In the Throes of Debilitating Grief: #TVD Thoughts


Whirl-fire (Photo credit: Loving Earth)

Spoilers abound in this post. If you’re not caught up on the Vampire Diaries, you might want to get lost. 


The name of the episode was Let it Burn, but in my mind, it was the Episode of Debilitating Grief. When we left off, Jeremy looked dead. Really dead.

Last night’s episode confirmed what I had already thought true; Jeremy is gone, killed by Silas. His ring couldn’t save him.

When Elena brings Jeremy’s body back to Mystic Falls, she’s hoping he’ll wake. Stefan and Caroline are discussing the fact that Jeremy being a supernatural being (a Hunter), precluded the ring’s ability to save him, but Elena has hope.

And that hope gets smashed into bits.

I’ve heard some people complaining about Elena being “whiny,” but I think she’s handled the multitude of deaths with remarkable poise. I would challenge anyone to lose not one but TWO sets of parents, a beloved aunt, a surrogate father (Alaric), and all the other friends she’s lost along the way while maintaining sanity.

It only makes sense that losing her brother, her single remaining link to humanity, would be her snapping point. Because Jeremy is dead.

The only other television show I’ve seen to handle grief in such a spectacular way was Buffy the Vampire Slayer in the episode The Body.

You see Elena crumble as she realizes Jeremy’s not going to wake up. As she realizes she can smell him beginning to decompose. That her brother is really, truly gone. I think watching last night’s episode hit me so hard because of the year or so that my family has been through. Granted, two of the people we lost were older relatives, dying at the end of a long and fruitful life. But one was reft from us violently, and there is no other emotion I’ve ever experienced that is so painful, so debilitating. That’s the kind of grief that rips your legs right out from under you. It snatches away your breath and blows a hole in your insides so ragged and deep that nothing will fill it, and there’s no way to pull the edges back together.

That’s what Elena Gilbert experienced in last night’s episode.

And Damon helped her the only way he knew how: he told her to turn it off.

Some people were bashing on his decision to do that. I think he very probably saved her life. You can’t lose that many people to violence and pain without it changing you. He gave her psyche a respite, a chance to gain some distance. Yes, she’ll have to deal with it eventually and it might be just as bad or worse. But she was about to explode.

After all that, there was more going on. Silas is up and at ’em. Katherine whisked away the cure. Rebekah finds Shane’s broken body, and it’s made clear that Silas is the one whispering into Bonnie’s head and essentially pulling her puppet strings. That alone is an interesting revelation — Silas gets his revenge on the line of witches he couldn’t control in life by controlling its most recent offspring.

This could very well destroy Bonnie. Caroline is falling apart. Stefan and Damon are watching the woman they love disintegrate in front of them, and her ten thousand yard stare as she flips the switch on her emotions is one of the most gut-wrenching things I’ve seen on the show, topped in this episode only by her utter brokenness.

I found it interesting that Elena’s first act after she flipped the switch was also the exact thing she’d been about to do before she flipped it.

She burns her house down.

That act is of course rife with its own symbolism. Whether she finds the cure or not, whether she takes it or not, Elena Gilbert will never be the same girl who went off Wickery Bridge at the end of last season. Never again.

Let it burn.

What were your thoughts on last night’s episode? I felt like someone wrapped their hand around my heart and squeezed until nothing else could come out.


About Emmie Mears

Saving the world from brooding, one self-actualized vampire at a time.

Posted on February 22, 2013, in The Vampire Diaries and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I thought that scene was well played…it was everything prior that made me go WTF? Stop whining already! I think Damon made the right decision all things said and told…I just REALLY hope Elena starts growing and gets out of this breakdown mode. Then again, I’m a heartless bitch who’s lost many and never shed a tear, including my own mother. I guess I “turned it off” years ago.

    My only complaint against Elena this season (and a lot of last) is there is so much room to turn her into an even more three dimensional character, and instead they’re making her more two. Nina is WAY capable of more than that. I mean, really, it’s been how many deaths? I guess I just would have expected her to be more like this two seasons ago then now. Yes, Jeremy’s death SHOULD have that scene because she’s been fighting to keep him alive for…well, the entirety of the show! I just think her character could be written better (like the scenes leading up to that) like they almost hit where she should be, but revert back to “typical over-emotional female who wrings hands and can’t think for herself.” There is so much room for growth for Elena, yet she seems to be stuck in this never-ending boo hoo, woe is me, someone help me, fix me, blah blah blah mode. She took the death of her parents better than any after that.

    Lol sorry, I just hate watching that stereotype play out over and over again. On the upside, it did make Midget cry her ass off for my Mom. She’s more emotional than I am. I’m a victim of Damon logic!

    Hey, did you catch Stefan call Damon “Demon” when Stefan was answering the phone while walking down the stairs, right before Bonnie conveniently showed up? It cracked me up for a good two hours. 🙂

  2. A beautiful post, Emmie. This episode did remind me a lot of the Buffy episode (The Body), and although I still think nothing can quite compare to Joss Whedon’s incredibly moving take on death and grief, I thought this episode had powerful moments. Elena breaking down then burning her house were great scenes indeed. My only criticism would be that I wished the episode had been entirely focused on Jeremy’s death and each character’s reaction to it, instead of including other storylines. I felt these scenes outside the Guilbert house diminished the tension and the episode lost some of its emotional power as a result. I thought the revelation about SIlas and Bonnie could have been postponed until the next episode.

    • Yeah, I kind of agree. But I think the next episode is going to be more lighthearted (from the look of the preview), and I see why they made the decision to put most of the heavy, heavy stuff in Let it Burn.

  3. I think that was some of the best acting we’ve seen from Nina Dobrev. I teared up watching her lose it and her stare after she flipped the switch was really chilling.

%d bloggers like this: