Arabian (arabian) wrote,

1.22 - 'Founder's Day' (The Vampire Diaries)

I finally (actually) did it! This is the final episode of season 01… and with this, I officially have write-ups for every episode of The Vampire Diaries. (OK, fine, I still have to write up 8.07, but that's not in doubt of happening since I've been pretty on the ball in getting these out before the next episode airs since, oh, season 02.)

So I'm just going to get to it and start with Damon and Elena… and "Elena" a.k.a. Katherine Pierce! We were told in the last episode that Damon was in love with Elena. Just about everything in this episode revolving around Damon confirmed that very point. Obviously there was the speech he gave "Elena" on her front porch, as well as the kiss he gave who he thought was her. However before I touch upon that scene, I want to get into all of the actual stuff with Damon and Elena.

One of the things that I adored so much about the pre-credits scene was the camera work, which I am fairly certain was guided by script direction. There were three distinct moments in the waning seconds that highlighted the Damon side of things. First we saw Damon notice Elena first, his reaction one of stunned admiration, After we moved into a medium-shot of Elena looking at the boys, we saw Stefan, yes, but he was not only paired with Damon in the shot, we could fully see his face only briefly before the camera shifted to focus on Damon and Stefan moved out of the frame. Finally, at the very end of the scene, Elena glanced briefly at Stefan, but then she looked to Damon, a mischievous smile gracing her lips before she curtsied, all the while her were eyes on him.


Hmm... camera and script choices matter, and they certainly told a story in just those few seconds. I've said it often throughout this season, but despite the early expectation that *the* couple of the show was Stefan and Elena, ever since "Friday Night Bites"—yes, only the third episode—I've had the inkling that it is Damon and Elena with their slow burn that is The Vampire Diaries OTP. We'll see what happens next season and if that continues to follow through.

Slow is indeed the key word. While we had many a moment in this one that highlighted Damon's affections for Elena, the feelings weren't quite returned to even close to the same degree. Speaking of, there was one moment early on between the two that honestly baffled me. Over the course of the last handful of episodes—with the exception of Elena behaving uncharacteristically callous in that one "Blood Brothers" scene—Damon and Elena have been on good ground. They've worked well together, Elena showing trust and friendship to Damon, Damon responding in kind.

So why exactly did Elena roll her eyes at Damon when she was on the float and he waved at her? It was… odd. If it had been a little eye roll, like, ‘Oh Damon, you!' that would have been fine, but it was a full-on eye roll of annoyance and derision, more like ‘Ugh, Oh, God, Damon!' It just made no sense considering where the two are right now friendship-wise. Heck, she even called him her friend a little later in the episode. Honestly, it felt like it was just positioned there for the standard trope of a character greeting another only to have a different character—one who isn't on the best of terms with the first—catch that wave. After this mostly fantastic season with excellent writing, directing and acting, I am at the point where I expect better.

Fortunately, that was the only negative between Damon and Elena that I found in the episode. Even though the ‘slow' of the burn continued from Elena's end. She was in character, and she was honest and real with him. Laying down her guidelines on how he needed to toe the line with her if he wanted to remain friends, she was straightforward. This, of course, was brought on by his reaction to seeing her in her modern garb. Speaking of… like Damon's reaction to Elena in her Civil War fashion was underscored, there was a point of showing Damon, and not Stefan, respond to her looking once again like herself. And how they did so was wonderful… Damon telling Elena that he prefers her looking so. And that led us into a small, but very loaded scene, not just in what he said, but in every aspect of their interaction.

Damon: I like you better like this. The period look, it... didn't suit you.
Elena: Is that an insult?
Damon: Actually, Elena, it is a compliment of the highest order.
Elena: Look, I know Stefan is worried about our... friendship.
Damon: Did he mention something to you too?
Elena: No. Did he mention something to you?
Damon: No, nothing worth repeating.
Elena: So, I think you should stop with the flirty little comments and that eye-thing that you do.
Damon: {Smiling and doing the eye thing} What eye thing?
Elena: Don't make me regret being your friend, OK?

From Damon's cheerful demeanor throughout the majority of the exchange—showing his utter delight in just talking to, and yes, flirting with her—to his teasing banter, we saw an easygoing Damon who was just enjoying himself. While Elena did seem truly touched—the smile she directed his way was practically glowing—by his compliment, that quickly gave way to concern.

As we saw throughout the episode Stefan is quite wary of history repeating with Elena. Never mind that he spent five months "getting to know her" so that he could be sure she wasn't like Katherine who had both brothers. However because Elena is a patient, understanding girlfriend, she appears to be fine with his distrust. :RME: So instead of telling Stefan to take a chill pill, she not only reassured him (more than once), she also talked to Damon specifically about Stefan's concern and told him that he was the one who needed to chill… with the flirting (and "eye thing," LOL).

On one hand, I get Elena's point of view. Stefan is her boyfriend and he is worried about her friendship with Damon because of what happened in the past. Plus, Damon does flirt with Elena despite the fact that she is his brother's girlfriend. On the other hand, see above comment about Elena not being Katherine—and Stefan knows that—and, sure, Damon flirts, but he hasn't crossed any lines. All of his flirting has been playful and harmless. His main objective at this point, it appears, is to make Elena smile… OK, fine, and get under his brother's skin a bit. However, if Stefan trusted Elena, he wouldn't be bothered by Damon in this fashion. Plus, come on, they're brothers… they're gonna get under each other's skin. That's just how it is.

Regardless of the level of appropriate, Elena set her foot down. She did so to the point where she made it clear that if Damon wanted her friendship, he needed to stop. The look on his face after she asked him to not make her regret being his friend was very telling of how much that friendship means to him. Damon is in love with her, but if her friendship is all he can have right now, he doesn't want to lose that. So he just nodded, acquiescing to her edict. And then he watched her walk away… what she means to him visible on his face. Oh, Damon.


There was brief interaction between the two before the planned attack by the tomb vampires that was also a wee bit interesting. Stefan and Elena were strolling hand in hand, having a laugh, when Damon approached and took Elena's hand to explain "in fifteen words or less" what was about to happen. Two things here: The first was that after he took Elena's hand, cradling it in his own, she flat-out asked him what he was doing *but* she didn't drop her hand or even try and remove it. Damon held her hand throughout the remainder of the scene until he was the one who let go. The second point was how Damon searched Elena (and Stefan) out for the sole purpose of saving her life. He wanted Stefan to get Elena out of there. Because he loves her.

*sigh* Now we get to the heart of Damon Salvatore just about on full display. Alas, it wasn't to Elena he was baring said heart (and soul) to, but rather the infamous Katherine Pierce. However, he didn't know that and neither did we until she cut Uncle Daddy John Sark's fingers off. Yeah, we'll get to that later. However, before I go to town on what happened specifically on Elena's porch, I want to talk about Nina Dobrev. This is what I said about her portrayal of Katherine in her first appearance in "Lost Girls" and her second in "Children Of The Damned." (Note: I didn't mention anything for "Under Control" (1.18), but we didn't see much of Katherine in that one.)

I thought Nina Dobrev did alright in the double role. Katherine was definitely different from Elena, but the performance of the former felt a bit… erm, studied? Not as natural? I can't quite put my finger on it, but Katherine felt more like a caricature than a character. If we do get more flashbacks, hopefully Dobrev will grow more comfortable with the role. I love her Elena and a lot of that is due to Dobrev's acting and presence so I'm thinking it's a good possibility. We'll see.

1.06 - "Lost Girls"

I have to say that I prefer this one over "Lost Girls" for several reasons. The obvious being that it's from Damon's perspective (yay!), but, more importantly, it is because of Nina Dobrev's performance. I think that Dobrev had a better handle on differentiating Katherine and Elena by this episode. Katherine truly seemed like a different character. Everything about her, from the way she moved, to even how she didn't move was different. The way Dobrev even stood and held herself still as Katherine was different from Elena's looser stance. Her smile, mischievous and tempting, the way her eyes danced with experience and invitation, was not like Elena. Even her voice was different, a naughtiness and tease imbued every word. Just everything was different; it was very impressive.

1.13 - "Children Of The Damned"
After finishing this episode, my praise for Dobrev's performance is through the roof. Knowing after the fact that it was Katherine and not Elena with Damon and John is so blindingly obvious. However, other than a few moments that puzzled me—because I wondered why Elena was reacting as such, but brushed it aside—Dobrev did such a fabulous job of Katherine mimicking Elena. It was subtle, just enough that it wasn't evident, but after the fact, was thoroughly clear. She was so, so good that I'm going more in detail about her phenomenal acting choices.

As I mentioned above, I was thrown just a bit here and there. Like her shock—not just a lesser-surprise or even simply confusion, it literally stopped her in her tracks—when she saw Damon come out of Elena's home. And more particularly, there was the expression on her face when Damon kissed her cheek. She looked like she was thinking "WTF ARE YOU DOING?!" However, it wasn't amusingly exasperated, or even in an annoyed, 'Dude I'm dating your brother' kind of way. No, it was totally like 'What the fuck are you doing?' Prior to the reveal, I couldn't understand why Dobrev had made those acting choices. After I rewatched the scene (oh, about a million times), her reactions then made perfect sense.


Katherine obviously wouldn't expect Damon to come strolling out of Elena Gilbert's house like no big. Nor would she imagine a Damon being sweet and courtly, kissing a girl on the cheek. Based on what we know from Isobel, Katherine has clearly been keeping tabs enough on things. She must know what a bad, bad boy Damon Salvatore has become; he's no longer the innocent gentleman she last saw in 1864. So, yes, that weirded out expression now made perfect sense coming from Katherine.

Dobrev also put a drawling timber in her voice when she did speak; drawing out her words ever so slightly. Her mannerisms were changed just a bit also, not just with Damon, but with Jenna as she walked in, as well as John. Again, in retrospect, you can really tell that it was Katherine by how she moved and spoke (or rather barely spoke). Nina Dobrev has come a long way since her first portrayal of Katherine. The differences in the two characters are astounding.

Ah, but before we knew it was Katherine… what we got as a Damon and Elena fan was amazing. Hell, it was still amazing even in retrospect because of what we got from Damon.

Damon: You know, I came to this town wanting to destroy it. Tonight, I found myself wanting to protect it. How does that happen? I'm not a hero, Elena. I don't do good. It's not in me.
"Elena": Maybe it is.
Damon: Nah, it's reserved for my brother, and you... and Bonnie... who, even though she has every reason to hate me, still helped Stefan save me.
"Elena": Why do you sound so surprised?
Damon: Because she did it for you. Which means that somewhere along the way, you decided that I was worth saving. And I wanted to thank you for that.
Oh, Damon. Oh my ♥ ... my poor bb! The things that he told "Elena" showed a vulnerability in him that we had just briefly witnessed with Jeremy, but never before then to that degree. Over the course of the last batch of episodes we have been shown almost a flowering (forgive the less than masculine phrasing, but I think it fits) of Damon's heart and soul. He has been allowing himself to be more real, a more humanity-filled Damon. And, as he more or less told Jeremy, it's hard, but he's doing it. Damon has been running into a few brick walls, has met some pushback and received some sass, but he's still doing it. *sigh* And that is why this scene--finding out what we did after it played out—was frustrating beyond measure. I'm not saying that it was bad writing; it was the very opposite in fact. It was frustrating in the best way possible.

The bottom-line is that I thought that their discussion and *that* kiss was so completely awesome in pretty much every way under the sun. The discussion I've, well, discussed, but the kiss… dayum! Hands down, that was one of the hottest, most heart-meltingly, OMG! kisses I have ever seen in either this medium or cinema. I mean… wow!


Plus, has there ever been a more perfect song accompanying a kiss than "Bloodstream?"

I just do not think so. It wasn't just the beat and the melody, but also how it built and wrapped itself around their words and the moment, ratcheting up the tension between them. Finally, there was those lyrics.

Stateless - Bloodstream

Wake up
Look me in the eyes again
I need to feel your hand upon my face
Words can be like knives
They can cut you open
And in the silence surrounds you
And haunts you
I think I might've inhaled you
I can feel you behind my eyes
You've gotten into my bloodstream
I can feel you flowing in me

Words can be like knives
They can cut you open
And in the silence surrounds you
And haunts you
I think I might've inhaled you
I can feel you behind my eyes
You've gotten into my bloodstream
I can feel you flowing in me

The spaces in between
Two minds and all the places they have been
The spaces in between
I try to put my finger on it
I try to put my finger on it
I think I might've inhaled you
I can feel you behind my eyes
You've gotten into my bloodstream
I can feel you flowing in me (x2)
They so perfectly encapsulate not just what Elena does to Damon, but also what Katherine did/does to him. In that way, they fit a particular reaction that both women arouse in Damon. Ah, but as overwhelmingly beautiful as this scene and damn-near erotic as that kiss was, Houston, we have a problem—and this is where my delicious frustration lie. All of the flowering that I mentioned earlier is probably going to go to pot. Now, Elena would have appreciated Damon's speech greatly. She would have just taken the kiss on the cheek with a raised brow, a blush maybe, and then quickly stepped back with a warning, "Damon…" And then with perhaps a sideways glance, she likely would have bid him goodnight and the two of them would have continued to dance their dance. Oh, yes, and from that… it would have gradually grown into the clear something more that is there between them while she and Stefan faded because that clearly ain't gonna last. (I'm sorry, not sorry, but it so ain't. It's a high school romance destined to end when high school does.)

Alas... that would have been too easy. *sigh* So instead, it was Katherine who heard his speech, received his kiss. And Katherine has no doubt done fucked everything up now. I don't know how it will all play out in the upcoming season, but, yeah, what happened post chivalrous cheek-kiss is going to fuck everything up. And it will likely mess with Damon's head and heart all over again in a way that will not be pretty. *sigh* Oh, Damon.

Hah! But in the short run, she done fucked up Uncle Daddy John Sark more. Uh huh. Kudos once more to Dobrev for how she played "Elena" in the first part of that scene. She moved in this tightly-coiled way that, after the fact, was obviously so Katherine-esque. And, oh my Lord, the barely concealed eye roll and look on her face as John was droning on. Again, in retrospect, you could just see her thinking that he was such a pathetic loser and needed to shut up or die. He didn't shut up, so we got that AWESOME, AWESOME moment when Katherine revealed herself by CUTTING JOHN'S FINGERS OFF! And then after his quick realization that this was not his daughter he was looking at, Katherine brought the full enchilada of awesome home with her, "Hello John. Goodbye John," eyes all vampiric right before she stabbed him in the gut. Oh, man, it was just the most excellent icing on the awesome-Katherine-cake.


While there is a small part of me that is slightly bummed that it wasn't Damon who killed John, at least Pearl's best friend did the job. (He is dead, right? He has to be!) Although, obviously Katherine didn't think too highly of Pearl if she (a) had no problem leaving her in the tomb to desiccate for over a hundred years, and (b) told Isobel and John that she wanted all of the tomb vampires—thus including Pearl—dead. Hmm… eh, whatever. John is dead, that is what matters. Who cares about the reason why? Because John Gilbert is was a RAT BASTARD! First, he killed my beloved Pearl, and then he had the nerve to attack Sheriff Forbes! I like Caroline's mom.

*sigh* At least he didn't kill her too. Oh, no, that he reserved for the girl that his nephew is dating. Oh, Anna. First he got her mother, and then her. I have to admit… I was not expecting that. Damn, that makes girlfriend #2 for Jeremy who has bit the big one. Poor Jeremy. Poor Damon! As he told the boy, it was clear that he wanted to help her. I believe that he would have tried if he could, of course that would have just gotten him staked too. By John, with glee. Rat bastard. Die, die, die! (Oh, wait, Katherine took care of that. YES!)

I have to say though that as sad as it was to see John take out Anna, at least I cared when she died. That's something that I can't really say for any of the other vampires in that cellar. I didn't know any of them other than Damon and Anna. The back-and-forth vampire/anti-vampires plans would have held a lot more tension for me if I knew who they were. With seven episodes between their release and this episode, I think that we had time to get to know more than Harper, Frederick, Henry and Beth-Anne—who are all dead now. Just a few more scenes in the vampire house of doom involving vampires who weren't killed before this finale would have done the trick. I do wish that we had known who some of them were to put personalities and names to a few of the vampires who plotted and then were killed so that their actions and deaths would have meant more.

Still, those unknown vampires did help create some awesome. That, of course, wouldn't have happened if Bonnie hadn't lied to one of her besties. So, yeah, I guess it was a good thing Bonnie didn't deactivate the device after all. If she had, there would be a lot of dead humans in Mystic Falls after the Founders' Day activities. As it was, there were only dead vampires, a werewolf and the rat bastard human that was John Gilbert.

Oh, yes, let us talk briefly about that werewolf, Mayor "Douchebag" Lockwood who had an actual non-douchey moment (as well as a hilarious one—for me, not him). Proving what a douche he normally is, though, it took him saying please to get Tyler to listen. Because you just know that saying please is not something that Mayor Lockwood ever says to his offspring.

Mayor Lockwood: Please Tyler. I need you to go home, now. Take your friends with you.
Matt: Why? What's going on?
Mayor Lockwood: I can't explain. All of you need to get home, now. Please.
Tyler: Yeah, okay.
At least the second to last thing that his father did was essentially save his son's life. Yes, Tyler was affected by the device just like daddy dearest—and, yes, I saw Tyler's yellow eye! The Lockwood males be werewolves, oh my!—and that is what caused the car crash. However, had he been in the square, he would have been captured by Uncle Daddy John Sark's minions, thus likely dying in the same fire that did the Mayor.

As for the car crash, just no. No. Not Caroline. Don't you dare... not my precious Caroline. I forbid it. I absolutely, positively forbid it. After Damon and Elena, she is my favorite character. I LOVE CAROLINE FORBES! Do NOT take her from me, show, do you hear me! *sigh* I honestly think that I was so in denial about what happened to her that I actually forgot the severity of her injuries. While they were waiting at the hospital, I was thinking about the Matt and Tyler friendship and how the accident and all that had happened with Caroline would finally bring them back together. And then… {gulp} her mother walked in, and she wouldn't answer Matt when he kept asking if Caroline would be alright. Thoughts of Matt and Tyler and their friendship reparation flew from my mind because Sheriff Forbes' lack of response told me that it was really bad.

Oh, but this show wasn't done bringing its viewers to the verge of tears. After refusing to discuss her daughter's prognosis, she turned to Tyler, asking if he had called his mother yet. And I remembered. Oh My God, his father was dead and for the first time, I felt really bad for Tyler. Man, this show, they hit you hard because, yo, FAMILY MATTERS and you care about these characters even if they aren't your favorites.

Because of that, I almost felt guilty for finding Mayor Lockwood's death so funny (TV show, not real life, it's cool). But, yeah, I did. In the cellar, he asked Damon why he was there—clueless that the Founder's Anti-Vampire Council had a vampire as a member. Damon's casual response that he was, indeed, a vampire was hilarious, and the look on Mayor Lockwood's face when he said that was hysterical! And then there he went scrambling like mad to get away from Damon like a crazy person, from the one vampire in that place who wouldn't kill him, to a nameless vampire, who then, of course, did. I shouldn't have laughed, but I did. Or, hey, maybe we were supposed to find it funny. Yeah, I think we were.

On a non-humorous, but still fantastic note, I must say that prior to the cellar bonfire bonanza, the whole sequence of the vampires going down was very well done. Beginning with the squealing of the device, the vampires grabbing their heads, then the fireworks, then cutting between the undead, and the music and then all of a sudden seeing Tyler (who we know is not a vampire) effected too. The car he was driving swerving, the vampires being injected with vervain (including Damon and Anna), Alaric rushing over to save Stefan. Finally, the Mayor going down as well before he was shot up with vervain. All of it was nicely edited together. Great, great sequence.

Ah, but the fallout… Frankly, I think that aside from, you know, the ones who died, Jeremy was most affected by what happened. He already was not in a good place. His earlier interactions with his sister showed that clearly. Jeremy has been fairly decent in dealing with Elena's betrayal considering, but he's just done now. I guess her pushing him to make things right again and again was the straw that broke the camel's back because he was not nice to her. And I was not proud of him. Telling Elena to go to hell… not cool, Jeremy. And, aww, my bb Elena looked so sad. And, hmm, my bb Damon looked… not happy. But that's OK because it led to one of two truly awesome Damon and Jeremy scenes.


"Being a teenager's so hard," Oh, man, Damon imitating Jeremy cracked me up. But more than just the humor there—because, Damon—was the push behind Damon going after him. He did it for Elena, and whether either realize it or not, Jeremy probably actually does need someone in his life like how Damon treated him here. Someone who will tell him when he's being an emo dick, telling him what he has to appreciate and to wake up and damn well appreciate it. It was awesome.

Well, mostly awesome. I'm going to step away from dealing with Jeremy for a minute to address the other person in the above scene who was not Damon. I am talking about his brother. Oh, Stefan. Stefan, Stefan, Stefan. Not cool. He didn't know what was going on before he gallantly stepped in to save Elena's baby brother. He had no clue. Damon was not going to knock Jeremy unconscious; he was just knocking some sense into his head. And he was doing a fine job and may have gotten through to Jeremy had Stefan not decided that he just had to intercede because he just *has* to be the one who makes things right for Elena, not Damon. Never Damon. Because, you know, history repeating and all that. Oh, and what nonsense about how Elena and Jeremy's relationship was none of Damon's business. Uhm, once Elena agreed to let Damon compel Jeremy, yeah, it kinda totally did become a part of Damon's business… Stefan!

Furthermore, give me a break with that balderdash about doing the right thing only when your heart is pure and selfless with no expectation of anything in return. Oh stuff it, Stefan! As long as the right thing is done, that is what matters. So many good things are done/have been done all the time, every day, throughout the whole of history and (shocker!) they were not all done for "the right reason." Whether Damon did it to impress Elena or not, he was still doing it. Oh, and Stefan? You were doing it to impress Elena too! So shut it! Don't worry, I still love him… it's just, hmm, green is not a pretty color on him. See: His reaction after Damon was saved from the fire.

Stefan: Did you see where Damon went?
Elena: No, he just kind of disappeared.
Stefan: Figures.
Oh, Stefan. Stefan, Stefan, Stefan. I do think he would be ashamed of that response if he knew exactly where his brother was.

And that brings us back to Jeremy… and Damon, and their other scene that was all kinds of awesome, no quibbles to be found. Their final scene basically slayed me dead. Damon stopping by specifically to see Jeremy, to tell him about what happened to Anna was beautiful. He did it because he knew that Jeremy cared for her. And, hey, maybe even Stefan would have approved since Damon didn't run it by Elena or plan to tell her afterward, therefore it was done for the right reason. {Snerk!}


Seriously, the openness and honesty that Damon showed to Jeremy showed how much Damon has changed. Regardless of what Stefan (or Bonnie) think about him, we know, we see that Damon is a better person than he was when he first came to Mystic Falls. The humanity button has been officially pressed. More proof of that was that he offered Jeremy the choice of compulsion. Jeremy refused naturally. But his explanation of why was fascinating not just for the information it provided about how compulsion works (or doesn't), but how if one looks back they can see evidence of this shown previously. Remember in "Under Control," when Stefan compelled that guy to apologize to Elena for being rude to her? I wrote after that episode:

Ooh, boy, when that guy that Stefan compelled to apologize kept on doing it once he saw him outside was… interesting. Interesting because even though he was apologizing, he was still giving off plenty of attitude. Hmm…
And now we know why. Jeremy explained that the memories may have been gone, but the emptiness was still there. The feelings that those memories aroused were just under the surface of that fog of compulsion. I know that in just the last episode I wrote about Jeremy being better—and he is overall. I stand by that assertion. He only seems as bad off right now because Anna was just taken from him. While we can see that, yeah, Jeremy never did lose that lonely, empty feeling—his continued search for Vicki—still, he was better than how he was before Damon compelled him. I think he just doesn't remember how bad off he was because he still does feel a remnant of that pain.


All of this was good stuff, but it just kept getting better—if in an absolutely painful way. Damon actually apologized for his part in what happened to Vicki. That was the first time we've heard Damon apologize to anyone. And he really owned up to his actions; there was no blaming the situation or giving excuses, he just flat-out owned up to it. And Jeremy heard that sincerity, so their conversation continued. Gah, it would have been so much better if Damon had left after his apology… but he did not. *sigh* Nope, instead he gave Jeremy the chance to ask what being a vampire and shutting your humanity off was like… if it truly takes away the pain. And Damon answered and honestly.

It does help, and when Jeremy asked if that's what he did, he was still honest. Revealing a part of his soul that Elena hasn't even seen. Damon had his humanity off for a very long time—which does explain how he could be so awful to Stefan, Caroline, Bonnie and casually kill people who at that point were just playthings to him. It's easy to see why it was easier for him, to let his humanity back in and feel all of the guilt, the regret is understandably so difficult. Ian Somerhalder's delivery when he said, "I did it for a very long time," was wonderfully painful. It just broke my heart. There is so much pain there and no one else really has a clue. He has his humanity button pressed, but it's made life much harder for him… but he's still doing it.

Ah, and what do they say? No good deed goes unpunished. Damon's honesty with Jeremy was all the information he needed to take the step that he's been flirting with for several episodes now. He has Anna's blood, and Elena's anti-depression medication. Oh, Jeremy, you don't want to be a vampire. You really don't. Oh, Jeremy. Jeremy, Jeremy, Jeremy. And using Elena's pills, no less? That was just wrong! The guilt that she will feel when she finds that out… oh, my poor Elena.

Also, my poor Damon! He was just hit from all sides in this one, wasn't he? If the last episode mostly revolved around Isobel, the same could be said for this one and Damon. We already discussed the number that Katherine did on him, but there was also the obvious vervain'ed and stuck in a cellar by John, nearly burning to death. I honestly was at a loss as to how he was going to get out of that one. I mean, before Bonnie's flame-control and Stefan's heroics, boy was this close to being burned "alive." Thank goodness for Bonnie and Stefan.

I never thought I would think that before the rescue considering how they both treated and spoke of Damon in this episode. First of all, let's go back earlier to when Damon tried to be nice to Bonnie—genuinely thanking her for de-spelling the device. First of all, she didn't even deserve the gratitude since she didn't actually do it. Secondly, when looking at how nice he was really trying to be, Bonnie's statement at the end about Damon having to change did not make me a happy camper. Damon clearly *is* changing!

*sigh* And people wonder why Damon is the way he is. He has been opening up; he has allowed himself to be vulnerable, to be nice. Yet it doesn't seem to be sticking with anyone. Damon truly offered his gratitude to Bonnie and we know that she betrayed him. So, basically Damon has already been betrayed by someone again… by a Bennett witch again. And despite her betrayal and his sincerity, after the events of the evening, she talked as if he was the bad guy still. *double sigh* Plus, think of all of the stuff he's done for Elena lately, and yet there she was on the float rolling her eyes and being antagonistic towards him for no reason. He absolved Stefan of guilt that Stefan has been feeling for years. He also helped Stefan recover from his dangerous, desperate breakdown. The whole ‘make your eternity a misery' thing has clearly fallen to the wayside. Any jibes he sends his way now are just brotherly teasing. Yet that still hasn't stopped Stefan from badmouthing him behind his back.

Damon actually *has* been a good friend to Elena. He was there for her—especially during Stefan's bloodlust, and subsequent suicidal, guilt-ridden phase. Yet, because Damon was teasing Stefan about his whole 'history won't be repeating itself' thing—yanking his chain for funsies—Stefan retaliated by smack-talking his brother. He took an easy opportunity to paint Damon in a bad light to Elena while telling her about John. ("I wanted to tell you before Damon dropped it on you in a typically inappropriate way.") Really, Stefan? So not cool. I was just glad that Elena brushed past that, ignoring it, and focused on the actual information given.

Was it any wonder that when Damon first learned about the tomb vampires attack plans, he went to Alaric instead of Stefan first? Nope, not at all… because Ric is smarter, nicer to him and not being a hypocritical poopie-head right now. Then, even better, when he did get to Stefan, he only told him to save Elena and offered no words of concern for his brother. Because Stefan is being a hypocritical poopie-head right now, so why should he worry about him? Yes, yes, I know that if Stefan had actually been in any danger, Damon would have done all he could to save him, as he has before, and as Stefan did for Damon. Yup, despite his lousy treatment—jealousy is really not flattering to Stefan Salvatore—at the end of the day, Damon is his brother and Stefan is not going to let him die.

And on that note, we have reached random thoughts at last—

- I loved the old-fashioned style dressing up with close-up shots of Stefan and seemingly Katherine that opened up the show. It made it appear as if we were seeing another flashback… until Elena said that the dress hurt and Jenna popped up behind her. That was cool.


- I do agree; Damon truly is the "better, hotter, superior choice." Sorry, Stefan.

- Oh, Anna… she was in so much pain after what that rat bastard did to her mother that her desire to turn Jeremy is now all about wanting a companion for eternity, and not Jeremy himself. Oh, poor (now-dead) Anna.

- Heh, Tyler shooting at Jeremy on the "Battle at Willow Creek" float was cute. At least their relationship is nowhere near as contentious as it once was. Go Tyler!

- Wow, Stefan has about a zero amount of faith in Elena, doesn't he? She is so the strong one in their relationship. The burden to keep it going in any forward direction is all on her. (So. Not. Going. To. Last. Even if Damon wasn't in the picture because the inevitable dissolution of Elena and Stefan's relationship has nothing to do with anyone but Elena and Stefan. Mostly Stefan.)

- I loved this. Damon was very true to his word, and fast on his feet in counting those words.

Elena: {Damon takes her hand} What are you doing?
Damon: Saving your life. Fifteen words or less. Tomb vamps are here. Founding families are their target. {To Stefan} Get her out of here… now!
Stefan: Wait, where are you going?
Damon: That's more than fifteen words, Stefan.
And it was. Count 'em out, he used exactly fifteen words to get his message across... all the while holding Elena's hand. And she allowed it. :)


- I love how Elena just laid her cards on the table to John when she was trying to save Damon (!) and Stefan. In the process, she got all the confirmation she needed that he was indeed her birth father (gross!). Such a smart girl.

- Aww, Bonnie made the fire go down so Stefan could save Damon. Yay! It was all for Elena, of course, but she had to do something to make up for her lying betrayal. And, oh yeah, once Elena was gone, she threatened Damon… and Stefan. Oh, Bonnie.

- On that note, I originally thought that just maybe she was getting a bit big for her britches with that threat. However, thinking back on it, Bonnie's power in the second half of the season was very well telegraphed in the first half. Psychic flashes, setting an entire room alight with candles, burning up a car without even realizing it, etc., so when we saw her so powerful here, it did make sense. As she said, she knows herself and what she can do now… focus and training will do that for a Bennett witch, I guess

- I wrote in length about the Jeremy and Damon scenes above, but I wanted to take one more moment to just mention how very well that Ian Somerhalder and Steven R. McQueen (still can't get over that he's Steve McQueen's grandson!) play off of each other. These two have fantastic chemistry. I would say that after Nina Dobrev, and then Matt Davis, I would put Somerhalder's chemistry wit McQueen next. Yes, even above Somerhalder and Paul Wesley. Their chemistry is great, but it's the connection and story arc that also propels those two. Jeremy and Damon have only had a small handful of scenes together and yet they shine.

- I don't know why, but I just loved the camera swerving to Jenna during Damon and Katherine's kiss. Jenna's expression, and how Damon almost seemed like he wanted to hide himself is what sold it. And, yes, Katherine with that barely contained 'cat-that-ate-the-canary' look on her face is just the perfect finishing touch. Honestly, that look right there should have been the giveaway that it was not Elena.


- That's it, Elena, reassure your completely insecure boyfriend ONE MORE TIME that you love him. Seriously, ROLL. MY. EYES.

- Damn, what a way to end the season. Elena walking into her house with a knife-wielding Katherine on the loose! AAHHH!!! I CAN'T WAIT UNTIL NEXT SEASON!! ELENA AND KATHERINE FACE-OFF!! Man, oh man, I should have known that when Isobel said that Katherine would be fascinated by Elena that it meant Katherine was on her way! Of course. AAAAHHHH!!

- One more time, I have to point out that I love how family and friendships matter on this show, not just the romantic relationships. In this one alone, we had Damon and Elena's friendship issues, Elena and Jeremy dealing with the fall-out of him reading her journal. By the way, I loved that he told her that she couldn't just fix it with an apology. Even better as that it came right after a scene between Tyler and Matt where the former also couldn't grasp that a simple "sorry" wasn't going to cut the massive harm that he had done to their relationship. Family, friendship, they matter and that was never forgotten.

- Speaking of family… I want to talk about Jenna briefly. It took a few rewatches of scenes, moments (even full episodes) before I really began to appreciate her. But I do. Actually, I love her. No, I don't ship her with Alaric (Isobel, come back!), but I can see why Alaric would want to start over with her. She's smart, sweet and pretty. Just because Jenna hasn't been introduced to the mystical secrets of Mystic Falls doesn't make her uninteresting; she has a wry sense of humor and she has been trying to navigate through a tricky situation—that is much more real and identifiable—than most other characters. And she's mostly doing it with grace.

- Shallow note #1: Bonnie looks really pretty.

- Shallow note #2: Jeremy needs a haircut.

Well, OK then, that was the finale… and the first season of The Vampire Diaries. Wow. What started out as a vague-Twilight-esque teen drama tailor-made for the CW ended its season as it quickly showed itself to be: A smart, sexy, funny and compelling fantastic hour of television that was superbly-acted, directed, and written week after week. The finale offered up cliffhangers galore, a long-awaited kiss, character deaths and near-deaths. Oh, right, and a character reveal that promised magnificent insanity in the season to come. I can't wait!
Tags: alaric saltzman, bonnie bennett, caroline forbes, damon salvatore, damon/alaric, damon/elena, damon/stefan, elena gilbert, ep discussion-tvd, ian somerhalder, jeremy gilbert, matt donovan, nina dobrev, stefan salvatore, the vampire diaries, tv

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