Why did the show have Alaric erase Elena loving Damon (i.e., alter her memories so that she didn't remember the good things about him so that she didn't remember falling in love with him)? I think it's to deal with why Damon broke up with her in "Fifty Shades of Grayson." A friend mentioned that she was a bit thrown about Elena calling Damon a monster because Elena's never called anyone a monster. (Except she has actually, she's called herself one--in "We All Go A Little Mad Sometimes." But that's all about Elena's demons, which she dealt with then.) I had already come up with my theory, but reading that "monster" comment was the final nail in the theory confirmation. Why? Because of what happened in that episode when Damon broke up with Elena. Namely Enzo telling Damon he was a monster, and Damon believing that deep down so absolutely that he ended things with the woman he loves more than anything.
I wrote in that episode write-up:
It's all about Damon and his issues.And doesn't this just highlight everything I'm saying about why this storyline NEEDS to happen this way? And, boy, it's why I really hope I'm right (despite the pain I know that is coming along with this). This is why Elena needs to think of Damon as a monster, and why everyone else needs to be the ones to point out that he's not to her; he's really, really not. And they all need to be able to show when and why he's proven time and time again he's not. Because the whole group all have these moments, these times when he's shown each of them individually that he's not a monster, that he's good, that he's been there for them, that he's saved them, that Damon Salvatore CARES. And it's not even actually about showing Elena that Damon's not a monster because she'll figure that out quickly enough on her own just like she did before. It's about *Damon* finally figuring it out. Because as I said way back in "Fifty Shades of Grayson" that until Damon realizes that he is no more a monster than the rest of them he will never accept that he deserves to be with Elena and that he deserves to be happy. Until he fully accepts that realization his journey will never be complete.
Seriously, this is what comes of Damon almost never been told of the good he does, but only been told of the bad. He just honestly believes that he's only a crappy dude. Damon thinks of himself as horrible whereas everyone else in their group thinks of themselves as good. Enzo repeating that refrain ("That's just who you are, who you'll always be…a monster.") just once again beat that belief into Damon's brain. And yet it's so ridiculous and no one, except for Elena, at this point seems to realize just how ridiculous and false it is. They have all done bad things, and in fact, Stefan has done worst things than Damon. Every single one of them are "monsters" on sliding scales and yet in their little group, only Damon is tagged as one and only Damon owns that branding. And until the others, and more importantly, *Damon* realizes that he is no more a monster than the rest of them; he will never accept that he deserves to be with Elena. That he deserves to be happy. And until he fully accepts that realization his journey will never be complete.
And, you know, honestly, until this conversation, I don't think Elena ever fully got that. Speaking of, when I first watched this, I had a few issues with how Elena's end of it was written and directed, but there was one particular line—that Nina Dobrev delivered flawlessly (and to give credit where it's due, she was fantastic during the entire scene and elevated it above those slight flaws I had even the first time)—where she told him that she wasn't perfect and she said "I've done horrible things too" and that was so key to me. It was an acknowledgement that was no one else ever makes in their group really. Yes, they all do horrible things. But the others and Damon brush them under the rug as, you know, just things that happen, incidentals, but whenever Damon does something horrible it's proof that he's a monster. Only Elena doesn't see it that way, or at least, only Elena acknowledges that she doesn't see it that way.
And that's another key. I don't think that Jeremy or Matt or even Bonnie see Damon as a monster anymore. But none of them verbalize it. I'm sure that Jeremy hasn't told anyone else all the good that Damon has done. I'm sure he never told anyone that Damon tried to make Jeremy kill him while fighting the compulsion (which he did sooooooooo much better than Stefan did, thank you very much Klaus-y poo!). And I'm sure that Matt never told anyone that Damon's supposed big hissy-fit at the Original's ball involved him stopping Kol from killing Matt. And Bonnie's clearly never told Caroline that Damon saved her life, and Caroline obviously doesn't care that Damon has saved her life twice and Tyler's. And the little things don't matter much to enough of them to be spoken of to Jeremy and Matt because they're at the point where they consider Damon one of them; he's just Damon. Cool, in control, bad-ass Damon who always gets shit done. They don't see the wounded soul, the broken man inside who feels worthless and rejected and believes that he's such a monster that he's willing to walk away from the greatest happiness he's ever known because he believes that everyone hates that Elena is with him… even if it's really only Stefan and Caroline. *sigh* Oh, Damon.
And now that brings us to a moment I mentioned in my first write-up of this episode that I loved: Damon telling Bonnie that just maybe the negativity between them is because she's always negative to him. I commented that it was about time that he said that to one of them. And it is. And by the end of the episode we saw a change in that *Bonnie* made a meal for them, Bonnie made a concession and was nice to *Damon* for once. I wrote above "I don't think that Jeremy or Matt or even Bonnie see Damon as a monster anymore. But none of them verbalize it." Perhaps by Damon telling this to Bonnie, her realizing it and this changing their relationship will have an effect on what is going to come later.
And what is going to come later? Well, that brings us to the finale of last season. One of my only two issues with that episode was the fact that Damon and Elena didn't resolve the whole supposed toxicity of their relationship.
While I did love what we got with Damon and Elena, I wasn't pleased with what we did not get—in that there was no resolution to the whole toxic nonsense. And we actually had the perfect opportunity with the perfect set-up in the perfect timeline. Caroline killed Luke to save Stefan without hesitation right in front of Elena. Later when Elena and Damon were talking in the forest they could have talked about the whole supposedly toxic nature of their relationship then. That was the time to acknowledge. That was the time to say that it's not Damon and Elena who are toxic. It's the entire Scooby Gang that is "toxic," if that's what they want to call it.You see that second to last line above? "So it totally is possible that it is still coming." Well, yeah, I'm pretty sure it totally is still coming. However, it's going to be hella, extremely painful before then. Now, I think there was a VERY specific reason that, yes, Elena saw what happened with Caroline and Luke, why that spot was marked X, why all of that happened, and WHY that conversation between Damon and Elena did not happen. All of the above played out for Elena because *Elena* knows now that their relationship is not toxic. She knows now that she was looking at their relationship in a vacuum. But because of the extreme situation, it wasn't the time to sit down and talk it all out then. She figured they could do that later because of course Damon would come back.
And, really, it would have just taken a few lines. Elena softly looks at him, all doe-eyes shining in the sun-filtered forest. "I know we said we were bad for each other, that I had to bend my moral compass for you," and Damon would sigh, but she'd cut him off, taking his face in her hands (because that is their thing). "But Damon, we're not bad for each other. We're there for each other. We protect each other. That's what we all do. I protect Jeremy and Bonnie, and Caroline protects Stefan and Bonnie. Like you would protect any of us, and not just me. We protect each other and we do what we have to do because that's who we are. Yes, sometimes you do things that I wish you didn't, but that's who you are and I love you, Damon, all of you. I love you." And then Damon would look at her, all wide-eyed and vulnerable with love shining from his eyes, lips slightly parted in wonder like how did I get this lucky? And then smooches! And the rest of the scene could play out as scripted.
Or something like that. But the whole toxic/bad for each other discussion should have been had before the big separated by "death" goodbye. Obviously they were reunited and together, but it felt a wee bit glossed over and I don't like when Damon and Elena gloss over things because those two don't gloss. It's not them. They are not a gloss-over-type of pair. And the show has done such a remarkable job with not like *ever* glossing over stuffs with them. *sigh* It's just so frustrating because they were actually taking steps to get to that point where, like I showed above, all that was needed was a few lines because everything else was set up. It was there! We were there. We were like, actually, right there! At the spot. It was marked X! All we needed were the words. At least, I did.
They could have cut out, oh, I don't know, a few Lexi lines to give us this with Damon and Elena, thank you very much! *double sigh* OK, fine, I guess to be fair, when Damon comes back, they may wind up addressing it then. Because we did have that PERFECT set-up. So it totally is possible that it is still coming. I just really, really, really would have preferred that it came before the big separation.
On the other hand, Damon never had that talk with Stefan. Damon never saw that moment with Caroline or anyone else. Damon never had any indication from Stefan or Caroline or Bonnie or Jeremy or Matt or ELENA or anyone else that he and Elena are not toxic. He just figured they got back together because they are so fucking miserable without each other because, remember (and this is important!) even when he demanded she stopped loving him she told him that she can't.
And that bring us to... in the comments from the premiere write-up someone was speculating that Alaric's compulsion wouldn't work (when she believed that Alaric would completely erase Damon and they would fall in love completely fresh without any baggage). I argued that expecting that wasn't the best route to go because that's what bit me in the butt at the end of season 03. I was relying on the expectation based on my speculation based on what I wanted and not on the narrative. Since we've never seen this not work in the entire series run so far so hanging hope on a maybe that's never happened before leads to very possible disappointment. When someone compels someone, the compulsion works as planned, selective or otherwise, it's never not *not* worked before.
For it to suddenly not work, well, why wouldn't it? That's just expecting the show to suddenly switch gears to fit a speculation you want to see play out. I dunno, like I said, after season 03 when I was so disappointed I decided to stop speculating so much with this show and just go with *their* narrative because I do trust them.
However, after this episode, when Elena flat-out brought up that she would just have Alaric un-compel her if Damon somehow did come back, I threw my hands up, because, of course, since Elena said it that means something funky is going to happen and Alaric won't be able to do so. *sigh* Then I realized nope, that's not what is going to happen. The compulsion is going to hold. Of course it is.
You all know where this is going now, don't you?
Damon is going to come back. Damon is going to see Elena. She is going to break his heart. Ric is going to tell him what he did and immediately explain that he'll just uncompel her and Elena will love him again and everything will go back to the way it was. Damon, who thinks that he is a monster and believes completely that Elena deserves better than him, who believes absolutely that he doesn't deserve Elena's love, is going to tell Ric NOT to do it. He's going to tell Ric that the *best* thing for Elena is to go on not remembering that she loves him. Because it's better for her. She's happy, she has Bonnie back now, and she has the chance to find love with someone who is not a monster, who will not destroy her. As far as Damon's concerned, he's already had enough happiness with her, knowing that she loved him that much is enough. (See beautiful epic speech--that again Elena did not hear--from finale.) Her happiness, what is best for her is the most important thing. And because Ric feels the same way about Elena (but in a fatherly way) and because Damon is his best friend and Damon is begging him to do it, he will agree.
And that is how the compulsion will stick. (And, yes, I totally cried when I thought of this.)
But how does this get us to our happily ever after? Well. Jump back a few paragraphs to Damon and Bonnie and him pointing out her being so mean to him, and how she wasn't then. We're going to get a Bonnie, I believe, who is team!Damon. Caroline who is now going to be closer to Enzo who will be privy to Damon's side of things about why he did what he did in not having the compulsion removed will tell Caroline. Bonnie will know. Hell, EVERYONE will know. And, there's no way they aren't going to be... DUDE, he totally freaking loves her THAT DANG MUCH!
Oh, and, yeah, Caroline is going to realize that THIS is truly Elena's epic love because remember in "Bad Moon Rising," Stefan flat-out told Caroline about being unable to not be selfish with Elena. And here she would be seeing Damon being the ultimate in absolute unselfishness. Truly epic love. (Of course, if this isn't what is going to happen, we can all forget this from Caroline's point of view, LOL!)
Speaking of Caroline... and Enzo, that was another thing this episode really set up, but I don't think it was so much in terms of romance. It could be, but I do think her heart is with Stefan right now, even if he shattered it a tad bit. Still, Enzo has now officially manuevered his way into her inner circle. By having Enzo be there in such a big way for Caroline, she will now be his friend, be his champion and so when he champions Damon, when he stands up for Damon, she is going to be more willing to listen. And when he tells her how much Damon loves Elena, and all he has done for Elena, she will hear him, and that on top of knowing that Damon has put Elena first (by not pushing for the uncompulsion) on top of Bonnie's change in reaction towards Damon will likely change in *her* attitude towards Damon.
And... speaking of... yuppers, that's when Bonnie who now knows Damon better than anyone except Elena comes into play. The others will learn from her (not completely spelled out, but enough so in action and attitude) that, wait, he thinks he's a monster!? Wait, what? He thinks we still hate him? We don't hate him. Sure, we don't like everything he does, but, he's one of us. Yeah, he's a dick, but he's OUR dick! So eventually we should have the rest of the Scooby gang maybe working on getting Damon and Elena to realize they do belong together (or maybe just Caroline and Bonnie going all Operation: Get Damon/Elena back together organized by Caroline! with the others cool with it). But the bottom-line is that we know that what this accomplishes is it that we get Damon and Elena to fall in love all over again. And look at all it entails:
(a) Without Stefan in the mix because regardless of whether her memories of falling in love with Damon are gone/altered, her falling out of love with Stefan are not.
(b) Damon getting hit with a whammy of Elena ending things with him all over again, and him not going off the deep end, this time making the *right* decisions. And he almost definitely will have a tough time because not only will he be hit with Elena thinking the worst of him, I have a pretty strong suspicion that she'll be dating her fellow med student, Liam. There was a reason, I think, we had that bit of interaction with the two of them in the premiere. We'll see.
(c) Damon finally realizing that he is *not* a monster, because this time, the others ARE there for him, unlike last time. Remember what happened after last time? He was all alone. No one asked after him, no one checked on him. No one cared to see how Damon was doing? And THAT was part of the problem as I detailed. It heightened the 'no one cares' aspect which continued all the way through in "Man On Fire," in Damon's voicemail to Enzo when he told him that no one cared if he left Mystic Falls.
(d) Elena fell for Damon before, this time it will happen faster because it won't be two steps forward, seven steps back because Damon has grown, Damon is a better man now.
(e) Elena is a vampire now. She understands better what it's like. And they've all done horrible *things* in the group, made the tough decisions.
(f) Jeremy forgave him for, erm, killing him. We might finally see discussion between Elena and Jeremy about it now! And Elena and Damon about it. And Damon and Jeremy! (Which I always wanted and am bummed we didn't get.)
(g) Instead of Elena falling in love with Damon and us guessing at when it happened (and finding out in flashbacks now), we'll SEE it happening and KNOW.
(h) Most importantly, everyone will be rooting for them, instead of against them because they'll not only know how much Damon truly loves Elena, but they'll also know how much Elena truly loves Damon now and they'll see that despite how "happy" Elena seems without loving him, they'll know it's not as happy as she truly can be. And they'll also see that she's not as complete and the best that she can be without the part of her that she was loving Damon, that person who grew, who matured, who made compromises, who loved and was loved so completely. She became a better person loving Damon.
And when Elena does fall back in love with Damon again... Alaric will give her her memories back again, and Elena will get mad at Damon for telling Alaric not to and will get a traditional, typical good, ole rousing Damon/Elena fight followed by make-up sex!
Or, we might FINALLY get a compulsion broken. florencia7 mentioned that "I'd LOVE for Elena to break the compulsion herself, but I don't know if it's even remotely possible. I think it'd be pretty awesome in the context of Elena trying to convince Stefan in S3 and Damon in S4 that they could break their respective Klaus' and Kol's compulsions *just* because they loved her. So I'd love for her to actually prove that it's possible. Girl power FTW & all that ;)." What if this is when we finally see that happen? After Elena has re-fallen in love with Damon, *Elena* breaks the compulsion through the force of HER love for Damon because Elena is THAT awesome? Uh huh. I mean, I've always wondered why they kept bringing that up but neither Stefan nor Damon could do it. What was the point, if it was never gonna happen, show? Well, maybe it was waiting for Elena to show the boys how it's done. Uh huh!
So, yeah, that's my theory and I do think the groundwork's been laid. And I think we saw all the seeds of it flowering in this episode. If I'm right, it's gonna be painful, but I think the payoff will be really good and the journey will be totally worth it. I do. What this essentially does is give Damon and Elena fans the chance to watch them fall in love all over again as the show's MAIN love story without being part of a triangle and as the key root-for couple, and all wrapped up in that delicious pull-pull, love/hate tension. It's win/win.
Phew! OK, one more thing about the episode that is not Damon and Elena-theory related, but instead is about Stefan, and Stefan and Caroline. I think this was a good episode for him and the two of them as well, believe it or not. Right now Stefan is struggling because he is going through the greatest grief of his life. Caroline is not going to permanently walk away from him... because when it's real, you don't walk away. *sigh*
I said in my original post that I loved that Caroline called Stefan a dick because it meant that she saw that he was being selfish. And I meant it, I loved that she saw the true Stefan. She sees Stefan as who he is and not the projected image of who he wants people to see. She sees the best and worst of him and that's a good thing. She sees and still cares about all of him. Once Stefan realizes that, it will be better for him because he needs to realize that. In her attempt to "help" him, Lexi screwed him up so deeply. Caroline, on the other hand, can help him. Because she wants him to deal with reality, not some trumped up fantasy where he lets it control him, be it blood or some projected better image (both of which Stefan *has* let control his entire life).
So, yup, I fully believe that what happened in this episode is good in the long run for Stefan and Caroline and for Stefan's growth because Caroline hasn't given up on Stefan, she's just hurt right now, but she still loves him (yes, she does). And he needs to see that someone can still love him, and not walk away so that he knows he can be loved even if he's not Saint Stefan. Double uh huh!
So overall, yup, a lot here that's going to lead both of these couples to where they need to be to be happy by the end of the season, I do believe. Or at least some approximation of happy? If I'm right. Which I may not be. I could be TOTES wrong after all. :shrugs:
* If you have any interest in re-visiting those older posts, here are the links.
- 5.10 - Fifty Shades of Grayson
- 5.16 - While You Were Sleeping
- 5.22 - Home
And always, all of my previous episode post write-ups and main TVD posts are linked in my TVD round-up post here that can be found on my sidebar links.