Recap: ‘The Vampire Diaries’: We’re all mad here
I know that most of you are probably reading this to see what I have to say about the newest development in the Stefan/Elena/Damon love triangle, but before I can get to that, there are a couple of things that I need to discuss. So grab a glass of bourbon and join me at the Grill (no, not there, that spot is saved for Alaric, obviously).
Y’all know that I love this show with all my heart, right? Good. Because what I’m about to say is probably going to upset some of you. And it’s probably going to sound like a broken record, but someone has to do it; it might as well be me.
While I enjoyed tonight’s episode, I’ve seen it before. I first saw it in 1998 when The First Evil tortured Angel after he returned from hell on ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer.’ And I saw it again in 2002-03 when the First became the main antagonist of the final season.
I understand that as a vampire series in the post-‘Buffy’ era there are bound to be similar storylines and the show will enter already familiar territory. Hell, I’ve written about this very thing several times now, but there comes a point in time where I have to sit and wonder if Joss Whedon is sitting at home writing snarky e-mails to Julie Plec and asking for his royalties.
For those of you who still haven’t managed to watch ‘Buffy’ (get on that, stat, by the way), let me explain.
The First Evil is an incorporeal manifestation of all the evil in existence. It can take the form of any person who has died – including vampires – and it changes its form depending on who it is that it’s appearing to in order to manipulate them to do what it wants.
When the First appeared to Angel in the third season of ‘Buffy,’ he’d recently had his soul returned to him. It took the form of his victims, most notably, Jenny Calendar. Angelus, as he is called when he’s sans soul, murdered her during the bout of soulessness that came after sleeping with Buffy on her birthday (seriously, just watch the show – it’s a metaphor, y’all).
The First is an expert at psychological manipulation and after he refused to do its bidding – in this case, kill Buffy – it used the visages of his victims to torture Angel into believing that the only way to end the pain and remorse he felt was to kill himself. Buffy, thankfully, was able to save him from himself, but that wasn’t the last of The First (#wordplay).
As I mentioned earlier, the First returned as the main antagonist of the seventh and final season of ‘Buffy,’ appearing most frequently to Buffy as Buffy. Confusing, right? Don’t worry, her hair was sometimes different too, just like Elena’s and Katherine’s. But it used the same type of psychological manipulation witnessed in tonight’s episode of ‘The Vampire Diaries’ to torture a poor soul into doing its bidding.
Tonight, the same idea behind the First – an incorporeal being tormenting the hell out of someone – came to life as Elena suffered from hallucinations brought on by her killing of Connor last week. Her hallucinations were so real and lifelike to her that she couldn’t tell the difference between when they were the incorporeal hallucination and when they were one of her friends or family members whom she only saw as the hallucination.
And poor Jeremy and Stefan, both of them were brought down by Elena’s inability to distinguish between the two. Elena believed she was being attacked by Connor and attempted to save herself by stabbing him in the neck with a large kitchen knife. Unfortunately, it wasn’t Connor (obviously – he’s rotting in an unmarked grave somewhere out in the forest), it was Jeremy who’d come to save Elena after she’d screamed for him at Connor’s first appearance. Luckily, Jeremy still wears that hideous Gilbert family heirloom and was able to come back to life.
Stefan experienced a similar situation when he attempted to rescue her from Klaus’ expertly decorated, windowless prison room. He didn’t want Elena to kill herself, so he locked her up with a lot of ugly artwork instead – which, personally, would have driven me to want to kill myself. But when Stefan tried to rescue Elena – keep in mind she’d been locked up for quite some time with no one but a Katherine shaped hallucination telling her that Stefan won’t love her the way she is now – she saw him as Connor and ran him through with a broken bed post.
She eventually ended up where it all began … and ended – the Wickery Bridge. Now, I don’t know about the rest of you but my first thought was, “Girl, you can’t drown. You don’t even need to breathe.” But that, apparently, wasn’t the hallucination’s plan. This time it took the form of her mother and convinced her that she should rid herself of her daylight ring and meet the sun, because she’s basically a total waste of space and she hurts every single person she loves and cares about and just deserves to die for being terrible.
Elena does indeed throw her ring into the river, but Damon shows up just in the nick of time and attempts to talk her down from the Crazy Ledge, much like Buffy did to Angel 14 years ago. But it’s not really working. The hallucinations continue until Jeremy, the best little brother in the world, activates his vampire hunting destiny by killing a vampire (thanks Professor Shane!). By doing this he’s kind of accepted his destiny (into each generation a slayer is born), and his tattoo grows a little larger. I’m afraid that by activating his destiny as a hunter of vampires, that somewhere down the road we’re going to have to deal with a Gilbert versus Gilbert scenario and I’d rather not think about it right now, so let’s move on.
The hallucinations may have stopped, but Elena is still without her daylight ring and the sun begins to rise. Quick on his feet, Damon grabs Elena and jumps into the river, which I’m sure made Elena go, “Really? Again?” But they cut away and she eventually wakes up in her own bed and with her daylight ring, which Damon had fished out of the river for her.
Before I go on about the impracticality of that – the river would have washed it away the second it hit the surface – it’s important to note how this ending mirrors that of the second season episode “Rose,” which saw Damon returning another piece of jewelry to our heroine – her vervain locket.
Damon returned her locket and confessed to Elena that he loved her, but that he didn’t deserve her, and then he erased all recollection of that selfless moment from her memory. Upon becoming a vampire this season, the compulsion wore off and Elena remembered the confession of love. And so I’m certain that tonight, after he’d explained that he found her ring and then selflessly confessed to Elena that Stefan was lying to her because he wanted to find a cure for vampirism to save her, she had to have been thinking back to that night in her bedroom when Damon proved that he wasn’t such a bad guy after all.
Because Damon could have easily gone on letting Elena believe that Stefan was lying to her and was in bed with Klaus (euphemism alert!), but he didn’t. He manned up and told her the truth – that Stefan did everything he did out of his love and devotion to her. But unfortunately, that confession only served to remind her of her previous conversation with Hallucination Katherine – Stefan prefers her the way she used to be, the human being who needed to eat and who could drown in the river under Wickery Bridge.
What followed was an intense discussion about feelings between Elena and Stefan that began when Elena asked him why he’d sent Damon to the bridge to save her instead of coming himself. He admitted that lately, Damon had been the Salvatore who was able to get through to her and that she would listen to.
In what had to be one of the saddest breakups I’ve seen this year (aside from Peggy and Don’s non-breakup breakup on ‘Mad Men’), Stefan admitted that he could understand why she’d turned to Damon during his Ripper period, but that he was not able to understand or deal with the same feelings now that he was back on his strict bunny diet. Her feelings for Damon had become magnified upon her transition and he couldn’t be in a relationship with her anymore knowing that. And Elena simply nodded and told him that she knew and understood.
This chain of events has been coming for awhile now. We knew as soon as Elena took that first breath after death that she was a different person. We knew that her feelings for the brothers, and thus, their feelings for her, would be altered and changed by her own changes. We knew that Damon would be the brother to help her cope with these changes and thus, we knew that a Stefan and Elena breakup was imminent. I’m just not certain I’d realized how quickly it would come. The first couple of episodes were so much about Elena and Stefan and their relationship that it seems a bit rushed for them to breakup so quickly.
I know what you’re thinking: Delena fans have been waiting for this for over three seasons now, so how can it be rushed? And I don’t actually have an answer for that. But I do believe that even though Stefan and Elena have broken up, that the hunt for the cure remains on and that the Elena and Damon relationship won’t actually begin for awhile. After all, she’s just now admitting to herself (and Stefan) that she has real feelings for the older Salvatore brother. If it’s taken her this long to admit that, how long do you think it will take for a real relationship – not just one based on lust, mind you, but a real honest relationship- to blossom?
Damon and Stefan are in a good place right now, despite the blood sharing and the loving the same woman thing. They’re brothers, first and foremost, and even though Stefan has given up on his relationship with Elena, Damon is still his brother. And if you recall, just last week, Damon told Stefan that he’d help him find the cure because of their brotherhood, not because he wants it for Elena. Damon isn’t the same man he was at the start of the series. As much as he loves Elena and wants to be with her, I truly believe that when it comes to Stefan, he has some sort of line that he recognizes. I have to believe that he knows better than to attempt to jump into a relationship at this time.
Some stray observations:
- Damon still orders a bourbon for Ric’s empty bar stool at the Grill. I swear I’m not crying. I just have something in my eye.
- Poor April. She’s living the Mystic Falls version of ‘Groundhog Day.’
- Professor Shane might just be useful after all, as he helped stop Elena’s hallucinations by providing Damon and Bonnie with the knowledge that they won’t stop until another vampire hunter has been activated. This means he must know now that Connor is dead and that somewhere a
potentialhunter is nearby. Oh, and his first name is Atticus, because of course it is.
- Hayley, Tyler and Caroline conspire to fool Klaus into thinking that Tyler and Caroline have broken up, thus allowing them to be all revengy and make plans to take down Klaus. But in the end, Caroline had to actually agree to go on a date with our favorite psychopath in order to get information. Tyler was not pleased.
- “PS – I called Stefan.”
- “The witch who loses her powers gets left out of the important conversations.”
So what did you guys think? We’re you surprised at the Elena and Stefan breakup? Were you sad? Did you throw a party? And did you tear up when Damon ordered that second bourbon?
Photo: Annette Brown/ The CW
Hair (Damon): 9
Brooding (Stefan): 7
Self-hatred or freakout (Elena): 10
General badassery: 8.5