After four seasons, Vampire Diaries’ crisis of the week format is wearing a little thin, yet week after week, the show we’ve sacrificed our sanity for parades out in that tattered blanket and we eat it up like hungry little puppies. At first, “We All Go a Little Mad Sometimes” was just another drop in the “Oh no, what do we now?!” bucket. Until it went darker than the series has gone since Elena almost lost her life to Klaus’ hybrid ritual. Even the Season 3 finale, which had her give up her life so Stefan could save Matt was more a moment of heartbreaking kindness than it was a dive into darkness. This week’s teenage suicide plot, however, was a whole new world.
After Elena lost her killing virginity, she started taking a lot of showers. And seeing nonexistent blood everywhere. But she did something crazy (in her world), and it’s natural that she’d have some serious psychological repercussions, but imagining that Jeremy is Connor the vampire hunter and stabbing him the neck is certainly not your run of the mill expression of guilt and shame. There’s something greater at play here.
Of course, Jeremy is fine (unless you count the fact that his “just woke up from death” gasp is a little overwrought) but Elena is almost completely screwed. She’s written off Stefan after last week’s pack of lies that put her into the position to kill Connor in the first place, and she’s only trusting Damon, but when he starts turning into Connor too, life becomes just a shade beyond impossible. Klaus, for once, actually does something that will help Elena: he steals her away and locks her up because he’s been through the same thing. When a vampire kills a hunter (and Klaus once killed five) that hunter haunts them with no end in sight, urging only one conclusion: kill yourself. Yes, this innocent little CW show went there.
And not only did the show go somewhere darker than we may have expected, but the plot called into question our perspective on the series entirely. With Elena not speaking to Stefan, Klaus being the one making the healthiest decision for Doppelganger vampire, and Elena repeatedly assessing the idea that she’s a “monster” and she “deserve[s] to die,” the episode rejuvenated its stale notions. Stefan is not necessarily the right path for Elena. Klaus is a bastard, but he’s not completely heartless. And we’ve spent this whole time thinking vampires are sexy, but they’re master killers. Are they really monsters who deserve to die? Are we wrong for finding their adventures exhilarating? And when, if ever, has this show begged these questions of viewers?
Just as they do in every other episode of TVD, the gang sets up a plan to save Elena. While she’s locked in a room with her own conscious, which manifests itself in both the form of Connor and visions of Katherine assessing all of Elena’s insecurities about people dying to save her life, all of her friends are banding together to figure a way out of her psychological somersaults. Bonnie lures Professor Hottie (whose name has been revealed to be Atticus Shane) into a classroom where he tells Damon about the vampire lore that dictates a method for stopping Elena’s guilt visions. If a vampire kills a hunter, the potential hunter who absorbs that hunter’s tattoo and responsibilities must kill another vampire. Then boom: no more visions of dead people telling you to kill yourself. That means Jeremy needs to kill someone. The problem is that we like all of the vampires we know.
Enter a random new hybrid, introduced for the sole purpose of dying. Tyler, Haley, and Caroline have hatched a plan to de-sire hybrids and that plan has two important pieces: Caroline has to “break up” with Tyler in front of Klaus and we need proof that Haley and Tyler can work their magic. Doomed-to-death hybrid , Chris, is that guy. They’ve broken his sire bond and while “single” Caroline distracts Klaus with her feminine wiles, Chris lets Stefan right into Elena’s cell. Elena is going nuts by this point and sees Stefan as Connor, stabbing him with a pipe and disappearing immediately. And poor Chris has just rushed off to his doom.
It doesn’t take long for Klaus to find out Elena is missing, because Caroline gets a text from Stefan and somehow thinks telling Klaus would be helpful. The result is Klaus’ powerful hand threatening to crush Chris’ neck until Jeremy, the potential hunter, comes in and kills Chris in order to save his sister.
It’s something that doesn’t sit too well with Tyler, who looks like he may just break up with Caroline for real. She just helped make the decision to sacrifice their friend for Elena, which is an interesting notion. This show often disposes of tertiary characters and none of us give it a second thought, but when Tyler throws a vase against the wall (okay, half of that was for Caroline “furthering the ruse” by agreeing to do on a date with Klaus in exchange for Chris’ death) it brings that notion into the light. Why are we okay with these practically nameless characters ending their lives left and right? Why is it so easy for us to watch? As Tyler says, he was a friend, part of Tyler’s pack, yet we and Elena’s friends didn’t hesitate to sacrifice his life for theirs. It’s another dark, deep look at the logistics and ethics of a violent, secret vampire society. Would it be all sexy and dripping with exciting blood? Perhaps not.
Though Jeremy’s kill stops the visions from assaulting Elena, she’s already been led to Wickery Bridge by her invisible cohorts, the last of which takes the form of her mother and instructs her to take off her daylight ring so she can burn in the sun when it comes up. After a little hemming and hauling, Elena finally drops the ring in the river, accepting that she’s cheated death twice on that bridge and it’s time for her to give up. Her mother even offers her the only-on-this-show solution to her potential suicide: you can support Jeremy as a helpful ghost. Right, mom-vision.
Luckily, Stefan has sent Damon to talk Elena off her ledge and between his ability to get through to her and Jeremy’s curse-breaking first vampire kill, the visions stop and Elena wants to live again. Not-so luckily, Elena’s ring is under the water and the sun is coming up. Damon throws her into the water before the rays of sunlight can turn her into a one-woman pyre and somehow, finds her ring in the process. And while the episode’s questions of self-worth and dealing with the weight of your own guilt certainly elevated the level of discourse on the show, when it comes down to it, most us are here for the romance. This week’s episode took the candy-heart-encrusted cake.
After saving Elena’s life, Damon has the baby vamp in the palm of his hand. She’s furious with Stefan, she’s spent all season connecting with Damon more than anyone, and he looks like a dark angel wrapped in sunlight, staring deep into her eyes and sitting on her bed. How he resisted the urge to grab her and give her the tonsil-hockey he’s been craving since that hotel hookup, and instead sang his little brother’s praises is beyond me. Hell, how the writers made it through that scene without giving us what we all wanted is beyond me. But kiss or no kiss, the seemingly innocuous scene was enough to convert any Stelena shippers. It’s clear (if the hints for the past five episodes haven’t been enough) that Damon simply makes more sense for Elena. He’s who she should be with.
It’s something that even Stefan has come to understand, and when he tells Elena that while sitting on her stoop, it’s not even that upsetting. It’s exactly what needs to happen. The once-untamable chemistry between Elena and her first love has been gone all season. Since she’s made her transformation, they’ve both been hanging onto a life that never was, and one that (if you ask me) never will be. Turning into a vampire is the second chance you get when you die too damn young. The notion that there’s some cure that returns your actual life to you after you’ve cheated death already is not only improbable, it’s insane. It’s clear that Stefan only believed it because he’s growing so uncomfortable with the new, stronger, darker woman Elena has become. She’s not some dainty flower who needs to be rescued from her tower. What she needs is to be rescued from herself, and as someone who clearly understands the new Elena, Damon is the person to do it. Even Stefan knows that.
Still, when Stefan says he’s “done,” it’s hard to believe that he actually means it this time. It’s hard to imagine a world in which Stefan isn’t after Elena or Elena is pining after Stefan. It’s impossible to imagine a place where Elena and Damon can unleash their feelings and get really, really dark together. Lucky for us, we may not have to imagine it for much longer.
We will, however, have to try to remind ourselves that Shane has some stronghold on the vampire hunter mystery (yeah dude, we get it: “only you” can unlock the tattoo’s power) and that, as Matt so cleverly discovered, he was in cahoots with Pastor Young all the way up to the cabin explosion. I know this information is important, but all I can think about is how long Damon will wait (out of respect) before jumping Elena’s new vampire bones. My guess is that he’ll make us wait for it. Typical Damon.
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[Photo Credit: CW]