Arabian (arabian) wrote,
Arabian
arabian

3.16 - '1912' (The Vampire Diaries)

Due to my emotional self being all emotional regarding certain attachments to this show, I've decided to hold off writing my reviews until Fridays for now, so as to let the episode simmer, and allow a rewatch. Knee-jerk reactions brought on by those emotional attachments generally lead me to writing up follow-up posts after I've calmed down, so ... that's the new plan. :) As for this one, here be my thinky thoughts ...

I really, really, really liked this episode last night. This morning, upon further thought, rewatching, and breaking this post down, I find that I more than really, really, really liked it. I loved it. Like a LOT! This was a FANTASTIC Damon episode, one of the best, I think. It's interesting though, in that this is the first awesome Damon-centric episode that didn't feature him being emotionally ripped to shreds. Not to say that there still wasn't pain for my beloved bad boy, however there was a running current of acceptance of who and what he is and for the first time it included both his good and bad qualities. Of course, he still tends to think less of himself, but it's coming from a place of honesty based on the reactions and actions of others around him. Telling of this was his one line that, aside from the aww-worthy inducement regarding the brothers Salvatore, distinctly expressed where Damon's state of mind is right now. Both Liz and Elena called Ric Damon's friend, and Stefan even referred to Ric as Damon's "best friend." Elena flat-out told Damon that he needed to stop pushing people away or he would have no one, implying that he still does at this point. Yet near episode's end, Damon told Stefan: "Right now, you're all I got."

Him saying this, after multiple references to Damon being Ric's friend, to Elena saying in so many words that he has people (ie, Elena) who care, told me that Damon truly does believe that once saint Stefan re-appeared, Elena was all about him, and that he really had never had a chance with her. He was just a replacement as he said in "Disturbing Behavior." And, on top of that, despite everyone saying that Damon is Ric's friend, he obviously doesn't feel the reverse is true, and that he has Ric on his side anymore. If he had, he would have fought more to help his friend, and he would have been there comforting Elena, trying to help her through this latest trial. Instead, he kept his distance because he believes now that he only has Stefan, no more Elena, no more Ric. That's a far cry from his attitude in "Ghost World" that implied that he had the both of them in his corner. Now, it does appear as if he doesn't believe that anymore ... he only has Stefan.

Which is really, really, really good for Stefan. Because, as we all know, the boy never learned moderation, and he needs to ... desperately. And Damon is probably the only person who can teach him because:

(a) he knows his brother better than anyone. He knows when he's lying to others, to himself; he knows when he's genuinely suffering, and when he's being manipulative, consciously or not. For instance, when Stefan tried to play the 'I don't care about Elena' card, Damon was all 'yeah, no, we're not playing that game.' And thank goodness for Damon pushing through Stefan's brooding, because the timing of Elena coming upon them at that moment was really, really bad. I am so thrilled that instead of choosing to use that moment as a setback for Stefan's road to recovery, it instead became a hump that the love between the brothers overcame.

(b) Being his brother (and loving him), he will have the patience to stand by through all the ups and downs. You forgive a sibling so much more than you would just about anyone else.

(c) Outside of Caroline -- whose A-type personality/control-freak nature as a human which was magnified as a vampire aided her in keeping those impulses in check -- and Elijah -- who is 1,000 years old and clearly had a Zen attitude as a human, Damon is the most in control than any other vampire we met. I know that sounds crazy to say about Damon, but it is true. It's not the thirst for blood, or the hunger for power that controls him ... it's his very human emotions. That is what sends him into a tailspin, but the good and the bad that comes with being a vampire he has complete control over. He can live off of blood bags with no problem, he can take a little sip after a long hiatus away from the fresh stuff, and casually comment that it tastes good, but it doesn't control him at all. So he can teach Stefan that kind of control because he can pull him away (as we've seen him do twice now) without being tempted himself at all.

(d) He's stronger, or at least as strong (when Stefan's drinking) as Stefan physically so he can pull him off without much effort and can keep him from going too far.

To recap: Damon knows Stefan inside and out, and loves him enough to put up with his mood swings. Damon is in control of his vampirism, and is strong enough physically to keep his baby brother from going too far. There's really no one better equipped to teach Stefan moderation. And I adored how they told, and showed all of this throughout the episode. And I loved that they had Damon say a variation on something I had been randomly thinking earlier about the fact that Stefan has to figure out what he's going to do because he can't do the cold turkey thing. He WILL fall off the wagon again and here comes a new string of dead bodies. He can't really do one extreme or the other; he needs to find that middle ground. Lexi, for all her good intentions, did not know Stefan inside and out, good and bad, to understand what he needs. Like everyone who meets Stefan, she bought into the image he projects of himself. The good, long-suffering soul who wishes that he wasn't a vampire because it's so very wrong. Damon knows, and we know, that such is not the case. He plays at not being a vampire because he can't control it. He has no problem casually using and taking advantage of the powers vampirism gives him. He simply can't fully access them because of his lack of control ... which leads to him committing heinous murder upon murder.

Lexi clearly didn't get that. She thought it was about controlling him, teaching him to deny himself human blood because that is the only way he could survive and not be a ripper. However, that wasn't Stefan controlling the blood lust, but rather letting the blood control him. Damon gets that; Damon clearly got a glimpse of that in 1912, but since Damon was still the stick-up-his-ass dude then that we met in 1864, he obviously was not ready to deal with it yet. Instead, he ran away like the pansy I'm kinda now thinking he was. (Defecting from the war for a girl? Running away after his brother chomped through someone's neck to the point that he beheaded her? This is not the badass Damon Salvatore that we know. And, no, these flashbacks didn't give us all that much insight into what changed a prig into a hedonist.)

Now, finally he is over his love for Katherine (and kudos to the casual mention, showing yet again that it's a thing of the past), and able to see that his brother needs him -- because the better angels of his nature have taken root and aren't letting go. He didn't say that he loved Stefan, but it was evident that such is the heart of his actions and determination to help Stefan. However, the words he spoke were chosen, I think, as I stated above because it gave us a clear glimpse into Damon's state of mind. He believes that he is all alone except for Stefan. No Ric. No Elena. No one who wants his help, no one who wants him ... except for his brother who, by right of blood, Damon can justify sticking by whereas he can't with either a friend who doesn't seem particularly fond of him anymore, or a girl who's made it clear that she's just not that into him.

Even though she totes is! Yes, she still has this mental block when it comes to both Damon and Stefan. She has them in these specific boxes: Damon is "bad," and so she automatically expects the worst, and thus responds in rote to such behavior. Stefan is "good," and so with him, she automatically expects the best (and is disappointed when it's not so). That was obvious in her first reaction to seeing Damon, and Stefan in this episode. Walking into the station, upon seeing Damon, she huffed and steeled herself to deal with him, which was a good call because just about right off the bat, Damon was a snarky asshole. Really, he was. But, we get why. He's hurting, he's trying to keep the distance, and if she hates him because he's the "bad guy," the earth is back on its axis and things are as they should be; they are playing the roles he figures they play best.

And with Stefan, upon seeing him, mouth dripping with blood, someone laying on the road, despite all he has done recently, she was still disappointed, expecting better. The thing is, it goes back to the HUUUUUGE problem in the Stefan/Elena relationship that does not exist in any potential Damon/Elena relationship. Honesty and knowing who your partner is. Stefan could only stare at Elena in horrified shame, while Damon calmly explained the situation because he knows what and who he is, and he damn well is not going to let Elena pretend that he is anything but. As opposed to Stefan, who has always only wanted Elena to see the best projected representation of himself. And so what we had was an Elena horrified and speechless by Stefan's actions, but able to ask Damon without much judgement in her tone what they were doing. Which brings us to her discussion with Matt about the brothers ... which I found fascinating.

When trying to explain to Matt what it is about the boys that has her feeling as she does, her commentary was so in sync with much of what I've been seeing. With Stefan nothing she said was about him, Stefan, the boy. Instead, it was all about what he represents to her. He represents safety (a far cry from the "passion" she didn't have with Matt, that the Pilot implied she would find with Stefan) and the fact that, unlike her parents, he couldn't just die on her. Again, nothing about him. Now, don't get me wrong. Obviously, there are things about Stefan that she loves, that she cares for, that made her stick by him for as long as she has. However, I just find it very interesting that when asked to explain the connection, for Stefan what she comes up with are things he represents. On the other hand ... there is Damon, and with him, it was all about him. He got under her skin, and no matter what he does she can't shake him. So, with Stefan, the explanation is what he represents, with Damon, it's ... Damon. Everything he is, no matter what he does, she can't let go of what she feels for him, the real Damon.

I'm not fully getting across what I'm trying to convey, but I think looking at the words themselves will help drive it home:

Elena: I know it doesn't make sense, but in the beginning, after my parents died, there was something about being with Stefan that just felt safe.
Matt: Safe? Elena, he's a vampire.
Elena: I know, just saying it out loud, it sounds crazy, but, it's like I knew that he would never stop loving me, he would never --
Matt: What?
Elena: Die. Like he would never die.
Matt: Like your parents did. And Damon?
Elena: Damon just sorta snuck up on me. He got under my skin and no matter what I do, I can't shake him.
Matt: Once you fall in love with someone, I don't know if you can ever shake 'em.
Everything that Elena said about Damon was about her feelings for him, while what she said about Stefan was about his feelings for her. Again, I'm not saying that she didn't love Stefan, doesn't love him, but she's speaking of Stefan in the past-tense (as she did with Matt when she spoke to Stefan about him). "There was something ... It's like I knew ..." Past-tense. With Damon, she says "no matter what I do, I can't shake him." Present-tense. And, of course, the 'falling in love with someone' from Matt was a direct reference to Elena's feelings for Damon. And earlier, Meredith told Elena that she dates vampire(s) plural. Neither time did Elena deny, or even react it to the statements as anything other than fact. She knows how she feels about Damon deep down; she just can't admit it fully yet. But she is clearly getting there.

She's also getting to a slightly darker shade of gray. Her scenes with Matt were fantastic in showing how the knowledge and interaction with vampires and all of the other supernatual forces are changing their black and white views of the world. Matt was breaking and entering, and, on one hand, they were like stupid teenagers misbehaving and seeing it as exciting, but on the other hand, they were playing with life-and-death stakes and we're fairly casual about it. Then there was the interaction with Liz that really got the ball rolling. Elena is so used to stepping outside of the lines now that it didn't even hit her that she and Matt were breaking the law, and by all rights, should have been in jail cells next to Ric. And Liz is so caught up in all of this, that instead of doing her job, she was protecting them and let them go with just an angry warning.

Finally, Elena and Matt coming upon Stefan and Damon partaking of an innocent civilian, and other than her horror at Stefan's actions, and understandable upset in the moment from Matt, by the time they got to Elena's house, a warm beverage was all they needed before they calmly discussed Elena and the Salvatores. There was no concern, no cry for help, not even an attempt to help the stranger lying in a dark alley between two monsters. Because, not only Elena, but everyone -- including Matt -- involved in this supernatural world now have had all of their axes shifted, and it's happened gradually over the course of two and a half seasons that it's evolved so naturally and believably. If I haven't made it clear recently, I REALLY love this show.

And one of the things that I love about it is how even after two and a half seasons, they can still bring me to appreciate new arenas. Such as one Mr. Matt Donovan. Yes, I have finally come to a place where I love me some Matty Donovan. I prefer him with Elena, as her friend, than with Caroline -- simply because he's never seemed to fully appreciate the queen that is Caroline -- but even then, I liked Matt and Caroline more than Caroline and Tyler. But, oh man, as Elena's truth-telling friend who connects her to who she was before the Salvatores without judging her for who she has become, he's simply awesome. There's such a gentle, solid strength about Matt in these scenes that is glorious. And what we got in that Matt/Elena scene is something that I've been waiting for.

Prior to the episode's airing, I had commented that, although, I didn't want a romance rekindled between them (both as a Damon/Elena fan, but also because I don't think it would make sense based on why they broke up and everything since then), I did like the idea of revisiting them because we never saw emotional closure. It was just kinda there in the background, and ignored until it "went away," but I don't think it fully ever did. With this scene, I got that sense of closure. It was clear that a part of Matt still loves her, she'll always be the one who got away. Elena knows that, and he knows that, but they also both know that she doesn't feel the same, and he accepts that. Lastly, they are both okay with this state of affairs, because both believe that it is more important to keep that pre-romance friendship alive. Yeah, I just loved everything about this scene from the writing, the subtle shift of where Elena's heart is pointing, and the acting of both Nina Dobrev and Zach Roerig. So, it took two and half seasons (literally, with episode 11's "Our Town" being the turning point), but Matt has officially become a character I love and don't want to lose.

And you know what? I don't want to lose Meredith now either. Well, I mean, in that I'd care now, whereas before this episode, I wouldn't have ... like at all. I get why the show was presenting her as this mysterious question mark of a character, but by doing so, it kept her at an emotional distance from the viewers. In this one, those final two scenes we finally got to see who Meredith is, and I really, REALLY liked her. She really got to me and I'm looking forward to seeing more with the character now. So, please, crazy-on-a-ring!Ric, don't kill her. Oh, Ric, oh Ric, oh Ric. A bit on that crazy-making ring later, but first ... Isobel put out two restraining orders on our Mr. Saltzman prior to their marriage? He was arrested four times for fighting? My, my, my, what is his backstory? Does the ring bring out the crazy homicidal tendencies in any one who overuses it, or just the crazy, and the violent tendencies in an individual are just exaggerated by the crazy? Sure, the ring made Johnathan Gilbert coocoo for cocoa puffs, but from all we've heard, he wasn't violent. And, obviously, we don't know anything about Samantha Gilbert other than the fact that she got off on the violent boxing bouts, but that it was pointed out that she did, paired with Alaric's violent past, it does make one go hmmm.........

Can I just say about the crazy-making-ring how AWESOME that twist is?! It makes such perfect sense. The witches and their balance of nature. A person is meant to die, but the supernaturals shouldn't be, so therefore the ring giveth (life when taken from a supernatural) and taketh (when used to much, meaning you spend so much time playing with fire, you'll get burned, you go crazy). And I loved how we had Damon and Stefan putting the pieces together on their own across town. I love, love, LOVE the little boom shockers just about as much as I love the jaw-dropping OMG! ones for different reasons. The latter are so shocking because they come out of nowhere, are hella-crazy and set things on a new path. The former build up on information we already have and correct the course. It's pretty awesome.

Also pretty awesome? Damon Fucking Salvatore. Dudes, how can they still come up with episodes that manage to make me re-evaluate my love for this character and bring it to a higher plateau? I don't know how, but they do it, because I found new heights of dizzying love for this guy after this episode. Most awesome brother ever? Check. Most snazzy, snarky, funny, loyal, strong source of awesome? Check. Most bad-ass? Check. Most willing to put others before himself? Better for Elena that she hates him, he steps back. Better for Stefan to deal with all of the crazy that goes along with his recovery, including Damon's belief that he'll inevitably be with Elena again. Better for Ric to keep his distance and not make waves. Check. Check. Check. Honestly, this evolution has been so very masterfully done.

Some mention they miss Damon from season 01, they want that Damon back. I don't, and I never have because that Damon was cruel and mean and hurt people a LOT. What we got in this episode (minus his assiness to Elena which, ironically, came from a desire to help her by keeping their distance) was a better Damon season 01 version. We got the similar hair, similar cockiness, similar attitude, we got the friggin' crow!, and yet, it wasn't a mean, cruel Damon. He was a cool, confident, in control Damon who was no longer ignoring those better angels. The preview that showed him with the woman in the alley worried me a tad because I did NOT want to go back to that Damon, but how it played out was perfect. It wasn't nice, what he did, but he didn't wantonly kill this woman, he was helping Stefan, and then healed and erased so that she was none the wiser, and in better health likely than she was before they spoke. Yes, yes, still terrible, but in vampire-speak, that's good comparatively. I mean, Rebekah would have killed her. Stefan would have chomped through her neck and dislodged her head. Comparatively, I'm just saying.

Okay, then ... some random thoughts --

- I have to say that Matt Davis, Ian Somerhalder and Marguerite McIntyre (Ric, Damon and Liz) offered up some marvelous acting in their first scene in the jail. Just the back-and-forth rhythms, the zing, the delivery, the looks, the body language, just all around ... it was bloody fantastic.

- No Caroline, Bonnie, or Klaus, but I find I didn't miss them in this episode. Naturally, I knew my bb, Jeremy, wasn't going to be around, and yeah, Tyler? Don't care.

- Shallow time! Other than the weird overdone make-up on Damon in the first two scenes -- you could SEE the make-up! -- Ian Somerhalder looked REALLY GO-OOOOD! Yum-meh!

- Hah! Damon and Rebekah tagteaming to mock Stefan's journals was HI-larious.

- Oh, and speaking of Damon and Rebekah, methinks she does like him. Not in an 'ooh, I think I love him!' way, but in a 'he'd make a great, fun boyfriend, I like!' kinda way. Unfortunately for her, Damon doesn't really give a shit. She's so just, you know, there. He's amused by her, liked the sex, will use her if needed, but he can do with or without her clearly. Whereas, poor Rebekah, is still just looking for someone to bond with. Saint Stefan's a bust, Tyler is off breaking his bond to sire-Klaus, Elena stabbed her in the back, she's likely still miffed at Klaus, Kol took off, so Rebekah is giving Damon a try now. Good luck with that, sweetie. You'll need it. With that said, I continue to give props to Claire Holt because despite all of that, I still like her, and I don't pity her or find her pathetic at all. I just feel for her.

And I wish that Stefan would too. {Pouts} Yes, I still want my Stefan and Rebekah to get another shot. I'm hoping that all of the 20's references to the two of them is leading up to something ... perchance, something in episode 20? One can dream. They sure seemed to be reminding people of her past with Stefan, I thought.

- Still on Rebekah, girl, you and that tree! You are not very subtle. Sure, Damon thought you were angling for something else, but still, you keep up the baldly-stated questions, someone is going to put two and two together.

- So Giuseppi knocked up one of the "maids." How Old South Southern gentleman of him.

- I thought that Cassidy Freeman was fantastic as Sage, and I am quite curious to see her in modern days, and find out what is the deal with her and Finn (the other Original sibling -- or as Damon called him, the "creepy, suicidal one" -- that I REALLY liked). And, yes, I still can't figure out how the casting department that brought us Malese Jow, Kelly Hu, Mia Kirshner, Claire Holt and now Cassidy Freeman as awesome kick-ass female vampires also cast ... Lauren Cohan. I just ... yeah, I just don't get it. Such a potentially beyond fantastic Damon arc that was lessened to merely really good by her presence in it. Ah well.

- Finally, two more Damon bits: Hmm, without Elena to distract him, Damon does MUCH better at darts. And, of course, the pièce de résistance ... repeating myself here but I am unable to not do so:

     

*SIGH* DAMON PLAYS THE PIANO!

In short, fantastic episode. Other than episodes 4, 12 and 13, I think every episode this season has been great to awesome, with this one leaning towards the scale of awesome. Very awesome.
Tags: alaric saltzman, damon salvatore, damon/elena, elena gilbert, ep discussion-tvd, gifs, ian somerhalder, nina dobrev, rebekah mikaelson, stefan salvatore, stefan/rebekah, the vampire diaries, tv
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