Arabian (arabian) wrote,
Arabian
arabian

2.21 - 'The Sun Also Rises' (The Vampire Diaries)

Sorry for the late post, but I had to get up early Friday morning, and was TOTALLY wiped last night. At last -- after a few more rewatches of certain scenes -- I am here with my thinky thoughts! Woohoo!!

I have some general and specific comments about this episode. For once, I'm gonna hit on the generals first. Starting with my overall thought on "The Sun Also Rises." This was an outstanding episode. Even as I was frustrated that Klaus got away after all, I wasn't frustrated with the writers, I was frustrated in a good way because it all made sense. I get why Elijah did what he did, I get why everyone did what they did, and as long as the character actions make sense and are in character, I can absolutely deal with viewer frustration ... because it's earned. Even as I experienced wee-Damon-related moments of grr at how many characters had their choices taken away, at how many characters swore they would do whatever it took to save their loved ones and yet they didn't have anger and curses rained down upon them by other characters (or viewers), I still got it. Yes, many characters have done what Damon did when he forced his blood on Elena, not respecting her choice. However, the difference lies in Damon's character, period, which is that -- per usual -- he pushed it to extremes. When Damon Salvatore says he will do anything, he actually means it. It is NOT hyperbole to him. No siree. And that is the main difference, others say they will do "anything," but really there are lines they won't cross. For Damon, such lines do not exist.

Even if there were no OMG! moments for me -- thanks for spoiling there would be deaths, show, if not the characters who died -- I still had moments of 'oh!' and a reaction to those moments. This was so well-written, so in keeping with character motivations (right or wrong), so in keeping with relationships (of the romantic, familial and friendly relation). The acting was rock-solid, and the directorial debut of Paul M. Sommers was outstanding. It was fast-paced and exciting, yet filled with lovely beats that allowed the emotional moments to breathe. So, yeah, bottom-line? Fantastic episode.

My main issue resides not with the episode itself (I really had none with it), but rather the promotion for it, and all of the episodes since 2.16 ("The House Guest") of this season. I mentioned in my pre-thinky thoughts post that when deaths are promised in every episode, instead of viewers reacting with an 'OMG!' it's going to be more along the lines of 'oh, that's who died.' They really need to stop with the 'Someone's gonna die!' lure to bring in viewers, because it's not working -- sadly, viewership is still down, although it rose a bit for this last episode -- it's actively hurting that OOH! OMG! factor the show has been known for.

Here's an example: My sister doesn't read any of the press or follow spoilers at all and she was very OMG!ing at Jenna's death (as she was over the vampire turn last week). It works when you don't advertise it, as it did when Vicki was turned and then staked, and when Caroline was turned, and Jeremy was "killed" in the premiere of this season. As sarcasticcheese said, the spoiler isn't really who dies -- especially when the characters are recurring (Luka, Jonas, Jules) or they don't really die (Jeremy, Bonnie, Jenna in "The Last Day"), but that someone is dying or "dying" as the case may be. Instead of being shocked at someone dying, viewers have spent so much time speculating on who will die that when a character goes down much of the emotion has been leeched away. So, Julie, Kevin, Nina, Ian, Candice, Kat, et al. STOP SPOILING US ABOUT DEATHS! Please.

Ahem, so we've had a few episodes with the big, bad Klaus and I have thoughts on him and his portrayal. I like Joseph Morgan; he's a very likable guy on Twitter and in interviews. He's also a very good actor; he's very good-looking and plays Klaus with this cheerful malevolence that is just delicious and perfect. Alas, there is one glaring problem. He is simply not charismatic enough, especially in relation to both Ian Somerhalder, and especially the other newbie and Original, Daniel Gillies. I don't know if he could pull off an English accent, but charisma-wise, yeah, they should have gone with Jason Dohring. That guy ranks up there, WAY UP THERE, with the most charismatic actors I've ever witnessed. He could have easily gone toe-to-toe with Somerhalder and Gillies in the charisma department. Morgan, sadly, can not. And that loaded level of charisma was very much needed in this role ... again, especially opposite the two wildly charismatic Mr. Somerhalder and Mr. Gillies. Ah well.

Speaking of Klaus, and on a lighter note, somewhat general, but more speculative ... what's going to happen with Katherine? Since Klaus didn't die, will she be stuck in that apartment until he dies, or randomly shows back up in Mystic Falls to uncompell her? And if she is, what about Alaric? Will he live with her now? Please, no. She'll kill him, you know she will. Does he get a new place? Or move in with Jeremy and Elena as their guardian? But that doesn't really make sense because in the timeline -- as, erm, established as it has been -- he's only been dating Jenna for about a month and a half? And he's gonna be their guardian? Yeah, doesn't make any sense. There is, of course, one other option. Will he move in with Damon (and Stefan) at the boarding house? (Yes, please!)

Alrighty, onto some specifics now --

- The Jenna/Elena conversation was heartbreaking in how defeated Jenna sounded. She didn't want to be their guardian, partly because she believed she would screw up, and clearly she does think she did. And, really, she did in a way. She was WAY too lenient with their comings and goings. Had she not been so lax, especially with Elena and Stefan, it is possible that they wouldn't have gone as far as they did, Damon wouldn't have gotten so involved with Elena's life, and the secret of her being a doppelganger and what exactly it meant never would have come forward. Not to say that this is all Jenna's fault. You can go back and assign blame to some degree to many characters if you follow a thread. Just that, yes, she was a bad choice for guardian, and she didn't help matters.

But she DID love those kids, and at the end, she chose not to run, she did what she could to protect Elena as best she could. And sadly, it wasn't good enough, rather characteristic of her life as their guardian. What she was in life, she was at the end. Sad. Very sad. And the same goes for John. I thought it very interesting that you have people waiting around Elena who know that if Elena comes to as a human still, that John's life is forfeit, and yet there was not even the slightest attention paid to his death. Ignored and uncared for by everyone else in life, as he was at the end. Gotta love those parallels.

But more on Jenna. I am disappointed that they never really seemed to find the right way to make her an important part of the show's fabric because Sara Canning really is excellent, but at least she went out with some strong episodes under her belt. I wish I could say I was more moved by her death, but I wasn't. I think a rewatch of the season will add more sorrowful oomph to that knowing everything that is to come, you know? And John, ah, John. Poor unloved, unwanted Uncle Daddy Sark John. I think they did an awesome job in showing that even the antithesis of our "heroes" is a good guy, and has his heart in the right place.

- Now Stefan asks if he can trust Elijah? NOW?!?!? Oh, Stefan. You just made such a joke out of your respecting Elena's wishes. And this is why I could not see the greatness in what Stefan did in that respecting. There is respecting one's wishes, and there is respecting their wishes, while still questioning their STUPIDITY! Stefan could have broached his concerns about her plan with respect. But he didn't even do that, and Elena *might* have listened to Stefan (or Jenna, or Bonnie, or Alaric) where she would have not listened to Damon. Clearly, Stefan did NOT think it was the greatest plan ever, but it was so important to respect Elena's wishes and not have her upset with him for even questioning her that he didn't, well, question her.

And, oh, whaddya know? Damon was right about Elijah. He couldn't be fully trusted, he had his own agenda, and so everything they went through, people dying, so much pain and exertion and what happened? Well, first of all, Elijah DIDN'T keep everyone safe -- Jenna was kidnapped, killed, turned and then absolutely killed, Stefan was staked, Caroline, Tyler and Matt were almost killed, Damon was were-bitten. Other than Bonnie, Jeremy and Alaric, did ANYONE on her "safe-list" make it out of this unscathed? Nope. And then at the end of the frickin' day, KLAUS -- now a werevamp! -- IS ALIVE! Elena, Elena, Elena -- I'll paraphrase Damon here when I say: Your instincts suck. I love you, but damn, they suck!

- Once again, Damon (and still being treated like dirt) was expected to do all the heavy lifting and then gets blamed when things that are beyond his control -- because everyone is too busy respecting a 17-year old's extremely stupid, suicidal wishes -- go all cock-eyed. I am speaking of John's "How could you let this happen?" about Elena being a part of the sacrifice. And, hmm, like father, like daughter, that's the same thing Elena said to Damon when Stefan was in the tomb. How? How are these things DAMON's fault? Seriously. So not fair.

But seriously cool was Damon throwing John into the wall. I love annoyed Damon dealing with John. Heh.

- I really loved Matt's decision to walk away from Caroline because of his reasoning. His real life worries suck and he has to deal with it, so he doesn't have the time (nor desire) for all of this supernatural freaky shit. It was nice getting that kind of reaction to the supernatural. I love the different perspectives we get on this show.

- I suppose I should mention Tyler and Caroline. Look, I like both characters (okay, I adore Caroline :), but together, beyond the cute writing for them, I just don't care beyond a cute and or emotional scene. Once it's over, I pretty much forget it. I had to remember to include anything on Tyler and Caroline in this post. (Alright, beyond the fact that, dude, wasn't Tyler naked under that blanket, Caroline? Okay, then.) Sorry, even if I didn't adore the Candice Accola/Paul Wesley chemistry, I'd still just not be feeling Caroline and Tyler as a pair. They just don't do it for me.

- I did like Caroline's questions/comments about her mom, because, again, it's the show *not* forgetting that there are other important relationships besides the romantic. We get big and small moments constantly about the families and friendships and I so very much love that. Such as Damon and Alaric's moment after Alaric was locked in the house. His slightly pleading call-out to Damon, and then Damon's "sorry, buddy" because he doesn't want Alaric to die. Say it with me: Awww. Best bromance! LOVE IT.

And also, Jeremy and Elena's relationship. I knew that Jeremy was going to say "I still have you" after Elena's line, I actually said it aloud before he did, but it was one of those predictable lines that needed to be said. And it was perfect. I love their relationship. It reminds me in many ways of mine with my brother. (And why I got slightly annoyed at people making innuendo-laden comments when Jeremy had his head on Elena's lap in "By the Light of the Moon." Close brothers and sisters with a teasing, trusting vibe DO physically interact like that and there is NOTHING sexual about it at all.) And then there is Stefan and Damon ... oh, heck, I'm saving them for later. Actually, I'm going to hop into random comments and touch upon Damon (alone, and with both Elena, and Stefan) thoughts for the end of this post.

Random thoughts --

- Another small moment I liked was Damon's "I'm sorry" to Jeremy about Jenna. It was a small moment, but one that spoke volumes about Damon's transformation. He cares enough about someone else -- with nothing that he gets out of it -- to offer genuine words of sympathy. And, of course, his bromance with Alaric is so strong, they don't even need words. Show, once more, DO NOT KILL ALARIC! You made him an apartment.

OH, CRAP! KATHERINE IS STUCK IN THE APARTMENT NOW. Wah! Maybe they made it for her, and not because Alaric is not dying. Oh, God, please, please, please, PLEASE DO NOT KILL MY BB, ALARIC! I don't think Damon (or I) could take it. Damon needs his only true friend. I need my Alaric. I love him so. (Especially when Matt Davis was looking so mighty fine in this episode.)

- So, yeah, who's gonna be the guardian for the 17 and 16 year old Elena and Jeremy? I mentioned Alaric above, but that doesn't really make sense. I'm wondering if after the finale issue is resolved, they will have some time pass, even if only a week or two, and Elena will turn 18, and that pretty much will clear it up. Obviously, they have money, and Elena owns two houses now, LOL!, so ....

- What on earth does Klaus have planned for Stefan? Things that make you go hmmm ....

- Damon does not like witches. We've met eight (Bonnie, Sheila, Emily, Bree, Luka, Jonas, Maddox and Greta). Damon has killed four of them. Of the remaining four, Damon didn't kill Bonnie because of a deal made, even though he wanted to kill her a few times, and has been the only one that could handle her dying to save Elena. And he did try to kill Emily when possessed by Bonnie. He really does NOT like witches.

- I don't consider what Elijah did really a betrayal. And, although, the trio will all understandably be pissed off and beyond with him, I think that underneath the rage and frustration, each of them completely understand why he did what he did. After all, their loved ones are their greatest "weakness" as well.

- Elena was practically dripping with disdain for Klaus when she forwent his hand. She was beyond hatred, and treated him like dirt and that pissed him off. I fucking loved that moment. It was a fantastic acting/directorial choice by Nina Dobrev and Paul M. Sommers. (And/or scripted by co-writers Caroline Dries -- love her!, and Mike Daniels.)

- ETA: Wow, I didn't talk about Bonnie much here, but it wasn't because I wasn't happy with her character. In fact, I think that's why I didn't. I kinda expect Bonnie to be bad-ass now. I loved her character through most of season one, and early on in this season ("Plan B" to be exact), she completely regained my love and her speech to Jeremy about dying for a purpose just nailed her utter BAMF-ness, so I expect that from her. Didn't mean she totally wasn't in this episode. Because she was. :)

- Okay, one complaint. Seriously, make-up department?! STOP WITH THE GUYLINER! It was excessively terrible on both Ian Somerhalder and Paul Wesley. As much as I adored their final scene, I'm distracted every time I've watched it (I'm at my millionth or so viewing) by the damn guyliner so heavy on both pretty, pretty boys. Grr.

- Speaking of that scene, I did find it interesting that Damon made it clear (pre-I'm dying reveal) that Stefan had to come up with a solution to the Klaus situation. Unspoken was the fact that Damon's always been the one to come up with the plans and be pro-active, Stefan wouldn't be able to slide anymore. And, yet, earlier, Damon commented that Stefan was cleaning up his messes, like always. So not true, but fascinating when one takes into account how Damon clearly perceives himself, that this is how he sees their situations. And this brings us to the heart of the show for me.

Damon. My beautiful Damon.

Most interesting to me was the fact that he's spent so much of this season fighting everyone and thing to save Elena. In the last few episodes, he did what he could to rescue Caroline, Tyler and Matt. He was willing to sacrifice himself to take Jenna's place, and has been willing to have everyone hate him if it means he can get the job done. He started his whole thing with Andie -- and is she just done and gone now? -- to keep him distracted from his feelings so that he could get the job done and keep Elena safe. Railing against fate, working with people he didn't want to, basically going on full-tilt mission mode to save Elena.

And now he's dying. And he doesn't appear to give even the slightest shit about it. He only told Stefan so that Stefan would know that it was up to him now to figure out how to keep Elena (and everyone else) safe from Klaus. And then he just walked away after telling Stefan to not tell Elena, with the implication that Damon had no intention of telling anyone else but Stefan. And he got pissed at Elena for not fighting for her life? Really?! This, Damon, is giving up. This has nothing to do with sacrificing one's self to save others. This is just about dying and not caring. Oh, Damon. What little self-worth he has. And Damon-haters can't understand how us Damon-lovers can love him, and we wonder how they can not see! He's been so emotionally wrecked and abused his whole life that he has no earthly clue how to love himself. None at all. He has faith in Elena and Stefan, Alaric and Bonnie, and all of these 'heroes,' but he has zero faith in himself, that he can be better ... that he has that capability to be more. Oh, Damon.

*sigh*

Moving onto Damon and Elena and what we got in this episode. There wasn't much actual interaction between them, other than Damon's very selfish desire that she wake up human so that she won't hate him forever. (Even knowing that his forever is very limited as of now.) However, there was some very interesting symbolism and directorial touches on display here that had me sitting up and taking notice.

First of all, the writers incapacitated Stefan so that he could not be the one to pick up Elena's "dead" body and carry her off. Instead, it was Damon who did so. And then he brought her to Stefan's side, and I was totally expecting some cheesy shot of their hands touching before Elena gasped awake. Didn't happen. In fact, Damon wasn't even bringing Elena over to Stefan to unite the two (as some have suggested, which I find the idea of wholly out of character for Damon -- he may accept that Stefan is "better" for Elena, but he ain't gonna aid their twu wuv forever nonsense, especially at this time and place). Instead, he brought her to Stefan so that he could help his brother. (Say it with me: Awww! But wait, we're not on the Stefan/Damon section yet!) And he did. So, I expected that, yeah, now Stefan would recover, get Elena, get the hell out of dodge, and Damon would witness Elijah's "betrayal."

Didn't happen.

Instead, Stefan told Damon to take Elena away so that Stefan could see it through, and we witness Damon yet again do the archetypical hero-thing and carry the "damsel in distress" to safety. And then we saw it a third time. Really hammering the point home that Damon is/could be Elena's hero. I just found that very, very interesting that as the season ends, we see Damon, and not Stefan, positioned in that symbolic role as Elena's hero. It gives me continued hope that we're going to see a major shift in the next episode leading into next season where we begin to focus on the Damon/Elena angle of the triangle. After all, why else would we have Elena -- and only Elena -- be the one to witness the full-on devastating and painful effects of a werewolf bite on a vampire if it were to not give her that knowledge of what Damon will be going through? And knowing that he will "die" -- cuz, yeah, no way Damon is going to actually die from this, it will simply have to bring her long denied, very submerged feelings for him to light.

And that focus on Damon and Elena which began with him carrying her, continued throughout the rest of the episode. While waiting for her to wake up, Jeremy was in the doorway, so that when she did, we only saw Damon with her, even in the overhead shot. The first word that she said was "Damon," and those first few seconds was focused on the two of them. In any other show, I wouldn't read any other significance in it because, well, of course, the romantic entanglement takes precedence over the familial relationship, but that's not the case with The Vampire Diaries. So, I do think it was framed as such for a reason. And that reason is, as stated above, that we're heading into more of a Damon/Elena focus. (SQUEE!)

Quick question: Since Elena "died," will she remember the compulsion from "Rose?" Hmm...

Finally, there was the significant look shared between Damon and Elena at Jenna's funeral. Again, there was no one else in the shot, just Elena, and then Damon, despite the presence of the others there. The framing with everyone else out of the shot -- Elena at her parents' grave and Damon walking away -- kept that focusing on the two of them alone. And I was surprised because before she looked up at Damon, I expected her to either (a) look at Stefan and/or (b) Stefan to come up behind her, comfort her, put an arm around her, something. Instead, it was all (and only) Damon and Elena there. So, although I'm trying to not get my hopes up too much, I do have high hopes for next week's finale on the Damon/Elena front, I really do. (I mean, really, would they crap all over their most popular pairing all season long and not end on a big positive -- well, as positive as The Vampire Diaries can get in their finale -- note?)

Phew! That brings us to my favorite relationship showcased in this episode, and my absolute favorite scene: That final one between Damon and Stefan. OH. MY. GOD! I was more verklempt and emotionally moved by this scene than any other since Bonnie reacting to Sheila's death back in 1.14. Paul Wesley broke my heart, and this scene pretty much confirmed what I've long believed. However much Stefan loved Katherine, however much he loves Elena, however much he'll love Caroline (it will happen, damnit!), Damon will always be his #1. It is totally Damon >>> Everyone else in the entirety of ever for Stefan. Even my sister who doesn't delve deep into thinky thoughts about the show (and has pish-poshed my contention that Stefan would choose Damon over Elena if push came to shove) said about this scene that Stefan was so much more affected by Damon's potential death than anything that's happened with Elena this season.

I'm not saying he doesn't love Elena. Of course he does. But Damon is the most important person to him ever. And likely for always. And that's exactly how Paul played it. When Damon told him he was bitten ("it's actually more a nip really," bwah!), there was a shell-shocked reaction from Stefan, and when he moved closer, there was almost a jerkiness, a disbelieving-ness in his very movements. His voice was hushed, as if trying to control the tremors, and the sobs that you so know he was holding back. There was a quiet, desperate urgency to how Paul played this scene that I did not see personally in any of his reaction to Elena's gonna die stuff this season. Again, not saying that he doesn't love Elena, but Damon is his brother, and I've always maintained that despite everything, Stefan freaking ADORES his brother. He can't lose him. He can, and expects to, lose Elena someday. Not Damon, though. Never Damon. And, yet he's looking at that bite and he knows what it means.

But, oh, being Stefan, he immediately rejects reality, buries his head in the sand and determines that he'll find a cure. And that was also so beautiful and wonderful and interesting. Not "we," not including Elena or anyone else from their group. This was all about Stefan saving Damon. He's at first talking in 'we' speak -- "We kept Elena human, right? We found a way when there was no way." But when it comes to Damon, Stefan without hesitation, without thought, steps up to the plate ... all him:

"Hey, I will do this." Making sure that Damon is looking at him, his voice so determined, his gaze so strong. Oh, Stefan. Gawd! Just killed me dead in the best way possible. Damn, I love my Salvatore Brothers.

And then my favorite moment of the whole scene, Damon turns to walk away, and Stefan looked after him, utter devastation written on every line of his body, but he was standing as still as a statue. Except for his fingers. They were moving in this jittery dance of desperation, of helplessness, of an urgency to DO SOMETHING. Ah, it was so good. Just watching his brother walk away into the sun, and all the love that Stefan feels for Damon you could feel in that moment so keenly.

And, oh my, how did I love (and yet my heart broke at the same time) that nearly final shot of Damon walking away into that sunrise, head held high, looking as if he had no care in the world.

     

Oh, Damon. {{sobs}}
Tags: alaric saltzman, bonnie bennett, candice accola, caroline forbes, damon salvatore, damon/alaric, damon/elena, damon/stefan, daniel gillies, elena gilbert, elijah mikaelson, ep discussion-tvd, ian somerhalder, jason dohring, jenna sommers, katherine pierce, matt davis, nina dobrev, paul wesley, stefan salvatore, the vampire diaries, tv
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