Arabian (arabian) wrote,

3.19 - 'Heart of Darkness' (The Vampire Diaries)

WHEE!! New episode of The Vampire Diaries. Yayers!!! Okay, folks, this is another massively long one. Just warning ya!

While the heart of darkness of the title clearly referred to both Alaric and Stefan's darkest demons, there were a lot of hearts on display in tonight's episode, each spending moments in the shadows of despair and confusion. Fortunately for them (and us), some of those hearts also spent some time coming to the surface and basking in the light. But let's stick with those who did not first. Namely, Stefan and Elena and where they are right now in the heart department. I know that the preview for the next episode points to a resurgence between the two, but unless the writing staff has randomly decided to completely switch gears with no rhyme or reason, I don't expect happy tidings for the pair or a renewal of their relationship. The final scene of "The Murder of One" with the pair, and what happened in this episode make that perfectly clear. Going back to the last episode, I had given Stefan the benefit of the doubt and applauded the fact that he *finally* appeared to take a few steps out of the land of denial in acknowledging that Elena is in love with Damon. After what we got from him tonight in relation to Elena, I don't think such was the case.

Now I believe that Stefan was being manipulative with Elena in the way that Stefan is that I don't think is intentional, and that I don't believe he even realizes he is being. He has an objective, and uses emotional leverage to get an end result that works for him. (See a brilliant post by Laurne3210 to get a fully-annotated and detailed essay on Stefan's skill at emotional manipulation … which I do see as unintentional for the most part, even if I do very much see it.) And that's exactly what he did in that scene and in the unseen suggestion to Elena to go with Damon to Denver. He said that she was in love with Damon, told her how much he loved her … and then he asked her to look him in the eye and tell him that she wasn't. If he was so sure, he wouldn't have put her in that position. He wasn't testing her, so much as pushing her to realize that it's Stefan she loves, and not Damon. His explanation for why she cared for Damon even gave her an excuse for feeling anything – he was a replacement for Stefan when he was gone and was such a bad, bad boy.

But, she didn't answer and in that moment, he looked confused because he hadn't been expecting that. Then when she said she didn't know what she felt, he closed his eyes, re-assessing. At least that's how I'm reading that scene now. Because his pushing her to go with Damon is the result of his re-assessment. Just as Elena obviously expected Damon to continue to be the jerk he has wholeheartedly been since "All My Children," thus making it easy to "know" her feelings, Stefan likely believed it just as much. I have no doubt that he figured that Damon would screw up -- as he always does -- and Elena's inability to deny feeling for him would dissipate. He was cool and calm about it when talking to Ric, and it wasn't until Damon mentioned them staying at a motel did we see any worry from him on the Damon/Elena front.

If he TRULY believed that Elena was in love with Damon and had legitimate feelings for him, he never would have pushed her to road-trip with Damon. We know this because of his almost-casual, and oh-so-understanding attitude about it -- to Ric, to Elena when she left. And that's the key there. Stefan isn't casual or understanding at *all* about Elena and Damon. Time and time and time again, any sign that hinted that she cared for Damon more than Stefan thought she should, out came the jealousy and emotional manipulation and desire to prove that Damon was all bad and wrong for her. The fact that none of that was in display wasn't proof that Stefan was accepting that those feelings were reciprocal between Damon and Elena. No, that the green monster hadn't come out to play made it clear that he didn't believe that things were reciprocal, and this road-trip was supposed to prove that. So hearing that they'd been gone that long, weren't at odds yet and we're in the clichéd on-the-road motel stop suddenly had that jealous-Stefan rearing its head.

Uh huh. So, I am very, very curious to see how next week plays out. After their, erm, discussion, do Damon and Elena go back to the wary, uncomfortable interaction that they've shared since the events of the Mikaelson ball? Interaction that Stefan doesn't understand is just a part of their push-pull dynamic, and only sees as them not getting along. And if so, will that, along with he and Elena at the 20's dance, lead him to believe that his supposition was correct … that Elena doesn't actually have feelings for Damon, and the road-trip accomplished what he expected it to? I don't know. We'll see.

Now onto our title hearts at play. Stefan and Alaric both gave into their darkest demons. It was good seeing that (a) Stefan is still struggling with his blood lust, but (b) that he appears to be getting a somewhat better handle on it even when it's right there in his face in a heightened moment. It was also interesting seeing Stefan play at being the one in charge because that's exactly what it felt like. He was playing at being in charge while big brother was gone. There was just the slightest cheer to quite a few of his words and actions that came off as someone who generally doesn't get to lead the troops, under the mien of responsibility and dominance, is reveling in that authority. It's one of those things that I love about Stefan, the writing and Paul Wesley's acting choices -- if intentional -- because it shows that Stefan is in many ways a 17-year old kid. And I much prefer getting those moments when it's not wrapped up in his twu wuv forever nonsense with Elena that gets, oh, say, Jenna killed!

The only thing that bothered me about Stefan was, I hope, intentional, and that would be Stefan's contention that everything he's doing to be "good Stefan" again is to get back with Elena. I found that sad. It should be about him, not Elena. He was willing to be "better" in 1864 for Damon's sake to keep him by his side. Then he got "better" before for Lexi time and time again, not for himself. If he is doing all of this to get Elena back, then he's doomed to failure if Elena doesn't get back together with him, or if she does and then stays human and grows too old for him. Because then she's gone, and his reason for being better is gone, so what is there to stop him from going back to his ripper ways? Nothing. He has to do this for himself.

One of the things I love most about Damon is how everything he does, he owns up to as who he is -- both good and bad -- at least to himself. He isn't his best or his worst FOR anyone … not Stefan, not Elena, not Alaric. Yes, Elena has helped him to want to be better, but he's not being better for her, he's better because she's helping him to see that it's a possibility for him, something that he never accepted before. Stefan needs to realize that he can be better on his own, for himself, but in order to do that, he needs to own up to who and what he is, and not separate himself into good and bad Stefan. (Something that Damon, for all of his assistance to Stefan this go-round, encourages with his belief in the good/bad brother dichotomy – which is bullpoppy.) Oh, Stefan. You'll get there, bb, you will. You just need to let go of your insistence on becoming a better you for someone else. This is when you get to be gloriously, completely selfish because this? This is all about you, boo!

As for Alaric, there were some really nice moments in here for him. For the first time in ages, it felt like the real Alaric who genuinely cares for and appreciates Damon was showing up despite evil!Alaric's hatred of all things vampire. I especially loved the fact that Alaric thought Stefan was taking over Ric-strong-arming-duty because he believed that Damon wouldn't be able to really hurt him. That seriously made me awwww! for my much-missed true Damon/Alaric bromance. Also, his lack of judgment over Elena taking off with Damon, and seeing the humor in Damon's novel choice (Jekyll and Hyde , hee! Oh, Damon, never change, bb!) were also some nice indicators that the love is still there. Plus, there was the awesomeness of his willingess to have the ever-loving crap beat out of him by a vampire -- who wasn't his BFF -- if it meant saving his BFF (okay, fine and Caroline and Stefan as well). The discussion that Stefan and Alaric had about their darker demons was also beautifully written with some fantastic, if not-so-happy insight into Alaric especially. Then, of course, Evilaric came out to play and he was so cold and chilling, using the knowledge that Alaric has about Stefan to just drive painful points home. Really well done.

Alas, I couldn't fully enjoy the Stefan/Alaric scenes as much as intended for the simple fact that this episode yet again reinforced that Wesley and Davis have ZERO chemistry. They've had three (I believe) episodes where we've seen them spend significant screen time together and that back and forth zip and zing that is present with Wesley and Ian Somerhalder, and very much so with Davis and Somerhalder, is just missing with these two. I mean, don't get me wrong, they weren't bad scenes at all, nor do the two actors have anti-chemistry, they just don't … shine whereas so many other match-ups in this cast do.

For instance … Wesley and Joseph Morgan. Ah, Stefan and Klaus. Is it wrong that a part of me still wants Stefan to go all rippery and just be buds with Klaus again? Yeah, I know it is, but Klaus is so adorable in his bromantic love for Stefan. He really, really wants his little buddy back. When Stefan was all condescending and whatever, dude-ing to Klaus, I felt for the sociopathic sicko. Poor Klausy! He just looked so hurt, and when his face fell, I think he realized that he may just never get his little buddy back. Because Stefan was staying true to what he told Elena in that he's done wasting time and energy on hating Klaus. Klaus must know that the opposite of love isn't hate, it's indifference. And Stefan just gave him a big ole slap in the face of that reality. Which is a bad thing for the Salvatore brothers as I really think the only thing keeping them alive is Klaus' love for Stefan. As in, he won't kill Stefan as long as he thinks their friendship can be resurrected, and he won't kill Damon because he's pretty sure that if he wants any hope of that friendship being resurrected, killing Stefan's brother will make that an impossibility. Hopefully, Klaus loves delusion in his own way as much as Stefan does, and will cling to the belief that the bromance will flourish once more someday. After all, they technically have eternity to patch things up.

So, I liked the Stefan/Klaus interaction way more than the Stefan/Alaric interaction (even if I prefer the latter two characters individually overall) because of that lovely little thing called chemistry. But, ooh, one bit between the two had me going WTF?!!? Because, seriously, dude, Stefan?!?! Did he take a stupid pill that morning? Why on God's green earth would he just casually tell Klaus about the Original line!?!? Why?! Why?!?! Damn, Stefan, way to be a complete idiot! I love you, boo, but man! Did that whole being in charge thing go to his head? Probably. And this is Stefan, he never thinks things through. Totally in character. Ooh, he's so lucky that Damon was off making out with his ex on the corner of nowhere and somewhere, so by the time he's back in Mystic Falls he'll be over Stefan's stupidity and won't retaliate by giving him a quick, non-lethal staking to the gut.

Hmm, the corner of nowhere and somewhere. Yes, indeed and after what happened in that motel, isn't that exactly where Elena and Damon are now? The middle of nowhere and somewhere, with a definite directional lean towards somewhere. Uh huh. I love this show. Now, about what happened, let's take a few steps back and start at the beginning. I loved what we got from that Alaric/Elena conversation because it really did make sense in light of all that has transpired over the course of the second half of the season. Just as Damon built these walls around himself to keep Elena at bay by making it easier to hate him … because he loves her and believes it's what she wants, Elena has done the same. Damon's sexytiems activity after the ball hurt her. Fair, justified or not, the simple fact of the matter is that they did. She was hurt by his actions. And his attitude and the treatment of her since then has just added to her hurt. She feels rejected and betrayed and pushed away by him, having no idea what is going on with him. Yes, she said a cruel thing to him at the ball, but she tried to retract it right away and she's forgiven him for so many horrible things, to think that he couldn't forgive her for one thoughtless, albeit mean comment, is something that's been really hard for her. She's alone, and she's needed him recently and instead of being there, he just dropped her, walked away and has gone back to being a snarky, I-don't-care ass.

Making matters very much worse is that this came after months of him being so completely, 100% there for her. He was her rock, her comfort, her support and then boom! like that, it was gone. So she built her own walls against him because she was hurt so deeply; because he hurts her every time she speaks to him now, so she's trying to stop that hurting. It makes perfect sense that she would have decided that she was done with Damon and this *thing* between them. And then Stefan had to go bring it up and throw it in her face, and her inability to even deny it -- and we all know how good she is at denying -- was her wake-up call, that yeah, this *thing* is still there. It ain't going away; it must be dealt with. And now she has Stefan's go-ahead to deal with it, so no attached guilt in the trying.

And like Stefan believed that the road trip would torpedo her "feelings" for Damon, so did she. We saw that in the continued eye-rolls and lack of ease between the two, which Damon, of course, aided and abetted by playing the uber-I'm-an-ass game to such a tee. Things were going on exactly as Elena expected and then came the calling forth of Rose. With the knowledge of what he had done for Rose on her deathbed coming to light, Elena was smacked in the face with the reminder that Damon is so much more than the snarky jerk who lives to annoy the hell out of her, and have sex with random chicks and play the bad-ass vampire role to the hilt. She saw in that admission about the paradise he created for Rose the Damon that had been there for her so completely prior to the ball. The Damon that had made it so very easy to fall in love with him.

And it was that which crumpled the walls that Elena had built against him. She could hold out for only so long after being reminded of that Damon, and instead of returning to snarky form, Damon was *that* Damon again with her because she'd made one small move that crumpled *his* walls. After being caught staring at him, and so badly faking sleep in response, a quick smile curved his lips. Because her response was exactly what he expected from her. Then she opened her eyes and faced him head-on, and with a tilt of her head, and a softness in her eyes -- a look that she hadn't sent his way since their porch conversation in "Our Town" -- she invited him to her side. And down went his walls. It was such a small gesture, but that movement, that look, essentially put them right back to where they were on that porch.

All of the distance, hurt and anger was dissipated in the moment as he lay next to her, as she turned to him, as they spoke, openly, honestly. Too honestly for the moment for her, but it didn't take away from the physical, aching tension that they'd both deliberately shoved deep, deep down after he acknowledged that they weren't "right now." I don't think she turned from him then because she was upset that he wasn't meeting her half-way, but rather that he wasn't telling her what she wanted just because she wanted it. Even before he said the words to her later, he was telling her now that he wasn't going to make it easy for her just because he loved her. If she wants him, she takes him as who he is, not someone she's created out of her own expectations. He doesn't want to have to live up (or down) to anyone's expectations to be loved. He just wants to be loved for who he is.

Damon loves her, but he's not going to be someone else for her. He'll be better, but it's because he has at last realized that he has that capacity. It's because of her belief that he has that capacity that he's a better person, not because he's molding himself into her expectation of a person for her. (By the way, that would be the exact (wrong) thing that Stefan is doing.) But Damon won't go down that road. He's told her that in many subtle ways, and outright stated it after he snapped Ric's neck and bit into Caroline's dead. He is who he is -- the good and the bad -- and she needs to accept him for that, not for who she's decided he *should* be.

And so she looked away, denying reality because that's what she does. It's easier to live in a pretend world where things are (not actually) exactly as you want them to be … never mind that it can get you, or your loved ones (oh, Jenna!) killed. Then her hand fell, accidentally brushing against his and the feelings (lusty, wanting, aching feelings) that had been spiraling in her as she watched him walk about bare-chested, unaware that he was being watched -- not cocky or strutting, just Damon in all of his beautiful, dripping with sex glory -- came flooding back. And she was done, gone, boom! out the door because, again, it was as if from the moment she invited him into her bed, all of that distance between them was gone. They were right back emotionally where they were after they'd first kissed, after they'd seen each other the first time after the kiss, before (good) Stefan re-entered the picture.

The distance was gone; Stefan wasn't with them either. It was just them, just the two of them being open and honest and feeling. Feeling so damn much. And she couldn't handle it, so she ran away … because that is what Elena does when it comes to Damon. Because he's so much, there's so much there that he makes her feel and she doesn't get it. She doesn't understand it. She's never felt anything like this and it's scary, scary, scary as hell. So she ran, but she didn't run far. She didn't lock herself away. Had she gone to the bathroom and shut the door, with Jeremy sleeping in the room, he wouldn't have followed. Instead she ran someplace where he could follow her, and she waited for him.

It wasn't a conscious choice to do so, but it's what she did. And that's what it's all about with them. It's never about making a choice. It's about the inevitability of what they feel for each other. If both could choose to not want, to not love the other, they would. But there is no choice. There just is. So Elena stopped and waited for inevitability to catch up. Sure, she made a token protest, "don't." One word, but she couldn't even face him when she said it, and she was breathing heavily, and her heart was racing and you could see the conflict, the fear, the desperation for this to *not* happen because once that step was taken, there would be no going back. So she said don't.

And he said why not? And in that moment, with her walls crumbled, and no Stefan around as a buffer, with nothing but this man that she so, so desperately FEELS for, she couldn't come up with a single reason why not. Even though she was searching, she was trying, she was shaking her head no at the notion that there was no reason, not then, not in that that moment. But, really, all she heard was the echo of his why not and so she gave in.

And it was glorious!


And it was perfect! I honestly can not believe just how perfect, how *right* it was. I had expected this kind of kiss when Damon and Elena first mutually kissed, and so when they kissed in "The New Deal," I was a bit confused. I loved it, but it wasn't what I expected. Because I expected emotions flying free, passion – so, so, so much passion! – and what we got on that porch was sweet and gentle, there was passion, yes, but it was reserved. In retrospect, it made perfect sense because it wasn't entirely mutual. Damon kissed her and while Elena did kiss him back, she was almost in shock, and both were holding back for entirely different reasons. And I realized that their first true, reciprocal kiss filled with that glorious, wild passion I so expected could only come with Elena making the first move, with Elena letting go. That would be all Damon needed to let go and throw any reserve to the wind. And that's exactly what happened here. Plus, that kiss on the porch (one filled with reserve and the hint of the passion between them) was necessary because Elena is a stubborn one and needed a nudge. That gentle kiss was the push that (took a long road) to get to this passionate kiss.

This kiss was perfect in every way. Elena turning to him, no, not just turning, but practically throwing herself at him. It taking place where there were no memories, no moments tied to any other relationship. It was just them there in the moment. And the motel lights flickering behind them played like starlight flickering in the night sky, and the wind that picked up around them was symbolic of the elemental emotion being unleashed between the two of them. It was finding beauty in reality. And it was real. Elena was NOT living in pretense; she was not completely lost to the passion that she could ever tell herself that she didn't know what she was doing, that her mind had stopped working. Because there was a moment, when Damon's head dipped between her breasts, where we saw her face, we saw her realize where they were, what they were doing, what he was doing and she pulled him up. But she didn't pull away; she pulled him up and back into her kiss.

Adding to all of that was the song choice. The lyrics (from Florence and the Machine's "Never Let Me Go") that played over the sexual tension leading to their kiss(es) were:

Looking up from underneath
Fractured moonlight on the sea
Reflections still look the same to me
As before I went under

And it's peaceful in the deep
Cathedral where you cannot breathe
No need to pray no need to speak
Now I am under all

And it's breaking over me
A thousand miles down to the sea bed
Found the place to rest my head
Never let me go
Never let me go

And the arms of the ocean are carrying me
And all this devotion was rushing out of me
In the crushes of heaven for a sinner like me
But the arms of the ocean delivered me
And the lines And the arms of the ocean are carrying me/And all this devotion was rushing out of me played over Elena's mad rush into his arms. A poster (yhtrownu) at said about this song that it "seems to be about SURRENDER. Not giving up (an act of despair) but giving in (an act of embrace and devotion). This is about the pleasure of being overwhelmed, something akin to masochistic delight. Ostensibly, the singer surrenders to the ocean, and lets it pull her to the bottom. All her concerns and prayers are as nothing anymore because the all-encompassing sea reduces her to nothing.But this is more metaphor,than reality, as the refrain "never let me go" suggests that life continues after the surrender, and the willing victim desires to be overwhelmed forever. It's like the moment of orgasm, where you barely exist as a thinking person, and want to stay there forever.It's the decision to surrender to a passion or desire, that others may question (branding you a sinner), but you don't care, and beg that desire to embrace you forever, to never let you go." That is exactly how I read the lyrics as well, and it applies perfectly to Elena and Damon overall, and very specifically in this moment.

And it was glorious!


And then it wasn't. Because this is Damon and Elena, and it can never be that easy. Because all of those issues they have, and because everyone in Elena's life couldn't understand her feelings for him, and because of Stefan, it is just not that easy. Yes, those walls came down, that distance dissipated as if they were right back where their last Gilbert porch conversation took place. But … there were walls. There was distance. And they were necessary to get them where they were in that final scene with them at Scary Mary's place because it was just as necessary that they go there. Had we not had the events and the consequences of said events in episodes 12 through 18, we wouldn't have gotten that scene. An honest, if painful, discussion between them where hard truths were lain at the other's feet, and where Damon finally, fully stood his ground with her. And he did so without leaving her in the dark (as he had after the ball), and without snark and attitude. Once Kol left and it was just the two of them, Damon was completely back in that ease of interaction between them that they had shared prior to "The Ties That Bind." And Elena was as well, because those walls had come crumbling down, and then she looked at him, and her eyes fell to his lips and she remembered and the reality of what she'd expected to face on this trip came crashing over her. And painful it may have been after the glory, this scene was as needed as was that passion unleashed.

Why? Because Elena was right. Damon *does* lash out, and he does sabotage whenever there's a bump in the road. And Damon was just as right. Elena expected him to screw up and that was her safety net, that was her out in not dealing with the reality of her feelings. If she could see his self-destructive, self-sabotaging ways on display on this trip to "explore her feelings" she could convince herself that whatever she felt didn't matter because Damon would always ruin it. And he called her on it, and asked her the one question that completely threw that theory out the window. What if he didn't resort to his self-destructive ways? What if he held it in check because being with her was that important that he would make that effort? Would she then admit to her feelings, and make the effort to accept him for who he is without expectations? Would she work with him to *be* with him? Hearing that from Damon, that truth, that willingness to compromise if she would is nothing that she expected.

Instead of Damon screwing up, it was Elena who did, by expecting not the best, but the worst of him. She needs to figure out what she feels for him without playing emotional games with him -- which is exactly what she was doing, even if it wasn't with that realized intent. And she needs to figure it out because I believe her 100% when she said she doesn't know, because she so, so, so does not. In my episode write-up for "The Murder of One," I said this in response to her "I don't know" to Stefan and it applies as much, if not more now, to Damon.

"Elena has her own expectation of what love is. She thought she loved Matt, but it was just puppy love, based on their many years as friends. She loves Stefan, but she believed it was the all-encompassing, forever and always, kind of love. Yet, in "The Last Day," she told Stefan that she didn't even know what love was. That line was so very telling to me. Yes, she backtracked immediately, but she said it. When she thought she would die, when she was being as honest as she'd ever been with Stefan, she told him -- the boy she claimed she would love always -- that she wasn't even sure that she knew what love was. And then we get to Damon. What she feels for him, how she feels it for him, and all of the bad and ugly mixed in with the good and sweet doesn't fit her definition of love as she's known it. So then what does she feel for him? She has no idea because it isn't what she felt for Matt, and it's not what she feels for Stefan, and she was so sure it was love with Matt ... until she wasn't and then she met Stefan. And she was so sure it was forever love with Stefan ... until these months with Damon and what's been happening under the surface all along building between them. So she does not know. She really, really doesn't know."

This is Elena. This is absolutely in character. She lives in denial. Everything around her continues to fall apart, she is all alone in so many ways, and if she can just hold on to the "truths" she knows without opening up a whole messy can of worms and most likely making her life a gazillion times harder, she's going to. Elena is well aware that once she opens that door with him, that's it. Can you imagine how honestly terrifying it would be to be on the receiving end of Damon's love? Right now, her non-admitted-recriprocation is all that has kept it at bay. But a Damon who gets that love in return, oh boy! It's going to be beyond any kind of intense she could ever imagine. It's TERRIFYING. Wonderful, crazy, awesome, beautiful ... but terrifying, because there is NO line that he won't cross to keep her safe. None. And he's wild, and impetuous, and crazy, and passionate and this is a girl who's never really experienced passion. She's scared out of her mind to get into something with him.

And here she went opening that door, and now the denial is gone. She's not denying the something between them, she's honestly telling himself she doesn't know what she feels. This isn't love as she's known it, so she's confused and she's full of fear, but she is no longer in denial. And it's on her. She knows the score with Damon; she's in no doubt of how he feels, what he wants, and what he's willing to do to be with her, and he knows that she knows exactly where he stands. So now it's all up to her to figure it out. She feels for Damon, but what exactly is it that she feels? That is her question. And so there will be distance between them again, but it's a good distance this time because it's honest and the self-reflection that will follow will be based on all of their cards laid out on the table.

Phew! Okay, some quick randoms about Damon and Elena before I move onto the next section ...

- I thought it was interesting how Damon phrased his (half-way) joking comment to Elena about Jeremy and baseball. "The next time WE compel him…" Hmm, I just thought that was a rather shared way of putting it. Even though he obviously did the compelling, he gave her as much ownership of the action. Teamwork for the win! (Even if it involves brainwashing baby brothers. Ahem.)

- They used a different take for Damon's "do you?" to Elena than what was in the preview. That one had this yearning, little-boy vulnerability to it. This one had a sizing her up and realizing she's still playing denial girl inflection. And I'm glad they did that because it worked better in the context of what had happened. Had the question come before the make-out session, the former would have been the right choice, but coming when it did, the latter was definitely the better choice.

- Kiss-related randoms … Hah, had Jeremy not walked out on them, who knows when they would have stopped? Or if they even would have! They were THAT into it. In fact, Damon was so into it that it wasn't until Elena said Jeremy's name that he seemed to even realize that he was there! Double hah!

- Seriously, folks, THAT'S your show's OTP's kinda kiss. Period. Damon/Elena are THE couple. They are endgame. No question.

What even further solidified that was Rose's statement to Jeremy about Damon and Elena versus Stefan and Elena. I know some have balked at her description of Stefan's love as pure, but I don't. I agree completely. Stefan's love for her is pure. Sure he's manipulated and white-washed stuff left and right, but all of that was in order to keep their love pure. He loves her with a simple, quiet purity that doesn't allow for gradations. Which is, in my opinion, the problem. I also agree that Stefan would be good for Elena (taking the whole pesky vampire aspect out of it) because prior to their break-up, Elena was doing good. Not great, but she was doing good. Their brand of pretense and delusion kept her from falling apart, and kept her trucking. There is an ease and safety with him that allows her to stay within her comfort zone, and that is good.

But even better? Is what Damon does for her. He does challenge her, he does make her question things, but what Rose didn't mention is that he also makes her laugh. And Damon helps her live in the moment as opposed to just dreading the future without pretense and delusion in the moment. And THAT is what makes Elena a better, stronger person. Which we have been seeing so clearly throughout this season of growth for Elena. I noted in my "The Ties That Bind" write-up, that "it was a good that Stefan noted how awesomely she took control, how she has changed, how she was stronger, and I couldn't help but think -- yeah, she's stronger without you holding her back and constantly trying to keep the pretense alive that you're "normal" teenagers. She's stronger because she has someone by her side who respects her, who accepts that she is awesome all the time, strong when she needs to be, able to give herself a break when she needs. Someone who sees her as the strong, young woman she so completely is. In case you were wondering, that someone is Damon."

And that is exactly what Rose meant about Damon being the best thing for her. How would he be the worst? I honestly think that would be based on only two things: (1) Elena refusing to acknowledge what they share which would lead to a life of regret, and (2) her friends/family never accepting the two of them together. But if Elena acknowledges their something and goes for it, the worst is out of their hands because together they are what's best for each other. The first half of this season very much blindingly showed us that he's the best thing for her and vice versa. So, yeah, endgame, baby! Because the others, if they love Elena -- and they do, will have to get on board eventually when they see how he is the best thing for her.

And maybe, just maybe, the first person of their group will be Jeremy! Honestly, no lie, I will WILL LOVE so hard if it is Jeremy who is the first to come around to accepting Damon/Elena. LOVE IT SO HARD. Partially because I do love me some Damon and Jeremy. Their little snarky comments to each other just made me grin. And on a non-snarky note, I just loved how after Jeremy asked if they wanted him to stay put so they could make out some more (hah! All the wins for you, Jere!) that once he acquiesced to Damon's request -- because he clearly wasn't going to to Elena's -- Damon said thank you. Aww!

I'd also love it so hard because I do think that as her only remaining family what's best for her would be the most important thing to him. And he is seeing that there is something there. It wasn't Rose saying that to Jeremy that opened his eyes; she just brought it to the surface for him. After all when asking Elena about it, he said "EVEN Rose said something…" ie., Rose wasn't the only one who noticed. And he was constantly sizing up the two even before he caught them making out. Which, was actually a cock-block I didn't mind. As much as I want Damon and Elena to make wild passionate monkey love, I'd prefer it happen in his awesome bed that has yet to see on-screen sexytiems and not backed against a porch column in a cheap motel. Just saying.

Now how about the actual PLOT!? Wowzers! They haven't had a jaw-dropper of an ending like that in a while. I literally sat there, jaw-dropped and said "Holy shit!" a few times after that ending. Whoah! And so perfectly laid out. We had the little reminder from Alaric near the top of the show about Klaus possessing him, and then the witch that is Esther paired with that odd, shaking hand-hold before she "died." Seeing Evilaric and RebekEsther teaming up at the end there? Oooh! Has me so intrigued for what is to come. I love being intrigued! And kudos to Claire Holt – who was just lovely and nuanced and glorious, as pretty much always, in this episode – for that final scene. She had the phrasings and vocal inflections of Alice Evans (who played Esther) down perfectly. Just spot-on.

However, like Alaric being possessed by Klaus, Rebekah better be just subdued and still kicking around in that body because I do not want to lose Rebekah! Because, again, Claire Holt is awesome. Full stop. Period. I LOVE HER SO MUCH. REBEKAH PLEASE BE THE ORIGINAL MOMMY!! I NEVER WANT TO LOSE YOU. AND BE REDEEMED AND YOU AND MATT CAN MAKE BEAUTIFUL BLONDE/BLUE-EYED LOVE!


That's Matt and Rebekah right when he first stopped at her house, and right before she hopped out of his truck. And, yes, I now ship them. As anyone who reads my TVD-posts regularly knows, I now love Matt. After this episode, I officially DIE-HARD love Matty Donovan so much. And he and Rebekah are made of all the win in the world. I love, love, love how he keeps creeping under her skin with his sweet, human, high-school boy ways (ala, giving her his jacket at the ball, and now this). Yes, he was keeping her occupied for Caroline and Tyler, but did he have to drive her home? No. But he did, and it was sweet and I LUFF THEM NOW!

Ahem. Speaking of Caroline and Tyler, yeah, still don't give two figs about them. They remain the only true yawn-worthy portion of the show for me. Please to be killing off Tyler before season's end? I know, I know, it's mean, but I don't care about Tyler, and I LOVE everyone else. Plus, it frees Caroline up for Stefan down the road. (You knew I was going there; I always do.) Sigh, I suppose I must talk about them a bit. I did think that Tyler overreacted to the drawing that Caroline kept because they'd been apart forever, he had no idea of the dynamics of anything that was going on there and he just got all huffy and walked out on her basically being the dick he so easily can be. On the other hand, I did get where his concern came from because as soon as I saw that drawing, I thought: 'Hmm, Caroline, sweetie, why do you be keeping a drawing from the creepy, sociopath that is smitten with you' Something is *definitely* there and Tyler is right to be concerned. It's just how he went about it that was so … bothersome.

Also bothersome and/or kinda-yay! for Damon was the discussion that Caroline had with Tyler in the cave. It was bothersome because once again Caroline was painting Damon as the bad guy -- the sole guy. However, she later referred to both Damon *and* Stefan as the ones who would take down Klaus even if it meant bye-bye time for Tyler, so... I'm going with the yay! Which is that even though Damon wasn't even there for the whole bloodline reveal/conclusion -- yo! peeps, his pretty ass was being horrifically tortured -- he's STILL seen as the ringleader of the group. Because he's the BOSS, baby!

Oh lordy, thank goodness … the final round of random thoughts and I am done!!


- Bare-chested Damon, forever may you reign!

- Still on the shallow-train, Damon got a haircut. There was extreme hotness abounding all-around on the Damon Salvatore front. Bless you, show.

- Okay, maybe I'm being overly paranoid, but THIS SHOW! When Kol commented on hitting a nerve with Damon after he hurt Elena, I wondered if that was going to return to play later in the season. I mean, everyone and their dog knows that Elena is Damon's Achilles' heel, so why have such a deliberate line of dialogue from a newer character about it, hmm?

- OMG! For reals, people, when Rose first showed up and she was smiling that cute smile, I actually smiled in response and thought: 'Awww! It's Rose.' I thought that I did not like her at all! This was shocking to me, for real. But really, really nice because I'm kinda thinking (and now hoping) that she's gonna stick around for a bit longer and haunt Jeremy a while. Fun times!

- Oh, and I totes did love her 'tell him he's still dripping with sex' (HE SO IS!) comment about Damon. And Jeremy's complete refusal to repeat that comment. Hah!

- I mentioned it before, but since it was my favorite line of the episode, I must repeat it again. I just so completely loved Jeremy's "Why? So you guys can make-out some more?" ROTFLMAO! And Elena's look of indignation in response just made it even better. Oh, Elena, really now.

- Another great look was from Jeremy after he caught the above-mentioned making-out. It so said to Elena: "Yeah, so much for nothing between you two. Liar, liar, pant(ie)s on fire!"

- One more Jeremy note for the road. I kept having mini-moments of squee at his presence. Never leave me again, bb!

- The whole Scary Mary thing was hilariously awesome (and awful). Of course, Damon had a nickname for her. Of course, Damon had sex with her (she was creepy, not ugly!). And boy did they show the creepy. Her house, and then her staked corpse against the wall while Kol quietly waited in the dark. Creepy, indeed!

- Finally – okay, so these are my five endgame couples that I really, really want now (and just watch I'll lose my precious Rebekah this season!)

- Damon and Elena (duh!)
- Stefan and Caroline (double duh!)
- Elijah and Katherine
- Jeremy and Bonnie
- Rebekah and Matt

SQUEE!!! And boy, did we get some lovely Matt and Rebekah tonight, and, of course, major, major proof-age that Damon and Elena (my numero uno OTP!) are indeed totally endgame, baby!

So, grand return back from the hiatus. Kicking things into gear on the Damon/Elena front. Damon was awesome. Elena had moments of awesome. Rebekah was awesome. I found a new couple to love. Stefan was amusing in his oh-so-Stefan-y ways. There were funny lines, shocking moments, awesomely UBER-HOT moments, great movement of plot, and just yeah. I'm a happy camper, ya'll!

Tags: alaric saltzman, caroline forbes, damon salvatore, damon/elena, damon/jeremy, elena gilbert, ep discussion-tvd, rebekah mikaelson, rebekah/matt, stefan salvatore, the vampire diaries

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