2. And I strongly suspect that you’ve willfully erased “I wanted it to be real,” from your memory.

Damon – the man he is today, at least – would never, ever do that to Elena – or to himself. But the fact remains that where a mystical interference is playing with Elena’s mind and heart and body, specifically in relation to Damon, she cannot be said to be have consented to the sex.

And whilst that is not Damon’s fault in any way, it is kind of skeevy given his on-screen sexual history.

I’m not one of those Damon/Elena shippers who shies away from the awfulness of what Damon did to Caroline and Andie. I would never intend to diminish it, but I do have trouble putting a label on it. For a long time I was comfortable calling it rape, simply because where there is no consent, there is rape, and neither Caroline nor Andie would have consented to a sexual relationship with him if he’d shown them his true colours from the start. And neither of them would have been likely to continue with that relationship once they knew if he hadn’t compelled them to forget that information and/or not to mind about it.

But then I ask myself: If a pedophile has sex with his unwitting wife, is he raping her? Let’s say she is a normal human being, and if she knew he was a pedophile she would not consent to sex with him. But he keeps that vital information from her, that information that goes to the heart of the person he is, that completely obliterates the person she thinks he is, and on that basis she gives her consent. Is that rape?

What about if the man is not a pedophile but is having a full-blown emotional and sexual affair with her best friend? If she knew about it it would change everything. He would not be the person she thought he was. It would definitely cause her to not consent to sex. He keeps that vital information from her, and on that basis she gives her consent. Is he raping her?

If you say yes to both of those, then what Damon did with Caroline and Andie is definitely rape to you. But then you have to start asking yourself some questions about the circumstances of Elena’s first time with Stefan.

When Stefan had sex with Elena for the first time she did not know who he was. I don’t feel that this is an exaggeration. At no point during their “epic” all night conversation did he tell her a scrap of the truth about Stefan. Like how he’s not just a vampire, he’s a ripper. Like how he’s killed what? Tens of thousands of innocent human beings? Like how he yanked their heads off and drank from their brain stems? Like how he slaughtered her ancestors? Like how if he himself doesn’t snap and end up brutally murdering her or people she loves, he has this seriously unbalanced brother who’s likely to follow him into town and do it for him? Like how that brother would take a particular interest in her because she looks exactly the same as this girl they both used to be in love with? Like how he stalked her for months to make sure she wasn’t that same girl? Like how he had to know her? Like how he knew things about her – deeply intimate things like how she has a doppelganger, like how she’s adopted, before she did? Before he ever contrived to bump into her outside the boys’ toilets at her high-school?

If Stefan had laid any of that out honestly for Elena before she got his pants off, do you really think she would have let him get into hers? Of course, you could point to the fact that after a cooling off period she does forgive Stefan for his staggering deceit, and continues a romantic and sexual relationship with him. You could say that means it didn’t matter that he didn’t tell her – because she would have consented anyway. But that’s bullshit. It did matter. First because Stefan had no way of knowing how Elena would react and the whole point is that Elena should get to react on her own terms. Second because by the time she was fondly stroking his veiny face on the way up to his room, he had already weaseled his way into her confused grief-stricken teenage heart – as Caroline might put it.

So there’s a sire bond in play when Damon and Elena have sex for the first time and that is depressing and scary and gross. But to me it’s significantly less depressing and scary and gross than the manipulation and deceit that was in play when Stefan and Elena had sex for the first time. At least Elena knows who Damon is, inside and out, good and bad. At least a part of her very much wanted this before the sire bond ever came into it. Because it really does feel like a continuation of that motel room scene, doesn’t it? Emotional intimacy, followed by physical intimacy. And who knows whether she even would have stopped then if Jeremy hadn’t been there to break up the party? Damon did consume her, after all – even then.

And I will grant the writers that they have been careful on this score. The reason so many of us find the sire bond development so frustrating is that it was so unnecessary. Elena already felt all of these things. Last season they were careful to show us many things that Stefan and Caroline are now attributing to the sire bond: Damon being able to soothe Elena, the two of them looking after Jeremy as a team, her declaring unabashedly that she trusts him, her being willing to stab Rebekah in the back, an intense sexual passion for Damon and an intense emotional pull to him, her putting the fact that they are not together down to ‘bumps in the road’ and his behaviour preventing it – not her feelings. Her seeing the good in him when nobody else will.

Why bother with mystical interference when it is not needed? Well, as irritating as it is, it’s also the only reason the sire bond plot might work. That is to say, if it is completely irrelevant.

There are four ways this whole sire bond mess could be resolved:

1. There is a sire bond, but the gang find a way to break it, similar to the way Tyler and Little Miss Traitor-boots have been breaking those hybrid sire bonds all over the place. Once the bond is broken, Elena says ‘Thanks for the free will, but I actually really love Damon anyway.’

2. There is a sire bond but it only arose because of Elena’s existing feelings for Damon. Elena assures everybody that even if Damon can make her do cartwheels on command, her feelings are the realest. They all go home for tea and cake.

3. This is a different kind of bond that has compulsive and persuasive elements that apply to both parties, and Damon’s free will is compromised along with Elena’s, putting them both on the same level of suck. 4. There is no sire bond. Elena just happens to trust, respect, like and love Damon all at the same time, and maybe that looks a little like she must be brainwashed from where Team Stefan are standing. Damon and Elena prove that there is no sire bond via him giving her all sorts of orders that she unequivocally refuses to carry out and Stefan and Caroline cry into their soup.

Options 1, 2 and 3 are problematic in that they still have the potential to undermine Elena as a character and taint Damon and Elena’s relationship. And my concern is that the writers will feel it’s good enough as a resolution to say “The sire bond wasn’t that bad and it is gone now”.

I fear it’s not. Even if Elena decides she loves Damon after the sire bond has been broken, there is just way too much scope for saying that if the sire bond had never been in place she would never have loved him – that her experience of that bond while subject to it has affected her judgment even when it is broken. Think of it this way: If someone hates cheese, and then they get hypnotized and made to eat cheese whilst being given orgasms over and over… and then when you unhypnotize them they decide cheese is awesome… It doesn’t matter how much they say they love cheese now, their capacity to learn to love cheese freely and honestly has been irrevocably compromised. Similarly, any relationship Damon and Elena ever had would be tainted by the knowledge that she didn’t so much choose him as get used to him. And that grates.

I was, to put it mildly, twitchy, when Elena chose Stefan in the season 3 finale and then promptly swapped species. I was very concerned that given that development, when Damon/Elena did happen, it would never be quite as real as it should be. It seemed like the writers wanted to give everybody in the Stefan/Elena corner the option of saying that if Elena hadn’t switched species she would never have switched Salvatores. And maybe that’s true. But it’s perilously close to saying if Elena hadn’t switched species she would never have wanted to switch Salvatores, and that will never work for me. That is boiling three seasons’ worth of emotional development between two characters whose relationship matters so much to so many people to… what? A virus? A curse? A drug? To vampirism, as opposed to Elenaism?

I adjusted to this idea over the break and was able to say, okay, maybe the Stefan/Elena fans deserve some comfort. Maybe I would want the same in their shoes. And besides, their argument is not water-tight, because there were so many other reasons why Elena chose Stefan in that season finale that have nothing to do with loving him more – that, as she herself says, have nothing to do with “always”.

But now the writers are adding another layer of ‘would never have happened’ to Damon/Elena and it’s taking me some time to process that.

Things seemed fair whilst watching this fourth season. Because maybe Stefan/Elena shippers got to have Stefan be Elena’s last choice as a human, but Damon/Elena shippers were getting Damon being Elena’s first choice as a vampire – and not just as a vampire – as a girl who was becoming a woman – as a woman who was done with should and finally starting to have, do and be what she wanted.

Except that if Caroline and Stefan are right then none of it is about what she wanted. It’s all about what Damon wanted.

That’s where the second option comes in: the idea that the bond is based on her existing feelings. This is still compromising because no amount of assurance from Elena would ever be able to prove to anyone, not Stefan, not Caroline, not Damon, not even herself, that there was no aspect of compulsion involved in her feelings. Damon and Elena would be in love, maybe, but they would be stuck eternally somewhere between dirty and clean.

And maybe I shouldn’t be surprised, because nothing about Damon/Elena has ever been untainted. Taintedness is pretty much built into the ship, in that the writers have never given us a single pure, unburdened moment between them. And I do believe the reason for that is that they are still building to that one glorious moment when everything that has been wrong will be made right, for both of them, individually and together. But I worry that they’re making that mission near impossible for themselves by bringing a sire bond into play.

As for the third option, it could work to explain a few things I was a bit surprised by. I’m not saying Damon needs or should have a get out of jail free card for sleeping with Elena so soon after her break-up with Stefan, but I can’t deny that he seemed awfully casual about it. And the irony is that I could actually understand Elena’s care-free haste more than his: she’s the one with the baby vampire hormones all over the place, and she’s the one who has just been horrifically betrayed by Stefan. She might well feel justified in doing just exactly whatever the fuck she likes, regardless of any sire bond. Damon? I’m not so sure. But I doubt that it a mutual bond is a real contender. And it really would be so massively hokey that I can’t say I want it, no matter how much it may solve my other problems.

There’s only one option that I really love, and I’m pretty sure it’s pointless for me to even hope for it. Option 4. There is no sire bond. Stefan and Caroline are just wrong.

If I limit Damon and Elena’s interactions to the first six episodes I can see this working. But when I factor in their behaviour in this most recent episode the case collapses. Because the sire bond was pretty much scrawled all over this episode in crayon. If it had been subtle up to now, it certainly wasn’t anymore.

Part of the reason I wasn’t able to enjoy this episode is because I saw the end coming right from the start and was unable to think of anything else throughout. And when I say right from the start, I mean as of the previously on. I usually fast-forward through those, because frankly the new format with the “And then there’s me,” business gives me second-hand embarrassment. But for some reason I decided to let them run this time, and my heart seized when I heard Elena tell us that everything she used to feel has changed.

Remember the giddy fuss I made in the last recap about how Stefan had used the word “magnified” when describing Elena’s feelings for Damon? Remember how important it was that he didn’t say they’d changed?

Yeah.

Elena using that word tipped me off right away that the sire bond was coming, and after that every interaction they had was laced with portent.

The red dress/blue dress conversation was about as heavy-handed as it gets. Sure, you could make several arguments against it having anything to do with a sire bond: First, Damon is right, and April wins with the red and against all odds. Second, Caroline is quite wrong when she says Elena “hated” the red dress before Damon gave his opinion. Elena didn’t hate the red one. In fact, neither of them did. When April didn’t seem to like their choice of the blue, Elena looked at Caroline for direction and then said in an uncertain voice that the judges liked safe. Caroline herself told Damon that the reason they weren’t choosing the red was just that it was “a little bit too showy”. And finally, Elena didn’t end up telling April she should wear the red – only that she should wear what she wants.

Having said that the framing of the scene screamed sire bond, especially Damon’s “My work here is done,” and the fact that Elena followed him out of the room at an eager trot. That, by the way, would have been adorable beyond belief, if it hadn’t been overshadowed by the question of whether she was doing it or the bond was doing it.

Then there’s the scene in which Damon tells her not to worry about Jeremy. Again, very heavy-handed and definitely sire-bondy. Yes, Damon and Elena have had these kinds of conversations about Jeremy before. But the crucial difference here is that Jeremy is currently afflicted with a hunter’s mark, and that means any unexplained absence is less likely to be down to underage drinking hijinks than ever before. It makes sense that Damon would downplay the situation, because he was protecting Stefan from his latest fuck-up. But Elena? The only way I can see her believing that Jer might just be raiding the Lockwood liquor cabinet is if something else is believing it for her.

And the final thing that says sire bond? Elena coming to the Salvatore house, not saying a word when Stefan left, and proceeding to sex up Damon without the slightest hint of awkwardness about it.

For those who care about these details, there isn’t actually any reason to supposed the sex took place a day after the break-up. It’s highly unlikely that Elena went to see Caroline at the Lockwoods’ on the same day she woke up from being psychically tortured and almost killing herself. There’s no reason why a couple of days couldn’t have passed. In fact, Stefan’s conversation with Damon suggests that that is the case. Damon and Stefan don’t exactly live in each other’s pockets, and yet he’s been gone long enough for Damon to be indignant about it. Stefan also seems to think that Damon would have “heard” about the break-up by now, which seems to imply that some time has passed. And the actual Miss Mystic Pageant took place the day after Elena and Caroline’s conversation at the set-up. So I’d say it’s been at least 48 hours, and could possibly have been as much as a week.

Regardless, it’s surprisingly soon for Elena to be moving on and with such… vigor. She does do it too easily and with too little regard for Stefan, to the point where I have to say it is as odds with her authentic self.

In the last episode I felt that Elena had changed, but in a subtle way. She was freer and less inclined to judge herself. But in this episode all vestiges of her previous issues are gone, in a way that feels Stepfordy. I might have bought her sexing up Damon so promptly if she had been angry with Stefan. And she had a right to be blisteringly angry with him. But the fact is that she wasn’t. She just didn’t care. And that takes me back to her conversation with Caroline at the start of the episode. It’s telling that she doesn’t even attempt to engage with why she loves Damon or why she maybe shouldn’t. She just does, and she doesn’t articulate anything about it when she could and she should. She also says that she still loves Stefan, which, though it seemed very much like as-opposed-to-being-in-love, made me worry. Because she’s saying she still loves him and yet she’s behaving like he doesn’t exist. When Caroline refers to her conversation with him, Elena looks up and asks if he’s okay, and it’s like she’s been woken up for a second, and that makes me absolutely terrified that when she does wake up from this sire bond… those feelings for Stefan will be back – that essentially, the sire bond caused the Damon-feelings to crowd out the Stefan-feelings and it had nothing to do with the fact that the Damon-feelings were always bigger however repressed.

PLEASE. NO.

Anyway. All of that highly sired behaviour is in this episode, and it’s not in line with what we’ve seen up to now. Yes, there have been anvil-heavy moments. “Stop,” is one of them, but it was just as easily put down to the fact that Elena has excellent natural self-control as a vampire, wouldn’t want to hurt Matt except in the thick of bloodlust, and would also know that Damon is stronger and faster than her, and so she may as well yield peacefully. Another example is “You told me to kill him so I did,” but frankly that was so heavy, and so at odds with what we saw of Elena’s actions that it didn’t seem right to take it at face value. Then there’s the fact that Elena could distinguish Damon from the hunter… and okay, I guess I should have called that one. It had to be a freaky sire bond at work, didn’t it? Damon/Elena shippers can’t have nice things?

Except maybe they can. But I’m getting to that.

I don’t believe anything in the previous episodes points definitively to Elena being sired to Damon. There’s only one thing on Caroline’s laundry list that gives me pause, and that’s the part about Elena not being able to drink from blood-bags because Damon said she wouldn’t be able to. Now I absolutely hate the idea that her projectile vomiting and general misery was down to Damon and the bond, partly because Damon and Elena’s arc this season has been all about the ways he’s helped her be happy, and partly because it retroactively validates Stefan and his stupid-ass bunny diet. But I have to admit that it at least makes some sense as an explanation, whereas “Maybe it’s because Elena’s special,” is not an explanation at all.

But the thing is that there are many, many more moments that suggest that Elena is not sired. Others have analyzed all of these in detail, but there is one biggie for me: that fact that Elena couldn’t keep Damon’s blood down either. When he took her into that bathroom, he said he was giving her what she needed. It may not have been a direct order, but I don’t see how it’s any different from him saying she needed warm blood straight from the vein. The only loophole they have here is a tiny little one nobody could squeeze through: Elena had to reject Damon’s blood regardless of him telling her she needs it, regardless of the fact that it is technically “warm blood, straight from the vein,” because he’d earlier told her she was going to be miserable and she was busy fulfilling that not-actually-a-command.

Or, they’ll say that the sire bond goes to the spirit of the statement, not the letter of it, and that since what Damon really thought was best for Elena was for her to snack/eat/erase, her subconscious had to engender a situation where that would be her only option. I really, really hope that’s not where they’re going, because it brings the sire bond to a whole new level of gross.

If the bond worked only on a direct order, well, that wouldn’t be so bad. All Damon would have to do is be mindful to add “If you want to,” whenever he asked her to pass the sugar. And after all, it’s not as though he commanded her to have sex with him – in terms of what we saw she was very much taking the initiative there.

But if it’s about Elena sensing what Damon really wants and responding to it, regardless of his actual words… yikes. That colours every interaction she has with him, and completely clouds not only her free will but her very thought-processes.

And the sire bond would cloud her thinking. I know a lot of people were bandying about what I think was a fake quote from Julie Plec to the effect that the sire bond didn’t alter emotions. But sorry folks. We know full well that it does. From what we know of the sire bond in a hybrid context it is born out of the bondee’s emotions. Let’s cast our minds back and remember that Tyler wasn’t always so resisting of Klaus’ authority. He had such gratitude to Klaus that the sire bond was triggered, and the sire bond rendered him completely abject. He may not have been trying to sex Klaus up, but he did pretty much think he was cool, to the point where he offended Caroline with it. It was only when Klaus ordered him to murder his girlfriend that he woke up enough to think: Hey, maybe this guy who recently tried to murder me, my friend, and my girlfriend, and did murder my other friend and her aunt… isn’t my lord and savior?’ He was that blind to the reality of Klaus. The sire bond had that much of an impact on his feelings.

And the feelings really are the problem. If they’re going to take this in a direction where Elena had sex with Damon because she knows deep down it’s what he wanted – where she loves him because she knows he so badly wants to be loved – that will be a) gross in the extreme, and b) problematic on a logic level. Because Damon wants to have sex with Elena, sure, he wants to be loved, sure, but he wants it to be real. I’m pretty sure that finding out a sire bond had anything to do with any of this will devastate him. So wouldn’t the sire bond take that into account when dictating Elena’s actions? Wouldn’t Elena want at all costs not to present Damon with a fool’s paradise?

Damon has been dealt so many fake-outs. I mean, first of all there’s the 140-year fake-out of Katherine never actually loving him, which, surely, that has got to be the mother of all fake-outs. And it doesn’t matter what glib, teasing pronouncements she made about it later; the truth lies in her actions, and the hurt and the humiliation of how little she really cared will never go away.

Then there’s Elena, and I would never apportion even a sliver of blame to her for the ways Damon has suffered over her, but the fact is that he really has suffered over her. First there was the fake-out of that porch kiss back in season one, which you can’t really feel all that sorry for him about, because, well, he was a massive dolt for thinking that she’d be enough of a floozy or a fool to kiss him at that point, given her relationship with his brother and his relationship with humanity. Then there’s that little fake-out on the stairs after he’s staked Elijah, when Elena runs down with this look of pure joy and tenderness on her face and hugs… Stefan. And really, there again, we shouldn’t be feeling all that sorry for him (even though we do), because he should know that saving her life doesn’t erase what he did to her brother, and that again, she is not a floozy, and she is not a fool. But then there’s the really big motherfucking multi-stage fake-out that is the whole of season 3, in which Elena gets closer and closer to him with every day that they are a united front – us against the world – and she says tantalizing things to him, things that become cruel even if she didn’t mean them to be – like how she doesn’t know what she would do if he wasn’t there, like how they always survive, like how Rebekah was drooling over his marshmallows, like how it’s tradition when the two of them dance together, like how Stefan thinks she has feelings for him – she kisses him with a passion that is so bone-deep that he could be forgiven for thinking it mattered – it meant something – and then the moment they’re back in Mystic Falls she’s taking Stefan to the dance, and then he’s dying, and his brother is the one getting the goodbye kiss, and oh god, this time we’re allowed to break our hearts over him, because he has tried, he has really tried to be what she needs and what he is at the same time, and he thinks maybe it worked – he thinks maybe he finally got it right – he thinks maybe they were as good as they’re ever going to be – and it’s not good enough for her – she cares about him and it’s always going to be Stefan. That fake-out hurts like a bitch. But he takes it in his stride. He keeps on keeping on. And he’s a good friend to Elena and a good brother to Stefan, and both of them pretty much take turns making him feel like crap, and then this happens. She walks up to him, looks him in the eye, and says “You,” and his face is fear and wonderment, it is shock and solace, it is disbelief and recognition all at the same time. It is everything he’s ever wanted since before he can remember why, and it’s not real.

IT’S NOT REAL, YOU GUYS.

OH MY HEART.

Except I totally still think it is, and it will soon be proven to be. Because at this point this whole Kick-The-Damon game the show plays is verging on one of those horror movies where you know the girl isn’t going to get away, so it’s not actually exciting so much as it is depressing. Really, they’re taking the angst into Human Centipede territory here. It needs to stop.

And I think it will.

I think the show is going to go with a mixture of options 1 and 2. It is a sire bond and it will be broken and Elena will love Damon anyway, because that love is what caused the sire bond to arise in the first place. And that’s probably going to be good enough for Damon. That’s probably going to make him happier than he has ever been in his long, sad life. But I’m scared it won’t be good enough for me.

Because where there is the tiniest suggestion that Elena would never have loved Damon if she hadn’t fallen for him under the sire bond, I will feel wounded as a Damon/Elena shipper. And where there is the tiniest hint that she might never have had the guts to take what she wanted if not for the sire bond forcing her to, I will feel wounded as an Elena fan.

It devastates me that Elena has been compromised here. Because I was really enjoying Damon being the first of many choices made by a liberated Elena, an Elena who no longer hangs herself up, an Elena who no longer thinks she should suppress her instincts. I wanted her to want, take, have with Damon, and for that to be okay – with her – and ultimately with the people who love her. I wanted the message to be that it’s okay for a woman to fall out of love, and it’s okay for her to fall in love again, and actually, it’s okay for her to do both at the same time, and it’s okay for her to make choices other people don’t agree with and it’s okay for her to give in to pure desire without being made ashamed of it.

What does the bond do if not make her unashamed sex with Damon shameful? Ironic, I suppose, that it does it by removing any mechanism for shame. It does it by calling her agency into question.

And I didn’t want anyone touching Elena’s agency. It pretty much recasts her even now as a damsel for Stefan to rescue and I can honestly say that my whole body rejects that like Elena’s rejects bunny-blood. I wanted this to be Elena’s time to start white-knighting herself. I wanted her to be allowed to trust herself, finally. To say: If I feel this then it is real, if I believe this then it is true.’ The bond makes a mockery of that. It makes a mockery of who she is and what she wants.

Even if it’s only interfering with her autonomy in the tiniest degree, that’s still too much. Even if she’s just picking a dress because Damon likes it or calming down about Jeremy because Damon tells her to, that’s not okay. It’s hideous. Of course, it would be completely fine if it were down to the way people we love can keep us cool in a crisis, or the way we sometimes think the people we’re crushing on have the best taste ever in everything. But if it’s down to any kind of mystical interference then it’s not cool.

I think the show is going to try to hedge here. I think they’re going to try to say that this is a bond that doesn’t undermine Elena’s autonomy. But if it doesn’t undermine her autonomy then it’s not a bond. It’s just love. And if it’s not just love then it’s not just Elena. You see the problem?

Obviously the show has been careful to establish that Elena wanted Damon prior to the siring, so it’s not so much an issue of her being forced to make choices she wouldn’t otherwise be okay with. But even if she reveals that Damon was who she wanted all along, it does imply that the writers see her as so weak or silly or irretrievably self-denying or not-allowed-to-just-want, that she can’t make these choices for herself. That she can’t look herself in the eye and say “I’m going to leave Stefan because I choose it. I’m going to be with Damon because I choose it.”

I worry a lot about Elena and her agency, I really do. And that’s why I need this bond to be broken as soon as possible, before it has been allowed to take hold and inform all of her future choices.

But things aren’t so scary on the Damon/Elena front. There is a silver lining to this sire business. And that is that it’s clearer now to me than ever before that they will be endgame.

Let me clarify what endgame means to me. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the show will end with the two of them together, making tons of babies as a pair of loved up new humans, or making tons of imaginary babies as a pair of loved up old vamps. It doesn’t even necessarily mean that a human Elena and a human Damon would run a tortured romance down into her old-age grave. There are plenty of ways Elena could end up with somebody else, even Stefan, and Damon/Elena would still be endgame. Basically all it requires is that Damon is her last first choice, in the sense that he is her final word on who is number one most wanted.

And I do believe he will be. Because the more the more they hurt us, the bigger the pay-off has to be. And the longer they hold off on that moment of truth, the less time there will be to get Damon and Elena to a place where they could plausibly find an emotional resolution to their arcs that wasn’t about each other. If their first time is going to be a cruel trick, then the real first time has to mean things that are too done to be undone – at least in the show’s timeline.

And you guys it seriously was a cruel trick. I mean, I’m still not even halfway over it, and I didn’t even fall for it! I knew it was coming, but I still cringed when we cut to Caroline, and I fully covered my face with my hands when she started with her Oh my gods.

I barely registered anything about the sex scene until long after the episode aired when I watched the sire bond free slow-mo versions on youtube, over and over, and started to pine for what could have been. At the time I was just too numb and too distracted by the constant cutting away to focus. And then they added the ‘Look! An axe-murderer!’ music at the end, and if I could have moved at all my palm would have collided with my face. It would have been a lot more enthralling and a lot more gutting if they had simply stuck with the song and had Kiss me like you wanna be loved…’ playing as Damon and Elena kissed the last time and his hand came up to join hers at his face in that perfect final image. That would have been truly brutal. The Axe-murderer music was just mildly comical, and it also took us out of Damon and Elena’s emotional experience and placed us squarely in Stefan and Caroline’s, and I don’t think that was a wise choice.

So it’s a fail to that editing decision and that scoring decision, by an A+++ to everything else.

I am never going to be okay about this sire bond thing, you guys, I am never going to feel anything but crushed by this final scene, but at the same time I will have to give the writers props for handling it with great care.

Because aside from being beautiful, the scene was very cleverly put together. Everything about the sex and the dancing and the talking leading up to it was balanced and measured, in a way that avoided the merest hint of a power imbalance. And they were also careful to nuance Elena’s own actions: she was aggressive enough to show that this was not about passive submission, and that she was not going to be ashamed of what she wanted. But at the same time she was tender and sweet in a way that will have been quite unlike anything Damon’s ever experienced. In a way that was very her – very the girl she has always been and continues to be. And then they had her laughing, you guys, they had her wrapped up in and around Damon and laughing with the sweetest abandon. And I JUST.

Okay… I had to just sit quietly for five minutes in the corner. I’m back.

I also have to give props for the mirroring that was going on in the scene. The wall-groping brought us straight back to the Denver wall-groping, as if to say ‘Everybody chill out and know that she has always wanted this’. And then they went one step further by having Elena take us back to when they danced together at the last Miss Mystic Falls pageant, all the way back in season 1 when Damon/Elena was a glint in Kevin and Julie’s eyes. And that was important, I think – I hope. Because she referenced a time so long ago, before she was officially supposed to have any feelings for Damon at all, and she acknowledged that she remembered it, and because she remembered it it had meant something to her. I mean, we all know she was feeling all sorts of worryingly melty things during that dance, but Elena has never come this close to admitting it before – that she always wanted Damon on some level, long, long before she “should” have.

And if that is the ultimate purpose of this sire bond, then maybe I can deal. If the whole point is to set up a situation in which Elena will have to tell everyone just how she really feels about Damon, it might be worth it.

To clarify, I don’t mean that I want Elena to wail and gnash her teeth at the suggestion of a sire bond and tell Stefan and Caroline how wrong they are and how she loves Damon and her feelings are the realest etc etc. That would just be extremely depressing. Because there clearly is a sire bond in play, and if Elena refuses to acknowledge even the possibility of it, it doesn’t mean that her feelings are real. It just means that she thinks they are. And that, to me, means that she’s been seriously, seriously compromised. Because she can’t think outside of feeling. So I don’t really want to see any of that. I want to see Elena have the will left to be sensible about the possibility of the sire bond, to acknowledge that it may be affecting her feelings and to want to be rid of it.

But if, along with having a clear enough head to be reasonable about the sire bond, she wants to put her case for her feelings being real alongside the bond, then she can feel free. In particular I would love to see her have to explain the evolution of her feelings for Damon to Stefan. He’s been spared that so far and I don’t think he knows just how blissful his ignorance is. Imagine Elena telling him that the emotional thread goes all the way back to the first Miss Mystic Dance? That yes, maybe he’s the “magical solution to all her problems,” now, but he actually sort of already was back then? Imagine her having to tell him that even though she chose him when she thought it would be her last choice, it broke her heart to do it, and the moment she realized that it was not all over and the world still had two Salvatores kicking around in it, she was not so sure of her choice? Because yes, she reassured Stefan in 401 that he was the best choice she ever made. But notice how she thought they were both about to die then too?

It’s kind of a theme, isn’t it?

And this is the lightbulb moment for me. This is when things start to fall into place.

Elena says she’s no good at this vampire thing. Damon says he’s never seen her more alive. And her eyes fill with light and she smiles. And that’s it, right there, you guys. That’s it. I’m pretty sure that’s what’s at the heart of the whole sire bond plotline, and hey, it just happens to be at the heart of the Damon/Elena arc too.

Damon wants Elena as alive as possible, always, and it has nothing to do with him wanting her in all the other ways known to man. Remember his distraught ”You are not dead!” in the season 3 finale? That was literally minutes after she had broken his heart into the smallest pieces they’ve been in yet. That was literally minutes before he would be expecting to die himself. And yet he could not bear the idea that Elena was gone from the world. This is what he means when he says he’ll be the one to keep her alive, even if she hates him for it. He means that her life is a beautiful thing to him even if he never gets to look upon it. He means that she is wonderful, whether or not she is wonderful with him.

Damon will always choose Elena, you guys. Over everyone, including himself. And that’s why she’s choosing him now.

The sire bond between vampires is not some kind of freak accident. It follows the exact same logic as the sire bond between Hybrids, and the only reason it is so rare by comparison is that there is no built-in cause for the vampire to be grateful. That makes this bond very specific to the relationship between Damon and Elena. And it makes it clear that it would never have happened with Stefan, not because Damon’s blood is full of snowflakes, but because Stefan’s entire relationship with Elena has been built on respecting her choice to be the most selfless human being alive… to the point where he’ll let her die.

If it had been Stefan’s blood in Elena’s system when she died she would not have been sired to him, because he didn’t save her. In fact, even as he has given up respecting her choices, even as he has said he regrets not saving her, he has every day validated the decision and the thought-processes behind it. He tells Elena that she is not herself if she is not selfless. And to that I say: if you are selfless you are not a self at all.

But Stefan really believed it all. He really believed that Elena couldn’t be a vampire. He really believed that she would want to die rather than live at the expense of somebody else. He believed that this was what she wanted to the point where it defined her in his eyes.

And he was wrong. It wasn’t that Elena wanted to be a martyr; it was that she felt she had to be – to live up to everybody’s expectations and especially his.

And by the time he’s presiding over the slaughter of Chris, maybe he’s seen the error of his ways, but it’s too late. Elena doesn’t trust him anymore – not like she trusts Damon – she doesn’t believe that he believes in her and she doesn’t believe that he would save her and not be just a little disappointed that she let him. If he had been on that bridge with her it would only have redoubled her resolve to burn. Because it may not be what he wants, but it is what he wants her to want. And she feels it keenly.

Damon on the other hand wants to her exist and be happy about it. It’s as simple as that.

I think Stefan and Caroline are going to turn out to be right… and wrong. Because I do think Elena is sired to Damon, but I don’t think it happened quite as simply as they think it did, nor do I think it happened at the time they think it did. The siring was not simply a result of Damon’s blood being in Elena’s system when she died. Given what we know of siring, it wouldn’t make much sense if it was. It’s a result of his blood being in her system when she died and then him saving her in the same water where Stefan let her die.

It stands to reason: the hybrids are sired to Klaus because they are grateful to him for turning them – because in doing do he saved them from the misery of their lives as werewolves. They are sired because they are free, they are at peace with themselves, they are delivered.

And that didn’t happen for Elena when she woke up in the hospital. It didn’t happen for her when she clawed the guard’s blood from the floor. It didn’t happen for her until she went through her personal purgatory and came out the other side, with Damon, because of Damon and was reborn.

Damon didn’t save her in 322. Of course, he absolutely would have, in any way he could and no matter what the consequences. But he wasn’t there and he couldn’t do a thing. His blood was not even in her system as a direct consequence of any choice he made. He wasn’t her savior until 406, when she woke up with her daylight ring on her finger and knew that she had been saved from the sun and from the parts of her that hated herself, and she was glad – she was glad to be alive – and she was glad to be a vampire – and she was glad to be herself.

And this is where the whole thing is kind of brilliant. Because it doesn’t undermine any of her closeness to Damon prior to 407. It doesn’t undermine any of Elena’s growth, either. She likes herself because she likes Damon. She’s glad to be alive because of him. But that was not caused by the sire bond. Rather, the sire bond resulted from it.

This theory perfectly explains why Elena’s interactions with Damon in 407 are so much more overtly sire-bondy than anything that came before. As for the evidence Caroline and Stefan list from before 407? They’re just wrong about it. We saw, quite clearly, that Stefan was wrong about Elena killing Connor because Damon said to do it. He’s basing his opinion purely on her words when she was in a hysterical, self-loathing state and projecting all over the place. He didn’t see what we saw, which was that Elena defied Damon’s order to kill Connor and only followed through when he tried to kill her again and made it clear he would stop at nothing to destroy her and everyone she loved. She made that choice. Damon had nothing to do with it.

The other example is the fact that she couldn’t keep the blood-bag blood down. There are so many holes in this, as discussed above. And I think the answer is simply this: Elena couldn’t keep the blood down because she was terrified and confused and hating herself, until Damon stepped in and soothed her and was able to make her begin to be okay with the idea that she’s a vampire. Not because she was bonded to him, because she wasn’t yet. But because she trusted him and believed in him and felt safe with him and felt like it was okay to be exactly who she was with him and to want exactly what she wanted, including warm human blood straight from the vein.

Now if in the next episode Damon orders her to drink from a blood-bag and says she will be able to keep it down and she does… maybe that goes some way toward proving that she is sired to him now. But it doesn’t prove that she was sired to him then. Now she will obey a direct order, but it doesn’t mean that she wasn’t an anxious, nauseated mess of her own free will when she couldn’t keep blood down in 402.

And that’s it. We’ve arrived. The bond took hold after Damon saved her on Wickery Bridge, and far from invalidating everything she came to feel and believe about him and herself previously, it is born out of it. She would never have been sired to Damon if his blood hadn’t been used to make her a vampire, sure. But she also would never have been sired to him if she hadn’t chosen to love herself, by loving him.

That’s my story, I’ll be sticking to it, because it is pretty awesome.

And yet, I still really, really hate the sire bond, because even moreso than Damon/Elena, I really, really ship Elena/Free Will. So all I can hope is that the it will be broken, and quick, and that Elena will feel exactly the same afterward and admit that she felt the same deep down even as she rejected Damon at the end of season three; that it will be confirmed that the sire bond only took hold after she woke up and saw Damon and said “You saved me. Thank you,” at the end of 406,” and that it only did so because she had already come through and was miles ahead of it.

Nothing less will fix the issue of free will here. The show has to go all the way, or there will always be doubt about Elena’s integrity as a character. It has to be made clear that the bond has been completely irrelevant to her. And if it is… if all it turns out to have been is a way for her to cast off yet another yolk and shout her feelings from the rooftops and continue to want, take, have, thank you very much?

Well, I could end up being thrilled.

Let me just say that when I started my notes for this recap I was extremely angry. I actually couldn’t write much because my chest seized up every time I thought about the situation. But by the therapy of writing god knows how many words about a teen TV show about vampires… I feel a lot better.

There’s hope, you guys. Damon and Elena will survive this. They always survive.

Oh and could that Ed Sheeran track have been more perfect or more evil?

“This feels like falling in love”? Really, show?

REALLY?

That’s all as diabolical as this little bit of dialogue:

“So he didn’t tell you why?”
“Nope. But I’m sure it has something to do with you acting weird. So why don’t you tell me?”
“You.”

Sigh.

See you next week, guys, if I haven’t staked myself by then.



Sophy says: They thought they had his blessing :(

Rin says she will watch The Vampire Diaries someday and come back and Rin all over this recap.



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32 Responses

  1. Antonia
    Antonia at · Reply

    You are perfect and this review is perfect! I think I’ve gone through pretty much all the stages of reaction to this sire bond plot and I’m really loving your theory of the bond not really occurring until Damon saved Elena from the sun in 4×06. Because Elena was grateful to Damon for making her feel alive and becoming more secure with herself as a vampire. Please give this to me, show. It’s better than the theory I was going on that the sire bond is an exaggerated version of Elena’s love, trust and desire for Damon before she turned being super-amplified to the point of a bond.

  2. Jenna
    Jenna at · Reply

    If I try to tell you what part of this recap I loved the most I’ll basically just be pulling a copy/paste job of the entire thing. You just get it. You understand this show in a way that makes me feel like you know it better than the writers themselves. It’s really, really great. Thank you so much for writing this. : )

  3. yumiboo
    yumiboo at · Reply

    When I watched this episode, the sire bond was the furthest thing (although the dress thing was suspicious) from my mind (and I spent a good hour being appalled and disappointed, harshly whispering ‘NO’ repeatedly at my laptop screen at midnight) because all I could think was ‘Damon! Your face!’. I loved the expression on his face when Elena told him why they broke up, because it was this lovely graduation from disbelief (‘Okay, pull the other one’) to shock (‘Wait, you’re serious?’) to pure giddy delight that was disturbed by the witch professor guy (I don’t know his name); he’s just not used to being a first choice, that now that it’s happened, it’s just. I can’t even <3. And when they kept looking at each other at the party while everybody else was dancing, I swear Damon was grinning! He was so happy! And I'm sure Elena wasn't the only person thinking about that time that they danced I’m sure teenage girl!Damon has it all catalogued and scrap booked on DamonGilert.com

    And I LOVED childish!Klaus. He was such fun! I loved how he teased Caroline and, in a way, complimented her with the Hummingbird story. This was my favourite thing about this episode. That, and Delena dancing. Delena/Dancing is one of my many OTPs (it’s up there with Quinn/dancing – which is just ultimate). I never had any real feelings for Tyler/Caroline – I thought they were sweet, but there was always that bittersweet nostalgia to her old human life, like when she was with Matt. I’m not saying that Caroline never had any love for him, because she did, but it doesn’t change that being with Matt was, in a way, her living out her old, human life. I think she needs a change, and, while Klaus isn’t the healthiest thing ever, when he acts like he did in this episode (charming, sweet, childish, and funny), it makes me want them to get together – if not in a romantic way, than at least in a friendship way (I mean, Klaus seems to definitely have some respect for her in some ways – if anyone else had spoken to Klaus in the way that Caroline has in the past, then they would most certainly be dead). I JUST WANT THEM TO BE FRIENDS. PLEASE? PLEASE?

    I really disliked Stefan this episode, purely because of how he’s manipulating Caroline into being his cheerleader for Elena. I thought it was cruel that Stefan is turning people against Elena for her choice with Damon (because that’s what it has always been – Damon was always a choice, although apparently not any more BITTER FOREVER). And how he treated Jeremy is and was absolutely disgusting – if Caroline had heard about this, she’d be staging a Ripper!Intervention almost immediately.

    And then the sire bond. Wow. You have already spoken a lot about it – if the sire bond is going to work for Delena, then the bond will HAVE to have happened in 4×06 – it doesn’t make sense for it to have happened since the start of the season because Damon did nothing to save her before then. Nobody, in fact, did – she drowned in a car, satisfied that her last living breath saved Matt. But then she lived, and, up until the Bridge of Plot, Damon did nothing that made her grateful to him in quite the same way as saving her from herself AND the sun does. But I didn’t think the bond could be made so far from the time that she was actually created – I figured it was one of those immediate things that instantly happened (again, I could be wrong, but from the time that Tyler changed, he was immediately, give or take a week/month or two, grateful to Klaus for saving him from the werewolf curse). The scenario I hope and pray for is that there IS no sire bond, but that won’t happen because these writers seem to have it ingrained into them that Stefan is the best choice for Elena, and even if that is true or not, shouldn’t she at least be allowed to find that out for herself without judgement from everybody else? This sire bond doesn’t give Elena any agency of choice in the truest sense of the word – it doesn’t allow Elena to be responsible for her choice in this episode or, if I’m right and they’ll say she’s been sired since the start of the season, since she became a vampire because any choice that she makes will be downplayed to ‘oh, it’s not what she truly wants so I’ll just ignore her wishes’, and that sucks, and it makes me so BITTER.

    This episode was beautiful and wonderful, and then BAM; the sire bond just puts this awful taste of bitterness and unfulfilled wishes in my mouth. I would rather Elena completely switch off her humanity, than have this sire bond because at least then, it would be a choice, and not just a cop-out so that the writers can put her back with Stefan at a time which suits them. The main thing that I’m worried about is the writers then saying that Damon KNEW about the sire bond and took advantage because he’s THE EVIL SALVATORE BROTHER, when everything so far says exactly the opposite of this.

    To summarise, the only way this sire bond, if they HAVE to have it (which they don’t, but they seem to be Stefan cheerleaders at times like this, so let’s assume that, grudgingly, there is one), could work for me is if Damon honestly had no clue about it and it’s only a recent thing, but the whole thing gets resolved and Elena’s feelings for Damon are true and real and the sire bond changed NOTHING. But even then, Damon will still be broken hearted. Also, REBEKAH. I miss her face. SOMEBODY UN-DAGGER HER. PLEASE. And Matt was lovely – I loved the Jeremy + Matt friendship, there needs to be more of this now that they’re living together.

    That’s all, thanks for posting up the review.

  4. NataliaWY
    NataliaWY at · Reply

    Okay, so!
    Glad that the recap is here and we can all enjoy it.
    The first part of the recap, right to the sire bond part, I was all – yes! Yes! So true! So right! Because you are essentially right about everything, and I loved to read these things that I was too lazy to put into words, ever.
    Then the sire bond part. Well, that was depressing. I mean, some good questions. I’m interested in this plotline, and I see it as a way for Elena to prove her feelings for Damon, to fight for him, in a way, like he’s always fought for her. While there is this danger of “what if there had never been the sire bond in the first place,” we know that Elena and Stefan’s relationship fell apart not because of Damon, not just because of him at least, but because Stefan can’t accept the true Elena and wants the sad girl he met back in 2009. As well as we know that Elena loved Damon as a human. That she was in love with him the entire season 3. So, while I’m bracing myself before the angst comes, I’m interested. And hopeful. Really, really hopeful.

  5. Charlie
    Charlie at · Reply

    I completely agree with your review. The idea the Damon shared some kind of bond through blood with Elena had been vastly speculated on Tumblr so I’d kind of resigned myself to the fact it was going to happen , but never the less it still wasn’t exactly something I’m happy about. From what I’ve read from the post 4×07 Julie Plec interviews (SPOILER ALERT) they seem to be going down the route of the sire bonding creating a certain amount of doubt about how much of there love is real and how much is the sire bond but the same time there not giving up on each other , and In different circumstances that would be brilliant but everything they do as a couple has got this what if attached to it and I don’t like that at all.

    In season 3 I kind of felt like Elena , Jeremy , Alaric and Damon became this dysfunctional family unit. When Damon compelled Jeremy to “have a better life” it honestly didn’t feel like he was just doing it for Elena , It may have been Elena’s decision but when he sat down and actually did it ,it was very clear that he genuinely wanted that life for Jeremy and actually cared about him, which is were my problem with Stefan arises. If Stefan truly wanted this cure for Elena then he wouldn’t be using Jeremy to do it , Elena said it herself ” I don’t want to get back my humanity if it means stripping Jeremy off his” and honestly by the end of the episode when Caroline (and fair enough she didn’t know) was saying how could she choose Damon when your you I was just sitting there thinking after what he did today quite easily.

  6. Alex
    Alex at · Reply

    Okay, so we’ve established that I do not really care for Klaus or Caroline/Klaus, but still I think you make a really good point about Klaus finding Caroline *interesting*. It’s not that he’s the ~only guy to appreciate her — because Tyler genuinely did think she was the bestest and loved her as she was — but I’m sadly sort of inclined to agree with what you say about Caroline/Tyler as a relationship being dependent on circumstance, i.e. her helping him through his super hard time, etc. (As much as I used to like them together, I also agree that Caroline being in love with Tyler was never really plausible, mainly because of the really rushed development. I think Caroline more or less talked herself into loving him because he needed her to.) This is a roundabout way of saying that yes, I can see the appeal of Caroline/Klaus and I’m not actually opposed to seeing what it does for Caroline’s character… especially since hilariously enough, the only time Caroline shows hints of having an arc anymore is around Klaus. IDEK.

    “Please let this be the start of my Stefan/Caroline/Klaus love triangle. Please.”
    okay ngl I WOULD WATCH THIS SHOW. Mostly I just really need Stefan/Caroline to happen now. Because, Sophy, I hate!ship it so hard. This episode completely converted me. It has been done. Stay tuned.

    AND LOL SO HARD @ YOUR KLAUS/PANDA MACRO. I’M DYIN’.

    “I always love it when Damon faces off with the new super villain and they basically flirt via threats and eyebrow raises.”
    How true. How enjoyable.

    “I’m really not sure why the writers insist on having Caroline dredge up the epic word every so often. Are they trying to mock the Stefan/Elena relationship?”
    Yeah… It actually is really weird? It’s one thing for Caroline to be vocally on Team Stefan and to decide Elena is wrongwrongwrong for not choosing the “nice guy”. But the arguments she’s using are so stereotypical tween-girl-who-thinks-destructive-love-is-romantic. If I were to give the show too much credit I’d say that it’s some sort of commentary. Because clearly Stefan/Elena right now are NOT epic. They’re a shambles. Caroline calling their love epic is in direct contrast to Elena telling Stefan to let their relationship go. So… ? IDK.

    “Remember that time she got the hot brother except she really, really didn’t? That time it turned out to be all about Elena. And now it looks like Elena’s going to go ahead and want said hot brother and take him and have him, and don’t misunderstand me readers, I’m not suggesting in any way that deep down Caroline wants to date Damon… The entire mysterious older man fantasy Caroline constructed out of that one look at the end of a long, lonely night in 102… Elena is getting to live it for real.”
    Ho ly. Shit. I mean, I did suspect that resentment over Damon genuinely caring for Elena (when he couldn’t be bothered to treat Caroline right) was part of Caroline’s attitude. But I never connected that to KLAUS. Whoa.

    “And that’s why Caroline fans shouldn’t be running around trying to defend her by pretending she was right or nice or fair or to-be-approved. A character doesn’t have to be perfect to be awesome. In fact I’d say a character had to be imperfect to be awesome. So don’t fight it! Fellow Caroline lovers, let her be unfair. Elena lovers, don’t hate her for it – and recognize that Elena was kind of unfair to her too.”
    UGH THIS THIS THIS. Bless you. I HATE fandom’s women-bashing right now so much. I also can’t deal with people excusing Caroline’s misogyny on the basis of her being a past victim. Respectfully, it doesn’t make her behaviour okay. Just recognise that and deal. And please Lord, show, repair their friendship.

    STEFAN IS YOUR SANDWICH I CAN’T.

    ““Elena and I broke up, by definition I don’t need to be anywhere,” was not romantic. It wasn’t even “depressing”. It was flat-out horrifying. Because it’s an outright admission that he still stands by what he said in season 3 – that nothing matters to him except Elena.”
    Oooooooooh but I LOVE this. Because in the meanwhile we have Elena explicitly telling Stefan to let go, to move on with his life, as she herself is doing. Stefan is NOT being portrayed as being in the right here. This is the deconstruction of his Nice Guy persona that last season failed to give us. Seriously, I can’t believe I’m actually saying this but the show is getting Stefan’s arc so RIGHT this season. And so much yes to Stefan not giving a shit about Jeremy or anyone else really among Elena’s circle, except for how they relate to Elena. Undeniable proof is in the pudding.

    “He just blithely tells Damon that he “no choice” because “Elena needs a cure.” Which, no, you massive douchebag, you did have a choice, because there is always a choice, so man up and admit that you simply chose Elena over Jeremy, or, more accurately, you chose yourself over Jeremy”
    This is so interesting. Because Stefan constantly does this, claims he doesn’t have a choice, separates himself from The Ripper, blames The Blood™, rarely admits that it’s all his own doing. And if it’s for the “greater good”, then not only is it all JUSTIFIED, but the means supposedly *does not reflect on him as a person*. That is fascinatingly warped.

    “But I couldn’t help but aghast at the symbolism of it – at how desperately Stefan wants to be the White Knight again, and how fucking eager he is to “fix” Elena. Let me do it, let me do it, let me do it. Me, me, me.”
    Holy shit THIS IS SO SPOT ON. I’ve said for a while now that Stefan can’t conceive of any relationship with Elena in which he isn’t being her saviour, and THANK JESUS THE SHOW AGREES WITH ME. \o/

    “As I mentioned above, I don’t blame Caroline for mouthing off about how awful Damon is and how sick it is that Elena would want him. But I do blame Stefan for lapping it up. I mean, at the start of the episode he agreed with Caroline that Elena’s mind would have to be diseased for her to want Damon. DISEASED, you guys. Who says that about their own brother? Who let’s somebody else say it?”
    Also, who the fuck says that about their EX-GIRLFRIEND? Like, this is how Stefan sees Elena. She’s SICK not to want him anymore. The degree of entitlement is stomach-turning.

    “Elena is the anti-Katherine against whom he defines her “Evil”, and Damon is the “Bad Brother” against whom he defines his “Goodness.” The part Damon sometimes plays for Stefan is not the sum total of who he is. And the girl Elena is becoming is not a completely different person. She’s just a person he’s been refusing to see.”
    This needs to be framed above a glittered throne in Persia.

    “It was about unshackling herself from the responsibility of loving Stefan through everything. When she says he doesn’t have to love her like this, it’s a mirror of what she feels about herself – she doesn’t have to love him like that anymore. And she can love Damon if she wants to.”
    Y E S. Literally crying, Sophy.

    I’m not gonna comment at length about the rape debate because it’s kind of triggery to me, but. I’d say the part where Caroline/Andie’s mental faculties are literally being (intentionally) influenced by an external force is what makes it firmly rape, IMO. I do think that’s a vital distinction between their situations and, say, the first Stelena sex.

    “When Caroline refers to her conversation with him, Elena looks up and asks if he’s okay, and it’s like she’s been woken up for a second, and that makes me absolutely terrified that when she does wake up from this sire bond… those feelings for Stefan will be back – that essentially, the sire bond caused the Damon-feelings to crowd out the Stefan-feelings and it had nothing to do with the fact that the Damon-feelings were always bigger however repressed.”
    UGHHHHHHHHHH HATEHATEHATEHATEHATE. The show CANNOT do this. It would literally be the single most disgusting thing it could pull out of its ass. The idea that a woman is actually LITERALLY DISEASED for choosing the “wrong guy” over the supposedly “nice guy”??? FOR THE LOVE OF FUCK.

    “But he takes it in his stride. He keeps on keeping on. And he’s a good friend to Elena and a good brother to Stefan, and both of them pretty much take turns making him feel like crap, and then this happens. She walks up to him, looks him in the eye, and says “You,” and his face is fear and wonderment, it is shock and solace, it is disbelief and recognition all at the same time. It is everything he’s ever wanted since before he can remember why, and it’s not real.”
    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO SOPHY WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY. s2g I have seen so much woobifying of Damon over this over the last week and been genuinely indifferent BUT THIS PARAGRAPH COMPLETELY BROKE ME. LIKE. I JUST. WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY.

    “Okay… I had to just sit quietly for five minutes in the corner. I’m back.”
    I feel u.

    “In fact, even as he has given up respecting her choices, even as he has said he regrets not saving her, he has every day validated the decision and the thought-processes behind it. He tells Elena that she is not herself if she is not selfless. And to that I say: if you are selfless you are not a self at all.”
    Holy Lord shit, Sophy. Every word you say about Stefan in this post is magnificence unparalleled.

    “It’s a result of his blood being in her system when she died and then him saving her in the same water where Stefan let her die.”
    :O I’d considered the effect of 4.06 here, and tbh I wasn’t wild about it. DID NOT want Elena to have to “owe” Damon for ~saving her. But I LOVE your breakdown of the sire bond so much here.

    Ughhhhhhhh yet another disgustingly long comment. We just need to quit this show, Sophy. It’s destroying us slowly but surely.

  7. Madz
    Madz at · Reply

    OMG!!! I feel like someone heard me after watching 4X07 and typed it straight down here. This is actually what I think. About Caroline, Stefan, Jeremy, Elena and Damon. This is by far the perfect review I have ever read on 4X07 and this is me first time reading your interview but from now on I will surely read your recaps. Its awesome. And most importantly TRUE. It may hurt some fan groups but what to do? Its all TRUTH. Good Job.

  8. Penny
    Penny at · Reply

    First I would like to say that I love your recaps, ever since the Skins ones, cause the two of you make something that is suposibly shallow be very deep.
    I was hoping that I would feel better about the episode after reading this recap, but I didn’t really, cause I completly agree that this sire bond kind of stains everything tha has happen to Elena, and not Damon AND Elena, but just Elena, this season, and I loved to see her grow, but now it feels like I’ve been fooled.
    As much as I would like your theory about the bond starting on 406 be right I think it won’t, because the blood thing was the major thing that needed an explanation and for it to be explain the bond has to start before that. And it sucks! Really does! Cause Damon wanted it to be real and now feels like is not, and I think he is going to be the person that this bond is going to hurt the most, you know… I think that Elena will be more ok with it because she knows she had feelings before, but he won’t know for sure.
    I still have hope for Damon/Elena, but I feel it’s gonna take really good writing so I can go back into admiring their relationship again… It’s kind of like Naomily, I still don’t buy the whole “I love you since I was 12″ thing cause that’s not true. We saw her falling for Emily, and acepting it, and it felt like that was the easiest way out (don’t get me wrong I LOVE Naomi and I was hoping for the two of them be ok, I really was), and I just wish they don’t make the Delena thing into one big mess and then take a cheap and easy way out of it because there’s no time or because the sh*t went too deep.
    I would really like to see Elena explaining her love to Damon to anyone really, because what I wanna see is her adimiting it to herself, and acknowledging that things are not that simple, you know, that he is the good guy for her no matter how much he seems like the bad brother for everyone else, and I also wish she realized why Stefan is wrong, I mean maybe that was one time he was what she wanted and needed but he’s not anymore. (Even though I ship Delena ever since they took their first roadtrip, which by the way was the first episode I saw)
    And I completly agree with the way you see Stefan. I mean, I like him, sometimes more, sometimes (like this episode) less, (especially because of what he did to Jeremy, after Damon asked him not to!) but I really don’t understand the Stefan/Elena shippers that act like hi is some kind of saint and that she is the bitch! I mean, REALLY???!!! She’s so much closer to being a saint than he is, and it really pisses me off! As do all the Elena haters! I really like her, and I can’t see how a girl putting herself into her shoes could not like her, she is great! But then again, there isn’t a character on this show that I have not grown to like, cause they are all very real and human.
    I think I might stake myself as well, but as Damon said “You know what they say about teenage suiced. Don’t do it!”

  9. Alessia
    Alessia at · Reply

    This was totally worth the wait!

    I have to admit I was a little worried towards the end when you were talking about the sire bond and all of the more negative aspects, but the way you laid it out is brilliant and I think that anything less than the ending you’ve described just won’t work. You’ve laid it out so perfectly and it’s all so logical. It seems almost undeniable at this point.

    Thanks for taking the time to do this and appease all the TVD fanatics out there. We are indebted to you and your brilliant mind!

  10. Erin
    Erin at · Reply

    So I have totally been waiting for your recap to come out, because I know you think about these things as hard as I do, and of course I wasn’t disappointed!

    I will preface this by saying that based on interviews and other speculation I’d read, I already knew this was going to happen (sex+sire bond) about two weeks before it did so I had a lot of time to think about it. For reasons I’ll get into in a sec, I felt pretty good about it, but actually watching the last five minutes about killed me. (So much so that even though I had plans to watch the episode with a shit-ton of alcohol the night after it aired with my boyfriend, who I always make watch, and my best Vampire Diaries friend and her boyfriend, I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle it and snuck out of bed while the BF was sleeping to watch it by myself that night LOL – he would later say I “cheated” :) ).
    Obviously the editing made it hard to watch, as did the axe-murderer music at the end . . . I understand why they chose that route (it is episodic television after all and TVD is known for being all “Gotcha! Plot twist!”), but it certainly didn’t make me hate it any less . . . Although, to be honest, I’m not sure there was another way to show it, because as those of us who shamelessly watched slow-motion re-edited versions on YouTube over and over again realize, there was so much love and passion evident in that scene that simply letting it play with Ed Sheeran in the background and no Caroline “Oh My God”-ing would have convinced exactly no one that Damon and Elena were anything less than completely fucking crazy in love. (I mean, can we just talk about this more for a second? Because the balance of lust and love was pretty butterfly-inducing . . . . Like the way you can’t really tell who kissed who first . . . . or the way they both just kind of freeze for a second and take it in before they just go ALL IN . . . . and the way he puts her arm around his neck . . . . and when he has her up against the wall and it’s JUST LIKE DENVER but this time there’s no one to stop them and neither one of them can fucking breathe . . . . and that they just take turns being on top because that’s just how they are with each other . . . . and the oral sex implications . . . . and most especially the way she literally cannot stop touching his face throughout the whole thing . . . and don’t even get me started on the last kiss . . . . Kill me now . . . . And yeah, logically I know we get things like visible tongue and lip-sucking and all that good stuff because Ian and Nina are together in real life and can shoot those kinds of things without imposing on a fellow actor, blah blah blah Idon’tcarecakes) And for it to be good drama, at least some people need to be convinced. (Like my friend’s boyfriend, who is the definition of a casual viewer but who has still seen ALL 73 episodes, and stated at the end: “Well I guess she doesn’t really love him.” Me, drunk as a sorority girl at a tiki bar at this point: “Fuck you David, have you ever actually watched this show?”)

    Because the thing is is that the writers have crafted the Damon/Elena relationship more carefully than any other relationship on the show, in a way which screamed “Endgame” to me a long time ago. In fact, it was at the end of 201 that I became convinced of this and that the entire show basically revolved around the two of them and their relationship. I fucking hate the word “epic” and would be quite happy if it was never used again, but if the word applies to anyone on TVD it’s them. Which is why I think it’s hilarious whenever Caroline applies it to Stefan/Elena because I just see it as the writers being tongue-in-cheek.

    Anyway, I used to be a high-school English teacher (which makes me sound old but I’m 28) so I completely overanalyze every single movie, TV show, novel, etc. because I just can’t stop. And you’re absolutely right, the writers have been careful about this development. You can see how they were setting up all the pieces last season: Damon discovering the sire bond and mentioning how rare it was among normal vampires in 306, Damon promising to never leave her again in 305 (this will absolutely come into play when they find out), her saying she trusted him completely in 309, etc., and one more thing: There are only two people who know how Elena really felt about Damon before she died, Elena herself . . . . and Matt. All of those conversations she had with him about the Salvatores, in 311, 316, and 322 were all set-up for when she has to prove herself and Matt is the only person she even began to discuss her true feelings with.

    And at first I shared your concern about this plotline. I hate anything that takes away female agency and dares to call it romantic as well (hello Twilight), but all along this show has had a focus on Elena’s free will, her agency, her choices. I don’t think they would abandon that now. I share your thoughts about it being a combination of options 1 and 2, and I looove the idea you had about the bond truly manifesting itself after she was saved from the sun. I see this as several things: 1) a way to put Damon/Elena together and then keep them tragically apart of course; 2)a way to draw them even further together, as you’ve pointed out all plots do; 3) as a way for Elena to prove to Damon and everyone else how she really feels. And I don’t think she’s going to do it by acting like she was never sired (and if she does I don’t think it will last more than an episode). I think they’ll have her accept that the sire bond exists, dislike it and search her hardest for a way to break it (with Damon, because he’s going to fucking despise it, and probably using Professor Shane for help), but that she is going to want everyone to be absolutely sure that her feelings are real and true and pre-dated her death. I think she’s going to own her feelings and label them very clearly as apart from whatever this bond is . . . but I also think they’ll have her be honest about the fact that while the bond exists she can’t distinguish all of them separately and that she and Damon will have to be apart for a while because of that. I’m really hoping they choose the strong route for her.

    But no matter what, I think the next episode is going to involve shoulder-high piles of angst and that Damon and Elena and all of us will be having our hearts ripped out. Because you know they’ll all think the worst at first because that’s how this show rolls.
    I’m also really hoping that the sire-bond-breaking/cure/Silas storyline does not eventually require Damon’s death, which is looking pretty likely at this point . . . . I mean, I’m sure they’ll find a way around it . . . it’s not like they would let Ian Somerhalder leave the show.

    Oh, and one more thing: The red dress/blue dress discussion? Symbolism . . . pretty anvilicious symbolism that the BF picked up on right away too . . . . “Damon is the red dress, Stefan is the safe blue one, five minutes ago she wanted safe, now she wants showy . . . . . but wait! Eventually she’s just going to choose whatever she wants! And what she wants is Red baby!” Not kidding, words right out of his mouth . . . )

  11. a.b.
    a.b. at · Reply

    I think Elena will use her human emotions, the memories of what she felt when she was human to separate her feelings she gets from the sire bond. So, when she is aware of the sire bond and still chooses Damon, it will be a choice made as a human from season 3 – though, with the added understanding of his dark side, as she has a dark side now too after she became a vampire.

    I also think there is a lot of free will involved in the sire bond (as if it is an external force that influences them, and doesnt really change them permanently after they are aware of it and fights it), including breaking it – against the master’s wish. Tyler was first all, klaus is awesome – then oh, I am sired; but I will never hurt you, Caroline – ops, I hurt you – I am gonna go get rid of this bond now. I dont think Elena chose and slept with Damon because of the bond, but the bond removed all her apprehensions she had about Damon and replaced them by awesomeness. So, Damon now was an awesome person she was in-love with and that changed her mannerism to a teen girl who could barely breath in his presence. I think when she is aware of her sire bond bias towards Damon, she can separate it from her emotions.

    I hope they clarify the rules of the sire bond in the next couple of episodes, because it’s possible to attribute all her actions as a vampire to the sire bond and it’s possible to explain why her actions wasn’t influcened by Damon. Except for perhaps her inability to drink from a blood bag – which would mean the sire bond can force Elena beyond normal action, it would be equivalent to brain washing. Perhaps that is only possible when she is unaware of the bond, or not practiced separating it from her own self.

    I am not sure if everything I wrote is a mess or not, bleh.

    Anyways – I am invested in Elena, Damon and Delena – and when the show makes me doubt the reality of the characters and story – it makes me feel like it is wasting time, that it’s just a bad dream best forgotten – that it has nothing to do with what I’ve become invested in (That it will have no consequence, no story and can be forgotten when it has been resolved) – and that makes me annoyed. But – hopefully – it is real, that it didnt take control of Elena that much or at all – that it is something Elena will fight, conquer and grow from. Though, the sire bond as a way to give Elena a new chance to do the 3×22 choice again is something I am not against.

    Hmr, I am annoyed again now — has been like this all week, up and down. From Elena is the one who will be fighting for Damon to Elena is being controlled and she will always be tainted by it. (Though, I really believe the writers will NOT go for the latter.)

    Stefan’s plan to get Damon to get Elena to drink from the blood bag has a tiny flaw – What if she is sired and at the same time can only drink from the vein .. then Damon would only be forcing Elena to keep something down that her body is trying to reject – which might be like torture…

    5 hours til I can watch next episode and witness heartbreak, yay.. and yay!

  12. Liz
    Liz at · Reply

    Sophy, just. I have no time to leave a proper comment yet, though I intend to (once the mere thought of this show stops making me have traumatic 4×07 flashbacks, which will probably be never, so I’ll just have to get over myself), but I did have a brief few minutes to skim this, and even in those short minutes I feel ill from all the vigorous nodding-my-head-in-agreement and wanting to cry from rage/betrayal/OTP feels. YOU AND YOUR WORDS, MAN. They destroy me.

    Basically, yes, yes, a thousand times yes to ALL of this. I would have accused you of copy-pasting from my own recap, but then I remembered that my recap is just in my head and that you just seem to have a magical tin can wire to it. I will never be over this episode. But I am so glad I have you to write out every single one of my overwhelming feelings about it so beautifully. Also with lolz. God knows we need the lolz.

    You are a delight, never change. Or don’t. I’m not your boss. #october 19th in my heart

    P.S. All of Stefan’s lolface caps were the greatest. The actual greatest.

  13. Emily
    Emily at · Reply

    Man, there isn’t really much I can add to this… I think you used all the words ;) At the very least though, you deserve as many people as possible tell you what an awesome, insightful recap this is (17,000+ words is quite the feat!)

    You know, when I first started watching the show, I did it mostly because my sister told me the first few episodes were hilariously atrocious. ( A million LOLs to the crow, fog and “Dear Diary- Today is going to be different.”) And even when the show started picking up, and actually became legitimately entertaining, it still took me a long time to develop a shipper preference. I was never on Team Stefan, but I wasn’t really rooting for Damon, either. However, within the last year or so, I’ve definitely chosen sides, and that’s why I hope against all hope that this sire thing is resolved abruptly, and is in no way a ploy by the show to get Delena together without really getting them together. If this is all just a temporary roadblock to “It’s Stefan and it’s always going to be Stefan…” I’m not sure I’d be able to stomach anymore of the show. Or maybe I’d have to start hate watching it. Either way, it’d be wildly, irrevocably tainted for me.

    Stefan is quickly becoming the worst. I like Paul, and think he’s a pretty talented guy… but seriously. There isn’t much that annoys me more than a ridiculously self-righteous person who has absolutely no right to be even slightly self-righteous. Not saying that Stefan is an awful person, but anyone who is being honest has to call bullshit on the whole Good Brother/Bad Brother dynamic at this point. They’ve both shown the capacity to be immensely horrible, and wonderfully humane. The sooner Stefan acknowledges that, the better things will be for everyone, including himself.

    Anyways, like I said, you basically covered everything I’d ever want to mention. Haven’t had a chance to watch this week’s episode yet, but I’m definitely looking forward to it (if not a little afraid.) Thanks again for the terrific recap :)

  14. Marly
    Marly at · Reply

    I’m a long time fan of TVD since Season 1 but have only very recently discovered your recaps. I have to leave a quick but sincere comment here. Your recaps are so spot ON and I enjoy your point of view tremendously. Thank you for sharing! Your detailed insights into the psychological dynamics of the characters and relationships are wonderful. Not only are your recaps fun and entertaining, but they make me think and go beyond the surface of the story to really examine underneath — which is such a terrific combo. :) I so look forward to more! Just wanted to say thanks:)

  15. Tammy
    Tammy at · Reply

    You make me think so much, Sophy. Thank you.

    My first initial gut reaction while reading your recap and thinking about this episode is to wonder if this show really intends people to ship Stefan and Elena. Do they really want people to think that they are soul mates? Because I just DON’T GET IT. And not because I’m a Delena shipper. To be perfectly honest, I was pretty indifferent about Stefan vs. Damon right up until the S3 finale. And then, as Elena is in the truck with Matt, and they are halfway between the two Salvatore brothers, my heart was just screaming DAMON. It’s got to be him. No, the reason I don’t get Stefan and Elena is because their relationship doesn’t resemble anything I expect to see in reality. I know that asking for reality based relationships from a show about vampires for teenagers is a stretch, but not really when you see that they HAVE given us that kind of relationship between Damon and Elena.

    Stefan and Elena feel like every teenyboppers vision of what they think love is. Some guy, usually broody for whatever reason, always willing to swoop in and save the girl. Make decisions for her because he believes that what he does is in her best interest. Put her in a metaphorical glass box and preserve her because oh gosh, isn’t she perfect. Look at her. Worship her. All of that sounds oh so sweet when you are young and have a romanticized view of what love is. And then you realize that’s not a relationship. It’s not a partnership, where BOTH parties are challenging each other to grow and take on the world.

    This is similar to the problem that I had with the Finchel relationship in the back half of S3. That was not an equal partner coupling where they communicated with each other, helped each other make big decisions, occasionally fought with each other until they could grow together and reach a compromise. No, it was a boy worshipping a girl because he HAD HER, and the girl feeling special just because someone WANTED HER. And what really gets me about that representation of Finchel, and the relationship between Stefan and Elena is that TEENAGE GIRLS DESERVE TO BE TOLD BETTER STORIES ABOUT LOVE. They deserve to see what an equal partnership can be. They deserve to see how two people can challenge each other, and how two people can disagree about something really big, but still love each other and support each other and be okay within the foundations of their relationship.

    J.K. Rowling wrote her seven Harry Potter books with the evolution of her audience in mind. She knew that the children who fell in love with Harry in book one would be grown up by the time they read book seven, and so her stories became more complex, more impactful, more emotional, as she tried to keep up with who they would be. And I can’t help but think (hope?) that there is a glimmer of this with TVD. Stefan and Elena had a high school kind of love. It’s sweet, in its own way, but it’s not everlasting. How can it be? The parties involved don’t approach life’s hurdles together, and with communication between themselves about how they will get through them. Damon and Elena, however, are much better communicators. And that was born out of a place of NOT being in love from the moment they met. They haven’t foisted these huge expectations on each other because that’s what they think they’re supposed to do. No, they fell in love ACCIDENTALLY and when they really, really weren’t supposed to. And when that happens? Well the only reason that can happen is because the two people belong together. Damon and Elena are an example of the first relationship you have as an adult. The show is evolving, and I hope they are taking their audience along with them.

    This episode, for me, was an hour of the writers telling us Elena is supposed to be with Damon. So, Jeremy’s a hunter now, and possibly the key to a cure for Elena? Damon’s first thought is to find another hunter because, to him, Elena and Jeremy’s relationship is much more important than finding a cure. He wouldn’t even THINK about doing anything to risk that. (Adult decision) Stefan’s reaction? Go out and find some guy, turn him, and then force Jeremy into killing him because WE NEED THE CURE NOW, DAMMIT! (High school decision) I seriously don’t understand how people can watch those two very different reactions to the same situation and come out thinking that Stefan is the right person for Elena. In fact, this just shows how little Stefan knows Elena. She is not a damsel in distress, and she certainly does not need anyone acting in her best interests. Especially not without CONSULTING her first on what she thinks her own best interests are.

    The sire bond? I admit, I didn’t see it coming. The dress thing seemed odd, but I chalked it up to bad writing and making a girl all twitterpated over the boy she liked. When Klaus and Caroline were talking about how Elena was different, and Klaus was all smiley and head shaky and “You’ll see” I thought he was referring to the fact that Elena loved Damon BEFORE she was turned, and Caroline just hadn’t realized that yet. My first instinct when Caroline mentioned the sire bond was that she is completely wrong. I just didn’t feel that there was any evidence that that was the case. And then I read what you wrote about how quickly Elena hopped into bed with Damon. It’s true. Elena may have realized she has feelings for Damon, and be willing to explore those, but Elena is a cool head. She would want to think about this, talk about it with Damon first. And then the passionate sexy times because COME ON. It’s been building for a while now.

    But, the sire bond is what firmly convinces me that the writers are trying to sway their audience over to be Delena shippers. (Note – I haven’t watched 408 yet, I was waiting until after reading this. So I freely admit I could be wrong here.) Because when Damon finds out about the sire bond, the only reaction I can picture him having is complete devastation. He absolutely does not want Elena unless it is her choice. So he will find a way to remove himself from her so as not to unduly influence her until the bond can be broken. And how can an audience watch him make that kind of choice and NOT come out of it thinking that Damon is the one. This show wants Elena to grow up and move on in her relationships, they want the audience to evolve with her, and I think they are using the sire bond to do that.

    And Stefan? He’ll probably try to swoop in again and “rescue” her from big, bad Damon. Jackass.

    One last comment. I MISS REBEKAH. I would really like her to not be dead in a box anymore.

    Thanks Sophy! Off to read your guys’ Glee Thanksgiving recap now, and bury my feelings about last night’s Glee.

  16. Kumar
    Kumar at · Reply

    I know I am commenting here 2 days after 408 was aired but really wanted to anyway.

    First of all your remarks are some of the most satisfying to read in the midst of the massive shipping wars being waged everywhere else. The level of character exploration done here is amazing. Are you secretly a writer on TVD? Because most of the stuff predicted/wished here came true in 409.

    So we now know that the bond is only formed if there are human feelings before she turned, we knew that she did have feelings for Damon so this is all well and good. And the bond only affects how you act not how you feel. So even though there is a bond, Elena’s love is genuine.

    Of course Stefan and Caroline would here none of it. And Stefan is OK with Damon ordering Elena to not care about him, to stay away from him and to have a life without him even though Stefan knows that Elena loved Damon before she turned. He really has become a despicable character. The fact that DE love each other be damned, if it means that she will return to her “factory default team Stefan setting” he doesn’t give a shit.

    And now Elena has to work to prove that her feelings are not tainted by the bond. This time she will persue Damon instead of the other way around and it would be fun to see where they go with this.

    What happened in the final scene is a bit of a mystery to me. Would Damon un-sire Elena (let her go) as Stefan assured Caroline that he would? Or did Elena succeed in convincing him to make the relationship work? Cannot wait for the mid-season finale.

  17. Ned
    Ned at · Reply

    This was really rough to watch. Elena is (potentially) destroyed. Stefan’s as bad as he’s ever been. Damon is fine but his shot at happiness is (potentially) destroyed. Jer is probably destroyed. Bonnie is…hahaha, just kidding. Caroline…ugh. Tyler’s grumpy. Klaus is Klaus. Professor Shady is more (probably) evil. Hayley is (probably) evil, surprise surprise. April…April gets a tiara? Good Matt episode though!

    So, unless you watch the show purely for Matt, this was hard work. Relateable, likeable characters in short supply. This was like being a Rachel Berry fan in 2012.

    I suppose it’s mostly for plot reasons, though, so I’ll get over it. I’m laughing at the whole sire bond thing, only partly hysterically. It’s a magnificently overblown thing to do. It gives Stefan something to do. Almost all possible resolutions to it don’t ruin Delena anyway. (If it’s real, and if they can’t break it, and if they don’t ever find The Cure, then they’ve got a real problem. Otherwise not, I think.) But rn my guess is it’s nonsense. And they’re welcome to tell me there would never be any mindblowing Delena sex if not for Meredith’s intervention in 322 (or for Damon’s in 406 – intriguing theory!), but I don’t have to believe them. :)

    And it just occurred to me that what we know about sire bonds, and the breaking thereof, is all Tyler. Which is a small sample size. So maybe we know less than we think.

    I think I’m going to sleep on this one, before attempting 408. Swirly head is swirly.

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