Sophy says: This was superbly done. When the episode first started I was slightly concerned that we were going to have one of those long drawn-out back-to-the-beginning, AHA! episodes. I hate those. Call me old-fashioned but I like my story-telling linear. However, that wasn’t what was going on at all. The flash-backs were brief and close, and Matt running through the woods was indeed our start point. The reason I thought it was so brilliant was that it actually got us right into the action without a section of clunky exposition in the bar. And boy was the image of my darling Matt Donovan legging it for his life, a blur of quarterback red against the washed out grey of the night, spectacular. This is something TVD does really well – it plays with cliched horror movie images without actually resorting to cliched horror movie plots. Matt in his football jacket running from vampires was the perfect counterpoint to April with her tiara and sash opening up Rebekah’s coffin.
Another thing that was brilliant? The way the show is always surprising me. I came into this episode feeling curmudgeonly, because I was annoyed at Matt being the blood-bag when there were plenty of randoms to go round, and because it seemed like they were going to have the characters totally ignore what would make sense just to create drama. Why oh why would Klaus, who wants to keep Jeremy alive at all costs, send crazed newborns after him, rather than just compelling them to stand still while he disposed of them and grew the mark?
I have to admit that I wound up feeling pretty stupid. Of course, Klaus wasn’t going to go there. It would make Jeremy too safe, and therefore give him too much opportunity to be noble about things. No decent kid with a lock on his huntery vampire hate is going to want to stand there and pick off what were all too recently innocent human beings like sitting ducks. Klaus was smarter than me. TVD was smarter than me. The newborns were compelled not to stand still but to attack – and not to attack Jeremy, but to attack Matt. I’d be willing to bet Klaus also compelled them not to use lethal force of Jer, and declined to make them aware of that fact. But either way… lethal force was all that was going to stop them coming after Matt, who’s been like a brother to Jeremy since long before we checked in on these characters’ lives. So Jeremy was completely screwed. Klaus in fact made it so that he had no other option but to kill these vampires. It was a brilliant plan. Or it would have been if Kol hadn’t intervened.
And boy was it creepy and tragic seeing that girl go around placidly opening her veins for people she probably knows – people she may have lived her whole life with in this small country town.
Just devastating. And just brilliant.
And Elena saved Matt! ♥
Damon would die for Jeremy. Three times over.
Sophy says: Sheesh, Jer, how much more proof do you need that the guy loves you? Seriously though, it’s all well and good to say that Damon only cares about Elena’s happiness and that’s why he’s protecting Jeremy – and the mark. But nobody can pretend there is anything selfish about it anymore. He laid down his life. Three times. First with Kol, who for all he knew wouldn’t have been smart enough to compel him and would simply have offed him to get him out of the way. Let’s face it, it’s Kol. He wanted to kill Matt for shits and giggles. Damon thwarted him in this. He would not have been terribly interested in sparing Damon’s life if he hadn’t realized that it suited his cause, and even when he did realize it suited his cause, he was pretty much signing Damon’s death sentence. People don’t usually survive the hunter’s curse, after all.
And you know, that hunter’s curse business just makes it even clearer that Damon cares about Jeremy. As Kol said, he was not willing to kill Jeremy then and there, because he would have been afflicted with the curse. But you know what? Ffor Damon, the idea of Jeremy having his arms ripped off was worth putting his own much more vulnerable life on the line.
WHAT’S THAT JER? STILL NOT GOOD ENOUGH?
Sigh. He would probably whine that Damon just wanted him to have arms so he could stake vampires in the name of breaking the sire bond, but seriously? The sire bond has nothing to do with it. If Damon is dead there is no sire bond. If Damon is dead he cannot benefit from the breaking of it. At worst, his willingness to lay down his life was all about Elena. But at best? I really believe Damon cares for Jeremy. I do. And once he’s started caring about you, Damon is the kind of guy who will swap his happiness and his own existence for yours.
But even if it is all about Elena, Kol’s idea that Damon would rather Jeremy was gone because it would sever Elena from her humanity was laughable and showed just show shitty his intuition about people is. There are so many reasons why Damon seriously has no desire to see Jeremy harmed. But one of them is precisely because he links Elena to her humanity. Destroying Elena’s humanity would simply destroy Elena. It would turn her into what Stefan is pretending she is this season – a totally different person – possibly a cold, vicious, blood-hungry killer who just doesn’t care. And Damon would fight to bring her back to herself, to the ends of the earth, but he would never be happy as long as she was gone, no matter whether her Doppelganger shell was still there.
Damon isn’t just attracted to Elena, he’s in love with her. With the person she is. The whole point of Elena, for Damon, is her feelings. Her capacity for love, for kindness, for forgiveness… these things are built into his love for her. It would be devastating for him to see them go.
Kol just doesn’t get it. At all.
But I have to say I was almost glad that he didn’t. Whenever Originals start waxing lyrical on the triangle like they know shit about it I cringe. At least this time it was clear that Kol was a fail on the Salvatore/Doppelganger dynamic. And at least he made himself useful about it. Because he goaded Damon and he goaded him hard. If Damon did have some deep-down desire to have Jeremy gone, there would have been no reason to keep it from Kol at that point. You could almost argue it would have been smarter to play along. “Yeah, I totally hate the brat, and I want Elena to be evil with me. BY THE WAY SHE’S SIRED TO ME SO I CAN TOTALLY MAKE THAT HAPPEN AS LONG AS THE CURE ISN’T FOUND Do you have a firearm on you?”
But Damon would not – could not – go there. Because that’s how much it isn’t true. And his simple ‘Nope,’ when Kol said he wanted to hurt Jeremy made my heart flutter.
There it is Jer. On a platter. If you’d been a fly on the wall would it have been enough to show you he cares? No? You need him to buy you flowers and candy?
Moving on. After Damon has risked his life for Jeremy and told him to run, Kol decides to compel him to find him and kill him, and it’s so cruel and so brilliant, and I knew it was coming and I was braced and cringing about it, but then he went one step further than I thought he would and compelled him not to remember being compelled. That’s when I was really in dread-city. Because I thought, if Damon can’t even remember that he’s been compelled, how the hell is he even going to fight it? It’d be like dueling blind-folded, I thought. The guy doesn’t stand a chance.
Except I forgot to factor in that Damon Salvatore is fucking smart. When he sees Elena at the house, all he knows is that he has to find Jeremy. The ‘Kill Kill Kill’ part of it hasn’t kicked in yet. But when he sees Jeremy and vamps out and has this inexplicable urge to destroy the boy? That’s when he knows something isn’t right. And the fact that he works out so quickly that he’s been compelled by Kol isn’t just a testament to his intelligence. It’s a testament to just how honest he was being when he told Kol he had no desire to hurt Jeremy. If he feels it? It must be fake. He knows this as viscerally as Elena knows that what she feels for him must be real. And that’s kind of perfect.
I loved that he didn’t try to hide the ugly reality of this from Elena. Why would he, you ask? Because Elena, Jeremy protector that she is, was wont to try to intervene and get caught in the crossfire. That means he respects Elena’s right to know that her brother is in danger and to get involved protecting him, even if it could cost her her life – even if it could cost him his. I wouldn’t be surprised if Damon chews her out at some point for not sourcing an emergency crossbow and firing repeatedly whenever she was in proximity to him. He’d be all ‘You tell me you love me? Seriously, Elena? Where was the damn rain of arrows when I needed it?’
And yes, sadly, I believe Damon will attribute her willingness to keep him alive and her faith that he could stop for her to the sire bond.
I don’t. But then I don’t think the damn thing is even real. And whilst I was initially surprised that Elena didn’t use force on Damon to protect her brother, I don’t think it was that she wasn’t able to do so so much as that she wasn’t… able to do so. What I mean is, I don’t think it was that she was sired to Damon and therefore prioritizing his safety above Jeremy’s.
I think Elena didn’t use force because she knew it would do no good. With exactly no time to plan she has exactly no chance of overpowering Damon if he does not want to be overpowered. So it makes sense that she would resort to the only real power she has over him – her love for him, and more importantly his for her.
But let’s not forget that that’s not all she did. She attempted to thwart Damon in the best way she knew how, namely by calling Stefan and getting him involved, and by, as it turned out, spilling the problem to Rebekah, who we all know would have been there in a jiffy to off Damon and protect the mark if Stefan hadn’t been willing to do it for her, and if she hadn’t been busy trying to dagger Kol for insurance.
So basically Elena called in the cavalry to stop Damon. And you might be thinking ‘See, there’s no sire bond!’ And I really wish I could. But unfortunately I’m just left tying myself in more sire bond knots.
Damon told Elena that if he found Jeremy he was going to kill him. It wasn’t much different from that time he told Elena she was going to go home and he was going to help Jeremy kill vampires and she had to fall in line. But here? Not so much. She may not have tackled Damon, but the end result of her actions was that he was stopped from doing something he wanted to do. However, was it really something he wanted to do? After all, he was compelled. And as Elena pointed out when she caught up with him, she knew that he didn’t really want to hurt Jeremy. So this leaves me thinking that the sire bond operates not on what Damon tells Elena, but on what she knows to be true. In that case how would he ever even break it? She knows he loves her, after all. I don’t think anything could shake her faith in that at this point. And I’m just going to stop. I’m just going to stop this sire bonding right now and move on.
So Damon stalks Jeremy in the sewers and calls out to him all the way, filling him in on what’s happening with his trademark hard edges. And Jeremy is probably relieved to know that Damon is even resisting this, because man, the fear on Steve McQueen’s face when he first saw Damon vamp out at him from across the room was so potent. I mean, he was shaking like a leaf, and he had every reason to be. He knows how ridiculously easy it is for Damon to take him, without even resorting to vamp speed or strength. That point was explicitly made in the last episode, and I think it was made precisely to highlight the incredible restraint Damon manages in his pursuit Jeremy, even while under compulsion. He warns him. He stalks him slow. He gives him advice – “You can’t fight me in close quarters” – and he kneels solid and still in front of him and barks orders at him to shoot for the heart.
The first time, Jeremy doesn’t. He goes for the head instead. And when Damon wakes up he’s pissed about it, because seriously? The damn kid just won’t listen. But I would hope that somewhere down the track he’ll take a moment to process that Jeremy Gilbert, the boy he once killed, would not kill him, even when he was coming after him and was physically incapable of stopping whether he wanted to or not.
What does that mean? Who knows, exactly. But it sure is interesting. I could take a leaf out of Jer’s book and triangulate this shit. It’s all for Elena. He knows what Damon might truly mean to his sister. He was there in 319. He saw a whole lot of consuming going on before there was ever a sire bond. He understands his sister better than anyone – he knows that she is not a different person now that she’s a vampire. He knows that her heart has remained the same and that for whatever reason and in whatever capacity… Damon is very much in it. He doesn’t want to take that away from her. So he doesn’t want to take Damon away from the world.
But honestly, I don’t think it’s that simple. Jeremy has been pretty pissy with Elena lately, whether he wants to be or not, and the show made the point of raising that again in this episode. His huntery vampire hatred caused him to pick up a stake in her presence when she was trying to soothe him. And yet it couldn’t tip him over the edge in the moment to dispose of Damon, when, as devastated as Elena would have been, she would have understood that he didn’t have a choice about it?
The thing is that Jeremy’s simmering irrational resentment towards Elena as exposed by Shane’s hypnosis, is still there. It’s a horrible thing, because on a conscious level he knows that his sister is a good person, who loves him best of all, who would never want him to suffer. He knows that all the shit that’s been rained down on them isn’t her fault, and that she has been hurt by it as much as he has. But he can’t help feeling it – the anger that is equal parts hunter and teenage grief. And you’d think that one some level, the fact that Elena is happy to shag a guy who murdered him back in the day would make him willing to snatch that guy away from her as punishment.
My point is that there is loads of baggage there. The are more reasons why Jeremy the Hunter would kill Damon – for Elena’s own good or to spite her – than keep him alive to honour her maybe-love for him. But he didn’t want to do it. He was willing to risk his own life to not do it. And I mean seriously big-time risk his life. And I think it comes down to two things. First, Jeremy is noble. If Connor is anything to go by, hunters are not noble. They are the very opposite of noble. They are consumed with blind hatred of a species and take pleasure in wiping it out indiscriminately. They will happily use innocent human beings in their mission, leaving them to bleed out as bait where not-even-entirely-necessary. Jeremy, however, partly thanks to Bonnie being his anchor, and partly thanks to the person he is, resists that. He does not want innocent people to get hurt. He doesn’t want to pick off sitting duck baby vamps. And that’s why it makes sense to me that he wouldn’t want to pick off Damon either as he knelt before him and flat out gave him permission to do so. He knows that this is not Damon’s fault. He knows that whether out of love for Elena or genuine caring for him, it’s not what he wants to do. He’s given the ultimate proof of that when Damon offers him a clear shot at him and urges him to take it. And that’s exactly why he can’t do it. Because it’s fucking cold. Because it’s just not human.
And yes, I do think that it’s because whether he should or he shouldn’t, and whether he realizes it entirely or not, he does see Damon as a friend. And I think that’s precisely why he’s gotten so naggy lately about how Damon feels about him. Because he doesn’t want to trust that they have an actual connection that means something if Damon’s going to turn around and snap it like he snapped his neck that one time.
So Jeremy won’t off Damon, not just like that, and Damon is disgusted, but deep down he has to be a little bit unnerved in a good way. Does littlest Gilbert actually want him alive? Does he actually care? I would love Damon to turn that question around on Jeremy at some point. I would love for him to be all ‘Pssch you just tolerate me because of Elena’. I really would.
Next Damon finds Jeremy’s scent in the woods and recommences tracking him. And it has to have been some time since they started this game, because Jeremy is exhausted, pretty much to the point of giving up. And let me tell you, you don’t give up lightly in these circumstances, certainly not when you have hunter super-strength, and endurance. Adrenaline can keep a human going much longer than you’d think their body can handle. So it has to have been a seriously long time that Jeremy has been running. And I feel compelled to point out that this means Damon has resisted the compulsion for ages.
And then just when Jer stops for a kip and all seems lost, Elena calls out to Damon and he turns around and sees her and comes back to himself for a second. She tells him she loves him and she tells him he loves her, and I think that’s what gets him. I think that’s what makes him resolve to finish this right then and there.
Not the part about her loving him. The sad truth is that though he would so dearly wish to, he can’t trust that yet. But his love for her? That he can trust, absolutely. That’s what makes him say “Sorry, Elena,” and finally vamp speed to where Jeremy is.
He’s not apologizing for not being able to resist the compulsion. He’s apologizing for choosing not to.
Let me explain. Damon Salvatore is nothing if not efficient. Damon Salvatore is nothing if not capable of facing reality head-on and making the impossible choices. And in that moment he was choosing to die – again. He was choosing to stop hanging back and white-knuckling, and instead go forward, take action, bring himself to Jeremy and insist that he kill him.
And this time Jeremy does it. This time he takes aim, straight at the heart, and shoots.
Because Jeremy may be noble at heart. He may see Damon as an almost-friend. He may want on some level not to kill what his sister loves. But at the end of the day he gets things done. Remember that time Jer lopped that hybrid’s head off on the porch? He didn’t want to do that. He knew that the poor guy had been turned against his will and had no choice in coming to hurt him and his sister. I’m sure on some level he was as horrified by the brutality of what he’d done as Elena was. But the point is that it was them or the hybrid. Somebody had to act, and Jeremy stepped up to do it. And in that respect he is very much like Damon.
It’s something they have in common, and now here they are getting things done together, and to me it’s as heartwarming as it is horrifying. Really, you guys, I feel like Damon and Jeremy have never been closer than when Damon told him to shoot him in the heart and Jeremy did it.
Because he did do it. I think the show was pretty clear on that. When Stefan intervened, he wasn’t saving Jeremy’s life from Damon. He was saving Damon’s from Jeremy.
And you know what that means? It means Damon succeeded in circumventing the compulsion. Sure, he just did it by committing assisted suicide, but he still did it.
And I can see why he felt that he had to. He knew that he was stronger than Jeremy. He knew that he would outlast him by a long way and that there would come a point where no matter how slow he moved, Jeremy would be slower. Sure, he could have thrown himself into trees. He could have pulled a branch off and stabbed himself in the stomach to slow himself down. It wouldn’t have mattered in the end. He would have wound up completing his compelled mission, just as I firmly believe Stefan would have completed his in 305, with or without Klaus hurrying things up in the meantime. And hey, what if Damon kept on resisting and resisting and then Kol blurred into the picture and compelled him to turn his feelings off? Then he’d be killing Jeremy as surely as Stefan bit Elena.
Damon might have been as successful as Stefan at resisting the compulsion. But what he knew was that he would only be as successful as Stefan at not eventually following through. If he kept resisting the chances were that there would come a point when he couldn’t anymore. So he decided to pre-empt that possibility. If he’s dead, there’s no need for him resist anymore, is there?
That’s what he’s apologizes to Elena for before he charges on Jeremy – for seeing the reality of the situation the way he always does – for making the impossible choices she always hates him for making. He is apologizing for choosing to die. He knew he was going to have to not survive with her. He knew he was going to have to leave her even if he’d promised her that he never would again in the very episode where Stefan went through this. And he was sorry.
Stefan held on hard to his love for Elena. Even though he had to know on a rational level that it would not be enough to protect her from his compelled self, he still chose to hope that it would be. And you know, that’s what Elena loves about him: his capacity for hope in hopeless situations.
What I love about Damon? His refusal to bury his head in the sand. He could have been sucked in by Elena’s sweet words about fighting in the name of their love. He could have chosen to hold on and hope with her. But he wasn’t willing to risk it. Not when the stakes were Baby Gilbert high.
And all dying for love talk aside, Damon is not a fool. He knows that if he keeps on fighting the compulsion he will end up killing Jeremy – and he knows that he will then be as good as dead himself thanks to the hunter’s curse. So in some ways it’s as simple as him thinking ‘I’m 99% certain to be toast anyway – why should Jer die about it.’ It’s eerily similar to that time he wanted to trade himself for Jenna because he was toast anyway – although in all the hubbub there is some doubt as to whether he fully realized he was toast until Katherine pointed it out.
Either way, Damon is all about making impossible choices. And this time the impossible choice was to end his own life without letting the curse do it for him – the same way he wanted to end his own life without letting the werewolf bite do it for him. But do I think he would have given his life for Jeremy’s even if he wasn’t screwed either way? Yes. I think that earlier scene with Kol established pretty clearly that he would give his life not just for Jer’s, but for the life of Jer’s arms. And isn’t it just the most glorious irony that that gesture is what wound up getting him in this position.
In conclusion, Damon is the best one. Please stop hurting him, show? No? You’re not even considering my request?
So let’s talk about Matt and Jeremy being mean about him. I know sections of fandom are kind of up in arms about this, but I’m really really not. That’s why I’m tacking it onto my discussion of Damon’s heroics rather than putting it in the ‘bad’ or ‘ugly’ sections.
Remember when Klaus pointed out that Damon was choosing not to go with the ‘Kill innocent people’ plan? Remember when Damon told Kol that he had absolutely no desire to hurt Jeremy, cure or no cure? Okay, good. Now remember when Damon told Elena that he didn’t want people to see the good in him because they would expect good and he didn’t want to have to live up to anyone’s expectations?
You know who wasn’t there for any of that? Matt and Jeremy.
You know what they were there for? The time he cheerfully made it look like he and Klaus had brainstormed the whole ‘Kill innocent people’ part of the plan together, no arm-twisting necessary. You know what else they were there for? The times Damon tried to kill them for no good reason.
The thing is that we as fans have a tendency to impose our own views onto the show. I know this because I catch myself doing it all the time. We go in for the kind of in depth analysis of the characters and their motivations that the characters themselves don’t even have time to do. And most importantly, we see everything. We have all the information at our disposal at any given time. Matt and Jeremy do not.
They certainly don’t have anywhere near the amount of information that Elena has about the ways Damon has grown and changed over the past three and a half seasons. So sire bond or no sire bond, Elena was always going to have a different perspective on whether he is trustworthy or not from the two of them.
I’ve covered a fair bit of Jer’s Damon issues above. I think it’s pretty clear that every time he says Damon doesn’t care about him it’s supposed to be a question. And it’s been pretty roundly answered in this episode. Note that at the end of the episode that’s not what he’s focused on anymore. I admit that earlier on I was rolling my eyes a bit when he called out Elena for trusting Damon, because well, yeah, of course she trusts him, he just saved your life, you ungrateful little snot.
But it was okay because Elena was allowed to point that out to Jeremy and we were allowed to see that Jeremy wasn’t simply being ungrateful by what he said next. It’s just that he didn’t believe that Damon had done what he’d done for him and him only. And honestly the fact that he’s even worried about that in the first place is so damned cute. When he said “He saved the map to the cure, he couldn’t care less about me,” with that adorable little Nobody-loves-me smile? I wanted to kiss him. And ship Damon/Jeremy forever.
(WHY IS THERE NO GAY ON THIS SHOW EXCEPT CAROLINE’S DEAD JERK OF A FATHER WHY?)
And you know, I thought it was really interesting that he got upset when Elena answered his concern about Damon not caring about him with “I care about you.” Because she’s missing the point and in doing so she’s highlighting it. What Jer is thinking when she says that is ‘Yeah, exactly, and that’s the only reason he would even save my ass – to get into your pants.’ Maybe that’s a bit petulant, but I really do think Jeremy is just all around sick of things not being about him. And exactly when I had thought is when I realized that as a hunter he doesn’t have a purpose so much as a purpose has him. He has all the responsibility and none of the choices and that sucks. It sucks nearly as much as being the damn Doppelganger, and I would love it if he and Elena actually talked about that sometime.
Actually, I would sort of love it if all the characters got together and had a bit of a campfire session about the ways their free will has been violated lately. But that’s another story.
Let’s talk about Matt and the way he wants to vote Damon off the island too.
Sure, you could argue that since Damon saved his life in 314 that should cancel out trying to kill him in 401… but I don’t agree. From Matt’s perspective that just makes Damon even more of a loose cannon. He’ll be a hero when he feels like, and a villain when he feels like it too. He is, in Matt’s eyes, entirely unreliable. And I honestly believe that’s a fair assessment based on what he knows, even if it’s not one I’d agree with.
Let’s be clear. I don’t think Matt hates Damon, I think he’s just pissed at him being in charge, on account of how it seems for all the world like he’s callously ignoring the ‘Kill innocents’ issue and putting all of them in danger wantonly in the name of finding the cure. Damon looked like he was in willing cahoots with Klaus in that opening scene. He purposely gave that impression. Now I’m pretty sure based on the surrounding canon that he wasn’t. I’m pretty sure that he was just letting it look that way because, you know, expectations and all that – and because there’s a fine line between wanting something to happen and being perfectly able to live with it when it does. But Matt doesn’t understand these things about Damon. Why would he?
And let’s also take into account that when he has his little outburst, he’s just almost died on Damon’s watch. As much as it’s not Damon’s fault that Klaus decided to take the reigns, as much as it’s not his fault that Matt-as-bait was a last minute addition… the fact remains that Matt almost got dead. If Elena hadn’t shown up when she did? He probably would have been. (Although I like to think that Klaus is sneaky enough to have compelled the vampires to almost kill Matt – after all he wouldn’t want his bait being gobbled up before Jeremy had done all of his work, would he?)
What really did bum me out about Matt’s conversation with Elena wasn’t him questioning Damon’s suitability to be Papa Bear. It was him questioning Elena’s agency in appointing him Papa Bear. He basically apologized for judging her on account of how she doesn’t have a mind of her own, and you guys it was the most depressing thing that has ever happened on this show.
(Is that hyperbole? I don’t even know.)
But really, imagine being Elena right now. Imagine going through life having opinions and making calls and every time you do someone glares at you and then if you’re lucky they pat you on the head and say it’s okay because you don’t know any better. To me that is the ultimate in ‘Oh foolish woman’ female disempowerment and I need it to stop, yesterday.
Let me just interject here, though, and say that I don’t blame Matt in this situation at all. It’s just that he’s the one who doesn’t know any better.
Because the sire bond doesn’t exist. I’ll say it again, you can’t stop me. I need it to be true at this point. I need Elena to be able to turn around to everyone and say “See?! I did know my own mind, all along.”
And I remain as confident as I ever have been that I will get it. Because again in this episode the show refused to give us an explicit example of Elena being forced to bend to Damon’s will. They had her argue with him about the cure and the collateral damage at the start of the episode, and yes, they had her ultimately agree to trust him to take care of it while she took Matt home. But there’s no reason any of that couldn’t just be Elena being convinced, rather than Elena being controlled. There was little point in Elena asking Damon to stop killing innocents in the name of the cure when he wasn’t the one making that call. Elena acknowledged this in her scene with Klaus, when she said he started all of this by trying to make Jeremy kill all those people. When Klaus is in the driver’s seat, you buckle up and get on with it. You don’t go around making useless demands of people who have no more sway over him than you do. Elena gets that. She gets that that is where Damon is coming from.
And Damon gets where she’s coming from too. I admit I was grossed out when he said “The mark grew, didn’t it?” as though that was all that mattered. But then I was comforted two seconds later, when he told Elena he knows it’s tragic – he gets it. Because for all his spades-are-spades and spilt-milk-is-spilt-milk bluster, Damon’s not an idiot and he’s not a monster either. He fully understands why Elena and Jeremy are upset about the innocent people. And if he’d had it his way, it would never have come to that. But what’s done is done, and there is no point trying to undo it.
It’s also a little tricky for him to try to balance Elena’s two somewhat conflicting desires. She wants Jeremy to be kept safe at all costs. But she also wants him to only kill ready-made nasty killer vamps – which is inevitably going to put him in danger, over and over again. Sure, it’d be nice if Klaus would agree to play it their way and accompany them on a killer vamps world tour compelling them to not put up a fight. But as mentioned above… once Klaus is in the picture, it’s his way or the highway.
Damon processes all of these complexities very quickly and cuts to the chase. It’s a little harder for Elena and Jeremy to do that, if only because they are so much younger and have lived so much less. That’s why Elena says things like that Jeremy killed somebody! Because that’s how it feels even if it’s not what actually happened. Klaus killed somebody. Jeremy protected himself and his friend from a killer. This is the way the world works – sometimes there is no right or wrong thing – sometimes there is just an only thing and you have to go with it and move on. Elena has been learning that from Damon all this time, just like he’s learned so many things from her.
The two of them have come to understand and respect one another’s point of view over time, and it has been a slow and completely natural process.
But the thing is that when everyone believes the sire bond exists, everyone will naturally be ready to attribute any behaviours they see as new or unusual or just plain upsetting to it. So it makes perfect sense for Matt to assume that the sire bond is why Elena’s leaving Damon in charge of Jeremy when the old Elena would not have. But it’s actually not the reason. The reason is that Damon has changed and Elena has recognized that change in him. And the reason is that Elena has changed too, on her own, no sire bond necessary.
The old Elena, if there even is such a thing, was a stressed out self-loathing control freak who was so hung up on The Right Thing that she had to take everything on herself. The new Elena is stronger, freer and at peace with who she is and who Damon is too. She trusts him because she knows he is smart and she knows he is strong and she knows that he would do anything for her. She has come to understand that while he may not always do The Right Thing, he will try to cut as close to it as he can. And she also knows that he will do The Wrong Thing if he needs to.
Yeah, you heard me. Elena trusts Damon to do The Wrong Thing.
Remember when respecting Elena’s choices was The Right Thing and Stefan did it and it meant she was dead at the bottom of a river? Damon will never let that happen to Jeremy. Never. Elena knows that he will always choose her, even if it means the slaughter of a thousand others. Even if it means the slaughter of her best friend. Probably even if it means the slaughter of her darling brother, too. But the thing is that where her life is not in direct competition with Jeremy’s, Jeremy gets all the same I Will Always Choose You privileges on her behalf.
If Elena was confronted with an impossible choice between Jeremy’s life and a thousand others, or between Jeremy’s life and Bonnie’s, she would hesitate. She would hand-wring. And in the end she would probably respect Jeremy’s wishes about it.
Damon wouldn’t hesitate hand-wring or respect anybody. He would save Jeremy’s life, in a heartbeat, no question.
With that in mind, Elena’s choices in this episode make a lot of sense to me. It made sense for her to get Matt home. He needed to be far away and he needed a chaperone. It made sense for Damon to be the one to stay in the thick of the danger with Jeremy, because whether Elena likes it or not, he’s older and wiser and stronger than her. Matt can say what he likes. It has been a truth that ought to be universally acknowledged for some time now that if Jeremy needs protecting, Damon is your best bet. Klaus trusts Damon to keep his human map safe, you guys. If he does, then why wouldn’t Elena?
There really is no need for a sire bond to explain Elena’s motivations here, or in any of the previous episodes. I fully believe that all decisions made by Elena have been Elena’s decisions, based on common sense, character growth and long-ago-established feelings. But if the sire bond is real that’s never going to be the only possible interpretation. For example, everyone is going to be able to question whether Elena would have tried to tackle Damon to save her brother if it weren’t for the sire bond. Now I don’t think that is the case. I think Elena made a calculated choice in the moment to go with what she thought would be her most effective weapon against Damon – and that was never going to be a useless attempt to overpower him physically. But that doesn’t change the fact that if they are so inclined anyone and everyone in and out of the show can always wonder whether she was compromised to the point where she didn’t do everything she could to keep her baby brother alive – to the point where she in effect prioritized her boyfriend over him. Only a hater would accuse her of doing that of her own free will. But with a sire bond in play?
And there just has to be something to the fact that Elena is so sure of herself that she keeps forgetting she’s supposed to be sired and people have to keep reminding her. Seriously, “I won’t let him out,” means something, you guys. As does the fact that the show didn’t let her test that resolve.
I’m done. Elena has suffered enough. It’s time for her to get the last laugh.
Stefan is the energizer bunny of Damon-saving.
Sophy says: You guys. Stefan does not know how to quit Damon. If they were gay cowboys they’d be in love.
I thought it was genius of the show to keep this one consistent thread running through the triangle, even when everything is at sea and Stefan is starting to seem like a totally new person. He won’t let his brother die. No matter how mad he is. No matter how crazy. No matter how uninvested in Elena. No matter how invested in making the two of them feel his contempt. He. Will. Not. Let. His. Brother. Die.
Because it was Damon that he saved, not Jeremy. Do I think he would have still pushed Damon away if he’d been the one shooting at Jer rather than the other way round? Sure. Do I think that would have been all about preserving the map to the cure for Team Rebekah slash Team Prove Damon Didn’t Get Chosen? I don’t know. The show certainly seems to wants it to seem that way, and I don’t think Stefan has any personal investment in Jeremy at all. Having said that, there’s a possibility that however much of a jerk he’s being, he still has residual feelings for Elena deep down that would have come through for her, even if their goals hadn’t happened to dovetail.
We’ll never know that Stefan would have come through for Jeremy or Elena regardless of the map. But at least we don’t know that he wouldn’t. I would have been very disappointed if he’d been shown, unequivocally, to not give a fuck about the right thing anymore, because that would mean either his character was being completely assassinated or he was going ripper. But I don’t think either of those things is happening.
And I think it’s genius that the show set it up so that Damon was the one who was about to die by the time Stefan came on the scene, because Damon dying would in no way affect Stefan’s chances of getting the cure, apart from growing the mark a little. In fact, Damon dying would have instantly broken the sire bond, and would give him a shortcut to knowing what Elena really felt. There was no collateral benefit to Stefan in intervening when Damon was the one about to die. So when he swept in and tackled him to safety and then snapped his neck I was covering my face with my hands and squealing like a piglet. Because Elena doesn’t know just how right she was in 308 when she said that if Stefan comes back to them it won’t be because he loves her, it’ll be because he loves Damon.
Notice how she couldn’t bring herself to mention Damon when trying to motivate Stefan to help? She prompted him with the cure – a euphemism for the Elena he loved who loved him back – and Jeremy. But there was no mention of Damon, even though he’s the one who was most likely to wind up dead, whether by hunter or hunter’s curse. And of course that’s because Elena feels too guilty to plead on his behalf at this point. But I do believe the implicit threat to him was the most effective lure for Stefan, and I do believe he was fully aware that Damon is exactly who he saved.
That’s why the “You’re welcome,” was laced with such bitter irony. Because he was saving the man Elena loves who isn’t him. But no matter how galling that may be to Stefan I’m convinced he would do it a thousand times over.
Stefan is not very good at love. This means that a lot of the time it seems like he doesn’t care a damn for Damon. Pretty much all of the time it seems like he doesn’t respect him or want him to be happy. But he does want him alive – desperately – and at the expense of all else, including his normal-human-life fantasy with Elena – including the only self he doesn’t entirely hate. And that counts for a lot in my book. It counts for a lot that it will always be that way – even when Stefan is compelled not to feel – even when his heart has been broken in Damon’s name.
AND THEN HE PUT HIM IN A BOX. Okay, not an actual box. But close. And I was struck so hard by a parallel to Klaus and the way he will treat Rebekah like shit on his shoe when it suits him and yet he would never, ever, ever stick her with a white oak stake about it. And then just as quickly I was hit by a barrage of parallels: the time Damon locked Stefan up for his own good. The time the time Stefan did the same for him. The time Stefan locked Damon up to protect his relationship with Elena. The time Damon set Stefan free even though it would piss her off. You guys this cell has seen a lot of action, hasn’t it?
And I’ll just comment briefly on that final Damon/Stefan scene. I actually loved it quite a lot and didn’t feel Stefan crossed any lines. I mean sure, he may have gotten a kick out of bleeding him and leaving him on a dungeon floor and not letting him see Elena for Elena’s own good. But he wasn’t actually contemptuous toward him the way he was with Elena. And maybe that’s because Damon is Damon and Elena is the mighty fallen. But either way, the balance worked much better for me, and when Stefan left the cell I was firmly in his corner, and kind of wanted to smack Damon for even asking to see Elena. I even wanted to smack Elena for ~needing to see him (though any resentment dissipated when Stefan started judging her all over the place).
Yes, I know, I know. Poor Damon and Elena. They’ve been thwarted at every turn. They never even got a chance to hug each other about the damn I Love You. It sucks for them and it sucks for us. But there is still such a thing as sensitivity.
And I will say that as much as it’s frustrating to have a lock-down on the Damon/Elena tingles, I couldn’t resent the show for it, not when the episode as a whole was this cracking.
Sophy says: Everything Bonnie was amazing. Katerina Graham stole every scene she was in, and that’s saying something, because she had some scenes with Shane, and the guy who plays Shane is phenomenally good.
I’m sure people are hating on her for being willing to talk shop with this guy who’s manipulated her and lied to her and just admitted to killing 12 people to get what he wants… and I can’t deny that I’m side-eyeing it a bit, because having anything to do with a guy like that is the anti-Bonnie. That’s why I’ve never understood people who ship Bonnie/Kol. Even if they turn out to have the most explosive chemistry since that time Klaus drew Caroline ponies, it’s just not her. She would never. Ever.
When we first got to know Bonnie her whole thing was hating vampires on account of being a witch. Do I think she’s grown out of that as she’s gotten to know Stefan and Damon, and more importantly as she’s gotten to know Caroline? Yes. I do. But does that mean she would willingly trust one enough to ever get close to being romantically interested in him? No fucking way. It’s different with Elena. Stefan got himself into her life before she even knew what he was, and by the time she did she couldn’t get him out, because she loved him already, because of all of her deep-seated grief issues, and because she’s a great big softie who goes around trusting people at the drop of a hat and believing the best in them. It’s her thing. Has she grown out of it? Sure, quite a bit. But she’s a vampire now, so all bets are off. And that’s why it’s different for Caroline too. It’s plausible that she would be attracted to Klaus because she’s a vampire and the bottom line is that vampires see vampires differently from the way humans see vampires, and especially from the way witches see vampires, generally speaking. Add to that the fact that Caroline, for all she has grown up too, is still a sucker for romance and for validation? The fact that though she’s always been a good person she’s never been a staunchly moral one? Of course she’s going to be more susceptible to an Original bad boy.
But Bonnie? I say again, no fucking way. I know a romance with a vampire would get her a whole lot more screentime than a romance with Jer or the hapless Jamie ever did. But it would just be so untrue to who she is and what she values. The best thing about Bonnie is that she has a hell of a backbone. She’s not the type to bend like Elena or the type to swoon like Caroline.
So I could never see her even opening the door a chink to dating someone like Kol, who kills people for a laugh at parties and would stake his own sister if it came down to it. Never. If Bonnie was ever going to have feelings for an Original it would have been Finn, because he hated what he was nearly as much as she does. I don’t know. Maybe she could love someone like Damon or Stefan, who actually try not to be complete monsters? Maybe. Maybe. A long way down the line. And even then it’s a stretch.
So I understand as well as anybody does why it’s horrifying to see Bonnie bend in any way with Shane, who is a mass-murderer and who has proven himself untrustworthy in the extreme and who has actually been messing with her mind all along. But that’s the point -he’s been messing with her mind all along. Bonnie is not just exactly who she wants to be right now, subject as she is to both his suggestion and the power of Expression. And the thing is that she’s also desperate. There’s a possibility that her Grams is suffering untold horrors at the hands of the spirits on the other side as a direct result of Bonnie angering them. That’s layered on top of the fact that Bonnie feels, on some level, responsible for Grams being dead in the first place. She’s not. She’s really, really not. Sheila Bennett was a sharp woman who knew her own mind. If she chose to help with the spell to unseal the tomb it’s because she chose to help with the spell to unseal the tomb. That’s the truth. But it’s inevitable that Bonnie is going to experience repressed morbid guilt over being the one to ask her to do it, in much the same way Elena has experienced repressed morbid guilt over being the reason her parents were on Wickery Bridge.
Grams is a hell of a sore spot for Bonnie, and she knows that, and she knows that Shane knows it, and my absolute favourite thing about Bonnie in this episode is that though she simply could not walk away from the possibility, however tainted, however faint, of saving Grams from suffering, she walked toward it with open eyes. It’s marvelously ironic, because Bonnie has been being controlled to unknown extents since she met Shane – and his ability to both goad her into flipping out and make her stop her spell shows that he is very much still controlling her. But I believe that Bonnie was on some level aware of what he was doing.
Back in 405 Shane was trying to allay Bonnie’s fears about her Grams, talking only terms of threats made by the spirits and coaching Bonnie in believing she doesn’t need to listen to those threats because she is bigger and better and stronger than them. Now he’s doing the opposite. Now he’s harnessing fear and regret to motivate her, by telling her that the threats the spirits made were not just threats – that her Grams is suffering, and it is because of her, and she has a chance to end it if she sides with him. It’s horrible, it really is. But I love that Bonnie knows she is being manipulated. She may not be aware of just how deeply Shane has gotten his claws into her mind, but she does know what he’s up to when he starts talking about Grams. And she tells him, “Don’t play on my guilt, Shane,” even though she knows that won’t stop him. The thing is, she can’t trust him at all, and she gets that now. But she also can’t walk away from the possibility that he’s crazy but also right – from the possibility that the two of them working together is a way to free her Grams and right the wrong she has done.
Also as much as Bonnie would never and I would never want her to, I swear, the chemistry between her and Shane is seriously electric. Even when he’s being an outright fuck to her. Especially when he’s being an outright fuck to her??? And when she leaned over the desk and told him he was “full-on crazy,” I nearly had to fan myself about it.
I also loved all of Bonnie’s interactions with her dad. It’s amazing how suddenly being parented can make a kid seem more like… well… a kid. I loved her childish snippiness and how badly she wanted him to not be right. I loved her defensiveness about her powers and the way she baulked at the idea of him swooping in to control them when he’s been such an absentee parent for so long. And I also loved that Mr Bonnie, despite not being in the running for Dad of the Year, also isn’t wrong – and isn’t a dick about being right. I hope to see him get through this season alive and I hope to see his relationship with his daughter be stronger at the end of it.
Sophy says: Join then, Bonnie. JOIN THEM.
Never join them?
OH GOD PLEASE MAKE OUT PLEASE PLEASE. AND NOT JUST VIA CAROLINE.
Sophy says: Klebekah lives! And boy is it delicious. These two continue to have incredible chemistry, whether in a ‘They’re a thousand and something and incapable of procreating, who really minds?’ way or in a ‘Brother and sister, once thick as thieves’ way. It really broke my heart when Rebekah came back to herself and her face hardened as she remembered all the ways she can’t let herself forgive Klaus. And when she told him to burn in hell and walked out of the room? Klaus’ face killed me there. Because whether he’d ever admit it out loud or not he is really really sad that he doesn’t have her in his life.
Look, Klaus is even worse at knowing how to love Rebekah than Stefan is at knowing how to love Damon. But he does love her, in his own twisted way. And I think it’s interesting that he knows her so well, still – that he knows exactly what she needs to learn. And it’s not that love and caring are the worst, not exactly. It’s that they need to be tempered with a willingness to wield a dagger when the need arises. I wouldn’t want to cut Klaus any slack for the times he’s wantonly shut Rebekah up, figuratively and literally, but there is some truth to the idea that if you come from a family of ruthless super-strong assholes, you’d better learn how to be a ruthless super-strong asshole yourself. Elijah does that successfully, without becoming a complete psychopath about it, so perhaps Rebekah would be better off taking tips from him.
But I find it sort of adorable that Klaus wants to be teacher. When he said she needed a lesson in how to properly dagger a sibling, it kind of felt like he was letting her into his club, you know? Like he was saying, hey, you could try giving as good as you get from me sometime, wouldn’t that be fun, sister dear?
But then, of course, I remembered that the daggers don’t work on Klaus, and I was just laughing my ass off, because he is such a smarmy little bitch, isn’t he? I mean, really. “Here’s how to get your way with everyone but me.” Best.
I’m very glad that he saved Rebekah’s life though, just like Stefan saved Damon’s. I think it matters. I think it means something. And I think these are relationships that endure, against any and all odds.
They have a thing. THEY. HAVE. A. THING.
Sophy says: I was so beyond gratified when Rebekah called Stefan on his “no emotions” nonsense. Not for the first time when watching this show I found myself wishing I owned pom poms because they would have been put to good use. I was slightly less enamoured though of the way she seemed to go back on it moments later.
I’m very keen on the idea that suffering is the only way Stefan will learn. I said as much in the last recap and I stand by it. But the question is what does he need to learn, and that’s where I think Rebekah’s got it wrong. He doesn’t need to learn that love is a lie or that caring gets you nowhere and so he should have done with all of it. Quite the exact opposite, actually. Stefan needs to learn how to cope with not getting what he wants without going off the deep end about it. He needs to learn that caring is not something you stop doing just because it hurts, and that love is not something given only where it is returned in equal measure. And most importantly he needs to learn to not deep-down hate himself so much that he won’t allow himself to be an actual person, whether he’s human or not.
And whilst I think Rebekah is projecting a little of her kicked-puppy onto him in a way that is not helpful, I do think that she has the potential to help him grow. Because she wants him to be, you know? She wants him to acknowledge that there is a whole self that is his for the taking. And when she said “Don’t ripper out on me,” like she was talking to a spoiled child about to have a tantrum? Well the pom poms would have come out then too. Because she’s actively breaking down his mythology about the Ripper being this mysterious other who takes him over completely and renders the real him abject. She’s quipping about the big bad, you guys.
But that’s not even the best part. The best part is that when she tells him not to ripper out on her, she’s hinting that she knows what that’s like from back in the day. She’s hinting that going ripper is something Stefan even did when he was The Ripper, and if that can happen then The Ripper isn’t a separate entity at all – maybe it’s nothing more than what everybody else calls a bad mood. Is that a little reductive? Maybe. But Stefan desperately needs someone to be a little reductive about him. And it looks like Rebekah is going to be the one to do it.
Stefan absolutely needs to loosen up a bit. Sex is good. Weed is good. Letting go of the guy he’s tried to be with Elena? Is good.
But a whole lot of him simply not caring with Rebekah is not going to be good for him, and it is not I want to see. Thankfully I don’t think that’s where we’re headed.
When Elena said they had great sex in the 20’s because they didn’t care, Stefan contradicted her. I mean, he didn’t strictly say that he did care about her, but it was pretty close. And it was a rare treat to see Paul getting to be sexy with someone. “Crazy sex is always good,” was so freakishly unlike Stefan that I almost couldn’t recognize him, you guys, it’s like he was a completely different person HE CAN’T BE A VAMPIRE AND HE MUST BE SIRED.
Um. I’m back. But seriously it was quite a strange thing to see him cut loose, even a little. Like, the idea of him actually talking about sex in a positive out-loud way was just weird and sort of wonderful. And I guess the thing is that Stefan had to repress so much of himself to be with Elena that he’s got moves we’ve never seen – after all this time.
The whole point of being with Elena was being as human as possible – except when white-knighting or flying her to the top of ferris wheels. That meant Stefan had to avoid any activities that may cause him to break character. Everything he did with her had to be careful. Remember way back at the start of their relationship when Stefan vamped out in the kitchen and had to turn away and force his vampire side into submission? That’s pretty much the story of his life with Elena, even when he began to develop some actual control over his bloodlust. It was always repress, repress, repress. There was no room for crazy sex, because there was no room for crazy anything.
It’ll be interesting to see how Stefan moves forward as a character in this new ‘crazy is allowed’ context. One thing that struck me: when Rebekah bitched about him dating a child who only thought about herself, Stefan threw a knife at her. Now I’m sure Stefan/Elena shippers everywhere are taking this as undeniable proof that underneath it all he still loves Elena and is still loyal to her, to the point where he can’t help resorting to physical violence when others insult her. Fair enough. I don’t see it that way. I see it as flirting. Rebekah teases. Stefan throws a playful knife at her face. She catches it and teases him again. With Elena, even as a vampire, knife-in-the-face would be seen as an aggressive gesture. With Rebekah? It’s like he made her smile and poked her dimples.
And I do hope that this is what it seems be: not just a release but a romance with it. I hope the whole “love and caring ruins you” bit is throwing down the Love me, care for me, please don’t ruin me, gauntlet. I hope that when Rebekah says they should stop caring, she just means not that they shouldn’t care about each other, but that they shouldn’t care about silly things like trying to pretend they’re human when it can be so much fun to be just exactly what they are.
Sophy says: Seriously, she should have known something was up right away. Damon Salvatore wanted to go and find someone in order to apologize to them????!!!! And he hadn’t even snapped anyone’s neck that day????!!!!!!!!! He was clearly possessed.
Elena has the solution!
Sophy says: I loved that Elena decided that Jeremy should kill Kol. And I’m rather appalled by all the hate she’s getting for it. Is it sucky that alongside a whole load of unrepentant murderers, there’s a possibility a handful of vampires who haven’t killed many people and are generally pleasant to be around will die in the process? Sure, it’s sucky. Should Elena let Jeremy die to avoid that possibility? No fucking way.
And that’s what’s at stake here. Not the cure. Jeremy’s life. Kol made it clear that he will stop at nothing to shut the cure down. He’ll kill his own sister about it. And Elena may not know that, but she does know that his own brother told them he’d stop at nothing. And she knows that he’s compelled Damon to get the job done and suffer the suicidal consequences of it. And then, beyond that, Klaus will stop at nothing to get that mark completed, which means Jeremy is going to be put in more and more danger, and more and more innocent people are going to be murdered to be turned into vampires to be killed. This is the reality of the situation. And Elena is not hiding from it.
It’s not Katherine of her, because her primary goal is not to protect herself or seek a personal gain. She’s made it clear several times that she’s not interested in the cure if it’s going to result in the people she loves being in danger, or a whole lot of innocent people being massacred. She is not doing this in the name of being cured, whether to be her old human self and snuggle back up with Stefan, or to be unsired and snuggle back up with Damon. She’s doing this to protect the people she loves and limit the carnage. And no, it’s not just about keeping her people safe. Sure, Elena’s people are Elena’s primary concern. And I think that’s pretty understandable and pretty human, actually. But if she was only interested in keeping Jeremy safe she wouldn’t be sending him up against an Original. She’d be getting Klaus to take care of that situation and getting him to turn some more randoms and pleading with Jeremy to just kill their compelled-to-stand-still asses. But she’s not. She’s trying to do the right thing here. It’s just that she recognizes that there is no right thing – not anymore – there is no absolute solution. Elena is making an impossible choice. And it’s not Katherine of her.
It’s Damon of her. And yes, you could say ‘Oh wow, check out that sire bond in action.’ Or you could be like me and say ‘Oh wow, check out all the ways Elena has learned and grown as a result of her relationship with Damon and also as a result of all the experiences she’s had over the past couple of years.’
Elena has gotten smart. Elena has gotten tough. Elena has stopped pretending love is all you need. Elena has realized that sure, there’s always a choice, but sometimes it’s an ugly one. And I think that is necessary and real and all round brilliant.
Of course, I’m assuming that Elena’s plan isn’t as stupid as that time Stefan gave Caroline the white oak stake and sauntered around the halls of Mystic Falls High pronouncing it clear of Rebekahs. I’m assuming she’s going to get Bonnie and possibly Klaus on board. And who knows, given how willing Kol was to end her life in this episode, maybe Rebekah will be interested in helping out. With some actual planning, getting Jeremy to kill Kol could be a really good move.
What is this Damon who is a fool?
Sophy says: Damon brushing Silas aside as a scary bedtime story really, really bothered me. First because it would have been smart to play along with Kol’s concerns rather than making it clear that Kol was going to have to rip people’s arms off to get his way. But maybe I could buy that Damon wouldn’t be quite that much of a genius. What I cannot buy, however, is that Damon would be so dismissive of what could be a very real threat to everyone’s safety.
Sure, he’s handwaved the ancient mythology stuff before – he was laughing at the sun and the moon curse long before it was proven fake, and he even told Stefan he was pretty sure the cure would be a bust. But that’s when there’s nothing at stake by ignoring the issue. It’s different when he’s shrugging off a danger without even bothering to put investigating it on his to do list. That, to me, is just plain out of character for Damon.
Sophy says: Seriously, all that build up and they give us the lamest sex scene ever? Please do Paul and Claire justice next time, show.
Way harsh, Stefan.
Sophy says: Okay so I might see this scene a little differently from much of fandom, because I am an Elena Gilbert stan first and foremost. But I really didn’t think there was anything off about her asking Stefan what he was doing with Rebekah and pointing out that she tried to kill her. I think the show wanted her to phrase it that way so that Stefan could deliver the crowd-pleaser about how Damon offed Jeremy… but at the heart of it I could totally understand where Elena was coming from.
You know what other crowd pleaser of Stefan’s? The “You just don’t know what I look like when I’m not in love you,” line? I wasn’t cheering. I was side-eyeing, hard.
There are several reasons why, but the main one is that actually, Stefan, Elena does know what you look like when you’re not in love with her. Remember that time Klaus compelled you to turn off your feelings and you bit her and mocked her and told her she was a pathetic “human blood bag,” and that the entire epic relationship you had with her had meant nothing to you? And then when he freed you from the compulsion you had a little difficulty turning the feelings back on and so you terrorized her as a pawn in your game of revenge and left her crying alone in the dark on the bridge where her parents died?
I think it’s safe to say that Elena knows what it’s like when you’re not in love with her. Or at least I hope she does. I sincerely hope that you don’t count all of that shit as in-love Stefan’s actions. Because yikes.
And you know another way Elena would know what Stefan looks like when he’s not in love with her? From the fact that they dated and stuff. I’m not sure she fully understands to this day the extent to which Stefan pre-planned their romance. But he pretty much makes the point for her here. That person she met and got to know in the front half of season 3 was not the reality of Stefan, independent of his love for her. It was Stefan being what she might be inclined to fall in love with. I think part of her expected him to be that boy she met outside the bathroom whether the two of them were together or not, but it doesn’t work that way for him. That Stefan – the kind, gentle, quiet, chivalrous, thoroughly decent one – is not the real him.
But then neither is this Stefan. And that’s the point. That’s why Elena has a right to ask questions about Stefan forming an alliance with Rebekah. Because the thing is that she has seen him like this before – cold, snarky, looking down on her, blase about whether Jer lives or dies… she’s seen it all before and she knows what it could mean. Elena is quizzing Stefan about Rebekah and looking bewildered and saying he’s hurt because she’s scared that he’s going ripper again. And that would be bad news for everyone and especially him.
Now I think that’s not what’s happening here. I think Stefan is actually taking a detour for the first time in his life and that has the potential to be amazing for his character. But Elena doesn’t know that. Should she be aware that there is personal history between Stefan and Rebekah and maybe it’s not all about her? Sure. Maybe. I can’t deny that I facepalmed when she assumed he was just acting out the way Damon did, when there’s a world of difference between how Damon might feel about a hot blonde he barely knows and how Stefan might feel about a hot blonde he once knew all too well. But I’ll grant her that Stefan has previously gone out of his way to convince her that that history means nothing to him, and I can’t fault her for being concerned that he’s in cahoots with someone he was trying to kill yesterday. It doesn’t exactly seem like stable behaviour, does it? Nor can I fault her for being hurt that he’d team up with someone who murdered her, what? Three weeks ago? Has it been that long yet?
That’s the thing about the ‘Nyah nyah Damon killed Jer,’ retort. The situations are not equivalent. Damon snapped Jeremy’s neck and it was awful. But that it was some time ago and there can be no doubt that he regretted it immediately and grew to regret it even more deeply with time. In this very episode he lays down his life for Jeremy’s, three times over. You can’t really get more sorry than that.
Rebekah killed Elena the other day, and has expressed no regret about it. In fact, she’s indicated pretty strongly that it’s something she would happily do over. The wound is very fresh, and before Stefan was angry with Elena, he was angry with Rebekah right alongside her. That’s the crux of it. If Elena were still in love with Stefan, if she hadn’t slept with Damon… he would agree with her that it’s off to form an alliance with the person who just killed her and doesn’t give a fuck about it. Say Stefan/Elena were same old same old and Damon was the one shacking up with Beks right now. How much do you want to bet that Stefan would be tut-tutting all over the place?
The way I see it, his ‘bam’ moment about Damon trying to kill Jeremy has nothing to do with what he thinks is right or wrong and everything to do with whether he thinks Elena deserves – or doesn’t anymore.
I also feel like there are more layered reasons why Stefan’s alliance with Rebekah would hurt Elena. He says, “Nobody’s perfect,” as though ending Elena’s human life, and intending to end her existence entirely, were a character flaw on a level with pinching pennies or laughing at mean jokes or leaving the toilet seat up or always being late. That has to hurt. And when you factor in that yes, Rebekah is the one who killed Elena, but Stefan is the one who let her die? I’d bet that on a subconscious level Elena feels like they were already working together. Stefan saying that what Rebekah did wasn’t that bad when you really think about must tickle that wound. Is that fair? Not really. But I’d be willing to bet deep down inside Elena is still feeling it, the same way that deep down Jeremy feels like everything bad in his life is Elena’s fault because she’s the doppelganger, because their parents were picking her up from a party.
But all murky subconscious conspiracy theories aside, to everyone who feels Elena shouldn’t have an opinion on her ex who she still loves working with the woman who murdered her a few weeks ago… put yourselves in her shoes for just a second. Are in the shoes? Did you tie the laces? Are you trying to walk and falling over all over the place no matter how much of a trollop you think you must be for sleeping with his brother who killed your brother this one time? I thought so.
Because the thing is that okay, sure, Elena has forgiven Damon for trying to kill Jeremy – and Caroline and Bonnie – and Matt, most recently. And maybe that’s selfish of her.
But here’s the thing. It’s not that I have a problem with somebody raising the idea that it’s off of Elena to want to be with Damon given that he’s tried to murder her two best friends, her childhood sweetheart and her brother. It’s that Stefan has no place in this conversation. All season-long we’ve had Caroline harping on about how Elena shouldn’t be with Damon because he’s icky and Stefan is her epic love. We’ve had Jeremy waffling on about how Damon doesn’t love him for him. We’ve had Bonnie too preoccupied with Expression to have an opinion beyond “You didn’t”. We’ve had Matt calling Elena out on actually quite reasonably trusting Damon to keep the people she loves safe. Every character has assiduously avoided going to the ‘But he tried to kill me’ place. And then Stefan, the person who almost got Jeremy killed last season and was ostentatiously fine with it, the person who just a few days earlier was ready to make him a mindless killing machine for his own ends, is the one to say “Damon sucks too though.”
And I’m not going to pretend it’s out of character for Stefan, because it’s not. He’s always been good at talking his brother down to his evilest common denominator when it suits him. And this particular situation – the one where he and Elena are no longer OTP, is all about Damon to him. So it makes sense that he would see Elena’s hurt and concern about him teaming up with Rebekah as not only an opportunity to punish her, but to judge her for loving Damon. It does. But that doesn’t make it any less off. Way off. You guys, it’s the kind of milk you can’t even pour down the sink because it’s too clotty and putrid to make its way out of the bottle without assistance.
And it’s not just the hypocrisy of it, it’s also the fact that up to now, when it has suited him, Stefan has been just fine with Elena forgiving Damon. Up to now, when it has suited him, Stefan has been just fine with the idea that what Rebekah did is less forgivable.
‘Damon killed Jeremy’ is a weapon for him, that’s all. There’s no actual feeling or moral conviction behind it. He doesn’t think it’s wrong that Elena loves him despite it. He doesn’t really believe that him hooking up with Rebekah is comparable to it either. He’s not really interested in the issues beyond getting back at Elena for choosing his brother over him. If he was he’d be defending his collaboration with Rebekah by pointing out all the terrible things he did that Elena forgave him for, and god wouldn’t that have been a shocker, because it’s never about Stefan when he’s digging in the dirt is it, and it is always about Damon. And he also wouldn’t be throwing Damon did under compulsion in this episode into the mix. It’s completely disingenuous to pretend that that has any relevance to anything at all, but Stefan doesn’t care. As long as he punishes Elena for feeling what she feels, he’s golden.
And that is what he’s doing. Elena is absolutely right. He is trying to punish her. Not by sleeping with Rebekah or by teaming up with her. But by just plain being a bitch. When Elena told him she wasn’t in love with him anymore it was because she was compelled. When Stefan tells her the same in this episode, it’s an eye for an eye. Because he can. Because he hopes it will hurt her. And it’s not okay in my book, it’s really not.
Exactly what has Elena done to Stefan that is so terrible that he can’t be his best self about any of this – or least his best self’s distant cousin? She fell in love with Stefan’s brother. They broke up because of it. She slept with him. When she was compelled to tell the truth she admitted she isn’t in love with Stefan anymore. Let’s leave out the fact that all of that may actually be out of her control as far as Stefan knows, due to the sire bond. Even if all of it is really 100% her, it’s not exactly seven deadly sins type stuff.
Wait, lust is one of the seven deadly sins, right?
The fact is that whilst I can understand that Stefan is hurt, Elena hasn’t done anything at all with the intention of hurting him. And yet he is all about hurting her back. I would have a problem with that in any context, but given how he was treating her a couple of months ago, uncompelled and with zero provocation? It’s just mind-bogglingly self-indulgent of him to be taking any kind of moral highground here.
And I think this is part of the problem with the Stefan/Elena break-up. It didn’t happen at the right time. If Elena had simply gone back to Mystic Falls for Caroline and declined to choose a Salvatore, if she’d never told Stefan she was picking him and he was the best pick she’d ever picked? Then he would have to actually be considering the impact of his abusive actions in season three in terms of the end of their relationship. Whether they were relevant in Elena’s mind or not, they would have to be relevant in his. And it would not be so easy for him in that context to convince himself it’s okay for him to punish Elena, even if she had hooked up with Damon the next day.
I mean, let’s retread shall we. In 318 Stefan was telling Elena quite calmly and quite permissively that she was in love with Damon and she needed to sort her feelings out. In 320 he was taking her to the dance and saying she didn’t even need to tell him what went on in Denver, because with everything he put her through he was just honoured to be her date. And when it became explicit that Elena was trying to choose between the two of them, he was saying things like how if she chose Damon he would leave town and let them be happy.
Contrast that Stefan with this Stefan. It’s quite a different picture. It’s a picture in which he has no interest in Elena being happy, whether with Damon or otherwise. It’s a picture in which he is honoured by nothing about her anymore, least of all crumbs like how she truly does still love him and care for him. And I think the reason is that when Elena welcomed him back with open arms, he took it as a clean slate. She was magnanimous (or stupid) enough to tell him the shit he pulled in season 3 didn’t matter, she loved him all the same. And so he’s decided that that means that it objectively doesn’t matter. It is off limits. He doesn’t need to feel bad about it, and she will get no further slack cut on account of it. As ridiculous as that is, I do think it’s where Stefan’s at.
The only other thing I can think is that when Elena’s a vampire he doesn’t deem her to be deserving of the same levels of respect and kindness as when she’s human – that would make sense – she is a completely different person to him, after all. Or, you know, maybe he was always just faking that respect and kindness because he thought he thought it was a safe bet he’d win out in the end and everything would go back to the way it was. Now that she’s defiled herself with the sex? Fuck her, she can take whatever he feels like dishing out.
I’m not saying any of that is pleasant, but the one interpretation that I have a serious problem with is that Stefan was just so deeply in love with Elena that he’s just so deeply hurt by losing her that he just can’t get a handle on his feelings and be cool to her. That is just the very most of bullshit. If you’re really deeply in love with someone that should make you more able to be good to them when they fall out of love with you, not less able. Otherwise what good is your love? It’s a selfish, ugly, eminently mutable thing that would be better not inflicted on other people. If anything, Stefan’s nasty behaviour after the breakdown of his relationship with Elena proves how little he truly cared for her to begin with.
And now let’s talk about that – Stefan’s love for Elena and exactly where it’s really at.
The way I see it there are three options.
First, Stefan is saying he’s not in love with Elena and it’s true. He has fallen out of love with her as a consequence of her sleeping with Damon and telling him she is not in love with him anymore. He has done this within 48 hours. This is not normal. Killing a feeling that fast pretty much guarantees it was a weak little spidery feeling to begin with. Or maybe it was strong but it was not love.
Option two. Stefan is saying he’s not in love with Elena and it’s true. He has fallen out of love with her gradually due to a combination of many factors, most notably the fact that she’s a vampire and he can “barely recognize her”. Or maybe it goes back even further to the fact that he exposed himself so entirely to her in season 3 that he can no longer pretend with her like he used to. Either way, the materials for his normal-human-life fairytale just aren’t there anymore. This is plausible. However it makes it problematic that he is letting her shoulder all of the responsibility in their break-up – and making her feel like shit about it to boot.
The third possibility is that Stefan is lying when he says he’s not in love with Elena. He is still in love with her, he is just trying to make her think she’s not to get a reaction. This might be the case, because Stefan apparently thinks of himself as having been consistently in love with Elena for the past three seasons, which means that being in love with someone and treating them with a modicum of dignity, respect or kindness can be mutually exclusive for him. That is to say, he can be emotionally and physically abusive to someone and still be having the big messy gooey feelings for them as much as ever.
The first two options are seriously crappy because they mean that even when Stefan is no longer broken-hearted on account of no longer being in love he finds Elena contemptible and will treat her as such. There is no coming back from that.
The third option means that his love is… sing it with me… not pure. Sorry, Rose. Turns out Stefan Salvatore is just as selfish and bitchy and destructive as the rest of us when he’s not getting his way.
Whilst none of the options are great for Stefan on their own I feel like a mixture of all three might just work. He’s been falling out of love with Elena since she became a vampire, but he’s not quite aware of that yet so he can’t quite hold himself accountable for it. The sex with Damon was the killing blow in his mind and he’s channelling all of his frustration in it. He doesn’t feel the same about Elena and he never will – but he’s not stone cold out of love with her either. That’s where I think Stefan stands. And it is a bit of a mess and I can understand how he’s having trouble coping with it all. But every time I try to sympathize with him I keep coming back to this place where it does not give him license to be emotionally abusive to someone who has stood by him through the kind of thick and thin I’m pretty sure Jesus would call a dealbreaker.
I can’t help being reminded of that scene on Wickery Bridge when Stefan spoke of revenge and Elena wept like her life depended on it and said, incredulous, “After everything, that was what mattered?” Elena thought she should matter. And she still does thinks she should matter, however much she’s hurt him without meaning to. But sadly, all that matters to Stefan right now is hurting her back.
I hope that changes. I hope that with time Stefan is able to get his head straight and see that Elena is not deserving of his contempt. I hope that someday they can learn to be friends. I hope he will love her again, because when I think about how she told Matt that she felt safe with Stefan because it was like she knew he would never stop loving her?
My heart. It is chew toy that has been chewed. The squeaky bit in the middle has been broken.
I want Stefan/Elena to come back to a positive place. But as far as their romance goes? Even if the sire bond is real and it’s broken and Elena doesn’t want Damon anymore?
These two are so never getting back together.
In conclusion, let me remind you that Damon has said a lot of things, but he has never, ever said he is not in love with Elena anymore.
Thank you and goodnight.
Sophy says: Careful what you wish for, Jer.
Sophy says: A girl can dream, right?
Rin says she will watch The Vampire Diaries someday and come back and Rin all over this recap.