I have to admit that immediately after I finished the episode, I was furious… with Stefan. I wasn't upset with Matt or Alaric, just Stefan. But, even in that aftermath of heat, I knew that it wasn't bad writing here. Nope, Stefan was 100% in character. And after calming down a bit, I can't even blame Stefan (still be mad at him, sure!), not when his entire existence he's been pretty much shown that his happiness, his wants, Stefan, Stefan, Stefan always come first. His mother, his father, even Damon from a young age taught him this. The townsfolk clearly considered Stefan the 'Golden Boy' over his older brother. Then Katherine came along and she preferred him to Damon; Lexi showed up in his life and made it clear that it was Stefan who was the special snowflake that must be protected and taken care of all the while just letting the OTHER newbie vampire just take off because, eh, screw him. And then Rebekah… and Klaus, and Elena and Caroline.
At this point in time, Elena is literally the only person who ever decided that Damon was worth all of the fuss too. But everyone else, during Stefan's entire time on this Earth, put Stefan first, the special snowflake that he be. So of course he thinks that way… how could he not? He certainly does care about others, but when it comes down to it, he thinks about his happiness and pain first because… well, that's what he has been trained is the most important thing ever.
Let's jump to this specific episode, sure, Stefan knew that Damon is the one who came up with the deal to save the twins, but… all he could think about in the aftermath was *his* loss, *his* pain, that he wouldn't be getting what *he* wanted anymore. His life was messed up. It simply never crossed his mind—because he honestly cannot contemplate it happening—that the others would (understandably) blame Damon and therefore go after him. He stepped out with the twins to see Alaric and Caroline and didn't' say a word about Damon's part, so of course, Alaric and Caroline are going to think that Damon was *not* part of that deal, had nothing to do with the creation of it to save the girls. He talks to Caroline later and puts the situation thusly: "Damon is finally giving me what he promised, an eternity of misery." Yup, putting it all on Damon.
Damon's to blame; Damon's at fault. Never mind that Damon clearly never intended for anything to happen to those two little girls. From moment one, he was questioning Seline, doing his best to point out why the twins were such a bad choice for her plan. But does Stefan bring up at any point that it was Damon who came up with the deal to save them? Nope, because Stefan is all about Stefan when he's sad.
He was his typical 'all about me, me, me!' self and didn't bother to share the deets—which kinda rather made it clear that all of the good in Damon has NOT been erased. So I blame Stefan for what happened to his brother at the end of the episode. (Not that he's dead— I have zero fear about that even before the promo which blithely not only showed him, but featured Caroline saying: "Damon's not dead." Because, duh, he was just granted immortality by the devil and that's got to beat normal immortality. No way does that mean a quick and easy kill can lead to bye-bye forever.)
You know who I don't blame? Alaric or Matt. I'm not even mad at either one of them. Matt told us earlier in the episode all of the good in Damon has been erased. Not buried, not diminished, but crushed, erased as in gone. (And that's not an unreasonable belief; he did kill Tyler and taunted them about it after all). As for Alaric, he "killed" Damon because, again, he believed that all the good in Damon has been erased. Plus (and this is he biggie), he had every reason to believe that Damon was part of the kidnapping/Siren-whoop-dee-doo of his children. Again, thanks, Stefan. He's a father and I get him reacting that way despite his history with Damon... which began with Damon killing his wife. And again, it's entirely believable that he thinks that all the good in Damon is dead, gone, erased.
But it's like I said above, I'm not upset with the show because this is *totally* in character for Stefan. It's always about making himself look good to the people he loves and "me, me, me!" He did that again. So I was mad at him. Boo, Stefan, boo! (And not as in 'you're my boo! because right now, you are most definitely not.)
I also wasn't very happy with any of the Stefan/Caroline scenes in this episode because in the first one, Caroline was being not cool. When you're with someone—truly with them—you want them with you at all costs during the tough times. *And* if she loved him unconditionally, she would know and understand that as much as she'll do anything for her children, he'll do anything for his brother. Especially right now when his brother is being controlled by the freaking servants of Satan.
(Elena would have never done that to Damon. Sorry, not sorry… but so true. Damon and Elena truly have an unconditional love.)
As for the second scene, I was so furious with Stefan for *not* acknowledging in any way, shape or form that Damon came up with the fucking plan to save her children! And even worse, he made a pity-me statement that painted Damon in a worse light. Dear Lord, Stefan. That, along with Caroline's earlier dismissal, just didn't make me have the *feels* for Stefan and Caroline. There was no, 'Oh, Stefan/Caroline, my heart breaks for you, I love you so' from me this time around. *sigh* I guess when it comes down to it, my love for Damon trounces my love for anything else on this show presently. Now, that doesn't mean that I still don't love Stefan/Caroline and Stefan dearly… because I do. It's just… arggh, you two! So stupid, and Stefan, so selfish!
He was caught up in the emotional upheaval that *he* was going through and made a bad decision. And I think that was really the theme of this episode. All the major players in this one (Stefan, Caroline and Alaric—not Damon, but he hasn't been a major player in episode one this season, more on that later) went too far, driven by their emotions. This makes sense because of not only what they went through in this particular case, but also because of all of mind games that the Sirens have been playing with them.
Caroline went too far with Stefan in breaking their engagement off (I mean, for reals, chickadee?) and Ric went too far in saying that the girls were "My children, mine and Jo's..." (such a low, low blow). Oh, and you know, the whole "killing" Damon thing. And Stefan went too far in thinking of himself, his selfishness on high alert, thinking only of his loss instead of consequences to not pointing out that Damon made the deal in the first place.
OK, going into randoms, but they are going to be longer than usual.
- I mentioned above about Damon not being a major player this season so far. And I stand by that. He may have made a big move or two (killing Tyler, arranging the 'save the twins' deal, STEFAN!) but his screen time and impact has been limited. I'm hoping that will change either in the next episode, or the last half of the season. I think it may.
Because… yes, Damon made the deal to save the girls, but he also did it to save himself from being stuck in Hell for eternity. However, Damon did this not because he plans on being Cade's little bitch for eternity. (And there is no way in Hell—hehehe—that Damon plans the same for his brother.) No, no, no… Damon has a plan. He clearly picked up on the word "atone" that Seline unwittingly mentioned to the cleverest person in Mystic Falls.
Damon, now knowing that there is wiggle room, will have made this deal with Cade, but it's just step one. You just know that he also has a plan to get out of that deal. Remember, ya'll, once Damon knows there is a way out, he will find it. That's just Damon. The rest of the Scooby Gang may all believe that Damon's "goodness" has been erased… nuh, uh, uh. Damon is going to prove all of them wrong, including my beloved Matty-Blue-Blue.
- Speaking of Matt, when he was all talking Enzo up, I was like 'WTF?!' because Matt probably hates Enzo more than any other "friendly" vampire. Dude has tortured and manipulated the hell out of Matt. Plus, Matt literally kidnapped Enzo and tortured him for a bit. He is NOT an Enzo fan… but as the scene continued, I was like 'Doh!' He was whispering sweet nothings about the wonder of Enzo purely for Bonnie's sake. Aww, Matty.
- Oh, and speaking of Bonnie and Enzo. I'm sorry, ya'll, but they are boring, so boring to me. I've tried; I just can't. The scenes with just the two of them could have been lifted out and it wouldn't have hurt the episode's arc at all. But it didn't have to be that way! Had Bonnie realized (or Enzo explained) that Damon's giving up happened while Enzo held on was because of Enzo's history, those scenes would have mattered in the scheme of the episode. Instead, the only mention of Damon was what we already knew Bonnie believed. Damon gave up and you didn't! How about after his explanation of *why* Enzo didn't, either one of them have a little flash of understanding about why Damon did.
- So on the island, Seline was the "bad" sister, and Sybil was the "good" but now... as bad as Seline is, she's trying to be better and is not nearly as bad (well, if you considering kidnapping and forcing two toddlers to become servants of the Devil not as bad) as Sybil. But... Seline did leave Sybil locked in the vault for over a century. Clearly, Stefan is the Sybil in this equation. The worst of the two when it comes down do it.
- Speaking of Sybil… I know that some don't appreciate her, but damn, I love her. She was cracking me up, all of her digs at Seline, giggles and smiles over all that was going on. She's seriously my favorite Vampire Diaries villain after my beloved Kai.
- Hmm, still on Sybil… so what is *her* plan, I wonder.
- Matt just couldn't stand to see Damon be beat up upon… even if the plan was to "finish him off." His Damon-loving heart couldn't take it.
- The "for Tyler" made me roll my eyes. Fuck that shit, Ric, you're doing this for what you *think* Damon did to your girls (and again, thanks, Stefan!). Though, thinking about it he may have said that for Matt's benefit since they were clearly together in the 'Kill Damon, he's truly just the EVUL now' plan.
- I mentioned in his introduction episode that the actor playing Cade, Wolé Parks, "did a nice job with what we had of him some far." I like him even more now. He was so genial with the girls, but that overall "I AM EVIL" still radiated. Really good job.
- Speaking of acting… this episode was a tour-de-force performance for Matt Davis. He was fantastic, fucking on point, from the phone conversation with Seline in the teaser, to the fight and then later apology with Caroline, to the final scene where he just let all of that pent-up rage and frustration from the day go.
- I wrote of Paul Wesley's direction in his lasting outing:
Speaking of Paul Wesley, giving him his due, this was easily his best directing effort. (Although, I do think the Damon heart-rippage, Bonnie-stake could have been shot a bit more clearly. I had to rewind that a few times to figure out what happened because Bonnie staking Damon wasn't really obvious.) Still, overall, really, really nice job. Great performances—which Wesley normally does get out of the actors, I remember he actually managed to get a half-way decent performance out of Nathaniel Buzolic and that's damn near a miracle, some really beautiful shots, good pace, all-around just really nice job.This, his fifth directorial stint, surpassed that one. There were no hinky moments—like "Requiem For A Dream" had as mentioned above. Everything was smooth, well-done, energetic, fast-paced and unlike with his second outing (S06E11 – "Woke Up With A Monster"), the sense of urgency in a pumped-up situation resonated throughout the episode. And, as always, he brought out marvelous performances in his fellow actors. Kudos, Paul, kudos!
Looking forward to seeing his on-screen brother's directorial coming up soon (I believe it's episode 08). As I am to see what happens next. I'm hoping that Stefan, upon learning what Alaric did, makes it clear that Damon is the one who came up with the plan. And I hope that Alaric feels like shit (Caroline won't), and Matt feels guilty for believing that all the "good" was erased. I'm not holding my breath, but we'll see.
Overall, this was a great episode. I can recognize that even with rage-y feelings towards my boo, Stefan. (Yes, he's my boo again. See, I told you I'd calmed down.) Really great job from this new writer to the show, Alan McElroy. He got these characters down-pat. So, one more until next year. Can't wait.