I wasn't disappointed. I wasn't blown away, but considering how disappointed I was with "By the Light of the Moon," and the five weeks of stewing over said disappointment, the fact that I wasn't disappointed with "The Descent" is a pretty durn good sign.
Oh, yeah, and then there was one scene that completely blew me away. And that was the final scene with Damon. Oh my God. Just. WOW! That is easily the best acting I've ever seen from Ian Somerhalder. It was just amazing. And the writing was so fantastic, so many killer lines (adopt a puppy, you are my existential crisis, a man can take only so much pain), the actress playing Jessica did a fantastic job with such a small role. But, man, oh, man, Ian was just phenomenal. Damon was just breaking my heart over and over. When he said that his big secret is that he misses being a human, and then you go back to the earlier lines where he talked about why he hasn't said it, because it won't change anything. I just, gah! My heart just broke for him, and Ian's delivery ... man. I was near tears. SO DAMN GOOD! Just amazing, amazing, amazing.
And that one line in the midst of it about not being able to be what SHE wants him to be erased my big fear that Damon's existential crisis would not clearly be about the whole gamut of it which is symbolized by Elena, her continued faith/belief in him. That one line, that one emphasized word made it crystal clear exactly what had brought this all on, everything building to this. Not so much Rose dying (or rather Damon staking her), but that everyone knew that he was upset about it, kept pushing him, it was all about that humanity showing. Gah, this scene was just so well done, so heartbreaking. And, of course, he killed her. Of course he did. Had he not, it would have played false with the character. He's not there yet, he's not ready, but lordy, the fact that it was so hard for him, and was so very much about proving his non-humanness is a huge sign of growth. He IS getting there. But still, oh Damon! I mean, damn, watch it again ... it's A-MAZ-ING!
Okay, I'm just going for quick thoughts for the rest because while the whole episode was quite good, that was really the only scene that was OHMYGOD!AWESOME!
- So, yeah, Damon's bedroom. I expected it to be darker, but it was nice and big. What we saw of the bathroom was lovely. Alas, nothing really significant with Elena being there. She was with Rose, putting Rose in Damon's bed. Ah well. I hoped, but really wasn't expecting we'd get that boon. *sigh*
- Still, HEE! Damon is reading Gone with the Wind. Woo to the hoo! (See my journal title and default icon.)
- They cut the "it's okay to love them both" line. On one hand, I'm pissed because they used the dang thing in the preview and we've all been wondering what Elena's reaction would be. On the other hand, I'm glad because as I said when it first aired, Elena is nowhere near that point with Damon. Too soon. So, I'm okay with the cut.
- Jules was great in her scene with Damon ("bite me!"), but in her other scenes she was as meh as she was in the last episode. Ah well. Subpar casting is not fun.
- Speaking of subpar casting, I know I've ragged on Lauren Cohan as Rose in the past, and I still stand by that, but I will definitely concede that she did some fine work tonight. Other than the first lines of dementia which were flat-out delivered badly, she did an excellent job. The despair and grief over her guilt and the pain wracking her body, the peace and joy she displayed in the dream state were all handled beautifully. Alas, it didn't really matter because I still just didn't care whether she lived or died.
And I really wish that I did; I do wish that I had loved Rose because even not caring two diddly-squats for her, I was still moved by the dream state Damon created. Had I actually cared about her character, that scene probably would have brought me to tears. Especially when the joy emanated from her as she began her countdown to the race which then became Damon's countdown to staking her. But I didn't care enough about her. Everything that moved me, effected me in the Rose scenes was because of Elena's actions and reactions, and Damon's actions and reactions. On one hand, yes, they are the lead characters and that's how it should be, but on the other hand, I should have cared about Rose as well. When Grams died, I felt horrible for Bonnie and by extension Elena's grief for her, but I also was saddened at the thought of losing Grams because I had grown to love her. It magnified my emotions. In Rose's case, I simply didn't care whether she lived or died, just that Damon and Elena cared.
- You know who also clearly didn't care? Stefan. Wow! Did he ever show that if you're not important to him (ie, Elena, Damon, and maybe Caroline now), he really doesn't give a rat's ass about you. Like at all. Of course, Stefan was rather an asshole overall in this episode. Despite the cutesy opening stuff with Elena, he was a tad combative with her (over the sacrifice) in a way that he never has been before really. Then his opening salvo to Alaric was "doing his dirty work for him?" regarding Alaric calling Damon. Ric looked like he wanted to bitchslap Stefan for that comment. I understood why; I wanted to bitchslap him myself. sarcasticcheese had a very interesting theory. Maybe this is the beginning of the signs we're getting about Stefan and drinking blood (even in drips and drops again). The asshole is coming out. Could be. I guess we'll get a better idea of that in the next episode or if it was just how these writers write Stefan. (But he wasn't an asshole in "Plan B," the other episode these two -- Sarah Fain and Elizabeth Craft -- wrote. So hmmm ....)
- I know I said above that Ian did an AMAZING job, and he did overall, especially that final scene (OH MY GOD!), but he is still overdoing the eye/eyebrow thing, but I'm cutting him slack for two reasons. First off, the only time he did it was when Damon was deflecting, pretending he didn't care. In other words, it isn't Ian being over-the-top, it's Ian *as* Damon being over-the-top deliberately. And secondly, this was apparently the last episode where Ian was sick with his lovely walking pneumonia and I still maintain that feeling as awful as he did, he was pushing through to give Damon his oomph! and oversold it a bit by trying to compensate for his illness. We'll see what happens in the next few episodes.
- One thing that did really bug was that Damon didn't rush straight home after Jules mentioned that Rose would be getting rabid. Sure the next time we saw Damon he was home, but it was light when he talked to Jules (the next scene was Elena blockading the room and it was sunny), and it was dark when he got home. I get the logistics and the storytelling were key in how this played out, but it was out of character. I can't buy that Damon wouldn't have rushed home to make sure that Elena was safe after hearing that a vampire on a werewolf bite will turn rabid. Shrugs. Oh well. That was really my only big issue with the episode, so I won't harp too much on it.
- Hmm, so Elena drank some of that vervain water first? So, she's not giving Stefan blood? Okay then. And speaking of the vervain water ... about damn time! Why the heck, Stefan, Damon *and* Caroline haven't all been doing this from the moment Katherine spilled that little secret to Stefan is beyond me. Fabulous idea. But at least we're seeing it happen now. Good job.
- No Jeremy? No Jeremy/Bonnie? Made me sad. Wait a second ... no Bonnie meant no Luka? Yay!
- Caroline is adorable. Period. I know the "everyone needs to stop kissing me" line was in the preview, but seeing it in context just made it that much more insanely adorable. I love her so much. And while I still think that Candice Accola and Paul Wesley have the best chemistry of anyone else we've seen her with, tonight definitely proved that as sweet as Caroline and Matt are, Candice and Michael Trevino definitely have more chemistry.
- I was all YOU GO, ELENA! when she so used her brains defending herself from Rose. Pulling the curtain open to get the sunlight in, digging into the wounds. Barring the door, opening the windows for the sun again, making herself a stake. AWESOME. I love Elena!
- Finally, finally ... the Damon/Elena scenes. I'm glad that I didn't let either Julie Plec or Ian Somerhalder's interviews get my hopes up because I really didn't think we'd get anything too major despite their words. Still, I did (mostly) like what we got. First of all, they are getting back to that back-and-forth camaraderie a bit again. That's cool. On the other hand, I was a tad disappointed at Elena's casual "you're my friend." I mean, prior to this episode, they were still skirting around her forgiveness/friendship for Damon. So something along the lines of, "Despite who you are, what you've done, I can't help it, you are my friend, Damon" would have done wonders to take away my one note of disappointment in theirs cenes. It was just a way too casual pronouncement of friendship for the guy who snapped her brother's neck and then she swore he'd lost her forever without any conversation (however brief) in between that flat-out spoke of some form of forgiveness. It was too skirted around in "The Sacrifice" to count for me.
Still, it was just one small thing. There were many other things that I loved. Like Damon giving Elena the stake when they were searching for Rose. Again, a small thing, but I loved what it symbolized ... in life or "death" stakes, he's giving Elena an edge over Rose. Elena hugging him, and him trying so hard to not break down when he was in her arms. The awfulness of Elena pushing him to feel, to be more human, not realizing (because he said it was Katherine who led him to go crazy that night in Elena's bedroom) that she is the catalyst, she is the trigger for him now. And he tried so hard, so very hard to not let her push him to that point. Telling her to go more than once with such a desperation that she chose to ignore until the damage was done.
Everything that happened in that final road scene was because Elena pushed him, held him and opened herself up to him. And right now, it's part of what makes these two so very tragic ... right now. In her desire to make him be the better person he can be, she doesn't realize that his response is to fight that and so he lashes out, he does bad things, he retaliates in the worst way he can. The good thing (hah! "good" thing) is that it's getting harder and harder for him to do that. First, he went cold and bitter and snapped Jeremy's neck, the pain and regret came afterward. Now, he was drunk and broken, devastated by the choice he felt he *had* to make to not be in pain anymore. Yes, he committed the act, but the pain and regret was with him the entire time, before, during and after. Next time -- because you so know there is going to be a next time -- I think he'll make the right call at last. He won't commit the unforgivable (or close to it) act.
Ah, my show is back! Yay! And if it wasn't one of their best episodes, it was a damn good one, and it certainly featured one of their best scenes ever. That final scene with Damon? Damn. Just phenomenal!