Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for many other viewers, including those who have not only commented on my write-ups in the past but, alas, also those with whom I have spoken at length about the show. Work schedule changes (my own and others), the move from Thursday to Friday, and, of course, Nina Dobrev's departure, have also made quite a dent in the feedback from which I was able to derive a lot of the give and take that fueled the richer depth of my analysis. Right now, I'm relying mostly on just my brainwork and the few (and, boy, do I mean *few*) peeps who have loyally stuck around. (Let me take this opportunity to say how much I appreciate you guys bunches!)
All of this is to say that I still do adore The Vampire Diaries and I still think it's brilliant. I just don't have the same feedback to write my posts and the Friday timeslot/my schedule don't work as well, thus the lateness of these write-ups. Anyhoo, on with this episode!
Per usual, in the second half of the season seeds that were planted in earlier episodes are beginning to blossom. The last episode and this one have really been beauties in that area… especially in regard to Damon, and Damon and Stefan's relationship. Plus, I *think* (THINK! being the key word) I know where we are heading the rest of the season.
Think. Read on…
This was a really, really good episode and I was honestly surprised when I found out who wrote it because it was done by none other than Chad Fiveash and James Stoteraux, two writers whose work has left me a bit underwhelmed in the past. While they've delivered some fine work in each of their episodes, just about everyone has also offered some pretty glaring out-of-character moments that have frustrated me.
However, with this one, I have no complaints. In fact, the more I thought on what happened (and what's been building over the last bulk of episodes), I realized more and more just how layered and awesome the storytelling is and what I believe we're coming to. And this episode did a wonderful job of bringing a whole slew of the strands from earlier episodes together. So major kudos to Fiveash and Stoteraux; excellent work.
One of those key strands, as mentioned above, is in relationship to Damon, and his relationship with Stefan. tj2013 had wondered after the last episode why the show was going to the well of Damon's downward spiral yet again. What was the point? She wondered. What about character growth, hasn't he progressed beyond this? I was thankful that the concern had been addressed because while it wasn't something that had bothered me, by bringing it up I was able to more clearly parse what the show was doing. And it perfectly aligned with what I had believed would happen after the end of season 06. At least I think so; I mean, I hope I'm right because it makes perfect sense, to me at least. After 6.20 "I'd Leave My Happy Home For You,." I wrote this:
We have to take into account the Damon and Stefan relationship. As important as Damon and Elena are, Damon and Stefan are important too and while the Elena side of things is all but settled in the matter of love, when it comes to Damon and Stefan… well, not so much. But more than that, things are not settled for Stefan's heart period. Damon has found his soulmate. He no longer needs his brother to bear eternity. He truly can be happy and will feel that he has lived a fulfilled life having a complete human life with Elena, get married, have kids, grow old together.There are a few points that I got wrong here or there (as in Damon hadn't decided yet to take the cure, and I actually think that Stefan and Caroline's story has longer to go and it's more about Stefan and Damon's relationship reaching a happy place without the Stefan/Caroline part coming into it. But the gist remains the same when it comes to Damon and Stefan. As in, this season—at its heart—is about Damon and Stefan finding their way back to loving each other unselfishly and wanting the other to be happy. So I go back to why analyzing Damon's latest downward spiral was important. Firstly, I didn't see it so much as another "Damon downward spiral." It was so completely different from everything that had happened in the past where he'd gone off the deep end. So different.
Stefan doesn't have that. He still needs Damon to fill the empty void of forever because he doesn't have his other half. He *could* have that with Caroline, but right now, things are so beyond not there, so all Stefan feels he really has that's a definite is Damon. Their relationship has to be in a good place before both brothers can have their happy ending... and if Stefan is not settled in a place where he can be happy with Damon's happiness—which means that he has found *his* soulmate—that won't happen. And this isn't about Stefan being selfish. It would be the same were the positions reversed. To love a family member that deeply (as the brothers do love each other that deeply) you can't be truly happy unless your loved family member is truly happy themselves.
So *these* are the key things that I believe the next season will be about. It will be about bringing the brothers back to the relationship they had before Katherine came between them. It will be about getting Stefan to the same place with Caroline that Damon is with Elena."
He was in his personal hell that was built out of a magical, mystical hell stone that made him relive that hell over and over and over and over again. Then when he was just about to finally (FINALLY!) find closure, it was ripped away from him. And THEN! he nearly killed all but two of the people in his life that he cares about. And THEN!THEN!THEN! he believed that he set aflame the absolute love of his life and burned her to death! That wasn't Damon having a downward spiral, this is Damon suffering from post-traumatic stress and actually handling fairly well considering. No, really, what we are seeing now is all about... wait for it....
DAMON AND STEFAN! Because that is the single relationship in Damon's life that has not reached resolution. In Damon's hell, who was he trying to reach? STEFAN! In Stefan's hell, who did he have to let go of? DAMON! (Which I am 99.9999999% sure is about Stefan letting go of Damon so he can be a human with Elena in peace elsewhere.) And in real life, what happened, Damon tried to get himself killed, which would have left his relationship with Stefan unresolved. He only didn't die because Stefan said he would kill Julian which would get then both of them killed. So, Damon then decided to punish himself by telling Stefan he killed Elena. However, he didn't her Stefan the circumstances... which might have changed Stefan's reaction. (More on that later.)
So what are we supposed to see with Damon, character-wise? It's all about Damon resolving and coming to peace regarding his relationship with his brother.
Obviously, Damon ain't there yet. At this point, I think a good chunk of the reason that is.. because Stefan still has miles to go on his journey to find himself. See: His reaction upon finding out that Damon "killed" Elena.
Oh, yeah, that "more on that later" bit. And this is where the whole little bit where it's kinda still on Damon. He sucks at being a friend/opening up to people. But can you blame him? I mean, really? Damon has never had anyone but Elena accept him after his mistakes without a bunch of AAHH!YOUSUCK! And, let's get real, Stefan reinforced with his whole Hulk impression. And Enzo reinforced with his whole blackmailing thingie. So, yeah, that's why Damon did what he did with Bonnie, *sigh* Here's the thing, had Damon told Stefan outright what actually happened with Elena and forcing Tyler to take him, and the hallucinatory Henry and the "burning" Elena, Stefan might (yeah, totes) have reacted differently because (a) he probably knew, (b) would have been more understanding because (a) he knew, and (b) he had, oh, you know, been through the Phoenix hell stone himself.
But no! Damon does not know how to be a friend. Because people are SHITTY FRIENDS to Damon! How can he with Alaric gone AWOL on his ass. Enzo ditto!, and, oh, right blackmailing him with his fear of losing his BFF. Stefan reacting as he did, not even taking a second to ask Damon what the hell happened before going all Rambo on him. Plus, let's take a gander at history, shall we? When Damon's been in pain in the past, he's had no one there for him (outside of Elena, I mean. And, Stefan sitting next to him for two seconds by the fireside like two or three times does *not* count). Think of the Elena break-up. Stefan stood there listening to "Elena" (Katherine—Beeyotch!) rip his heart to complete shreds and didn't even go to him, and then was judgmental, while Matt and Jeremy mocked and insulted him.
Oh, and when he came back from the alternate universe to find the love of his life Damon-memory-less and dating someone else, Ric let the woman he'd just begun dating mock his pain and extol the virtue new guy, and tore Damon a new one every opportunity he had. So, yeah, Damon doesn't know how to be a friend. Can you blame him? He's just learning with Bonnie.
Had Stefan reacted better, Damon might have told Bonnie; he might have realized that, yes, Elena isn't the only one who cares about his pain. But nope, Stefan just reinforced that belief. And by doing so, he helped steer the course that had already been set in motion days ago by… Matt. Yes, my beloved Matty set the course of the Rayna, the destructive Huntress in motion if we're laying blame. But, of course, Damon is taking it. Of course.
He is taking on all of the blame for Rayna having the sword and marking Stefan, but it's not all on him. I don't deny that he is partially responsible. However, Matt (1) took Enzo just because he felt helpless and wanted to do something. The group that Matt took Enzo to forced him to rescue Rayna; she forced him to get the sword. Enzo (2) blackmailed Damon. Damon (3) doesn't know how to be a friend (see above), so he didn't want to risk telling Bonnie because he didn't want to lose someone else so he asked for a favor. Bonnie (4) begged Stefan to help Damon fight Rayna. Stefan (5) CHOSE to help Damon fight Rayna. Damon was prepared to fight Rayna himself, prepared to die fighting her. That was *his* choice. It is NOT on Damon alone that Stefan was marked.
There were other people who made choices that led to Stefan being marked, Damon's choice—a poor, albeit understandable—was just one of them. Count them, five people, Matt, Enzo, Damon, Bonnie and Stefan all contributed to Rayna marking Stefan. And Matt, Enzo, Damon and Bonnie all contributed to Rayna getting the sword. They all could have made different choices. Bonnie and Stefan are the only two of the five whose choices were unselfish. Yes, even Matt's choice was selfish. He didn't remove Enzo from Mystic Falls for unselfish reasons.
He did it because he felt helpless; because he couldn't touch the Heretic-related vampires and because the other vampires were Stefan, Damon and Caroline and regardless of what he says about Stefan and even Damon, he does care about them. He wanted to feel like he was accomplishing something, so he took down a big, bad vampire: Enzo… a vampire who has hurt him in the past, who nearly killed him in the past, a vampire he has history with, who is kinda on the outs with his vampire frenemies. It was a choice that set this whole ball in motion. But it doesn't make him to blame anymore than it makes Damon to blame.
The only person who is to blame is Rayna… the Shaman-multiple-life-giving badass Huntress. You know, the one who stabbed Beau through the throat and severed his vocal cords, took Julian out for nearly a century, had the Heretics hiding in coffins on their Atlantic crossing which led them to their own 1903 alternate world. The very one who killed Beau in the present day, set him on fire and then calmly walked over his burning corpse. Cold, man. Yeah, she's pretty badass.
Interesting back-story there and I did feel bad for her when she tried to scare Julian off by telling him that her father was one of the Five, only to have it backfire. Had she kept quiet that would have meant Julian's death, and so much would have changed for so many of her our characters too. All because of one unthinking, brave, scared girl trying to save her father.
I'm not sure what I think of the actress yet. She didn't blow me away bam!—like Claire Holt (Rebekah) or Janina Gavankar Quetsiya/Tessa—but she's very pretty and she was good. And I remain intrigued by the character and I want to see what is going to happen. And, yes, she does look a lot like Nina Dobrev. I wonder they why of that, normally I wouldn't think anything of it except for the fact that they had Damon specifically remark on it. So, yeah, hmmm…
Speaking of Damon and his attempt to take Rayna down, not caring if he died. Oh, Damon. Damon, Damon. Obviously, we're all glad he didn't die (or many reasons, but also) because we got that beautiful moment when he learned (duh!) that Elena was still alive (double duh!) and he had not burned her alive after all (triple duh!). Oh, his face! He just looked like heaven shining joy upon his face. Oh, Damon. *sigh*
And then it was his turn to vow to fix it all and save Stefan. I wonder, was anyone else reminded of that scene from 1.21, "The Sun Also Rises" when Stefan vowed to fix it when Damon was bit by the werewolf? Just the way Damon said it, I don't know, it reminded me of it, that absolute surety with which he said it. That desperate need to SAVE. HIS. BROTHER. I just felt that same Brothers Salvatore love there. Anyway, I hope he does.
I know that there will be help to a degree from the others, as obviously this won't be as simple as getting a bag of blood from your not-so-friendly thousand-year-old hybrid. Still, I hope that Damon is the key and the main force behind the rescue of Stefan/takedown of Rayna/saving the day or however this is supposed to play out. And I hope this leads to the others realizing that they made choices and mistakes along the way that lead to where they are, and it was not just Damon screwing up.
I want it so that when Elena wakes up that she is happy for Damon reading some of the entries and seeing in between the lines what her friends maybe don't even realize (because they can be blind and stupid when it comes to Damon!). And she'll tell Damon how proud she is of him and of the choices that he has made, validating everything that he's done in front of the others. He can walk away with her, proud and finally having faith because he proved to himself that she was right to believe in him. They can have their happy ever after. Because really that's all Damon needs to "complete" his arc, so to speak: Find resolution with Stefan, and have validation in the eyes of others and belief in himself. No, it shouldn't matter (the validation part), but it does for some and he's one of those some.
It's Stefan who has a lot further to go. I do think it's more and more likely that the show will return another season, and considering how Stefan continues to be written, as well as Stefan and Caroline, I'm thinking it's also possible that Paul Wesley just might be sticking around too. Looking at the last few episodes and especially this one, I think we possibly have the set-up for what's going to happen for the home stretch of this season. Well, as I said at the top of the post… I *think.* (Total speculation here. I could be dead-dead wrong. LOL!)
I think, again with the think, folks!, that Valerie/Stefan, Caroline/Alaric, Bonnie/Enzo and Matt/Penny (to a much lesser degree, because I think they are going to be a barely-there couple) are going to pushed through over the course of the next five to six episodes. I think that the last three to five (leaning towards four) episodes are going to take place in that magical place known as "Three Years From Now" and we are just going to be time-jumped from then on.
I now believe that Stefan and Caroline are *the* endgame couple. However, if we are coming back next season, you can't just have lah-dee-dah a happy couple with no story to play. So, I'm guessing that there will be a triangle play out with Alaric or Valerie or possibly a quadrangle with Valerie/Stefan/Caroline/Alaric.
I can see the potential build-up of both new (or new/old in Stefan/Valerie's case) couples over the course of the next five to six episodes with Stefan on run. Valerie will probably do a locator spell and join him—I could see those feelings that Stefan has been avoiding begin to surface. Caroline will be upset that Valerie is with him, and that he's letting her but not Caroline to "protect her." Meanwhile, she's bonding with Ric over the babies. I could see us getting a first kiss between those two at least. I don't think we'll get the full gamut of either relationship becoming "the" relationship, though.
I don't think we'll get a full exploration at this point because I don't think at least one (if both) of the relationships is supposed to have permanence. I know I mentioned a possible quad, but I don't think it will happen; a triangle is more likely. That's just how this show rolls.
The only two ways I see Valerie out of the picture is if Stefan reveals he still has feelings for Caroline deep enough that Valerie is, like, ‘I'm done with this,' but I can't see her just walking away. So I'd lean more towards her biting the bullet (or rather the stake/Phoenix Sword). That would leave us with Stefan/Caroline/Alaric, but that would be tricky with the twins. I mean, really… two little girls?
Yeah, originally I was leaning more towards a Stefan/Caroline/Alaric triangle, but with the twins involved, I think it would be more likely to be Valerie/Stefan/Caroline, so, they might drop the Alaric/twins angle and it's going to be Valerie/Stefan/Caroline. Either way, I think we're going to get some variation of those two pairings next season in a triangle formation, because, yeah, I think there is going to be a next season and Stefan/Caroline/? Will be at the center of it. (Unless I'm totes wrong all around, LOL!)
Also possibly? Bonnie/Enzo/Matt… because, yeah, I'm not done riding that train. Through the next batch of episodes, I think we'll see Matt and Penny's first kiss, the two getting together, and her possible death (thanks for the spoiler, Matt! No, really, thanks. I just don't like Penny). Bonnie and Enzo moving towards to each other, maybe it will be a love/hate type of relationship? Lust or something? Who knows. But, yeah, I'm thinking now it will ramp up sooner rather than later unlike I did last week.
And I do think all of the little hints that I've been seeing with Matt and Bonnie, all of their interaction in the beginning of the season, that clunky Matt and Bonnie being paired up on the product placement app the episode or two ago, etc. is leading somewhere. We *will* be getting something with Bonnie and Matt which will lead to a Bonnie/Matt/Enzo triangle which ties in neatly with the Matt/Enzo antagonistic history. Or I'm completely wrong and they may go somewhere with Matt and Rayna next season. Either way, Penny is basically just fodder. Yay! I don't like her.
I don't know. Bottom-line is that I'm pretty sure, OK, I mean, I really, really think that by the last batch of episodes we are going to officially be in "Three Years From Now" territory and from henceforth that is where we will stay. It would be a way to catch the show up to the present. They might also do a time reset on The Originals. After all according to the flash-forward at the end there, Caroline is going to New Orleans and that's three years from now, so we'll see.
Phew… Ok, Randoms --
- Everyone else—possibly including Stefan—probably knew about the decoy coffin. Speaking of, totally called the decoy coffin. Booyah!
- Man, I had started to type that Caroline might undergo a vampire C-section for the last write-up, but thought the babies were too young for that. Totes should have kept it then I would have been right about something else. LOL!
- I didn't write it here, but I got into a long argument with someone else about Elena telling Damon that she wanted him to live his life, etc. was her way of saying, ‘dude, I don't expect you to be celibate, I know you. Get laid.' Always nice to be proven how well I know this show. With that said, damn, how depressed did ‘not-gotten-laid-by-Elena' Damon look? So depressed and miserable. Poor (beautiful) Damon.
- Aww, who else got choked up when Alaric told Caroline he was naming the other baby Elizabeth? :sobs: Liz! I still miss you FOREVER!
- The Five! I love how the show continues to use their history to tell new stories. It's just brilliant.
- Oh, Stefan. Him creating that beautiful picnic in Caroline's mind to distract her from what was going was so sweet and beautiful. I just loved it. And really that was the moment where I officially decided I was done questioning whether or not Stefan/Caroline was their planned *endgame* couple or not. They are… absolutely. Yes! And *YAY!*
- Oh, my heart! Oh, Bonnie! My bb girl! When Damon saved her after Rayna shot her, my heart just cried a little at her happiness over Damon didn't hesitate three seconds, not even one at saving her life. :sniff sniff: It was such a beautifully layered moment. It meant so much to her that he cared enough to save her life; knowing how much he loves Elena that he would save her even knowing it meant he would have to wait that much longer to be with Elena. And Damon was so upset because he didn't hesitate because he thought there was no Elena waiting for him if he saved Bonnie. And, it's even worse because she doesn't know that he's not hesitating because he's lying to her, but he's lying to her because he doesn't want to lose her. Gah! It was just a really beautifully done moment. Really well done.
Again, this was a really great episode. I loved it. I know I talked a lot about speculation and such for the rest of the season (much of it possibly totes wrong LOL!), but I was just really overwhelmed with the feels for the possible set-up for what's to come that this episode gave me. And I also loved how this one really brought together so much of what had been set-up in the first half of the season. Just so good. Caroline Dries is really remarkable. LOVE HER!