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Posted by | December 5, 2012, 7:59 (MST) | 176 Comments
Category: In Review, The Vampire Diaries TV

Vampire Diaries In Review: My Brother's Keeper (EP407) - To Sire, with LoveThe writers of TVD often go for gold, hoping to stick the landing with a bold choice, mythology twist, or shippers-gird-thyself hookup — and My Brother’s Keeper followed in that proud tradition. Before I’m tempted to stretch my terrible gymnastics puns any further, let me just say: how fun was it to see Gabby Douglas in Mystic Falls being harassed by Caroline? Love that the show invited her to be a part of the shenanigans as the crown was passed to a new Miss Mystic Falls. And with this marker of a year gone by since Caroline won, Stefan dipped into ripperdom, Damon and Elena danced, and Jeremy searched for answers about the world of monsters, we can see how circumstances and characters have changed — and what will always remain constant.

So… Elena’s sired to Damon? That certainly explains the blood-from-the-vein thing that was nagging at me — that it couldn’t be a doppelganger curse, because Katherine had no problem with it. Does it make sense in terms of all the Elena-Damon interactions we’ve seen this season? (Like, would she have been able to resist drinking from that first college co-ed the way she did in The Five, or snap right out of her blood binge after one disapproving glance from Bonnie? Not sure!) What I do feel pretty darn sure about is that while this sire bond (assuming Caroline’s theory is bang-on) means that her actions this season have been sometimes compelled by Damon’s wishes, it doesn’t mean that all of her romantic feelings for him are solely sire-bondy. We were deliberately reminded of their epic dance moment in Miss Mystic Falls waaaaay back in Season 1 when the two exchange significant glances while watching the new court do the Intimacy of the Near Touch waltz — and then we were reminded again when Elena brings it up and the two dance by the fire. A sire bond doesn’t negate all the Damon-Elena chemistry we’ve had over the series.

It’s a pretty diabolical twist, though — and one that makes every side of this triangle all the more tragic: Stefan, just on the precipice of finding a little peace in an Elena-is-a-vampire world; Elena, finally coming to terms with who she is now and trying to sort through her confused feelings; and Damon — who I think I feel the worst for, despite it being the best day of his life. This is the guy who, back in Bloodlines, wanted his road-trip good times with Elena to be real; he didn’t compel her, ’cause he wanted a true connection. All he has ever wanted from her (or from Katherine in the past) is that elusive reciprocated love, for someone (as cheesy as it sounds) to love him for him. And now he gets the girl, and it turns out her choice may not have been entirely her own? Epically sad.

That’s what I like most about this show: so many layers. In the midst of a superhot sex romp scene, we get a mythology twist that has intense consequences for all involved. And earlier in the episode, Stefan’s maniacal dedication to finding the cure takes him back into those dark twisted places in himself that he tries to deny. On the surface he’s doing this for Elena, to “fix” her, but he takes to Klaus’s command to get Jeremy to develop his mark like a boss: killing the murderer (as if Mystic Falls has regular murderers to contend with as well as supernatural ones?), force-feeding him Jeremy’s blood, and then riling up Jeremy so his hunter instincts take him over. Amazing and awful — and, thanks to Paul Wesley being a freaking genius, it’s all tinged with a deep sadness. It finally surfaces when Elena tells him, “You don’t have to love me like this.” That “his” Elena is dead. And watching him leave Elena and Damon alone, to go crash elsewhere, was full-on pathos.

Whether or not Elena is sired (seems likely), whether or not they ever find the cure for vampirism (fingers crossed that they don’t), she has changed since she woke up in transition, and watching her come to terms with that has been a long process this season. But finally she’s there, standing up for her new self’s value even when it means being at odds with those closest to her. To understate the situation.

In an episode with two-hand scenes, where friends were pushed together or loved ones torn apart, the Jeremy-Elena dynamic was particularly strong. Besides the hilarity of Elena saying she would never hurt Jeremy after stabbing him in the neck last week (and her getting a stake in the neck in a just desserts moment), the Gilbert family is down to just those two kids, and to see them driven by barely controllable instincts to kill one another? Heartbreaking. Besides those intense moments of literally wanting to kill each other, it’s evident that they would do anything to save each other. Elena’s response to Stefan telling her that Jeremy killing vamps is the only way to find the cure is perfect: her humanity is not worth Jeremy losing his. It’s proof positive that though she isn’t human, her humanity is alive and well.

Since Season 1, Jeremy has been subject to compulsion again and again, the poor guy, and now he’s incapable of being compelled. Feels like a victory for him — and certainly that moment with Stefan was awesome — but the hunter status that frees him from compulsion comes with its own price. The magic that makes him supernatural forces him to have certain impulses and thoughts that could lead to highly regrettable actions — like killing his own sister. Just as that sister has new vampire tastes, and a sire bond that draws her to Damon, Jeremy is navigating new territory of knowing who he wants to be, but having uncontrollable urges that make him do otherwise. And every one of them needs a guide through, though it’s not always the person they’d expect. Instead of Stefan or Caroline, Elena turned to Damon. Jeremy can’t lean on his sister anymore, but Matt steps up just like he always does — taking care of both Gilberts without a moment’s hesitation. (How perfect is it that those two bros will be roommates? So perfect.) And though Caroline wants to live up to her friend obligations and save Elena from herself, it’s Stefan that she connects with, supporting him.

It was good fun seeing Caroline in Caroline-mode, bossing around the pageant volunteers, but more interesting was the dual dynamic between her and Elena, and her and Klaus. On the one hand, she warns Elena from falling for Damon, and based on how he treated her in season 1, and on his list of misdeeds, it’s understandable. (She seems to have entirely forgotten about Stefan’s serial killing and lying tendencies, but whatevs.) But she’s simultaneously being charmed by Klaus. Despite their date’s origin as a ploy to help her friends, she’s having a legitimately nice time with him (which Tyler doesn’t fail to notice) — and this guy, who steps in to prevent the girls from making a scene at the pageant, is the big bad. The guy who killed Jenna. And while his hummingbird heartbeat story was slightly less dreamy than the Caroline-birthday speech, I find myself as utterly charmed as Caroline. Caroline and Stefan butt heads with Elena about how she is supposed to act, and who she is supposed to love, but the reality is, in these complicated messy dynamics, letting go of fixed ideas about what “should” happen may be the only way to truly sublimate their darker instincts.

Compelling moment: Though I loved Jeremy’s ferocity in this episode — particularly standing up to Stefan and giving him a little stake-in-the-gut — I have to hand it to the Damon-Elena sex party intercut with Caroline’s “Oh. My. God.” realization. Well played, TVD!

The Rules: We learned about the rarity of vampires being sired last season when Damon figured out that Tyler was sired to Klaus, but we get a little refresher on why hybrids feel bound to Klaus here. With Jer’s mark activated, he experiences vampire-killing dreams, the overwhelming urge to kill vampires (akin to a newbie vamp’s wild thirst for blood), and his instincts change. He’s also super strong and full of energy. Professor Shane says that the “thing” hidden by the Hunter’s map is contained somehow, and only a spell performed by a Bennett witch will release it.

Foggy moments: Tyler tells Hayley that Caroline bought them more time, because Klaus is attending the pageant with her. How did that buy them more time? Is Klaus capable of only holding one thought in his mind at any one time? Would he not notice that his hybrids are AWOL? And what happened to the animosity between Caroline and Tyler after she and her pals killed Chris the Hybrid at the end of the previous episode? Why did Tyler think that Kim the Hybrid had broken her sire bond to Klaus? She looks exhausted and says to him she doesn’t know how much more of it she can take; only when turning is no longer painful is her sire bond broken. So shouldn’t she have been able to change forms like a champ and been a touch peppier about it, if it was truly broken?

Other thoughts & questions before We’ll Always Have Bourbon Street (EP408):

  • Never forget: Night whittling.
  • Lots of questions about the prof-turned-pageant judge. Shane manages to appear no-nonsense and forthcoming but he only shares the information that he wants to and that will help him, you know, not get killed by Damon. He doesn’t answer Damon’s question about his connection to the pastor. What are Professor Shane and Hayley up to? When did Shane and Hayley join forces? Before Tyler met her? Her boating accident story sounds like a big old fib. Who did she actually kill and who are/were her parents?
  • Shane says only a Bennett witch can do the spell for the cure — was Ayana involved in the original magic that created the hunters and/or the cure? Why does Shane want the hybrids free of the sire bond? Was Shane telling the truth about other hunters being hard to find?
  • Will Damon tell the others or Bonnie herself that she is needed for the hunters mark-map-cure spell?
  • Note that Shane didn’t refer to a cure, just the “thing” Damon would be trying to get at with the hunters mark and map. Is that a clue that there ain’t no cure?
  • How creepy was Jeremy’s “the council was doing the right thing for this town” moment? Shudder.
  • “My brother wants to kill me.” “Welcome to the club.” Oh, the things Mystic Falls residents bond over.
  • What is the deal with April? Why is she around? Seems like something has to be up with her, but so far she’s just kind of new human girl. Theories?
  • Is there a “cure” for being a sired vampire? The hybrid sire bond is borne of gratitude for being freed from the pain of turning every month, as we were reminded in this episode. What is the vampire equivalent? What does Elena feel innately bound to Damon for?
  • Is Stefan going to continue to “crash elsewhere” or will the sire news bring him back to the Salvatore manse to protect Elena from her sire-bond instincts?
  • Caroline asks the question of Klaus but doesn’t answer it: would she take the cure and change back to a human?


Thursday: flashback episode! Until then, sound off below, my friends.

Crissy Calhoun is the author of the Love You to Death companion guides to The Vampire Diaries: Season 1, Season 2, and Season 3. Find her online at and tweeting @crissycalhoun.

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  • Kim

    I thought the shower scenes are more for the fans ;), but this makes sense too.
    Well, even when he does feel guitly sometimes, he does it. And my problem with Damon not killing Matt (4×01) or not killing Caroline(2×02) it is no matter which season it is usually the person he loves who stops him from doing things or pushes him to do things. He deserted from the war bc Katherine told him to, he helped Katherine kill innocent people bc he loved her…I want Damon do to things more for himself. His actions are usually for a woman. Sometimes he tries to control Elena when she endangers herself and sometimes she tries to control him. It has become a little less, but for me his actions feels to much dominated from Elena..for example he promised to help Stefan in season 3×16, but he never lived up to it and then he was pissed bc Elena died even when it wasn’t his call. He can not controll what other people have to do. But the consequence is that Stefan doesn’t feel he can count on Damon anymore because Damon is making Elena’s death about himself and acts out on Matt who wasn’t even making any decisions at all. I want Damon to live up to his promise and help his baby bro.

    I agree with this part of the book ;)
    ” I also agree that all of the characters go to destructive lengths for
    loved ones and I think that’s an issue being highlighted on the show
    right now. My point was that Damon started at the bottom and has
    evolved and learned to temper his reactions while Stefan started at the
    top and is headed the other direction now. :D

    That’s good because his character needs to lose it without his blood
    addiction excuse making everything he does forgivable. He needed a
    catalyst (Elena turning) to push him far enough that he’ll finally be
    forced to face what he is. I’m not one of those Damon fans who thinks
    Stefan is actually evil and just hiding it behind fake good intentions.
    I’ve always felt like he truly is a decent guy but he’s got all these
    issues and, in trying to bury them, he’s turned himself into a
    delusional, sanctimonious ticking time bomb. I really do think this
    season is one of real growth for Stefan and will be fun to watch. He
    deserves a good story line and Paul Wesley is doing an amazing job. (PW
    is my favorite so I’m kind of excited!)”

    I was pissed the stopped the recovery last season. I don’t think that Stefan can that easily control the blood lust according to JP. She said once Stefan is ruled by blood in a way Damon never has been, so I want this sl to get explored. PW is my favorite too  and sometimes what the do with Stefan makes me ughhh. ;) I don’t think they can make Stefan find balance so fast and least not in season 3 this would have been too soon imo. and maybe maybe Stefan can finally have Klaus…:)

    It seems they want Stefan to go for Elena and help her even when she doesn’t want to which seems to be a callback when Elena went to rescue Stefan against his wish with no real plan how to do that and endangering herself and others in the process. I just don’t get the hate for Stefan atm even thought I think the writers failed to show that Elena changed so much…ughhh and I love the layers as well…:)

  • lolalovestvd

    I completely agree that Damon’s past actions were often motivated only by his love as opposed to a moral compass. I actually don’t feel that his reaction to Stefan allowing Elena to die was out of line (not the part about Matt, just his anger toward Stefan). Anger, frustration, grief – those are all pretty natural reactions to what happened. Plus, he’d just lost his best friend in the same moment. I think most people would have reacted even more dramatically. I actually thought Damon handled the whole thing rather well, except for blaming poor, sweet Matt. Even Stefan admits that his decision was wrong and Elena certainly never would have done what Stefan did – regardless of her firm stance on “choices”. I’m certain Damon must be pissed at Stefan as the two had agreed that they would keep Elena safe at all costs. Stefan failed. I’m pretty sure that it’s Damon who feels he can’t count on Stefan at this point, not the other way around.

    As far as his offer to help Stefan with his issues last season – he did. Various times in different episodes it clearly showed him trying to help and teach Stefan self-control. Even taking the responsibility for turning Abby was part of his attempt to help Stefan. He knew his brother wasn’t strong enough to deal with that guilt. Ultimately, Stefan rejected Damon’s methods as usual, anyway and apparently went back to animal blood.

    Like someone else posted here earlier, I think Stefan’s behavior right now is also a parallel to S1 Damon who allowed a single-minded goal – rescuing Katherine – cloud his judgment and nearly destroy him. Apparently, all three of these characters are going to have to go through that same torture. :/

  • William Welton

    Yeah, Elena is handling her transition into lethal supernatural creature a lot better then Jeremy is.  Both times that Elena wanted to bite Jeremy she controlled herself.  At least with Jeremy she has enough willpower to stop.  Jeremy has failed his first moment if instinct.  You think the Hunter instinct to kill Vampires if stronger then the Vampire instinct to kill humans?

  • lolalovestvd

    Well, he was really talking about Caroline herself, wasn’t he? :D

  • Raven

     Are you telling me he did not kill his father in the process of drinking his he did not drain him of blood? And yes, if he killed him while feeding, then he “ate him” in the metaphorical sense.

  • ihatepeople

    That just goes to show you we haven’t been shown the real Elena all along. Just like in the beginning of the series we hadn’t been shown the real Damon or the real Stefan. We now have the real Damon and the real Stefan is starting to creep thru. As for Elena up until now we’ve been shown only the Elena everyone wanted her to be, the good girl who did what was expected of her, what was safe, not the girl who wanted more as you could see in the flashback when she met Damon. We saw a hint of her in Denver after that incredible kiss when she smirked at how good it felt to go for what she wanted. Her beliefs and heart are still the same. The only difference is that she is finally deciding that she doesn’t want to spend her eternity settling for less than the passion and adventure she wants. No need to play it safe anymore. She has faced what she feared the most. It was always in her but she let others guilt her into conforming or they would reject her.

  • ihatepeople

    Romantic as Hannibal Lecture! Of course since she is so ga ga over Stefan she must like sociopaths.

  • Iheartdamon

    Sorry not all crazed:)

  • From Beginning To End

     Meredith is on Damon’s side. She should get more screen time. She’s more objective than everyone else.

  • ihatepeople

    She is more objective I guess because she understands psychology and is more mature. Matt does a pretty good job for his age. I’m hoping he steps up to help clear things up.

  • Lydeea_98

     It been established over the past seasons that vampires actually do have-except in extreme cases like the “Ripper syndrome”-a certain amount of free will. They can control their urges if they aren’t “starved’ for blood, and can do this by using other sources other than a live human, or animal. It boils down to whether or not the particular vampire prefers to remain a dangerous predator, or to try and blend into human society-or somewhere inbetween.
    However, so far they are showing that the hunters are not in that much control of their “urges.” What we were also shown was that the “spell” that was used on the Original family that made them into vampires was to protect their lives and give them power in order to protect themselves. You can’t get much better protection for your life than being immortal. Unfortunately the desire for blood and the other down sides were the price to pay in order to maintain the required balance that the witches always throw in there. However, the spell that created the hunters was created specifically to turn the human into a vampire killing machine-and that was its only objective. So far the single mindedness is the only down side we’ve been shown, and its problematic enough-but chances are there are others that future episodes will show.

  • Tiaserena

    I agree with you: Elena’s death scene was very poorly written, and it bugs me to no end. All he needed to do was reach across Matt, rip her belt, and she could swim to the surface by herself, or with a little help.
    SHE WAS CONSCIOUS, for goodness sake!

  • Tiaserena

    Hear hear! Well said. Feel people like to admit that Stefan has not began his redemption for the things he’s done – he has been automatically forgiven.

  • Tiaserena

    I agree with you that Caroline being so one sided is just a plot device. They ignored all her character growth for the last two seasons and she’s back at being Season’s 1 bitch.
    I also find it amusing (and sad) that Caroline (or the authors) cannot come with a more compeling argument than: Stelena is Epic and Delena is Ugh! Also Damon has cooties… Cooties! Seriously???? Are those 8 year olds quarreling?

  • Tiaserena

    Not only that, he’s the only one who has accepted her as a vampire and is honestly trying to help her deal with it. As he told Stefan: “she is finally in a good place about being a vampire, and I don’t want to ruin it.”

    Also people are acting as if her feelings for Damon just happened after she turned. These feelings have been growing since season 1 when she realized all the crazy stuff he was doing was for the love of Katerine, and how incredibly hurt he was cron her betrayal.

  • Tiaserena

    I think I was really upset by the way they cut the scene and did not allow us to enjoy it, before dropping the sire bomb.
    I guess the low ratings of 408 reflect how angry and frustrated. Both Delena and Stelena shippeds got with that scene.
    And they didn’t learn and did the same thing with the morning after scene.

  • Tiaserena

    Great idea, except that Julie Plec already said in an interview that the sire bond is true, but so are Elena’s feelings for Damon – thus giving away the whole plotpoint of episode 408…
    Why can’t she learn from JK Rowling and keep her mouth shut about the plot lines?

  • Tiaserena

    Why should vampires who can be centuries old be bound to the morality of 20th century middle america? They are creatures of the dark, predators who need human blood to survive, murderers in their free time. They can live long enough to see that other peoples, other times have different moralities and nothing is absolute.
    There was a time when a brother was supposed to wed his brother’s widow. In the bible story, Jacob was married to both Rachel and Leah at the same time, and I never heard anyone say: ugh gross! Men magazines often show twins on their covers and centerfolds. It’s a popular fantasy.
    I for one would love to see our beloved vampires act like vampires and throw human conventions to the wazu!

  • Tiaserena

    Excellent question. I think it doesn’t and it was a story Alexander told Rebekah to get close to her. It is supposed to lead to the ultimate weapon to kill vampires.
    Unless the cure would apply to ALL VAMPIRES, thus ending the race by turning all vamps to human.

  • O.o

    Lucky for us some enterprising people have edited all the Steroline Sterics out of it and posted it on YouTube. No fast forward needed!

  • ihatepeople

    Awesome thanks! Gotta love youtube.

  • sady

    Damon of course

  • sady

    the background music for Delena special moment- kiss me by Ed Sheeran- is epic

  • omd.1864

    i agree he could have saved them both but i think the whole point was for her to turn.

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