This episode puts the last two in perspective, I think. In "The Turning Point," we had Stefan and Elena re-connect and take a big step in their relationship. Then in the following episode, "Bloodlines," Elena and Damon reached a new understanding with one another, becoming somewhat wary friends. Now in this one, we see the result of Elena's closer interactions with each brother manifest itself. There were two specific scenes that highlighted this new dynamic.
The first was after Elena had been attacked by Noah in her home and Elena sat with Stefan by her, while Damon perched on the arm of the couch on her other side. The other was when they entered the dance, all three of them… Elena clutching onto Stefan's arm, with Damon standing right there beside her on the opposite side. The visual was clear—there is a triangle here, but right now Elena is firmly entrenched with Stefan.
However, Damon is definitely a part of the equation as he's by her side just as Stefan is. The difference is that there is physical contact between Elena and Stefan, while there is no such thing with Elena and Damon. Emotionally, though, she is edging towards there with Damon. Take Elena's words: "I'll be with the two of you. I'll be safe." Uh huh, she included Damon along with Stefan as someone who makes her feel safe. And don't think that Stefan didn't notice that because he totally did. And later he even tells her that he wasn't sure she would be OK with his plan to betray Damon because the two of them had bonded. So, yes, Stefan absolutely noticed.
As did Caroline. When the three entered the dance together, she asked Elena if it was "like, a threesome now, you and the Salvatore brothers?" Of course, Elena denied it because it's not true, but still considering her attitude towards Damon prior to their road trip, it is a big change. And the change isn't just in how Elena is treating Damon, but also how Damon is with Elena. He asks her to dance sweetly, honestly denying that he was anything but polite to Caroline and Bonnie. Yes, she turned him down and asked Stefan to dance with her instead, but we're talking about Damon's attitude towards Elena. He is sincere with her, genuinely being nice to her. Another sweet example—and this one had a directorial cue which tells me that we were definitely supposed to be focusing on the Damon and Elena aspect of the triangle.
The last time that we see Stefan and Elena dancing—that would be the only time that there is no conversation, the camera angle cuts Stefan off and we only see Elena. And what do we see? Well, just Damon in the background watching her... and then he smiles. It was such a sweet moment, and it wholly seemed to be about his affection for Elena with no relation to Katherine at all. Awww. Plus, like I said it was a specific cut to highlight Damon watching *just* Elena since Stefan was not in the shot.
Damon just likes Elena. Double aww.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the triangle we have Stefan and Elena. I actually did think that the two of them dancing and their conversation was cute. It's just… ugh, he STALKED HER FOR MONTHS! Stefan lied to her about Katherine; Stefan kept the information about saving her in the car wreck, and knowing that she was adopted all to himself. And just because he was the one to comfort her—after *finally* telling her—Elena is all lah dee dah, everything is fine. It's no big, really. *sigh*
I just have to remind myself that she clearly views Stefan through a savior-colored prism. He brought her happiness after months of grief and just going through the motions. He gave her a reason to get up in the morning. The difference between Elena the morning of the Pilot and the next episode (after she met Stefan) are like night and day. In the former, she's stiff, unsmiling, tense and trying to convince herself that she will be fine. The latter showed an Elena waking up to the day with a smile, contentment on her face. And that difference is entirely due to Stefan Salvatore.
Then to find out on top of that that he witnessed the final act of love from her father to her, and saved her life at his behest. Well, that just put a whole, new shiny capper on her already-loving feelings.
I get it; I genuinely do understand why Elena is OK with all of the reasons that Stefan is not really this great, awesome boyfriend. But still, he is not a great, awesome boyfriend. For example… one of my favorite things about Elena is her strength. After all of the dramaz was over and Elena and Stefan had made it back to her place, Elena had a beautiful moment. I absolutely loved it. She told Stefan: "I feel kind of exhilarated. [...] I fought back. It felt good!" Yes, you did fight back, Elena. You were awesome! And she had this glorious smile on her face, so happy and proud of herself. As she damn well should have been.
What did her oh, so proud boyfriend say in response? So. Not. The. Right. Thing.
Stefan:: I wish you didn't have to fight at all.I literally rolled my eyes and yelled at the TV, telling Stefan to shut up! He should have let her have her moment of joyous pride, and not downplay it. I'm sorry (no, really I'm not) but that was a dick move on his part. He could have agreed with her, commented on how strong she was. Then he could have said the quoted comment regretfully, and then add that he was proud of her. But no… deny Elena her agency, why don't you, Stefan. Ugh. Yeah, I'm just having a hard time seeing Stefan as anything other than a jerk when he's around Elena. With Damon, with Bonnie, Caroline, I'm fine with him… heck with Damon, I love him. It's just that whenever he's with Elena all I see is the lies, the caginess, and the emotional manipulation. Stefan, Stefan, Stefan.
Still, I do think the character (and this story) continues to be written very well. I understand all points of view. I understand why Elena and Stefan are both doing, acting as they are. I still love both characters… just not together. And I think that's OK. Viewers can miss these clues that Stefan is not all that, and that he and Elena are not even remotely the perfect couple and that works too.
One really does have to pay attention, pay attention to the beats and nuances beneath and in between the cute and the sweet of the pairing. If a viewer likes the chemistry between Paul Wesley and Nina Dobrev, it's easy to overlook the Stefan and Elena issues because they aren't in your face. You have to look and pull out your thinky-thoughts analysis to see them. Again, it is good writing. I appreciate good writing and even if I don't like what's happening on screen from a fangirl or shipper point of view, if it makes sense with the story being told, and is in character, then I'm happily along for the ride.
I mentioned above that I love Stefan when he's with Damon, and I do. Even when he's being a jerky-jerk who is betraying his brother. :pout: Oh, Stefan. At first I was a wee bit proud of him for offering to help his brother get Katherine out of the tomb. And then I wasn't so happy because of this exchange:
Damon: Why should I trust you?So instead of helping Damon because he loves his brother and wants to see him happy, he's just doing it to get rid of Damon. Boo, Stefan! Oh, but wait… that's not the truth either! He's lying to Damon about helping him. (Who's the liar again, Stefan?) I point to his ridiculous (and I mean *really* ridiculous) assertion earlier to his brother.
Stefan: Because I'm your brother. (Editor's Note: Aww!)
Damon: No, that's not gonna cut it.
Stefan: Because I want you gone. (Editor's Note: Or not.)
Stefan: See that's your problem, Damon. You apply all of your shortcomings to everybody else. If history's any indication, there's only one liar among us.Really, Stefan? You went there?! Dude! Your middle name is Stefan McLiarson Salvatore. Case in point! Earlier in that conversation, Stefan started fishing about what happened between Damon and Elena when they were on their road trip. So, so obvious, and then he ignored Damon calling him out on that to accuse his brother of deflecting. As if! Damon wasn't deflecting. Sure, Stefan began the conversation trying to find out what Damon was looking for but then he was the one who changed the subject to Elena and Damon. Stefan, Stefan, Stefan. It's so clear that he is the younger brother, LOL! Damon really knows how to play him like a fiddle. It's hilarious and awesome.
Also awesome was how in sync the boys were when dealing with Noah. I most sincerely loved it. Damon and Stefan tag-teaming to torture Noah to get the information about Elena, about the journal (Damon!) was cool to see because it showed that when they put aside their differences, they can work very well together. Like with the unspoken communication about a vampire (Noah, in this case) being invited in to Elena's house so they knew that he had to die to protect Elena (and Jenna and Jeremy). And, of course, Elena didn't get it because while she's learning the ways of the vampire, it's not second-nature to her. So her asking them in confusion why they killed Noah made perfect sense, and continuing the awesome when Damon and Stefan answered her (interrupted by only a "But…"), it was as if they were finishing each other's sentence.
Damon: He had to die.Ah, seriously, I just loved everything about that scene. Elena trying to fight back with a pencil (!). Awesome, see, she fought back! And, yeah, the brother's doing their thang. So good.
Stefan: Elena, he's been invited in.
Also good is the fact that Jeremy finally has an adult who seems to get him. (Poor Jenna, she tries, but…) Seeing Jeremy's happiness when he actually got an "A" on a history paper—after having been under the tutelage of dick-head!Tanner—was lovely to behold. Have I mentioned yet that I ♥ Alaric (Saltzman)? I do. I really, really do. And he was really quite subtle in how he got Jeremy to give him Jonathan Gilbert's journal. ("A first-person account of the Civil War? That's like, uh, porn for a history teacher." HAH! Loved it, loved it!)
Alas, in the 'not-quite-loving-it' department is Alaric with Jenna. I love Alaric (Saltzman) and I really like Jenna—who looked so, so pretty in the 50's get-up—but together? They're as boring as milquetoast. It is like nada when it comes to chemistry and these two. It's just that I really enjoyed the scenes between Alaric and his wife in the last episode. Matt Davis (Alaric) and Mia Kirshner (his wife, Isobel) just had such a realistic, lovely chemistry. I completely bought them as a couple… and I liked them a lot. (I hope we get more flashbacks with them.) Of course, Alaric and Jenna are very much in the beginning stages of a romance so maybe their rhythm and chemistry will improve. We'll see.
Another couple that I'm not feeling—like with Stefan and Elena in one way—has to do with the behavior of the male in this particular pairing, but I want to like them. I am talking about Matt and Caroline.
The two were joking around and having a lovely, silly/sweet time painting props for the upcoming dance when Matt just ruined it. I am sorry but he was being waaaaay too sensitive. Caroline was not talking about Matt; she was talking about Ben. Just because they are/were both jocks in high school, and both work at the grill doesn't mean that they are the same person. Personality, heart, attitude matter a helluva lot too. Caroline clearly thinks that Matt hangs the moon and stars so she would likely see him working while in high school as admirable. It was Matt's own issues projected onto Caroline's words. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Caroline deserves better.
Still, I'm finding that I do like Matt and Caroline better than Stefan and Elena. It's Matt's issues (with himself and his hang-up with Elena) that are the issue. However, like with Jenna and Alaric, these two are in the early stages of a romance so kinks are going to be there. I mentioned that I thought they were cute pre-Matt's hissy fit. And, oh my, their kiss was really AHHHH! romantic (way more than the Stefan and Elena first kiss, I might add).
There has been more build-up and the kiss played as a MOMENT! Candice Accola and Zach Roerig have chemistry. Now, I don't think it's uber-great or anything, but I think they have more chemistry than do Wesley and Dobrev. On the other hand, as mentioned above, I don't think that Matt is over Elena and, frankly, I'm not sure that he's really, truly into Caroline. Damnit, she deserves better!
Maybe she'll get it, though. Like I said, these two are in the initial relationship throes, and, yay, we saw Caroline stand up for herself in this episode. That was great, her big speech to Matt about his planning the relationship and fall-out before anything even happened. (You go, Caroline!). It is a good step in the right direction. Maybe it will get better and Matt will become worthy of my precious Caroline. We will see. I hope so because their kiss was beautiful, and some of their scenes have been really cute.
Not so cute? Anna and her neediness with Jeremy. She is being way too pushy with the poor boy. Naturally, he realizes that something is off, but because he's been compelled to be pretty chill with things, he's well, chill with things… even pushy girls. Aha! OK, hold the bus! Anna is a vampire! This sweet, little, needy, emo chick is THE vampire that's been causing post-Damon-vampire problems? Whoah! I did not expect that. OK, then! Well done, show, well done.
And on that note, let's get to random stuffs—
- So Stefan *finally* decided to give Elena some protection for her family and friends. It's about time... this would have been a good idea, oh, how about when Elena knew your secret? Because heaven forbid he risk any questions from her beforehand.
- I think it's interesting how Bonnie and Caroline have seemed to be getting closer since Elena has hooked up with the Salvatore brothers. It's not unrealistic at all.
- Hmm, Stefan and Damon talking about their dad, and Damon's line: "Man could barely spell his own name" was interesting. Does this mean that Damon wasn't fond of his father? I wonder.
- Who lets a delivery guy into their house like no big in this day and age? I dunno, maybe it's a small town thing. :shrugs:
- I know I mentioned it above but it deserves its own note: Damn, Jenna looked so pretty in that get-up. I just can't get over how absolutely beautiful she looked all 50's-chic! While I do think that Sara Canning is pretty, she hasn't made me ever stop and go 'Wow!' before now. She looked amazing—hair, make-up, outfit. It's a very, very good look for her.
- On that… ranking costumes, but first note that Bonnie and Elena were dinged a bit because I wasn't terribly fond of the former's bangs, and the latter's hair-bump.
With that said: 1) Jenna (Super #1), 2) Bonnie, 3) Elena, 4) Caroline
- I loved Bonnie's little moment of assertion, proving her point to Caroline about not having to wait for a guy to ask you out. It was cute. I ♥ Bonnie.
- Heh, heh, heh, Damon dancing inappropriately with a high school student... and he's supposed to be a chaperone?! HAH!
- So Noah knew Katherine too! And that's why he wants Elena, hmm... Sure seems like Katherine Pierce got around, doesn't it? Stefan, Damon, Noah… who else was she leading by a string?
- Ooh, that little scene when Damon and Alaric met was good. Alaric knowing that Damon is a vampire, and not just that, but the vampire who took his wife from him. Ouch! So tension-filled. Then that final scene between the two where Damon did his whole compulsion trick, but… dun dun dun! Alaric had vervain on him so he remembered every word. And since he wasn't being compelled, we know that not every word he told Damon was the truth. Natch!
- Hmm, so everyone is looking for Jonathan Gilbert's journal—Damon, Stefan, Alaric, Noah, Anna. Why do the non-Salvatores want to find Emily Bennett's grimoire? Things that make you go hmm…
- Oh, Bonnie! She likes a guy, actually makes her move and he's not only a vampire, but he's playing her. Poor Bonnie.
This was a very good episode, and I like how the relationships are heating up and twisting and turning, even those I'm not particularly interested in. It's good writing. Yup.