Arabian (arabian) wrote,
Arabian
arabian

4.01 - 'Growing Pains' (The Vampire Diaries)

WOOHOO!!! The Vampire Diaries is here! The Vampire Diaries is here! My Thursday nights are once more complete! :D

As anyone who read my many thoughts on the finale of last season, you know that I had ... issues that I hoped would be resolved this season. Because of that I had plenty of expectations for this episode, and not many of them good. I am pleased to say that many of those expectations did not bear out. I expected Stefan and Elena's TWU WUV FOREVA! to permeate pretty much every moment either one was on screen. That didn't happen. I expected very little Damon/Elena interaction and what we did get, I expected to be negative. I expected everyone to rally around Stefan and rah!rah!rah him, and to be down on Damon for not respecting Elena's choice, wanting her to turn. None of this happened.

I actually walked away from this episode quite hopeful and, for the first time in ages, finding Stefan and Elena sweet, akin to how they felt to me in season 01. And that I think is OK because of where they both are right now, and where she is with Damon (even if Elena still lives deep down the well of denial). And I'm OK with it because I feel that that sweetness ties into their continued delusion which does not bode well. Everything that happened and they don't truly move forward. They don't grow, they don't get through things, they don't deal with what has happened. Instead, Stefan and Elena blindly march on, brushing aside reality. And a breaking point has to come. It simply has to.

So, yeah, I was OK with them -- not that I didn't still roll my eyes during just about every second. But still, I got it and so, overall, I liked this episode. I wasn't jumping out of my seat excited and didn't have any moment that made me sit up and go 'ooh! awesome!' (which I would have loved), but it was good. Rating against the other season first episodes, I'd put it behind "The Return" actually. Not that it was anywhere near as good as that episode (still my second favorite episode to date), but it was better than the Pilot and better enough overall than "The Birthday." So, yeah, I was pleased, if not ecstatic.

Let's start with Elena and the whole 'ooh! She's a vampire' stuff. The most interesting thing to me was the truth we got when she first woke up. She said that she was ready to die, that she was supposed to die and that feeds into something I've long suspected (and am actually planning on bringing into play in the fic I'm writing). I think that Elena has been ready to die for a good while underneath it all going back to her parent's death. She was supposed to die that night, but she didn't. Stefan of course brought her back from the dead emotionally but she really was never brought back to fully WANTING TO LIVE (which is completely different from not feeling dead inside). This is born out when you take into account her sacrificial tendencies in season 02 and season 03. I think she was maybe getting there in season 01, but even Stefan's love wasn't enough to bring her to that point when paired with all of the supernatural he introduced into her life. The fact that this statement came from her in such an honest moment is telling to me. (And, of course, the Damon/Elena fangirl in me has hopes and belief that it is Damon who will finally, fully make her want to LIVE again, rather than just not be dead inside.)

We'll see, but I do think it's something to think about since they did highlight that thought from her.

Overall, I liked how they did the new-transitioning vampire stuff. The camera angles, odd lighting, herky-jerkiness, reaction to things around her was all played out well. No doubt we'll continue to get stuff like that as we've been told that since it's Elena as the newly vamp as opposed to a supporting character, we'll get the full spectrum of a baby vampire. And until given another sign, I'm still holding to my belief that a vampire has to focus for super-vampire hearing to kick in. The only time we saw Elena's super-hearing kick in was when she was alone in complete silence and heard the light fixture and thus was focused on that buzzing when Jeremy came in. So I do think my theory still holds.

Speaking of Jeremy, the one aspect of the show I really, really did NOT like was that Jeremy seemed to care more about Elena being human rather than being around. I could see that vampire=bad attitude and the regret over her turning coming a few days later when the reality settles in, but when it's a choice between his sister, and only living family, being around in any capacity or being dead, you'd think in the immediate rush of her DYING!, he'd be more concerned with having her around in any capacity. Yes, it was understandable that he wanted her to be human, but for the love of God, his sister DIED! just like his parents did. I expected more of a determination to keep her no matter what, and let the negativity towards vampirism hit after her being around settles down and the reality of her being a vampire truly hits. So, yeah, that really bothered me. As did not one whiff of an assertion from Elena that she needed to transition so Jeremy wouldn't be alone. I do think the ball was dropped in the Jeremy/Elena familial relationship and that gives me a sad. :(

As for Elena as a human versus a vampire. I could be completely wrong, but this show does love its bookending season premieres with finale/near-finale parallels. In "The Return" we had Elena telling Damon she would never kiss him, and Katherine telling Damon she never loved him. In the finale, Elena kissed him and Katherine said she loved both brothers, including Damon. In "The Birthday," Elena had her heartfelt phone call with Stefan which had one of the strongest emotional punches. And in the finale, she had her heartfelt (albeit painful, yes) phone call with Damon which delivered one of the strongest emotional punches. Here we had Bonnie working to bring Elena back to life as a human, and Damon commenting on it never being done in the history of vampirism. Remember we had the reveal in season 03 that Esther was going to turn her children human (in order to kill them, but still). Taking the show's history of parallels, the vampire-human Esther information, and what we got in this premiere, I do think it's quite possible that a way will be found to turn Elena back to human near or in the finale.

One of the parallels that we saw already in play was one with the finale that I found quite interesting. She told Damon her choice in a non face-to-face conversation in "The Departed." It was emotional, it was painful, passionate and it was honest. Completely and absolutely honest. The closest thing to non-brutal honesty was the bone she threw him that if she had met him first. Now we have in this premiere, Elena told Stefan her choice in a non face-to-face conversation. And it was not passionately emotional. Yes, she was weak, but there was no passion there. Stefan wasn't, but there was no passion from his end either. And I am taking her "the best choice I ever made" comment in the exact same way I took her "If I had met you first." She believed one of them was going to die and she wanted to throw him a bone to make him feel better about a choice (his to save Matt over her which was leading to her death). The biggest difference, though, for me was the dishonesty.

We literally have Stefan say if you could see my face, you'd see that I'm smiling and she re-iterated that back to him. And other than the barest, slight quirk of one side of their lips ... NEITHER WAS SMILING. That just really, really struck me. Even when they believe one of them is going to die, they still can't be fully honest with one another. That's just not them. They like their bubble of tralalalala tip-toeing through the tulips of delusion.

The last parallel was one that I was very curious about. In "The Birthday" -- as I discovered on my rewatch -- there was the definite sign that the show was leading back to Stefan and Elena through that phone call they shared. Physically she was with Damon and they were in a good place comparatively, but she was still drawn so deeply to Stefan. In tonight's episode, I got that parallel that I truly hope bears fruit in the finale as well. The sweet stuff with Stefan and Elena I felt was akin to the Damon/Elena sweet birthday stuff from the premiere. On the other hand, the charged something that showed that Elena is still deeply drawn to Damon was there in the final scene with those two in this episode. I do think that bodes well for Damon and Elena. Which brings me to a post I made a few weeks ago about 'letting go' being the theme for Damon and Elena, and I suppose in a way to Stefan and Elena as well.

I still think, and this episode made that belief stronger, that we're going to see Elena realize that she can't let go of Damon anymore than he can let go of her, but that she and Stefan are letting each other go even if they don't want to. They're just growing apart because they aren't what they once were because both of them are not who they were when they met. Included in the lyrics that played over their rooftop scene were these: Don't go back on your default baby /I know it hurts /I can see how hard you’re trying / Don't let go now. That ties into what I'm seeing. They do want to be together. Elena does want this with Stefan because after her parents died, when they were together, it was her closest-to-happy time and Stefan represents that. He represents an anchor and stability, real or not, he does represent that. And he is her default and she his, and they are trying and she doesn't want him to let go. And she doesn't want to let go. But... But, Elena is not the young, naive girl with the moral compass screwed on straight. She's stronger, more passionate, more of an adult who is seeing the world through shades of gray she never even could have conceived of before.

And, Stefan -- thank the lord! -- is actually learning. I was so damn proud of him when he told Elena that even though he wanted to tell her that things would OK, he couldn't do that. Because that was Stefan acknowledging a reality to Elena, something that he just hasn't done before. And while one could see that as a good thing for Stefan and Elena's future -- and if I believed they were the endgame couple, I would see it as such, but since I'm sure that it's Damon and Elena that are endgame, I don't -- it's not a good thing for them for one simple reason. Stefan and Elena don't do reality. When Elena said they'll get through this the way they do everything, dealing with it one day at a time, I almost laughed. Because that's not what they do. That's what Damon does, that's what Elena does when she's with Damon. But Stefan and Elena together? They bury their heads, they ignore reality, live in their bubble until it pops and they have to deal with the consequences of reality... and then as soon as they can, they surround themselves in another bubble.

As sweet as their rooftop moment was it won't last because things aren't sweet anymore. They aren't the sweet, normal teenage couple in love they were able to pretend to be before. That's simply not their lives in a way that it still, kinda, sorta could be before the Ripper returned, before Jeremy killed, before Alaric went crazy, before Bonnie went to dark places, before the Originals permeated their lives. Before Damon and her twisty, tangible feelings for him. Hey, I could be wrong, maybe they will truly face things head-on, maybe it will be them, but considering the teeny bits of spoilers I've allowed to filter through it sure seems like Elena's vampire-stuffies are going to cause problems and Elena's still there *feelings* for Damon are not going away. And how can Elena be 100% with Stefan if she does have these still there *feelings* for Damon that are very real and deep? Simple. She can't.

They can't pretend to be the sweet, normal teenage couple in love anymore. They can't because they just aren't. But this is their time, their last hurrah, I think. Don't get me wrong, obviously, I don't like dealing with any lovey-dovey stuff with them, but that is where she's at. Elena is still in denial about Damon, and she and Stefan are still in this bubble. And next week, again, not something I'm looking forward to, but it's something that does need to play out, does need to happen. Without all beats playing out, I won't buy any kind of closure for them. And I do think we're heading towards closure (at least as much as the show is willing to give -- haha! -- until the series gets closer to its final episodes).

One of the reasons I'm cautiously optimistic is despite what we did get of Stefan and Elena in this, it was nothing like what I expected. As I mentioned above, I truly thought we'd get the AAAHHHH!TWUWUV! aspect of Stefan/Elena threading every moment of them, and yet, it was only on display -- and not even to any kind of overhyped degree -- in two scenes. Even the kitchen scene, though the two of them, didn't play out as about Stefan and Elena and their love. It was all about Elena. That could have been Damon or Matt or Jeremy in that scene with her and it would have played out exactly the same. No, their two scenes were when they were locked up and she told him she was coming back to him, and on the rooftop.

And that first scene while about her choice, it wasn't romantic. It was sad, they were lying to each other in degrees, and there was almost a passive resignation to their conversation. Not all of it, Stefan's "I love you so much," was strong, the most passionate moment I thought they shared, but overall, there was this sense of 'yes, this is what we're supposed to do and say.' Which I suppose ties into fate, destiny, whatever, but it didn't read that way. It read like 'here we are, as expected, here are our assigned lines, let's go.' I just felt like it was more about them saying goodbye than their love because it was a goodbye of sorts. And yet, again, not much passion there.Yes, yes, she was weak, she was dying, but still, I just didn't feel like they were in love. That they love each other? Absolutely. Like they have this strong history? Yuppers. But in love? No, it just wasn't there. But, again, I'm not a Stefan/Elena fan, LOL!

Their second scene about them was the rooftop scene and it was romantic and sweet, but again, it felt safe, comfortable and that thread of delusion, the lie that they deal with things one day at a time when they truly don't unless they are forced to do so was so prevalent. Yes, I keep going back to the sweet description of it, but it fits so perfectly and the problem is that things should NOT just be sweet now. They were separated for six months. Elena DIED and then almost died again forever, and this is their first kiss, post-reunion, and we got a simple kiss, an entirely un-momentous ring-giving, a refrain of skipping delusionally through their relationship again ignoring reality until it bites them in the ass, one more little kiss and then a nice-view cuddle. Sweet, nice. Nothing passionate, nothing epic, nothing GLORIOUS. Just, you know, sweet.

One final note about Stefan and Elena before I move onto (whee!) Damon and Elena. I'm still not happy about Stefan giving her the ring, but I didn't feel like they made a HUGE deal out of it. It was just a sweet moment, but nothing that felt truly weighted (at least not to me). And if Elena does turn back to human by season's end, she can give him that ring back, and that would be some pretty hefty symbolism, I think. And that is what I got overall from Stefan/Elena in this episode. They were sweet, reminiscent of how I saw them in season 01. As long as it's leading to their end (which I do think it is), I'm fine with that. Because Elena is not the same girl she was when she first met Stefan and they were sweet.

No, the girl she is now has spark and bite and fights back. Like how she was Damon. Yes, she had recovered from her weakness, but the first time in the whole episode we saw Elena ALIVE! and not falling apart was with Damon. That was a conscious choice from the show. They could have had her have that first moment with Stefan, but they didn't. Instead they chose her first moment as a vampire and ALIVE! with Damon. With spark, with fire, with passion... she was with Damon. And that was one of the two scenes that she shared with Damon (sorta) that was about Damon and Elena, matching the same total of scenes with Stefan. So good balance there. But let's back up a second. I know there had to have been significance to the fact that Damon was the first person we saw Elena vamping out with ... but what was it? I can't wrap my brain around why? Someone? Anyone have an idea? I think it's good.

Not so good, although I can appreciate the sentiment and what they were trying to get across was how Elena remembered the compulsion. I just didn't like how it was done. It felt kinda cheesy and I don't think it hit the emotion it was supposed to; I mean, I didn't feel it and I'm a Damon/Elena fan. I think we were supposed to get that Elena was shaken, that Elena saw that side of Damon and it, I dunno, moved her? But I'm just not sure.* Still, it was emotional, and it was romantic because of what Damon was saying, what Elena was remembering, how she reacted, but it just didn't full connect for me. I do think that tying Damon's comment about it in the final scene helped -- which was no doubt the plan -- but I just wished I'd felt it more fully during the reveal.

* Talking to butterfly, she mentioned how when Damon said "I don't deserve you, but my brother does," Elena present-tense reacted to that with a barely perceptible shake of her head as if denying what he was saying. Hmm, interesting.

Aha! But reveal, that along with the passion, was the key thing that differentiated the Damon/Elena scenes from the Stefan/Elena scenes. In both charged Damon/Elena scenes, things were revealed, they were honest with one another, no holding back. I know many get frustrated when it seems that Elena is so brutally honest with Damon even though it hurts him, but the truth is that Damon is the same way with her because they both know now that (a) the other can take it, expect it and that honesty is one of the best things about their relationship, and (b) that both will forgive each other, pretty much no matter what. The second is obviously the case for Stefan and Elena as well, but not so much the first one.

I also found the song choice interesting. The interpretation of the lyrics of this song seem to fall along the lines about a girl who loves one boy, but she feels for another and those feelings make her question her original choice --

Twice I turn my back on you
I fell flat on my face but didn't lose
Tell me where would I go
Tell me what led you on I'd love to know

Was it the blue night
Gone fragile
Was it about the men
In wonder steady gone under
Was it the light ways
So frightening
Was it a two wills
One mirror holding us dearer now

Thought I had an answer once
But your random ways swept me along
Colossal signs so I got lost
With so many lovers singing soft


It's a bit odd and off-kilter, but it does appear that such an interpretation is accurate.

As for the second Damon/Elena scene -- not including the Elena-as-a-vamp, which was more about, well, Elena-as-a-vamp -- it revealed a lot; it was honest, open, passionate and oh so charged. And I absolutely loved that Damon said he didn't get before about her not wanting to die, but he did and that's why he would have saved her. And I loved that he said it like that because that made it clear to me that he already knew that about Elena without Stefan having to tell him, or Elena even flat-out telling him that because he knows Elena so well. And I also find it interesting that both Elena and Damon still have no earthly clue was true selflessness is. Like in the scene from "Rose," Damon wasn't being selfish, he was being incredibly selfless. And what he said to Elena, WHY he would have saved her was incredibly selfless. In fact, it revealed even more just how selfish Stefan's act was.

Sure, he saved Matt because it was what Elena wanted, but he did it so that Elena would be happy with him. It was more important to him that Elena know that he respected her choice, rather than that he respected her life. For Damon, it would be more important to him that Elena have her life, rather than a choice because he knows that *that* is what she wanted in the bigger picture... a life, to live, to grow, to age. And STEFAN took that much bigger choice from her.

I also found my 'letting go' theme furthered along by the fact that Elena specifically said to Damon that 'he couldn't let go' even as *she* literally couldn't let him go; she kept stopping him from walking away. And I think that's key because I do think this season we're going to see Elena deal with holding on and letting go with regards to both Damon and Stefan. I really do believe so. And I think what is going to happen is that it will be Elena who finds that she can't let go of Damon. Because she shouldn't be with Damon at all right now, not if she's with Stefan.

Once Damon moved up into her dance space, she should have backed away. She didn't. Once his eyes drifted to her lips and lingered, she should have backed away, looked away. She didn't. (Oh, and note her eye movement when the camera angle switches back to her, her eyes are drifting up too meaning *she* was looking at his lips also.) She shouldn't have brought up the compulsions, choosing to only specifically mention the first one but not the second because that would have been facing what he said head-on and heaven forbid Elena actually deal with this *thing* between her and Damon. No, but she mentioned the first specifically so he would know that when she said she remembered it all, he would know that she remembered the second as well. She wanted him to know that SHE knew that he told her he loved her, that she remembered that moment. She even pushed after he said 'are we done here?' (LOVED Ian Somerhalder's delivery/body language of this line) because she wanted, needed more from him.

She wants him, she likes that he loves her, she just can't admit to herself any of these things because how does it make her look? Pretty damn bad. But it's there and it's real and it's true. And when she wouldn't stop pushing, he called her on it in so many words, deliberately recalling his supposedly selfish words from then, leaving her once again shaken and not knowing how to respond. What is really interesting is that Elena is so combative with Damon, but to me she's so combative not because she wants to fight Damon, but because she's fighting her own-can-not-deal-with feelings for him. If she fights with him, if she pisses him off, if she pushes him away she can either justify not being with him if he responds badly, or she can just not deal because she's pushed him away. She wants so much, and yet she desperately doesn't want to want and she just does not know how to deal. So she's combative.

Yes, these two are definitely the charged, connected, something-is-still-there couple. Definitely. And in this scene, Ian Somerhalder and Nina Dobrev proved once again how insane their chemistry is. Whoo boy! Seriously, I actually wondered for a brief moment if they were going to kiss! It is just so THERE with them.

Another thing that I just thought of and am editing in ... oh my goodness!! As the scene began, Elena was saying "you were gonna kill him!" and Damon said "yup" which, by the way, I just don't believe was the case even though he said such to Elena. I know, I know, what about the honesty between Damon and Elena I was spouting about above? Well, I feel like it wasn't a lie so much as Damon just going along with her with attitude of jumping directly to believing the worst about him. And he just figured, 'whatever, I'm done, if it makes her happy, why the hell not?' I just -- I'm sorry, but this was NOT Damon Salvatore in killing mode.

Anyhoo, the actual reason for the 'oh my goodness' edit: one other thing I noted was that after Elena told Damon it was her choice, and he shouldn't get mad at Matt or Stefan. Obviously, she was specifically talking about what just happened with Matt, but at that point, Elena hadn't seen Damon get mad at Stefan. Yet she added his name ... she equated Matt and Stefan. Or rather, the WRITERS equated Matt and Stefan. You know, Matt her ex who Elena finally admitted to herself just didn't do it for her, and so much of what she said to Matt about Stefan sounded like things she probably said about Matt (shoulds rather than wants). Uh huh.

Okay, I'm going for random thoughts for the rest because this is, once again, way longer than I intended, LOL! Breaking down by character, story, etc.

- How did Elena get away after vamping? I think with her new vampire strength, she was able to bend the bars a bit, or erm, just stretch more and reach for the guard-guy and grab his keys. Works for me. Why she didn't rescue Rebekah? Hah, as if! Why she didn't rescue Stefan? Well, turnabout is fair play, hahahaha!

- Damon is awesome. Full-stop period. I just love him so.

- Speaking of Damon's awesome... didja notice? Damon was cleaning up Elena's living room. Aww, that boy, such a neatfreak. :)

- I supremely loved how Liz's words got to Damon to stop hurting Matt, and that even as he did that, she wasn't anti-Damon at all. Go team Damon/Liz!

- I also loved every second with Matt and Damon. Since Matt is now my second favorite male character on the show -- and boy totally lived up to my expectations of how he'd be -- I was thrilled seeing them interact. (More please!) I know there has been some frustration with Damon's (misdirected) anger at Matt. Clearly, I'm in the minority, because I completely understood why Damon was so mad at Matt, and I don't think that he was going to kill him. Damon wasn't truly angry at Matt. He was angry at Stefan, but because he and Stefan had basically just agreed that they weren't going to let the girl get in the way of them again, he projected that anger onto the next target -- a target who was basically asking for it (poor Matty!). It wasn't right, but it was absolutely understandable when taking into account EVERYTHING that had happened in the last 24 hours.

Another apparently minority opinion, but I don't think that Damon was actually going to kill Matt, and I don't think Elena thought he was either -- she would have been much angrier with him. To me, Damon acted so much like he did with Bill (in "Disturbing Behavior"), except he didn't cover his anger/frustration as he did with Bill. His affirmative to Elena, as I noted above, was him just going along with her as usual, 'jump to the worst conclusion when it comes to Damon' attitude. What I found heartbreaking about that whole Damon/Matt scene is how Matt basically just took it all because he feels the same way that Damon does about the situation. Oh Matty!

- Oh, and speaking of Matty! SHUT THE FUCK UP, STEFAN! Seriously, when dude went off on Matt, I wanted to smack him -- but in a good way because I like asshole-Stefan because it shows clearly that he is not a one-note-white-knight even outside of ripper-douche mode -- for two reasons. First of all, no way in hell would he have acted that with Matt in front of Elena. And that's one of the things I can't stand about Stefan and Elena... how he always tries to present himself in the best light for her, not the real Stefan, but the best version of himself he can imagine being. And that's not just not conducive for or indicative of a healthy relationship. I always like when I get continued proof of that since it feeds my interpretation of Stefan and Elena; it's a show, not a tell.

Secondly and more importantly because, dude, Stefan! It was NOT Elena's choice to save Matt's. It was yours. YOU MADE THE CHOICE. Yeah, it's what Elena wanted you to do, but it wasn't up to her. She had no power in that situation. You made the decision to do it. Own up to it, man. As for telling him to respect the choice that Elena made by being grateful every day he wakes up, again, DUDE! You made the choice. And it's not your place now to give Matt grief for feeling like shit over a choice that WAS NOT HIS when you aren't even really his friend. Elena can say that to him. Jeremy can say that to him. Not you, Stefan. Tsk, tsk.

- Oh, Rebekah. I just felt for her pretty much from beginning to end. My poor Rebekah. Still, I liked that Damon tried to attack her even knowing his odds, and as much as I love her, I'm glad she got shot before she could hurt him because, dude, Rebekah, he DID save your life. Naughty girl. I also liked that I totally read the stupid episode synopsis right (Rebekah is moved by Stefan and Elena's devotion to each other) in that she would just see them interacting and be all, hmm, people who actually care about one another ... what is this thing? since you know fucking Klaus once again showed what a douchebag tool he is. When TyKlaus opened that door and didn't even try to help Rebekah I was so pissed off. Klaus, you SUCK! And then to completely repudiate Rebekah? Klaus, you BASTARD! (OK, literally, but pejoratively also.) My poor Rebekah. I still love you. (And, yes, I'm terrible, but her "I get to watch you die all over again, my day just got a whole lot better" cracked me up.)

- Aww, the ONLY amount of concern Rebekah showed at all was for Matt likely not having "automobile insurance." Aww, Matt/Rebekah! I ♥ them.

- One more quick note about the triangle, I did find it interesting that the show began with it seeming like it was just Stefan with Elena, and then boom! there's Damon. Very indicative of what is going on overall with them. It's never just Stefan and Elena, Damon is always a part of the equation.

- I did like that Klaus wasn't trying to fool Caroline. I mean, he did tell her, and then kept trying while she kept macking on him. And it made perfect sense that he would still enjoy the action since she was giving it out. Still with that said, with all that was going on -- and obviously due to her first scene with Matt, she KNEW that Elena had died and was now transitioning -- the fact that Caroline was all about boinking her boyfriend NOW just really rubbed me the wrong way. Every other single character was focused on the main events, their friends and family and other than the one phone call from her mom that lasted about five seconds, all we saw from Caroline was my boyfriend!my boyfriend! my boyfriend! Gotta say, I'm still not liking Caroline as much as I used to. I do not want this trend to continue, but I fear it will. (On the plus side, DAMN! did Candice Accola's hair look gorgeous!)

- So Michael Trevino as Joseph Morgan's Klaus. Hmm. I was surprised because I thought he did the body language well in the first scene, but trying to do the inflections and such was a little too try-hard for me. And then it just kinda all fell apart after that. REALLY glad he's out already, even if I wasn't particularly pleased with that little plot point there.

- Exactly because it felt just like a plot point. Taking Grams out just because Klaus couldn't wait a day or so? I dunno, that bugged. Still, obviously that is setting something up with Bonnie to come and I am interested to see where they take it. And, yes, poor Bonnie. Just like Elena, again, Bonnie more than anyone else winds up getting punished. Seriously, Elena, Bonnie and Damon are the eternal whipping boy/girls of this show. At least Elena and Bonnie get some love and support though. (Let's change that up this season, guys, and give Damon some too.)

- Erm, you all know that I love Nina Dobrev to bits and I generally think she's a sensationally fantastic actress, but yeah that laughing to crying scene? Was BAAAAD! Like clichéd, CW-ridiculed levels of BAAADD! Just, yeah no. I was actually embarrassed for her in that moment. Just not good. I'm sorry, I still love her and normally think she's awesome!

- Shocker of all shockers! Stefan actually did save Elena. I really thought she wouldn't be able to reach the blood of the council dude and that Matt would come in and she'd drink from him. But no, Stefan's premeditated act to get her blood actually saved her life. I also liked Stefan/Rebekah tag-teaming to take out guard dude so seamlessly. Aww, and just because he succeeds so rarely, a special shout-out to Stef! Go Stefan!

- Another go Stefan! moment? He ACTUALLY acknowledged that Damon was right (that Elena should have fed that morning), and lo and behold! Elena didn't disagree. YIPPEE!

- Small technical complaint, I felt that there were too many quick cuts in the first twenty minutes or so of the show, it didn't allow for any emotional momentum to really build.

- Hmm, Pastor Young's blow-up plan was STUPID! I'm sure it's leading somewhere, but it just came across as stupid. I thought it was Damon who was turning on the gas, and then even better, Matt or Meredith, which would have been really cool. Because we would have had Stefan's line about Damon planning revenge, followed by Matt or Meredith actually doing the deed. That would have been shocking and would have set up Stefan, Elena, Bonnie, etc. blaming Damon before the reveal. As it was, I don't know Pastor Young, and despite the grand opening with Damon as head of the council we never got to see that in play so I just kinda feel like, eh, who cares about them. (Rather like why I've never thought "Founder's Day" is as fantastic as most because I didn't know the tomb vampires, so I didn't care.) They just didn't matter so there was no emotional heft. And blowing them all up for the next phase ... what? In heaven? I dunno. Again, I'm sure it's leading somewhere, but it just seemed kinda stupid. Hopefully the reveal down the road will make it cool and awesome in retrospect. And hey, at least the episode didn't end on Stefan and Elena on the roof! LOL!

- It likely means nothing, but I did find it interesting that Damon was the only vampire we saw in full vamp-face mode outside of Elena... despite the fact that we saw all of the other vampires in fighting mode at some point during the episode (except Caroline). Even when Rebekah attacked the guard, there were just some slight veining, no red eyes or full-vamp face. So, yeah, could mean nothing, but still only Damon and Elena went full-vampy in her first vampy episode.

- Lastly, Damon’s hair? Was good! Which leads us to THE most important thing about The Vampire Diaries that happened. WE GOT NEW PRETTY IAN SOMERHALDER ON OUR SCREENS!! WOOHOO!

Phew! OK, so the first episode of the season, yay. I didn't LOVE it. Alright, I didn't even love it. But I liked it; I was mostly pleased. I'm satisfied with how they played out the Damon/Elena and Stefan/Elena stuff and I think that both fanbases should be reasonably satisfied as they both got fair shakes. I'm cautiously hopeful that things are indeed heading where I thought they would. Now, if the season ends with Stefan and Elena together through it all and still together at the end, then obviously the show isn't writing in fairness to the story and fanbases. Rather, they are just stringing along the triangle to prolong it to the end never mind how incredibly unfair it is to Damon/Elena fanbase. In that case, my attitude will change.

However, I'm holding out until the end of this season before I give up in expecting that the writing will have any semblance of follow-through as opposed to a quick throwing together of Damon and Elena towards the end. With there being six seasons planned, going with Damon and Elena at the tail-end of this season and the last two evening things out, there would be balance. However, if things continue on so heavily with Stefan/Elena to and at the end of this season, clearly they are not going for any kind of fair balance. The most popular couple (by far) deserves to get as much (and more) than the least popular half of the triangle. Just endgame is NOT enough.

Again, though, I am hopeful, especially after this episode. We'll see.
Tags: bonnie bennett, caroline forbes, damon salvatore, damon/elena, damon/liz, damon/matt, elena gilbert, ep discussion-tvd, ian somerhalder, matt donovan, nina dobrev, stefan salvatore, the vampire diaries, tv
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