TVD 4x17: Because the night...what? Does anyone get this title?

Mar 22, 2013 13:06

Hi, kids! Apologies for missing last week. I was out of town and couldn't watch the new ep until Sunday night, and by that time it felt too awkwardly late to say anything. Not to mention I was a bit confused about how I felt last week, and wanted to wait for this week's ep to clear it all up. Turns out that was futile, because I'm still pretty confused about how I feel. Ughhhh show, remember when I wasn't all angsty about you (probably not.).

Ok, what to start with? This post will undoubtedly be a terribly disorganized stream of consciousness ramble in list form. So I suppose we'll get the strange out of the way.

~I have to confess, I am super conflicted about Elena. Not even conflicted, really. I don't know what it is. But much to my surprise, I found myself rather in turmoil about her this week. Alex tried to talk me down, but even now I'm trying to sort it out. I really thought I'd be 100% on board with switch!flipped Elena, and narratively I am. Intellectually, I have no problem with what the show did with her this week. It makes sense, and it's interesting, and it all checks out. But for some reason, I'm not happy with it. I'm not UNhappy with it. I'm just in this very strange place. Alex is telling me that I'm supposed to be uncomfortable with Elena being like this, and rationally, I know that. But I like my characters unrepentant and problematic and difficult. One of my FAVOURITE Elena moments is the 3x14 moment when she crushes Damon. I LOVE IT. I love it for its ruthlessness. I love my characters being awful and brutal and shattering. So why wasn't I gleeful in this episode? I'm trying to figure it out. I wondered if it's just disgruntled D/E shipping, but I don't really have a problem with what Elena did to Damon. I just...don't feel Elena right now? Like, something about the way she is right now is contrasting with the way I always believed she'd be, and it's not that she's any better or worse, she's just different. And somehow that's freaking me out? Because it worked for me last week, but this week it's bothering something in me, and I can't figure out why!

Now that I think about it, this was a terrible place to start, because it's just me incoherently babbling about how I don't understand myself and my own reactions. So who wants to psychoanalyze me.

~On to other unpleasantness. How boring were Stefan, Klaus, and Caroline in this episode? Just about as boring as Klaus and Haley last episode. Yep. I'm going there. Idk, guys, just. Something about this combination of people just DOES NOT do it for me. Every time they showed up on screen, I was just like, "Ugh, this again." Did anyone else find them dead boring as well as terribly irritating? This is not a trio that works for me. Especially when the show is trying to push the one prong of this triangle that really, really doesn't work.

And that brings me to the point you all knew I was going to come to. KLAROLINE SHIPPERS, LOOK AWAY. Because ughhhhhhh no. Just. No. Stop it, show. Seriously, I am so tired of this. I just want it gone. I could give a whole manifesto on why I think Klaroline was an interesting ship to begin with that just went wrong, but tbh, I just can't expend the energy on something that is so not worth my time. All I want is for the show to STOP pushing this business so hard. COOL IT with all the references about the 'allure of darkness' and the appeal of the morally inept. SERIOUSLY? This is CW drivel on a show that consistently rises above such nonsense. I am a die-hard D/E shipper, and even I would have rolled my eyes hard at this sort of 'logic' being peddled about my ship, even if it even vaguely applied. It just feels like the show is trying so damn hard, and even if I DID ship this, this kind of storytelling would take me out of it completely. A ship should happen organically or not at all, and it's very clear to me that the show realizes that this ship cannot happen organically. It's right about that, by the way. But apparently that doesn't stop it from trying to force the issue. Look, I'm all for people embracing their inner darkness. But this whole pitch about 'pure hearts being drawn to the darkness,' just. It sounds like a joke. And the show needs to let up. Listen, this is a show that kept a core ship of the show on a low simmer for THREE YEARS. So how come every scene with either Klaus or Caroline feels like it's desperately plugging the Klaroline angle?

Ok, guys, am I just super sensitive to this? Or are you feeling this too? Because lately, I feel like every time EITHER of these characters shows up on screen, I have to brace myself for yet another Klaroline reference. And its frustrating relentlessness is making me even less tolerant. Because I've said it before, and I'll say it again: IT MAKES NO SENSE. For EITHER character. I mean that. And TELLING me that they're into it does not equate to showing me or even convincing me WHY they are into it. Ughhhhh, this might just be an issue for me. But frankly? I find it all rather stupid. Inferior storytelling on a show that's consistently delivered better.

Ayyy, I feel bad about my continued vehement disapproval of Klaroline. I know a lot of wonderful, intelligent people who ship it. But something about it just does not compute in my head. There was a way to do this ship right (albeit in a thoroughly wrong!shippy way - there was never a conventional romance option for these people, sorry to say), but the show didn't do that. But please. Any Klaroline shippers on my flist, tell me what you are seeing that I'm not.

Then again, if you're shipping it on a purely shallow, Rule of TVD* kind of way, by all means, continue. I understand. (Except apparently Klaus, as ridiculously attractive and seductive as he is, has somehow become a fundamentally nonsexual character to me? I LEGIT GIGGLED through his sex scene with Haley. Like, the very idea that he was having sex made me laugh like a teenage boy. What is my deal, yo.)

~One thing about Klaus, though. I've made it no secret that I've enjoyed him less lately, when once he was one of my special darlings. This has made me very sad, but I just haven't really been into what they're doing with his character. I think they've kind of lost what Klaus should be. That being said, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed that scene with him and Silas at the end. That was...kind of awesome? So at the risk of sounding like a broken record, I think it's all the Caroline drivel that's ruining Klaus. That and Haley. When Klaus gets to be Klaus again, I still love him. (P.S. I know that's what a lot of people would say about this rumored great difference between the current Damon and the so-called season 1 Damon, but the thing is, Damon was NEVER intended to be a pure villain. Damon's function was to go through a long and changing character arc. But Klaus was not meant for romantic plots. It's not how the character was developed, and it's not what he was intended for, and yes, plans can change, but this one shouldn't have, at least not in this way. Klaus was sympathetic and nuanced in a believable, compelling way, without having to reduce him to one half of a lesser good girl/bad boy plotline. Ack I'm sorry I will stop now.)

~Ok, that's done. Let's move on to Bonnie. I am really digging this storyline for her. I actually thought it was the strongest arc in the episode. It's still very unnerving, seeing the contrast of extreme power and alarming submission that Bonnie's embodying right now. But I think it's very interesting. And while I recognize that the way she's being used is uncomfortable, the prominence of it in canon assures me that it will be addressed in some way. And it IS interesting, isn't it? She holds all the power and none of it, all at the same time. It's also 100% in character, the way Bonnie has fallen into Shanelas (Silane? Who knows.) and his manipulation. Bonnie's weakness has always been her willingness to do whatever is required of her for the ones she loves, despite her better judgment and moral obligation. This is exactly the way to get to her.

I'm also pretty interested in Bonnie's relationship with witches right now. Being a witch is how she defines herself, but at the same time, she's always had a tumultuous relationship with witches. This was the world she fit into, it was who she is, but then things started to get complicated, and she kept getting punished by the witches who should have been her people. Now she's semi-unintentionally in an all-out war with them. She willingly and crucially participated in a massacre of her own kind. But none of it is vindictive. Bonnie has never expressed any desire to 'get even.' And yet she has become the epitome of what they stand against. It's a fascinating arc, really. It's kind of like that moment in Doctor Who when the Doctor realizes the Pandoricum was made for him. Through all his efforts to help out, he has made himself into the ultimate and most fearsome enemy as well.

Basically, let's continue with this Bonnie storyline, because it's intriguing stuff.

~That being said. I'm sorry, I know some people will be stanning the hell out of this, but I just: Caroline killing that main witch was IDIOTIC. Like. Honestly. Too stupid to be real. I'm not saying she should have let Bonnie die. Don't do that. But how about you kill ONE of the witches on the sidelines? How about you do anything you can to distract that main witch? Just because Stefan failed once, doesn't mean your only option is to play right into Silas's hands. I know it was an emotional decision and everything, but COME ON. Just. Come on.

~While I'm inexplicably not as euphoric about Rebekah and Elena running off together as I thought I would be, I'm still down for this pairing. And the threesome of Damon, Rebekah, and Elena partying it up? Kind of my ideal situation. It's all my favourites running around together.

~Rebekah remains aces. Her rather forceful brushoff of that weird dude was the actual best. "Excuse you." Omg my lady.

~Ok, this whole post is embarrassingly scattered, but still: how creepy were Bonnie's white eyes? Eek. Nicely done.

~Back to New York. Ok, so the Lexi flashbacks. Let's be real, every single time Lexi appears the show completely contradicts everything it said before. This one was not as difficult to fit in as the last round of flashbacks, but it still presents a few problems. That being said, who cares. The flashbacks really had no bearing on anything. They were just an excuse for some good-looking Damon (overwhelming success) and the semi-annual return of Arielle Kebbel (fine, whatever). I don't really approve of this whole business of Damon having his switch flipped and Stefan sending his girlfriend to fix him, because, jfc, have we not yet established that the switch is more mind than matter? For Elena it's different, because it's a different case for new vampires. But Damon should not have been saying with any measure of confidence that he had his switch flipped some 115 years after he turned. I suppose Damon could have been exaggerating it for Elena's benefit, but isn't it pretty canon by now that the whole emotions off thing had well worn off by now and Damon was just playing the part? Anyone want to argue? Perhaps it's time for another discussion about the switch.

Regardless, while this was a minor source of irritation, there's really no harm done. And you know what I loved, hardcore? Damon playing Lexi. Like that. OMG that was amazing. In that it was cruel and horrible and so very Damon. It was amazing. Because the second he stepped up into Lexi's personal space and started giving her puppy eyes and spouting confessions, I was just like, "Oh my god. He's lying. He has to be. That ridiculous creature." You know what my favourite part of this was, other than the utter Damon-ness of it all? The fact that this is JUST the kind of scene that a lot of people want. Not necessarily with Damon/Lexi, but still: it's the ultimate case of a bad boy learning how to feel through the love of a good woman. Damon sees it, Damon courts it, and then he ruins it. NO ROMANTIC TROPES IN THIS BAR, THANK YOU VERY MUCH. I think if this exact scene happened between Damon and Elena, per se, there would be thousands of fans swooning and making tumblr gifsets. So how much do I love that Damon is intentionally setting up that cliche just to tear it down? SO MUCH, is the answer. Because Damon does not believe in this sort of redemption. Even if he actually did love Lexi (even when he actually does love Elena), he doesn't believe in it. This episode was sort of weird re: Damon characterization, but this it got absolutely right.

And it gets better. Because the really awesome thing is, Damon is a romantic, in his way. But ONLY in his very specific sort of way. So he's utilizing this romantic stereotype to his advantage - but all to serve the romantic core he does function on. Which is his love for Katherine. I figured he wasn't really falling for Lexi's particular brand of personality cleansing, but I was absolutely sure I was right when he ostensibly gave up Katherine. The second he said, "she's not the person I care about," I was immediately like, "Oh yeah, sure, this is a ruse. No fucking way does he mean that." Damon defined himself by his love for Katherine for a hundred and fifty fucking years. That was his religion. Everythign for Katherine, always for Katherine. Sure, he had a little fun along the way, but underneath it all it was always Katherine. So he becomes this person who can't abide romantic tropes, who will mock and taint them at every turn, all out of his fierce and unrelenting love for his original girl.

Isn't that kind of awesome?

Something I find very interesting, though, is that Lexi bought it. Did Lexi go for it because she wanted Damon to be fixed, or did she actually love him? What do we think? Because I go back and forth. Honestly, I can imagine Lexi getting turned on by her own perceived success. But then again, I can't exactly say I'd be surprised if she genuinely fell for Damon. Coming from my clearly skewed perspective, given the right circumstances Damon can be a pretty hard person NOT to fall for. Especially since he was playing just the right tune for it. Still. Lexi is very inconsistent. Given the last flashbacks, she had this inexplicable rancor for Damon, but she seemed pretty gung ho to buddy up with him this time, and I can't imagine her desire to please and help Stefan would really be enough for that. So what do we think? Faulty writing, deeper character stuff, or a bit of both?

One last thing about Damon/Lexi. While I do think that the writers have been very inconsistent with Lexi, both in her characterization and in regards to her role in the Salvatores' lives, I will say: this set of flashbacks is actually what I originally managed for them. When we first met Lexi, way, way back then, I immediately got the sense that Damon and Lexi had slept together way back when. That scene they have in that bed (is that Stefan's bed? Who remembers season 1. Certainly not this kid.) always struck me very much as kind of bitter/antagonistic exes. So in a way, this was actually the most in character set of flashbacks I've seen with Lexi. Unfortunately, the others came before, which means it's hard to place everything logically. But if these had been the only flashbacks I'd ever seen with her, I would have bought them 100%.

~Ummmmm what else. You know we have to get to D/E, so I guess let's do that? Not entirely sure how to feel about them, tbh. Mostly because Damon's characterization freaked me out a bit. But then I rationalized it all in a split second decision, so we'll see how that holds up. But I was definitely thrown by Damon's sudden determination to get Elena cured whether she wills it or not. Because honestly, it seems like a startling departure from what we've had. I'm not saying Damon doesn't tend to make decisions for Elena, often against her will. He does, we know this, that's just canon. But Damon is not the sort to FIX Elena. That's Stefan's thing. I understand why Damon would want the old Elena back, why he wouldn't even particularly like this version, but his adamant insistence that Elena get cured kind of felt off to me? Damon superimposes his will over Elena's in life and death matters all the time. But he's never asserted his influence on her personality. In fact, for a long, long time, Elena was being self-denying and hard on herself to the point of it being almost destructive, but he let it happen, because Damon has never considered it his place to tell her who to be. What to DO, most certainly. Who to be? Never. Not really. So honestly, this threw me.

But then I decided, very abruptly, that it makes sense. And here's how I rationalize. Do kindly tell me if I am just fooling myself. But the way I see it, Damon is kind of freaking out. He has always been so sure that he would love any version of Elena, no matter what, but here he is, with this version of Elena, and he doesn't like her. He doesn't want this Elena. And he doesn't know what to do with himself. But beyond that, he doesn't know what to do at all. Because Damon needs to be doing something. The crux of it all is, Damon is a Fixer. It is one of his integral character traits. He's a clever guy, and he's always been able to sort things out. So when something needs doing, he does it. He's good at getting results, always has been. But this is a situation he finds himself uniquely unable to cope with. Because to him, suddenly, Elena needs fixing, when she never really has before. But Damon doesn't want to be the sort of person who wants to fix anyone, certainly not Elena. He doesn't do that. But when he suddenly wants to, he can't cope. He can't fix her because that's not who he is, but he can't NOT fix her, because then it's not Elena, not the Elena he wants. He has no way to come out of this alright. So he falls back on what he's been doing for weeks now. He gives up control.

Let me explain. I was wondering last week why Damon suddenly seemed so ok with invoking the sire bond when previously the very thought had been anathema to him. It seemed like a rather abrupt shift from the walking on eggshells/avoidance strategy he'd been employing with Elena since he found out about the sire bond. But what I figured out is, he's ceding control. He has found himself utterly lost, utterly frustrated, utterly thwarted by this sire bond. There's no way he can win. Elena was telling him they were right, he felt right with her, but Stefan and Caroline were SO sure that it was all the sire bond, that every single thing Elena did was influenced by the sire bond, and Damon just couldn't be sure. And if he can't be sure, he will overcorrect. He would rather be mistaken in shutting it down than let himself believe it's all real only to be wrong. It HAS to be all real, and if there's even a slight possibility that it's not, he'll shut it all down. But that didn't feel right, because Elena was telling him to trust her and he's always inherently trusted Elena, and it all just got so fucked up, because his head was warring with his instincts and it all got to be too much. So he gave up. He removed himself from the situation and trusted Stefan to it all, Stefan, who was so sure he was right, so sure about everything. Damon fell victim to what a lot of people often do: he started to believe that the loudest and most confident voice was the right one. It's something I'd noticed creeping up for a while. From the second the sire bond idea is introduced, Damon's faith in his own opinions starts slipping away bit by bit, until he just follows orders. You can actually notice it if you go back to rewatch. Slowly but steadily, Damon stops fighting. Per example, when did the idea that Elena will go back to Stefan the second she becomes human again go from a terrifying possibility to a strict certainty? Damon has come to believe what everyone tells him. It's actually a chronic pattern with Damon. He did it when he was human, he did it through the centuries, and he's doing it now. I think the moment he definitively gave up was that moment in the cave when he sent Stefan and Elena on without him. I may have written something about it in that recap - the fact that he just doesn't have the energy anymore to keep fighting, and he just decides to let it all happen. Obviously this was a different situation, but it was the culmination of all the emotional strain and uncertainty that he'd been feeling since Stefan told him about the sire bond. And he hasn't recovered. He decided then to let things happen, to let Stefan and Elena do what they do, to let things run their course, and he hasn't shifted. Not significantly. Yes, he turned Elena's emotions off, and that was his choice, but it was a semi-sanctioned choice, an avenue tangential to the plan Stefan had laid out for him. I'm not trying to blame Stefan in all this. Damon is very much an accomplice. It is, in some ways, an indication of his weakness. He has given up on himself, and he has partially given up on Elena. He has certainly given up on the idea on him and Elena together. He's bowing under the weight of his eternal, all-consuming self-loathing, and it is affecting everything he does.

Basically, he's removing his opinions, his feelings, his personal stake from the situation, and is embodying the position of Enforcer. Why? Because it's easier. He can't handle all the messy, complicated feelings, all the worry and self-doubt and knowledge that he's ruining everything. So he is choosing to believe that Stefan is right, that there is no other option. Elena has to be cured. So he will get that cure. Damon knows how to get from Point A to Point B. He will get the cure, he will save Elena, he will restore order. Because Stefan told him to, and he's good at that, and it gives him something to focus on, something to block out the roaring in his ears that everything is wrong and he can't win and he doesn't know what to do. It's cowardice, it's a coping mechanism, it's a lot of things. It's also pretty fucked up. And I kind of love that?

Or I've just succeeded in deluding myself again. I'm getting pretty good at that!

~So as for D/E, idk, man. I wasn't exactly suffused with OTP feels through the whole episode, because everything was so transparent. But that being said, I still helplessly enjoyed the make out. My stream of consciousness was essentially Damon's, which reads as: "I know exactly what this is, ok we're doing this, you're not fooling me....ok, but I'm kind of into this....aaaaaand there you are reaching for the goods and we're done." Pretty people kissing are pretty, even when you know you're being played, ok?

Ok, but one OTP moment, because I am who I am: when Damon leaned his forehead against Elena's, just. I KNOW this is a conventionally romantic thing to do, but it still gets to me every time, and it was kind of heartbreaking in its way, because Damon knew exactly what Elena was doing, he was just playing along...but god help him, he still loves her. And you could see it for that brief second. Owwwwwww my babies.

~But as for the playing, two things: ok, seriously, when did Damon get dumb? Because he kind of failed hard in this episode. And I know some would disagree with me, but that doesn't seem like Damon, because while he's an emotional idiot, planning-wise, he's actually rather clever. But he was just...not good in this episode? Like. He sets Elena up with some blood to distract her...and then leaves after about 10 seconds. Seriously? In what world would that work for any extended period of time, ESPECIALLY with Rebekah right there too? What was the boy doing. Also, not copying Katherine's addresses on his phone or something, knowing full well that Elena is conspiring to get them from him. Just sloppy work from my normally savvy Salvatore.

~Ok, but this was hilarious: Damon and Elena both seemed to be vying for the title of Least Sneaky. But for realz. I know they were both playing each other, I appreciate it, and they were both effective in their ways. But. There was NO subtlety. At all. Elena was painfully obvious on the roof, Damon was painfully obvious in the bar, both of them were just so remarkable unsneaky that I found it absurdly amusing. Like, when Elena is groping Damon's ass and he pushes her away, he legit looks disappointed in her for being so obvious. Go check, it's hilarious. Even though Elena won out in the end, just. No points for subtlety.

OMG I FIGURED IT OUT. Matt stole all the subtlety! He succubus-ed that (incubus-ed that? Do incubuses similarly suck away things? Ohhhh the puns I could make from that...) out of everyone. THAT'S WHERE MATT WAS IN THIS EPISODE. He was hiding in Damon's back seat, being sneaky. Anti-Subtext Donovan took all the subtlety from our typically crafty heroes. Solved it.

~Last thing, because this post is already about four thousand words longer than I intended it to be: the best part of the episode's ending? The fact that Damon wasn't even all that bothered about being temporarily killed, abandoned, and locked on a roof by the love of his life and his ex fuck buddy. But what did upset him? They took his car. He was SO HILARIOUSLY ANNOYED that they took his car. I will forever love my ridiculous brat prince.

*The Rule of TVD (n.): the instant two characters appear on screen together, they are shippable. origin: 2009.

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