Jumping right into it with my favorite character, Mr. Damon Salvatore, and his relationships. Not much to say about Damon and Elena since we didn't get much with them. We were denied a reunion of sorts with them, but considering all that was going on, it did make sense. And I did like that Elena gave Damon a bit of hell for what he did, and how he didn't cower but laid out his case. (Even a mini-one, these two give good fight.) And, you know, Damon was right. Klaus made it clear what he would do when he turned the pizza girl. So Damon went along with the least of Klaus' evil options. Some can say that Damon was complicit with what Klaus did, but you have a choice when you're complicit. Damon didn't have a choice. He went with the tribal mentality, protect and keep our own safe even if innocents are injured. The other option was that innocents get injured *and* their own become bait. And when Jeremy wouldn't go along with Klaus' plan that is exactly what happened. When Damon told Elena that he was trying to do the quickest, easiest way to get this done, he meant it.
Elena, of course, then told Damon essentially what she told Stefan -- I don't want the cure, if it means people I love get hurt. The difference in the responses is why I can see Damon's point of view over Stefan's. Stefan didn't take Jeremy or his safety (physical or mental) into account. Damon actually was, and told Elena after she said this that he would keep Jeremy safe. It still doesn't make what Damon is doing right, but in this situation, there is no right. Jeremy is a Hunter. He needs to kill vampires. Damon tried training him to get him ready to go after a vampire's nest -- which one presumes are choosing-to-be-nasty-vampires. Klaus wasn't willing to wait that long. So Damon made the best choice of a crop of lousy, lousy choices in a no-good situation.
The other Damon/Elena related-things were the sire-bond and compulsion-resistance. The first, again we saw Elena basically pooh-pooh it away. She rationally knows (or thinks she knows) that it's real, but it's quite obvious that really deep down she doesn't believe it matters. Does this mean she won't stay away from Damon in his cell? Nope, because whether she believes it or not, since the rational part of her brain is accepting its reality, she isn't going to put her brother's life at risk. What I did find interesting -- and notch this one in another 'the sire bond isn't real' column -- is how because of the possible danger to Jeremy's life, it was neat way to get around yet again testing the bond. Uh huh.
As for compulsion-resistance... I know that with this show a lot of times that arcs they have planned, they have to postpone because they have so much story. It happened with the full-on introduction of Tyler's werewolf story being moved from late season 01 to season 02. The Stefan/Katherine arc -- which I still believe is coming -- was postponed in season 02. Now, I think the compulsion resistance introduced early in season 03 -- which I thought would come into play towards the end of that season -- is now coming to the fore again. So, it looks like we're going to be getting that arc play out, which I'm excited about.
There were two things I noted with the inclusion here, the first is that I alternately love/hate how Damon's Stefan love was showing. When Elena said she believed he could resist the compulsion, Damon automatically rah-rah-rah-ed Stefan resisting the compulsion in comparison. I loved it because (a) any bro-love sign-age, I'm gonna love, and (b) Elena just completely ignored that comparison because she don't swing that way and instead made it about them ("Because I love you and you love me. Because I know that you'll do anything for me. So please do this for me."). I hated it because, dude, he was wrong. Just as Damon was unable to resist the compulsion, so was Stefan. The difference is that clearly Damon IS much stronger because his attempts to resist were way, way, way more controlled than Stefan's
When Stefan was explaining to Elena that he couldn't resist it, he was in near-tears, frustrated beyond all measure and once it came time to resist, he was lurching about like a drunken madman desperately fighting with himself, and of course, in the end wasn't able to resist it at all. On the other hand, Damon was calm as he told Jeremy that he couldn't resist it, warning him to run away and keep away. And both times that he got close to him, close enough that he could have easily killed Jeremy in two seconds, he didn't. He kept telling Jeremy to kill him. Over and over and over again. Finally, had Jeremy's blood not dropped, grabbing Damon (and Elena's) attention, it looked like Damon was actually this close to actually succeeding in resisting the compulsion. So yeah, it was love/hate, but mostly love.
Moving onto the other relationships with Damon in this episode, we had Damon and his three baby brothers, because, yeah, that's totally what Jeremy and Matt are to him now. First we'll hit on the real one. I LOVED the sole Damon/Stefan scene (well, not counting the neck-snap) -- yes, Stefan was kinda dick-ish, but he was dick-ish in a totally 'I love my brother, but I'm pissed at him' way that really was Damon's forte for much of seasons 01 and 02. Even as Damon was saying you're enjoying this and what-not, and Stefan was acting like he was, it didn't read to me as 'ooh, I'm having so much fun making my brother miserable,' but rather, 'haha, I'm the cool-in-control brother for once, booyah! Score one for the baby of the family!' I dunno, I just loved it and I loved how Paul played the scene. But, honestly, I pretty much loved how Paul played every scene. (But more on him when I talk about Stefan.)
Then there's Matt. At first, I was a bit upset with Matty in this episode as he was so anti-Damon, but upon reflection and rewatch, I realized that it wasn't so much that he was anti-Damon, but rather than he felt betrayed by Damon because he's actually *not* anti-Damon now, and you can see that in how he acts. He may say the words that indicates he thinks Damon's just the 'bad guy,' but his actions tell a different story. Take the first scene, Damon tells Jeremy to go to the car, he'll be behind him and says to Matt: "Both of you," and Matt looks at him in wide-eyed shock then around the room, but pretty much immediately responds because he *knows* that Damon will do what he can to protect him. That showed instinctive, automatic faith in Damon as his protector. And in their final scene, Matt was basically an insolent, little pup to Damon, but he did so without a hint of false bravado or fear... because he *knows* that there will be no reprisal. He knows that Damon won't hurt him, and if Damon was this terrible, big bad that Matt's words imply he thinks he is, he wouldn't risk payback.
And, of course, the reason Matt feels this way is because, again, without words, Damon has shown this to be true. In the bar, as soon as Klaus threatened Matt, Damon automatically protested, six months ago (show-time), Damon would've shrugged about it. Now, he was genuinely pissed off that Klaus was playing that card. Also, the next morning, even though he said it in an insulting, snarky way, the fact that Damon thought of the fact that Matt had to leave in order to be safe says something. And, of course, most telling... when Damon came upon Matt and Jeremy in the woods, Jeremy told Matt that they could make it to the house and be safe, Damon immediately wanted to know why Jeremy was choosing to run away. As soon as Jeremy said that Matt's life was in danger, Damon conceded without even the thought of an argument, and then put himself in potential harm's way (yeah, they were newbie vamps, but there were a *lot* of them) to keep Matt safe.
Which brings us to Damon and Jeremy. Not only did we see that Damon does care about Matt's safety in that moment, we also saw that Jeremy (like Elena) *expects* that Damon will do the "right" thing. He didn't even hesitate to explain that Matt's safety was paramount, and he absolutely expected that that would matter to Damon. And it did. Same as in the earlier scene in the bar where Jeremy was so upset that Damon hadn't kept Klaus from doing this... he was upset because he expected Damon to be able to stop Klaus. (Which, Jere, Damon's awesome and all that, but this is KLAUS we're talking about.) Also, last week, Jeremy kinda prodded at Damon about him not caring for Jeremy, and you could see that maybe Jeremy was trying to get some validation from Damon that he did indeed care aside from his feelings for Elena. However, this week, there was no maybe about it from where I stand. With the multiple times Jeremy prodded, it was pretty obvious this was the case. He wants Damon to acknowledge that he cares. I'm not saying that Jeremy is aware that this is why he's doing it, but it is SOOO why he's doing it.
So, yes, it's obvious, that, yes, Jeremy does care about Damon, despite, like Matt, him saying often enough that Damon can't be trusted, etc. We saw multiple examples of that in this episode. Aside from the seeking validation bits, there was also two other key moments that really brought it home. The first was when Kol had Damon. Jeremy could have easily just let Kol keep and kill Damon and not cared. But he didn't, instead he called Elena to let her know. OK, then, well, he did that because he knows that Elena loves Damon -- sire bond or not -- so he was thinking of his sister's feelings. However, that doesn't track either because of *how* he told Elena. He sounded worried, really, really worried with a totally 'we gotta save him!' vibe in his voice.
Then there was his reaction after he realized that Damon was going to try and kill him. In that store room, when he cocked his gun and turned to face the door knowing that it would be Damon coming through, he looked so upset and his hand was shaking. His poor, baby face! He so didn't want to do it. And we know definitively he didn't want to do it because even after being told repeatedly by Damon to kill him, even as Damon pointed out that as a Hunter, of course, he wanted to kill Damon... Jeremy didn't do it. Because he does care about Damon. And Damon obviously does care about him. He just isn't going to admit it at this point because that's not how Damon rolls.
He doesn't allow himself to be vulnerable, and admit he cares because he's been burned so many times, and because as he told Elena in "Heart of Darkness," if he lets people see the good in him, that creates expectations that he doesn't want to live up to (because, of course, he believes that he'll never be able to live up to anyone's good expectations). But he does care. We know that because he is doing his best to protect Jeremy, and he's trying to do it in a way that keeps Jeremy from mentally losing it (unlike Stefan's "My Brother's Keeper" method). He's putting himself in danger without thought to save Jeremy, like him going after Kol and telling Jeremy to run knowing there was no way he'd last long against Kol.
Then later, when Kol was making Damon torture himself, he tried to get Damon to admit that he wanted Jeremy dead, but Damon wasn't having any of it. "Nope," he said. And there were two other key scenes that made it clear how much Damon does care about Jeremy. Kol compelled Damon to find Jeremy and kill him, but he also compelled him to not remember what Kol wanted him to do. So, Damon asks Elena where Jeremy is because he has to find him (per the unremembered compulsion), but because he doesn't remember why he wants to find Jeremy when Elena asks him, naturally he knows that he needs to find him, doesn't know why, so his brain automatically supplied a reason. And that reason? To apologize to Jeremy for being so hard on him. Say it with me: Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww! See, he *does* care!
The other key moment was in the scene with Kol. I mentioned in the write-up for "The New Deal" that "I love how when Damon's loved ones (ie, Elena and Alaric) are in danger from someone in a wary situation, he does the moving in front of them for protection thing. [...] I love that move of Damon's. :)) How Damon stands to move in front of people he cares about to keep them safe. It started with Elena, but he also did it with Ric."
And now, he's doing it with Jeremy.
All of this is to say that I genuinely believe this is leading to something, likely a bonding thing (!), with them towards the end of the season. In fact, if Damon does "die," I'm expecting it now to be in the course of saving Jeremy's life... which would be a lovely parallel to "killing" Jeremy in "The Return." Oh right, which Stefan referenced in this episode.
Speaking of Stefan, as I said above, I loved pretty much how Paul Wesley played every Stefan moment, and I loved just about every Stefan moment (but for one thing) in this episode. Of course, that's easy to say because I love Stefan. I love him, I love him, I love him, and I am sad at seeing all of the Stefan-hate, even from people who previously liked him. :( See for me I get that he's being a dick and an asshole, but I get totally why! And I don't think he's being any more of a dick and an asshole than Damon has been in the past, and I understood why Damon did so. Same with Stefan. He and Elena broke up. Less than 24 hours later, she was doing the wild fandango with his brother. Period. Yes, you can pull out all the extenuating circumstances you want... Damon and Elena had been falling in love for over a year now, and once she was free, of course, it was going to burst out. Stefan left them alone in that big empty house. The sire bond (if you believe it's real) was in play. All very true (or maybe true in the case of the sire bond, meh). It doesn't matter. She and Stefan broke up. Less than 24 hours later, she was having sex with his brother. That's bad. That's really bad.
I love Elena. I'm not judging her. I don't think she's a slut. I love Damon. I'm not judging him. I don't think he's a terrible brother. But I love Stefan too. I'm not judging him. I don't think he's a bad brother, or an awful person for being pissy and pissed-off and mean to Elena and hating on Damon. I get it. Of course, he's going to be upset. Of course, he's going to be pissed off. It's been a week or so. And during that week, in between finding out that she slept with his brother, he got the compelled, unvarnished truth that while, sure, she loves him, she's not in love with him anymore... but she's in love with Damon. And Damon is exciting and makes her feel free, and Stefan made her feel like broken toy that needed to be fixed. Whether he did it or not (and I think it's safe to say that anyone reading my reviews of the episodes believes he did), he never intended to do so. And intentions do matter.
So I get completely why Stefan is acting the way he's acting, and I don't care if he's being a dick and an asshole, I get it, and I get him and I love him still. And he was pretty awesome in this episode. Except for the scene with Elena, but, I get why he acted that way. Going back to "Before Sunset," we could pretty much figure out that Elena was afraid to pick Damon because she knew she would lose Stefan. On the other hand, she knew that if she picked Stefan, Damon would still be there. This scene proved that she was absolutely right, and I think it was also really telling about Elena's mindset with regards to the brothers, and especially Damon, pre-Stefan-break-up. Damon joked about it often enough, but it was totally true: Elena had two boyfriends. She had Stefan, and she had her sexless-keep-at-arm's-length boyfriend, Damon. Because Damon was *always* there for her. Like a boyfriend. If she needed someone to listen, a shoulder to cry on, someone she could let it all out with no fear of pushing away, someone to help her, protect her, cheer her up, just be there for her... like a boyfriend, she had not only Stefan, but Damon as well.
So even though we know that in her heart of hearts she knew that if she chose Damon, she'd lose Stefan, I don't think until this moment, she really quite grasped how it would play out. Because she did to Stefan two things in this episode that she ALWAYS did with Damon when she and Stefan were the couple. Someone she cared about (in this case, Jeremy) was in trouble, her official boyfriend was unavailable (or part of the problem), and so she called her unofficial boyfriend. In the past, the official boyfriend was Stefan, the unofficial was Damon. And when she called Damon, Damon didn't question, Damon didn't need to be convinced, Damon just dropped what he was doing and did whatever he had to do to help her. Like a good boyfriend. Now, Damon's the official one and Stefan's the unofficial one -- or so Elena thought even without realizing it. So she called Stefan, expecting that he would come and help. His non-response made her believe that he wouldn't, and her expression showed the first sign of distress over this.
But he did help. So, OK then, she's got her unofficial (albeit a different one) back. This is not to say AT ALL that I think this is intentional behavior on Elena's part or that she realizes even remotely that this is what she is doing. She does not; this is just how the relationship with the brothers has played out for almost the entire time she's known them. It makes perfect sense that she would imagine -- without thinking it through -- that things would be the same even with the brothers reversed. However, that's not how it's going to be... which we saw in scene two, that final scene where Elena told Stefan that he was hurt, he was lashing out with Rebekah because she hurt him. It really struck me that she was talking to Stefan, the same tone of voice, the look in her eyes, the body language that she always used with Damon when she was being a "friend" to him, trying to get through to him and make him be "the better man." Talking to him not as someone she was in love with, but as someone that she cared about and didn't want to see hurting. And *that* is how she spoke to Stefan.
However, Stefan's response was different from Damon's. When she spoke to Damon like that he had one of two reactions. He either melted, or had an angry, 'I'm acting all-bad-ass and pissed-off to hide my hurt' attitude. Either way, it was obvious that she affected him, she was getting to him. Stefan, on the other hand, was cold, throwing her 'I'm not in love with you' words back in her face. And that's why she looked hurt and betrayed. Because she realized that by being with Damon, she really has lost Stefan. Being with Stefan, she never lost Damon. But she has lost Stefan now. And that hurts. It's not fair, because, again less than 24 hours after breaking up with Stefan, she was riding his brother for all he's worth, but hurt is not always fair or rational.
On the other hand, I don't judge Stefan as less than Damon for not sticking by Elena even though she's with the other brother for two reasons. Firstly, Stefan is inherently selfish, which I do believe is due to the chosen one status, whereas Damon is inherently selfless because he's used to never being chosen, so he's basically been trained to accept what scraps he can get. Secondly, and more importantly, Damon never had Elena when he was being all selfless and standing by while she was with his brother. He didn't know what it was like to be with her, to be loved by her. Stefan does, and so he's coming from a completely different point of view than Damon. So, no, I don't judge Stefan, or hate him, or think less of him. I just think that this is all part of Stefan's journey, and I'm excited to see where it goes.
And I'm curious to see what part Rebekah will play in it. I don't think this whole 'no feelings' things is going to last very long because regardless of the fact that Stefan loves Elena and Rebekah has feelings for Matt, these two *were* in love before and they ended well before falling out of love. So it will be interesting to see where things go with those two. Alas, I'm at the point where I'm so in love with Stefan and Caroline, and Matt and Rebekah that I can't really enjoy Stefan and Rebekah as I would have post "The End of the Affair." And doubly-alas, I’m didn't really enjoy the making out because while these two have great, great romantic chemistry, oh boy, the sexual chemistry (and kissing-style) was just not there. I just didn't find it hot at all. Ah well. Still, I really, really did enjoy their scenes (aside from the sex) because, yes, indeed, Paul and Claire Holt do have fantastic romantic chemistry, and I love how we are exploring different sides of Stefan with Rebekah. I like!
I also like because Stefan moving on physically with someone else represents a turning point in my eyes in the potential-non-reunion of Stefan and Elena. One of the signs of their twu wuv foreva that Stefan/Elena fans have touted is that Stefan has remained "pure" (excuse me while I roll my eyes) for Elena, never engaging in dirty sexual shenanigans like Damon did. Well, Stefan is a dirty, dirty boy now. Tsk, tsk. So that alongside Elena treating Stefan as she did Damon before she was in love with him are very good harbingers, I think, that we really aren't going down the Stefan/Elena road again.
OK, then, randoms --
- I'm quite intrigued by Bonnie's story and what's going on now. I like that she really is this uber-powerful witch, and how we're seeing the "dark side" that was hinted at in "Before Sunset" and "Growing Pains," begin to come in play... and I really, really love that what is bringing her into the fold is love. Love for her Grams. I also liked that it wasn't making eye contact with her dad and being moved by his pleas that broke her witchy goings-on because I would not have bought that. However, establishing that Shane uses trigger words to hypnotize was potentially very good information to know. I will be curious to see if we see Shane repeat any phrases in any upcoming scenes with Elena that we heard him use at the lake house with her there. Uh huh.
- Hallelujah! The previously on... was not cheesy for the first time. Yay!
- Fantastic direction/intercutting between the bar scene and the vampire-chase in the pre-title sequence. Really well-done by well-known indie film noir director, John Dahl (The Last Seduction, Red Rock West). He's directed some earlier TVD episodes, but this was the strongest from him by far, I thought.
- Erm, so why did Elena wait until the morning to clean up Matt's bloody neck, LOL? And, uhm, couldn't Matt have done that himself?
- Just randomly I found myself really, really enjoying Joseph Morgan and everything he chose to do in this episode. It just really struck me, especially in the scene with Elena. There was this one point where he slightly straightened up and lowered his head a little, looking at her straight-on and it was just a powerful little gesture. Loved it.
- Man, Damon's "at least let my see Elena," to Stefan in that final scene... Gah! The way Ian delivered it just slayed me, broke my heart and made go wheee! all at the same time.
- Speaking of Matt, at first I was ready to be really annoyed when Matt started to tell Elena that "the old you wouldn't..." about Elena because I was like, 'Lord, help me, we're not going down the deluded Stefan and Caroline road of how much Elena has changed' are we? But nope, he didn't. He's never seen Elena, Damon and Jeremy. Alaric is really the only one who ever saw the little family unit that they did kinda create, so it would make sense -- that aside from her feelings for Damon which Matt is aware of -- that he would question her putting Jeremy's life in Damon's hands. And again, this was a Matt who was feeling freshly betrayed by Damon. So I was cool with it.
- When I first watched it, I thought that Nathaniel Buzolic (Kol) did a terrible job. Upon rewatch, it wasn't as bad as I remembered, but it still wasn't very good at all. I remember thinking he was OK with his previous appearances where he only had one or two lines to string together, but the full monologues? Yeah, guy really brings down the acting caliber of this show. Hell, he makes Phoebe Tonkin look pretty good in comparison. Yikes.
- With that said, I did like how they brought up the whole 'friendship' with Jeremy from Denver.
- I can't say I was totally thrown by Kol compelling Damon to kill Jeremy because I've actually made up stories with that happening, but it was always the tail-end of the season, Klaus doing the compelling, and Damon overriding the compulsion, so, yeah, it was still surprising. And I liked that twist. I'm thinking that Kol is going to wind up daggered back in the box because (a) Klaus did threaten him with that, and (b) the plan to kill Kol is Elena's... and uhm, yeah, that's pretty much reason enough why one would imagine it would fail.
- Damon is just so freaking awesome. Even when torturing himself, on the verge of possibly dying, recovering from a bullet to the head, he still snarks with the best of them. My favorite line of the night and it was all due to Ian Somerhalder's as-always splendiferous delivery was after the afore-mentioned bullet to the head. "He shot me in the head. Stupid, idiot, border-line brain dead moron." I laughed SO HARD at that. Rewound it, watched it again, and laughed my fool-head off all over again. SO HILARIOUS!
- Claire Holt is beautiful and talented and awesome and her Rebekah is a complete and utter goddess. I seriously worship this character. I love how we got the whole spiel from her about learning to give up on love, blah, blah, blah and then hours later, she's all heartbroken because Kol was going to kill her. The character Rebekah is most like on this show, I think, is Damon. Which is why they would be a horrible match, but why she and Elena should eventually get over the 'you killed me thing' and become BFFs! Totally.
- So, sarcasticcheese and I had speculated that if an Original was killed (GOD! PLEASE, NO! NOT REBEKAH!), since all of their sired offspring would die, would that speed up the Hunter's mark, so it was nice seeing Elena think of that too. Girl's got smarts.
- You know who else has smarts? Damon. I love, love, love that even though Kol compelled Damon to not remember what he said to do, it took Damon about five seconds to realize exactly what Kol compelled him to do. That's my boy!
- Hmm, OK, so according to Rebekah and Stefan, we've got Team!Klaus - who include Klaus, Damon, Elena and Jeremy, Team!Shane -- who include Shane, Bonnie, possibly Hayley if they know about her, and Team!Stefan/Rebekah - who would totally include Caroline even if she hates Rebekah, because she loves Stefan, and possibly Tyler because he hates Klaus and, duh, Caroline. So, yes, who is the mysterious-tongue-chomping(ooh!gross!)-s
- Speaking of Caroline and Stefan... so, yeah, she hates Rebekah. I wonder what her reaction will be to Stefan being *with* Rebekah now. She's been all judgmental about Elena with Damon because she hates Damon and Damon is the EVUL! So, what will her reaction be to Stefan being with Rebekah... who she hates and believes is another the EVUL?! I do wonder.
- Great, great title of the episode. I generally am not enamored of their episode title choices, this one was tops!
- ETA: prettygirl5130 reminded me -- yeah, there's something up with those herbs for sure. The fact that we had another reference to them? Uh huh.
- Lastly, to end on a note of Stefan love, because, damnit, I LOVE STEFAN SALVATORE! After he snapped Damon's neck, and then met Elena's horrified expression, his cooler-than-cool "You're welcome" was awesome. A thing of beauty! Oh, Stefan, I love you so. :)
Overall, an action-packed, well-executed episode with lots of fun twists and turns. And I gotta say, I'm completely flummoxed as to where this is all going. There are so many pieces up in the air, I'm very excited to see how this all winds up playing out. Whee!!!