AWESOME!!! Once again my faith in this show is rewarded. Seriously, this was a really, really awesome episode. I loved it!
In the last episode, Elena asked Damon to let her go, and he did. In this one, Damon asked Elena to let him go, and she did. And it was just as painful this time as it was last time, but in both scenes it shows growth, it showed respect and it showed that, yes, they do love each other very much and that they are still very much in love and that it is only a matter of time before they figure it out and realize that it's not that complicated. Messy, yes, complicated? No.
But the love is there and, yes, Elena, it's real. But the show has been telling us that for a very, very long time with these two. What they have, what is between them is real. And what is between Stefan and Elena is not. It's a fantasy, based on an ideal that can never be. When Stefan described their relationship, he described one that was more real than one they actually had because it certainly wasn't the one that the two shared. They never fought, but for once. When Stefan got upset with her for wanting to sacrifice herself, but he acquiesced quickly enough to her desire to want to do so and just let her walk to her death. Why? Because Stefan was always determined to play it safe; he didn't want to rock the boat and risk ruining his idealized fantasy (i.e., not reality, like oh, those "amazing" visions).
And there was no "we grew up" because they showed zero growth when together. Elena grew up… when she was apart from Stefan. And that is when, indeed, they grew apart because Elena grew up, because Elena stopped being that young, idealistic girl that Stefan could wrap in cotton and pretend was this perfect angel that Katherine was supposed to be. And when she was back around him, she actually regressed. So, amazing? No. A fantasy? Definitely.
And that was one of the key things we saw in this episode. That is all Stefan and Elena are, that's all they ever were… a fantasy, spun out of idealistic hopes and dreams and fairytale visions of a perfect unmessy, uncomplicated life that is simply impossible to ever have. On the other hand, every single moment with Damon and Elena was practically melting with the weight of the depth of their love and it's in your face realness.
Because with Damon, Elena can't pretend. Small talk, platitudes, friendship, something that they are not. They are in love. That is what they are and pretending anything else is not facing reality. And being with Damon, living with how he faces life—head-on, dealing with things, not running away, not burying his head is how Elena has begun to face life herself and so she's now finding herself at a crossroads. In herself, in how she chooses to live her life and to love. Does she deal, does she run? Does she pretend or does she face reality? She's getting there. She is taking baby steps. But she's not there yet.
maelj0714 and I had a discussion in my last episode thread where she hoped that my contention that Elena was ducking and burying her head in the sand at the end of the episode was wrong. Sadly, I nailed that one. Elena did not go away to evaluate her relationship with Damon, but rather was just running away instead of actually dealing. In so doing, she was essentially confirming the break-up because that is what Elena does, right now, at this stage in her life, that is still how Elena operates. But I remind myself, she's only 18. Damon is her first adult relationship. The first true love she's known. (I will never forget the fact that she told Stefan when she thought she was going to die—and possibly have to live forever, thus potentially have to be with him longer than a few years beyond her teenage years—that she didn't even know what love was.) However, I do see growth. Her conversation with Damon on the steps could have potentially led to a breakthrough with them had it not been for another vision popping up then.
She saw him in pain, she reached out to him. And instead of withdrawing, she went to him, and she put her confusion, and concern over the complications of their situation at bay, and she put him first. Elena concentrated on Damon. She made him focus on her, on her face, on her eyes, reminding him that the visions, the universe and its stupid game wasn't real, implying that the two of them, what they had, was real. They are real.
And, of course, she explicitly said the words later when she waited for him in his bedroom. It was there that we saw another positive sign of growth from her. There was the fact that Elena was able to see the difference between the falseness of that "amazing" fantasy versus the messy reality she has with Damon. A year ago, I don't know that Elena would have been able to make that distinction so easily, so quickly. But now she can and cannot only make it, she can verbalize it. This is good.
There were other good, make that great things about that final Damon/Elena scene. It seriously gutted me in ALL the right ways. Firstly, there is the fact that Damon will not just stand by and suffer while Elena holds him at arm's length just because she decides that she needs him. They played that game waaaaaaaaaay too long before and I'm glad that he's putting his foot down and not doing it any longer. She needs to know that as much as he loves her, he is in pain. How many times in this episode did he tell people to stop telling him about the Stefan/Elena stuff? How many different ways could he make it clear that he was in pain? That it was hurting him? And yet she goes into detail, she talks about her and Stefan being married, having kids, etc. And then she talks about wanting to be friends, telling him she needs him in her life as if that should be enough for him.
I love Elena Gilbert, but she has cut him out of her life, she has pushed him aside, she has made him dance to her tune for so long, intentionally or not (and, no, I do not think it was intentional, she is not that kind of person), but that's what it has been like. And Damon just can't take it anymore. So now she's going to see what it's like to not have him in her life not because he doesn't love her, but because it's too painful to not have all of her because he does love her so much. Because he's doing what she wants—he's doing the "right" thing. So she can't fault him. Painful, very, very painful, but one of those, man, it hurts so good moments.
Finally, also good about that scene—despite, again, how unbelievably painful it was—was that aforementioned recurring theme that Damon and Elena are real. The belief that you can't walk away when it's real was first introduced in the 8th episode of the very first season. True, it appeared to be about Stefan and Elena, but it was then tied to Damon and Elena in episode 11 of that same season, which was then tied to episode 14 and has continued to be applied to Damon and Elena over and over ever since, especially throughout season 04 and the whole sirebond saga.
So, yes, Elena may have asked Damon to let her go the episode before and he may have asked her this time and they both may have walked out, but neither truly have walked away. Because when it's real, you don't walk away. And with Damon and Elena, it's real.
Not so real? The whole doppelgangers are meant to be. So, I sorta called it! LOL! I mean, I thought it was that they were meant to not find a happy-ever-after because of the original sin committed, but I just knew that they were *not* meant to fall in love. And I was right there! Can I just say how absolutely hilarious I find it that the explanation was that a long-dead dude basically decided to make up a story to get people to bring something to him just like the whole moonstone curse thing all over again. And I loved how Markos told Damon. He was all like, 'yeah, uh, I just made the whole thing up, bro.' Hahahahahaha! Loved it so very, very, very, very much. And it does make perfect sense. Love is the strongest emotion. You want to bring two people together, promise them it's true love. It makes sense.
I must say I just love how the background of the witches and travelers has tied in with what Silas and Quetsiyah (I still miss you, you crazy, psychotic bitch you!) is being revealed. Like in previous seasons as we get near the end, it's all beginning to come full circle and everything is being tied together. So many viewers and critics underestimate this show and just take it episode by episode still not realizing (five freaking seasons in, geesh) that the entire season works as a whole and things do and *will* come together. And look at how beautifully they all are. I love IT! SO FREAKING MUCH!
Phew! OK, I'm just going into randoms now –
- Can I just say how happy I am that we are no longer getting stick-straight hair Elena? As the opening vision reminded me of. So happy.
- Alas, I must be a non-delusional shipper here. Caroline was not even remotely jealous of the Stefan/Elena visions and was all hopeful that Elena was going back to team!Stefan. *sigh*
- I may be a non-delusional shipper, but it doesn't stop me from adoring the little phone call between Stefan and Caroline. I loved how he was all, 'Caroline, I talk you down from your crazy, it's time to talk me down from my crazy!' So cute!!
- OMG! Not the Sheriff! Noooo!
- GRAMS! I wasn't expecting to see her or Vicki. Nice surprise there. The joy of no spoilers rocks my world again.
- Sorry, I do love Enzo, but he continues to be a shitty-ass friend to Damon. You don't continually bring up the girl in situations that your friend finds painful. He's just mean to Damon's heart. I mean, again, *how* many times did Damon tell him to STOP talking about the Stefan/Elena visions and yet Enzo kept being a dick about it and bringing it up? Ugh, so annoying. My poor Damon.
- Oh noes! Liz killed Matt! Wait, she has the passenger in her, that makes her supernatural, he's fine. Phew! (I know someone who's not happy about that, but I'm thrilled. My beloved Matty!)
- I love that Enzo doesn't care that Maggie will be old and withered now. He just wants to see her and say thank you. That just got me in the heart good.
- Candice Accola looked really, really pretty in this episode.
- Heh, I love Damon's reaction when he found out that Luke was Liv's twin, wondering if there is ever only one of something anymore. Hehehehe.
- I've been on record before in saying that I am not, never was, never will be a Vicki fan, but I always like when we get moments with Matt and Vicki. They get to me, I love how family always, *always* matters on this show. Five years later and the show still remembers. Seriously, how many shows do that? How many even so-called "great" serious, award-winning shows remember long-dead characters? This show doesn't forget. Even Jenna was name-dropped in this episode. The Vampire Diaries doesn't forget their dead; they don't forget the loved ones that have been lost along the way. Just because it's about vampires, witches and werewolves, those behind it have never forgotten that what makes this show so special is the relationships (and not just the romantic ones), but all of the relationships—the familial ones too, siblings, parents, friends, community, this town. Truly, one of the reasons that I love this show so much.
- The actor playing Markos, Raffi Barsoumian, is so good. I mean, it's pretty impressive when an unknown actor comes on and can steal screen attention away from Ian Somerhalder, but this guy managed to do it. Very impressive. I must say, fantastic casting this season (other than the obvious horridness-thank goodness she's gone!-Olga Fonda, fine, yeah and Shaun Sipos wasn't that hot either, but he was OK).
- If it hadn't been for the freak winter weather in Georgia causing the episode delay, the last episode and this one would have aired back to back therefore we would have gotten Elena's Damon fantasy episode right before this one without the three weeks in between which would have made the compare/contrast that much more obvious. The fact that Elena had that Damon fantasy and it was ALL her contrasting with these that were basically forced upon her. Yup. Damon/Elena=real. Stefan/Elena=forced.
- All the Stefan/Elena visions didn't bother me that much because again they weren't real and I honestly believe that fanbase got this because, frankly, it's all they can get since Stefan and Elena are (see next point) over. Dunzo. Period. Finished. Think of it... nothing this season "romantic" with Stefan and Elena has been real, none of it. It's been nostalgia, Katherine pretending to be Elena and now forced-upon-visions. None of it is real. Because they are done. Over.
- Stefan walking in and seeing Elena and saying "it's over" to Elena and her confirming it was just sweet, beautiful music because for me that was really it, you know? THAT was putting the complete and utter kibosh on the Stefan and Elena romantic relationship for good. And the parallel of this to their break-up in 4.06 ("We All Go a Little Mad Sometimes") was great. Both of them sitting down, looking ahead, but the feelings, the words, the finality was of a much more comfortable sort. They both talked in the past tense, they were both completely accepting of it this time, knew that it was over and that what they had was in the past. Now they are just friends. They love each other, but they love each other as just friends. They could even casually, easily without any tension talk about Damon. Just like friends, just like her and Matt do. Uh huh.
- I loved the final Bonnie and Jeremy scenes because of (a) Jeremy's joke, LOL! and (b) how this show keeps the realism as much as they can amidst the crazy supernatural chaos. Their discussion about Bonnie needing Jeremy to talk to her, keep the lines of communication open was fabulous. Jeremy bringing up Anna (something that happened in mid-season 03) and Bonnie showing her bad-ass maturity talking about her trusting him showed great continuity, trust in their viewers and great character writing... all in two lines of dialogue. I love this show.
- Did anyone else notice that big-ass mirror when Damon entered his bedroom? And where it was located? I've noticed that mirror before but never quite the placement, or not enough to realize that it appears to be placed opposite the bed, meaning that, well, to put it not too delicately... if some sexytiems were happening on that bed, the participants could be watching those sexytiems at play. If you get what I'm saying. Uh huh. Just wondering if anyone else noticed the mirror... and its placement is all.
- There was a part of me that thought/hoped that Elena was going to throw caution to the wind and kiss Damon after he said he didn't want to be friends. I mean, they were there in his bedroom, right in front of the bed, they clearly are madly in love and want to desperately rip each others clothes off, but.... it really wouldn't have been the right move, bad timing, etc. She needs to feel the absence from him in her life, I think, and she needs to actually fight for him, I think, in some way.
- One more final note about that final Damon/Elena scene... *sigh* my poor Elena, she was literally hugging herself as she walked out. Oh, Elena.
- I loved when Liz asked what happened after she finally woke up and Caroline was just like "You missed lunch" with that slightly teary laugh. Oh, Caroline.
- Whoah! I did NOT expect that ending. Tyler, Tyler, Tyler. All passenger'd up. So when exactly did that happen? I mean, clearly he was Tyler when he was stabbed and when he checked Liz (with that smart question about his mom) and then stabbed her. So when did it happen?* I guess we'll find out next week. And I wonder… any chance that this surprise ending will wind up leading to the death of Tyler? Pretty please? I mean they destroyed the last 'take out the passenger' knife so that leaves head-choppage, right? Although, to be honest, Tyler has been the most palatable and useful to me in the last couple of episodes and least worthy of being killed since season 02. Go figure, they might actually finally kill him now when I'm not as eager for him to die. Heh.
* Apparently, a Traveller came up behind him right after he stabbed Liz, so that must have been when it was done. But it was just super-quick. I saw it, but didn't make the connection.
- So what is going on on the Other Side now? Very interesting, I mean, even Kol is scared. And I can't help but wonder if one person can come over (Markos), does that mean that maybe just maybe one other person (erm, Ric) can manage to sneak back over? Pretty, pretty please?!?!? Before, of course, they manage to clean up this mess.
- This episode was so good that even Nate Buzolic's acting couldn't hurt it.
- Paul Wesley did a good job directing. I wouldn't say it was great, I mean there was nothing particularly outstanding, but all the performances were good, Buzolic wasn't as awful as usual and there was nothing that stood out glaringly bad, so for a first-time director... good job, Paul. Thumbs up.
OK, so as I said at the start, AWESOME episode. It replaces "The Devil Inside" as my favorite episode of the season. I LOVED it. So, so, so good. I thought it was fantastic, definitely up there with some of the best of the series. I can't wait for next week and I'm thrilled… no more reruns—straight through all the way to the finale. Yeah, baby!!