After the sob-fest of Stand By Me, the writers gave the characters — and us poor heartbroken fans — a break this week and had Elena and company try to have a little fun for once.
And fun it was. This new version of Elena — manipulative, impulsive, brutally honesty — is not afraid of embarrassing people, spilling secrets, or breaking all the rules. She’s like a parent’s worst nightmare. Except, of course, Elena’s an orphan and it’s up to Caroline, Damon, and Stefan to watch over her, to deliver the unwanted and condescending lectures. In a hilarious twist, the sire bond doesn’t work when there are no emotions to fuel it, and so not even Damon — who commanded her to flip the switch in the first place — has any authority over Elena. She will do whatever she wants, and she’s pretty single-minded: she feels amazing and sees no reason to exercise control, restraint, or even think of the future in a survival-instinct kinda way.
The well-meaning trio tries their best to keep Elena entertained: the old lying in the road trick with Damon, some cheerleading gone wrong with Caroline, and an easily outwitted Stefan who ‘grounds’ her. Elena’s lack of restraint was a little reminiscent of Damon when he first rolled into Mystic Falls: no concern about leaving a bloody trail, disrupting school activities by feeding on athletic types, displaying a sexual freedom. But mixed with Katherine — as Stefan points out to Elena. While showerheads at the Salvatore Mansion may have an extra special vervain-removing filter, Switch-Off Elena has no filter whatsoever, and the hurtful part of that is that what she says, though way harsh, is true. Stefan’s world does revolve around Elena; Damon was scared the old Elena would judge him for how bad he truly was; and Caroline is desperate to have Tyler back while harboring some lusty thoughts about Klaus. (And she hasn’t even seen his tattoos. Lord have mercy.)
I’ll give her this: she’s smart as heck, plays to her audience, and keeps her plans to herself. She could give Katherine Pierce a run for her money. But is this the best version of Elena? Is a person ever themselves if they are completely ruled by their id, with no morals, compassion, concern for others? And for those who love her most, how difficult it must be to see her truly carefree — smiling, dancing on a table, letting loose at the insta-kegger — probably for the first time since her parents died, and feeling obliged to drag her back to her “real” self, a girl whose life sucks. Why would she want to turn her emotions back on?
And is she totally emotionless? She seems just a tad jealous of Caroline and Stefan’s good times at the party, and she certainly punishes Caroline for her “meddling” and lectures: why do that if you truly do not care? There’s always that little gray area of the Switch Flipped vampire — the cracks where the light can get in, to paraphrase Leonard Cohen. Though Elena threatens Liz and shoves her against the wall, though she is right on the edge of killing Caroline, she doesn’t do anything irreparable. She lets the Salvatores take her away. She sits on Damon’s bed and waits as he roots through his trunk of old stuff. She goes with him, when she could easily just run away.
Elena suggests to Damon that he actually likes her better this way: there’s no fear of being judged by this Elena. She doesn’t care if he’s immoral. But does Damon prefer Elena this way? He tells Rebekah at that party that being ordinary means being nothing (and BTW thanks for that, Damon, on behalf of mortals everywhere), and that attitude towards the average life suggests he just might prefer an Elena who enjoys being a vampire, who is non-judgmental and fun-loving — if a little crazy and reckless. He’s never wanted the cure for himself or for her, but he did want her to have what she wanted. So how much of Damon spiriting her out of town to the City that Never Sleeps and saying “emotions are overrated” is in earnest, and how much simply Damon trying another tactic? Is he still trying to give her a reason to come back to herself?
As Damon and Elena head out of town, Caroline faces the fact that Tyler is never coming back. At least not until Klaus is dead. In one last act of protectiveness, Tyler signs over the deed of the Lockwood Mansion to Matt (who certainly cannot afford the upkeep on a place like that, but whatevs) so Caroline will have a safe-house. Only Matt can invite vampires in, and he’s not incredibly fond of Klaus. Though Caroline has been standing strong for her friend, trying to help Elena, she herself is experiencing loss and having a pretty sucky day in particular: her best friend tried to kill her, attacked her mom, suggested she take Stefan for a spin and called her out on her lusty feelings for Klaus, while insulting her for still caring about Tyler. And no doubt the Mystic Falls cheer squad lost the competition thanks to Elena’s mean-spirited sabotage. But what finally makes Caroline break down is Tyler’s goodbye letter: no matter how many voicemail messages she leaves him, and no matter how much they still love each other, he is not coming back to Mystic Falls. Just when Caroline could use a best friend in Elena, Elena could not care less.
Compelling Moment: Stefan picking up Caroline. Klaus and Hayley getting it on. Do not make me choose!
The Rules: Without any emotion to fuel it, the sire bond is rendered inert.
Foggy Moments: If your friend (a powerful witch) is talking about murdering a dozen people and then raising all the supernatural dead, maybe do more than just call her and be like, You cool?
Other Thoughts & Questions before Because the Night (EP417):
- By putting vervain in the water, the Mayor has done for Mystic Falls than, like, any other mayor in the history of Mystic Falls. Well played.
- Here’s hoping that Damon mentions to everybody he knows what Rebekah told him: Shane is dead. So when Bonnie is talking about Shane in the present tense, they all clue in to the crazy.
- Who is stealing all the blood from all the hospitals? Is it Silas? (How much does Silas know about things that have been invented in the past 2000 years, like blood bags?)
- Who was Damon’s old pal Will and why did Damon kill him when the cure was right? He knows from personal experience that there is no “too far gone” when it comes to a werewolf bite.
- Now that Klaus knows some info about Hayley — thanks to her unique birthmark — will she spill what she knows about Katherine’s network of allies? Can these two master manipulators trust each other at all?
- What was with Matt Donovan’s weird half-smirk as he hugged the crying Caroline? Maybe I’m getting paranoid re: Silas but — Is that really Matt?
- The new information about the sire bond suggests that all those hybrids who tortured themselves by turning hundreds of times could’ve just flipped their emotions switch and been free (if rather misbehaved). Or does the werewolf part of a hybrid prevent them from being totally emotions-off like a full vampire?
- What will happen to the sire bond if Elena decides to turn her emotions back on? Will it come back in full swing?
What did you think of Bring It On? Sound off below!
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