This episode had some great stuff in it, but there were still a few things that have me not so impressed. However, as with the first two episodes, the good stuff does outweigh the bad. Let's start with what I first was thinking was not all that great, but upon further reflection I realized was quite a positive.
The scenes between the brothers revealed some interesting character shadings. However much Stefan protests that Damon is all bad, he clearly still wants to believe that such is not the case. Sure by episode's end, he was convinced that Damon was too far gone, but honestly? We kinda got the sense in the first two episodes that Stefan felt that way about Damon already. Obviously that wasn't the case if Stefan was telling himself *now* that Damon has lost all of his humanity.
The other thing is that he's not cutting Damon out of his life. He could easily tell Elena some tale (or two) about horrible, human things that Damon did. Siblings fight and don't speak a lot and it has nothing to do with supernatural happenstance. Instead, Stefan just stands there and glowers. I mean, dude! And that's where the thinking this wasn't so good originally sprung from… he's not doing anything to stop his brother, really.
But, as I mentioned above, reflecting on what Stefan did (and did not) do in this episode had me appreciating what may be going on with this character (I'm not sure—it could just be bad writing, but based on the final scene I think it's deliberate). Look at it this way, Stefan came across fairly awful with his lack of doing the right thing. He really, most sincerely did not do the right thing overall. Even giving Elena that locket, while lovely for her… what about Caroline?
His brother has made it clear that he's already caused trouble and is going to continue to cause trouble. He shows up at Elena's house, gets invited in all the while reveling in the fact that he is feeding upon and compelling her friend, an innocent teenager. Because she's Elena's friend? And because Stefan cares about Elena and Damon is trying to hurt Stefan? Right? I mean, that's the reasoning as far as we can tell. And, again, Stefan—just, erm, glowers? Then seeks to protect Elena (and only Elena) from Damon's compulsion? Seriously, that's it?
I just—hmm, man, if he really cared, wouldn't he, you know, leave? He's just met Elena and it's not like they're this big thing. Wouldn't the safest thing be leaving Elena, and Caroline and Mystic Falls. Damon would surely lose interest in it all if Stefan is gone. Right? As it is, isn't Stefan kinda inviting all of this vampire badness into Elena's life just because he has "to know her?"
When you think about it, that makes him pretty selfish. No, he's not as bad as Damon, but kinda, sorta, just maybe a different kind of bad. And that is very interesting, instead of the good vs. evil dynamic the first episode seemed to indicate we'd be getting, there are definitely shades of gray here. Stefan is not all good, and based on the kitchen and final scene with Elena, Damon is not all bad.
And, yup, we were shown that in the final scene with the juxtaposition of Stefan believing that all of Damon's humanity was gone, only the monster remaining, while Damon was showing that this slip of a girl had brought out his humanity. I loved that little touch, but I have to admit that as sweet as Damon having humanity still, clearly brought on by Elena, it was still bordering on creepy. You know, the whole watching her sleep, sure there was a sweetness to it, but also, yeah, cree-py! Unlike their other scenes.
Hmm, speaking of those Damon and Elena scenes, me likey! I found myself leaning more towards the idea of those two over Elena with Stefan because of Stefan's issues and the difference in chemistry between the two sets of actors. Boy, did this episode lead me further down that road… on both counts. I've already mentioned Stefan-shaped issues (if he's such a good guy why is he just standing by while his brother brings all of this danger into Elena's world?), but the chemistry—and connection!—between Damon and Elena is swimming along nicely.
I wrote this in "The Night Of The Comet write-up:
Yes, it was kinda adorable how Stefan used Elena's words about their "epic" conversation when sweet-talking her outside the Salvatore house, but, but, but... we didn't see any of that "epic" conversation. Honestly, Damon and Elena had more of a meaningful conversation in their one scene than we've actually seen Stefan and Elena have in five scenes.Well, that continued in this episode. Once more Damon and Elena had a meaningful conversation where we saw Elena's words touch something in Damon. She listened to him, truly, and spoke to what she heard him say (and not say). When she told in that she was sorry, he loved her too, Damon was struck silent and he was completely arrested by this young woman. He was tongue-tied, breathless, whatever, the vampire-equivalent. And Elena did that just by being real with him. The entire mocking, sarcastic, snarky attitude that we'd seen thus far from him was... gone. That girl had just seen straight into his soul and he was helpless before her.
I mean, wow. I questioned whether or not Stefan and Elena were the OTP of this show—as the first episode appeared to set up—after they kissed in only the second episode. Now, I'm wondering again if that's the case, but because of the opposing couple potential. This, right here, looked like it truly could be the beginning of these two as something really worth rooting for (and shipping like crazy). Damon is laying seeds of discontent in the garden of Stefan and Elena's young love with his Katherine talk, but… Ooh! Here's Elena being gloriously empathetic and just bypassing that because she saw his pain; she read between the lines. Girl is smart little cookie.
Ah, and the way he looked at her right after she had pierced straight to the heart of him with such quick insight was just like whoah! That was such a *moment* but really the whole scene was beautiful. Him catching the glass, that beautiful smile breaking across her face, him helping her with the dishes, him realizing that she no longer enjoys cheerleading from just seeing her out there a handful of seconds, while her best friends missed it, and Stefan didn't pick up on it all when she talked about it.
And that was the other flip of the coin. Where Elena was able to cut through Damon's machinations to find a softness, a realness there, Damon just as easily saw what was really going on with Elena. Her best friends, her new boyfriend, none of them were able to see what Damon saw so easily. And hey, even if they had, none of them said a word to her about it. It was Damon who saw, and Damon who offered legitimately good advice: 'You're miserable, stop doing something that makes you miserable.'
So much goodness in one scene. I mean, there's something here, folks. I think... oh boy, I think I'm heading down the shipping lane. Because on top of all of that, they really do have some damn, fine chemistry.
Take their final scene—post-locket Elena—at the football game. Wowza! Elena wasn't affected by Damon's compulsion, right? We know that for sure… yet she *still* was struck by his seductive voice, practically spellbound. And she was still looking at his lips as if they were all the temptation the world could offer… before she hauled off and slapped him. Yeah, she may not have fallen for it, however, girl was tempted. Uh huh. (Of course, I can't really blame her. Because he is quite beautiful.) And that prolonged moment of the near-kiss? Ooh, boy! Because, yeah, c-h-e-m-i-s-t-r-y. Of the hot, hot, hot variety.
Speaking of hot and kissing… What does it say that Stefan and Elena's kiss on her bed was way hotter than their actual kiss? You know, the kiss that was actually a fantasy created by Damon? Hmmm. Nevertheless, this may surprise you, but I do still think that Stefan and Elena are cute. Not ship-worthy or anything, but yeah, they are cute. Erm, even if I'm also still kinda squicked out by the whole Katherine thing.
Yeah, yeah, Damon dated her too, so you think it would create the same squick factor for both couples... but no, it's not the same. See, Damon clearly is not feeling something for Elena because she looks like Katherine. I mean, we literally saw the moment when *Elena* made a difference, made an impact and got through to Damon—in the kitchen—and it was because she is Elena. This character that we're coming to know is good, and kind and empathetic. (I really like Elena, by the way. She's not your typical heroine nowadays with the cool and the snark… she's just a good girl and it's being portrayed as a good thing. I like. Plus, Nina Dobrev—despite being ridiculously gorgeous—is relateable and just has a lovely presence. But I digress…)
With Stefan and the whole Katherine thing, while we don't know what the story is… the fact that after his little tête-à-tête's with Elena in the Pilot, he went straight for this picture of her look-alike is something maybe not good. And he, himself, has yet to say anything about it, not so much that she looks like Elena, but even that he has this ex with whom he has some deep, unresolved history. I don't know, I'm probably not being fair. What guy is going to spill all about his ex to the new girl he's dating, right?
It just seems like he's keeping secrets… he's a secret-keeper. Like he's trying to show Elena his best self, and not his real self. But again… isn't that normal when first dating? Yeah, it is; it is. I'm just letting my preference for the Damon/Elena chemistry, and for Damon, period, sway me here, I think. I really do think that overall Stefan and Elena are sweet. Giving her the vervain locket was a smart move—even if it only protects Elena and not, you know, CAROLINE!—and they did have some nice moments. I'm just not really super-feeling them. :shrugs:
Oh, oh, oh… speaking of! Caroline! YAY! Caroline is NOT dead. Woohoo! I so feared that when Vicki lived after Damon's attack that they would then shock us by killing off Caroline… but, yay, yay, yay, she is alive. Good. I'm happy about that because I love Caroline. So, she lives, but erm, Damon is compelling her to be all cool with him being a vampire and, you know, feeding on her. Yeah. So, he has some humanity still, but he's definitely not a good guy. OK then.
However... when you take into his conversation with Stefan where they discussed Caroline (and by extension, other humans), it gave an interesting (if awful) insight into his mindset.
Stefan: They are people, Damon. She's not a puppet. She doesn't exist for your amusement, for you to feed on whenever you want to."They're whatever I want them to be. They're mine for the taking…" and "What is normal…" were the key statements here. Yes, yes, it's awful that this is how Damon views humans, but when you think about it, it makes sense. He's not human any longer. He's a vampire and if this show follows any type of vampire mythology, it will track that a vampire's primary function is to hunt, to feed. That is their natural state of being.
Damon: Sure she does. They all do. They're whatever I want them to be. They're mine for the taking.
Stefan: All right, you've had your fun. You used Caroline, you got to meet Elena, good for you. Now it's time for you to go.
Damon: That's not a problem. Because...I've been invited in, and I'll come back tomorrow night and the following night and I'll do with your little cheerleader whatever I want to do. Because that is what is normal to me.
You wouldn't think less of a lion or any other kind of animal whose instinct is to hunt, to feed and while doing so, play with their food. It's just how they are designed. Such appears to be the case with vampires. Damon, to his way of thinking, isn't being cruel… he's being practical. This is what I am—a vampire—and this is how vampires do. We got from his conversation with Stefan on the roof in the second episode that he wants Stefan to join him in vampire life, so one wonders if it's Stefan who is acting out of "character." Just something to ponder. (Or it could just be my ever-growing-Damon bias at play.)
It makes me think, though, and I like that. I am enjoying this show, but it's still has some improving it needs to do. I mean, repeating numbers? Really? That's how Bonnie's magic manifests itself? That was kinda lame. Oh, and Stefan cuts his hand and it heals super-quick, that was cool and totally works, but why did the blood disappear? Was it magically absorbed by his healing? Really? Just no. There's no reason he shouldn't have had blood on his hand when Elena grabbed it… at least make him wipe his hand on his clothes before she saw the healed wound.
These are just small issues, though. So anyhoo, moving onto random thoughts –
- Heh, Stefan in class coming back with the dates was awesome and then knowing the correct one when Tanner didn't was even more awesome. (Suck it, Tanner!) And then giving the Super Bowl date when he was asking to try out for football, HAH! Cracked me up. Hee. I like Stefan.
- Elena and Damon sharing that look when he dropped Caroline off at cheerleader practice was... interesting.
- Hahaha! Damon pretending to be all sincere with Stefan before just breaking down because he couldn't keep a straight face while saying that mushy stuff was hilarious. I love Damon.
- I don't like Tyler; he is such a dickweed. On the other hand, Matt so is not. I love that Matt called Tyler out for what he did even though Tyler is his best friend and was ostensibly trying to "help" Matt. But Matt wasn't down for that because he's a good guy. I liked that. I like him too.
- It's interesting that along with her premonitions, Bonnie is also wary about Stefan. Yes, he won her over, but the fact that she had that initial feeling I think adds credence to the shades of gray of Stefan Salvatore.
- I wrote above in length about the kitchen scene between Damon and Elena, but there was one important element I did not mention and that would be how beautiful Ian Somerhalder looked. I mean, whoo boy!, such a beautiful, beautiful man.
- I gotta be honest, the vervain locket? It is kinda, well not ugly, but ostentatious. It's really not to not my taste. :shrugs: To each their own.
- Aww, lovesick Jeremy. Vicki is so not worth your time, sweetie. She so, so, so is not. If she prefers douchebag Tyler over you, UGH! Yeah, I still don't like Vicki.
- Yay, Tanner's dead! Go Damon! (A great thing about fiction—you can cheer without remorse when people die!)
- Ah, OK, so now Damon is getting pulled into the Stefan/Elena love mix a bit and Stefan and Caroline did have some more interaction. Oh, and of course, Matt is still calling Elena his girlfriend, Tyler is bringing up their history and, duh, Caroline and Damon are together. So it's a sextet. Haha, "sex"tet. So, yeah, maybe I was right when I mentioned the quad + Damon in the Pilot.
So three episodes in and my biggest issue remains the whole 'teenage-ness' of the show. I can handle only so much teenage drama personally, despite all of the other positives, so I'm not sure how much longer I can hold on....
Oh, who am I kidding? I mean... Ian Somerhalder. Did I mention the pretty? And the chemistry with Nina Dobrev's Elena? And the pretty pretty? And the fact that I'm beginning to enjoy Damon more and more? We're already beginning to see more and more shades of gray with this character (and Stefan too… but I'm not jonesing for him, I admit it freely) and I enjoy that. Character shading and depth is my favorite thing, and Ian Somerhalder is surprisingly showing himself up to the task (sorry, I may have loved Boone, but the character didn't require much acting prowess). Plus, yeah, the pretty pretty!
The positives are definitely there in other ways. I continue to like how the friendships are getting as much play as the romantic stuff too. That's pretty awesome. So, Damon (and Elena), Caroline, the character depth and the friendships that matter are keeping me around.