Recap: “Heart of Darkness”: Playing hot and cold with ‘The Vampire Diaries’
It wasn’t about you. – Damon
Contrary to popular belief, the world does not revolve around Elena Gilbert. I know that she acts that way sometimes, and it’s probably only because most of the time everything actually is about her – she is the show’s protagonist, after all – but she’s not what makes the world go around.
And though it usually appears this way, she’s not what makes the Salvatore brothers’ worlds go around, either. She’s just a girl. A girl who’s been thrown to the wolves, vampires and generally all things from the nightmares of children. But she’s so often the cause of, and answer to, the problems plaguing Mystic Falls that we forget, and she forgets, that she’s just one person in a world full of them.
Damon so often prioritizes Elena and her safety because of his intense love for her that we forget the dude once had a life that didn’t even include her. We’ve seen him go to hell and back for this one teenage girl and we forget that sometimes he’s got other things going on in his life. Like Rose.
Last season’s episode ‘Rose’ is fondly remember by Delena shippers because it’s the episode Damon confesses his love to Elena in the most selfless – but also somehow selfish – way possible. He brings back to her the vervain necklace she thought she’d lost, but before he hands it over he tells her, “I love you, Elena. And it’s because I love you that I can’t be selfish with you. And why you can’t know this. I don’t deserve you, but my brother does.” And with that declaration he compels her to forget his broken confession.
But in order to understand that moment we have to back up a little bit further.
I never cared for Rose, nor do I pretend to care for her now even if she’s a Delena shipper. But Damon had a connection with the female vampire and he shared a moment with her at the end of her life. He took away her pain and suffering because he could and because he wanted to. This was one of the handful of times Damon’s chosen to spare someone misery, one of the few times he’s shown that he truly can feel things for people who aren’t Elena and Stefan. Sure, he saves the lives of the people of Mystic Falls every time he thwarts some apocalypse or whatever, but showing emotion is something he’s never been good at – or wanted to be good at – and that moment with Rose is not one to be overlooked.
And it’s why I think that in an episode where Elena basically attacked Damon with her lips in a motel hallway, it’s important to mention that Elena does not define Damon. Does she make him a better person? Yes, Rose was right about that. But sometimes there are going to be things that happen that Damon doesn’t share with Elena, and unless she’s willing to make that leap and be in a relationship with him, she doesn’t need – or even really have the right – to know.
I’ll admit that the noises that came out of my mouth when Elena finally sucked it up and gave into her feelings for the sexy older Salvatore were not human. I was cheering that kiss on with the rest of you – well, probably not the Stefan/Elena shippers. But I also understood that there’s still a lot of ground to be covered – a lot of meeting in the middle, if you will – before these two can be a happy couple. And that’s why I didn’t really flip out when they had a fight about their feelings towards episode’s end.
While I wanted to grab Elena’s head and shove it into the nearest wall when she told Damon she didn’t know if she had feelings for him (because, girl, clearly you do – you don’t just soberly attack people with your lips and then have a steamy makeout session against a motel wall if you don’t have feelings for them), I understand her reservations.
Elena was right when she told Damon that he sabotages things and lashes out at people whenever there’s a bump in the road. We’ve see it happen. We’ve seen him snap Jeremy’s neck when Katherine and Elena both denied him in the same evening. We saw the way he acted at the ball when Elena went behind his back and made the deal with Esther and Finn to bind the Originals. He went after Kol, breaking his neck and then jumping. off. the. freaking. balcony. It didn’t matter that we all cheered the return of Damon the Badass. He still lashed out. For a man who claims to not have emotions, he sure does lose control of them easily.
But what Damon said in that scene also held a lot of truth. He’s the one to make bold declarations of love. He’s the one to make decisions regarding their relationship. Elena never takes charge of her own life regarding Damon. She waits for him to do something and then reacts to whatever he’s done – usually finding herself on the disapproving side. Tonight when he told her, “This time I’m not gonna make is so easy for you. This time you’ll have to figure it out for yourself,” I cheered. I cheered Damon showing a little backbone, because it’s about time he called her out on how she’s always playing games with his head and just assuming he’ll always be there for her because he’s in love with her. Homegirl has got to figure this one out on her own, she has got to make a decision. And from the looks of it, she’s got to do it fairly soon.
There were some other very lovely moments between Damon and Elena in this episode, though. I particularly liked the part of the episode where they were lying in the bed (and not just because of Ian Somerhalder’s sculpted abdominal region) and Elena asked him why he never let people see the good in him. And his response is something that also fits in to what I was saying above. Damon said, “Because when people see good, they expect good. And I don’t want to have to live up to anyone’s expectations.”
I took this to mean two things. One, Damon is tired of dealing with the disapproving looks Elena throws his way when he does something she finds despicable. He’s tired of feeling like he’s not good enough for her. But two, I think he also meant that he’s done trying to change for her because he is who he is. He’s not going to change for her and she’s going to have to accept him for the man he is.
This was a huge episode for Damon and Elena’s relationship, but we’ve still got miles to go and there are only three episodes left this season. Julie Plec has said that there will be a resolution this season to the triangle (as much of a resolution that there can be), so I’m really looking forward to this final stretch of episodes.
Anyway, now that we got that out of the way, we can move on to discussing the rest of the episode (other things happened in this episode, WHAT?)
After nine years away, Tyler Lockwood finally decided he’d been gone long enough and graced us, and a very appreciative Caroline, with his presence. My notes around this time in the episode basically just say, “TYLERRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” and the words “finally,” “yes,” “hot” and “cave sex.”
But in all truthfulness, it was very nice to welcome Tyler back to Mystic Falls. I really miss him when he’s gone, if only because it brings out such a sweet side of Caroline. We so seldom get to see her truly happy that I relish the moments where my favorite vampire Barbie gets to smile and be a normal teenager who isn’t dealing with the death of her father as a result of an attack by the alter ego of her alcoholic history teacher or who isn’t left picking up the pieces of her best friend’s lives.
Caroline deserves to be happy, and Tyler seems to make her happy. Until he found the creepy sketch Klaus did for her of her face next to a horse. What was he trying to say there? That she has a horse face? Whatever. I don’t understand art. But Tyler obviously thought it meant something more and he decided to leave Casa Forbes for greener pastures to lie in for the evening.
My hopes are that he finally went home to see his mom, because, call me crazy, but don’t you think she’s been worried about her missing child? And why hasn’t the school wondered where he was? I’m not up on high school attendance policies, but I’m fairly certain all of our characters have missed enough time that they can’t rightfully graduate this year. Am I the only person who thinks about these things? I can’t be the only person who thinks the parents and the adults in this town are neglectful. WATCH OVER YOUR CHILDREN, PEOPLE. THERE ARE VAMPIRES AND WEREWOLVES AND WITCHES AND HYBRIDS AND WITCHES IN VAMPIRE BODIES ABOUT, DON’T YOU KNOW?
What was that last one? Yeah, a witch in a vampire’s body. That happened tonight. Rebekah came home (after being dropped off by Matty the Pudding Pop) from decorating for the decade dance (which takes place next episode) to find her infanticide favoring mother, Esther, in her living room. Rebekah asks her to give her one good reason why she shouldn’t kill her on the spot and she responds by telling her only daughter that she’s dying.
Yeah, OK, mom, whatever. That’s what she should have said. But no, instead, Rebekah, who we learned used to cry herself to sleep at night over her mother’s death, falls prey to yet another of Esther’s cruel intentions. She actually possesses her daughter’s body, something we don’t find out for sure until the end of the episode when Esther reveals her true self to Evil Alter Ego Alaric down in the cave where no vampire can go.
Speaking of Alaric, he spent most of the episode locked in the Salvatore
sex dungeon with Stefan, willing himself to fall asleep so his alter ego might show up and lead them to the place he hid the final white oak stake. Klaus, finding out the Salvatore’s sudden interest in genealogy (they need to know which vampire bloodline they were sired from in order to not accidentally kill themselves while trying to destroy the Originals), shows up and decides he’s waited long enough for Evil Alter Ego Alaric. He kills Alaric (thank God for that trusty Gilbert family heirloom) and when Alaric comes to, he forces Stefan to beat the crap out of him (to relieve their sexual frustrations) in order to bring out his evil alter ego. It works, but poor Alaric’s face gets all bloody in the process.
Last but certainly not least, we finally saw another friendly face return to Mystic Falls. Realizing that Kol was stalking Jeremy in Denver – and that his ring was no longer a safeguard – Elena and Damon go to Denver to wrangle up the youngest Gilbert. My notes from this point in the episode, much like the notes from when Tyler appeared, say things like, “OMG! JEREMYYYYYYYYYY! YAY. HOT. OMG. HOT.” Because I’m clearly a professional.
But to say that I am thrilled to have Steven R. McQueen back in an understatement. Once Jeremy grew out of his drugged and depressed phase and into some biceps, I have appreciated his character more and more. He didn’t have much to do this episode excet act as a liaison between the living dead (Damon) and the dead dead (Rose). Oh yeah, and serve to break up the steamy makeout session between his sister and Damon. He also had a nice little “chat” at the end of the episode with Rose, which I’ll post below.
“It’s not just that [Elena] makes [Damon] a better person, and she does, but he changes her too. Damon challenges her, surprises her, he makes her question her life, beliefs. Stefan is different. His love is pure. He’ll always be good for her. Damon is the either the best thing for her, or the worst.”
Rose has a keen insight into the brothers Salvatore. But that still doesn’t mean I like her.
Some final stray observations:
- Damon’s choice of reading material for Alaric during his time in the dungeon: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Heh.
- “Wage war, murder people. You know, Klaus stuff.”
- “Next time we compel him, remind me to make him better at baseball.”
- “Dead vampire is redundant.”
- “The thing is, he’s me. I’m not compelled, I’m not possessed, there’s no humanity switch. What drives him is me.”
What did you guys think? Did you squeal when Elena finally made a move and kissed Damon? Are you ready for her to just figure her shit out already? I can’t believe there are only three more episodes left this season!
Note: Photo courtesy of the CW.