So, I don't know if it was the complete lack of Damon and Elena (I iz sad!) or that overall this wasn't an overwhelming episode for me, but I don't really have much to say. I'm just gonna do some bullet-points and there won't be much.
- First of all, I do want to say one thing with regards to Damon and Elena. I liked A LOT that in an episode that talked about Damon, mentioned redemption, etc., and Damon making a positive choice to let someone in, be the better "man" (to Ric), it had NOTHING TO DO WITH ELENA. This helped to confirm my own personal belief that Damon is not changing or becoming better FOR Elena. I think it's BECAUSE of Elena's influence. It's like what Andie said ... love changes a person, makes them better. It's like, for me, Elena has ignited that desire that has always been in Damon to be better, but until he's ready, until he wants to, it's not going to happen. Because he's not doing it for her, he's doing it for him, he's allowing himself that belief that he can be better because he's acknowledging that the desire is there. And that desire has been brought to the forefront because of his love for Elena. But it's about *his* desire to change, and *his* choice to do so.
- Okay, now, Stefan and Elena. So, I felt that even the 'good' stuff with them wasn't all that good. I mean, sure the symbol of his hope wasn't destroyed (and funny how the necklace is now the symbol of Stefan's hope * -- as opposed to the unbreakable bond between Stefan and Elena), but Elena pretty much had no qualms about it being destroyed, just when. Also, I did find it interesting (and hopeful, snerk!) that Elena never said 'I love you' as a way to bring him back. Sure, at the very end after they were done trying for the day, she said she wouldn't love a ghost for the rest of her life, but it was about what she wouldn't do, not what she would. That I do think is significant.
As was her storyline with Stefan paralleling Jeremy's with Anna ... which ended with Anna letting Jeremy go because it was what was best for him. And Stefan is an addict, he always will be, there will always be setbacks. He is a vampire who really can not and most definitely SHOULD NOT be with a human. (Which is why Katherine or Rebekah or, oh, I don't know, Caroline would be so much better for him. Yeah, let's go with Caroline in the long run!) So, it would be best for Stefan to let Elena go (as he said he should in episode three of fricking LAST season). On the other hand, Damon has no problem being with a human, and it not effecting who he is or wants to be. (By the way, more on Jeremy and Anna later -- it's not hearts and flowers.)
* I wonder if the reason that the necklace -- coming from his time with Rebekah and Klaus -- symbolizes hope is maybe because that was a Stefan who chose to turn off his humanity switch and thus still allowed himself to care and feel. By having the necklace symbolize his hope (and us knowing that it's tied to Rebekah), it's possibly about how Stefan realized that even with his Ripper persona intact he could still find someone(s) who loved him. People who could accept him fully for who he is, and something tells me that as much as Damon has never had that, Stefan hasn't had that as a vampire either. So that's the hope part ... but yeah, it's tied into that family unit he found with Rebekah and Klaus.
Now, I will concede that this episode did give more hope to the Stefan/Elena contingency that's been seen since the season started, but I still don't think it was much really and can be seen that she's reaching her tether, and their stuff can just as easily be taken as signs that they don't and shouldn't last (see above paragraphs). Yes, Stefan's "hope" wasn't smashed to smithereens, but that hope (we know -- something that neither Lexi nor Elena know) is tied up in his love for Rebekah, not Elena. After all, that necklace as a symbol of his hope showed up a LONG time before Elena did, meaning the significance of it as his hope was attached to the vague attachment to Rebekah. So, in addition to it not being about Stefan and Elena's bond, I'm also scoring that as a plus in the 'we will get Stefan/Rebekah explored' column! Booyah!
- distant_autumn has mentioned it a bit, but they are REALLY laying it on thick now in equating Lexi (Stefan's lifelong PLATONIC friend) with Elena. I am down with that. Especially since I like Elena A LOT more than Lexi. Yeah, I still ... I just don't get it. I do not get the Lexi love. Nope.
- Okay, my favorite ghostly return: PEARL!!!!!!!!! (Damn, Kelly Hu is gorgeous!) I just wish we'd gotten more with her, but I will enjoy my few seconds because I love her so and I will take what I can get! I did like that it meant that both she and Anna would have their peace. (I mean, that's how I took it.)
- My second favorite ghostly return: Grams! I loved that the connection was still there, so strong, so beautiful between her and Bonnie. I loved how this new writer to the show seamlessly captured the character and her relationship with Bonnie. The first scene had me smiling through teary eyes, and when she took her hand at the end, and they spouted Latin together and then she told Bonnie that she was "stronger than all of this. I'm so proud of you," I was like ooh, so beautiful. LOVE!
- Not so much full of love? Fucking Jeremy. Per my notes: Jeremy is a dick, a douche and a dirtbag. First of all, what the hell? Yeah, he cared a lot about Anna, but VICKI was the one he was so crazy in love with. Vicki is the one that he was using Anna to get to most of the time he was with her. I didn't really notice it so much last week because I was wrapped up in the overwhelming awesome and the Damon/Elena-squeefest, but it really hit hard in this one. Not one regret that he didn't see Vicki again, didn't get to touch her? I don't deny that he did care greatly, even loved Anna, but to just completely ignore the importance of Vicki? Not cool. But, no, he's all about Anna, "I loved Anna, I always loved her," and then little asswipe kissed her ... when he has a perfectly awesome girlfriend! Jerk. Jerky jerky JERK! I was SO glad that Bonnie told him that he had to respect her enough to not bother explaining it to her because she was right. There is no explanation, anything he said would be lame-ass justification for his shitty behavior. Go Bonnie. And goodbye to my puppies, rainbow and sunshine couple. Bonnie? You deserve better. You and Matt officially have my blessing. :)
ETA: I liked what silviakundera said below: That "Damon's compelling made him move past her death and put him at peace with losing her, so there wasn't that unfinished business that he had going on with Anna. Also, I feel like he should have more perspective now about his choices during the summer before S1/early S1 [...]The whole dysfunctional clusterfuck that was Jeremy/Vicky looks less romantic when you're not always high, self-destructive, and drowning with grief about your parents."
That really helped my take on it. I mean, I do still have a wee problem in that he *still* wanted to be with Vicki after he was with Anna, BUT, he has also been in a healthy relationship with Bonnie so the complete unhealthiness with Vicki would definitely be more apparent. So yeah, this works. He was still a total ass to Bonnie, though.
Back to Anna and what she did for Jeremy, I guess it was good, but I just never cared enough about them as a couple, plus I was too annoyed at Jeremy for being such a lousy-ass boyfriend that I wasn't moved at all by her letting him go. I'll be perfectly happy with it in retrospect if it's helping to foreshadow Elena letting Stefan go, though!
- Still on the ghosts: It was kinda cool to see nasty ole Frederick! And even cooler seeing Caroline be all bad-ass on a whole slew of the ghostly tomb vampires. Good thing, of course, that the spell was broken before nasty ole Frederick could take Caroline down. The main ghost/vampire I would have loved to see return? JENNA! Man, they better be saving her for later somehow/someway down the line. JENNA!! WAH!
- Speaking of Ric's former loves ... I think it would have been cool had Isobel shown up as well. Maybe popping up to say 'hey, Ric!' Of course, he was preoccupied patching things up with Damon. Whee!!! Oh, man, seriously, my favorite line of the night was: "We're not friends! I don't like you anymore." Could he have been any less convincing? Could he have sounded any less like a five-year old? I don't think so. Man, I laughed so hard. Rewound it a few times. I will say, though, that I don't get Ric's whole 'you tried to kill me.' No, he didn't. Damon made sure that Ric had the ring before he snapped his neck. Damon would never actually try to kill Ric. And I still am kinda really pissed off that there was no acknowledgment that Ric was a dick to Damon FIRST! But, but, but, but, I am still quite, quite thrilled that they made up. YAY! It was lovely, very, very lovely. Damon's smile at Ric, telling him that he didn't mean the crappy, recycled apology when he gave it to Mason. I was just ... aww, I love these two so much. Yay! Yay! Yay!!!!!
I do wonder what we'll happen now if Ric walks in on any Damon/Elena moments since he is acknowledging that he is Damon's BFF again. Hmm.....
- I was sad that Damon clearly doesn't trust Liz enough to call her though :(
- I really, really, really hate Damon's hair. Why, show, why? The dye job looks so, so, so, sooooooooooooooooo fake. Ian Somerhalder has BROWN hair! Not black. It is obvious when you dye it inky black that it is NOT his natural color! GAWD! Oh, Ian, I actually long for the summer hiatus sometimes just so I can see your hair resort to normalcy.
- Caroline even in a small role was just all-around awesome. Love her.
- *Sigh* I'm still waiting for acknowledgement from the peanut gallery that Stefan is actually worse than Damon. I know, it will likely never happen, so stop dreaming. Although, I will say that I was surprised that Bonnie uttered the words "Damon is right" and that neither she nor Caroline trash-talked Damon even after he left. There were a few grimaces, but overall, I was quite pleased. And it was a pre-clip shown earlier this week, but Damon letting Bonnie know about the ghosts was just as awesome the second time around. I do wonder if anyone else was as amused as I was that he didn't have to say a word. He drove up, and both Caroline and Bonnie immediately began walking towards him because you know HE'S THE BOSS! Then of course, "Greetings. Blondie. Witchy."
- Speaking of those three characters, it was weird seeing Bonnie and Caroline rifling through his room, I don't know why, but it was.
- So no Klaus or Tyler, and Matt's appearance was just one dinky scene. :( Of course, my pain for lack of character-age was pretty much all tied up in NO REBEKAH!!!!!!!!! WAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!
- Or Katherine?!?!? What, they're just gonna leave us hanging?!?! Dude! I want to see how Queen Kat gets herself out of this one.
- Hmm, so I guess Lexi's hallucination-effect on Stefan is further proof that vamps can do that to each other. We've seen it with Damon (to Stefan early on, and then Rose on her deathbed) and Katherine (to Stefan) and Stefan (to Katherine).
- Yeah, only took a few scenes. I'm back to not being all that hot and bothered over Taylor Kinney. Eh. However, I did love Mason's line that he knows Damon would do anything for his brother, awww.
- *Sigh* Well, it was kinda a lame ending, sorry. I mean knowing what it is (from the preview for next week) made it cooler, but still... They've had better.
- I liked that the only credited guest stars were Malese Jow and Taylor Kinney, ghosts we'd already seen. All of the others were uncredited so even the die-hards didn't exactly know which ones would show up. So cool. (I knew about Lexi, had heard Pearl (!) rumored, but had no clue about Grams or Frederick. (So happy about Grams!)
- Ooh, ooh, I loved Caroline's "Miss Sheila." So Southern.
Not an awesome episode, but then the last two weeks were stupendous, so I won't complain because it was a very good episode. Definitely better than "Disturbing Behavior." I think it fits nicely within the range of episodes 1 and 2 ("The Birthday" and "The Hybrid") -- which were both great, but the lack of Damon/Elena-ness did kinda ding it for me. Hey, I'm a couple-girl, they're my couple, it helps my love of episodes when I get good couple stuff. Still, the Damon/Ric was stuff was wonderful! Damon was pretty much awesome for the little we saw of him, same for Caroline. Bonnie was fabulous, even if Jeremy was a douchebag, and PEARL! I got to see PEARL! again! :D