It is Thursday night. (Yes, it is *actually* still Thursday night and I am posting this. Who's shocked?) 2nd to last Vampire Diaries episode of 2013. *sigh*
Well, that was a tad disappointing. The writer of this episode, Melinda Hsu Taylor, co-wrote "Original Sin" but this is the first she's written on her own and while some things are very well done, there are other things that are just to the left of being out of character and unfortunately those things dinged this episode for more. I shall list them.
- When Damon apologized to Elena for getting her into this mess, she would have refuted that apologized and tried to take that burden from him, assuring him it wasn't his fault. She would have done this not only because that's how Elena do, but because it's true. Damon was there because Elena was investigating Megan's death, Elena caught the intention and suspicion of Maxfield, Elena asked Damon to question Maxfield. Damon was there SOLELY because Elena sent him there. It actually *was* Elena's fault. Elena was actually in this mess because she sent Damon there and then went headlong into another investigative mode without telling anyone else what she was doing, not Stefan, not Caroline, not Bonnie, not Matt, not Jeremy. So, Damon was not to blame at all. And instead of assuring Damon that he was not to blame at all, Elena just let him take the blame. So not in character. Even if he was to blame, she wouldn't have let him take the blame. But he wasn't, yet she still let him take the blame. Sooooooooo not in character.
- Katherine spouting that Stefan is the hero who always comes to save the day. Yes, Stefan believes that he has to be hero who comes to save the day and had Caroline said that line, I would have had no problem with it, however Katherine saying that? No. No, no, no, no, no. If Katherine had said some variation on Stefan believing that he's the hero who has to save the day, or Stefan always has to save the day, fine, but that he always DOES the save day? Nope. Not in character.
Speaking of... I defend The Vampire Diaries on a regular basis from complaints that it does not present Stefan as the "hero" and Damon as the "villain" in black and white. That there is show vs. tell going on. There is nuance and shades of gray, beautifully subtle and I adore those shades of gray. Not so much this episode. Hsu Taylor wrote Stefan as the hero, period, full stop, end of discussion. And Damon as the bad guy, period, full stop, end of discussion. He attacked a room full of people, couldn't stop himself and sacrificed his friend to save himself. And then he taunted a miserable kid about killing his aunt. A woman he killed while enjoying a summer of love with his unknowing girlfriend. Pretty damn shitty.
- Which brings me to: Damon is not stupid. When Damon explained his form of revenge, I bought it. It made perfect sense as to why he had killed Aaron's parents. But Aunt Sarah? That was too much, going too far and bringing the summer of love into it was just a messy, unnecessary plot point designed to shit over Damon/Elena. And timing-wise it was out of character with the Damon he has become in the last year or so. The Damon he is now wouldn't go and cavalierly kill someone like that now. He wouldn't, not without talking to Elena, not without spilling about it. He just wouldn't. He's not that guy anymore. He's just not. And to say that he is to ignore three seasons of growth. For a completely unnecessary plot point. Because you ALREADY had it!
Damon telling Aaron that he killed his parents made sense! He was directing attention away from Elena because Aaron was blaming Elena. So of course Damon was going to confess that then. Of course he was. He would protect Elena. Turn attention on to him and that was enough to justify Aaron shooting Damon. Of course! Aunt Sarah didn't need to be brought into it. And a defenseless Damon locked up in a cell next to a defenseless Elena locked up in a cell is NOT going to taunt a gun-toting, upset kid about ANOTHER family member he killed just for kicks... not when it can put Elena in danger. Oh, look, which it did! No, no, no, no! So completely and utterly out of character! DAMON SALVATORE IS NOT STUPID! And that was really, really stupid.
The other thing that I didn't like, although not out of character, was that I had hoped that this would *finally* be the episode where the gang gets together, comes up with a plan and rescues Damon. It's happened for so many other characters. Something happens to one of them and they get together to rescue the one in danger. The closer we got for Damon was in "The Murder of One," but then they dropped it to bring down the Originals and it wound up just being Stefan in the end with no one else caring. This time, it was just Elena and she didn't tell anyone, had no plan and got herself captured too! And now, based on the previews, it becomes all about rescuing Elena and Damon will no doubt become an afterthought. *sigh*
And I gotta go back to it again, I'm really NOT happy that they had to taint the summer of love. I mean, really? Did they have to do that?! Really!? Damon went off one week and killed someone to settle some revenge scheme without telling Elena leaving her blissfully ignorant and looking like a fool. Way to give Caroline's earlier comment some credence. Lovely. Ugh. Hated that so hard.
So there are my issues (although one is cleared up now-ish). However... there were many things I *did* like about the episode. So let's focus on those things now.
I do not think the intention was to portray Damon as the bad guy. It was just the comparison of Stefan-hero/Damon-villain was very broadly painted by a less than nuanced writer (oh, lord, please never let Hsu Taylor and Joshua Butler do an episode together!). I loved, loved, loved, LOVED the fact that it wasn't the five years of torture that made Damon turn his humanity off, but rather that was the only way he could make himself walk away from his friend. And I loved that Damon and Elena were clearly THE love story. Even as upset with him as she was--understandably re: summer of love taint, grr!--when Aaron shot him, she still called out his name desperately, and when he came to and realized she was gone, he called out her name desperately.
As for Stefan, the root of his problem wasn't that he couldn't get over Elena, it was that he was still in pain over the break-up. So it was about the break-up itself, not Elena. That is good. And getting it on with Katherine, is a mighty great step in getting to his closure with Katherine. And that little conversation between Katherine and Caroline about what may or may not have happened between Caroline and Stefan continues to fuel my hopes that we are definitely getting somewhere with them and they are taking the sweet, slow burning ride with them. There is clearly the hint of something there, but the friendship is still the key.
Yes, yes, yes, Caroline is awful, we hate her, blah, blah, blah because she hates Damon... but I still get it. And I still believe that this Augustine and what has happened will be the change that opens the door to her seeing that Damon is not the root of all evil and obviously she doesn't know yet what has happened. I do need the Caroline-hating-on-Damon to stop pretty dang soon or even I will lose my Caroline-love and I didn't think that would ever happen. I've been a Caroline-lover since the Pilot, ya'll! Uh huh! Anyhoo, I was quite, quite happy to see her and Katherine interacting again because ever since seeing these two mix it up I've found that I much prefer these two over Caroline and Elena of late so it was fun to get that again. Once all the dust settles, Caroline and Katherine really could be the most awesome besties ever.
Speaking of friends... man, Damon and Enzo were pretty awesome, weren't they? Other than Tessa (sobs, Janina Gavankar, you are missed!), the casting department hasn't been really striking gold all that much since my beloved Shane (sobs, David Alpay, you are missed!) but I think they may have struck again with Michael Malarkey's Enzo. In just a few scenes I was already loving Enzo and he and Damon were completely believable as tight friends. That final scene between the two when they were looking at each other between the bars and Enzo was pleading with Damon and then Damon just turned off the switch and walked away... guh, my heart broke for the both of them! I was so happy and gutted at the same time to see him at the end. And I can't wait to see both of their reactions when they are reunited.
It wasn't just Damon and Enzo that were awesome, all of the flashbacks were pretty awesome. The look and feel of them, the music playing throughout. I loved how their relationship was built up and the telling was interweaved throughout the episode and how Elena prodded Damon to tell her by making it clear that she wouldn't judge him because she loved him, because they tortured him for five years (hello!) and so he told her. We got the very obvious hint of what they did to him without it being too much, and Dr. Whitmore wasn't presented as evil, but simply as detached, a scientist doing his job who saw the vampires as vermin who were being experimented upon to benefit humankind, all the while we saw the humanity of Enzo and Damon even as the vampirism was still there in moments (as they plotted their revenge) lurking. It was masterfully done.
- Haha, Katherine... now that is the way to write a diary entry!
- Very small cast in this one. Other than the extras at the party with only the cut Fell having a spotlight moment, we had Damon, Elena, Aaron, Katherine, Stefan, Caroline, Maxfield, Enzo, Whitmore and dead Salvatore relative, and the first and last don't really count. That's only 9 characters on screen and two were played by the same dang actress!
- Hmm, vampires regenerate body parts, hmm.
- What's with the Whitmore watch?
- So I was wrong (obviously) that Damon didn't kill Aaron's parents (although I allowed that it was possible), but I still think that he didn't kill Elena's. I just don't think they'll go there.
- Sorry, but Shaun Sipos (Aaron) was just kinda OK and this was his big episode to shine. Eh.
- I do still wonder how Megan fits in.
- So, we obviously still have Grayson questions to come with those little teasers to come. (And, yes, I know the title of the next episode.)
- Yeah, I didn't do any of this episode. If there are any moments you want gif-ed let me know and I'll add them to the post.
- I didn't love the episode, but totally awesome ending. Did I mention that I loved Enzo? I loved Enzo.
So it took 9 episodes, but finally one I didn't love or think that was fantastic. Sadly it was the first bona-fide DAMON episode. Bummer. Like I said above, there were just too many moments that were just a wee too much out of character, especially the Damon-is-not-stupid one that dinged the episode for me. There was a lot that was beautifully done (the flashbacks specifically, most of the Stefan/Katherine stuff), but the stuff that was wrong... ooh, boy, it was wrong. Still, it wasn't bad, it was good... it's just that this season has been so great, fantastic so far. Ah well. I'll concentrate on the good. And hey, Ian Somerhalder looked REALLY, REALLY good.