The 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.
Everyone is subject to these rules and guidelines, whether they read them or not.
If you have problems with any of the comments posted, flag them to bring them to our attention. You can do this by hovering your mouse over the comment so the 'flag' link appears. You're also welcome to contact us to let us know about any problems.
Do not flag comments you just disagree with - it wastes moderator time. The flagging system is not there to give a post a thumbs down, it's there for genuine problems.
Be excellent to each other.