Just a reminder: PLEASE NO SPOILERS. I'm not reading them. I'm not looking at episode stills. I'm not reading episode synopses. I'm not looking at extended previews or webclips either. I'm not doing spoilers at all.
First off, this episode was much better than last week and, in my opinion, the strongest so far this season. We also learned two things: 1.) The narrative that I believed that was building with regards to the triangle continued even stronger in this episode, and 2.) the direction truly did interpret intent so badly last week. Which was made blindingly clear in the first Damon/Elena scene. First off, you had Damon reference their "hot, sweaty dance party" and then even more tellingly, Elena refer to what she did with Damon as "dirty dancing."
I think we can all agree... what we saw last week was NOT dirty dancing sadly. Clearly, it was supposed to be much, much, much more than as directed by Joshua Butler -- and ALL ABOUT the heat, the tension and the desire between Damon and Elena not only because of those descriptions of the dancing, but also because of Elena's obvious denial that it wasn't her. And, of course there was the fact that Damon pointed out what Elena didn't tell Stefan after he left, on top of Stefan dodging Elena's call, proving that, yes, we were not supposed to take away AHHH!TWU!WUV from those final moments with Stefan and Elena, but rather that while they were saying the right words about love and support, holding onto each other, both were keeping things from one another and lying! Uh huh. Pfft, lame-ass direction.
Anyhoo, moving on to this episode. The biggest things for me in this episode was how much I love Elena, and how clearly the lines were drawn between what Elena is saying, and what she's actually feeling. Namely in regards to Stefan and Damon. Sure she's "Stefan's girl," but she doesn't trust him. Nope, nope, nope. Wanna recall how blindingly clear that was made? Let's start with a compare/contrast between both brothers asking Elena to trust them (Damon in "Homecoming," and Stefan here).
Notice how Elena answers "yes" IMMEDIATELY after Damon asks her? No hesitation, no searching in her eyes, no thinking about it. Just an automatic yes. However, when Stefan says she needs to trust him, there's a pause, he adds a plea and after a looong hesitation, searching in her eyes, clearly thinking about it, she finally offers up a reluctant, yuppers, reluctant nod.
Of course, that reluctance was obvious that she was just giving him what he wanted, but not the reality, because no, she doesn't trust him. We saw that earlier when she was looking out the window, watching him, clearly suspicious of who he was talking to on the phone, a suspicion she shared with Damon. And that whole 'trust me' bit from Stefan was about him wanting her to stay put and trust his plan of action. As soon as Damon woke up and he told her what he thought she should do (which, admittedly, was what she wanted to do), she did that. She trusted what Damon told her to do, his plan of action (just as she had in "Homecoming), but not Stefan.
Which was made perfectly clear at the end. Stefan told her to stay put. She did not. Damon told her to kill Connor. She did. Also, earlier on in the episode, when Stefan was talking about how not to get Connor and Damon disagreed, Elena quickly jumped in to say "Damon's right." In a crisis situation that involves the person she loves most (Jeremy), she sides with Damon. And Damon was in that same team-us (us=Damon/Elena) mode as well. After Stefan struck Damon down, and he woke up, he said to Elena "he's playing us." US -- in action mode, Damon was thinking of the two of them as a team, separate from Stefan, and Elena didn't disagree. Again, she then went and followed through with their plan of action.
Now, I'm sure one could take that she made the wrong move in listening to Damon and not Stefan because there goes the whole cure, but I disagree and I don't think that's what the show was telling us. Elena was in the situation she was in -- not working *with* Stefan -- because *he* didn't trust her. *HE* didn't tell her what was going on. That's why she listened to Damon because with of the information they both had at their disposal at the time, killing Connor was the right thing to do. Otherwise, he would have tried to kill all of them and clearly had no problem threatening, injuring innocents to do so. And, of course, there are more hunters out there and Jeremy is now one of them... so the cure is still within reach.
Another very important compare/contrast was the fact that Elena had essentially the EXACT SAME conversation with Damon and Stefan in this episode (involving her taking care of herself and the promise that Jeremy would be fine). What was so interesting, and a big positive for the Damon/Elena side is how Elena acted different. We saw a different, stronger, better Elena with Damon. When he told her she couldn't defend herself, she argued with him using facts and then she showed him with action -- and hello! HOT!, ooh, that look on his face, he was loving vamp!Elena in action!! On the other hand, when Elena told Stefan that she could defend herself, she was teary-eyed, playing the damsel-in-distress. She didn't use facts, didn't remind him of their training and didn't show him that she could fight back. Instead, she just fell back into the passive, girlfriend role. The Elena who didn't take action from before season 03.
Also, when Stefan told her that he would get Jeremy out, Elena shook her head and made a negative sound as if she doesn't quite believe it. Yet when Damon told her the same, she gave him a grave look, but one of acceptance. Damon, she believes. Stefan? Not so much. And then, of course, in the end, she flat-out tells Stefan that she doesn't trust him... something that was clear in so many ways throughout the episode. When Damon talks to her, she doesn't question him, she doesn't tell him she doesn't trust him, instead she tells him that she did what he said.
Everything we are seeing (minus the directional fail last week, *sigh*) is making it clear that Stefan and Elena are not what they were. They can not go back. She trusts Damon more than Stefan. She also wants Damon. It was a quick moment, but when he reached for her arm the second time, she paused and looked down at his hand touching her, momentarily affected. Uh huh. And, of course, after sitting astride him to prove her vampire skills, she didn't get up any time soon, did she? Not to mention the totally in-denial-mode denying of the hot dance times with Damon being about Damon. Aha, but it was not just from Elena's end that we are seeing the fail in their relationship. Oh, no, it's shining through loud and clear from Stefan's end as well.
First of all, these last few episodes have begun to highlight something that's always been there, but is *really* coming out in full force now. Stefan is selfish. Stefan is incredibly selfish. He truly is. He basically has two modes: real-Stefan, who when push comes to shove will do ANYTHING for Damon, and if Damon is not in danger, then it's all about what Stefan desires, and then there is image-projection-Stefan who expresses his one true desire to do all for Elena (even, when you know, again it's about what *he* wants). First off, he once again showed his underhanded fashion in making Elena think less of his brother. Asking her if she could count on Damon, allowing that he would help Jeremy for Elena, but not Matt and April. Never mind that Damon has already helped Matt. That Damon has helped Elena's friends before and not for Elena's sake. No, it was just Stefan trying to taint his brother in Elena's eyes... again.
And, of course, there's his selfishness when it comes to this cure business. All of this he's doing to get the cure has NOTHING TO DO WITH ELENA. Why? Because she doesn't know about it, so we don't know, Stefan doesn't know 100% what her choice would be. Maybe, knowing that Klaus is part of the package deal, she wouldn't want to subject her potential child, grandchild, great-great-great child who is the next doppelganger being controlled by Klaus. Maybe, *she* doesn't want to be controlled by Klaus. Is it most likely that yeah she would choose humanity with the hopes of getting around the Klaus thing? Sure. But Stefan doesn't know that.
All he knows is that HE wants Elena as a human, because let's face it, he doesn't love vampire-Elena. Clearly. He can tell Damon that he will always love Elena, but obviously, no, he won't because always implies a vampire Elena and he doesn't want her to be a vampire. He flat-out said that: "I don't want her to be." This isn't about Elena, it's all about Stefan and what Stefan wants. His love for Elena? Was proven tonight by his own words to be conditional. On the other hand, I believe that we had the line of the episode -- possibly the intent for this season, if not the series -- from Damon when he told Stefan that "I'm fine with her either way, brother." Because he is.
He likes Elena just as she is, human or vampire, but because he believes that Elena wants Stefan, and Stefan only wants a human Elena, Damon is agreeing to help Stefan on a quest to return Elena back to her human state. And I'm OK with him not telling Elena now because (a) it's not putting anyone else in danger, and (b) it looks like a wild-goose chase with little chance of leading to a cure. Trying to find some random Hunter among billions and billions of people as opposed to knowing the Hunter is right there is very different. Telling her this would get her hopes up with the possibility of no returns, and send her spiraling over the killing of Connor. Which was Stefan's fault. Because he should have told her. Period. But he didn't, because he's selfish.
And I don't see how one can watch these flow of episodes this season and now see how obviously this is being laid out. Stefan and Elena are not working. I mean, in this one, you had Damon assume at the start that Stefan was with Elena, and of course he wasn't. Damon also assumed that Elena would have told Stefan about what happened with the
Random thoughts --
- Short, sweet, but oh so hot. LOVED, LOVED, LOVED the Damon/Elena stake gun scene.
- The diary entries, oy vey! I rolled my eyes when they came out again, bemoaning that Stefan and Elena are *that* lame that they can't even talk to each other, and the only way to tell what's going on with them is through an inanimate object. After the episode, I spoke with sarcasticcheese and she mentioned that she read in a post-episode interview that Julie Plec essentially said that people in a functional relationship talk to each other. Stefan and Elena don't, thus the diaries. Ie., Stefan and Elena are NOT in a functional relationship. Uh huh.
- Another telling moment with regards to Stefan and Elena is how Stefan's actions had consequences in that she did not go to him for comfort while digging Connor's grave. She did not talk to him but to tell him to leave her alone later, and was home alone doing her freak-out there without him.
- And another telling moment with regards to Damon and Elena was when she referenced what happened last time with Jeremy: "Haven't WE already been here before with Jeremy? Isn't this why WE sent him to Denver?" WE = the two of them, Damon and Elena. (Remember, Ric was pretty much just a bystander in that decision.) And then that was furthered when Damon said that "Well, WE'll get him out of this and WE'll compel him down to the Bahamas." WE = D/E. Uh huh.
- Wow, Bonnie's scenes felt so useless and out of place in this episode. *sigh* And as much as I love Michael Narducci, he again pulled the stupid tease ploy that is so beneath this show. He did it in "The Last Dance" -- his first episode -- when he had Damon tell Jeremy "we need to talk" teasing that he was going to tell Jeremy Bonnie was dead, as opposed to where she was when it was sooo obvious. Here, the one lone stupid candle not being lit, but all the others were. That just makes you wonder why the one didn't light. Stupid. That one should have lit, given her a brief moment of happiness and then fall back with 'well, it was just one' then she looked around the room and saw the rest lit. Ah well.
- Speaking of Bonnie and the Professor. Erm, am I supposed to be getting romantic vibes here? I really, really hope not because it's creepy. He looks like he's fifteen or so years older than her and he's a PROFESSOR at a COLLEGE and she's a HIGH-SCHOOL STUDENT. CREEPY!
- ETA: I could have sworn I put this in here (I mentioned it elsewhere), but tams71 reminded me of something I thought of myself. What exactly happened during those seven hours she was under hypnosis? I mean, obviously, he most likely put latent hypnotic suggestions in her brain, but what suggestions? Hmm.....
- Still, I like this guy as a big bad way more than Todd Williams' Connor. I thought Connor was a cool idea, cool character, but the actor was so wooden and one-note, he brought nothing to the role. So, yay, I'm glad he's dead.
- And since he's dead, that's why Jeremy's tattoo is starting. And I'm guessing that Jeremy's hybrid-kill from last season is why the tattoo started? OK, then.
- Sure, he denied that he and Rebekah had a thing, but I liked that Matt now knows that she's missing and they are at least connected in someone's mind as a 'thing.' Also? Matt and Jeremy? Humans of the show? Were awesome. They were not passive bystanders. So proud of those two!
- As for Caroline -- ugh, ugh, ugh! Other than a few moments in the one scene with the group, her story was once again all about boy issues and she played practically no part in the bigger, more important story going on. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.
- I was NOT a fan of Phoebe Tonkin on The Secret Circle, giving the credit for the character's success to the fact that hers was the only one with snappy dialogue. When I found out she was joining this show, I was not a happy camper because I thought little of her. I wasn't impressed in her first appearance. In this one? I want her gone yesterday. So not a strong actress. AT ALL.
- Heh, Damon wasn't gonna kill Stefan. Hah! Him threatening to rip out Stefan's heart was so the vampire version of older brother bullying.
- I have one other Narducci complaint! Damnit, man, you are the reliable source for my Damon/Jeremy crack! If Jeremy is in the episode, I've always been assured of getting some gooood Damon/Jeremy stuff if your name is in the credits. But this one? Pfft! Except for a few lines that hinted that way, there just wasn't much. *sigh* I'll have to take the Bahamas line and Damon's urging to get Bonnie out of retirement to save Jeremy as my only solace. :sniff sniff:
- I loved that April got the vervain bracelet. Yeah, baby! I like her. I don't love her, but I like her.
- One small Damon thing that I loved, and maybe I was the only one who thought this, but when Stefan told Damon there was a cure for vampirism and Damon repeated it back there was more than just surprise in his voice, I swear there was a teeny bit of hope. Hope that was there on his face as well, and I just couldn't help but flashback to him confessing to Jessica, his roadside victim in "The Descent," that his big secret is that he misses being human. And Stefan telling him that in that moment opened the floodgate, even if only briefly, of that desire that Damon has to be human again. Something that we know no one else not only knows, but has absolutely zero clue about and would never guess.
- Aha! I called it! Elena would the episode title's "killer." Pertinent line: Well, the next episode is called "The Killer." I keep wondering if the killer will turn out to be Elena. Aha!
- Finally, a moment to praise Nina Dobrev and Elena Fucking Gilbert. When it really hit Elena that she had killed someone, Dobrev did an outstanding job selling that moment. Just fabulous, she had me tearing up a bit.
Because I love Elena. Like lots. And this episode gave me lots of reason to love her. Namely that she was so pro-active. She was not going to sit back and be the passive damsel-in-distress. She had a plan, she didn't go rushing headlong into danger without thinking (despite that being her first instinct) but listened to Damon's advice. And then she went into action. Did she take a little turn in the Grill and lose her prey momentarily? Yes, but she still did it. I know, I know, she considered it losing control, and she did and she was devastated by it, but (a) she's not as weak as Stefan thinks because she didn't turn the switch off, boom! right away, and (b) she still took action and she was awesome!
So, overall, very good episode and one that proves that last week's less-than-stellar outing was less-than-stellar due entirely to the direction because the narrative was there and beautifully followed through tonight. Bring on next week! WOOHOO!
And once more for the road. I appreciate any comments so much, but if you are going to comment, please, please remember NO SPOILERS. I'm not reading them. I'm not looking at episode stills. I'm not reading episode synopses. I'm not looking at extended previews or webclips either. I'm not doing spoilers at all. Thank you. :)