Let’s start by getting this out of the way: if we look at this as an episode about men and women, it’s horrifying.
Caroline spent most of the episode wanting her boyfriend’s support; Elena spent most of the episode coming to grips with what her vampire-boyfriends wanted her to realize, and relied on Damon to help her deal with it; and Bonnie has lost control, influenced by Shane and by Silas.
But if we ignore all that—and I think we must, if we want to keep enjoying the show—we’re left with a stunning portrait of the first stages of grief (denial and anger), and the threat represented by the bargaining stage in a world in which dead doesn’t always mean dead.
Nina Dobrev did a wonderful job portraying the range of emotions brought on by the loss of her brother. As Rebekah pointed out, this is the last of Elena’s family. Mark Greig pointed out last week that “killing Elena’s family members has become something of an annual tradition.” True, but I wish the showrunners would stop doing that; it’s both pesky and unbearably sad.
It’s also an opportunity for the writers to explore a new facet to Elena’s vampirism. Now that she has turned off her humanity switch, she looks posed to become a hollow shell. Stefan and Damon both struggled with the urge to slaughter early in their un-lives, and even Caroline ate a few people before regaining her self-possession. Will Elena become a new Katherine, gnawing on necks and compelling with impunity? For a character with such a complicated guilt complex, that’ll be hard to deal with once that humanity gets turned back on.
I wonder if it will come down to a vampire showdown: Caroline, whose speech about the helplessness of dealing with death was perfect (and reminiscent of a similar speech by Anya in Buffy Season Six), on the side of humanity, and Elena on the side of inhumanity.
Regardless, there will be some sort of showdown: Bonnie has gone full darkside and has started to think that massacring 12 more people is a really good idea—even though “bringing back the dead” only means the supernatural dead (and all the unfriendly supernaturals that hitch a ride). Destroying the veil that separates this side from “the other side” is, as everyone but Bonnie points out, a terrible idea. It is opening hell on earth.
Would the show go there? Recalling all those past guest stars and cast members is no small feat, but it would be fascinating. It would also create a nearly impossible situation: imagine Finn and Kol returned from the dead? Their vengeance alone—regardless of anyone else’s—would be too much for our heroes to handle.
Especially with an inhuman Elena. Her humanity has always been her character’s hallmark: while I think Stefan went a bit far in saying Elena feels grief worse than anyone else (because that seems a bit odd), her combination of compassion and a willingness to sacrifice herself have played a huge part in the show for three and a half years. With those characteristics gone, what is left?
• Caroline: “We need a funeral. Or a cover story. Or a funeral and a cover story. I should go tell my mom, she’ll know what to do…I will call Matt, and then I’ll tell my mom, and then I’ll make a list, or a casserole, or whatever people are supposed to do in these situations.”
• Matt: “Poison your best friend once, and suspicion follows you around forever.”
• I thought all the reminders about rotting corpses were rather hard to deal with.
• I thought Shane/Silas’s (“Shilas” or “Sine”?) speech about how he’d only killed 24 people, not 36, had some hilarious delivery.
• The Vampire Diaries will return March 14th.
Three out of four Damon logics.
Josie Kafka is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)
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