Arabian (arabian) wrote,

8.03 - 'You Decided I Was Worth Saving' (The Vampire Diaries)

I'm trying to put real world events out of my mind and just concentrate on my show. It's about my only happy place right now. But, hey, we take what we can get, right? Yeah.

So, I'm going to start at the end. These were my initial thoughts right after finishing the episode. The cockroach is dead! OMG! I mean, I like Tyler now, but HE'S FINALLY DEAD! AT LAST! And Damon did the deed! YES! But… there was this tiny niggle in the back of my mind. You see, while I am still spoiler-free, as I've said in the past when the season ends, I do read interviews with Julie Plec the first month or so after the finale. I did so again after season 07. And, well, as the upcoming season would be the last she gave her thoughts on series endings. She said that her vision is one that leaves viewers happy and killing off Tyler, especially by Damon, wouldn't do that.

So… hmm, my surety of Tyler "The Cockroach" Lockwood's death began to fade. But, but, but… Damon chomped hard for a few seconds and went back for seconds. And then the camera pulled back for an overhead shot and he was still chomping away, enjoying dinner. Tyler is just a werewolf now and we sure as heck didn't see no full moon. So, he be dead. Right? Right. On the other hand... we didn't see him dead-dead, and maybe... let's talk about that final shot again.

It was an overhead shot with Damon a'chomping away with Tyler in his arms (so romant—no, not like that). Now, here's what is key. Tyler is still kneeling himself and (ding! ding! ding!), he is still holding onto Damon's shoulders. His hands, his arms have not fallen away from Damon. Tyler has still maintained his grip on Damon therefore he's not dead yet. The werewolf/cockroach hybrid lives still.

Soooo… here's what I'm thinking. Damon is going to reconsider, pull back before it's too late and heal Tyler with his blood. Why? Well, we had that specific conversation with Sybil in place of Bonnie during pancake time in the alternate universe for a reason. It was during that time that Damon truly began to develop a friendship with someone outside of familial/romantic entanglements. And here's where you go… wait, what about Alaric? I know that the Damon/Ric friendship has taken a hit, but come on now, let's not erase their entire friendship. I'm not.

And neither is the show. Note a key word above that I used: familial. There are only sixteen episodes this season (:sniff, sniff:) and because of that it's pretty clear that they are not wasting any screen time, any scenes, any dialogue. There is no filler this year, folks. So when Ric told Stefan that Damon was the closest thing to a brother that he'd ever had that meant something. Ric has never used that term before when talking about/to Damon. It's always been friend or best friend. Damon has… he's referred to Ric as "brother," but to hear Ric say such about Damon, well, like I said, this season the writers aren't wasting lines. Everything matters. It all means something.

So back up—it was during Damon's making pancake time with Bonnie in the alternate universe that he truly began to develop a friendship with someone outside of familial and/or romantic entanglements. Yes, yes, I like to say that Bonnie is like a sister to Damon, but the show has never said that. They have, however, made it explicitly clear that their relationship is platonic only. And in this episode they made it explicitly clear that it's a two-way street for both Damon and Alaric in thinking of each other in a sibling-sense. My point here is that by using that memory-scenario to mess with, I think that Sybil made a big mistake.

Not right away, but I do think this is going to help tap into what has been building in Damon: that sense of self-worth that was missing before his friendship with Bonnie began. And which last season helped developed so that setting was very important in why I think that Damon is going to pull back from sending Tyler to doggy-heaven forever.

You see because in saying that Damon needs to break ties with those who love him by doing just one more (really bad) deed in order to send them packing to escape Hell, Sybil made a (really bad) move. Damon may have been swayed in the moment (since, you know, she's still kinda got that mind control thing going and all), but it really doesn't track. Firstly, we had Tyler pointing out to him the fact that if he killed Damon, their peeps were going to be plenty pissed. Which, OK, yeah, that's Sybil's point… but there's the thing that Sybil doesn't quite get about Damon's peeps. Is killing Tyler enough to do the trick?

Nah. Number one because he was being controlled by Sybil. OK, fine, he did it so he wouldn't go to Hell... and it was something Damon did of his own choice, but, remember this is someone who has had his mind messed with for months. Plus, he did so because he was promised in return a huge gimme: A respite from eternal damnation. So, no, it's not on Damon. It's on Sybil. Basically, we're talking the ultra-horrific, supernatural version of a forced confession after many multiple hours plus of police brutality. And, let's get real, even if that wasn't the case? Stefan would still forgive his brother. Damon killed Lexi* and Stefan forgave him. Damon killed Uncle Zach (no asterisk here) and Stefan forgave him. Killing Tyler Lockwood? Stefan would forgive him. Yeah.

* And saved Liz Forbes in the process. Ahem, Lexi could have used her vampire speed and run away to live and destroy Stefan's life in her version of "saving him" another day. Instead she chose to attack the sheriff. Just a reminder.

So Stefan would forgive him even his big brother took out his fiancée's ex-boyfriend. Sure, the others might not (though, Elena totes would, especially given the situation), but Stefan would. And that means that Sybil's plan is a bust from pretty much the get-go because if Stefan is fine with Tyler gone bye-bye at Damon's hands (teeth), then Stefan won't stop trying to save him. Ergo, Stefan will still be on Sybil's radar... and we all know that, aside from Elena, Stefan is the most important thing in the world to Damon.

Therefore it's not just about Damon trying to keep from going to Hell for eternal damnation, but saving Stefan from Sybil. So, Damon is going to realize that killing Tyler will not keep Stefan safe from Sybil. And once he sees clearly enough to realize that—which at the beginning of his little road stop lie-down, he did not (see, head-clutching in the car in the scene prior)—he's going to switch gears. He's going to realize that by killing Tyler, he won't push Stefan away. If he doesn't push Stefan way, Sybil will go after Stefan. Damon cannot let Sybil go after Stefan because the only thing more important than not spending an eternity in Hell is saving his brother from Sybil.

Once Damon gets his head wrapped around that clarity, I'm fairly certain that more clarity will follow. Like, oh, if him going to Hell is built on all of the horrible misdeeds he committed, committing even *more* horrible misdeeds doesn't really makes sense as a 'get out of jail' card. In other words, Sybil be lying to him. The only shot he could possibly have—if he even has one at all—is to continue on the path he's been on the last few years. You know, the 'Be the better man' path as prescribed by the love of his life. Be the better person he could (and would have been) had Katherine Pierce never come into his life... and, you know, made him a vampire. The reason he has committed all of the horrible misdeeds he has committed.


And now this brings me to something I wrote about in the season 07 finale ("Gods and Monsters") when discussing Damon's overall "let it go" arc and how I believe it was intended for the series arc between Stefan and Damon with Stefan allowing himself to let his brother go so that he could live his happy, human life with Elena, but when season 07 turned out to be the next-to-last instead of the last season probably at the mid-way point or so a recalculation was done. The "let it go" arc then became about just Damon's season 07 foibles and Stefan having to clean up the mess that Damon had made of things since Elena's sleeping beauty impersonation. I wrote about my disappointment that:

I really do not think that was the intention overall; it just didn't read that way. I truly believe it was supposed to be about the greater series arc. And by shrinking it down to just this season's arc, it failed to acknowledge the changes and better man that Damon had become in seasons 03 through 06 (especially 05 and 06). *sigh* I have to remind myself, though, take the series as a whole… take the series as a whole… it's a process, there's another season to go. They can still go there; they can still play this out, I know, I know.
Reading that back, I believe that is exactly what the show has done. Take this: "I have to remind myself, though, take the series as a whole… it's a process, there's another season to go." They may have changed the "let it go" arc to suit it for the one season, but they have now (I think) taken Damon's arc—especially the last half of the season, with the build-up of that first half—to push what is possibly going to happen now with Damon for this final season.

Damon Salvatore needs to prove, not only to the others, but himself that he can be the better man even without Elena's influence or for Elena. We had that hammered home through the first half of last season. And now, since Sybil has effectively erased Elena from Damon's mind any good he does, any good choices he makes, it's all Damon. It's not about Elena. It's not for Elena; it's not about staying in her good graces 60-70 years from now. Not a one of them can say that he's only doing this so that Elena will still love him when she wakes up.

And this makes me so very happy and goes back to my long, long ago point from season 03, episode 07's "Ghost World". I've come back to this many a time over the years as it's a theme that I think is very important about the growth of the better man that is Damon Salvatore. I wrote then:

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.
Now any good that Damon does (if he does… and I do believe he will) will be ALL ON DAMON just as then. And this brings me to bowing down once again at the utter brilliance in which The Vampire Diaries is using Nina Dobrev's absence to actually strengthen Damon and Elena's relationship. If I'm right and they do this, it will make Damon stronger, give him a better sense of belief in himself, matched with the belief that Elena has in him… while improving his relationships with all of the other people in her life that she holds so very dear. Plus, this creates a parallel between the two of them with their individual storylines—which both enriched them as a couple in the long run.

Taking Damon away from Elena in season 06 was about erasing the triangle aspect of their love story. It was about Elena falling in love with Damon without the hesitation, without the constant "I don't knows..," without the Stefan-factor. The viewers, just like Elena, never had the joy of Elena falling in love with Damon without the triangle nonsense. Season 06's memory-erasure actually gave her (and us) that. If I'm right, taking Elena away from Damon this season is about Damon finding in himself that the better man has been there all along. Elena just drew him out, but Damon never believed that it was truly in him... he always believed that he was the darkness, and she was his light. She was the only reason why that better man ever showed up. It is only without Elena that Damon can ever truly believe that he is that better man on his own.

And just as it was only seeing Elena fall in love with Damon all over again after knowing only the worst about him, the Scooby Gang will only fully believe the truth of the matter when they see it for themselves as well. Damon doing the right thing without Elena as his touchstone will finally allow them to see the light in him that Elena has always seen.

Finally, this show loves their parallels. SO MUCH. Yes, it's been years. So many years. But… the scene between Damon and Tyler was so similar in many ways to the final scene of season 02, episode 12's "The Descent" where Damon lies on the road and Jessica comes upon him, Damon's existential crisis. What struck me then most about it was his missing being human most.

That one line […] made it crystal clear exactly what had brought this all on, everything building to this. Not so much Rose dying (or rather Damon staking her), but that everyone knew that he was upset about it, kept pushing him, it was all about that humanity showing. […] And, of course, he killed her. Of course he did. Had he not, it would have played false with the character. He's not there yet, he's not ready, but Lordy, the fact that it was so hard for him, and was so very much about proving his non-humanness is a huge sign of growth. He IS getting there. But still, oh Damon!
And here we are nearly six years later with a parallel to that scene and Damon is still trying to prove that he's the bad guy who's not worth saving… only now he's being egged on by Sybil.

What will happen? Maybe I'm completely wrong and Tyler will finally meet his end. Maybe Damon will be this show's equivalent of Raid and kill the cockroach that is Tyler Lockwood dead. Or maybe someone else will oh-so-conveniently show up and save him. Or maybe it's a hallucination. I don't know, but I think I'm right. I hope I'm right. That makes the most sense and would, frankly, be really awesome. We'll see. With this season, I have no idea… and the titles are really no help, actually.

The title of this episode is "You Decided I was Worth Saving," which any Damon (and/or Damon/Elena) fan worth their salt knows is from the Gilbert porch scene in the season 01 finale when Damon kissed "Elena" (really, Katherine—beeyotch!). It was the first (but, so not last) time that Damon bared his soul to Elena without her knowing about it and he said those beautiful words. So, yeah, everyone who knew this episode title either months, weeks, or minutes in advance figured it referenced one Mr. Damon Salvatore. Well, everyone would have been wrong.

It was for Enzo! I didn't even realize that until the day after I'd watched the episode and was just thinking back on it. But, yeah, that title referenced Enzo, and, you know, I don't love Enzo. I like him a lot, a really lot, but even not loving him, I'm all verklempt about this. He's never had ANYONE put him first; no one has ever chosen him. Enzo has always been abandoned, left behind. Even more than Damon, it's been Enzo in the corner because at least Damon did always have Stefan (even if he didn't appreciate it), and then he got Elena.

And Bonnie, my precious, beautiful Bonnie, who has never really been the ONE! for anyone, her having someone feel that way about her is really beautiful too. I'm not saying that the title refers to her at all, because Grams, Elena, Caroline, Damon, Jeremy, Matt, etc., the list goes on. Bonnie has had people believing she's so worth saving. Hello, Elena be totes lying in her Sleeping Beauty coffin right now for that reason. But Bonnie having that kind of romantic love is something new for her so that is what I found beautiful.

Also beautiful was that opening scene with Bonnie and Caroline celebrating Caroline's engagement. It was just so, so lovely. Friendship scenes FTW! We had the continuation of last week by Caroline making a concerted effort to recognize what Bonnie is going through even in the midst of her happiness. And bookending that scene of awesome was Ric taking the time to congratulate Stefan at the tail-end of the episode. Again, friendship scenes FTW! And I'm not even remotely all that hepped up about Stefan and Ric at all, but after how things were with them last season (understandably), seeing the two able to go beyond civility to actual friendship and just about bond over their love for Damon was fabulous. And, you know, just Alaric saying that Damon was the closest thing to a brother he'd ever have. My heart! Now THIS is Team!Badass feels alighting again.

Not so feeling the feels about? Sybil taking away the very memory of Elena. *sigh* Yes, yes, I said above that the rationale of it—if I'm right—but still… hearing Damon say that he doesn't even know who Elena Gilbert is… man it's just heartbreaking. And when Stefan mentioned Elena to Damon, he didn't react at all. (Will Stefan even remember that?) When Tyler told Damon to remember who he wanted at the end of it all and Damon said he didn't want any of it, ouchie! (Again, will Tyler remember that? If he's not dead.)

Still, Tyler knowing about Sybil and that Damon is under her control to some degree is a good sign because with Bonnie's last comment to Stefan about "he just gave up," we needed that, I think. Although, I can't say I completely blame Bonnie at this point. He did try and kill Enzo, and Bonnie just a few hours before. However, I'm reasonably optimistic that the lack of faith that Bonnie is showing right now—and Caroline's return to 'Damon sucks' mode will be short-lived.

The thing here is that the others aren't taking into account the difference between Enzo and Damon—which the show reminded us of again in this episode (and why I'm reasonably optimistic). Enzo had 70 years of building up a tolerance to torture and whenever Sybil did her mind-control thingie on Enzo, because of his aptitude for resisting torture that just built up his tolerance for her brand even more. Which Damon made sure to point out to the audience. (Thanks, Damon!) So Enzo resisting and fighting back wasn't because he's so much better than Damon, it's because he had years of torture-resistance in his back pocket.

Furthermore, Sybil made it clear how much power she has in this game (listing her stats, 50,000:0, give or take a few Peloponnesians). Just about anyone else would be doing about as well as Damon. Plus, Sybil took away his two biggest beacons (that didn't have the negative baggage, i.e., Stefan Salvatore), Elena and Bonnie. Therefore Bonnie saying that Damon just gave up, and Caroline being annoyed with him, etc. wasn't fair to Damon. Again, not that I don't understand where they are coming from because *they* can't understand just what Sybil is doing. And Damon did go after Caroline twice in the last few days, plus the whole Bonnie/Enzo mess earlier that day. Hopefully when Enzo is brought back to them, he'll explain it to a degree that they better understand.

Especially Stefan. "Apple sauce. Penguin." Damon wanting to tell Stefan what the situation is but literally only able to speak gibberish should be TELLING of how deeply Sybil is in his brain, DUH, STEFAN! Stefan, Stefan, Stefan. You know, when he was talking about how it was different this time with Damon (and it is, he's just not having fun even though his switch is off because he's not in control) therefore he doesn't know how to get him back it made me wonder if that is where Elena will come in. I have no clue when or how Nina Dobrev is coming back (of course, I have literally zero doubts she is), but it seems like Elena will be the key.

However, if Nina is only in a few episodes, I don't see how they drag this out too long. So they must have something planned. {shrugs} I trust this show and so far every episode has been better than the previous one this season so far. The storyline is so tight and everything has been so top-notch, I will just continue to trust. And I really like how they are writing this Sybil/siren arc so far. Like how cool was it with the Ancient Tuning Fork making the sound that could be heard not only by a Siren… dun, dun, dun but witches as well. Or at least, the little Saltzman siphoning witches. Uh huh. The plot thickens.

Speaking of… I will not lie, I was a tad worried about little Lizzie and Josie Saltzman. I didn't think they were the best little actresses (OK, I still don't), and, you know, young kids on a show like this? But I love how they are using them. Not too much, just enough to show that Caroline and Alaric are good parents, are co-parenting well together, and their little siphoning-witchy ways are being used just enough as a part of the overall supernatural story. Plus, we do get just a few cute little, non-treacly moments with them. (I'm sorry, but I really loved the "hide-and-go-seek hide" game the twins played. That was hi-larious. Bottom-line, they are just being used SO well. Not too much, just enough to be there, be believable, be that bit supernatural. And they're acting their age. Kudos, show. (Of course.)

Phew… onto randoms (and we are just about at the 4,000 word mark).

- Hah! This is what I wrote in the last episode that Chad Fiveash and James Stoteraux wrote (which was season 07, episode 20's "Kill 'Em All": Please don't bring these two back next season. They've produced one great episode, just one. The rest have been decent to, well, this. And then they come up with this one which was bloody brilliant. I loved it, loved it, loved it. The premiere was great, the second episode was better and this one was better than that one.

- And the Elena flashbacks/scenes continue. Oh my! Elena Gilbert literally has to DIE in Damon's mind for her to be taken away. Yeah. (But when Nina Dobrev left the show Elena and Damon/Elena would be all forgotten. Pfft.)

- I know she's horrible and awful and just so very wrong, but I love Sybil even though of course she must die terribly and in the worst way ever please, but Nathalie Kelley is doing such an awesome job in the role. This is just Sybil doing her job and she loves her job. I love her (hate her, but love her)!

- LIZ! We got to see my beloved Liz again! WHEE!!! (Marguerite MacIntrye, you have been missed!)

- Yes, I totally checked. In the Pilot episode, Caroline did indeed say that her and Stefan were planning a June wedding. LOL!

- This line by Bonnie cracked me up: "Aw, I'd be honored to be your... maid of honor. And not just because my main competition is in a coma till I die."

- So here's another thing that cracked me up. I wrote this in the season 07, episode 21, "Requiem For A Dream" write-up: "… Dude, how much more obvious could they have made it since season 06 began all the way through now that Damon and Bonnie are N-O-T-H-I-N-G but platonic besties? I do not know." Well, the show did. They came up with a way to make it THAT much more obvious. They literally had a character flat-out ask Bonnie specifically so that she could deny it very clearly, and then have the character push and spell it out so that there was ZERO doubt. Damon and Bonnie are COMPLETELY platonic.

Sybil: Did you guys ever... you know...
Bonnie: No.
Sybil: All that time, alone in a prison world. Same day on repeat. You must've done something to break up the brain-numbing monotony.
Bonnie: No.
Sybil: Seriously? Look, you are gorgeous. I can admit that, I'm not blind. And neither is Damon. Who, in case you haven't noticed, ladies, is scorching. I mean... (exhales) can't spell Damon without "damn." Strictly platonic? Really? Wow. Good for you.
I just loved, loved, LOVED the show making it 100% clear in every way possible that Damon and Bonnie have an absolutely platonic relationship. Wow, talk about taking every scintilla of ambiguity away. No gray area. None at all.

- Also, yes, Sybil... Damon is scorching. And, hah! "You can't say Damon without 'Damn!'" I agree, Sybil. I agree.

- She lies! Sybil says she can get into the girls' heads, but it would be excruciating and mess up their hair? Really? That's what is stopping her? Uh huh. So instead she would rather just spend a bunch of time talking to them, trying to figure out a way to solve her answer by talking to these two puny humans. Right. She can't control women, only men. Yuppers.

- The image of Damon and Enzo attacking each other in the face of the clock as it struck 12 was BRILLIANT! So awesome!

- You know what? The whole fight scene between Damon and Enzo with Stefan constantly inserting himself between them was awesome. Just awesome. Great stunt coordination, great job by Paul Wesley, Ian Somerhalder and Michael Malarkey (and their stunt guys—hehehe, John Gilbert is Wesley's—, but honestly, if past history is any indication, I bet the actors did most of it themselves).

- I love Georgie so much. I loved that she asked Ric for the truth about their research. He told her the truth, totes not expecting to be believed because, hello!, but she totes *knew* he was telling the truth. And then she followed him and then, boom! she saw all the crazy vampire/siren interplay. SO AWESOME!

- Even Stefan and Caroline at "odds" is totally in character and imbued with there complete and utter love for each other. Aww!

- On a shallow note, Trevino looked good with the scruff. Keep it, dude.

- That final bit with Stefan thinking that Sybil's control over Damon was gone, but then confused as to why he was still lost to them (here's a hint, Stefan, her control over Damon isn't gone maybe?), cutting to Damon driving away while pulling at his head in pain, cut to a smiling Sybil while that great song choice played over the interplay of scenes before the confrontation between Damon and Tyler was so, so awesomely done. I just have no words.

- I was going to do gifs, but this post would never have gone up if I had.

This was an excellent, excellent episode. I said it above… each episode has been better than the one before it. I am LOVING this season. The Vampire Diaries is going out with a magnificent bang.
Tags: alaric saltzman, bonnie bennett, bonnie/caroline, caroline forbes, damon salvatore, damon/alaric, damon/bonnie, damon/elena, damon/stefan, ep discussion-tvd, stefan salvatore, stefan/caroline, the vampire diaries, tv

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