It’s that wonderful time of year: the moment in the season of The Vampire Diaries when the disparate plot threads start coming together into one super story-line, and with We All Go a Little Mad Sometimes it feels like we’re just on the cusp of something big in the final episodes before the winter hiatus.
Though the Salvatores literally lose Elena twice, it’s Elena nearly losing herself that’s at the heart of this episode. To put it mildly, she’s had a rough go of it this season so far, feeling that she is betraying herself, who she wants to be, and becoming a monster undeserving of the love and loyalty that surrounds her. With Connor’s spirit needling away at her, taking on the form of Katherine (so good to see even an imaginary version of her) and Elena’s mother, Elena is forced to deal with her demons, and when the sun rises on Wickery Bridge, it feels like she’s finally more at peace having waged that battle and nearly lost herself in it.
What struck me about this episode was its eyes-wide-open confrontation of the moral failings of our heroes. At the center, of course, was Elena facing the consequence of killing Connor. But it was the solution to that problem — Jeremy killing Chris to free Elena from the “hunter’s curse” — and Tyler’s reaction that really brought to light how far astray the good guys have gone. Stefan, Damon, Caroline, Bonnie and Jeremy just straight-up conspired to kill someone, and did Klaus’s wet work for him by taking out the hybrid who had betrayed his boss and broken his sire bond.
Think back on season one Tyler and imagine that that guy would be the one to help strangers, to call baloney on the excuses made to justify actions, to believe that the team he’s a part of (as he said in Memorial) extends beyond the Mystic Falls born-and-bred to other “monsters” who are without a will of their own. Tyler knows that the red shirts — whose necks have been so easily snapped or hearts ripped out by our two leading men — are just like him, hybrids forced through their sire bond to Klaus to betray their own sense of right and wrong. Even without a sire bond, our gang has done terrible things when forced into a corner (see: Bonnie, always). What was interesting about We All Go a Little Mad Sometimes was Tyler questioning what is acceptable and whose lives matter. Caroline brushes off Chris’s death, because he was a stranger to her, but he was a friend to Hayley, and to Tyler. And as Damon pointed out to Elena at Widmore in The Rager, everyone is someone’s sister or aunt or lover or brother. Even a serial killer who’s brutally murdered countless people is loved and cherished and would be mourned…right, Stefan? In the TVD world, is there such thing as a justifiable homicide?
One of this show’s refrains is that there is always a choice. (Like, the gang could have locked up Elena in the old vampire jail cell and left her there, safe from hurting herself though tormented instead of killing Chris.) But the poor characters are very deliberately given no time to be thoughtful about how to respond to a deadly threat. (Those dastardly writers!) So The Vampire Diaries often showcases a frenzy of questionable (or flat-out bad) decisions — like Stefan’s willingness to turn someone just to sacrifice them (as he texted to Caroline) or Jeremy’s decision to behead a hybrid, both to save Elena from what amounts to extreme psychological torture.
That frenetic pacing and normal lack of deliberation was so perfectly contrasted in the break-up scene on the porch. Stefan and Elena’s relationship this season quietly lead to this moment where both are being as honest and grownup about their feelings as they know how. It’s no easy task to admit that what they had hoped for in their forever together hasn’t panned out. That dying and becoming a vampire changed Elena, and pulled her away from Stefan — just as his return to being a ripper did last season. It’s a beautiful, almost understated scene with Paul Wesley and Nina Dobrev so in control of their characters that a subtle look can express the complicated reality of their feelings for each other, and hers for Damon.
Whatever the fallout from that break-up will be, it will play out in concert with the uncomfortable alliance with Klaus. He acts in Elena’s “best interest” — trying to protect her from the consequence of killing a hunter by locking her up (in a room with a bevy of makeshift weapons available to a creative mind) — and, while this vampire cure is in play, his motivation aligns with hers. As much as he wants her alive for his future hybrid-making, there seemed to be something personal there too. That he “felt time” for those 52 years, 4 months and 9 days of being psychologicaLlY tormented by the hunters he killed — is that part of what makes Klaus so…Klaus? I loved that little glimpse of his humanity, like when he told Caroline on her birthday that he’d thought about ending it once or twice over the years or in this episode when he gallantly told Caroline that, if he had the power, he’d have never let Tyler hurt her. Twisted? Yes. Delightful? Hell yes.
Klaus further embroils himself into the lives and futures of our beloved Mystic Falls kids, and Jeremy as the “next Chosen One” is no exception. He’s now just as crucial a part of Klaus’s plot to discover the cure, and under his protection. What the Original Hybrid will want, presumably, is for “Little Gilbert” to kill as many vampires as he can to complete his tattoo. Jer’s on dangerous ground. Doing that may help his sister but becoming a killing machine requires a certain attitude toward those you kill. We’ve seen Jer try on the role of hunter in the past – half-heartedly whittling a stake to attack Damon with – but he’s been a firm believer in the fact that vampires are not wholly evil monsters that deserve final death. His new identity as a hunter, spelled by witches with extra power and singular purpose, is at total odds with who Jer has chosen to be.
Thanks to P.I. Matty Donovan, we know that the deceased Pastor Young was calling Professor
Dreamy Atticus Shane daily. Which helps explain why Connor showed up at the cabin in Memorial. Besides touring mystical objects around local high schools, what is this creepy-until-proven-otherwise professor up to? What was with that mythology bomb he dropped: Silas, an immortality spell, a big old rock, and his betrayed lady-love witch who buried him alive?
Compelling Moment: The porch break-up. Just perfectly, quietly devastating.
The Rules: After a hunter is killed, he can haunt the vampire who killed him, trying to torment him or her into suicide. A “potential” hunter is activated by killing a vampire (or vampire-werewolf hybrid) after getting his initial hunter’s mark.
Foggy moments: How does Connor know how to best wear down Elena? Is he assisted by dead witchy powers that know Elena’s deepest fears and insecurities? Does he have some access to her psyche now that he’s a ghostly hunter? Where was Carol Lockwood the whole time that teenage hybrids were getting hammered in her house? Slumbering it with Liz? How long did it take for Damon to find Elena’s ring? It is rather amusing to picture him sifting through river mud.
Other questions & thoughts before My Brother’s Keeper (EP407):
- Seems like Klaus’s visions of the hunters must have ended because new hunters were activated. So there have been five active hunters since the late 12th century?
- Since Jer beheaded a guy in the Lockwood foyer, is Tyler and Jeremy’s friendship kaput?
- What will Caroline and Klaus do on their date?
- Damon’s never-ending memorial for Alaric just breaks.my.heart.
- How is Professor Atticus Shane connected to Pastor Young?
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