Did anyone feel like this episode kinda undid a lot of what was awesome about the last episode? Stefan and Klaus, Stefan and Rebekah, the idea that Stefan might be torn between his feelings for Klaus and Rebekah because of the 20's and his life now? I did. I mean, it was all back to same-old, same-old with Stefan. Snarkily the same with Katherine -- which, yeah, I did like, the show (via Rebekah) telling him that he'll only ever love Elena, and after the stuff he did last week (making her believe for even a second that he'd reveal to her Klaus, physically manhandling her), it left a sour feeling in my gut. So that was pretty disappointing actually. I hope the arc doesn't play out as simplistically as this episode made it appear to. It just felt like it took away the mystery and complications introduced in the last episode and just kinda decided, yeah, no big, no lasting effect. I don't know.
However, I did enjoy seeing Katherine and Stefan interact. It reminded me of something I'd forgotten since it's been so long since we've actually seen these two spend more than two seconds together, and alone at that! Even when he's "good" Stefan he seems more, I don't know, engaged when Katherine's around. It's like she gives him a little pep to his step. Pep that sadly was nowhere in evidence at all with Rebekah. I really do feel cheated in that regard because they really did have a moment when he remembered at the end of the last episode, and; I feel like that was all frittered away. And that makes me sad because I really liked the two of them together, and all the beauty and romance of them last week (yes, mostly in the past, but still there in those few moments in the present) just seemed to be gone this time around.
And in what kinda became a recurring theme regarding my thoughts for this episode, it felt like I was missing scenes. Last week, Rebekah chose Stefan over Klaus in the 20's, and although no time has passed for her, like *that* she gives Stefan up and is all on Klaus' side. I can reasonably logic it out, but I shouldn't have to try and puzzle over and figure out character motivations and kinda, sorta make them fit the story and plot points. We should have scenes, moments that show that shift. Her kissing him once and deciding it wasn't in his kiss wasn't enough given the story we were SHOWN (shown, not told, we were SHOWN) in the last episode. Yes, they had spent a day or two together, I suppose, but we didn't see it, so it felt ... flat. What happened to that melting, misty-eyed look of love on her face? Where went the softness, sweetness of his voice saying her name and looking at her with new, remembering eyes? It was just no where at play here. There was no shift explaining that away. Maybe it will come, but it felt like we were missing something here, now, in this episode.
And it also felt a bit like whiplash in terms of Damon too -- much like "Klaus" did. Why was he suddenly pushed to such extremes? Because Alaric wasn't all buddy buddy with him 100%? Because Elena didn't want him to kill Caroline's father? Because he got into a fight with Caroline? You're gonna tell me that Alaric has not argued, disagreed with Damon at all, that he's regularly just Damon's yes-man? I don't buy that. Elena not wanting him to kill her friend's family is such a shock to him? Caroline being upset that he's chomping on her father? All of these things were perfectly reasonable, and perfectly reasonable in Damon-view as well, so what pushed him to the extreme? (Although, thank goodness, his extreme this time did not include 'can't-come-back-from' murder.) Again, it felt like we missed something in between that would justify Damon suddenly being off the rails as much as he was. Had this happened after "The Birthday," I could have seen it. Had we even seen Damon reacting to the fact that Stefan truly may be gone to them, that would have worked to explain his tension. However, we didn't get any reaction from Damon to how the Chicago trip ended, and he seemed positively jocular in the opening scene with Elena. So, yeah, it was like it was missing some narrative flow there.
ETA: Upon reflection and discussion with others, I realize it wasn't Damon that was out of character at all. Damon was being told by everyone how to properly act, and it was annoying, and he didn't really do any permanent damage. He made sure Ric had on his ring, he didn't kill Bill (heh, "Kill Bill"), he just basically did a vampire's version of venting. It just, well, as modbelle said elsewhere, it wasn't really Damon that was out of character, it was the others who were. Damon's existence is in jeopardy (from Bill threatening to out him, vervain in the town water supply could seriously mess with him), and Elena and Ric are all 'Yeah! That's a good idea!' What were THEY thinking?
So, really, it's not like we missed scenes with Damon, but rather we missed a natural enough progression with Elena and Alaric. we didn't see enough bridging scenes with those two, and even Caroline to a degree to explain where they were coming from. Suddenly Elena and Alaric have forgotten that Damon's a vampire who actually, you know, accepts that and acts accordingly, and Caroline has completely forgotten that Damon saved her life FOUR TIMES, Tyler's once, and Matt's once, is her mom's good friend, tried to help their relationship out (Liz/Caroline) ... but no, he does bad things to good people, that's all she can say about him. It was like all of the good he did between her kicking his ass in 2.02 and tonight's episode was forgotten.
Also, it wasn't fun to watch the Damon/Alaric storyline play out as fan of the two. I did like that Damon made sure Alaric had the ring, but still, killing him was, yeah, ridiculously extreme, and Ric's reaction was completely warranted. And it bugged me because I don't want Ric and Damon to be in a situation where Damon's reactions are puzzling from a viewer/Damon-fan point of view that lead to understanding Ric being really pissed at him. (ETA: Of course, I don't find Damon's actions puzzling any longer; see a few paragraphs up.) It just sucks. And while I applaud Alaric's final scene with Carol and Liz, it still stung because it felt like he was kinda closing the door on a real friendship with Damon, and since Ric has pretty much been the only who who's come even remotely close to being on his side without undue harshness in a long while, that bums me out. Because, yeah, Damon's a dick, but he's partially a dick because no one will stand by him and see him through his darker days and impulses. Stefan had Lexi, he has Elena, no doubt Caroline, probably Bonnie too. Damon? Had Ric, who wasn't really concentrating all that much on helping Damon, but rather just there as a sorta-drinking buddy and dealing with his own major issues. So, yeah, it was tough seeing as a Damon-fan and as a Damon/Alaric fan.
It didn't help that at the same time this was happening we had Caroline being all nasty about him. Yes, they have that history, but we haven't seen anything to indicate that she still has such issue with him, and considering their last real interaction (that we witnessed) included Damon (a) rescuing her from sacrifice duty, and (b) taking a werewolf bite for her, it doesn't really jibe that she would be that, well, nasty about him. I'm not saying that it isn't justified, but, again, when we've been given NOTHING to indicate that she still has issues with him and the previously mentioned happened recently, well, it was kinda not fun to see as a Damon fan. Especially when the little bit of interaction we *did* get in "The Birthday" rather pointed that she was pretty okay with him. So yeah, I was put a bit off by that too.
ETA: To go more into detail about this. Some have put up that well, Caroline was looking at it from the point of view of being Elena's friend. I still have a problem with it because of the phrasing. Had she made any sort of disclaimer like "I know he's better, or he's not the same guy from when he first came to town ... BUT he's still DAMON!" I would have been fine, but it was the unmitigated vibe of HE'S EVIL! that really bothered me. Be Elena's friend, point out the Damon-ness of Damon, but still acknowledge that he's not this evil, sick monster he was when they first met him.
I mean, Caroline actually warned Elena herself of the vampire-ness of it all back in 2.04 (even if it was from prodding from Katherine, it was all true). Yet, that was delivered in a note of 'well, vampires are vampires,' thus absolving Stefan -- because Stefan kept Elena in the dark about the reality of vampirism. But now that it's Damon, suddenly it's not vampirism, it's OH, DAMON IS BAD! And that is what bugged me. Be a good friend, fine, but don't lay it all on Damon's feet as if he's the big bad who hasn't been working his ass off for however long to save ALL of their lives on a fairly regular basis. He's not all bad, and THAT is how Caroline was portraying him, and for someone, again, who saved her life -- again, FOUR TIMES: 1) Giving her vampire blood to heal her in "The Return." 2) Helping Stefan and Tyler in "Daddy Issues, 3 and 4) Rescuing her as vampire-bait in the sacrifice from the tomb, and pushing her out of the way to take Tyler's bite in "The Last Day. He also saved her ex-boyfriend's life (from Tyler's were-wolfyness), and her not-then-but-sorta-now boyfriend's life (from the tomb in TLD), is her mom's good friend, tried to help their relationship out (Liz/Caroline), that was pretty crappy.
Also, I actually was kinda thrown by that early kitchen scene between Damon and Elena, the laughing/shoving was just ... I don't know, odd? Not that I didn't enjoy the moment, and the eyes/lips looking at bit afterwards when he held her necklace, but still, the laughing kinda came a bit out of nowhere for me. I did really like the rest of their scenes though, and was pleasantly surprised that Elena actually admitted by saying she couldn't even entertain the thought that she felt something for Damon. Because honestly, I wasn't expecting there to be any follow-through when the previous conversations kept getting interrupted. And I REALLY liked the scene where she all but said, 'you need to not be who you really are so that I can like you,' and he called her on it. Because part of the mess she is in with Stefan is because that's what Stefan did, and trying to recreate that with Damon is wrong on so many levels. Wrong because, as Damon said, he's not Stefan. Wrong because it was wrong of Stefan to pretend to be something he's not. Because he did, and that's why Elena is so ill-equipped to deal with all that is going on because she has no truth of who Stefan really is to base reality upon.
If she's going to immerse herself in this supernatural world (and she doesn't really have much choice unless she wants to walk away from everyone and everything she loves), she needs to understand the reality of it. That is something that she and Stefan never really did. And if Elena can acknowledge without acknowledging that she does feel for Damon despite knowing that he won't pretend to be something he's not, well, that's a step in the right direction as long as she is going to be playing in the supernatural playground.
With that said, I'm also REALLY glad that Damon is taking off. Obviously, based on the preview, it doesn't last very long, but I'm still glad it's happening. The guy has been basically busting his ass since what happened to Jeremy to do the right thing, to keep Elena and -- if it doesn't endanger her -- everyone else safe. He's been trying to bring Stefan home, he's been protecting this town, and fighting against his vampire nature with his only reward being Elena allowing him in her life (while doing a lot of chastising in the process), and Ric as his friend. And now even that looks like it's being taken away. Has Damon screwed up, has he taken steps backwards? Absolutely. But, hello, it's called positive reinforcement, folks?
Without any positive feedback, but only judgment, negativity and, yeah, the girl he loves lying to herself and him about her feelings, it's perfectly logical that he'd have those setbacks. Yet no one seems to even remotely realize that, and thus acknowledge it. I mean, I know Ric was trying to protect Elena, but he simply assumed the worst of Damon in the situation, and he was wrong. Damon hasn't pushed Elena, Damon has been looking out for her welfare and well-being. He hasn't been making moves, he hasn't been trying to steal his brother's girl, and yet because Elena has feelings for Damon that she can't disguise, Alaric is blaming Damon. (Kinda like Jenna accusing Damon of having his hands all over "Elena," without acknowledging that as far as she knew, Elena had her hands all over Damon as well.)
And agreeing to go with Katherine makes perfect psychological sense. She's who taught him to be a vampire without humanity, and everyone who wants him to embrace his humanity makes him feel like shit. If you're getting criticized, attacked, let down, insulted, rejected and repudiated on all sides why wouldn't you then choose to hitch your wagon to someone who accepts who you are and won't give you crap about it? That's Katherine. And since, as far as we last saw, he's over her, it's a safe risk for him.
Another leap and missing scenes for me was Daddy Forbes. He just seemed way too calm and accepting of everything after how he acted in the last episode. I don't know, it's almost like script-writer Brian Young had a vague notion of what happened in the previous episode, but didn't realize the emotional beats that played out or something? Because there just wasn't a great flow from the last to this episode in any continuing arc (ie; Damon, Stefan/Klaus/Rebekah, Caroline/Daddy Forbes). It wasn't bad, I think all involved with TVD are too good to ever deliver bad television now, it just was the weakest of this season so far for sure.
I'm back to more enjoying the Jeremy-ghost story (probably because there was no Matt this time around). I really appreciate that Jeremy chose Bonnie over Anna because (a) Bonnie's alive, Anna's a ghost, and (b) I never cared much for Jeremy/Anna, but I love Jeremy/Bonnie. Speaking of, how adorable was that little pick-up twirl when they first saw each other? Squee!
Anyhoo, random thoughts ...
- I did LOVE seeing Damon and Liz interacting as friends and colleagues again. I loved, loved, loved her saying "things are okay with us" meaning ... things are okay with them. WHEE!!!
ETA: Man, why was that final shot of the first Damon/Liz such a close-up? In HD you can sorta see that Liz is returning Damon's look perfectly. So awesome.
- I thought it was interesting that we were reminded about Bill being gay this week, when it didn't come up at all last week.
- Okay, so there has to be something more to the fact that Bill can't be compelled beyond 'mind over matter' right?
- The role of tonight's booty-call interruptus is being played by Tyler Lockwood. Heh. I admit that was a cute scene. I still don't ship them, though.
- I was surprised that Gloria was doing such awful things to Stefan because I didn't get the impression that she was doing it for good reasons. And I was really surprised that Katherine killed her. I didn't expect her to die. Ah well. Another witch bites the dust.
- Bored Klaus shopping is amusing. Heh.
- I did think it was the same Elena/Katherine top at first, but they were definitely different, but similar enough to make it fly. Good job.
- Heh. Damon banging his head on the door when realizing it was Katherine was funny.
- Also funny? Damon's response that he knew it was an old Gilbert family recipe and their chili was always sucky. Hee.
- I liked Damon basically explaining away all of the Founder's parties by saying, yeah, it's just an excuse for Founders' back room meetings.
- Speaking of ... whoah, who were all those other people at the Founder's back room meeting?
- Finally, so does Carol know that Damon is a vampire or not?
Overall, not my favorite, and I hope it plays out better when watched amidst a whole season rewatch. It had some good stuff, but too much lack of character narrative flow in my opinion. Still, a so-so Vampire Diaries episode is still better than anything else on television in my book. :)