Let's just get the sire bond stuff out of the way... with each new episode, my theory is evolving, LOL! But I still don't see how it's real, the inconsistencies are just so there. Damon tells Elena to talk to him, and she brushes him off. Damon tells Elena he needs her to calm down, she doesn't. Damon tells Elena to turn the switch on, she does it. Damon tells Elena to not burn down the house, she does. One out of four commands obeyed are not very good odds and, along with all of the other things pre- and post-sire bond reveal that Damon told her to do/not do that she didn't/did do, the inconsistency is just too there.
So, my evolving theory is now that, yes, Shane hypnotized Elena to listen to Damon while at the lake house -- presumably with her drinking his special tea -- in order to push the two to want to find the cure. And that is why we got such a significantly different reaction from Elena where she explained to Damon how she wanted to argue with him, but everything in her body was making her obey him. And prior to the sire bond reveal, with Damon and Charlotte, and post the sire bond reveal, that is the ONLY time that we've seen that type of notable reaction to the sire bond being invoked.
At the time I thought that Shane had hypnotized Elena to follow direct commands from Damon only. However, because Damon gave her direct commands in this last episode and she only followed one of them, I'm thinking that the hypnotism just lasted while the tea was in Elena's system. So it was just hypnotism that effected her at the lake house, but no sire bond. And we will discover that when Damon decides to invoke the sire bond to make her turn the humanity switch back on... and she won't do it. Elena turned the switch off not because Damon told her to, but because she was in so much incredible agony that she wanted to make it stop and Damon reminded her of an option that she, as a vampire, has to do so. So she stopped it.
Seeing how negative the sire bond has been portrayed as I just don't see how it's real, and so all of the inconsistencies and things that don't add up are going to keep picking at my brain and my theory will continue to evolve until it's revealed or all is said and done.
And that's all I'm saying about the sire bond. Moving onto the rest of the episode...
One of the highlighted aspects of this episode was siblings... ranging from the one line Rebekah spoke to the dual mentions of Vicki to the one scene with Stefan and Damon and, finally, to the entire episode revolving around Elena and Jeremy. That Rebekah was able to show, even for a moment, sympathy for Elena's loss of her brother as she had already lost two of hers (even if Elena and Jeremy were directly responsible for Kol, and indirectly for Finn) is indicative of how strongly the bonds of familial (especially of the sibling-variety) love are reflected on this show.
We've known from the first episode of the series how important the relationship between Matt and his sister, Vicki, is to him and that's a strain that has continued throughout the seasons even with the character's departure only seven episodes in. One of my favorite moments -- and there were many, many moments in this episode -- was when the four friends sat around the kitchen table and the sound got slightly distorted as Bonnie tried to convince the others to let her kill twelve people. As she listed the people who could return, when she said Vicki's name, Matt's head shot up and there was this heartbreaking look of hope and grief because the possibility of getting Vicki back was amazing, but the cost was too incredibly high.
Which Elena realized herself. It was knowing that her hope -- that had rested upon Bonnie's magic -- would not only open the door to likely hundreds of thousands of vampires, werewolves, witches, many of who are not good, but it would also involve killing twelve (more) people, that made her give up hope for Jeremy's revival. She knew that she couldn't do it. As much as she loves her brother, as much as she wants him back, as much as the idea that she had lost her last family member ripped her apart, she couldn't do that. She could not do that.
Which led to an absolutely amazing scene where Nina Dobrev blew the roof off. Kicking aside Jeremy's sketches, dissing his Xbox, pouring alcohol all over the floor and her brother's body, challenging Damon if he was willing to open that door to so many monsters, to kill twelve people just to get his drinking buddy back, she was magnificent. Elena, on the other hand, was just absolutely heartbreaking. Explaining in a stilted voice that was on the verge of breaking down with every syllable that there was no more room in the Gilbert family plot because Jenna and John had taken the last spots, unaffected by Caroline's cry begging her to stop, the emotion just kept rising. Holding the lit match while she shook, tears falling, Elena herself was on the verge of breaking when the match almost fell and Damon zoomed over to catch it.
And then she did break.
Sobbing uncontrollably, begging for the pain to stop, falling into Damon's arms, of course, he told her to turn the switch off. Of course, of course he did. How could he not? How could he look at this girl he loves so much, watching her completely fall apart and not tell her to turn it off, thus making it stop. And that Stefan was persuaded so quickly that Damon had made the right choice makes just as much sense because he loves her too and he had been watching her slowly fall apart all day long. Heartbreaking stuff.
Also heartbreaking, but in the absolutely best way possible was that Damon and Stefan scene. Oh my Lord! Behind every word, every look, every touch, you could practically hear the choked up "I love you, man, you're my brother!" And it was beautiful. That Julie Plec (the episode's sole writer, and her first time going solo and boy, oh, boy, did she deliver!) used the situation with Jeremy to get Stefan and Damon to stop being so stupid and realize that what matters is family and when you have that family, don't throw it away, was brilliant. Elena lost her brother, Damon and Stefan still have each other and this was a moment of quiet epiphany for them that I hope (and believe) will last for some time.
And it was really, really, really beautiful.
I also found the fact that Damon gets that, he gets that as much as Elena loves him (or believes she loves him), he's not her entire world. As much as Damon is a romantic, he doesn't romanticize love, not anymore, while Stefan still does. Regardless of how much he accepts is real and is the sire bond, Stefan is allowing that Elena loves Damon right now, and in his mind, because of how he does romanticize love (and lots of other things), that should be enough. But, of course, it's not and Damon does realize that... which I believe continues to show just how strong the foundation and depth of love between he and Elena is. :)
So what happens now? The switch is off, what will Elena be like? I read an interview with Julie Plec that wasn't spoilery so much as a reiteration of what had been said in the past about the differences between Katherine and Elena. And her response was fascinating. She said that she'd told Nina that the key difference between Katherine and Elena is that everything that Katherine says comes from a place of dishonesty and that everything Elena says comes from a place of truth. Interesting, yes? Uh huh.
There were several moments in this episode that were just, plainly put, perfection. Some because of the writing, some because of the acting, others because of the characters involved. For whatever reason, there were so many moments -- ranging from a line or a look, to much more than one moment -- that just made me react...
- I whined quite a bit about the idiocy of the new "previlouslies" at the start of the season (and I still think those early ones stunk), but as they've begun to cover stuff this season, the phrasing of those "previliousies" have grown stronger with more oomph. The one for this episode was an absolute gut-punch. Various characters talk about their determination to get the cure, the plan they put in place... and then over Jeremy's dead body, we heard Jeremy say: "and we failed." GUT. PUNCH.
- Damon's going all bloody-eyed and vein-y when he heard an unexpected noise... whoo boy! Come on, ya'll, it was hot!
- Caroline's reaction fell into her need to do things, call people, make lists, make a casserole. A small moment, a few lines, but an absolutely beautiful encapsulation of the adorable, control-freak personality of Caroline Forbes.
- Caroline asking what the smell was, and my horrified realization what exactly it was before Stefan even answered.
- Bonnie's grief making the fire rage higher and higher.
- Matt's face when he walked in and saw Jeremy's body on the bed.
- Elena telling Matt that it would be fine. Her fallback mantra.
- "And then I got boned by my vixen-nemesis, Miss Katherine Pierce." BWAHAHAHAHAAH! "My vixen-nemesis."
- Rebekah's horrible recitation of what they would do to Vaughn, and Damon's reaction ("you are creepy") followed by her cheerful, appreciative "thank you." Double BWAHAHAHAHAAH!
- Damon and Bonnie hugging! AWWW!! I love their relationship; I love how it's been building (minus the horrible Butler-direction of "The Five") and so seeing this moment just made me awww ALL OVER THE PLACE! LOVED IT!
- Damon saying Caroline's name so seriously as he told her to get his brother. He's normally so snarky and antagonistic with Caroline, that seeing the effect the severity of the situation was having on him was very telling of just how bad it was.
- The intercutting of the conversations between Damon and Stefan, Bonnie, Caroline, Matt and Elena, and flashback!Bonnie and Shilas was BRILLIANTLY done. Perfect editing and sound mixing. Just absolutely stellar, and it was highlighted by that moment mentioned above when Matt looked up at the mention of Vicki's name.
- Elena bringing her to hands up to her face to cover them in grief and the fresh smell of Jeremy's body decomposing on the blanket she had just touched hitting her was another solid gut punch.
- I mentioned the amazing, amazing, amazing scene above when Elena began pouring alcohol all over, but the one line that gets to me the most absolutely in that entire scene is this one: "There's no room in the Gilbert family plot. Jenna and John took the last spots." It just guts me every damn time. Even as she is finally beginning to just lose it and fall apart, she's talking about logistics and it is the most heartbreaking thing because, yes, she's lost THAT much family that there is no more room in her family's cemetery plot. And she is barely 18 years old. Just. Wow.
- Damon catching the match before it fell. That was just... cool. Really, really cool.
- Elena's reaction to Damon telling her to calm down: "No, no, no, I can't, I can't--" as she fell to the ground. Damn, Nina Dobrev was beyond, beyond amazing. So good. SO DAMN GOOD.
- The rising crescendo of music ending once Elena turned her switch off as the camera pulled away from her expressionless face to Stefan and Caroline watching the kneeling Damon and Elena. And the camera just held on that even as the music was gone leaving only silence. That was just incredibly powerful.
- Matt breaking down in the truck because he still did have hope as he told Elena at the stoner pit, and then it was taken away. I loved that scene so much because it was so unnecessary plot-wise. It added nothing to the main story, nothing to the narrative, it was all about the character and the connection and his history as we know it on this show and it was so perfect, and so right and Zach Roerig was so open and vulnerable. The next time someone complains that this show doesn't allow time to show these characters feeling, reacting, I'm gonna show them this scene which is so very emblematic of how these characters FEEL. And this scene, man, it was just another heartwrenchingly beautiful moment in an episode filled with so many such moments.
- Damon and Stefan. On the porch.
- Stefan: I just, uhm... I want you to know that, uhm...
Damon: I know, Stefan.
- The trio walking out of the burning house. An iconic moment if ever there was one. And such an awesome character moment -- Damon and Elena keep on walking, looking straight ahead. Stefan pauses and looks back.
- Jeremy burning. The sketches burning. The converses burning. The diary burning. The collection of Elena's past, her insecurities, her fears, her suffering... and it burned. Whoah.
OK, some randoms now...
- Yup, I totally bow to bogwitch's complaint. Vaughn does not sound even remotely Scottish. He doesn't quite sound Irish, but he sounds like he's going for Irish. Scottish isn't even in the ballpark there.
- With that said, I think it's totally awesome that Katherine tracked down a Hunter -- whose mission in life is to kill vampires -- and he's pretty much working for her. Because Katherine is *that* awesome. And to add to that, Katherine has Hayley, a werewolf -- who are the sworn enemies of vampires -- working for her. Because Katherine is *THAT* awesome. And, ooh, the plot (for The Originals spin-off) thickens. Katherine found Hayley in New Orleans.
- Hahahahaha! I laughed so hard during the Stefan/Meredith scene on the stairs because Torrey Devitto and Paul Wesley (married in real life) were totally eye-fucking each other. Cracked me up SO HARD.
- I liked that, even though gone, Tyler's friendship with Jeremy was remembered and Caroline made such an effort to tell him and we were shown that.
- So Shane is Silas. Thus... Shilas!
- And yes, little Gilbert is officially dead-dead-dead. His body was burned. He isn't coming back except in a flashback, dream state or ghostly visit which will be a lot harder now to manufacture since
Wow. I just... wow. That was an absolutely amazing episode. The Vampire Diaries just continues to outdo itself. I love this show, I love this show, I love this show, I LOVE THIS SHOW SO MUCH!!!!!!!!