Review: ‘The Vampire Diaries’: Runnin’ with the devil
It’s amazing what a three week hiatus can do to a girl. I’d momentarily buried all my Jeremy feelings in the box marked “Julie Plec is a Life Ruiner” for safe keeping. But tonight they came rushing back with the first new episode of ‘The Vampire Diaries’ since Elena burnt the Gilbert house (and supposedly Jeremy’s body*) to the ground.
And though the episode didn’t do much to advance the main plot – Silas and the cure (dibs on the new band name) – it did provide us with a window into the state of Elena’s psyche since she turned off all of her emotions at Damon’s behest. And I have to say, I think I kind of like this Elena. This take no prisoners version of Elena is, in short, the Elena we’ve always wanted her to be, albeit an extreme version.
If I had my way, Elena would be a balanced version of the whiny, compassionate Elena and the fierce, trying to kill her best friend Elena. And while I’m sure that’s where we’ll eventually end up, there’s quite a bit of road that needs to be traveled before we get there. Because if there’s one thing that’s for sure it’s that nothing will ever come easy to Elena Gilbert.
Right now we’ve got a humanity-free Elena with absolutely no emotions whatsoever, except perhaps arousal, and even that seemed a little suspect this week. It became clear that she no longer cares for the stern looks from Stefan, telling him that she remembered their sex – and that it was good – but that she didn’t really care about it, or him for that matter. And she seemed only mildly more interested – both in terms of conversation and as a sexual partner – in Damon, which is probably just about the craziest thing that’s ever happened in this town.
While this new Humanity-Free Elena seems infinitely more interesting and fun than Human Elena (and pre-Jeremy’s death Vampire Elena as well), it’s not all fun and games. This version of Elena is basically heartless, not caring about hurting her friends, especially Caroline (dropping her on her head? Way harsh, Elena). And if there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that no one hurts our precious Caroline and gets away with it. But even that only matters so much. Elena’s not just hurting her friends, she’s hurting herself even if she doesn’t realize it.
The problem with turning off all of Elena’s emotions is obvious: to dull the pain of a broken heart (or in Elena’s case, a dozen broken hearts), shes sacrifices her emotions, effectively what made her human in the first place. Damon and Stefan have had years to adapt to this lifestyle and years to figure out how to balance whatever guilt and pain they may feel with brooding/journaling or whoring/drinking depending on the brother. But in Elena’s case, as usual, everything is happening all at once.
It’s easy to forget that in Mystic Falls time, it’s been only two years or so since Elena’s parents died. That means in the span of less than 24 months she lost two sets of parents, two guardians, a brother and a few friends (and yet Bonnie still lives somehow). That would be a lot to deal with for even the most well-adjusted of us, but Elena is not a normal human and she’s far from OK. By flipping the emotion switch she’s essentially gone from one end of the spectrum – feeling too much and too deeply – to the other – feeling absolutely nothing. And it’s not exactly hard to see why Elena might seem to prefer the latter right now.
With no emotions she has no conscience, with no conscience she has no pain, with no pain, she’s free. And after all that she’s been through over the course of the last four seasons, Elena deserves a break from the pain and heartbreak, no? Sure, she’s not exactly going about it the right way – chomping on cheerleaders is strictly verboten – but no one can really fault her for wanting to escape from the pain of her old life.
The reason this doesn’t work, however, is because New Elena is still inhabiting the world and life of Old Elena, and the two don’t mesh all that well. Elena wants to feed on humans and be free, but her friends – the slightly more well-adjusted vampires – want to protect her still. They force her to act as if her brother didn’t just die at the hands of Silas and Katherine. They want her to go to school and act as if she’s still the same teenage cheerleader that she was at the start of the series, but she’s not.
It would be easy to put all the blame on Elena or all the blame on Damon, Stefan and Caroline, but in this case, everyone’s guilty of something. Elena without her emotions is a ticking time bomb. It’s really only a matter of time before Elena implodes and takes her friends and the town with her. But by forcing Elena to pretend that her life hasn’t drastically changed, Damon, Stefan and Caroline aren’t being all that helpful. Which is why it’s a good thing that Damon’s putting a little distance between Elena and Mystic Falls. She needs time away from the horrors of her old life, away from the reminders of the people she’s lost and the life that she can no longer call her own. She needs time to adjust to this new life in a real and honest way – in short, she needs a vacation from her worries. It’s going to take more than just a trip to New York with a sexy Salvatore to put Elena on the mend, but it’s a start.
Some stray observations:
- Good news! Matt is no longer homeless as Tyler signed over the deed for the Lockwood mansion to regular human Matt Donovan. Though I liked the idea of him being this show’s version of Derek Hale, it’s nice to not have to worry about him anymore. However, what’s this mean for the next Miss Mystic Falls? Is Matt in charge of all town events now? Did Tyler also provide his bank account information? Because working at the Grill will not even come close to what it must cost to heat that place.
- The Internet is abuzz with the sound of hatred for the Klaus and Hayley sexy times. I truthfully don’t have much of an opinion on it, because I’ve A) never really cared that much about Klaus and Caroline (I maintain the horse drawing was creepy), and B) it’s about damn time Klaus got some action. He’s an extremely good looking ancient vampire. If he can’t get laid, then I don’t want to live in this world. Also, I adore Phoebe Tonkin and would probably ship her character with my lamp at this point, so. As an added bonus, I like the way they’re building Hayley up as a more important character considering she’s to be part of ‘The Originals’.
- After weeks of Caroline leaving voicemails for Tyler, she finally received a letter from the lone wolf. He’s decided to take on the role of Katherine Pierce and declare that he can’t (AKA won’t) come back to Mystic Falls as long as Klaus is still alive. But what Caroline doesn’t know and what Tyler doesn’t know, is that Klaus will soon be departing for New Orleans on a one-way ticket. This is what I am telling myself to keep from going through Trevino withdrawal.
- New idea! Maybe Mystic Falls should invest in a supernatural spa and retreat. I have a feeling the number of unexplained animal attacks would decrease if there was a place for the supernatural to relax and rest their feet for a bit.
- This show needs more cat fights. Team Caroline, by the way.
- “Maybe this is the better version of me.” – Elena
- “You’re like Sherlock Holmes with brain damage.” – Rebekah
So what did you guys think? Do you like this new version of Elena? Are you as harsh an art critic as Hayley? Are you wondering where Bonnie was (LOL)? What are you going to get Matt as a housewarming gift?
*You can call it denial all you want, but I’ve watched soap operas, I know how this works. No one stayed around to make sure Jeremy’s body was burned in those flames. For all I know, Katherine’s off playing pin the tail on the dead Gilbert or something.
Photo credit: Annette Brown/The CW