Arabian (arabian) wrote,

3.01 - 'The Birthday' - Take Two (The Vampire Diaries)

So rewatched the premiere and I haz thoughts! (If you missed my post based on my first-run through, you can find it here. FYI: There were some fabulous comments from my flist in the thread.)

First of all, I walked away from the rewatch thinking even more that it was a great episode, and I saw more oomph! in that final scene than I had initially. With the comparison to last year's premiere out of the way, it definitely was a whoah! what will happen now? moment. Carol officially knows. What will happen between her and Liz? What will Damon do (if he's dragged into it)? Does Carol suspect anyone else aside from Caroline? What will Tyler do? Is this his chance to make up for the HORRIBLE way he reacted to her kidnapping and torture last season? Which brings us to ...

Caroline and Tyler --

I know that Plec and Williamson have said that theirs is to be a Romeo & Juliet type love story, but that is not what I saw developing on screen. They had all summer, hanging out, but neither was moved to make it anything beyond friends even though they both supposedly wanted it? And then when they got together it was based (as it came across) purely on lust and sexual drive. To compound that, Caroline crept out of the room like she was ashamed. I mean, girl was totally doing the walk of shame before Carol caught her.

Furthermore, I go back to my initial impression of their chemistry. They have some, it's just nothing to write home about. The story (last season, definitely not in this episode) was driving the chemistry way more than the spark between the actors. For me, their sex scene confirmed it. It was just two pretty people scantily clad and getting it on. There was nothing special about it.

Alaric --

I love me some Alaric, anyone who reads my journal knows that. I LOVE ME SOME ALARIC. With that said, the more I think about that final scene with Elena I just want to smack his ever-loving, long-time-no-shaved face. Because Alaric? Was being a total selfish dick! Dude, he's a high school teacher. He KNOWS that just because someone is eighteen doesn't suddenly make them an adult. This girl -- yes, Alaric, GIRL! -- lost her parents, then her entire world was turned topsy-turvy, then she lost her birth mother, then her aunt, then her birth father, and then her boyfriend took off on a psychotic serial killing frenzy. But, she's eighteen now, no problem. She can handle running a household, taking care of her drugged-up once again younger brother, going to school, getting ready for her adult life, on top of all of the supernatural crazy that surrounds her life. She doesn't need an adult around at all. Especially one who KNOWS ALL THE SHIT THAT IS GOING ON! Especially one who loves her and her brother like they were his family. No, not at all.

Seriously, come on, Ric!

Yes, yes, I do get that he's going through a lot himself. And that he doesn't get just how much his presence is helping to keep them grounded, but oh, Ric. Wake up, sweetie, and realize it.

Klaus, and Klaus and Stefan --

I think I was having residual resentment issues against Joseph Morgan/Klaus for being made a regular cast member/still around while my beloved Daniel Gillies and bb Elijah are nowhere to be seen. Grrr. He still isn't as menacing and as thousand-year old hybrid-scary-ass he should be, but he is creepy and frankly, his lack of overwhelming charisma is a good thing. Why? Because, damnit, Paul Wesley deserves a chance to shine. He's not going to when he's going toe to toe with Ian Somerhalder most of the time. Whether you agree that Somehalder is more attractive, more charismatic, etc., you can not deny that the media and majority of fandom does, so it's not fair to Paul. He'll never "win" opposite Ian's character. He's shining like nobody's business in these scenes with Joseph Morgan. Paul is the scene-stealer, the one your eyes are riveted on, and he and Joseph have a wonderful chemistry.

Elena/Stefan --

I think that this episode was surface great for Stefan/Elena -- she was so caring/concerned for Stefan still, putting her life on hold, etc., Stefan is holding onto Elena's love as his conscience -- but looking deeper, it's not. First off, while everyone understands the need to find Stefan, no one wants to see Elena like this, letting her life pass her by. And when you have enough characters making that point, and Elena quite aware of, it's a pretty safe bet that the show is letting us know that they agree, and the viewers should as well.

Another thing that the premiere showed us is that Elena truly does not know Stefan. Not really. Why? Because he's never shown her his real self. If he wasn't lying to her (flat-out or by omission), he was white-washing who he is, his actions, his past, his misdeeds because he's ashamed of his dark past, that part of him. And so Elena has mostly only seen the version of Stefan that he wants to be, that he wants to present. The very few times that she saw a different side to him, that darker side, she denied the reality of it, insistent that it wasn't really Stefan. But it is. It's a part of him, as much as the caring, good guy is, this dark Stefan is Stefan too.

And here's another one. Elena is now eighteen. She is now OLDER than Stefan in terms of living life (as opposed to undead life). There was a big 'Elena is growing up' theme to the episode; she's becoming an adult. Stefan CAN'T grow up. He's eternally a 17-year old boy. I believe that the vampire mythology on the show is that their personality is based on their respective death age when turned and that that essence never changes. It certainly explains why Stefan is SUCH a stupid, emo, idealistic, teenage BOY! with regards to Elena. And, again, he won't change. Elena will. She will grow up. She has already been quite forced too. (Gee, thanks, Alaric.)

Finally, the phone call. Dun dun dun. So, I'm still not pleased about it because it played so much as if it was going to flow into a Damon/Stefan moment. I actually figured out how it would have worked for me: If they had just had him pull out the phone, pull up Damon's number, look at it and then exit out of the number, start to put the phone away, hesitate and THEN cut to Elena, that would have worked completely. Ah well.

Still, with that said, modbelle had a brilliant theory about the phone call and its purpose that I'm loving and I TOTALLY think she's right. Instead of putting it my own words, I'm going to just quote her brilliance.

I found the whole phone call very foreboding and if I shipped S/E, I'd be worried; because what I got from the phone call was Elena and their failed relationship is going to be the reason Stefan turns full blown Ripper (ie Katherine tattles about the previous kiss, Stefan sees something and thinks Elena has moved on/been unfaithful). Bottom line is I now feel like their is a ticking clock on their relationship because it's not if S/E is going to break up but when; afterall, it was stressed Elena's love will be Stefan's tie to humanity and the show obviously wants all ties broken.
That makes so much sense. If Stefan is holding onto her unwavering love as his compass, what happens when he questions that? Yeah.

Also, this has been said elsewhere (and in my previous thread), Stefan calling Elena was just terrible because it really made Andie's death pointless. How the hell is Damon going to get Stefan's point of no return now? Of course Elena will tell Damon, and of course, Damon will believe once again that he can save Stefan. And more importantly, he knows that Elena won't stop, and therefore, he can't walk away because he can't not work to keep Elena safe. Oh, Stefan, Stefan, Stefan. Andie died so callously for nothing. Which brings us to ...

Damon and Andie --

Damnit, I really am officially over my Dawn Olivieri issues, because I really liked Andie again. Rewatching this made me really enjoy her few moments on screen. {Pouts} Her dry delivery in the first scene (especially the "I mean, you're dripping a little") was wonderfully done, and those last two scenes, man! Her relief when seeing it was Stefan, talking to him as if he's the Stefan she knows, and then her fear at the end there, knowing what Stefan was doing, it was all just so well-done, so heartbreaking. Man. I will say, I so did NOT cheer this time when she died. I was sad. :sniffsniff:

I wish they'd done more/better with her story. There was so much potential, and instead it just wound up being the waste of a very good actress, and making Damon look dreadfully horrible with no redeemable quality to this aspect of his character. Sadly, I think we're going to have to let this one go and realize that this is one of the few epic fails of the writers in not getting a screw-up. That just sucks!

Damon and Elena --

I talked of them positively a bit in my initial review, but it was mostly surrounded by wishing for more, no true acceptance or squee about what we did get. Let's just say reading and reacting to comments from my lovely flist, as well as rewatching sure brought on the acceptance and squee. :D

First of all, that Caroline/Elena conversation that took place over the summer. Why did Elena even talk to Caroline about it if it was just a "goodbye kiss?" Why even mention it if it didn't really matter, even more so, why talk about Damon's feelings for her? But clearly she did both, and they were significant enough that Caroline mentioned it to Tyler. I lamented not being able to hear that conversation, but now I'm glad we didn't. That little scene (aside from the Tyler/Caroline aspect) was laying groundwork from the writers. We now know Elena DID think about the kiss, did think about Damon's admission of love for her enough to bring herself to talk to Caroline -- Caroline! who had a very sketchy, skeevy relationship with Damon; Caroline! who gossips like there is no tomorrow! -- but she had to talk to someone. It was THAT much on her mind. Pretty, pretty telling.

Not that she's hearing the story being told. I believe right now that Elena is so very, very much in denial. She has completely convinced herself that she feels nothing beyond friendship for Damon. Nada. But she does, and so subconsciously she wants to be near him, she wants to touch him, she wants him to touch her, she ... wants him. Yet, she's completely convinced herself that such is not the case.

A review mentioned that Elena was leading Damon on now that she knew he loved her, whereas she wasn't last season because she didn't know, yet, she was asking him to put on her necklace, walking with him arm-in-arm through her party. But I disagree. That's not Elena, not at all. I honestly don't believe she's even aware of what she is doing. She's following her body, her heart's desire to be with him without thought; she's just doing because it feels right. She is completely blind to the fact that her body and her heart are not in agreement with her mind in this, therefore, she's not doing anything "wrong" because it's not really happening. Even though it is. Oh, Elena. I must say, it will be very interesting watching her very in-denial mind battle with her subconscious desire.

The most shining example of this was the gifting scene. It wasn't about the words spoken, it was how they were spoken, and everything that wasn't said; it was about heated looks and secret smiles. It was about the dichotomy of comfort and discomfort. There was an ease, a natural intimacy between them that just flowed through every second of interaction, but right alongside that was this nearly-unbearable tension: The way they looked at each other a second too long, the way they held themselves, the softly spoken words (Elena's "I am happy" and "thank you" -- delivered as near-whispers, as if savoring the intimacy between them). There was an exquisite desire that ebbed beneath the surface, as if they were both holding themselves back (Damon, fully aware, Elena, still in complete denial) from leaping forward and just giving into that want. And I do think that it was significant that this was the last scene before a break. It was as if the writers wanted it to stick, to burn into viewer's memories a bit, percolate in their brain without moving onto the next scene.

As for Damon? I think he absolutely gets it, and that is why he's not pushing her. At least not in the right way, the way that would give her that push that would tear down her wall of denial. I think that was the point of his nude greeting. And I have no doubt that he has played with her in similar ways because he knows that it will irritate her, and help keep that distance between them. She's his brother's girl, and he's not going to swoop in and make his case when Stefan is doing what he is for him. So we have the assy games, we have him pulling back from moments (her turn to him after he put the necklace on her). He could have pushed in just the right way in that moment, in others like it, no doubt, but he's not.

And I think he was doing his best to keep the Andie situation from being a part of Elena's concern. Yes, she was invited to her party, but Damon knew how big it was, and knew that they would have little time for any type of deep interaction. I think this because of their phone call. Elena found out about his closet, called him, but he didn't know she was upset, he didn't know why she was calling yet. She starts out by asking where he is. He didn't tell her he was picking Andie up. Which was odd. Why not? He's just picking up his "girlfriend." Instead, he lies and says he's still at the party, as if he doesn't want her to know he's picking up his "girlfriend." Yeah. Interesting. And one wonders how well Damon is going to do now without his distraction around.

So, yes, there was a LOT of strong Damon/Elena subtext in this episode ... and all of it was promising, as opposed to the foreboding that accompanied the Stefan/Elena subtext. Yeah!

Okay, random thoughts, and then I'm done --

- It was a throw-away line that I caught while watching, but everything else happening distracted me from mentioning it before. Yes! Liz Forbes is helping. YES! Now, give me my Damon/Liz scenes, pretty please. :) I am dying to see their dynamic now that she knows. Oh, yeah.

- Heh. "Dead Man Walking" were the lyrics being sung as Ray walked into the bar. Oh, show.

- I loved this exchange, mostly for the delivery of the last two lines, and the teasing, then familiarity of the first two. Just perfection.

Damon: Hello, birthday girl.
Elena: Drink. {Takes Damon's glass; drinks, turns to Alaric.} Jeremy's smoking again.
Damon Is it a good stash?
Elena: You're an ass.
HAHAHAHA! And, of course, smack-dab in the middle was Alaric's look of 'hey, what now?' as they exchanged Damon's glass. It's an interesting reminder that as of now, Alaric is the only one who has gotten a glimpse of their true relationship.

- Aww, Damon had no problem sharing the good stuff with Alaric.

And there we have it, my rewatch thinky thoughts. I like this; I'm gonna definitely try and do this with every episode. :)

I lied. It's still pretty damn long. Of course. (Stop laughing, sarcasticcheese!)
Tags: alaric saltzman, caroline forbes, damon salvatore, damon/elena, daniel gillies, elena gilbert, elijah mikaelson, ep discussion-tvd, stefan salvatore, the vampire diaries, tv

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