If you just do something and nothing happens, then what’s the point?: A study in reprecussions on ‘The Vampire Diaries’
I’m the biggest Damon Salvatore Champion around these parts. I love him and not just because of his abs of glory. But ‘The Vampire Diaries’ fandom seems to think that he’s a saint and that anytime something horrible happens to him as a result of his actions, that it’s undeserving.
Damon used to be a terrible, terrible person. He did a lot of bad things to people who never deserved them. And he still does a lot of bad things. I think a lot of viewers excuse them and write them off simply because they’ve seen the way he’s also risked his own life time and again for Elena and Stefan. He’s the character who has changed and evolved the most over the course of the show. But those changes are limited to Elena and Stefan a lot of the time. Is it OK to write off everything a character has done over the last 150 years simply because we’ve seen the good things, the selfless things, he’s done over the past three? I hate to say it, but despite how far he’s come, he’s still not a great person. And he knows it. He loves his brother and he loves Elena and would die for the both of them, but he knows he’s not a good person. Remember this exchange from two weeks ago?
Elena: “You stood there and let him feed on an innocent girl.”
Damon: “I didn’t let him do anything. If you want to get nitpicky about it, I made him.”
Elena: “Why would you do that?”
Damon: “Because we’re vampires, Elena. We need human blood to survive. We’re predators, not puppies.”
And what he says is true; he’s a predator. He needs blood to survive and he chooses it to be human blood. And yes, he’s gotten better, he might not kill simply just because he can anymore. And he does seem to actively want to change who he is. He feels remorse now, but that’s because he’s in love with Elena. She makes him want to be a better person, but he’s not there yet. People who aren’t Elena? He’s still a dick to them and has no problem hurting them – like Rebekah.
But even now, despite the selfless things he’e done, it would be wrong to ignore the times he’s hurt Elena over the last three years. When he came to town, he hurt Elena in order to inflict pain on his own brother. He snapped Jeremy’s neck in front of her, too, simply because he was angry and hurt. Remember these things? I’m not saying he deserved to be tortured the way he was in the last episode, because Rebekah did it out of spite (she’s still a teenage girl inside despite her age). But I think that Damon still has a lot of atoning to do for all of the pain and suffering he’s caused his family and friends and Elena over the years. He didn’t deserve to be strung up by what appeared to be bear traps, and tortured this way. He didn’t deserve to have Klaus compel him into giving up his secrets. But I kind of like the idea that Damon was finally brought down a peg, that he was finally held accountable for something he’d done to hurt someone. Maybe it was a little extreme, but it seemed true to Rebekah’s character. I love Damon and I will defend him until I’m blue in the face, but Damon is still not a good person.
Was I pissed that Stefan didn’t go to save Damon right away? Of course, I’m Team Salvatore forever. Was I pissed at Bonnie for not going to save him when she had the chance? Of course, but he’s also been terrible to her. He turned her mother and didn’t think twice about how it would affect anyone but Elena. Even though I can’t stand Bonnie and think she’s an annoying character, I think her reaction was a normal one. She’s angry for what he did to her, to her mother. I think that if viewers were in Bonnie’s shoes, they might not save the man who turned their mother into a bloodsucking creature, either.
I guess I just get annoyed when this fandom treats Damon as a vulnerable little puppy who never deserves the bad things that happen to him, or as a person who shouldn’t have to be held accountable for his actions. We’ve seen him grow and change and fall in love, but I don’t think that’s reason enough to write off the bad things he’s done. We saw how he hurt Rebekah for his own selfish gain. He had no qualms at all about seducing her and then having Sage basically mind-rape her while she slept. Damon felt no remorse for hurting Rebekah.
I love Damon, and I always will, but I love even more the fact that the writers understand he’s still a vampire and still someone who does bad things to people. To take that away from him would be wrong. It would rip the story of any sort of realism it has. It’s one of the many places the ‘Twilight’ fandom went horribly wrong (don’t even get me started on that piece of garbage) – vampires, no matter how many good things they’ve done, will never be good people. They will always have a darkness inside of them that they have to challenge and fight every day. And it’s that battle between the darkness and the lightness inside Damon – and Stefan for that matter – that make them complex characters that people can relate to. It’s one of the reasons the show is as great as it is, why it resonates so well in our own world. But to simply say Damon didn’t deserve to be tortured for what he did to Rebekah is wrong. To quote ‘Breaking Bad,’ one of the greatest shows in the history of television, “If you just do stuff and nothing happens, what’s it all mean? What’s the point?”
Until Damon stops hurting people (something that I personally don’t think can ever really happen because of the nature of vampirism), even if his heart is in the right place – with the idea of saving his brother and saving Elena – Damon will never be a good guy. If he keeps doing bad things to people, even if they deserve it, and not having to deal with the consequences, he’s never going to fully change. He’s never going to be a good guy. And I think Damon is OK with being the bad guy right now. He’s okay with being the bad guy if it means he’s saving the people he loves. But the viewers need to realize that he’s not a prince, that he’s never going to stop being a predator – and that the same rules apply to Stefan, as well. They’re not the people they think they are. I don’t think they’re ever going to be able to be good people. But as long as they fight that darkness, as long as they try to be good people, I think that’s enough. I think that it’s enough for them, and it’s definitely enough for me.
Note: Photo courtesy of the CW.