Where to start, where to start? Should I start with Stefan and Elena or Damon and Elena? The former made me seethe (good writing and the signs were all there—caginess!—but still…), while the latter made me squee with shipper joy. Hmm, let's get the not-so-awesome out of the way first.
Stefan, Stefan, Stefan, you are a bad, bad boy. I take back all of my commentary that called Stefan and Elena sweet because Stefan has been stalking Elena FOR MONTHS! And I thought that Damon watching her sleep for a few minutes was creepy? This is beyond, waaaay beyond, creepy. (I agree, Damon.) Wow. And this is the show's romantic hero? Nope, I do not think so. I don't really think there is a romantic hero/charismatic villain trope at play here. Rather, I think that *both* Stefan and Damon are anti-heroes. Uh huh. Romantic heroes (at least not in this day and age) are not stalkers. Stefan Salvatore is a stalker. I'm just blown away by this. He. Stalked. Her. For months. That's just… wrong.
On one hand, my immediate reaction was frustration because it feels like the show has been trying to make me believe that Stefan is just so awesome. See: Grams (love her!) and her reaction to him. I had the sarcastic thought, 'Of course, Grams is OK with Stefan because Stefan is a special snowflake.' And that was just not flying with me because we found out that he has been lying to Elena the entire time he has known her. So, nope, I am not seeing an awesome guy. On the other hand, I think back on how many times I've noticed his caginess, his half-truths, his selfishness and I realize that the show has been playing the audience true.
It was show, instead of just flat-out telling us. Just like Damon is not just the "bad" guy—as evidenced by his actions in "Haunted" and this episode, Stefan is not just the "good" guy. Both have shades of gray, and some of those shades are darker or lighter than expected in each brother.
Still, grrr! I mean, he has told Elena multiple times now that he will tell her everything, and painted himself as this shining, white knight and yet this is so not true. She found out on her own about Katherine looking like her. And now, she finds out a whole new batch of devastating information from him. Information that he's known this whole time but chose to keep in his back pocket until it would best be of use to him? It sure seems that way.
After all, finding out that she was adopted was such a blow to Elena, and when something like that happens, half-lies and anger over those things just don't matter as much. So naturally she turned to Stefan, the guy who has convinced her that he is her knight. This is the guy who helped wake her back up to living… it's like when it comes to Stefan she's blinded, maybe by her love. And on top of that, he saved her life emotionally, but now she's found out that he literally saved her life in the car wreck that took her parents. He received the fervent request from her father and saved her life as her father's final wish.
How can this young woman—who has been through so much in the last six months—not turn to the one who gave her a reason to smile again? Oh, poor Elena. I get it, I really do. It's still frustrating to watch it happen though. *sigh* The one positive is that my fear that the Stefan/Elena merry-go-round of teenage romance would continue at least is not being realized. Thank goodness for small favors. Because, man, that was annoying.
With time passing will Elena think back on how Stefan stalked her, lied to her, and emotionally manipulated her? I'd like to think so, but she's young, she's in love and he has become her rock these last few months, so I'm not so sure. It's not something I'll be happy about if it does go that way, but I can't say that it doesn't make sense. Elena is strong, but she's only 16-17 years old.
Oh, and don't get me wrong, even though I just used more than a few words to gripe about Stefan, I still like the character. I like Stefan a lot. I like that he's not the perfect hero, and that he is not the perfect saint he projects himself to be. I like him because, even with his flaws, he does genuinely want to be a good guy. His selfish wants and desires just happen to take precedence over that at times. But, he is a decent guy (and a better man than Damon). For instance, while the stuff with Elena made me see red on her behalf, I liked the other part of his storyline.
I appreciated that he allowed Grams to touch him. He did this even knowing that she would know he was a vampire, and thus it was risky for him because he couldn't know that she remembered him from before. And that she would be OK with him even though he had saved Bonnie. Just because he had helped her granddaughter once, it doesn't mean that she still wouldn't consider him a danger and alert others.
I also love that he was there to listen to Bonnie and that he *did* save her. He didn't have to do that, but it is showing that he's learning. He took a bit too long to try and help Caroline (and he still hasn't slipped her any vervain to protect her from Damon's compulsion), but at least he's on the ball here with Elena's other best friend. Oh, and, yes, I still mildly ship Stefan with Bonnie. He saved her! It was sweet. (I know, I'm so easy.) He's not perfect (not by a long shot), and I find I like him better not with Elena. That, I think is telling.
Yes, I could be wrong (I admit that freely), but the events of this episode have strengthened my belief that Stefan and Elena are not *the* couple. Also… that *Damon* and Elena are. Yes, let's get to those two now.
So Elena is in danger, a victim of a car crash and a mysterious, dangerous vampire and it is Damon who shows up in the nick of time to rescue her. Not Stefan. And he rescued her so smartly too. I love how he assessed the situation and told her what to do in order to limit the most damage. Aww, aww, aww... and then he was carrying her all damsel-in-distress like (hah! He even described her as thus later on).
Oh, and on that note, remember the last episode (so long ago) when Stefan carried Caroline all damsel-in distress like? Uh huh! Yeah, yeah, I know I just said I'm mildly shipping Stefan with Bonnie, but I haven't let go of the thought that something could happen with Stefan and Caroline down the line. That "You and me, it's never going to happen," quote was just too rich in potential future irony.
Anyhoo, back to Damon and his tender care of Elena. He made sure that she wasn't injured, and his voice was so soft and full of concern, and when she passed out (poor Elena!), Damon was there to sweep her up in his arms once more and we got hero-carry walk away. I loved it.
I also loved a whole bunch of things, big and small, about their car conversation on the way to Bree's bar. When Elena talked about what happened with the car crash and wondered who the man was that she hit, Damon's response about wanting to know as well just struck me. He was letting her in (even in a small way) on his thought process. And then the two talking about the whereabouts of the car, and who and what that guy was continued that impression. It goes back to what I said in "Haunted."
In "Family Ties," Lost Girls" and in this one we saw that Elena will not cower. Her strength and courage, paired with the empathy and understanding we saw her extend to him in "Friday Night Bites," and now alongside this lust have made Elena real to Damon. Think back on what he said to his brother:So, yup, their conversations in this episode proved that Damon sees Elena like a real person, and not a puppet he can just use and abuse and play with. She is someone that he listens to, that he reasons with; she is someone with whom he has actual, non-mocking or veiled conversations.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.His assertion about humans, in general and Elena specifically, no longer appears to apply. And we know that because of the last scene. There were two things that I believe were intended to strike viewers there. The first is that Elena chose to not forget anything (even after breaking up with Stefan in the last episode) because she feels too much for him. Obviously that is important moving forward, that she is willing to accept vampirism in her life, not only for her relationship with Stefan, but also her relationship with Damon.
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.
For instance, she told him to stop the car and pull over, he did so. Sure, it took her asking a few times, but he didn't have to at all... but he did. And also when Elena bent over as if in pain, after Damon zoomed to her side (and aww! at that), once she gave him a 'WTF are you doing?' look and told him she was fine, he backed off immediately. It's just at the edge of the screen, but you could see him pull his hands away and hold them up in a conciliatory manner.
Ugh! Sorry about the credits over the last gif, but alas... there was no way to crop them out.
And, of course, she wasn't wearing her locket with the compulsion protection of the vervain. Yet instead of compelling her to go along with him and make it easier on himself, he used words, logic, appealing to her need to get away from her problems ("for five minutes"). And it worked. It's clear now that Damon doesn't see her as someone to control at his whim. He treats her like an equal. Certainly better than anyone else with whom we've seen him interact.
So he's sweet, full of concern, and also forthcoming. Elena hears her phone ring, Damon pulls it out for her—after having saved it from her car wreck, aww!—and lets her know that her boyfriend is calling. And then he oh, so nicely (hah!) doesn't push her to talk to Stefan since she doesn't want to.
"Elena's phone," Damon said silky-smooth to his brother on the other end. And, wow, what a contrast. Stefan is worried, tense and thinking the worst of Damon. He's so sure that Damon is going to hurt Elena (despite the fact that Elena is the only one that he has shown any humanity to). Meanwhile, Damon is calm, cool and being completely upfront with her. And, aha!, Elena is not having anything to do with Stefan right now, not after what she just found out. Nuh uh. No way. (Alas, that doesn't last very long. *sigh*)
But before she gives in, she's willing to give Damon a chance. Instead of just assuming the worst (as Stefan did), Elena asked him if he would behave with her (in so many words). OK, fine, she pushed it just a bit with multiple questions on the same theme, but still. And that had me wondering if Damon didn't answer her final "Can I trust you?" because he'd already made it clear that he was not going to compel her or do anything that would hurt her. Was it because he was done satisfying her concerns, or, he didn't answer because, well, he knows that she can't really trust him? Hmm… I wonder.
And I suppose that question still remains at the end of the episode. Yes, Damon kept her as safe as he could. He didn't compel her, but he did kill Bree (more on that later) and that's not something with which Elena would be comfortable. Nope, and I kinda feel like she would consider that violating her trust… I mean, after all, she was with him and that does sorta make her an unwitting accessory. She saved Damon's life and because of that he was able to turn around and take out Bree.
Yeah. But before the bad times began, first we had good times! So much fun to be had at Bree's bar. Speaking of… Bree! AH! I love, love Gina Torres! She's awesome and gorgeous and talented and amazing! (This show does some really good casting!) Hah! And I cracked up at her macking on Damon the second she saw him. Double hah! I really cracked up at the look on Elena's face as she watched her macking on Damon the second she saw him.
Of course that didn't stop Bree from assuming that Elena was *with* Damon. I had some interesting thoughts that arose from that. Firstly, the fact that even though Bree thought that, she still kissed (and passionately at that) Damon. That leads me to think that Bree—who knows Damon—doesn't expect any kind of romantic relationship he's in to be serious enough for that to be a problem. This maybe hints that Damon's love for Katherine has kept him from falling for anyone else all this time.
Secondly is Elena's response to Bree's assumption. Instead of denying it beyond her initial attempt, she just went along with it. Now, I don't think it means that Elena is feeling the 'feelings' for Damon. It's definitely more about convenience for her (and plot purposes as it sets up her pleas to Lee later which work much better if he believes that Elena is with Damon). I also think that there's a bit of her not wanting to be with Stefan right then, and if Damon is the alternative, well, in that moment it works for her. No harm, no foul, right?
Speaking of the set-up with Lee, I went back and rewatched the Bree scenes after we found out that she called Lexi's boyfriend to take out Damon. I had definitely missed a few, subtle signs that Bree was not happy with Damon the first go-round. After she gave the spiel about what Damon did to her ("Here's to the man that broke my heart, crushed my soul, destroyed my life, and ruined any and all chances of happiness!") with a cheery voice and a smile, there was a quick flash of pain right before she took her shot. And then when she called him a Walkaway Joe, she sent him just the teeniest bit of a death glare.
I understand why Bree is upset that Damon killed Lexi, but I go back to what I've said before about her death. Lexi had enough strength to pull away from two deputies and go in for an attack on the Sheriff. She could have vamp sped away to safety. Instead she chose to attack and almost certainly attempt to kill Sheriff Forbes, Caroline's mother. Ulterior motive or not, Damon *did* save Caroline's mother.
And while I understand Bree's point of view, I have to say (fictional show and all), I get why he killed her. I'm sure that Damon haters are all hating on him for doing so. No doubt there is crying and gnashing, rants about how terrible he is. However, I'm just as sure that the fact is being completely ignored that Bree called Lee specifically to come and *kill* Damon. And Lee clearly wasn't planning on not only killing Damon, but torturing him as well. This he would have done had Elena not interceded. Oh, and Elena—an innocent human—was used as bait. So Bree betrayed and set Damon up for torture and murder, and used Elena to do so. Bree said that Lexi was her friend. Well, Damon thought that Bree was his friend. Yeah.
Let's take a step back before Damon ripped out Bree's heart. (Harsh! That final moment between them gives new meaning and weight to her earlier words describing him: "Here's to the man that broke my heart, crushed my soul, destroyed my life, and ruined any and all chances of happiness!" Indeed, he did.) Let us look at how Elena saved Damon. I found that so interesting. I mean, really, really interesting how Lexi's whole spiel about "When it's real, you can't walk away" was used in this scene. When we first heard that pitch from Lexi, it was intended to apply to Stefan and Elena. In this moment, though, Elena used those words to save Damon's life.
Oh, and taking it a step further, I thought it was even more interesting that they used that very word, "real," earlier when Elena asked Damon if his whole nice act was... yup, you guessed it, real. I mentioned above that to Damon, Elena is real and the show used that word with them in various ways in this episode. Very, very interesting... especially compared to the fact that so much of what Stefan and Elena have is built on a foundation of lies and half-truths. Very, very interesting indeed. And something that, yes, did make me squee when I realized it.
Also very squee-worthy? That final Damon and Elena scene… it was wonderful. We got to see the two completely at ease and comfortable with one another, full of smiles. (OK, we saw it earlier in the episode, but alcohol was in the picture at that point.) There was just the slightest mention of Stefan (a Damon taunt that actually received a smile from Elena, forget censure, she didn't even frown… girl smiled!). Nor was there any talk of Damon's wicked, wicked ways. They were just two individuals having a conversation, revealing bits about themselves ("I used to be fun"), connected in the aftermath of a traumatic event they had both lived through, and in Elena's case, triumphed.
And the kicker was Damon's repeated "You're not the worst company, Elena." The first time he said it, there was just a hint of teasing sarcasm, but that last time… ooh! That delivery was filled with such a quiet happiness, as well as a tinge of realization that he really liked this girl. Just for her. Not because of Katherine, or because it would piss Stefan off, but just because he liked Elena. Elena just kept on smiling and then reminded him that she saved his life. Aww, yes, she did! And Damon knows.
Alright, there were more things in the Damon and Elena scenes that I wanted to mention briefly. I'm just going to bullet-point list them before moving onto random thoughts.
- I totally noticed Damon running his hand over Elena's hair when he first pulled her out of the car. Aww, so sweet! See, Damon *can* be sweet! (Ooh, and his finger on her lips too!)
- Heh, Damon telling Elena that they're in Georgia. The Vampire Diaries films in Georgia (Covington, Georgia to be exact).
- I loved Damon's "She's fine," to Stefan because of how he said the word 'fine.' It was so laced with the different meaning of the word as in 'Baby, you're fiiine!' LOL! Damon does know how to get those little digs in at his brother, doesn't he?
- Hah, Damon telling Elena that all vampires don't hang out at the Vamp Bar & Grill. Hee!
- OMG! A teenage character on this show is aware of the legal drinking age?! (I nearly gasped when Elena told Damon that she couldn't go into the bar because she wasn't old enough.) Not that it mattered because said bar had no problem handing out beer and multiple shots to teenage Elena. *sigh* This show and their complete lack of regard for drinking laws. Tsk, tsk.
- Boo! Telling Damon that he's gloating inside and pretending to care... he does care, Elena! He cares about you. *sigh* But she's not in a very good place right now (Stefan!) so I can't really blame her.
Alright, time for random stuffs –
- Elena's visceral fear when the mysterious vampire was all up in her face was well-done and made sense even for a girl who keeps it together pretty well. How could she not be freaking out? First finding out about Katherine, then getting in a car crash (her parents died because of a car crash) and now a vampire is coming after her. Factor in that she was recently attacked by a vampire (Vicki) and saw another vampire (Damon) attack her best friend, yeah, freaking out in fear is a natural response.
- Ugh! Poor Elena! "I look like her." Oh, my precious Elena. The pain in her voice, on her face, when she said that.
- Ooh, Mia Kirshner is playing Alaric's wife. She's a good actress, and very charismatic.
- And speaking of Alaric and his wife, I really liked the flashback scenes with Alaric and Isobel (the credits tell me her name is). In just a few short scenes, I thought a believable, loving relationship was created. The only bad thing is that I thought Matt Davis (Alaric) had more chemistry with Kirshner in just those few short scenes than I've felt in any of his scenes with Sara Canning's Jenna. Ah well. They haven't shared that many scenes so maybe it will grow? I hope so.
- One little thing I liked is that Elena showed concern about the fact that no one would know where she is. It's in character that Elena would care that her family and friends not worry, and it was a nice realistic touch and the usual with this show that family and friends are not forgotten.
- So I'm guessing this Anna is going to be Jeremy's new love interest now that Vicki is gone? Well, I don't already viscerally dislike her like I did Vicki. That's a good sign. I want Jeremy to get some love. Alaric's friendliness to him is a good start, but he's a teenage boy… he has needs. As does Anna… she certainly did come across as a little needy. I'm not all wowed by her or anything, but she's OK. Still, she's a bit of a question mark because she obviously knows and/or is up to something what with the whole interest in vampire folklore, uh huh!
- You go, Elena! I loved her calling out Stefan on his lies. (Because he's a lying liar who lies!) Too bad it didn't last because he manipulated her emotionally with the story of saving her life for her father, and then the whole adoption revelation. My poor Elena! (Instead of Stefan, let me hug you!)
- I thought that it was interesting (hmm, I use that word a lot when talking about this show) that Bonnie's magic is now blocked and that she has to unblock it. I do think that makes sense. First she thought it was a joke, then she just thought of it as a cool party trick and now it's this real thing with awful side effects and it's not so cool anymore. I like that the supernatural is being dealt with in such a real way. It's like there are vampires and witches, but they are still in the real world, our real world. The problem of a teenager who is growing into a young adult and trying to figure out who they are is coming into play. Alongside dealing with the issues her best friends are having, absentee parents and all that jazz, Bonnie's maturation is mixed in with the reality of the supernatural creature that she is. I'm enjoying Bonnie's character arc, outside of Damon's, it's the strongest one.
- So Bree is a witch! I had wondered if Damon (while away from Mystic Falls) would go seeking out a witch to figure out another way to get Katherine out of the tomb. Instead, he stuck around, but aha! there he went and did exactly that on a little road trip (with Elena!).
- Of course Damon is amazing at the sex. Of course, he is.
- Poor Elena, wondering if Stefan was just using her to replace Katherine. I would wonder that myself. In fact, I do wonder if that's part of the allure with Elena for him.
- On the opposite spectrum… aww, buzzed, happy Elena is adorable! Look at her smiling, and teasing Damon, throwing her hands in the air, twirling around at her victories. So, so cute!
- "If you want to be together forever, you have to live forever." That was a great line.
- Elena turning the "I thought we were closer than that" back on Jenna was such a bratty, teenage thing to do. She was wrong to disappear and not call Jenna to let her know what was going on, but yeah, Jenna keeping the adoption information from her wasn't awesome either. Still, it's so not the same thing and it was just a way For Elena to get away with screwing up. Actually, it's a bit similar to what Stefan had done with Elena in taking a worse situation to make the 'bad thing' the person had done seem not as bad. (Hmm, Stefan and Elena do have some common traits.) Of course, it's a lot more understandable when a 'kid' does it to their guardian than when a boyfriend does it to his girlfriend he just slept with after lying to and stalking her for months. I'm just saying.
- Oh, Damon. *sigh* He killed Alaric's wife. Damon, Damon, Damon. And, yeah, it looks like my speculation that Alaric is a vampire-hunter was correct. This must be why he is here in Mystic Falls: To track down one Damon Salvatore. Hmm, was Logan just practice or has Alaric found other vampires? I wonder.
So, yeah, that was something. I loved, loved all of the Damon/Elena, Damon, Alaric, Stefan/Bonnie-related stuff. Oh, but the Elena/Stefan stuff was so frustrating. Again, it wasn't out of character or didn't come out of the blue… the clues have all been there that Stefan would/could have done all of this. Just during my watch, I was not happy on Elena's behalf. However, rationally taking it all apart, it is clear that the writers are setting stuff up here. I can't wait to see where it all leads.