I rewatched the mid-season finale before writing this up since it’s been a wee bit of time since the episode aired. And I'm glad I did. Part of the reason that I held off on putting this up is because when it originally aired I was not in a good frame of mind and my attention was split due to a hockey game simultaneously playing. So… I rewatched the episode. I had liked it when I first watched it, but there were issues I had and was still whining in my notes about Nora and Mary Louise. However, with undivided attention and in a good mood, I must say that I really, really enjoyed this episode. It was damn good.
And I'm going to start with Nora and Mary Louise. Of course they still don't have a lick of chemistry, but separating them made them more interesting, more real. Now Mary Louise still hasn't regained that earlier promise that I saw in her, but seeing her as Julian’s special pet and as possibly the worst of the lot who has just kept this darker side of herself all buttoned up all this time is something to ponder. So I remain intrigued. But she's still just a promise of potential. On the other hand, Nora blossomed in this episode. I found her scenes with Bonnie fabulous from the wary beginning to open discussion at the hospital to the final scene in Bonnie’s dorm room. So many great lines and observations in there: Bonnie asking her straight out why she liked Mary Louise, Nora talking about how she made her feel so special, so beautiful and was so kind and wonderful to her. Bonnie pointing out that it was only to Nora she was that way and Nora acknowledging that. And then my favorite bit where Bonnie said she didn't need someone to tell her she was pretty (which is such an awesome sentiment and so very true), and then Nora agreeing with that but saying that it's still something that's good to hear (which is also very true).
It was just such a lovely moment amidst an overall lovely scene amidst a lovely batch of scenes that built a realistic connection over the course of the episode between these two. And then Stefan went and fucked it all up. Oh, Stefan.
Yeah, let's talk about Stefan. This episode basically could have been named 'Damon Salvatore is Always Right.' Because Damon was totes right about Julian throughout the whole episode (and about Stefan and Caroline, and Caroline and the babies—circa 'Three Years From Now…') If Damon says that he and Stefan are outmatched by Julian, they are outmatched. Listen to your brother, Stefan! But no, he just had to go after Julian… after being a jerkface to his brother and just when he'd been so good for the most part. I mean, until those 'fine, I don’t need you/please don't leave me!' insults when Damon left him in Sunbury, I rather appreciated that for the most part Stefan wasn't a jerk about Damon's attitude about Lily. But, then, yeah, little-baby-pissy-bro Stefan came out to play. Siblings, whatcha gonna do?
Well, we know what Stefan did! He decided to think for himself… and fuck everything up. Destroyed Bonnie and Nora’s lovely burgeoning friendship, dumped an icy bucket of water on the flame of the nice of Nora, and, oh, yeah, got his brother sent to his own very personal hell. Oh, right, and then, he took his trip there as well.
Stefan, Stefan, Stefan. Boo, when you gonna realize that big bro is the brains of the operation?
Speaking of their personal hells… I had read some complaints that it was so stupid that they did this storyline with Damon in his personal hell without Nina Dobrev around because, hello, you can’t show Damon's personal hell without Elena! And I thought, 'Hello! Do these people even pay attention when they watch this damn show?!' They clearly explained that the hell is based on horrible things that you have personally done and Damon has made it very clear that nothing that involves Elena Gilbert in his life is hell. N-O-T-H-I-N-G! There is literally no way in any way, shape or form that Damon’s mind could conceive of connecting Elena with hell unless it was a world *without* Elena ever in it. So of course Elena would NOT be his personal hell. She is his light, she is the one thing that would keep it *from* being his personal hell. Duh!
Moving on… as for it being from his time during the Civil War… ooh! I am very intrigued. The fact that we had that very brief bit of conversation between him and the still-mourned Oscar (really, we had to lose *that* Heretic!?) about Damon's soldiering days and Damon's sshing of it was definitely a key. And going back to the few times that his time in the war has been mentioned in the flashbacks it’s always been very clear that Damon and the war did not get along, color me very, very intrigued. And (OMIGOD!) this might open the door to Damon and Alaric talking Civil War down the road which is a long-time fantasy of mine as a Civil War geek myself. (Plus, on a completely shallow note, good lord, Damon looked really beautiful all bewildered and shaken in his Civil War hell. Hey, I said it was shallow.)
I will say that I wasn't terribly surprised when Damon was stabbed what with the explanation about the sword and phoenix stone in the episode. I mean, we knew it was gonna happen (to him or Stefan obviously). Still, that's not to say that I wasn't all sad when it happened. Especially when Stefan (hallelujah! he is learning!) acknowledged right away that it was his fault for being a doofus-head and not listening and he was kneeling at Damon's side looking all stricken. Oh, Stefan.
And then, and then… I *was* surprised when Nora popped up and Stefan was stabbed too! That I was not expecting. One of the brothers? Sure, totes expected. But not both of my Salvatore boys. Damn, show. Haven't they suffered enough?
Apparently not because we know more is coming thanks to 'Three Years From Now.' Stefan and Caroline really are dunzo and so we know rough roads are ahead. I don't even know, guys. Stefan and Valerie. I don't know how to feel about this. I keep going back to the idea that I don't think the network is done with The Vampire Diaries yet (I guess we'll see what happens with ratings on Friday) and if Paul Wesley is leaving but Candice King is not then maybe they aren't going with Stefan/Caroline endgame. I don't know. Ugh! I don't know. I'm trying to keep an open mind right now. It'’s just… arrrggh! With this 'Three Years From Now' thing, we know… we know that three years from now, Stefan is with Valerie and that Caroline is engaged to Alaric and they are raising the twins together. We know this.
And now, today, it's obvious that Stefan *does* still have feelings for Valerie. Obviously, duh, Valerie still has feelings for Stefan, but she's holding them in check, she's not making moves on Stefan, not behaving inappropriately, she's not. Stefan, however, he's doing the puppy-dog eyes at her, he's kept secrets from Caroline, he's allowing himself to have this 'you and me' connection where only *they* understand the need to take out Julian. Stefan is creating this us-dom between them. He's doing the same thing with him and Valerie that he kept trying to do with him and Elena long after they were over. The difference then was that Elena was done with him, and Valerie is not.
And right now, Stefan is acting more like a best friend to Caroline than a boyfriend and while the best friend part is great, the boyfriend part is pretty darn important. So, yeah, I'm not sure where this is all going with those two because they are moving right along with Caroline and Alaric as well.
The right way. My biggest issue has been the ick factor. But they are facing it head-on and that makes it work for me. I appreciated that they had the other people who would totally be doing so in a small town talking about Alaric being a teacher, Caroline being a student. That acknowledgement is there. I see this as meaning that however this 'Three Years From Now' thing with Caroline and Alaric plays out it's going to happen with the awareness of that factor in play. It's going to be dealt with; it's already being acknowledged. Good. Whether Alaric and Caroline will work as an actual couple? Well, that's still up in the air but at least they are not ignoring elephants in the room and all of the pieces on the chessboard are being put into place, so to speak.
OK, randoms …
- "You were a terrible mother when you were alive. You were a terrible mother when you were dead." Yeah, that eulogy pretty much nailed it.
- Best Damon line of the episode: "Plan B, booze-soaked flammable costumes." LOL! God, I love him so.
- I love that they're running with the crazy of the pregnant vampire and taking the whole pregnancy hormones and "vamping" it up (hah, see what I did there?) and pregnancy cravings. I love when the show does stuff like that. They know that it's crazy and ridiculous and they're just going with it. Awesome! Blood and marshmallow fluff, hee!
- Oh, Bonnie. I loved seeing Bonnie being such, yes, Nora, a kind person. Love her!
- Caroline so prepared for her Lamaze class was so perfectly Caroline, I loved it. And, of course, Alaric read up on everything too. Of course, he did. He can be a bit overzealous himself too.
- Caroline at her mom's grave (Liz! I miss you!) was lovely and sad, and was a good tie-in to her and Stefan talking at the end there. (Psst! And very, very best friend-ish. *Sigh*)
- There was a bit of irony there in Stefan's "That stone is punishment for every bad thing you've ever done. This is Damon. I don't even want to know what he's going through." Oh, Stefan, you may play the saint, but we all know you've done way worse than your brother. Way worse. Yikes!
- I missed Matt. :( Please let the second half of the season give him a bigger storyline. Pretty please!
- Wah! The first episode of the season with no Elena or Damon/Elena mentions. :Sniff sniff: Still, only took them nine episodes. I'm sure more are coming.
So as I said at the top of the episode, I'm glad I rewatched this in a better frame of mind because I thought this was a great episode. It reminded me of how much I love this show. Strong characters, strong writing, directing and such great use of history and community. I can't wait to see what is to come.