Arabian (arabian) wrote,
Arabian
arabian

8.07 - 'The Next Time I Hurt Somebody, It Could Be You' (The Vampire Diaries)

At last, at last it's here!!! Just before the new episode!

I watched this the night it aired and had a few minor issues… OK, I am lying, I ranted a bit to a friend and in my notes. I had more than a few issues and they weren't minor. However, it was the mid-season finale and per usual I figured I probably wouldn't get to writing this up until shortly before the winter premiere. (Cutting it close I know.) I was actually glad that it fell that way because whenever I am not rah!rah!rah! about an episode, I always want to give it some time and another look. Generally, I find when I do so my takeaway the second time around is much improved. Such was the case with "Next Time I Hurt Somebody, It Could Be You." (Gah, these titles… first the ridiculous song ones of season 6 and now these quotes. Originally I thought this would be a good idea, and a few of them work ("Hello, Brother," "Today Will Be Different" and "An Eternity Of Misery") but the others are too long and clunky as titles of episodes. So lame. Ugh.)

Moving on… so, yes, I rewatched this one and while I am still peeved about certain things, I have more substantial hope that they will be resolved before the end of the season/series {sobs}. One of those things that I don't expect to get "resolved" is OK with me because if a person isn't going to change after two plus lifetimes, it's probably never going to happen. Of course, I am talking about Stefan and his ever-present need to martyr himself while simultaneously suiting the narrative to fit what works best for him.

In this case, that not-quite-how-it-happened narrative would be the deal with Cade. Oh, Stefan. He tells Cade to let him out of their deal (yeah, like that's gonna happen) and doesn't mention his brother at all. Stefan, tsk, tsk! When you think about it, it's even worse than just not mentioning Damon in the ‘get out of the deal with the devil' plea. *Damon* is the one who came up with and arranged the deal that saved the twins. Stefan then took the credit for it essentially—otherwise, Ric wouldn't have, you know, killed Damon for endangering his kids. Now, Stefan is trying to get out of a deal that he didn't make, but took credit for, without even paying up… leaving that bit of it all for Damon. Dude, Stefan! He wants the reward of Caroline and Ric thinking that he's the bestest for saving their children, but have Damon do all the work before and expects him to do it after as well. However, as I said, certain aspects of people just aren't going to change no matter how long they live. I touched upon this after the last episode:

I was furious… with Stefan. [...] But, even in that aftermath of heat, I knew that it wasn't bad writing here. Nope, Stefan was 100% in character. And after calming down a bit, I can't even blame Stefan (still be mad at him, sure!), not when his entire existence he's been pretty much shown that his happiness, his wants, Stefan, Stefan, Stefan always come first. His mother, his father, even Damon from a young age taught him this. The townsfolk clearly considered Stefan the 'Golden Boy' over his older brother. Then Katherine came along and she preferred him to Damon; Lexi showed up in his life and made it clear that it was Stefan who was the special snowflake that must be protected and taken care of all the while just letting the OTHER newbie vampire just take off because, eh, screw him. And then Rebekah… and Klaus, and Elena and Caroline.

At this point in time, Elena is literally the only person who ever decided that Damon was worth all of the fuss too. But everyone else, during Stefan's entire time on this Earth, put Stefan first, the special snowflake that he be. So of course he thinks that way… how could he not? He certainly does care about others, but when it comes down to it, he thinks about his happiness and pain first because… well, that's what he has been trained is the most important thing ever.
What happened in this episode played off of that. When he doesn't like a situation, Stefan remembers it in his mind in such a way that he can (a) not blame himself (because everything is ultimately about Stefan and he only "blames" himself for things that make him look good because he's so sorry), and (b) blame someone tangible for something that interrupts his planned future. Because again… all about Stefan and what Stefan wants. That's just how the world turns; it revolves around Stefan Salvatore. It is what he has been shown as the truth his entire existence. Unfortunately, Damon—due to his proximity and willing to do the hard stuff—is often the "someone tangible" that Stefan chooses as his whipping boy. Sad, so sad… but we hurt the ones we love the most, right? Right, Stefan?! *sigh* I do love him, but I also don't see him through rose-colored glasses. Stefan slips into martyrdom whenever bad things happen and Damon (or another appropriate replacement, Klaus, Elena, Katherine…) nicely fills the culpability role. He always has; he always will. That doesn't mean that he doesn't love his brother. He does, he just thinks that his personal happiness matters more.

After all, at the end of the day, when he made the new deal with Cade, he did include Damon, working in his freedom as well. Again, he loves Damon, but he's also mad at him for taking away his happy (even though that was a consequence of saving Caroline's kids, but… whatever, right?) He was pissy with Damon throughout the episode and emo at the end when Damon picked him up on the side of the road. Oh, Stefan. So judgmental about your brother when you know you've done so much worse. OK, well, actually, I guess he doesn't "know" exactly. Yes… Monterey.

I know; I know. I have read many a person claim that the events described in this episode do not fit what we've heard in the past. However, I went back and looked at the transcripts for every reference to Monterey and… nope, they played true. Even Stefan not recognizing Monterey as the site of his attack on the migrant workers fits in with what has been previously said about his Ripper days. In Stefan's journals—that were read in "The End Of The Affair"—he specifically mentioned that he blacked out a lot during his Ripper phase. With Seline altering Stefan's subconscious enough so that he forgot on his own that makes sense that he would just imagine later that the attack was yet another one he blacked out. Plus, it's very plausible that Stefan only knows about the events of Monterey—and in the loosest sense—because of what other people have told him (like Klaus' reference to the migrant camp attacked in Monterey).

The only thing that I find a bit of a stretch is that no one ever mentioned that the attack took place on Christmas. Clearly, the show chose to do that in this telling of what happened in order to fit with the holiday theme of the episode. Still, other than knowing the year (1917) we've never heard anything to contradict that it took place on Christmas Eve. And, if one wants to be generous, it is not that inconceivable that the few who have mentioned that event to him just didn't mention the holiday if it was just a passing reference like ‘Hey, you're the Ripper of Monterey!' It's not like Stefan would want to talk about it in any circumstance. With his switch off, sure he would have no problem giving up the details… but he didn't remember (and, again, he wouldn't question that because: blackouts). Then with his humanity in full-mode, there is no way he would want to hear anything beyond the phrase "Ripper of Monterey" because the little bit that he has heard sickens him and has deepened his guilt. So, yup, nothing that we heard about Monterey in this episode contradicted what has been said in the past.

Now since it has been discussed more than once, I'm not surprised that the show decided (in their last season) that they were going to finally tackle what happened there. Sadly, the reveal stayed true to every other Stefan flashback episode that featured him as the lead focus (without a heavy dose of either Damon or Katherine). (Of course, except for the glorious "An End To The Affair," but that was written by my beloved Caroline Dries and introduced the always-awesome Rebekah.)

It just wasn't… dynamic, horrifying, compelling? I can't think of the right word... good as it could, or rather should have been considering the build-up. Other than seeing the children waiting for Santa in the pre-credits scene—which, of course, meant that Stefan killed them too—the flashbacks were just kinda there. Don't get me wrong, the fact that Stefan ripped apart kids—damn!—is horrific, but the overall story and script, as well as the direction, of those scenes just didn't get across any sense of chilling devastation or horror. For example… take Klaus' massacre of his sire-broken hybrids and the murder of Carol Lockwood. The script by Michael J. Cinquemani and Julie Plec, and the magnificent direction by Pascal Verschooris made those scenes memorable, chilling, haunting and damn good television. This is what I wrote about that sequence:

Klaus on a murderous rampage... oh boy! Klaus slaughtering hybrid after hybrid after hybrid and so on and so forth to "O Holy Night," and then drowning a drunk Carol Lockwood to a ghostly version of "Have Yourself a Merry Christmas" was all kinds of wrong. So very, very, very wrong. And so VERY, VERY, VERY awesome. SO FREAKING AWESOME! That was some sickly-twisted, beautifully-poetic work on display tonight.
We've heard enough about what happened at Monterey that we should have gotten something equally as terrible and awesome. Using Seline as they did in this episode would have still worked. Imagine that she came upon him writing his list of names—which he didn't do out of guilt, but rather out of savoring the kills—and thought he was this vicious creature of pure evil. And then when she entered his mind, she realized that at heart, in his soul, he is not evil. His switch is flipped because he can't deal with the incredible, overwhelming guilt that he is a vampire who rips when exposed to human blood. But he needs human blood to survive. Then have her react to this, not because he's a pure special snowflake, but because that was a conflict that she had felt growing within herself. Seeing it all lain out before her in such stark terms in Stefan's mind would naturally be a catalyst to her change of heart.

Instead, we didn't see a Stefan committing horrific acts. Instead, we saw Stefan writing the names on the wall as if in guilt—now, that was a retcon!—and warning Seline to stay away from him. Instead of seeing what Seline's dialogue told us she saw ("When I looked into his mind, I didn't see evil. I only saw anguish.") she saw anguish in his person, on his face, in his demeanor. It was all out there, of course, so that she could see Stefan (like so many others) as the special snowflake that he is. It was fucking Lexi all over again, but there was no Damon around to ignore and screw over this time.

More overt, though, was Cade's reaction to Stefan. He accepted Damon's deal (yes, Stefan, it was Damon who made the deal) just so that he could have Stefan Salvatore, Special Snowflake extraordinaire, under his control. Really, show? How is this not a repeat of Klaus wanting Stefan so desperately in seasons 02 and 03? Oh, and technically, Katherine (and Silas) too. The big bads just can't get enough of the Special Snowflake that is Stefan Salvatore. Yes, they all wanted him for different reasons, but come on already! This is the kind of stuff that upsets viewers and makes Stefan less a favorite than he should be.

I don't know if I'm bothered because this is such a repeat of Klaus and his desire to have Stefan be bad with him—forcing him to become a Ripper to save Damon's life, switch out Damon for Caroline's girls and not much different—or if it's because it's Stefan being the object of desire by the Big Bad again. Or maybe it's because this is the last season and it's the same old thing and I expect better. Or it could be because the set-up and direction of this aspect of the episode wasn't as strong as the (many) past times when Stefan's milkshake brought all the villains to the yard. I know! It's a combination of all of the above with a particular nod to the first point.

Overall, The Vampire Diaries has done a very good job of not repeating itself in bad ways. The parallels and callbacks are a different kettle… those are brilliant and enrich the show. But near-replicas of a story we've already seen? Not so much. *sigh* Still, it's happening, and at least Damon is along this time—although, still not the chosen one. I'm hopeful that the fall-out will be as awesome as the show generally is. I've said that I'm going to wait out any issues I have until the season and/or series is over, and I intend to stick to that plan. It has been the right call (mostly) so far.

An immediate reaction to something seemingly stupid and/or annoying doesn't give enough time to show where things are going. For example, when Cade accepted Stefan's deal to rip away for him in a shorter time frame—and Cade offered up a year as the marker—I thought it was ridiculous. Cade had his Sirens on call for millennia and he's willing to give up Stefan (and Damon) after just one year? Right. Ah, but there was more… Cade doesn't think that he'll only have him (and presumably Damon) for a year. He believes that Stefan, Ripper!Stefan, won't want to walk away and then he will have him forever. Aha! See, patience, grasshopper. I just will have to be a little more patient for a few other things that have me not quite as thrilled as I could be.

Like, oh, the continuing treatment of Damon that sucks. But… I get it. Trust me, I want to be the Damon fan-girl who just sees that they are being so mean to my precious Damon for no reason at all! So unfair! {pouts in the corner} Alas, there are reasons, and they make sense. Damon—with a few exceptions—has always presented himself to this group of people as an asshole. There isn't a nice way to put it… that's the simple truth. He's sarcastic, he makes nasty comments about their lives, their choices, their intelligence, their… well, everything. We know that he loves them. Elena knows that he loves them. We also know that they do care about him. The problem is that, as Damon told Elena, all the way back in late season 03:

Elena: Why don't you let people see the good in you?
Damon: Because when people see good, they expect good. And I don't want to have to live up to anyone's expectations.
This is the philosophy with which Damon has lived his undead life when his humanity switch is flipped to the on position. And this is partly why the others are having such a difficult time grasping that Damon is being *literally* controlled by the Devil (and his minion). Damon only turned his humanity switch off this time because he doesn't want to do the things that the Devil (and his minion) were/are making him do, and the only way he can deal with it is with his switch off. The reason they don't see this (obvious to us… and I'm sure it would be to Elena) is because when they first met Damon, his humanity was off. First impressions die really hard, especially when you carry one of the most unlikable aspects of that first impression (being a dick) throughout the course of a relationship.

The first time that we saw the group collectively not hold Damon accountable for terrible things that he was doing was at the end of season 07 when he and Enzo were taking over the 'evil in the vault.' Alas, with Enzo being able to withstand that evil and being free of it now, in addition to seeing Damon once again with his humanity off—not to mention killing one of their own—that defense is no longer working for them. Even though it should be. Still, human nature generally does the dance of one step forward, two or three steps back. Before judging them for turning on Damon, one must take several things into account along with the Damon they first met. There was all of the no good, very bad things that Damon did in the aftermath of losing Elena.

Stefan was right. Hellstone!Stefan was right. Damon has reverted to being a total dick who is crapping all over his life. The Damon that Valerie knows is a selfish, asshole brother and so of course she thinks he's the worst. Bonnie had every reason to write Damon off after what he did to her. […] We were told by everyone and their dog involved with the show that Damon would be like season 01 Damon. And it's true in many ways. He's been making rash decisions. He's been making selfish decisions. And he did desert Stefan and Bonnie... and in Bonnie's case, his plan was to not even tell her face to face. Going back to early on in the season you had Damon ripping Malcolm's heart, messing up Stefan's plan which did lead to Caroline (and Elena's coffin) getting kidnapped, playing his whole cold-hearted revenge against Lily that led to a lot more death and destruction, etc., etc.
Then to make matters worse, he coffin'd himself for three years and in that time frame everything was dandy* but for Bonnie's situation, but she had Enzo and their love. Damon wakes up and joins the fun once more and the first thing he did was almost kill his brother because he didn't want to give up being with Elena in the future. And Bonnie… remember, her only happiness was with Enzo? Yeah, after fixing his Stefan-screw up, he crapped all over Bonnie and her relationship.

* Even thought it was dandy because Damon got rid of Rayna (who actually woke up before he did and everything that happened would have happened anyway had Stefan not needed his brother by his side in his time of need). However… cause and effect. People just don't look too deeply and analyze the whys and wherefores if things are good. There was no Damon for three years and it was sunny skies and calm breezes for all. Damon came back, and the world turned to shit. But, but, but… he made up for that stuff with saving Stefan and helping Bonnie, right? And, hello! The Devil! Damon is literally being controlled by the Devil (and minion). Enzo broke free. That's what it comes back to. I wrote after the last episode:

The scenes with just [Bonnie and Enzo] could have been lifted out and it wouldn't have hurt the episode's arc at all. But it didn't have to be that way! Had Bonnie realized (or Enzo explained) that Damon's giving up happened while Enzo held on was because of Enzo's history, those scenes would have mattered in the scheme of the episode. Instead, the only mention of Damon was what we already knew Bonnie believed. Damon gave up and you didn't! How about after his explanation of *why* Enzo didn't, either one of them have a little flash of understanding about why Damon did.
I've been thinking on this some more.... what was the point of that scene? Viewers already knew that Enzo's decades of torture is what allowed him to fight Sybil; we were told that in an earlier episode. Sure, we didn't witness Bonnie specifically getting that information before, but why would we? It would just be a waste of time since we already knew. Also, as I stated in the previous write-up, what Bonnie said about Damon not giving up, but Enzo didn't was something that we knew that Bonnie already knew. So if they weren't going to figure why Damon wasn't able to, again, why that repetitive conversation? Unless… the point was to remind viewers about that very fact.

We'll see. Maybe I'm wrong, but Enzo being able to withstand the mind control and Damon not has been a repeated point both with explanation (via Enzo and Damon to Sybil) and without (Bonnie… and presumably the others). I go back to the fact that the others (including Bonnie, and Stefan) don't know the true horror of what Enzo went through. Only Damon does… and to a degree Elena because Damon told her. So they can't fathom why Enzo was able to resist Sybil since they can't fathom the level of torture that Enzo went through.

Hopefully, this will all come to light and get the Scooby Gang to realize how wrongly they have treated Damon. Another thing that may help is a potential act of redemption on Damon's part. There just has to be something coming up with Damon and/or Stefan redeeming themselves to get out of this deal and stay out of hell in the afterlife. Or else they wouldn't have brought it up twice now. Seline's mention in atoning as a path in "Detoured On Some Random Backwoods Path To Hell" and she talked about it more in this one. With no deal in play for her, she's relying on redemption. She specifically said: "Redemption is the only chance I have." That means… Damon and Stefan have a chance at redemption as well. The show has often given information that pertains to supporting and/or recurring characters as a set-up for that very thing making a bigger impact with one or more of the leads.

So exactly how will the boys redeem themselves? Well, I think that it's possible that Damon (or Stefan... but probably Damon since he was the one who did the deed) will make a deal with Cade to bring Tyler back. The reason I think this is possible was because we had that long-drawn out close-up of Stefan dying, him going all marbled, etc. This despite the fact that we knew absolutely that he would come back fine. This stuck out to me because we already got that moment with Damon in the previous episode, so why again?

Maybe to highlight that when a supernatural creature is dead, Cade has the power to bring them back. Maybe one doesn't go to Hell right away but stays in that "waiting room" before they enter Hell for eternity that Cade told Stefan the Boarding House happened to be during Stefan's down-dead time. Now, remember we also saw nice, clear close-ups of dead Tyler. Who may only be in the waiting room to Hell… uh huh. Being the reason that Tyler is brought back would definitely help Damon's position with the others, especially since he was under Sybil's control when he took out Tyler. You know, Sybil, the Devil's minion. That, along with the realization about Enzo likely being one of the very few people—possibly only one—who could have resisted Sybil's mind control will get them all to realize how bad they've done Damon. Especially Matt and Alaric.

I still get why Matt and Alaric did what they did to Damon. (I don't like it, but I get it.) Even in this episode, Ric clearly still doesn't know that Damon was the one who made the plan to save his girls. When Sybil said that she "cosigned Damon's plan," only Caroline and Stefan were there, not Alaric or Matt. Not to say that Matt wouldn't have signed onto Ric's plan just for Tyler's sake, but I'm just saying… he doesn't know either that Damon actually saved the twins. The one person who does definitively know though is Stefan. And my irritation about his lack of acknowledgement of what his brother did had me seething in this episode just as it did in the last. Why? Oh, maybe because when Damon told his brother that Ric and Matt had murdered him ("murder," Damon's word), Stefan's only response was to say that it was hard to be sympathetic about his death when Damon was right in front of him. And I get that. I get why there wasn't outrage from Caroline, from Bonnie, from Enzo, from Stefan since Damon showed up looking as fine as ever.

Still… show a little anger over what happened to your brother, Stefan! Tsk, tsk. Well, at least Damon is upset about it. I admit that when I first watched this I missed just how angry Damon was about his "murder." Damon was really, really not happy. He was clearly not only angry, but hurt—although, that he hid well. From his early complaint about Ric and Matt burying him to his rant to Stefan—cut off short by his brother's lack of sympathy—about what happened, his anger was clear. The following comments were sprinkled throughout the episode:

- "Yeah, he and Matt took a whack at me. They even buried me."

- "My murder, Stefan. They actually buried me in a shallow grave, not even in the family plot."

- "You know, Saltzman going all crazy on me did have an unexpected benefit."

- "Your baby daddy staked me and I don't have a scratch."

- "Now, unfortunately, I'm only gonna be able to give it to the most despicably evil person in the room, and that's gonna be a tough decision. But tonight, one lucky little elf is gonna get an all-expense paid, one-way trip, straight to hell."

- "What are you gonna do, Donovan, kill me again?"
Those references to what Ric and Matt did to him (murder… again, Damon's word) started when he first showed up, all the way to just about before he left the Boarding House. Oh, and then there was this doozy!

Matt: Why are you doing this?
Sybil: It's kinda his job
Peter: To murder innocent people?
Damon: {Looking intensely at Matt} Look who's talking about murder
Matt: {Standing up angrily} I never killed—
Damon: Oh yeah, your old flame Penny is pretty dead as a doornai--
Matt: I never murdered anyone--
Caroline: Matt, please {Matt sits back down}
Damon: You know, at least Ric looked a little torn up when that stake went in my heart. And you looked pretty psyched. But I forgive you, Matty. You've had a lot of tragedy in your life. Here's the deal. Ric was just doing the parental thing, much like what he's doing upstairs right now. Do I want to kill him? Yes, but that's personal. This should be principle.
Not that I don't understand why Damon is so angry, they did murder him, but Damon was wrong here about Matt being "pretty psyched" about murdering him. Again, Damon's word—I keep pointing that out, but the fact that Damon isn't using "kill" instead of "murder," I think highlights just how very wrong he found their action. Alaric Saltzman is supposed to be one of his best friends. Damon has been there for him, has looked out for him, protected him and Ric has been about as shitty a friend as you can imagine in response (since he came back from the dead). However, Damon has such low self-esteem that he accepted what he could get. But this… murder without even knowing all of the facts? That's a step too far, even for Damon. As for Matt, no, they aren't best buds (alas), but the last interaction that they shared was Matt saving Damon's life from Bonnie, and Damon opened up to him. Plus, as far as he believed, they were friends. Remember, in "I Would For You," Matt started to call him one. So, coming from Matt Donovan too… it had to hurt.

Going back to my earlier point, though, Damon was wrong when he said that Matt looked psyched. He so did not. He was just stoic, not happy about what was being done. On the other hand, I had missed this, but rewatching that scene again (ouch!), Ric did hesitate and there was a flash of regret there before he staked Damon. Still he did it. He staked Damon. He murdered him… and Matt stood over Ric while doing the deed and didn't try and stop him. So, yeah, if Damon hadn't turned his switch off before during any of this, after Ric and Matt murdered him, he certainly has it off now. Yet, that anger, and yes, pain, is still there… it's just slightly covered by his humanity-less sarcastic wit.

Another benefit of my rewatch was that I was able to see how I had misjudged Caroline. There was one line from her that still isn't my favorite ever, but overall, Caroline actually was not happy with what Ric and Matt did. (Obviously not for herself but for Stefan… and Elena.) She sounded not only shocked when Ric said he killed Damon, but it was also an angry sort of shock. Later she told Bonnie, "Don't even get me started on what Matt and Ric just tried to pull." The whole situation was not one of her liking. And after Damon took Stefan out for most of the day, she was freaking out just a little bit: "Damon's alive, as you can see. Bonnie and Enzo are late. And Stefan's dead! Merry Christmas. I've got gifts." And then she all but chugged from the bottle in her hand.

 

Her day looked like it was going to end on an even worse note. Thank goodness, Stefan woke up in time to give her one happy Christmas memory. But before that happened, *sigh* ... the girls were opening presents on the floor when Ric told her that they needed to get going soon. Oh, my… her face as she told him that she knew, as she looked at her daughters. It was a small moment, but featured some great acting by Candice King. She smiled and there weren't even tears, but her devastation was written all over her face.

 

Still, there was that one line that bugged. As she handed Damon his gift, she told him that he would ask for her forgiveness one day. I was like whu? Ask forgiveness for what? For saving her children? For saving them from being eternal servants of damnation for the Devil? The only way I can see it making sense—but I still don't like it because… yeah, he saved the twins—is that she was thinking about Stefan lying dead upstairs. Because Damon killed him, Caroline wasn't able to enjoy her last day in possibly forever with her fiancé. And, hey, at least it led to her giving Damon Elena's once-upon-a-time necklace. Ooh, you guys… there was SO MUCH ELENA in this episode, I loved it. Heck, I even was able to make a Damon and Elena icon! I don't care if it was a flashback… it was Damon and Elena and it was featured in this episode. So there! Not only was Elena so present, most of the stuff about her was awesome-sauce.

Let's talk about that good stuff first, shall we? So on The Vampire Diaries today, it was Stefan's turn to leave an entry for Elena. And… it was all about his love for Caroline. *sigh* I love that Stefan and Elena are so beyond anything resembling romance that not only do they discuss their significant others with/to each other, but they have no compunction in revealing how deep that love is. *double sigh*

Oh, and speaking of past tense, did you notice that when Cade showed Stefan the high school hallway right before he met Elena, Stefan said, and I quote: "I loved her." That's right, past tense, bitch! No, I'll never stop enjoying any and everything that clearly shows that Stefan and Elena romantically is so very much a thing of the past. Hmm, and the reason that they are the past is because they were never meant to be. It all started pear-shaped… and someone has finally (to some degree) acknowledged that. I was beyond thrilled to hear a character mockingly tell Stefan he was the reason that Elena's life took such a dark turn since he "had to know her" (and, yup, direct quote there). Seriously glory in this awesome:

Cade: She already had enough tragedy in her life. You just had to insert yourself. All because you "had to know her." You took a good girl whose life was headed down the right path and you veered her right into the median.
Stefan: That was never my intention. I tried to protect her.
Cade: Never meeting her... was the only way to protect her. But instead, you chose a total stranger and turned her into something dark.
Booyah! Cade calls it like he (and I) sees it. Uh huh! OK, two more specific things. I liked that Cade said that Elena was veered right into the median because that has got to mean that Elena is not going to Hell. Which is how it should be… she's a very good person who is not as good as she once was, but we can blame that on Stefan (as does Cade). It doesn't take away from the fact that she's still a pretty dang good person. She only killed twice as a vampire, and once was to protect her family against a ruthless hunter, and the other time was when her humanity switch was off. And she only turned her switch off because her brother was killed (and this was after her mother, her father, her birth mother, her birth father/uncle, her aunt and her technical step-father/guardian were already dead). Elena be good people.

The second thing is that while it's true Stefan did wrong by veering Elena into the dark path he did, had he not done so… she never would have fallen in love with Damon, the love of her life. The one who gives her true happiness. Uh huh. Now, let's go there, oh yeah! Damon and Elena! Damon and Elena! SQUEE! Just seeing Elena's necklace was enough to flip Damon's humanity switch. He saw it and he thought of her, of when he gave it back to her as an 18th birthday present. And thank goodness for that because, ugh, I thought that Damon was going to kiss Sybil and I was not down for that. So indeed, thank goodness that Caroline gave Damon that locket as a present. (Talk about re-gifting!) Oh, and having that coming back to Damon just re-confirmed my long-held belief that the necklace is a symbol of love for Damon and Elena. Despite being introduced as a gift from Stefan to Elena it was as early as "Rose" (the eighth episode of season 02) that the connection changed partners. From that episode to scenes featuring it in season 03 and 06, and now season 08, that connection has continued.

 

Awesome! Also awesome? Was when Damon returned to one of his favorite hobbies and ripped out Sybil's heart. I can't help it, I love her, but still... go Damon. And then, oh my, after he sat the heartless Siren down, he made sure to take that locket back. Of course, because it's Elena… and Damon loves Elena so much! *sigh* and *squee* My ♥ !

Erm, so you know how I mentioned above that everything involving Elena was mostly awesome-sauce? Well, here's the one part that was not. Yes, it led to all of the above with Damon (smart, Caroline!), but when Bonnie told her that Damon wouldn't be doing any of this if Elena were there, I threw my hands up in frustration. Duh! Elena wouldn't have given up on Damon so easily like you did, Bonnie! Yeah, and Elena would have fought for him and not stopped after just a few attempts like Stefan did... Although, hey, Stefan was the only one who at least did try. {grumble, grumble}

Of course, it's pretty clear that Bonnie isn't thinking straight right now. She's just enjoying her happy, sexytiems with Enzo to the point that the devastation her best friends are going through just isn't filtering through. 'Oh, joy, Paris!' That girl is all about Enzo to the exclusion of not caring about her friends' pain. Not just Damon, her actual best friend, but also Caroline, one of her long-time, since childhood, best friends. Caroline is losing Stefan for at least a year (and Bonnie didn't know that part, only that she was losing Stefan... forever possibly). On top of that, she's losing her daughters as well for however long.... I get that Bonnie is still somewhat in the honeymoon phase with Enzo, but still, this is not cool.

At least she and Enzo managed to pull themselves out of bed to find the tuning fork, and showed up to the Christmas party in time to save Peter's life. And, speaking of that tuning fork… hmm, so why is it affecting Bonnie so? The discussion she had with Enzo about the psychic basis of witchydom has got to be leading somewhere! Maybe it's just about Bonnie getting her powers back, or maybe it's something more… Hmm.

At last, at last, here are some random thoughts—

- OMG! Paul Wesley's "facial hair" was so not well done. No, no, no.

- On another shallow note but at the other end of the spectrum, I loved Caroline's dress.

- Speaking of Caroline, she helped set-up one of my favorite Damon lines of the episode. It made me laugh more than I probably should have, but even reading it here, it still makes me laugh:

Caroline: I didn't have time to poison it.
Damon: Well, you already poisoned the bourbon with milk and cinnamon, so...
- Another great line, although not Damon's was when Sybil chastised Stefan for not acknowledging that she saved the "munchkins" (TM Damon): "Put away your umbrella, Stefan. I don't need your shade."

- And on Sybil again, I don't know why watching her decimate that turkey was so hilarious, but it really was. Probably because Caroline's facial expression between moments of powerful bird-breakdown most likely mirrored those of the audience.

 

- One more Sybil… Hah! She looked so giddy and excited when Damon announced his plan to kill the most despicably evil person in the room at dinner. I love her. I know; I know… she has to die. She will, but in the meantime I will continue to enjoy her.

- As soon as I saw that Seline's list was of her victims, I did think of what we found out about Stefan and his list-taking so I wasn't surprised to see them go there.

- Georgie! You were gone too soon!

- OK, I was wrong. Seline telling a willing Tammy (the owner of the home where Seline was spending Christmas Eve) to sing showed that the Sirens can use their power over females.

- Bonnie sounded so surprised to hear that Stefan was responsible for the attacked work camp... what a shocker! Not. Only Damon, Elena, Klaus and Rebekah have a clue as to just how bad Stefan's worst deeds are.

- Ah, Caroline trying to keep the peace and have a nice holiday dinner. My favorite example of that was when she slammed the au gratin potatoes dish down on the table after Damon explained his new duties. With a tight smile, she told the group that "Stefan made them. They're a Salvatore recipe." Oh, my Caroline.

     

- Even though Matt was not being very nice to Damon, I still felt so bad for him finding out that his father had no reason to ditch him at all. He was just some loser who didn't want the responsibility of a family in a small town. I don't know if it's better that Matt knows the truth or not. Poor Matty (Damon called him that!), he has/had such crappy parents, his sister was a selfish druggie, he's lost every girl he's loved (either by dumping or death—although there's still Rebekah!) and all of his close friends left town or are dead. The supernatural has definitely caused problems in his life, but, really, his life has pretty much always sucked. Poor Matt, when will he get some happiness? (Calling Rebekah!)

- Another bit of dialogue that I really liked although not because it was funny; it was just a well-written. Cade telling Stefan why he wants him to get people who are good: "Good people who can be made wicked. They are evil at their core. Their souls are unusually potent. Those are the ones I want to feed on most of all."

- Hmm, so what does Sybil want from Peter? This was brought up way back in episode 04 and we still don't know.

- I so did not want it to happen, but I'm not gonna lie... that near-kiss between Damon and Sybil? Yup, of course Ian Somerhalder has chemistry with Nathalie Kelley too. Of course, he does. He's Ian Somerhalder.

- Aww, the Stefan and Caroline kiss under the mistletoe because Stefan wanted something he planned for that day to happen was adorable. I do love them even if Stefan can be a selfish, self-martyring poopyhead sometimes.

 


- The shot of the Mystic Falls city limits sign about to be in Stefan's rearview was cool.

 

- Paul Wesley did an awesome job showing Stefan flip his switch. The camera didn't move from his face, it was all on his acting. With a slow blink, he went from Saint Stefan to Ripper Stefan in an instant. And out came a chilling, heartless smile. Oh, Stefan.

- I am curious to see how they are going to get both brothers out of this. I'm not so worried about how Elena is going to come back—I'm thinking that the girls are the key to that. After all, Kai never would have not had an out in order to torture Damon and Bonnie with… he said that they couldn't use magic to break the spell. Well, Kai was a siphon, he wouldn't have used magic, but rather he would have removed it. As far as he knew, only himself and the Heretics—none of who were team!Damon or Bonnie at the time—would have been able to do that. He thought he killed Jo's babies, so there was no risk of either of them having the siphoning power. And that all happened so long ago—four years now—that it makes sense that no one would have thought of it yet.

So, yeah, no worries about how Elena will be awoken. (I could be wrong, yeah, but I think that's how it will happen. If not, well, it will still happen some way.) Still… how do the brothers escape from the actual Devil? There's no way that we're going to come back to a time-jump of one year… or are we? If that happens, a good remainder of the rest of the show might be trying to bring Stefan back from his Ripper self. Hmm… we'll see.

Well, that was the mid-season finale. It was very good, but it was not great—although there were definitely some great things in it. (Like so much Elena! And the Damon and Elena stuff of squee!) I look forward to what is to come. (Only nine episodes left! WAAH!)
Tags: alaric saltzman, bonnie bennett, caroline forbes, damon salvatore, damon/alaric, damon/bonnie, damon/elena, damon/matt, elena gilbert, ep discussion-tvd, matt donovan, rebekah mikaelson, rebekah/matt, stefan salvatore, stefan/caroline, the vampire diaries, tv
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