So I fell into a Damon-fangirl trap. Yes, I did. I love him so that I realized I’ve been watching him most of this season through my rose-colored, ‘Oh, I love him so!’ glasses and I missed what was right in front of me. Stefan was right. Hellstone!Stefan was right. Damon has reverted to being a total dick who is crapping all over his life. The Damon that Valerie knows is a selfish, asshole brother and so of course she thinks he’s the worst. Bonnie had every reason to write Damon off after what he did to her. But I couldn’t see that because I was all ‘Oh, Damon, I wuv you so much because you’ve been through so much and you’re suffering because you miss Elena and hot damn, Ian Somerhalder is so, so pretty!
And it’s not like we weren’t warned. Hello! We were told by everyone and their dog involved with the show that Damon would be like season 01 Damon. And it’s true in many ways. He’s been making rash decisions. He’s been making selfish decisions. And he did desert Stefan and Bonnie... and in Bonnie’s case, his plan was to not even tell her face to face. Going back to early on in the season you had Damon ripping Malcolm's heart, messing up Stefan's plan which did lead to Caroline (and Elena's coffin) getting kidnapped, playing his whole cold-hearted revenge against Lily that led to a lot more death and destruction, etc., etc., and I justified a lot of it because of my love for Damon, understanding his suffering, blah, blah, blah.
However, yeah, Damon was wrong. Damon did make a lot of mistakes. Damon was being selfish. If Elena were around, she would have been shaking her head going 'WTF? this is not the guy I fell in love with.' No, I take that back, Elena would not have been doing that because Damon wouldn't have been doing a lot of these things. Damon has basically been on a less extreme version of the downward spiral he went on for 150+ years after Katherine left him. So yeah.
But now we're at the turning point. Stefan is gone again into the hellstone and it's Damon's fault. Because, yes, it is Damon's fault. It is. Period. Damon was the one who couldn't just suck it up and tell Bonnie the truth about what he thought he did to Elena, so instead he gave into blackmail and used their friendship to give Rayna's sword to Enzo. That led to Rayna killing Beau. And chasing down the other vampires, including a giving-birth Caroline who needed Valerie, Nora and Mary Louise and their witchy spells to help her. Two of the three took off... which put Caroline and the twins in jeopardy. So, yay, Damon showed up to clean up his mess, but instead one of the three people who still unconditionally love him (Bonnie) begged one of the remaining two (Stefan) to go and help him. So he did. And he took the mark. Damon's fault. I had argued in earlier write-ups, 'oh, stuff it, Stefan, you made the choice!' But I take that back now because I'm not going to get on Stefan's case for making a truly selfless choice to save his freaking brother's life when Damon completely and utterly DID fuck up for a completely and utterly SELFISH reason.
And now... and NOW! Damon got Stefan's hopes up, he's gonna take the mark, he's gonna step up and let Stefan live again while they try and figure a way out of this. And then, OH DEAR LORD! the second Damon realizes that it's gonna suck for him, he bails. He literally bails and is all, erm, yeah, changed my mind. DUDE! Damon, DU-U-U-DE! I beyond feel for Stefan right now. Of course, Stefan is so upset right now. He's feeling so betrayed because Damon is going back on his word and clearly NOT choosing him after Stefan just had the realization smacked in his face that HE chose Damon first. (Oh, you know there is more on THAT later!) And then Damon did. Damon finally is choosing him FIRST. FINALLY! after Stefan ALWAYS choosing Damon first!
He chose Stefan... over the possible potential of never seeing Elena again (although, of course he'd bust his ass to figure a way around that!), he did, he chose Stefan too. But Stefan didn't know that. So he had *that* pain and that's a big part of why Stefan finally chose to "let Damon go" per the Phoenix Stone's wish. And, of course, the other has got to be that the mystical connection between Rayna and Stefan goes both ways. The connection is there between her and the sword/stone as well, so if she's feeling that connection to the sword/stone, and the connection to Stefan was reawakened once she was released and his scar re-opened, well... yeah, then you know that the whole "Let him go" refrain was pounding in the back of his head ever since then. He has been feeling it. Big-time. Yuppers.
And, obviously, he still doesn't get it. Duh! The 'Let him go,' is about letting human!Damon go. Hmm... You know I thought this season was about the brothers finding closure, finding their way to accept Damon as a human/Damon being a human and this all plays out that way. Buuuttt, with an 8th season WITH Ian Somerhalder, I'm not sure now. I mean, we don't know he'll still be on the show for sure. Ideally, I'd prefer he NOT unless somehow Nina Dobrev comes back and we get human!Elena/vampire!Damon for a bit before blooming into human!Elena and human!Damon. But, he might, probably will stick around, so... who knows what they are going to do to set Damon up for next season without Elena.
Regardless, this season still feels like it's a preparation for human!Damon. I mean, Rayna clearly only saw parts of Stefan's life, and sure he looked content in those moments, but there is a reason we saw Stefan looking at his phone, wanting to call Damon. He was missing his brother. That was the show showing us that, no, Rayna, Stefan wasn't happy with Damon not in his life. Oh, and Rayna, by the way, m'dear, it's not his brother who caused Stefan to start experiencing drama in his life once more. That would be you and your escape from the armory thus causing his scar to open. Geez! I mean, seriously, how clueless can you get? Duh, girl. Still, despite her chasing our brothers down and causing all sorts of mayhem, I like her.
Anyhoo, my point is that with Stefan we're getting to the heart of him for him. In order for Stefan to let go of Damon in a good way, he's got to admit the importance of Damon. And he was hit hard—damn hard!—with that realization. And then he was all but smacked in the face with 'Oh, but Damon doesn't care!' So, yeah, that's got to be dealt with... which brings us to Damon and the beginning of this entry. Damon has slipped back into the pre-Elena pattern of making selfish choices. However, as I mentioned all the way back in "Ghost World" (season 03, episode 07):
I liked A LOT that in an episode that talked about Damon, mentioned redemption, etc., and Damon making a positive choice to let someone in, be the better "man" (to Ric), it had NOTHING TO DO WITH ELENA. This helped to confirm my own personal belief that Damon is not changing or becoming better FOR Elena. I think it's BECAUSE of Elena's influence. It's like what Andie said ... love changes a person, makes them better. It's like, for me, Elena has ignited that desire that has always been in Damon to be better, but until he's ready, until he wants to, it's not going to happen. Because he's not doing it for her, he's doing it for him, he's allowing himself that belief that he can be better because he's acknowledging that the desire is there. And that desire has been brought to the forefront because of his love for Elena. But it's about *his* desire to change, and *his* choice to do so.What happened though is that by the time Damon really did become that better person, his inner circle was pretty much *just* Elena. Sure, eventually it included Bonnie and Stefan, but now Elena is gone. Bonnie is so messed up psychologically right now (girl is suffering from severe PTSD, folks) and Stefan and Damon have their issues so we’ve got a Damon who is left without a moral compass that is strong enough to follow. And he needs that... or at least he believes he does.
Which brings us to what I wrote in the season 06 finale:
Speaking a bit more of Matt and Damon, that final scene [the flash forward of Damon watching above while Matt drove through the messed up town] and diving into the whole Damon/Bonnie supposed potential brought on by *that scene,* well, here be my take on it. The writers are not shippers; they don't write the show with shipper goggles (for the most part–that Damon/Elena dance–so done FOR the shippers, but considering Nina Dobrev was leaving, that was intentional). We see a guy carrying the "damsel-in-distress" for two reasons:Here we go. Substitute Stefan for Bonnie. Damon in the end (even though he was too late) DID choose Stefan over Elena (to a degree). And I think we are going to see Elena's words play out over the course of the rest of the season which is that Damon will make the right choice because he can be a hero. He is A hero. We've just been watching him fall away from that. Hell!stone Stefan was telling him that, so he knows that already. So maybe, just maybe this is the final part of the journey Damon needs to truly recapture who he needs to be as a man, a good man, before he becomes human again.
1. For the sweeping romantic moment.
2. To show that said guy is A hero.
The purpose of that scene was for scenario #2. We can't look at the moment in a vacuum, but rather at the whole narrative. There was a reason we had the earlier scene with Matt and Bonnie where he told her to leave town because Damon would choose Elena over everyone and would kill Bonnie. There we have the first two players setting up Damon in "A Hero scenario." Then we come to the scene with Damon and Bonnie where he carries her in his arm, saving the damsel-in-distress, featuring the next pair of players.
Then note how the scene is shot. Once Damon picked Bonnie up, he doesn't look down at her, there's no tenderness. Instead he is looking straight ahead, intensely focused, absolutely in HERO mode. Also, there is no full-shot of him carrying her so you don't get the whole swooning, romantic effect. The whole point of the scene is Damon saving the day and his focus of doing so, of making that tough choice. Finally, we have the final scene with Matt driving down the street keeping watching below over Mystic Falls, and Damon above keeping watch over Mystic Falls, the final two players in "A Hero scenario." Matt appears now to be working to protect the town in tandem with the guy in the beginning he thought would choose Elena over everyone else. That middle scene with Bonnie was not about "hero saves the girl;" it was about "despite appearances, this is A hero."
Scene 1 - Matt/Bonnie
Scene 2 - Bonnie/Damon
Scene 3 - Damon/Matt
It all ties together. And that, I believe, is setting us up for Damon and his journey–"despite appearances, this is A hero"–next season. There's a reason that was the final scene of the episode and WHY they included that bit of dialogue in there with Damon and Elena about her knowing that he would make the right choice.
OK, just going into randoms here...
- I liked the contrast of Valerie calling Stefan "my friend" three years ago and then "love" today.
- Hah! Damon so did NOT realize that by taking the scar Rayna would be dying at the same time Elena would be waking up if Bonnie lived a normal life. Yeah, didn't think that through there, didja, Damon? The realization on his face... hi-larious. And heartbreaking. Oh, Damon.
- Ugh, so annoyed with Valerie talking shit about Damon (and no doubt poisoning Stefan's mind against Damon in subtle ways for the last three years) and doing so while barely acknowledging her underhanded way of getting Stefan to be her boyfriend. Ugh! Valerie don't make me dislike you. I may be acknowledging that Damon has fucked up, but I still love him the mostest.
- Since we saw Stefan and Valerie's get-together backstory in this episode, I'm thinking that we'll see the same for Alaric/Caroline and Bonnie/Enzo in subsequent episodes... which still leaves me to believe that none of these three are "endgame" couples. Otherwise we would have seen their actual getting together stories play out in real time. Which means, yes, I'm still on the 'I think something-something Matt/Bonnie' train.
- Oh, and on a shallow note, I don't like Matt's hairstyle. Not good.
- Speaking of Matt, so he hates Stefan now, like lots because Stefan is responsible for Penny's death. Can I just say... thank God, Damon's not responsible and Matt doesn't hate Damon. Phew!
- Oh, and what a shocker, Penny is dead? Don't say it's so?! Yeah, saw that coming a mile away. And since Nora didn't die until this episode (sniff, sniff), that probably means that Penny is the "friend" who died that Bonnie was referencing. Boo hoo.
- I suppose I should care about what's going on with Enzo and stuff, right? I don't really. Enzo is just such a non-character at this point. And they've completely disregarded his friendship with Damon so wah! and the promise of awesome with Alaric so double wah! OK, fine, the witch-killing-pills probably has something to do with Bonnie so I'll care more when I see more of that backstory, I'm sure. But, right now, nope. Don't care about Enzo, Alex and the Armory!
- I like that Damon sussed out right away that Valerie figured out how to cure Stefan and called her on it. Take that, bitca! Damon is smarter than you.
- Hah! Always knew it. Love that the show continues to prove it. For Stefan it's Damon >>>>>> Everyone else in the history of EVAR!!!!! But to be fair to Caroline, I think that if Stefan had BEEN with Caroline, he would have turned to her first, then Damon. He hasn't been with her for three years and as we all know, she's pretty pissed at him. (Hee, Rayna called Valerie, Stefan's "back-up girl." Ouch!)
- I wish I cared more about Mary Louise and Nora, but I don't. I wish I cared more about Mary Louise dying, but I don't. I do care about Nora dying. I liked her and Bonnie; I liked their burgeoning friendship. Alas... oh well.
- So the Phoenix sword is gone now, and Stefan is stuck in its hell (by the way, this would have been a MUCH better episode before the spring break). Very strong overall. Thank you, Mr. Somerhalder. At first, I was all confused because Stefan didn't just wake up, but then when I saw the preview, I was like 'Oh, yeah, right!' and remembered the stuff about Julian being stuck and that's why Lily wanted Enzo to find the Phoenix stone *for* the sword, and of course, Oscar (:sniff sniff:) dying, but then being taken over by not!Oscar. They were vampires who had been stuck in stasis in the Phoenix sword's hell. OK, so the point of the whole Oscar story early on was set-up for what is going on with Stefan now. Gotcha. (But why couldn't it have been Malcolm? Or Beau? Or someone we didn't care about? Oscar was awesome!) Yes, I still miss Oscar, damnit!
- Ooh, a wee bit of speculation here: So remember when Kai said that any kind of magical trickery they tried with Bonnie/Elena would kill Elena and/or Bonnie? Well, I was thinking. Hmm... There had to be a reason for that whole Bonnie bringing Matt back from death and the six minutes thing other than the ridiculous, over-the-top contrived 6 minutes drama. So I was wondering, what if Bonnie truly does get injured, she dies, literally dies and Matt is there, and through his lifeguard skills is able to bring her back. That way, Bonnie is dead—not through magic or trickery, but just, you know, shit happens. Elena would then come back, yes/yes? I wonder. Of course, this would depend on either (a) Ian Somerhalder indeed leaving at the end of this season, or (b) Nina Dobrev coming back next season.
- Finally, a word (or two) about Ian Somerhalder's direction. This was his second episode doing the directing thing and in my notes I first jotted down: "Didn't notice anything particularly stand-outish, but the two close-ups of Stefan's mouth were, uhm, weird." And then I added.. "Ooh, I did like the Stefan/Valerie kiss with the darkened background and then moving to the stars. And it was really well-paced, especially with all of the cuts between the different times and locations. There was no confusion, very good cohesion." And then later I added more, "Oh, and Lesley Ann Huff (Rayna) was much more animated, less stiff, in this episode than in others. Plus, there were some nice framing shots (the Stefan/Valerie kiss, Damon and Rayna both going unconscious, the final shot, to mention a few)."
So, uhm, yeah, I guess, it was really good direction then. Yeah, he did good. He's a good director. He really is. Especially since after rewatching the episode, I have something else to add: The final scene with Nora and Mary Louise destroying the hellstone, Rayna chasing them intercut with Damon's devastation over Stefan with that beautiful song playing over it, that was all edited together so well. Yes, you have the editing, but the editing and direction works together. The tight shots, the full shot, when to cut, the cuts themselves, the quick montage of destruction that Rayna felt, all of it was just fantastically done. It had a cinematic feel to it. I only wished that I cared about Nora and Mary Louise, if I did, I probably would have been crying. Overall, really, really well-done. Ian Somerhalder is a great director.
So we're heading down the homestretch, not sure what's gonna happen, but I'm still loving it. (Sorry this was so late. Busy week, migraines galore. Damn! Hopefully the next episode write-up will be up much sooner!)