Let's start by talking about Stefan. The thing with him is that he's so good at lying that I don't know when to trust him. How he acted with Rebekah prior to their last scene was so sweet and wonderful, very similar to how he acted when with Elena, when he was "the perfect boyfriend." But he was lying to Rebekah. He was using her, stalling her, playing her. And likewise with Elena, as sweet and wonderful as he appeared, so much of their time together was filled with Stefan lying to her or at the least misrepresenting so many things. Therefore, it's very hard to trust him. So how he acted after she gave him with the dagger, well, I genuinely don't know if he was moved by Rebekah's words, or if that was Stefan still playing her. Likewise, I don't know if that was Stefan being honest with her in their final scene or him figuring that Rebekah on their side was better since she could be of help. I want to believe he was being honest, but the fact that he equated getting the cure for her alongside getting it for Elena makes me question him. And, of course, throughout the episode we got all these little hints and signs that Stefan is still delusional, and that not-so-nice streak came through as well. Stefan is a good guy, but he is being pretty shady right now.
The delusion was when he talked with such glowing, fond remembrance of Lexi, and the nastiness related to Damon. That Stefan is still seeing Lexi through such rose-colored glasses is terrible. She basically tortured him and then promised him relief by stopping the torture, all in the name of fixing him which clearly did not work at all. And, on top of that, we got the hint in "The Dinner Party," but "We'll Always Have Bourbon Street" really brought it home. I said then and I still maintain it, it wasn't Katherine Pierce that drove this horrible centuries old wedge between the brothers. Nope, it's Lexi. And until Stefan sees that, he's never going to accept that all she did for him (good intentions or not) completely fucked him over and the only way he can get better is to essentially denounce every single thing she told him.
The not-so-nice streak showed up twice. The first was when he casually told Klaus (!), hey, torture my brother if he annoys you. Again, Stefan told KLAUS to torture Damon if he annoyed him. Really, Stefan? I mean, really?! Of course, Damon is well acquainted with this side of his brother and just takes it in stride, and Klaus just doesn't give a fuck. However, the second instance brought some interesting reactions to the forefront. Anyone who's been paying attention can tell that (a) Damon is NOT happy about the sire bond, and (b) that Damon is NOT using the sire bond, not really. As far as we've seen, he's used it twice: the first was to deny Elena what she wanted (sending her away from him), and the second was to give in to what she wanted (letting her come back to him). And that's it. So for Stefan to cruelly suggest that Damon use the sire bond to control Elena was a pretty damn low blow. (And totally deserving of Damon punching Stefan right in the kisser.) But what I didn't notice until my rewatch was not only Elena, but Bonnie's reaction as well. Look at their faces here:
Bonnie's expression all but says 'low blow, dude,' while Elena look is a combination of disillusionment and 'how dare you?' I found it interesting that there was so much talk about Stefan and Elena's "epic" love from Klaus and hinted at through comments here and there and reactions from Stefan, Rebekah and Damon. It's obvious that all of those players feel that once Elena gets the cure it's back to default factory Stefan-settings for Elena. Aside from the fact that I'm still totally not convinced there is a sire bond, things like this moment with Elena witnessing this side of Stefan (and his complete willingness to forget everything about her to ease his own pain) I believe are working to show Elena that the Stefan she fell in love with wasn't quite real. Instead, he was sweet and wonderful, the perfect boyfriend that he wanted her to see, and not the complete Stefan. I say "complete," because I genuinely do believe that the sweet and wonderful is a part of Stefan. I believe he is a good guy at heart. I just also believe that he has a dark side that Elena was blinded to by Stefan and her own refusal to question his actions and the discrepancies in his storytelling and actions. So, yeah, interesting.
Also interesting was how they placed Matt in that final scene at the school with Stefan and Rebekah. Matt being there to witness Rebekah give up the dagger, and then admit what she wants (a normal human life) is a hopeful sign (to me at least) that we may be still heading somewhere on that path with Matt and Rebekah. I'm almost beginning to allow myself to hope that if anyone is going to get that cure, it will be Rebekah and she'll make it through this alive, and that Matt will take her to the prom by season's end. This episode certainly seemed like a turning point for Rebekah's character, I thought. She trusted our "good guys," and did the "right" thing by them. She showed vulnerability and openness and two of our main characters witnessed it, and then Stefan even defended her to the others. So, I'm almost optimistic here. I really hope she isn't dead by season's end instead.
Speaking of our "good guys," yeah, they're really, really not. Stefan, Damon, Caroline, Tyler, Elena and Abby are all vampires -- supposedly "good" vampires -- so they are all very aware that good vampires who don't kill, aren't the "bad guys" are possible and almost assuredly out there. Yet, it didn't appear to cross anyone's mind that by killing Kol, they would kill bunches and bunches of potentially "good" vampires. Not even our "heroine," who was practically gleeful when they succeeded. And it doesn't bother me because I don't even remotely think of actual, real-life morals when watching this show because all of our heroes are so not heroes, heck they don't even earn the anti-hero title. They kill, let others die, injure by feeding and then erase innocent minds. They cause mayhem and harm galore, keep people in the dark to protect their secrets never mind that it leads to very bad, no good things on a regular basis. And they have a very tribal mentality. It really is all about their group, and pretty much everyone else is collateral damage. Damon is just the only one who's honest about it.
Even if he's still kinda clueless about the whole Stefan/Elena thing. I mentioned above that it's pretty obvious that several of them think that Stefan/Elena are the end result of the cure, and Damon is one of them. He didn't say in words as such to Klaus, but his expression said it all. And just like last week where Damon said that Stefan resisted the compulsion, we got Klaus saying the same thing this week... and it sucks! Because it's such resistance revisionism. Of course it makes sense that Damon would believe this because the only witnesses to it were Stefan, Elena and Klaus, and all there are going to paint Stefan in the bestest light in that situation at that time. But we know differently. Stefan was frantic, pacing, staring at that clock. He did tell Elena to run when the clock ran out, but he was chasing after her, fighting it every step of the way, but still chasing after her. The stress of resisting turned him into a staggering, broken mess and he had to stake himself to keep from going after her. And when Klaus looked him right in the eye and compelled him to turn it off, he did.
Compare that to Damon. When Kol compelled Damon, he told him (and I quote): "You're going to find Jeremy Gilbert and when you do, you're going to kill him." Last week, I noted how Damon was in control even as he was stalking Jeremy. He calmly kept telling him to get away, and even when facing him, told Jeremy to kill him... multiple times. Without staggering around like a drunk on a bender, without crying and forcing himself to injure himself (running into heavy objects, staking himself) to stop. And this week, it was even more obvious how much better Damon's ability to resist compulsion is. The compulsion included FINDING Jeremy. Damon calmly sat in that basement cell without trying to frantically escape to find and kill Jeremy as he'd been compelled. He had enough control to make himself calmly stay away from Jeremy with just a little resistance (the locked door, weakened body). Even Klaus (the great Stefan-fanboy) commented how he'd expected Damon to be planning some great derring-do escape attempt. But nope... because, unlike Stefan, Damon is a helluva lot better at resisting the compulsion despite what Klaus says and Damon believes.
Of course that's not the only thing Damon mistakenly believes. While I do think he was almost amused by Klaus' attempts to figure out how to make Caroline forgive him via the Damon/Elena strategy and wouldn't even remotely think of sharing the reality of his relationship with her with Klaus, I do believe that he mostly believed what he meant. He's the bad guy, but Elena forgives him because he does bad things for good reasons. The thing is that it doesn't quite track because Damon has done a lot of bad things for no good reason. Elena forgives him (and loves him) only in part because he more often than not now does bad things for good reasons (being the bad guy to get things done), but it's mostly because of who he is when he's *not* doing bad things. They never had the chance to talk about their feelings, about what she feels for him and why she does after they got together because the sire bond stuff came up. So until that is resolved, Damon will continue to believe that the main reason she wants to be with him is because of that bond.
So let's get to resolving that bond issue, folks!
Alright, some randoms (and some will be a tad lengthier than usual) --
_ Yeah, I could totally have ended that gif above with Elena and Bonnie's reaction, but I'm not gonna lie, I get petty joy out of seeing Damon punch Stefan over and over again because, man, was that a deserved punch. Low blow, Stefan!
- I love what they're doing with Bonnie, having her darker, stronger powers emerge and her actions being directed by three very real and emotional places: love and responsibility, teenage rebellion and betrayal. The first is obviously something she feels for her friends and taking care of the town. The second is derived from the fact that she's had distant, strained relationships with both parents and the fact that now when she's nearly 18, has practically been taking care of herself for a year now without their guidance and NOW they're coming in and trying to decide things for her? Oh, hell no! is such a brilliant, emotional push with which to turn her onto that darker path. Lastly, betrayal. I loved when Bonnie contemptuously told Abby that she was having nothing to do with the spirits, keeping firm with her avowal after they used her for the last time. Great, great Bonnie stuff building here and I'm loving it.
Speaking of taking care of the town, I've commented in the past how Damon and Bonnie are the only two of the group who get shit done (although, Elena and Jeremy SO stepped up to the plate tonight!). On that note, I found it interesting that Bonnie has now become the second member of their little group who has explicitly stated that she's looking out for the town (as Damon has done in the past).
- And speaking of Elena and Jeremy stepping up to the plate. Oh my God, Elena's plan worked! AND it was executed pretty much in full by her and Jeremy! GO ELENA! (And Jeremy!) I was quite, quite impressed with her mental and physical skills shining in this episode. I love seeing bad-ass Elena because she's so freaking bad-ass. See some exhibits:
And I'm so glad that plan worked because, I'm sorry, but Nathanial Buzolic is just not a strong actor, ya'll. Every line was delivered like 'I am saying a line of dialogue from a script.' It was very unnatural sounding, so I'm glad he's gone and the only Originals we're left with are all really, really good actors!
- Such as Joseph Morgan who just hit it out of the park like nobody's business again. The way he played that scene between Klaus and Damon where at first it played like he was taunting Damon about Elena before he finally added that note of vulnerability revealing that he wanted to know how Elena could forgive Damon because he wanted Caroline to forgive him. Well, well played. As was his tantrum on the porch -- and whoah! that Klaus was planning on killing all of them after they got the cure! -- as well as the freak-out rage when trapped by Bonnie's magic. My favorite part though was when he first saw his dead brother and then looked at Elena. Going from devastation at seeing Kol to pure hatred as he looked at Elena in a flash was brilliant.
- Also brilliant (as always) was every moment with Rebekah. I honestly believe that Claire Holt is the strongest actor on this show ever. She's amazing, amazing, amazing. I just adore her to absolute bits, and I adore, adore, adore Rebekah. And I loved that she wasn't stupid enough to not realize that Stefan was playing her, that he wanted the dagger. I love small moments like that on the show where we aren't hit over the head with the intelligence of the characters (and writer Rebecca Sonnenshine does those types of moments so beautifully), but it plays out naturally. *sigh* Even if Stefan was playing her, gosh darn't, they're so pretty! And sparkly and have chemistry and I want him to not be playing her! I mean, look at the pretty dancing! But, but, but... I still do totally love my Matt and Rebekah. Again, the fact that Matt heard that confession from Rebekah had to mean something, right?!
- Hmm, speaking of that dancing, so is Elena a bad dancer or something? Stefan danced with Rebekah in the 30's without complaint, asked her to dance here without a qualm, but when it comes to Elena -- even when he's trying to woo himself back into her good graces -- he makes her beg him to dance. The only time he didn't was when he was drunk on booze and blood. So, seriously, does Stefan just think Elena's a really bad dancer?
- And so the inexplicable Kennett ship dies.
- Once again, no Tyler or Caroline and I didn't miss either. *sigh* Man, Tyler really has made Caroline less interesting to me. Although, I am still quite curious to see her reaction to Stefan and Rebekah.
- Erm, where was Matt in the final scene? He was at the high school and then instead of finding out the results of their plan with the others, he just decided to... go home? (Maybe to think about Rebekah and how pretty she looked in her 80's garb? Cuz she totes did!)
- LOVED the Katherine shout-out, and especially it coming from Jeremy. Hmm, what did he think of her during that day or two they spent together?!
- Oy vey! Jeremy screaming and then ripping off his shirt? Height of cheese, dudes. I legit laughed. And I legit laugh every time I watch it and I am most definitely laughing at it. I mean, come on! But, hey, Shirtless!Jeremy!
- Oh, Stefan, speed-dressing out of a girl's bed. And hee! I love little things like that showing the practical benefits of vampirism in the real world! Hah!
- Another hah! was Matt's thumbs up to Elena when she said the boys should put the weapons away. Hee!
- And one more -- Bonnie wondering if Caroline would notice there were 89 balloons instead of 99 and Elena saying that, yeah, being Caroline, she probably would.
- Speaking of 80's references, I loved all of Stefan's movie references and the songs that played... especially The Cure.
- Finally, we didn't get much Damon/Elena-ness (again!), but Elena's smile upon seeing him and that sweet, sweet hug were beautiful moments that I loved. :)
So, there we have it. Another new episode and this season continues to be A-W-E-S-O-M-E! Next week.. into the wild!