Wow, this episode was so, so good. No, scratch that… this episode was great. I was enjoying it overall, not really thinking on the fact that it was gelling so beautifully until one particular scene made me sit up (literally) and take notice of just how vastly improved this episode was. This one illustrated what kind of show The Vampire Diaries is… it's not just some teenage romantic drama. This is a show about community, friendships, family, and, yes, love. Oh, and with a healthy dose of whoah! That just happened!? thrown in.
Let's talk about that scene, the one that solidified that this show is a lot more than I reckoned from the first three episodes. OK, wait first, let's bring up the lead up to that scene. Stefan and Elena were dancing, the sweet, star-crossed couple of our show, everything moving along predictably and Elena kept trying to get Stefan to tell her more about himself and then she brought up the D-word as in Damon. Once she mentioned that Damon said… oops, out came the breaks and all of a sudden Stefan was steamrolling anything and everything Elena had to say because Damon was ruining everything and it was all about how Damon was making Elena do and say things. Elena, understandably and awesomely, all but told Stefan to back the bus up and just tried to get him to understand that it had nothing to do with Damon but was all about her wanting to get know him. The mystery guy mystique was all cool and everything but at some point, she needed to hear something real from him or she'd only have feedback from others. With no response from him, Elena was done and their happy, sweet dance ended on a not-so-happy note. Cut to… the scene. The scene of' whoah! That just happened?!'
Elena spoke to Stefan about Damon and his abuse of her best friend. Stefan clearly was not surprised. In other words, he knew that this had been happening and that she needed to trust him, puppy-dog eyes shining so earnestly. Her response was not what I expected.
Elena:Trust is earned. You can't just magically hand it over.I was truly shocked at that response. Prior to that line, in the space in between his request and her response, when Stefan told Elena that, I mentally rolled my eyes, knowing that she would fall into his arms and assure him that, of course, she trusted him. Lo and behold, she did not! Instead, Elena straight-up told him that trust had to be earned. I literally sat up, eyes wide and shouted, "You go, Elena!" And it was in that moment when Elena and this show completely transcended the CW teenage-swill it so very easily could have become. I was so pleased. The scene continued, but I was caught up in the happy realization that this show could be different. And then came the final scene and I knew that it was a fact, The Vampire Diaries is different. The adults in this town actually know what is going on and they are doing something about it! They are not the clueless idiot adults that inhabit most teenage shows. Color me shocked! And impressed! Wow. I was beside myself at this unexpected turn of events. The Vampire Diaries you have hooked me.
Now, those were just the two scenes that highlighted the surprising depth of the show, but as I mentioned above, simply everything worked so well in this episode. Let's start with Damon—who has surpassed Caroline to become my favorite character. I know, I know… really? You love Caroline, how can you love even more the guy who is treating her so terribly? Well, I go back to what I said after the last episode, for Damon, it's just what/how vampires do. He's acting within his nature. This is someone who clearly has been desensitized to caring about anyone or thing (well, not "thing" … he certainly appears to care for his John Varvatos shirt). As he said to Stefan in "Friday Night Bites," for him, Caroline is just like any other human and humans are "whatever I want them to be. They're mine for the taking." This made their scene in her bedroom interesting to say the least. Obviously, yes, Damon does see Caroline as this disposable plaything, casually answering with a gentle "mmhmm, but not yet" when she asked if he was going to kill her. But the 'gentle' was the keyword there. Even as he's, well, not treating her well, he's still being gentle and sweet with her. She even said that to him specifically, and we saw that as the truth. So it was this crazy dichotomy of Damon being awful while being nice at the same time. It's almost like the typical abusive boyfriend type of awful/sweet.
Except Damon is a vampire. He's not a human with human sensibilities. He is compelling her to be totes fine with his vampire state so it's as if he doesn't have to pretend to be something he's not with her. Therefore he is being sweet, you know, like how a cavalier pet owner would be. When his pet is behaving, he pets them and tells them they're a good girl, but when they misbehave, he kicks them. Don't get me wrong, Damon is being abusive to Caroline. That is not in question, but with the supernatural angle—he's a vampire—there is more to this than just the abuser/victim here. It's the same analogy I made in the last episode. Damon is like a lion playing with his food before he kills it. It's just in his nature, his vampire nature that has clearly not been touched by humanity in some time. You're not going to blame the lion for doing what he instinctively does; so wouldn't that be the same case for a vampire?
What about Stefan then? That is the next question. Well, Stefan clearly is still in touch with his humanity. Yet… as I pointed out before, Stefan makes some morally questionable choices too. He's sticking around, playing the sweet boyfriend to Elena despite knowing that it's his very presence that has brought Damon—his vampire brother who is *not* in touch with his humanity—into Elena's life… and the lives of her friends. Like Caroline. And his only response to that is to glower at his brother, ruin his expensive clothing and keep Elena from being compelled. That's not all that much.
Or, it wasn't until the end of this episode. Stefan did actually step up to the plate to protect Caroline by slipping her the vervain in order to take down Damon. And, yes, that was clever of him, throwing away any further suspicions Damon might have about a vervain-ing (?) with the drink trick. So, yeah, good on Stefan, he did do the right thing… finally. But, but, but… I still go back to the whole romancing up Elena when he's a vampire and he's brought his humanity-less vampire into Elena's life. It's still kinda selfish, but (again with the 'but'), he did lock Damon up, planning on keeping him out of circulation. (Hah, not that it will last because… well, duh, of course it won't.) So, OK, I'm going to take away my reservations about Stefan for now because he did take Damon out of the equation, and really, how do you just tell the girl, 'Hey, I'm a vampire!'
Yeah, no, I'm not done yet… he still seems cagey. The secret-keeper. That sense I got from him last week was here again. Him telling Elena to trust him without any specifics. (And the "telling," not asking her, that wasn't especially cool.) Why didn't he just tell her that he had a plan that would take Damon out of their lives? And why hasn't he told Elena about Katherine yet? Obviously Damon is dropping his little hints to cause discord. Wouldn't it make sense for Stefan to just tell her about this ex of his (theirs) and get ahead of Damon's tidbits? Yes, yes, it does make sense. That he hasn't makes me wonder if there is some truth to what Damon is telling Elena. Just maybe Stefan wasn't the totally innocent party in whatever happened with him, his brother and Katherine. I dunno. :shrugs: Of course, this could just be my Damon bias showing again.
I just—I can't help it, ya'll, I love him. Ian Somerhalder is so, so good in this role. The snark, the sass, the sexy, the sensitivity all wrapped up in this stunning package of yum. And, damn, if he doesn't have chemistry with Candice Accola so that as fucked up as what Damon is doing to Caroline is, when they were laying on the bed together, it was easy to momentarily get lost in how pretty they looked together. Of course, their chemistry doesn't compare to what we're continuing to see with Somerhalder and Nina Dobrev. Ooh, Damon and Elena, man, I really like them. So much heat there and that promises so much passion.
Yes, yes, Stefan and Elena. They're sweet (if you ignore his caginess), but that's all they are. And sweet all on its own is kinda boring. And I'm not saying that Paul Wesley and Dobrev don't have any chemistry; they do. It's just a soft, sweet, somewhat bland kind of chemistry. But then you have Damon and Elena and yowza! I mean, that first scene with Damon and Elena. I don't know, I suggested it in the last write-up that maybe, just maybe it's not supposed to be Stefan and Elena who are *the* couple. I'm going back there again, but, yeah, they shared their first kiss in only the second episode, yo! I'm just thinking here... if any couple is getting the slow burn, it is most definitely Damon and Elena. They certainly got a lot of lovely close-ups in that first scene, with all these melt-y eyes and just the barest hint of smiles. And then, of course, after she found out about Caroline's bites, there was a whole different kind of emotion (passion! even if it was of the angry variety) going on in that scene.
Aside from Elena showing her awesome—so protective, I love it!—I also liked what it said about Damon. I don't think that he has had anyone just come and get in his face and so thoroughly stand up to him the way that Elena does. Paired with her getting to him when they were talking about Katherine, I think he kinda likes it… and her. Damon may not have had much reason to get in touch with his humanity, but it sure seems like Elena is nudging him in that direction.
Oh, and speaking of protective!Mama Bear!Elena, I really liked Caroline and Elena's friendship in this episode. We've seen Elena and Bonnie, and Bonnie and Caroline there for each other, but Elena and Caroline's interaction has been more on the shallow side thus far. In this episode, it seemed much less mean-girls-ish than it has in the previous three. It was more real and because of what we saw of them in the bathroom with Elena's concern over her and Caroline's reaction, that final scene with them on the Lockwood grounds felt emotionally genuine and touching.
Caroline and Elena aren't the only ones whose connection showed more depth this time around. I was quite surprised to find myself affected by Vicki, and her relationship with Jeremy. The former revolved around another character's treatment of her. Namely Carol Lockwood, Tyler's mother, you know the one that Bonnie so sweetly called a 'bitch' under her breath. (I admit it; I laughed.) And, yeah, Carol Lockwood is kinda a bitch, ice-cold, man. The way she was sweet as pie to Vicki's face, Vicki who was trying so hard to be respectful and not just the druggie, bad-girl from the wrong side of the tracks. But then once Vicki was out of earshot, without blinking an eye Carol told her son that "that's what happens when you bring the trash inside." Ouch. And I don't even like Vicki, but for the first time, I felt for her.
And she had one of my favorite lines tonight. When finally realizing that Tyler is a dickweed, continuing his oh, so lovely douchy ways, she headed to the lovesick Jeremy Gilbert, and offered up this gem: "I was thinking maybe I could make one more wrong choice today. I still have 17 minutes." It was just such a beautifully-written way of conveying her thought process and so telling of who this girl is.
The idea that being with a good boy is the "wrong choice" is so sad. Oh, Vicki. I may not be your biggest fan, but I do feel for you. You're so broken. What made the line even more powerful is that it was a callback to Jeremy telling her earlier that "you know you're making the wrong choice, yet you make it anyway. It's sad." (Yup, you nailed it, Jeremy.) Tyler was the wrong choice, not Jeremy, but for Vicki she seems to feel that every choice she makes is the wrong one. She is indeed broken, and aside from everything else we saw with her (and have seen up to this point), these two lines illustrated that so completely. Good writing, good, good writing.
And with that, here are some random thoughts—
- Ah, so vampires can create dreams in the minds of weaker vampires. Interesting. And of course Damon would immediately go for the Elena-jugular with Stefan. Of course. Oh, Damon. (Yes, I still love him.)
- I commented on the good writing in this episode, along with the awesome Elena and Vicki lines, I also loved this one from Jeremy (to Vicki): "You realize you had to ask him to ask you, right?" There were a lot of great lines in this one.
- Hah! The Twilight discussion, just hah! "What's so special about this Bella girl? Edward's so whipped" and "How come you don't sparkle?" As a non-fan, I couldn't not love it, plus, with the extreme popularity of the franchise it really would make no sense for zero mention of it. So, well done, show.
- Oh, Jeremy and the pocket watch. Jeremy, Jeremy, Jeremy. You poor thing, you're not broken like Vicki, but you're damaged right now. *sigh*
- Also, I love Jeremy and Elena's relationship. I have a younger brother and thankfully our life story isn't as tragic, but their sibling relationship feels so real. I love it.
- Speaking of family, now we're finding out more about the other's families. Caroline's mom is the Sheriff of Mystic Falls, and they do not have a good relationship. I mean, her daughter walks in with an older guy and her mother's commentary receives only a snide response. Oh, and Caroline's dad is gay.
- OK, how cool was it when Bonnie turned around and every freaking candle in that room was lit? Cool, cool moment. Now that is some witchy magic I can get behind. (Repeating numbers, pfft!)
- Yes, it was cool how Stefan used Caroline's blood as vervain-bait to get Damon, but... Elena and Caroline are supposed to be 16 or 17 years old, and Stefan is supposed to be 17 or 18, and yet the three of them were casually drinking champagne (along with Damon) surrounded by tons of adults. Yeah, I get that teenagers drink, but so openly and in a formal setting? Yeah, no.
- Poor Jenna, she gives Logan Scumfell (hah!) another chance, and he has a hidden agenda. Oh, Jenna.
- I mentioned that both Paul Wesley (Stefan) and Zach Roerig (Matt) are soap opera alums. Well, here's another: Carol Lockwood played by Susan Walters, many a moon ago, was on Loving.
Wow, yeah, seriously this episode was just leaps and bounds so much better than the last three. I'm not saying that any of those episodes were bad, because they weren't. They were good-ish with friendships/families highlighted and Ian Somerhalder's stand-out performance, but overall it was exactly what you would expect from a teenage vampire show on the CW. However, this episode was tense, funny, unexpected and dramatic with great dialogue, great characterization, cool moments, adults unexpectedly being clued in and a doozy of an ending. Plus, it still sung with the teenage romance and friendships/family contained beautifully within. This episode was just great.