Recap: ‘The Vampire Diaries’: Winning the battle, still losing the war
“How many times do I have to tell you, Elena? Stop trusting vampires!”
As we learned when Caroline was turned in season two, when you become a vampire the most prominent parts of your personality become magnified. Caroline became more neurotic as a result of her transition. And though most people would say his distaste for vampires was multiplied, I think Alaric became more of a protector too. I mean, sure, he’s driven by his hate for vampires (does that extend to all supernatural creatures? Like are werewolves and hybrids included in his hate?), but the flip side of that has got to be a desire to see innocent people live. There were times tonight when the viewers could see Alaric’s frustrations with Elena because she willingly threw herself into another dangerous situation.
He spent so many hours teaching her to protect herself against vampires, training her to be a vampire slaying teenager, telling her not to trust them. And yet she continues to accept their words at face value as if they’re not evil creatures driven by bloodlust.
Everything Alaric told her in tonight’s episode was true. She needs to stop being so trusting. She needs to stop letting her emotions get the best of her all of the time. Because she won’t survive much longer if she does.
And no, Elena isn’t stupid. She doesn’t just go along believing everything people say. But she does tend to ignore the fact that people are inherently evil by nature. She trusted Alaric tonight, knowing he was Evilaric who hates vampires, that he’d let Caroline go as long as she came to the school. She trusted him because she knew Human Alaric and she was unable to separate him from Evilaric. She trusted – to an extent – Esther when she first met her and bound the Originals circle. She trusted Elijah, too.
It doesn’t matter that she’s wary of these people – it matters that even though she’s wary she still puts her trust in them to an extent. She wants to see the good in all people. But no one is good all the time. And it’s possible that no one is evil all the time either. It’s possible for those who commit evil acts to come back from them – to change, to start over. Damon Salvatore is a walking, talking, leather-jacket wearing example of that.
And I think that’s one of the most important lessons from this show. It’s that people might do evil things – but if you only look at those instances and refuse to see the rest, then you’re going to miss quite a bit. You’re going to be sorely misinformed. You’re not going to see who they really are. This show is about family and it’s about forgiveness. This show teaches us that we cannot judge ourselves or anyone else by past transgressions. Because we are all capable of change and we are all capable of love, and as long as we have our family, we can learn to make the right choices here and now.
So call me crazy, but I still have hope that Evilaric can be helped. There were a few points tonight – and yes, I’m probably blinded by love for Matt Davis and the character so I’m going to read a hell of a lot into different things from tonight’s episode, but whatever – there were times tonight where it seemed that Evilaric wasn’t as gone as we thought. Yes, he’s evil. Yes, he wants to kill all the vampires. Yes to all these things. But after sitting through three seasons of this show I don’t take anything at face value anymore. There’s always an underlying reason or force driving people and their actions.
Damon is driven by love. He was driven by his love for Katherine in the first season and he didn’t care what he did or who he hurt, as long as it meant he could get to her. And we’ve seen that same passion and love and loyalty these past two seasons as it’s developed for Elena. His love for her drives his actions now. He wants to be a better man so he’s worthy of her love.
Stefan is driven by guilt and his own fear of the monster within. He knows what he’s capable of, and so he does everything in his power to limit and deprive himself of things like human blood because he knows what will happen if he doesn’t. He’s carried the guilt of forcing his brother to become a vampire for a century and a half. He carries the guilt of knowing all of the innocent people he killed. And that drives him to be a better man.
And Klaus – poor, poor Klaus – he’s driven by loneliness. All he wants is a family, a family who loves him and wants to stay with him and have fun with him – not one who deserts him or wants him dead. So he decided to create his own family – the hybrids. But unlike the Salvatores, he’s yet to find that family and so he’s been unable to redeem himself.
Everyone is driven by something. And I think Alaric can be saved. I know that it would never happen quickly and it would certainly not be easy, but I don’t think that all of a sudden we’ve got one character who is absolutely pure evil and has no weaknesses. There is something there that can be used to save him. We just don’t know what it is yet.
On ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ Willow went apocalyptically evil at the end of season six after Warren’s stray bullet killed Tara. She flayed him alive and hurt her friends, but that still wasn’t enough to ease her pain. The only thing that could get through to her was the love and friendship of her lifelong best friend, Xander. And I see no reason why Alaric – who’s turned out to be this show’s best villain since he’s a character we got to know and grew to love long before he became a villain – should be any different.
If I had to put my money on it – I’d say it’s the feeling of being needed. The feeling that someone wants and needs him. I also think it’s his own guilt for allowing himself to get to know Damon and Stefan and Caroline – get to know these vampires and to like these vampires. He was a vampire hunter and he allowed himself to see these people and get to know these people and he saw that there’s good in them too. That’s why I think – and hope – that the writers don’t just let him bite the dust. There’s a story there. And in the right hands, it could be a great story.
And knowing that Alaric’s life is tied to Elena’s life – I think that’s important. He made it seem like the only reason he cared whether or not Elena lived or died was because he didn’t want to die too. And while that’s certainly the most important reason right now, I think there was more to it. When he yelled at her to stop slicing herself open, it looked to me (here I go reading too much into everything again) like there were real feelings behind those words. Before he was turned Human Alaric genuinely cared for Elena. And somewhere inside Evilaric, Human Alaric lives and dwells. Somewhere in there are those feelings and that love for both her and Jeremy. I just hope we get to see it. Because conflicted vampires are my favorite vampires.
But there was a lot of crap that happened in tonight’s episode.
We saw Bonnie reach out to her vampire mother. Who still came even though her sense of loyalty has never really seemed to lie with Bonnie. I would have thought her abandonment tendencies would have magnified after becoming a vampire. But whatever.
We saw the greatest and stupidest fight between Klaus and the Gilbert house. It provided some laughter in an otherwise emotional episode. Damon yelling, “Missed me!”, after Klaus’ fence post was lodged in the wall made me laugh. But I could have sworn I felt some sexual tension between those two during that fight. Anyone else? No, just me?
We saw Klaus working with the Salvatore brothers to save Elena – albeit he had his own reasons to do so. And then after the failed attempt to stop Alaric’s heart in the high school (doesn’t this school have security cameras or alarms or something?) he kidnapped Elena with the intentions of draining her dry, which would have killed Alaric and thus eliminated the latest threat to his life. In a nice twist, as Tyler is rescuing Elena, the tables are turned and Stefan plunges his fingertips into Klaus’ chest, and through the link with Bonnie, was able to stop his heart and desiccate him. The hurt and recognition of betrayal obvious on his face as he realized too late that Stefan would never be loyal to him – that he already had a real brother – almost broke my heart.
The Brothers Salvatore are currently on a road trip to dump Klaus’ body into the Atlantic ocean, but I’m praying that something thwarts that plan. Because this show without Joseph Morgan is like this show without Matt Davis – it just doesn’t work. Without these two men the show would be lacking. They’re two of the most compelling characters and I don’t want to imagine a show without them.
Let’s see, what else happened? Oh yeah, before his heart stopped we saw Tyler stand up to Klaus, making the Original aware that his sire-bond had been broken. And points to Michael Trevino for the best delivery of the entire episode when he told Klaus, “I’m not your little bitch anymore.” In fact, Tyler had a couple great lines, including this one: “You didn’t give a crap about me; you just didn’t want to be alone.” Ouch, Tyler. Hit him where it really hurts.
We also saw the lengths Jeremy was willing to go to save his sister and his friends from certain death. He once again joined the ranks of the dead for a short amount of time. Which cannot be good for him. Sure, Esther created Evilaric by coaxing him into hating vampires each time he crossed over – but that doesn’t mean someone or something else can’t grab hold of Jeremy. He’s died a couple of times already wearing that ring (thanks, Damon!) and we saw what happened because of all that – he went all Haley Joel Osment in the ‘Sixth Sense’ on us. Who knows what else could happen.
There was a moment where I really thought he wasn’t coming back tonight – but that would have been a sissy – although some could argue, heroic – way to go out. And if the writers are going to steal Jeremy away from me for good (please, God, no!) he better go out fighting like a champ, not lying down in the woods with Bonnie reciting some weird Latin above his chest.
Speaking of Bonnie (ugh), we saw her use powerful magic on her own. And once again, she was fucking with the balance of life and death. And I found myself reminded of Willow in season six of ‘Buffy’, because Bonnie has now had a taste of that strong power – who’s to say she isn’t going to want to use it again. According to Willow, it’s addictive.
Once again a lot of stuff happened in Mystic Falls in the span of one day. All of it without Matty, who showed up for the victory party at the end of the episode griping about being left out and calling himself a ninja. He’s so adorable. Please, writers, please don’t kill Matty!
Some other stray thoughts and observations:
- Elena gave a nice little speech about how Conflicted she still is and why she hasn’t chosen a brother yet. The episode wasn’t really about the love triangle though it was discussed a bit. Here’s what she told the Brothers Salvatore as they stood on her porch together looking immensely hot: “I know it’s selfish. I know that it seems like I’m stringing you both along, but I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. I mean, if I choose one of you then I lose the other. And I’ve lost so many people. I just, I can’t bear the thought of losing one of you.” I still don’t know why she doesn’t just choose both.
- “Turns out we make a pretty good team, huh?” TEAM SALVATORE FTW.
- Whichever brother Elena doesn’t choose is apparently going to leave Mystic Falls. Psh, yeah right. Whatevs, dudes.
- Evilaric outed Carol Lockwood and Sheriff Forbes as having supernatural offspring to the council. He plays dirty. I like it.
- Elena:” Why are you doing this?” Evilaric: ” Because you need me. Because you’re an 18 year old girl without parents or guidance or any sense of right and wrong anymore.”
- Klaus and Caroline are both on Team Stefan. Jeremy is on Team Cockblock. Alaric is on Team Human. Bonnie is stupid. I’m on Team Damon. And I’m pretty certain Elena is too.
- “Because I do stupid things, Bonnie. I do things like let my friend die with dignit.” – Damon
- Every single time one of the characters referred to Alaric as their teacher or guardian I just wanted to yell, “HE WAS THEIR FRIEND!” Harry Potter style.
That’s a wrap. Next week is the season finale. I’m not ready.
Note: Photo courtesy of the CW.