Does this feel wrong? (Damon Salvatore and the sire bond)

Dec 30, 2012 02:38

So, I've been thinking...

Now that we had all the rants about how the sire bond can be bad for Elena's storyline if not played right, I'd like to take a minute and look at what it does to Damon's narrative. Because I think it's actually brilliant for his character development, and, if played right, will do wonders. The feminist in me is still freakishly uncomfortable with the notion that Elena's agency might be compromised only to further a guy's narrative, but it doesn't mean that I can't appreciate a good conflict when I see it. So let's give it a go, shall we?

Warnings: this is a Damon post. In which I acknowledge that he's a terrible person and has no excuses, but I also focus on his POV, desires and feelings. This is character analysis.

Usual disclaimer: I'm not interested in discussing how the show is not smart enough to do all those things. Author is dead. Or, the show is dead. Whatever.

Whether or not the sire bond actually exists is a huge and separate discussion. Luckily this issue is completely irrelevant to what I'm saying, because, as long as Damon believes the bond is real, it's actual existence or the lack of thereof doesn't change anything in his POV.

Does this feel wrong?
Damon Salvatore and the sire bond

The way Damon's choice is presented in 4x08 is painfully simplistic. It's a choice narrated by Stefan, and, therefore, presented in a moral frame that's completely alien for Damon, who doesn't respond well to moral systems based on set systems of rules. And yet, terrified by what he did to Charlotte and reminded of what Lexi told him in the 1940s, Damon buys into Stefan's view and accepts the dilemma in a way that it is presented by Stefan. Setting Elena free is the good and selfless choice, because it protects her agency and integrity. Not setting her free is the wrong and selfish choice, because it's motivated by Damon's own desire to keep her close.

Damon is confused in 4x08, he has too much stuff to process, and he makes a hasty decision of setting Elena free without even thinking it through (seriously, how did he imagine them disappearing from each other's lives? Who'd leave town?). But when he comes back home, Elena unconsciously sets him on a right track by asking the single best question:

Does this feel wrong?

Because Damon is highly intuitive. He makes moral choices based on what he feels is right, not what he thinks is right. So Elena's question snaps him out of a pointless attempt to figure things out intellectually, and pushes him towards proper introspection. Stefan thinks that not setting Elena free is wrong, but does it feel wrong?

Yes it does, and that's what Damon's storyline in 4x09 is about.

For Damon, the tragedy of the sire bond isn't that he can't be with Elena. It isn't even losing Elena right after sleeping with her for the first time. The tragedy is that sired Elena pursuing him and wanting him is a sick and twisted version of his deepest desire. He never wanted to have her. He wanted her to want him. There's a difference.

I love how, in 4x09, Ian plays Damon as being sickened by Elena's touch. Because Damon understands that there's a difference between love and consent. He knows that Elena had feelings for him long before she turned, but he also knows that she didn't choose to act on those feelings. Which is what people do sometimes: they decide not to pursue someone they love, because, contrary to popular belief, love doesn't solve everything, and sometimes you can't form a relationship with a person you love. Elena says that the bond influences her actions, not her feelings, but that's precisely Damon's problem: in 4x07, Elena decided to act on her feelings for him, and neither of them can tell why. They don't know if she acted on her feelings because she wanted to, or because she sensed that Damon wanted her to.

And this, for Damon, is the tragedy of the sire bond. Damon spent decades using and abusing women, compelling them and bending them to his will. But he decided that Elena was ~different. She was his friend, she was special, he never wanted to do this to her. Only, thanks to the sire bond, he did this to her anyway. Because there is no such thing as a special girl when you're in a circle of abuse. A circle won't break itself just because you love this one girl so fucking much. This is not how abuse works. And it doesn't really matter that there's not direct cause-and-effect link between Damon's abusive patterns and the existence of a sire bond, because the entire thing is just a metaphor: if you don't actively work through your issues, they will bite you in the ass. You always hurt the one you love, sweetheart.

And this is why Damon sends Elena away. Not because Stefan thinks that it's right for her, but because Damon feels that it's right for him. Because he can't handle the alternative. He never wanted to do this to her, never wanted to turn her into one of his compelled girls, but he did it anyway, joke's on him. And when she touches him, he not only knows that it might not be real - he also knows that he had it coming. Damon is very self-aware and he knows all about how wrong were the wrong things he did in his life, but he rarely experiences genuine horror because of what he's done.

So the sire bond could be excellent for Damon. It's a chance to revisit his past crimes (we got some of this already, with Charlotte), a chance to work through the issues he didn't work through yet, a chance to redefine what he actually wants from Elena and how he sees her. It's not about Damon having to stop himself from touching Elena because he's being a gentlemen. It's about Damon finally admitting, in a moment of vulnerability, that he's distant not because they can't, but because he can't. It's not about Damon making a patronizing decision to send Elena away for her own good. It's about Damon deciding that he doesn't want to be with her if he has that much power over her. It's not about Damon suffering because he didn't get chosen. It's about Damon suffering because he's horrified by his own actions (look at his face when he discovers that Charlotte spent 70 years counting bricks). Finally, it's not about Damon suddenly subscribing to Stefan's idea of of selfless, heroic self-sacrifice. There's nothing heroic in Damon sending Elena away in 4x09.

He did it because staying with her did feel wrong.

note to self: less talk, meta, fictional vampires ruin my life, yes i'm always like that, damon omg damon, shame is redundant, fandom: the vampire diaries, i fanwank therefore i am

Previous post Next post