Clumsy hands in a dark room. Crossed out. (A Damon/Elena 3x19 meta)

Apr 21, 2012 22:49

This is a Damon/Elena 3x19 post. Basically, I'm writing down ALL THE THOUGHTS, because I can't contain myself. You've been warned.

Warnings: This post contains Damon, Elena, feelings, intellectual masturbation, incoherency, shippy rainbow vomits. Possible velociraptors in comments.

Generally speaking, I'm not impressed by most of the episode, very interested in Alaric things and hysterical about Damon/Elena. THIS WAS ALL I EVER WANTED, OKAY? My head!canon happened. So let's discuss all the themes, shall we?

1. Honesty game

Damon/Elena is a ship based on knowledge. They can see right through each other, they don't buy each other's performance, they call each other out. They're not defined by love, they're not defined by devotion, they're defined by knowledge. Which is why the honesty of this episode was just stunning. They go a step further. They acknowledge that performance never works with them anyway. So they drop it. No defences this time, just pure, raw honesty.

When Elena stares at Damon in the motel room, she does it in secret: she closes her eyes immediately when he spots her, hides back. And then she changes the rules, open her eyes and stares at him openly. And THIS is the game-changer. Elena admitted that she was checking him out. She admitted that she's trying to figure him out. She let him see that she's struggling. And Damon followed, because how could he not be tempted by such honesty? He stopped censoring himself, answered a question I never expected him to answer, took Elena's hand.

And then they kissed practically banged against a pillar, and it was all about pure want.

Love is... problematic between those two. It's not easily defined. But it doesn't matter, because this scene is not about love anyway. It's about raw need they both lay in the open. For Elena's part, let me quote ever-neutral, who is a fucking Queen of Profanity, and thus cannot be edited (you have been warned):

the shots of Damon are literally from Elena's p.o.v., through her gaze; it's a straight-up explicit portrait of and tribute to the female protagonist's sexual desire -- and if you condemn that, then fuck you. if you say it's "out of character", then fuck you. if you say that Elena's enjoyment is inappropriate/unacceptable, then fuck you. if you deride female fans who identify with Elena and view Damon through her lens, i.e. the lens of female desire, then -- that's right: fuck you.

This is Elena at her most honest, truthfully showing Damon the two things she is sure of: she desires him, and she trusts him. It took some tremendous amount of courage and trust to open her eyes in the room. It took some tremendous courage and trust to kiss Damon so passionately. Elena's just spent the whole season asking “What does it say about me?”, and now she throws it out of the window, because it's Damon who sees her like this, and that's cool. He can see.

They're so honest they even get rid of gender performance. So Damon is allowed to be emotional, clumsy (OMG LOOK AT HIM! FUMBLING HANDS! I CAN'T!), vulnerable and submissive, he can hold hands and follow Elena's lead, because this is what he wants at the moment. Elena is allowed to be sexual, and not mention feelings, and be visibly turned on by something she saw (and women don't watch porn, huh?).

And then there's the conversation at Scary Mary's house, and Elena has the courage to say “I don't know”. “I do” and “I don't” are easy, finite answers, very neat and very untrue in her case. Because Elena and Damon are in constant motion, it's chaotic and confusing, and no, she isn't in denial. She isn't delusional. She legit DOESN'T KNOW. What's more, Damon believes her. This entire conversation is about them calling each other out on things, and Damon doesn't accuse Elena of a lie. He buys the “I don't know” immediately, and HE DOESN'T MIND. He's totally cool with the fact that Elena didn't make up her mind yet. He's just angry that she tried a shortcut, that, instead of trying a proper introspection, she was counting on him to fuck up.

So accusations are flying, and NONE IS DENIED. We get two people who see right through one another locked up in an honesty zone, and truth starts showing. You sabotage things. You lash out. You hoped I'd screw it up. Ouch.

Honesty is not sunshine and daisies. Human beings are flawed. We talk a good game about honesty, but we don't actually want it. Honesty means that you hear things like that about yourself, and you can't shield from them. Most people can't handle honesty, and for some relationships, it's even unhealthy. But Damon and Elena can handle extreme, destructive honesty, because it doesn't change a thing for them. Neither of them heard things they wouldn't know. Old news, from the beginning to the end. They see each other in the dark, and they know each other like nobody else. They either use honesty to show trust (like they did in the motel scene) or use it as an element of power play.

2. Power play

I can't with how perfectly it worked this episode. For real. I am defined by my incapability to can.

Damon essentially spends the entire episode following Elena's lead. It's not his POV, and he doesn't have much to do. It's all about Elena.

(Btw, I will never get over Damon's submissiveness this episode, and how it's played in a double context - as something that makes way for Elena's agency, and something he needs for himself. D/E is astonishing, isn't it? They don't do anything for each other, they just happen to need matching things. So Damon follows, because it brings him comfort and relief from all the responsibility he carries (see: Stefan, Alaric, killing the Originals), and Elena leads because she's growing up and in the process of actively building her identity, and also she's done with being helpless. Two people, two totally selfish motivations, mutual gain by pure coincidence. I can't. And the imagery during the makeout scene is stunning. At the beginning, they struggle for control a bit, Damon tries to take over, kisses Elena's neck and tries to go as low as he can without actually kneeling, but Elena cups his face and brings his face up for another kiss. Gives him a clear sign that she wants to lead now. And Damon gives in immediately. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to say he becomes passive, he's still active and responsive, but it's very, very clear who is in charge. It's not about him. He doesn't have to rock anybody's world. He can give in and enjoy. Elena wants to direct this one.)

The motel scenes are mostly about vulnerability and honesty, balance of power is mantained, they don't play it. The real game starts in Scary Mary's house, where, essentially, Damon promises Elena he'd be the better man, because he's being a dick, and he's getting leverage. I can't with them. They've been playing this game since early s2, and this is just how they work, constantly trying each other, always in motion, always struggling to get the upper hand. Not because they can't reach an agreement, but because they genuinely ENJOY the ride. And this is what happens here, upper hand and challenge. What if I didn't? What if there's no bump?

I just love the subversion. Damon won't be saved by the love of a good woman. No way. He actually managed to promise Elena out of pure spite that he'd be functional and healthy. And the familiarity they share doesn't make the game safer, it actually makes it more dangerous, because they know too much. I mean, I also love it for shallow reasons, because the push and pull is fucking hot, but look at Elena's narrative. She gets to play an adult game with an older guy, and she plays it as his equal partner. She plays it and she enjoys it. So it's only fitting that they should play such an excellent game in the episode that is supposed to be about Elena's “journey to adulthood,”, right?

Actually, now that we're at it...

3. Great journey of self-discovery - you can kindly go and fuck yourself

Basically, the joke is on us, isn't it? The whole D/E fandom was over the moon when we heard that there'll be a roadtrip episode, but we should've listened to Damon! Remember this line?

Damon: Can we not do the whole road-trip bonding thing? The cliché of it all makes me itch.
TVD 2x08, Rose

Besides, seriously, The Heart of Darkness? Correct me if I'm wrong, high school was a while ago, but as far as I recall, this novel is about a journey to terrible place where humanity is no longer. So, basically, Damon and Elena are discovering their deepest, darkest side, while Stefan and Alaric are chasing the white whale, thank you for a consistent marine theme, show. (On that note: Damon, boy, what's wrong with you? Stevenson? That would be the first time you made a reference to a non-American book.)

I loved the whole roadtrip thing. My favorite thing was that it didn't work at all.

I loved how Elena went for an epic journey of self-discovery just to discover absolutely nothing, how a “key” D/E episode just kept repeating things I already knew, how an obscene D/E makeout session actually didn't forward D/E storyline at all, how Damon failed to discover who sired his bloodline. Hell, I even liked that it was Stefan who suggested Elena and Damon should go together. Yeah, it's absolutely gross on the surface level, and probably could've been handed in a better way. But can we please talk about the symbols? Elena's teenage love sends her on an epic, adolescent journey of self-discovery, and then it turns out that not only the whole trip was a bummer (Elena didn't figure out a thing), but also her adult “love” basically suggests that the very idea was idiotic.

Because THIS is the crux of Elena's narrative this episode. Epic doesn't work. Turning points don't work. Symbols don't work. You don't figure yourself out by going do Denver. You figure yourself out by figuring yourself out. You don't solve your emotional problems by shoving your tongue down some guy's throat (though it definitely works for sexual tension, and, as such, is highly appreciated; carry on, Elena, just, you know, be aware that it's for fun, and not for a double package, fun + solving problems). You solve your emotional problems by solving your emotional problems. You don't establish your identity by looking for simple answer. You establish your identity by acknowledging that simple answers have left this bar. Welcome to adulthood.

Btw, framing Damon as the symbol of adulthood was incredible. He's emotionally dangerous, difficult to define, unapologetic, full of contradictions, complicated. Desired, but not wanted. Always self-aware. Sexually available. AND HE KEEPS ASKING FOR REASONS. Like, for the whole episode he wants Elena to explain her motivations. “Why?” instead of “What does it say about me?”.

Because Damon doesn't make Elena grow up. But she needs him, because adulthood is forged by testing ideas, and Elena can experiment on Damon. She can try out her identity on him. He challenges her, responds. He treats her like an adult, because he doesn't actually notice that she is just growing up. Neither does Stefan, to be honest. Elena is in transition, and they're both missing it, because it happens in a place they can't access. Elena has to do the growing up by herself.

If you judge me for this post, you're not alone. I judge myself as well.

note to self: less talk, meta, ostateczne upodlenie, fictional vampires ruin my life, tvd fandom is the worst, straszna straszna miazga, yes i'm always like that, elena gilbert is amazing, damon omg damon, fandom: the vampire diaries, how unfortunate, too many emotions, i honestly don't know, i hate everybody

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