Okay, so I've had time to vent and whine, and I'm willing to allow a less furious take on my main issues with last night's episode.
1.) RE: Elena's reaction to Damon's "I love you."
Everyone and their dog knows that Damon loves her, but it's unspoken for the most part (deathbed confessions notwithstanding), and this time, in the middle of a SITUATION Damon decides to just throw it in the conversation. As if he is her boyfriend, and he has that right to do so. I love the boy dearly, but actually, he does not. Despite how she does (unknowingly) encourage the murky nature of their relationship, Elena has made it verbally (and mostly physically) clear that she's not planning on going there. So, while I didn't like it, I can see where that quick, hurtful response from Elena came. She wasn't thinking, she is only eighteen and Damon loves SO fully, heavily and completely ... and it's just not something she's ready to deal with even in her own private thoughts. So to have it blurted out like that had to shake her up. And it did, and it led to her responding in a less than ideal manner.
2.) RE: The assumption that Damon has gone off and is self-destructive boy.
When Damon is hurt, Damon reacts ... badly. He kills people, he destroys things, he hurts anyone in his path ... as recent (in her point of view) as snapping Ric's neck, and chomping on Bill Forbes. Elena hurt damon ... badly. The next thing she saw him do was throw someone off of a balcony. She didn't see Kol playing deadly hand-grip with Matt's hand. She didn't know that Kol had plotted with Rebekah earlier to kill Matt. And in the quick explosion of Damon throwing Kol off the roof, it is believable that Matt was in as much shock as everyone else (and also, he was in pain so his head wasn't all there) so I can buy Elena being ushered off to deal with the fall-out and/or slipped away from the house to escape any potential fallback. Thus, she wouldn't know. Thus, she would -- not knowing the Matt-in-danger aspect of the equation -- just go with what she knows. Damon was hurt; Damon reacted rashly and went into self-destruction mode because that is what Damon has done in the past.
3.) RE: Elena ignoring EVERYTHING that Stefan has done and begging him to FEEL something.
Elena is, first and foremost, a denial girl. This was established in the Pilot. She stood in front of the mirror and practiced her denial speech. Elena is *especially* denial girl when it comes to Stefan. She doesn't know him truly, not all of him, and she obviously has yet to accept this fact. Stefan has been a complete asshole to her, but that's not HER Stefan, so she hsa clearly decided to separate HER Stefan from that jerk masquerading as Stefan in her mind, and in her heart. So all of the horrible things he's done, she's simply not holding against him when he acts like HER Stefan.
Now, I do not believe that she told him that she kissed Damon to make him jealous and get him back. I think she genuinely was trying to be honest and up-front. Did she want a reacion out of him? Of course, she did. She didn't get one, however, and so that was that. But since she told him, that did open the door to Stefan choosing (and I do believe it's been a subconscious thing) to open himself up again and to be HER Stefan: The Stefan that she loves and believes in and has rose-colored glasses on when she looks at him, so she doesn't look at Damon. And in this episode, it was the first time that she saw HER Stefan as the evening progressed, and so that girl that blindly loved him saw a chance to recapture the happy euphoria of pretense amidst the crazy that she shared with him, and she jumped on it.
Look at point one: She is only eighteen. Add to that, Stefan is her first love and they didn't just break up, they were ripped apart (by Stefan's choices, but still), and so the chance to get back HER Stefan, and get back to that bright spot in her life is completely understandable. I don't like it; I don't want it. I much prefer my strong, awesome, kick-ass Elena, but it *does* make logical, character-based sense and I've always maintained that if it makes sense character-wise (even if it's bad for my couple), I can accept it. I was too upset as a Damon-girl, and Damon/Elena-girl to see that last night. But this IS in character.
And I look at it this way, Damon did a lot of growing season 02 (as Elena has done this season), but he also regressed, two steps forward, a few steps back, etc. and so on because that's how growth (that eventually sticks) generally works. Same thing with Elena too. She's regressing. I don't like it, I don't want it, but I didn't like it or want it with Damon either, but it was necessary to get him to where he's getting now. SO MUCH BETTER!
sumeria added another option:
[...] it didn't feel to me "romantic". Elena's been going through some rough shit. Shit that I imagine she wishes she didn't have to feel/think about *all the time*. She said that she's been trying not to feel, and it's not working. It felt to me like her trying to empathize with where he is, and trying to reach out to a friend that she doesn't want to see destroy himself forever. " And upon reflection of this take, I recalled -- and this is key for a show that LOVES its parallels -- Elena did the EXACT same thing to Damon when she was trying to get through to him in "Homecoming" (hands-on-the-face) and she wasn't trying to be romantic there at all. She was trying to a be a good friend getting through to him. It was the same thing here. The difference? It worked with Damon; it didn't with Stefan. So if that's a parallel (and I certainly flashed back to that "Homecoming" scene), well, Damon = 1, Stefan = 0 because it worked with Damon.4.) RE: Stefan respecting Elena's choices, and Damon not.
This frustrates me because Stefan doesn't respect Elena's choices unless he wants to get in her good graces/keep her happy/dig at Damon. And respecting her choices should not equal walk into a situation where you very well COULD DIE! Damon, on the other hand, DOES respect Elena's choices ... when they do not involve her walking into a situation where she very well COULD DIE! However, for some reason, this is a crazy delusion that Elena (and consequently Stefan and Damon) have been living under. Elena, although I love her dearly, is now very much showing signs of hypocrisy that I did not see in "Ghost World." She (and Stefan) make choices for others all of the time (generally out of love, and in Stefan's case, out of revenge too). For some reason, they both seem to think that it's okay when *they* do it, but when Damon does it, he's an controlling dick who doesn't respect the agency of others. Again, sucky, I don't like it ... BUT, it is very, very much in character for both characters. Elena is not perfect and this is one of her biggest imperfections.
5.) RE: Caroline and her ability to forgive and love everyone except for Damon.
I'm just going to copy what rose_marie_rose said here in reaction to my episode reaction post because she did really nail it for me.
Caroline has been interacting with Damon for two plus seasons, there's a lot of history there. There's a lot of patterns to break out of (plus again, the lifetime pass for her, in my opinion). But even though Klaus has done WAY WORSE things than Damon, she hasn't been around him really at all. So even though intellectually she knows he's all evilly, her first experiences with him PERSONALLY have not been that cut and dry. So there are no real patterns established. She doesn't really know how to react to all this.This works.
And as much as she had moments of softening with Klaus, she was still giving him shit left and right, and she was still fighting for Tyler's freedom. Plus Klaus is hardcore pursuing her, telling her she's the beautifullest girl in all the land, and I think that's something that's really hard for someone with Caroline's insecurity/relationship issues to resist completely. [...] And I honestly think Caroline is wearing blinders where Stefan is concerned, because of her loyalty to him as a friend/mentor to her. And I have to assume that she's talking about hypothetical-fixed-in-the-future-Stefan.
Who, because of her abusive past with Damon, she still prefers as a romantic prospect for Elena. Caroline has ZERO objectivity in this situation, and for me, that's her prerogative till the end of time when it comes to Damon.
In conclusion ...
It does ALL make character-based sense. And if it's all leading to the following: Elena waking up and realizing that she can't jump back into that pattern with Stefan because he's more than just *that* guy she loved. And, Elena starting to acknowledge that what's been happening with Damon is a two-way street, and whether she wants to admit it or not, she HAS been encouraging his love for her with her words, actions, reactions and responses to him. On top of that, someone somewhere does FINALLY need to cut Damon some slack, and give Stefan some WTH! for his actions ... because these two things NEED to happen. If it takes Damon walking away for a bit and letting them deal with issues/problems without him, and him staying mostly out of Elena's life and having her realize that he does matter to her for the former to happen, okay then! As for Stefan ... really, show, Stefan has got to face some REAL consequences for his actions this season. I'll even let the killing all the innocents with Klaus (to protect those he loves) and stuff he did under compulsion slide, but:
- Choosing to kill Andie as he did to make a point.
- Walking away from Damon, Elena and Mystic Falls once free of compulsion because he's a selfish bastard who couldn't deal.
- Treating Elena HORRIBLY to prove that he didn't care.
- Starting a war with Klaus, and setting the events in motion that led to Jeremy nearly being killed.
- Force-feeding Elena his blood, and threatening to kill her on the very spot where her parents died (for revenge!).
He needs to be held accountable (and apologizing for feeding Elena his blood, but not acknowledging what came after was particularly loathsome, in my opinion). There HAS to be consequences for his actions, actions that he WILLINGLY chose to take that hurt many people. Just because he's feeling bad about it now doesn't excuse those actions. There must be fallout. We'll see.
So, there's my much calmer, more reasoned reaction to the issues I had with last night's episode. Let's see where we go from here. :)