Arabian (arabian) wrote,

3.05 - 'The Reckoning' (The Vampire Diaries)

Woohoo! Another curse-free new TVD Thursday. I'm choosing to believe that my having to wait three hours to watch the show is bad mojo enough. Yay! Anyhoo, you know the drill, thoughts behind the cut ...

Spoiler alert! I LOVED IT! Whee!!! My show is back! Yes! This was such a wonderful, wonderful episode (and such a relief after the last one). It was incredibly strong, incredibly layered, incredibly exciting, shocking, action-packed and yet offered some lovely character moments. Really excellent episode. In fact, I'd call it the best of the season so far. Yeah, I liked it that much -- even more than "The End of the Affair." Alright, time for the thinky-thoughts.

First of all, the triangle. I will admit that prior to the last five minutes, I was ready to throw in the towel and concede that I was crazy to think that there was ever any intention to move beyond Stefan and Elena as *the* couple, and that Damon and Elena would always be a hopeless, shipper dream. Then came the last few scenes between Damon and Elena and it not only renewed my faith that they would be it, but it also made me re-evaluate the earlier Stefan/Elena scenes in a much less positive light.

Now I had picked up on the fact that Elena told Stefan she loved him as almost a last resort. Everything prior to that had been based on Stefan's love for her. Him saying she thought he wouldn't do it because he loved her, and her confirming that, her pointing out all they'd been through together, but there were no doe-eyes from her, there was simply no love emanating from her. There was desperation, there was fear, but not love. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that Elena doesn't love Stefan, I believe she does, I believe she always will (whether it's as a former love remembering all they'd been through, or as a platonic love down the line), but right now, what is driving her is not love. Even in "The End of the Affair," her final scene with him while not as love-driven as attempts in the past to save him (namely in "Miss Mystic Falls" and "Blood Brothers" -- which were fairly drenched in love), comparatively speaking, it was still at least there. It just wasn't in these scenes, not from her end anyway.

It was there from Stefan's, but that's almost become par for the course this season. Other than the scary look of love from Elena (AS SHE IS STANDING IN FROM OF HIS LONG LIST OF VICTIMS!), any saturated-with-love moment between the two has come from Stefan's end. And that continued in this episode. He resisted Klaus' initial compulsion to feed on Elena enough to physically keep himself from doing so, letting her escape. He forcefully told Klaus "no" when Klaus pushed him to turn the switch off. But ... and this, I think, is key.

He didn't succeed in the end.

He wasn't able to fight Klaus' compulsion. His love for Elena, their great love, wasn't strong enough. For all that he fought to resist, in the end, he did not. He could not. And that is the message we got. That Stefan's love for Elena wasn't enough. Yes, he fought valiantly, and if the show wanted to key in on that, someone would have managed to come in and save Elena in time. Instead, it became about despite his best efforts to resist, he still fed on her. If the show used his fighting it so hard and so well as proof that he wouldn't go there because he held off long enough for Elena to be saved from him that would have made it about how strong and powerful his love for her is. But they didn't do that. He resisted, he tried so hard, but in the end, he failed ... and no one was there to rescue her in time.

On the other end of the spectrum, there was Damon. Who, unlike Stefan, was easily able to resist her blood. When he stood there holding the transfusion tube filled with her blood, the veins didn't pop out, his fangs didn't even emerge. He wasn't tempted enough for it to even count to drink Elena's blood. This was in stark contrast to Stefan who desperately informed Elena even as he was fighting it so terribly that he wanted to drink her blood. He wanted it so much. Klaus told Stefan the only thing stronger than his need for blood was his love for Elena, but it was still such a huge struggle for him, and once Klaus told him to let go, he gave right in and drank. For Damon? Again, it wasn't even temptation enough to bring out the hint of the monster in him.

And then there was the fact that the last shot of Stefan and Elena (prior to nonchalant Ripper Stefan who barely noticed Elena) showed him viciously attacking her, and drinking her blood. That was followed shortly thereafter by swells of music beginning as Damon entered Elena's hospital room, removing the tubes, barely moved by her blood, Elena saying his name, him picking her up, and carrying her away all damsel-in-distress like with the back-shot of him taking her to safety. So Stefan nearly kills Elena -- stopped presumably only by Klaus, who now needs her blood -- and Damon rescues her. Again, significant.

Which brings us to their final scene. First of all, I did find it very interesting that they made quite an obvious show of Damon holding the necklace up for Elena to see, her focusing on it, but not saying anything about it, not reaching for it, before Damon finally looked at it and set it down (with the camera's focus on him doing so). Considering that the last episode began with Damon calling it a symbol of her unbreakable bond with Stefan, and now she clearly doesn't even want it is telling. In fact, there was almost a look of disgust on her face as she looked at. Similar to when she told Damon she didn't want to forget any of it, any of what Stefan had done.

And she looked so firm, so full of resolve and then started to crumple, likely remembering what had happened, and then came her teary question of Damon. On one hand, I liked that she asked him where he was, all a'trembly and wet and-doe-eyed as if she does expect Damon to be her hero now. In her mind, Damon is always there to save her, and he wasn't -- till the end -- this time. On the other hand, I was bothered that there was no acknowledgement that Damon wasn't there because she, Alaric and Caroline made it clear he wasn't very welcome in Mystic Falls at the moment. On the other, other hand, her teary question led us to the beautiful moment where Damon looked at her, puppy-dog eyes wide and full of so much sincere love where he promised that he would never leave her. (*Sigh*) And then came the third significant moment with regards to Damon and Elena. After he promised her that, she smiled. Genuinely smiled. She nodded in agreement, and smiled. This was significant, in my opinion, for two reasons.

The first is that, yet again, we see that in the midst of insanity, Damon is able to make Elena smile. And he is the only one we've ever seen be able to do this on a regular basis. Secondly, and more importantly, Damon promising to never leave Elena's side made her smile. Let that sink in. Damon's promise to stay by her side forever made her happy ... even after the horror of what had just happened with Stefan. Yeah.

Definitely significant, I'd say.

It also ties into one final point. All of the stuff with Stefan and Elena felt as if it was positioning their relationship in the past. Other than the statements of love, everything else they said was in the past tense. And while Stefan did fight terribly hard, again, in the end, he still fed on her. It felt to me as if metaphorically -- even if through compulsion -- in that final scene they were put in the past. Which is also in direct contrast the final Damon/Elena scene that positioned them in the present and the future. ("I promise I will never leave you.") Something to chew upon that.

ETA: I guess I should make this more clear because I really was tired by the time I was writing this. I don't think that Stefan and Elena are over, done with, I just mean that the whole pure, us against the world twu wuv foreva crap they've been selling is over and in the past. Now it's a different ballgame. Anything with them is going to have a LOT more baggage now, and Damon and his utterly unselfish, unwavering love of Elena will be in the forefront.

Moving on to other entanglements -- past, present and future -- spinning off from this triangle. Of course, there's the first one. Last week, we had Stefan and Katherine where despite his repudiation of her, Stefan still showed he cared about her and had more energy interacting with her than we'd seen from him in ages. This week, we have Katherine and Damon, and their first scene made it absolutely clear that while Stefan still has some lingering something for Katherine, Damon most assuredly does not. Hah, despite the very hot hotness of their kiss, like in "The House Guest," I got a bigger kick out of Damon rejecting her, and explaining that he figured he'd give it a shot, but yeah, she doesn't do it for him anymore. Hah hah hah. I knew that we definitely got our closure last season and that Damon was so over her. Thank you for reconfirming that, show. :)

What I found interesting, though, was his later statement right before he left where he said he never would have stupidly risked his life for her. Because they were speaking of the Damon who'd loved Katherine. Here he's saying -- and it didn't come across as another attempt to land a barb, just fact -- that he never loved her that completely, that fully as he does Elena. To which I say: SQUEE!

And speaking of Elena, yes, I am still annoyed (?) frustrated (?) that Stefan has killed, is killing, etc. and we are still getting no fall-out, reaction to that from Elena. I mean, I suppose we got a tiny bit with the near-look of disgust on her face thinking about the events of the night, but still. I need more. I think we all need more.

Lastly, on the other end of the triangle, I found it interesting -- and this could just be my hopeful delusion speaking -- that Rebekah spent so much more time interacting with Caroline than she did with Elena. Yes, I will grab onto anything that points to Caroline and Stefan as endgame. And on Rebekah, I was gratified to see so much jealousy in evidence about Elena ("the other doppelganger was prettier") because that tells me that the Stefan/Rebekah angle is not over. To which I say: YAY! Also, I wonder if we'll see Stefan and Rebekah (if she is still there in Mystic Falls) starting senior year together and deciding to run the school as king and queen. Man, that would be such a blast to watch!

One other interesting thing about Rebekah, I found it interesting that she stabbed Stefan with a similar object in a similarly jealous manner as Katherine did in "The Return." Parallels, parallels, parallels, gotta love them.

So, I suppose I should mention the whole Klaus compels Stefan to turn it off. As I said in my post about that spoiler, I don't mind. I really don't. I think Stefan has done enough horrible things that being a full-on Ripper as his choice is one that wasn't needed, and is one that would push him beyond the brink. Plus, I liked how it was worded. Klaus didn't tell him to flip the switch specifically, he told him to let go. I don't know why, but that just made it that much more ... meaningful? It was like Klaus was giving Stefan what he wanted. It just really did work for me.

ETA: Eh, I was wrong, he said 'turn it off.' I still liked it.

It's late, I'm tired and my thinky-thoughts really just revolved around the Damon/Elena vs. Stefan/Elena tonight, so I'm going with random thoughts for the rest ...

- I did not like Anna hating on Damon too. Come on, the last time she saw him, he clearly wanted to save her life. Come on! Really?!

- Sigh, I wish that we didn't have to see Damon be a wee bit mean to Jeremy, but there are definite positive still at play there.

1. Damon did tell him it wasn't personal to begin with.
2. Jeremy totally seemed to get that, sure he called Damon a dick, but he also didn't really seem all that upset with him. So, erm, yay?

On that note, I think the writer of this episode (Michael Narducci) likes the possibility of the Damon/Jeremy dynamic because the last two episodes he wrote were "The Last Dance" (on his lonesome) and "As I Lay Dying" (co-writing) and those were the only episodes that featured one-on-one Jeremy/Damon interaction since the fifth episode of last season. I like this. This can continue.

- Also what this writer appears to like? School stuffies! Again, "The Last Dance." Took place mostly at the school.

- And one more for this writer and the road ... Bonnie. Again, "The Last Dance." It featured not only a magically kick-ass Bonnie, but a warm, brave, empathetic Bonnie who was smart and pretty dang awesome, showing off not just her ability, but also had some fantastic character moments with Jeremy, Elena and Damon. And, again, in this episode we had a totally awesome Bonnie, even without her magic on display. I loved, loved, loved her choosing to side with Caroline's positive point of view, her running like mad to save Matt, pulling him from the water and saving him, and then her telling him that what he did was stupid and reckless, but in such a warm, understanding tone. And then telling him that he's the only one among them who has a shot of getting away from it all. It was just so wonderfully written by Narducci and performed by Kat Graham.

- Heh, the look on Jeremy's face when Damon announced that Bonnie was texting him. Funny.

- Okay, so, erm, how did Damon even know to go to the hospital? Clearly no time had passed for Damon to know from her friends because Matt was still at the school. So, yeah, how did he know? I mean, I'm not complaining due to the loverly scenes we got with Damon and Elena, but yeah, totally, how did he know?

- Speaking of Matt ... DUDE! I can NOT believe he did that. But then I can, he is so lost, feels so alone and he never even got the chance to say goodbye to Vicki, and yet she's talking to Jeremy. It was stupid, it was reckless, but it was also kind of awesome too. This is the first episode this season where I've pretty much unequivocally loved every Matt moment.

- I gotta say, I am not a Vicki fan, Matt is my least favorite regular/recurring character on the show now, but damn, if that final Matt/Vicki scene didn't get me teary-eyed. "Hi, Matty." {Sobs}

- So Tyler is a hybrid now. Is it bad that I'm disappointed because (like so many others in fandom) I wanted it to be Damon somehow, LOL? Ah well.

- About Tyler and Caroline, yeah, I'll admit it that it's completely petty, but I'm kinda frustrated/jealous that these two are getting so much giddy happiness, and I'm just waiting, waiting, waiting for my couple to FINALLY get there. A few seconds here and there don't count. {Pout} I just, yeah, I find them so boring. However, on the bright side, unlike with Stefan and Elena, Caroline actually brings out the best in Tyler and that's a big step up!

- Hee, I was so amused by Stefan's appearance at the end, especially his "By all means, carry on," gesturing at Damon and Elena together. Not a spoiler anymore because, well, he's there, but now we know that the new house guest who annoys Damon is Stefan, and to that, so much hee. I can't wait.

- *Sigh* I loved the mention of Pearl. And, aha!, now we know why Pearl was on Katherine's side; I always did wonder what the story was there. (Ooh, ooh, maybe we can haz a Pearl flashback, plz?!)

- Damnit, they killed "Not now, Dana."

- Hah, Rebekah is such a brat. Tis amusing.

- So Mikael is an original, yes, but which original is he? Hmm... I don't think it's the father now. Another brother?

- So, uhm, erm, are they chemistry-testing Bonnie and Matt? *Sigh* I can sorta see something happening because Jeremy is all caught up in this Anna/Vicki stuff, and Matt and Bonnie find themselves turning to the other, maybe something bad happens, Bonnie and/or Matt feel betrayed and whoops! The Vampire Diaries briefly remembers which network it's on and they fall into bed together. Yeah, I can see that happening. Wah! Jeremy and Bonnie!! My sunshine, rainbow and puppies couple!! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! (Calm down, it's just crazy talk! Just stupid, paranoid speculation!)

- That litte bit of Jeremy and Katherine interaction at the end there was interesting, and I wonder if that will continue to some degree which could help to lead to my crazy, baseless, stupid, paranoid speculation above. Honestly, I think Jeremy might stick with Katherine as long as he can because it finally allows him to be a part of it all significantly, and he's wanted that since the start of last season ... badly.

- So, Stefan answered my question from the premiere. Yes, rippers are just rippers, it's not a special nickname just for Stefan. butterfly said to me that it's clearly just Damon believing that Stefan is special. Aww.

- What a brilliant, and utterly reasonable (well, for a supernatural show, hee) way to have Klaus not want to kill Elena. Also, yeah, we got confirmation from Klaus that he promised Stefan he wouldn't kill Damon thus his still living. :)

- Speaking of Klaus, finally! He was pretty bad-ass in this episode. Very three-dimensional. He had some great quips ("Seniors you've been discovered/Dana, take a break"), some cute family moments with Rebekah, and that dimension came from his clear desire to just have Stefan freely and of his own will as his bro, as well as the final scene where Rebekah realized it's all about him not wanting to be alone, wanting a family. Plus, he was clever, not killing Elena right away until he knew for sure, figuring out the Original witch's plan. So, go Klaus. FINALLY! Joseph Morgan did a fantastic job.

- I want to offer up some praise for not only Nina Dobrev, but Ian Somerhalder here. That first scene with Damon and Katherine, it just really struck me how it was very much Katherine ... and NOT Elena, and I owe that, obviously, first and foremost to Nina's brilliant portrayal, but also I have to give props to Ian because he plays opposite Nina as Katherine so differently from how he plays opposite Nina as Elena. And adding a third layer on top of that, there is the fact that Nina Dobrev and Ian Somerhalder *are* in a romantic relationship together and have been for over 18 months now. That they are so professional and so damn good that they completely separate their real lives and the two characters so distinctly is awesome. As hot as the Damon/Katherine kiss was, it didn't actually do anything for me (hah, much like Katherine for Damon), but the sight of Damon carrying Elena down the hall, Damon telling Elena he would never leave her and her responding smile ... well, those two moments just melted my heart.

- Finally, THE most important thing about tonight's episode. THEY CUT DAMON'S HAIR! HALLELUJAH!! (And Ian Somerhalder was once more fully returned to his state of inhuman beauty. Thank you, thank you, thank you.)

Oh, this episode was so, so, so, sooooooooooo good. As much as I did love "The Birthday," "The Hybrid," as utterly awesome as "The End of the Affair" was, this is easily the best episode, and my favorite of the season so far. I loved it so very much. Well done, Mr. Narducci. Well done.

And next week: Damon teaches Elena how to fight; ie, the number one excuse that shows use to get UST-filled couples all sweaty and up in each other's dance spaces. Oh yeah! I. Can. Not. Wait. :D
Tags: damon salvatore, damon/elena, damon/jeremy, elena gilbert, ep discussion-tvd, ian somerhalder, jeremy/bonnie, nina dobrev, stefan salvatore, the vampire diaries, tv

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