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.
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.
- Vampire Diaries Recap: Going Down in Flames (tvline.com)
- ‘The Vampire Diaries’: Goodbye Jeremy, Goodbye Humanity? (huffingtonpost.com)
One thing I love about rewatching a favourite show is getting to go back and relive all the moments in a new light. I think that light is called hindsight. Whether the writers planned out all the strings of interrelated events or whether some smacked them upside the head a week before production, I enjoy tracing things back.
After last week’s insanely frustrating episode of The Vampire Diaries, I immediately made Spouse continue our Season One rewatch. I didn’t have to twist his arm in too many circles — he likes the complex plotting as much as I do. Man, do they know how to cram a lot into forty two minutes.
So without further ado, I’d like to explore the character of Damon Salvatore. Specifically, his relationship with Elena Gilbert. This won’t be an exhaustive post, but it just might be the first in a series…hmm. You’ve read the sidebar. This could be an excuse for ALL THE SHIRTLESS SALVATORE PICTURES.
But before that!
Requisite SPOILER WARNING. This post will delve into all seasons of The Vampire Diaries. If you haven’t seen them and don’t like knowing what’s around the bend, bugger off. I mean that in the nicest possible way. 🙂 Love and kisses! You’ve been warned.
Aside from all the revelations we get down the road about who met whom when and whatnot, two huge things happen in season one for Damon and Elena’s relationship.
Before getting into those, let’s backtrack.
Damon Salvatore is immediately portrayed as the “bad brother.” He swoops into Mystic Falls with the fog and the crow and the dead co-ed campers. Sure. Naughty, naughty. He treats Caroline like she’s a steaming pile of poo he happens to like sleeping with, and he turns Vickie Donovan into a gibbering headcase — before just turning her into a vampire. After which she ends up good and staked because she was not-so-stable before, and her not-so-stability got put through the transitioning vamp magnifying glass and sizzled like an ant in the sun.
So yeah. Damon’s not the fluffy bunny vamp Stefan makes himself out to be. But you start catching glimpses early on that show there’s a lot more to Damon than sipping on bourbon and Tri Delts (though I’d like some of those shirtless Damon dance scenes to be played on repeat every Christmas, thank you).
The more you see of Damon’s rather tragic back story, the more you figure out that a lot of his behaviour stems from Serious Trust Issues. I mean, come on. His brother — who was in love with the same vamp-girl Katherine — promised not to tell Papa Salvatore about Fangy McSnookums and then turned around and did. And then when the boys both ended up in transition and Katherine was (supposedly) entombed, Damon just wanted to let himself die. He didn’t want to hurt anyone. And Stefan shoved a bleeding girl under his eager-to-sprout fangs.
Not only did Stefan initiate what was, for Damon, the loss of a woman he loved, but he made sure that Damon’s life didn’t end when he wanted it to and he’d have to spend eternity trying to get over it. Plus, he killed Papa Salvatore before Damon ever had a chance to work out the many Daddy Issues inherent in the “you’re such a failure of a son” litanies we see spew forth from ole Giuseppe.
Trust. Big thing. Damon’s biggest feels pre-transition were those of betrayal and pain, and when he got dead and started to turn, that’s what got amplified. Along with a healthy heap of loyalty for Katherine. Eat your heart out, psychology — vampire issues are a helluva lot easier to pinpoint.
Let’s skip up to season one, one episode after Elena helps Stefan double cross Damon.
She feels rotten. As well she should. It was a nasty thing to do, and she didn’t realise she was stepping in 145-year-old shite when she did it. She knows Damon has feelings for her. She knows he’s helped Jeremy recover after Vickie when he didn’t have to. And she knows she has to make it right. Call it the bad boy blind spot, but for once, she’s right. He does have more to him than badness, and she’s right to see it.
Two moments happen in “Fool Me Once” that I think pour the concrete for the entire foundation of the Elena-Damon relationship:
“I’m Trusting You.”
Elena takes a huge risk by removing her necklace. And for Damon, Damon does too.
Rewatching this season has made me ponder some things about Damon’s drive to get Katherine back, especially knowing the moments that come later — Damon meeting Elena first at the party and telling her in very tender terms that he wants her to have everything she deserves from life before compelling her to forget — I can’t help but wonder if Katherine is already only a replacement Elena at this point. He doesn’t think he has a chance with Elena, so he wants Katherine back because it’s what he’s always wanted and he thinks it’s his only remaining chance of happiness.
Maybe I’m wrong, but Damon’s not a happy dude. His little, “We were having fun. I wanted it to be real” speech shows that. And I think Elena sees it.
This trust issue comes into play with them both so much over the seasons — and it goes both ways. In many ways, Elena trusts Damon more than she trusts Stefan, which ultimately causes the breakup two episodes back. She knows Damon loves her as she is, not as how he wants her to be. That’s why she goes to him when she needs help with something Stefan won’t approve of, and in basic terms is why I prefer her with Damon over Stefan. (But more on THAT subject another day.)
The second huge moment happens here:
Say what you will about Elena as a character, but she means it when she says it. And I love her for that. She wants Damon to be happy. She wants him to have a chance at love. She’s naive and ignorant about Katherine, but that doesn’t really matter right here.
It’s telling that she leaves Jeremy unconscious on the ground to check on Damon. Not that she cares less about Jeremy, who’s fine, if a bit battered — it’s that the circle of people she cares about has expanded to include Damon. And out of everyone in this episode, he’s probably the one with the deepest wounds.
Trying to free someone for a century and a half only to find out they weren’t in there and just ditched you? Yeah. Fucking OW.
Damon does a lot of things that betray Elena’s trust — forcing her to drink his blood, killing Jeremy without looking to see if he’s wearing his ring — big, awful, lashy-outy sort of things that fall in the unforgivable camp. But then, so does Stefan. Working with Klaus, letting Klaus control him, trying to mold Elena into his perfect vision of her — both brothers are far from earning a halo.
But this episode shows the earliest warmth in their relationship. True caring, based on trust. Damon and Elena both are growing on me as characters. In four seasons, the writers have done a tremendous job developing both.
More on that later.
What do you think of these early stages of their friendship? Do you think at this point Elena already feels attraction for Damon, or do you think it’s just platonic caring?
- Fix You: A Bloody Theme for TVD (emmiemears.com)
Now that the spoiler warning has been taken care of, let me start by saying that when the title screen appeared at the end of Thursday’s episode of The Vampire Diaries, “We All Go A Little Mad Sometimes,” I looked something like this:
And if you follow me on Twitter and happened to be in tweet-radius, it looked something like this:
And finally, this:
So, today I woke up, rustled up a couple breakfast burritos and a coffee and settled in to rewatch the episode.
There was a lot going on in that episode. When I tried to trace back all the Major Plot Moments that happened, my brain went all mushy like dead Conor in his grave. The rewatch helped, so here are some of the highlights, along with my two cents.
Elena Kills Jeremy
It’s a damn good thing that he’s sentimental about keeping his life when surrounded by so many supernatural folk, because I don’t think Elena would come back from killing her brother. Erm. Ever.
Still, this was the first big plot point of the episode and the first glimpse we get into how Messed Up those hunter hallucinations can really be. And I mean, come on, creepy Ghost Conor. You’re mad about her killing humans as a vampire, so you trick her into killing a human? And where do you get off on the moral high ground anyway? Forgetting you STABBED APRIL? Ugh.
I guess stabbing teenage girls is okay, but killing someone isn’t. Good to know there’s a line.
Anyway, Jeremy wakes up alive and gasping, just in time to go to school. What a good kid.
Atticus Shane and his Big, Creepy Rock
“Haha, kids! There used to be this big scary evil dude who might have been buried under this here rock, and he wants to rise from his immortal prison and eat the world. HAHA! And I have nothing to do with this at all.”
I’ve got a feeling, and you might call it the Knox effect. For those of you who have seen season five of Angel, you ought to know what I’m talking about. Creepy acolyte, weird imprisoned demigod.
This’ll end well.
Jeremy’s a Hunter now. Perfect.
To continue with the “that’ll end well” theme, Jeremy is now in possession of some sweet ink. But to assume his ink will be painless just because he didn’t have to go under a needle to get it is just plain wonky talk.
There will be consequences to this. Just because he read through Atticus Shane’s little Folder O’ Hunter Lore doesn’t mean he got the whole story before making the choice to ax Chris. Conor was pretty much batshit. The whole “stop at nothing” attitude was either personal or a product of the profession.
If it was the latter, Jer might be in for some crazy.
Klaus and Caroline
It was always just a matter of time before these two kids started toward romance. And with Caroline’s role in Chris’s death, it’s pretty clear that she and Tyler are going to be pretty rocky, forthcoming date with Klaus included.
I love Klaus’s character. He’s like a brat who never had to learn that he can’t have what he wants. It makes for a lot of interesting conflict when what he wants is people, so I’m curious to see where they take this.
On that note, Tyler is about to get a whole lot more interesting when he starts being the Klaus opposition. If you didn’t see that coming with how upset he was about Chris’s death, start looking forward to a Tyler who’s pretty set on de-siring the rest of his hybrid kindred. We also haven’t seen the last of Hayley.
Elena, Damon, and ALL THE FEELS
This has been such a fascinating relationship to watch develop. A couple huge, Stefan-separate things happened in this episode. For one, Elena continued her new trend of going to Damon for help, partially due to finding out about Stefan’s complicity in Klaus’s shenanigans. But also because this has been bound to happen for a couple seasons.
Now isn’t the time for a Team Damon rant, but Elena learned some biggies when she became a vampire and all her previous Compulsions got erased. That’s a huge factor in her evolution of feelings toward her boyfriend’s brother. But Damon found her on the bridge, and the simple aftermath of this incident expressed in a very tender, emotion-wrought moment of hand-holding was hugely telling.
We’re going to see some Elena-Damon. Though he has been so careful in the last while, especially with his “taking the high, annoying road,” that it’s not going to be a smooth transition. Also, they live in Mystic Falls. Is there EVER a smooth transition? No.
I’ll admit, when watching that scene where Elena takes Damon’s hand, minutes before her porch scene with Stefan (I’ll get to THAT in a minute), I had just about every Damon-related emotion I’d ever had balled up in that one, simple hand caress.
…The Inevitable Happened
Stefan does this thing where he decides things. He decides them based on what he wants, and he doesn’t entirely think through how others will perceive his decisions. One of those was choosing to help Klaus, knowing full well that Klaus only wants a vampire cure so he can use Elena’s newly-human blood to make more hybrids (assuming that would even work after she was a vampire). Another was opting not to tell Elena about it.
Stefan thinks he knows what Elena wants, but he wants an Elena that doesn’t exist anymore. And if I know anything at all about television, it’s that things don’t go backward. We won’t see the pre-vampire Elena again. She no longer exists. Even if they find a cure, I don’t think she will want it. Not because I expect her to become a new Katherine, not because I expect her to change — because I expect her to evolve. I trust the writers of the show enough to think that Elena’s evolution will be a powerful one.
Stefan, on the other hand, seems rather incapable of evolving. He made a couple of very crappy decisions in this episode — not the least of which was getting Chris killed.
Good for Elena for coming clean with Stefan. Good for Stefan for refusing to stay the stoic boyfriend while it’s clear she had growing feelings for Damon. And for the record, I don’t believe her emotions for Damon have necessarily been “magnified” — or at least I don’t think that’s the only reason for the split between Elena and Stefan. Becoming a vampire showed her parts of the story she’d been missing. That’s not magnification; that’s more epiphany.
Now we all have to wait another two weeks to see where this goes.
I like where it’s headed. What about you?