Vampire Diaries: We’ll Always Have Bourbon Street

“It’ll be her choice.”

After last week’s polarizing episode, the polar bears really had a lot of ground to cover in this episode. From Jeremy’s violent impulses to Elena’s slightly-less violent impulses, from Tyler’s attempts to de-sire the hybrids to Professor McCreepy’s ambiguous plans—we know resolution must be coming, since the winter finale is right around the corner. We just didn't get much of it this week.

This season, VD has focused on supernatural reasons for character development, so I expected an equally supernatural cure to Elena’s desire to make Damon happy. Instead, the cure is just as simple as it is obvious: Elena does whatever Damon says, so all he has to do it tell her not to do what he says, not to care what the thinks, and stop thinking of him as the center of the universe. Or even anywhere near the center.

Of course, the problem with a simple and personal cure is that it has more emotional consequence than a spell or pendant or something. Damon once again has to convince Elena to forget about him—something he’s done before, as when he confessed his love and compelled her to forget in Season Two’s “Rose.” Will he actually do it? Attempt to concoct a crazy scheme to de-sire her without making her unlove him? And what then? Damon’s attempts to compel people (especially Elena, but also Jeremy, and Caroline) usually aren’t permanent: they’re a form of narrative deferral. Will this be the same?

Damon told Stefan that “the only reason [he wants] to break her sire bond is to restore her original, factory Team Stefan settings.” I don’t disagree: Elena and Damon may or may not be right for each other, but Elena’s sire bond comes from her feelings for Damon. Stefan wants to deny that, for reasons that feel selfish. And creepy.

Less creepy than Damon’s history of being a “sociopathic narcissist”? I think so, since Damon turned off his humanity switch back in the days of treating Caroline like an inflatable doll. But the more I think about it, the more Elena’s taste in men seems horrifying either way. At least Stefan finally seems to have realized that Elena has to make her own choices. (Since the last time he made a choice for her she turned into a vampire.)

Although the bromantic turmoil of the flashbacks was the ostensible focus of this episode, to me it provided an interesting backdrop to the “girls’ night.” The drunken bonding was adorable, as was the make-up scene. The revelation that Bonnie is learning “expression” (the darkest of magics) is more upsetting. Professor Shane has shown himself willing to manipulate anyone and everyone, including Phoebe Tonkin. And he seems to have filled a void in Bonnie’s mentor-free life, in a way that makes her unaware of the power he has over her.

If there’s a Theme of the Week, power is it. The power Damon had over Charlotte and has over Elena; the power Shane has over Bonnie, and that Bonnie might have over the universe if she continues to follow him. Stefan has lost some of his power, and wants it back. And Tyler has assumed control of the hybrids.

Did you notice how Orwellian his speech was? Here it is in full: “I don’t kill and torture my own friends to get what I want. Now, we broke the sire bond. But if you want to be free, we have to work together. No one can step out of line. Now, you’re either with me, or against me. Submit. Submit, or you die.”

To translate: “I won’t kill you. Yes, I will—if you don’t submit. Because you need to submit to be free.” Submission = freedom. Is this a political satire? Are we supposed to be horrified by his rhetoric? Is Tyler going to turn into the Big Bad?

Bites:

• Damon: “Please tell me you’ve had a full life and have done something other than counting bricks.”

• Damon: “In the plus column, you know New Orleans better than anyone in the world.”

• Caroline: “If you don’t start hugging me back, this is going to get really awkward, really fast.”
Elena: “You have my arms pinned down.”

And Pieces:

• Stefan thought that driving an ambulance for the Allies in WWII was a good way to avoid human blood?

• Ian Somerhalder hails from Covington, Louisiana, which is within spitting distance of New Orleans.

• Next week’s episode will be reviewed by Katie Hart. Katie, I hope you get an episode with a bit more resolution than this one!

Three out of four choices.

Josie Kafka is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)

11 comments:

Nadim said...

Agreed about no resolution. I just wasn't satisfied by this hour. All the Damon-Elena moments were wonderful, but the New Orleans trip bored me and felt like an exposition dump.

Also, I'm hating Caroline. I don't know but the character is really starting to grate on my nerves which is weird as she used to be a favorite of mine.

Nevertheless, I'm sure next week's midseason finale will be explosive and hopefully satisfying. I'll reserve judgement until then.

Oh and I'm really hoping turns into the season's Big Bad. It will FINALLY give her some worthwhile to do.

Mark Greig said...

"Stefan thought that driving an ambulance for the Allies in WWII was a good way to avoid human blood?"

I was thinking the exact same thing. This is a guy who freaked out when he got just a little bit of blood on his hands, imagine how he would react to ambulance full of soldiers with missing limbs gushing blood. And Lexi thought Damon being there was bad for him? I am starting to see why Stefan keeps falling off the wagon.

ChrisB said...

I put off watching this for quite a while as I have been so upset by the last several episodes. While this one didn't upset me, it didn't excite me either. The whole New Orleans story was blah -- and I usually love the flashback episodes.

I'm very, very glad that Elena's feelings towards Damon come from a place of emotion and not of compulsion. That makes me feel much better about them sleeping together and any ongoing relationship they might have. Yes, Damon has been pretty awful in the past, but I am convinced that he wants to do the right thing now.

Loved your analysis at the end about Tyler! Josie, you may be the only person I know who can take a show like this and find Orwell. (That's a compliment, by the way!)

Jolyn said...

George Orwell, really nice reference! Hadn't thought of it that way. Tyler turned alpha only because Hayley pushed him -and Caroline witnessed the whole ordeal. I wonder how Caroline feels about the person her man is becoming. (Oh, is that the rumbling sound of heartbreak in the distance? Well, yes it is.)

This episode was vamped up with other VampVid-material and it annoyed the crap out of me. Seriously, the Twilight 'Eyes on Fire' song whacked my brain into expecting Bella to walk out of that bed and into the forest with R-Patz on her heels. Why use such a signature Twilight song? VD doesn't need that? And what was up with one of the most annoying (christian alcohol addicted yelling) True Blood actresses playing Nandi the witch? Yeah, so she did a nice job, o-kay. Still a mindfck.

I could forgive Caroline. Elena's Damon-Caroline reference reminded me of how awful Damon treated her. (inflatable doll indeed!) And Caroline only remembers that since the turned. I get she wouldn't want that for her friend. Protective bitchiness isn't really bitchy at all.

The Damon-Elena sire-thing is a gnawing thing in my head though. Damon has to set Elena free, or else her love might be a lie, right? Is Damon completely free of that now Tyler told Elena the sire-bond only affects how you act? Because, I was under the impression the sired want to make their sire happy? Is there any way Damon can keep Elena as his girlfriend without it being -oh, I don't know- wrong?

There's a bit of THAT conversation in the promo for next week and It. Is. Steamy:
Damon (in a pained voice, while moving slowly closer to Elena): "I want to throw you back in my bed and never let you leave."
Elena: "So do it."

Yowza!

But as of now, I am just not sure if I should be cheering or despairing when (or if) that happens next week. I'm hoping for a little extra guidance towards Team Cheery.

ChrisB said...

Jolyn -- thank you! That song was bugging me because I knew I recognized it, but for the life of me couldn't place it. As soon as I read your comment, it all fell into place.

PlatinumRosebud said...

Not very happy about this ep, either.
But your nice review compensated for it. :)
Have a nice day!

Anonymous said...

To Jolyn
Ah Im so glad some one else noticed! Why use the song that screams Twilight- probably one of the most well known vampire stories around, in a Vampire TV series with Vampire romance?? Its not like they thought no one would notice haha or that there isn't any songs available to use instead of that song.It immediately made me think Twilight and as a fan, It made me think of Bella and Edwards,kind of wishing for them, instead of Damon and Elena,which Im sure the show wouldn't want their fans thinking of other characters. It blows my mind,but so does using the True Blood actress (Another Vampire link),but she was good and im sure we are going to see more of her as shes an evil witch,better get use to the idea of true blood and vampire diaries sharing her haha.

I personally liked this episode , as Im a fan of Damon and Elena's relationship and Elena,though sired, finally admits she likes Damon. i want them to end up together, because Stephan and Elena can never have a proper relationship now without any baggage because to much has happened.

Actually looking forward to episode 9 :)

Suzanne said...

It looks like I liked this episode better than most of you did. I haven't been enjoying VD all season, but this one felt closer to the older episodes since we had the girls together again and the brothers together with a flash back (even though it wasn't the greatest). I also liked the twist to the whole site relationship that makes it seem Elena's feelings are real.

Anonymous said...

Poor Damon couldn't even have his one day of happiness.

JK said...

Eesh. Don't know how I feel about this episode, but it was certainly short on resolution. And Stefan continued to be unnecessarily dickish, so there's that.

Glad I've never seen Twilight, though, because the song fit quite well and, personally, I know it only from Skins. (And ta for letting me know why the witch seemed so familiar - couldn't quite put it together.)

Tim said...

Well this episode didn't annoy me like the previous two... it just didn't leave any impact on me at all, which might be worse.

I am so happy Damon tried to beak the sire bond right away without having to think about it, though he still hasn't fully told her to forget about him yet which he needs to do.

Didn't care for the girls night in. These three never really seem to be all that close to me. It never seems to take much for them to instantly fall out, Bonnie always being a terribly selfish friend, and Caroline is being rather irritating as of late.

Tyler continues to be the best thing on the show at the moment for me. I don't know what he actually wants to do to Klaus seeing as he can't actually kill him, so I am guessing trapping him somewhre where he can't hurt anybody?