Not as dynamic as last week, no, but this was still a nice, strong episode that was a bit filler-y, but unlike episode four, was a damn awesome filler episode. We got a few nice friendship moments, sibling moments, and romantic moments amongst different couples. And Stefan being a d-bag. And quite an amusing one at that. I am curious though, what is the deal with his humanity switch being off? Damon had his switch off and didn't forget loving Katherine. Stefan had his on in the 20's and loved Rebekah (and Nick(laus). Isobel had hers off, but clearly still cared for Ric, and Elena. Katherine clearly never even had a humanity switch, and she still loves Stefan (and Damon to a degree) as much as she's capable. Is it because Stefan's switch was compelled off? Is that the difference? At this point, it's the only thing that I can think of that makes sense. But hey, it's giving us an oh-so-amusing Stefan so I can't complain. :)
I have to be honest, I had Stefan/Elena-shaped fears about this episode. I really expected to see a bunch of longing looks, glimpses of Stefan's love for Elena breaking through, Elena unable to control her trembling heart when near him. And yet ... except for that one moment -- when she was a bit liquored up -- we actually didn't get any of that. In fact, if I were a Stefan/Elena fan, I'd be quite perturbed after this episode. Why? Because there were so many moments that were dang-near flat-out re-enactments, or very similar in feel and tone to early Stefan/Elena scenes that built up their "epic" love. It was as if by going back there, but putting a toxic spin on the scenes, it was stripping away the heart at the beginning of their relationship.
They bump into each other outside the bathroom as they did in Elena's first remembered meeting with Stefan. This time, she's anxious, wary and wants away from him. He's snarky and uncaring. Outside on the football field where she watched him with stars in her eyes, and he gave her the necklace, he's a jerk-off douche-bag to an unsuspecting kid, and he callously calls her a human bloodbag and then (hilariously) faux-cluelessly asks "what?" when she walks away in disgust. The bonfire scenes were reminiscent of their bonding moments in the Pilot at the falls, but this time, Stefan was talking down to her (we know what a lightweight you are, -- uh, no, Stefan, actually she's not ... ask Damon, someone who actually *does* know), chiding her, and calling attention to her jealousy over another girl close to his brother.
The one bit where there seemed to be a moment of connection (when he caught her after she "fell" from the bleachers), lasted only a few seconds, and he was already setting her down, pulling away when he was shot by Ric. And for Elena, while she was clearly caught a bit in that moment there, (a) she *was* playing him, and (b) she had been drinking so that effected her as well. Not to say that it wasn't there and real on her end, but it was brought on by much more than just her going all trembly over him.
And then finally there was the final scene between the two which felt familiar to me -- I found myself thinking of the scene leading to their first kiss in 1.02 -- where it, again, seemed as if Elena and he both were caught in the moment, but neither actually were. I did realize Stefan wasn't; I expected him to laugh in her face, but I found his "do you know how pathetic you sound?" better; I admit it; I laughed then. But even better was Elena staking him just to do it. While she wasn't playing him as she had earlier, it was obvious that she didn't expect to actually get through and was just testing him, but was ready for any negative response to him. And even better than that? That Ric was standing there the entire time, taking this in. Which was an interesting contrast to the little bit of the scene he just walked in on with Damon and Elena.
Speaking of ... yeah, Damon and Elena. They truly seem to be in a new phase of their relationship: Doing the mating dance. Their scenes tonight -- especially the latter -- very much had the flavor of unresolved sexual tension that was getting close to resolution, unspoken like, and next-door to flirting in the first scene, flat-out flirting in the latter. It wasn't a gentle, teasing flirting either. It was a weighted, we know what we're saying, we know it's there, we're not acknowledging it, but it's only a matter of time kind of flirting.
The only moment where Elena seemed taken aback at all with Damon in this episode was in their first scene was when he put her hand to his chest. And I think that right there was the turning point. Prior to that, they had been acting as they have when walking that line. He teased and snarked at her, she puffed and snarked back. He called her a few names, she decided to get serious and pulled out the "do it for me" card. She explained why she needed him to do this, and maybe how she explained it is what led to his action. I expected Elena to make some comment about wanting to save Stefan, wanting to believe in him, blah, blah, blah, but instead she made her statement about wanting to stand up for herself and she put Stefan in the enemy camp, on the opposite side, as someone she didn't want to see her weakness. Then Damon flipped the script.
That's when he pulled her hand to his chest, and that's when we got her "what are you doing?" She didn't sound angry, just ... taken aback because Damon's never gone the overt physical route with her in these instances. If he touches her, it's with a gentle, near-hesitancy. There was no hesitation, and he wasn't rough, but he was firm, holding her hand to him. Then, of course, he pulled her to him, giving her key vampire kill information, but really the information wasn't all that important in that moment. Heck, I'd be surprised if Elena even remembered half of what he said.
She was all caught up in his body pressed to hers, him talking low in her ear, his hand on her bare skin. She was breathing heavily, so lost in everything of him; honestly, girl looked pretty turned on. And when he let her go and she faced him, her eyes were locked on his lips, I do believe that we were supposed to believe that she was about to kiss him. Then Damon had to be SO STUPID! and say "my brother." Up to (and a few seconds past) that moment, she was THISCLOSE to kissing him, but a second or two after he said that and her brain caught up with the word, she looked away from his mouth and the moment was lost. Damnit. Damon!
But we weren't done! Which surprised me, because not only was I expecting some heavy Stefan/Elena anvils in this episode, I figured this one scene would be the only significant Damon/Elena scene, but we actually got the final one between the two. And this is the one where that mating dance aspect really struck me, and also their honesty with one another. Which I love SO much. They actually do not play games with one another. Elena wasn't ever playing games with Damon before (with the exception of "Bad Moon Rising," but that was Damon's exception too -- he lied to her for the first and only time in that episode); she was lying to herself, and never intentionally led him on. Now, she knows, he knows, and they've clearly turned a corner. I think it was a combination of her acknowledgment that she expected Damon to be there for her, Elena not taking the necklace back, her reaction/acceptance of his declaration, and what happened earlier between the two, that physicality.
And because of that corner turned, that honesty between them is manifesting itself in an interesting way. Damon and Elena may skirt around the actual words, but they are very clear to each other what they mean. Elena was clearly jealous of that moment she caught between him and Rebekah. She didn't flat-out say it to him, but she also was very clear in letting him know without saying so that it got to her. And in turn, Damon made it clear that he was very aware of what Elena was doing at the same time, and then used her own choice of words (faking it) to let her know that the moment with Rebekah she witnessed meant absolutely nothing. With that statement and the look he gave her, he was letting her know that it's her, it's still her, he's all about her. And her reaction? She liked hearing that. Then it was Ric's turn to cockblock! Geez! (Loved Damon rolling his eyes when Ric popped up. Hee!)
Which of course led to Elena's gentle musings to Alaric about his friendship with Damon. She said that she thinks Damon misses being Alaric's friend, but I think it was implied that Alaric misses being Damon's friend too. And I'm optimistic that we got enough references to these two tonight that their relationship will be on the mend soon enough. To me, it felt like almost a reverse of the events of "Bad Moon Rising" when Elena was mad at Damon, and Ric was a bit of referee between the two, with Elena determined to never forgive Damon. And, of course, she did. So Ric totally will too. Yay!
Moving on to the ghost story, so I guess Vicki is the bad ghost, and Anna is the good one. Okay, then. Vicki was definitely in character, at least. Not really a bad person, just so selfish in wanting what she wants, never mind the cost. Her scenes with Matt (before she clocked him) were a continuation of the sweetness of their last one in the last episode. I just wish that it didn't have to end with Matt on the losing side again. I know that Elena has lost more, and that the others have been through more crazy chaos, but I think I feel for Matt so much because the majority of his losses are based on real-life, his sister died, his mother deserted him, his girlfriend dumped him, the other he lost through the crazy -- even though he treated Caroline badly, and he feels like all of his friends have lied to and betrayed him. That's a LOT for a person to experience in one year, let alone a 17/18-year old boy who doesn't even have most of the supernatural hijinks to give him a sense of awe that is undeniably there despite the crazy chaos.
Still, it looks like Matt is going to win pretty soon. First of all, Caroline still has feelings for him, and things may look momentarily rosy with Tyler again, but they are clearly, clearly going to go to hell in a hand basket and she may find herself turning to Matt because who else does she have? Stefan is being a Ripper Douche, Elena is dealing with Stefan, the Ripper Douche, and Damon and her now-undeniable FEELINGS! for him. Bonnie is dealing with Jeremy and his ghostly girlfriend
My one legitimate complaint with this episode actually revolves somewhat around this. I feel like they made Bonnie a wee bit out of character in order to justify Jeremy so quick to rush into spiritual bliss with Anna, and further along this budding Bonnie/Matt relationship. Bonnie is a pretty dang understanding person, and she's been an incredibly understanding girlfriend. I just can't buy that she would be this upset, this stand-offish, this flat-out bitchy to Jeremy about the fact that GHOSTS are haunting him. Even if they are girlfriend ghosts, and they are brought on by him thinking of them ... hello! GIRLFRIENDS who are GHOSTS! How could he NOT be thinking of them? So, yeah, that did bug a little. (But Bonnie looked really pretty tonight. I liked her hairtstyle.)
(Note: My one non-legitimate complaint: I did NOT like Rebekah's hairstyle. Why did they have to straighten her hair too? I loved her full, bouncy waves. :Pouts:)
Now for some various couple commentaries -- First up, Rebekah and Stefan, Stefan and Caroline, Caroline and Tyler and Tyler and Rebekah. I was quite pleased that it was pretty clear that Rebekah is still into Stefan, however, she is not the type of girl who is going to sit around pining. If he's not going to give her the time of day, she's going to find her fun elsewhere. She's got time; they've got time. On the other hand, I am putting my Stefan/Caroline dreams on the shelf for a bit since they obviously have absolutely no plans to venture anywhere near those two anytime soon. There wasn't even acknowledgement between them beyond one anxious look from Caroline in even their one scene they shared. *sigh* Because Caroline is, of course, all wrapped up in Tyler -- who has returned to douche-ville thanks to the siring.
I just ... I can't help it. I swear, I'm trying. I love Caroline, I love Candice Accola, I like Tyler a lot, but the two together just don't do it for me. I try, I enjoy the dialogue, the story being told between them, but at the end of the scene (hell, sometimes, it's halfway through the scene), I find that I just don't care. My finger itches to hit the fast-forward button because I feel like they are taking up screen time that could be going to ANY OTHER STORY GOING RIGHT NOW. *sigh* Which leaves us with Tyler and Rebekah. Hmm, at first I thought that Rebekah's interest was sexual in Tyler (due to her "needs" comment to Stefan, and how she played the beginning of that last scene with Tyler), but when she brought out the compelled, bitten victim, it did make me wonder. Is this just about doing what Klaus wants her to do, ie; make Tyler the best asset for Klaus he can be? I don't know. I guess we'll see.
Actually, I was struck a bit by that ending with Tyler there because it seems like there is a slight parallel between his trajectory and Stefan's right now that may wind up in a collision course leaving only one standing. I dunno. Just a wandering thought that stuck.
And then there is the last pair: Damon and Katherine. Not much with them, but I liked their phone call; amusing as always. Of course, Katherine almost always amuses me. I loved her "yummy" about the mouse held over Mikael, and her petulant yelling, "Mikael, wake up!" Hee. Oh, Katherine, and erm, Katherine's not dead dead, right? She's just indisposed a bit, right? I mean, if she was dead dead, that would have been the final act and really shockingly obviously so. So, yeah, NOT DEAD DEAD. No. That? I refuse to accept. By the way, I don't think she was being stupid with Mikael, why would she imagine for a second that a vampire feeds on other vampires. That was just .. WHU!??!?!
Phew! Random thoughts time --
- One of my favorite moments was when Damon vervain-ed Tyler. I loved it so because that was a perfect Damon Salvatore neck-snap moment if ever there was one. And he didn't do it. I don't think it even crossed his mind. Three episode ago (had Tyler been hybrid-ed), he probably would have, but he didn't do it now. Looks like Ric's brief banishment of his boo (it will be brief!) is doing the trick in teaching Damon to play nicer with his teammates!
- My second favorite (non Damon/Elena aspect) of the episode? How strong Elena wants to be, and is becoming. I mean, she's always had an amazing strength, but I love seeing her really begin to own it and respect that about herself. Embrace it and kick ass with it. Go, Elena!
- I'm glad that the show officially dealt with the sire issue. Some people have been convinced that because other shows have the sire mythology -- ie, the sire has a parent/child connection to their "offspring" -- it applies to The Vampire Diaries. Even though we've been given no indication that it does. So, yeah, nicely handled, show.
- Rebekah continues to be awesome. We have GOT to have a scene of Rebekah and Katherine. We just have to! Although, I was a bit peeved with her calling Damon "rude." Stefan was, but Damon wasn't. She's a stranger, walked into his house and acted as if she belonged there. He was acting perfectly polite under the circumstances actually.
- Wow, Stefan actually saved Elena's life. It only took his humanity switch being turned off for him to be effectively effective. Oh, Stefan.
- Whee! We got Damon and his tidying up. I love when we get that. When he commented on the brunettes owing him a new Persian rug, and Stefan said "we," I automatically thought, 'Oh, Stefan, we all know that Damon's been the one taking care of the clean-up around here. He gets dibs and ownership rights, thank you very much.' Damon and his happy homemaker actions never don't make me grin with delight.
- I thought it when he first showed up, but over the course of his time on the show, the effect faded, however with absence, the loins grow fonder and Taylor Kinney's reappearance struck me anew at his uber-hotness. And, yeah, this is one ass-kicking from someone I DO think that Damon deserves. Working with Katherine or not, he wouldn't have gone after Damon as he had, had Damon not been so strike first. Plus, yeah, REALLY HOT!
- Erm, where was Elena working out? I am confuzzled at that location spot. But, but, but, it is a place I've never seen her with Stefan and I have a weird thing about wanting firsts for Damon and Elena to not be in a place where something similar has happened with Stefan, so yes, they can have their first real kiss there. (Sex will be in Damon's bedroom, of course. Of course.)
- Re: The marshmallow scene. So, Claire Holt makes the second person (after Candice Accola) who has better chemistry with Paul Wesley than Ian Somerhalder, in my book.
- Damon had some awesome lines: Calling Elena "Buffy," "Warrior Princess," and Rebekah "BarbieKlaus," and "Blonde Ponytail." Hee! Plus, telling Elena that Stefan was "shaping his hair." HAH!
- Oh wardrobe, so subtle. Stefan in dark colors, and Damon in light grey.
So, yeah, great episode. I'm not surprised. It was co-written by my TVD-goddess Caroline Dries, and Julie Plec. And that ending was awesome. My jaw-dropped, I was all 'whooaaah! all the ghosts are coming back! AWESOME!' And did I mention how hot Taylor Kinney looked? And to be fair, Ian looked REALLY hot too, loved him especially in that final scene with Elena. whoo boy!
Okay, before I finish, I want to be serious once more for a moment. I know that the belief is that Stefan/Elena are the *it* endgame for many (whether they want that outcome or not), but last week's episode and this one really seem to be pointing to the fact that the show *is* setting it up for everyone to begin to realize that such is not the case. That, in fact, Damon and Elena are the root-for, endgame couple. Last week was so pronounced in the contrast between how Stefan and Damon reacted/acted with regards to Elena in so many big and small ways, and all pointed positively towards Damon, and negatively towards Stefan. Now, this week, we had all of these scenes casting a negative flashback on earlier, happier Stefan/Elena moments, and Damon and Elena in this markedly new phase of their relationship.
I don't know, I mean, honestly, it is what makes the most sense. Whether intentional or not, Damon and Elena's trajectory has wound up creating the more compelling, epic and true of love stories, while Stefan and Elena grew stagnant very quickly. Any story they could come up for them basically would be a rehash of what she's already gone through with Damon, and I can't see the show repeating itself that way. Plus, the bottom-line is that Damon and Elena are incredibly popular and much, MUCH more popular than are Stefan and Elena. In fact, even taking Damon and Elena out of the equation, Stefan and Elena aren't that popular on their own. Honestly, all logic, reason, organic, narrative flow, chemistry, and business-sense (due to their uber-popularity) lead to the reality that, yes, Damon and Elena should be the endgame couple. And everything that we are seeing on screen lately, especially the last few episodes, and it's been growing since the midway point of season 01 (in my opinion) and really hitting home towards the end of last season, points to that very fact: Damon and Elena ARE the endgame couple. This is THEIR journey. It's what simply makes sense.
Phew. Okay, all done. I love my show. That is all. :)