A Little Loss of Innocence (Top Ten Elena Gilbert Scenes)

Apr 28, 2013 21:39

Things we know: fandom has been dead. So let's make it a bit less dead :).

I started writing those posts as a knee-jerk reaction to rampant tumblr Elena-hate, but then... I was going to make an Elena Top Ten last summer, and it never happened, so I thought I'd make a good, old-fashioned meta and have some quality fandom time. So, here we go!

Screencaps: (x). Title picture: (x)

A Little Loss of Innocence
Top Ten Elena Gilbert Scenes

I wish I wasn’t such a narcissist
I wish I didn’t really kiss the mirror when I’m on my own
Oh God! I’m gonna die alone
Adolescence didn’t make sense
A little loss of innocence
The ugly years of being a fool
Ain’t youth meant to be beautiful?

Marina and the Diamonds, Teen Idle

10. You can let yourself out.

Elena: You should know, I was the one that daggered her. When she wakes, she'll come after me.
Klaus: I can control Rebekah. Besides, I still need your help finding Stefan. I told you, I don't know where he is.
Klaus: You're lying. Fortunately, you have no shortage of loved ones. If I don't find my family, the question you should be asking yourself is, who's going to die next? Bonnie? Caroline? Damon? It's only a matter of time before Stefan gives me what I want.
Elena: He doesn't care about me any more. You made sure of that. You turned him into a monster. Now he's your problem. And just so you know, I'm not the only one Rebekah wants dead. She knows what you did to your mother. She knows that you killed her. You can let yourself out.

TVD 3x10, The New Deal

Let's talk Elena and her plans.

Elena gets a lot of mockery in fandom for making supposedly stupid plans, and it drives me absolutely crazy. Elena isn't stupid. All her s2 plans that earned her the label of an idiot indeed were very likely to get her killed - but that's not because Elena can't think ahead. They were very likely to get her killed because Elena thought they were supposed to get her killed. Her problem wasn't her lack of strategic skills, her problem was a death wish. But that's another topic.

So instead can we talk about an 18yo girl who manages to outwit an Original vampire and tie her interests with his so that she's protected? She takes the leverage she has, and she makes the most of it. She takes the shitty hand she's dealt, and she plays it so well she actually manages to win something. She does this over and over again, by taking risks, by gambling her own life (see: stabbing herself in front of Elijah or trying to cut her own throat to blackmail vampire Alaric). The differences of opinion about her plans that Elena often has with other characters (ekhem, Damon, ekhem) stem from the fact that others prioritize Elena's life above all, and she never thinks she's that important.

Elena Gilbert: a general who thinks herself a foot soldier.

9. I believe you

Bonnie: Grams just showed me this. You're gonna love it. You ready?
Elena: Bonnie, what's going on?
Bonnie: It's true, Elena. Everything my grams told me. It's impossible, but it's true. I'm a witch.
Elena: I believe you.

TVD 1x08, 162 Candles

Because Elena isn't just a gloomy graveyard girl. Elena can laugh, she can drink, she can dance, she can love. Just look at this scene in context. Elena just got attacked by a vampire a few days ago (got attacked by a girl she's known her whole life), witnessed someone get brutally killed right in front of her, made a decision to meddle with her brother's mind. She recently found out that the supernatural exists, and now her best friend is telling her she's a witch... and Elena finds it in herself to be happy for her. It's not forced happiness. Elena is genuinely happy for Bonnie, she's excited and hopeful.

Elena knows that life doesn't stop just because something bad happens to you. She knows it, and at times it makes her force herself to get her shit together - but sometimes, it also gives her something to hold on to. No matter how terrible things are, there will always be a spark of light, Bonnie Bennett floating feathers and grinning like an idiot, because feathers floating around Elena's head are just so beautiful. There is beauty in the world, there is love and there is comfort. Elena needs to snatch those moments when they come - not despite the mess her life has become, but precisely because of it. It's especially poignant when you think about how far Bonnie's magic came from floating feathers, how much pain it brought (especially to Bonnie), how much despair and responsibility. There were just a few moments when magic was pure joy, and those girls made the most of it.

8. I am never going to be your daughter.

John: We've had our differences, and I've made mistakes, but you and I, we're family.
Elena: You don't get to use that word. That word is off limits to you.
John: Fine, but it doesn't change the facts.
Elena: You're right. Facts are facts, so listen up. You may be my father, but I am never going to be your daughter. You got that?

TVD 2x13, Daddy Issues

This is my go-to scene when it comes to Elena's capacity to be cruel, and I absolutely love what this moment tells about her.

People leave Elena all the time - they die and leave her, and she can do nothing to stop them. She also can't hate them for it, can't hold it against them (they're dead, and some of them died for her). She turns all that anger inside, hates herself for being the cause of so much misery. Except there are two people she is allowed to hate for leaving her, and those people are Isobel and John.

She knows that John didn't fully leave her; he was around all her life, visiting, watching her grow up, but it doesn't change a thing. She's furious at him for not wanting her, and she lashes out without hesitation. This scene is my favorite for them, because her reaction is so clearly out of proportion. John's done some pretty shitty things in his life, but what he does in this particular moment doesn't warrant so much spite. Elena knows he feels guilty about leaving her with his brother, and she taps right into it, hits him where it hurts the most. She hates John for leaving her, and she can sense that John also hates himself for leaving her, so she yells at him like a hurt, desperate teenager.

I like to show this scene to everyone who tells me that Elena is too nice to be cruel to people.

7. Why not?

Elena: Don't.
Damon: Why not? Elena?

TVD 3x19, Heart of Darkness

Ladies and gentlemen: Elena Gilbert, a sexual being.

This is one of my favorite things about her. It would've been so easy to make a heroine of a teen vampire show sexually shy, inexperienced, timid. And while there's nothing wrong with being sexually shy, inexperienced and timid, I'm so happy that Elena consistently isn't: she's forward and self-confident in s1, and just as forward in s4. Her sexual appetite is in no correlation with her “goodness” (even if in her journey reaching moral grayness is related to being attracted to “the wrong brother” - but that's another story).

I love this scene for being sheer celebration of Elena's sexual desire. Desire she gives in to without a love declaration, desire she pursues without shame, desire she expresses because, for once, she prioritizes herself. I love how Damon openly accepts her desire, automatically responds and doesn't ask any questions. It's not because he's whipped, not because he'll take any crumbs for her table. It's because sharing a sexual moment isn't inherently inferior to sharing an emotional moment, because there's no such thing as just sex between them. Elena's desire, expressed openly and willingly, is valuable to him. It's important - Elena's desire is important - and Damon can recognize and celebrate its importance together with her.

It's doubtful I'll ever get over this scene. Elena likes to watch, Elena likes to kiss, Elena likes to be in control, Elena enjoys and celebrates her body. She trusts Damon enough to jump him without warning, and she looks him in the eye as she does it, so that there's no doubt she knows very well what she's doing.

Because she's 18, she likes to have sex, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

6. You found a way to get out of bed this morning

Elena: This isn't a joke to me, Ric.
Alaric: You think I'm joking? Vampires will take whatever they want. They will hurt whoever they want. And they'll do it without remorse. It's their nature.
Elena: You don't have to use pronouns. You can say Stefan.
Alaric: Look, I get why you're here. Stefan hurt you. You don't want it to happen again.
Elena: But you think that I'm crazy to believe that I can protect myself from a vampire who's flipped the switch on his humanity.
Alaric: I think you found a way to get out of bed this morning. And that makes you the strongest person I know.

TVD 3x06, Smells Like Teen Spirit

Elena is a strong character, but not strong in a “I'm gonna go and kick your ass” sense.

(Though, to be fair, there's also been some quality ass-kicking here and there.)

This is Elena's strength in a nutshell: she gets out of bed every morning, no matter how hard it is. It's not good for her, not good for her at all. People who are strong pay a terrible price for being strong. She never lets herself break, never lets herself mourn, never takes care of herself. Because Elena Gilbert is driven by fear, and her fear is her humanity. She gets out of bed every day, because if she doesn't, people will pity her and think her weak. She gets out of bed every day, because no one will do it for her. She gets out of bed because she's terrified that if one day she lets herself not to, she'll never get out of bed again.

So this is Elena's strength: casual, titanic, terrible, deeply rooted in fear. She makes herself strong so that she doesn't have to be afraid again, but fear catches up with her, and makes her become even stronger. Soon there's no place for weakness at all, and when she breaks, she falls apart so completely she literally burns her entire life to the ground.

This is how strong she is.

5. You had me

Elena: How could you?! My parents died going over this bridge. I almost died. You knew that. You're the one who saved me.
Stefan: Look, he had to believe that I would do it, all right? Your fear sold it.
Elena: Well, what if he hadn't?
Stefan: He did.
Elena: Well, what if he hadn't?
Stefan: He did, Elena! He backed down! He has a weakness! If I know his weakness, I can destroy him!
Elena: After everything, that's what mattered, destroying Klaus?
Stefan: Destroying Klaus is all I have left.
Elena: You had me!
Stefan: I lost you the minute I left town with him. You just haven't let yourself admit that.
Elena: Is that what you're doing? Trying to make me hate you?
Stefan: I don't really care what you think about me anymore, Elena.

TVD 3x11, Our Town

I had my doubts about putting this scene here, but then I couldn't not.

It's not a good scene for Elena. It sets her back a lot, destroys a lot of the recovery she's made, pushes her into a very unhealthy mindset. But at the same time, this is a crucial scene without which I don't think I'd be able to understand Elena. Because this is when she decides to that she will have Stefan come back to her, and her reasons speak volumes about her.

Elena Gilbert believes in love, the kind of love you read about in books. She believes that true love always wins, and the only reason why she let herself give up on Stefan in 3x07 was that he thought him a shell. Stefan is gone, he's really gone, and she won't love a ghost for the rest of her life. Only when he tries to drive her off a bridge, he proves that he isn't a shell. Shells are indifferent, and Stefan destroys with thoughts and purpose. Stefan wants her to hate him, and that means he feels something, he himself has feelings that he's trying to kill. So she can't give up on him. She can't, because she's not the kind of girl who gives up on people. If she gives up on him, it means she never loved him. If she gives up on him, it means she failed him. If she gives up on him - what does it say about her?

I firmly believe you can't understand Elena unless you understand how much she's always willing to ignore, belittle and wave off her own pain, how unimportant she believes she is - and how terribly unromantic, destructive and terrifying it is.

(How many girls like this do you know?)

4. Where was your science?

Elena: He's not dead, ok?
Meredith: Elena, stop it.
Elena: Now you're all about science? Where was your science when you used vampire blood to save my life, huh? There is no science here. It's just magic. We need magic. We have to find Bonnie. Bonnie can fix this. Somebody just get me Bonnie!

TVD 4x15, Stand by Me

First it was my favorite scene of the whole episode simply because of Nina's acting, then I bothered to read the lines carefully, and got hit on the head.

This is one of those very rare moments when Elena actually lets herself express all the grief and resentment she feels over Meredith turning her into a vampire without her knowledge. This episode is still very fresh, and when we read it, we're so overwhelmed by the image of Elena mourning Jeremy that we tend to overlook things that aren't related to it, but this scene is so loaded with all kinds of meanings. Elena hates that Meredith took away her choice, but it goes even deeper: she hates that she gets to live thanks to magic, when the Gilbert ring failed her brother; hates that magic saved her when it only kills others.

(People die around her, and it matters.)

On top of that, Elena feels overwhelmed by the supernatural world around her. The existence of the supernatural took her by surprise, and she had to adjust, but she never had time to fully process, and now this is just too much. In this world magic can protect you from death, but it wouldn't protect Jeremy anymore, and in this moment of panic and desperation Elena genuinely doesn't understand that. She doesn't understand the world in which magic saves people, but only some of them, doesn't understand how she's the only one to have hope now, doesn't understand why others gave up on resurrecting Jeremy, doesn't fully understand why she didn't. So in the last attempt to make sense out of this world, she screams for Bonnie: not just because Bonnie is a witch, but also because Bonnie makes sense, Bonnie's presence makes sense and her love makes sense. At this moment, Elena isn't just grieving. She's completely and utterly confused, she lost faith in the “normal”, physical world she always held on to in the time of crisis (there is a reason why Elena repaints a room right after Alaric's death), and she's slowly losing faith in the supernatural, so she turns to Bonnie as her last resort. She still has faith in Bonnie.

And all those meanings and emotions fit into literally three lines of dialogue. How the fuck is this scene even real???

3. I was you before you even existed

'Katherine': Ugh, don't you ever stop crying? Poor Elena, always the victim. Except now you're a killer. What does Stefan think of the new you?
Elena: Shut up.
'Katherine': The girl he fell in love with is gone, you know. You're like me now. Maybe worse.
Elena: I made a mistake. I can do better.
'Katherine': No. You can't. You're a vampire. You'll kill again. It'll change you, and it'll keep changing you until you're just like me.
Elena: I am nothing like you.
'Katherine': I was you before you even existed. And when Stefan knew the real me... He hated me. Now he's going to hate you, too. Well, at least you still have Damon.
Elena: Shut up!

TVD 4x06, We All Go A Little Mad Sometimes

This scene is awesome as a dialogue between Elena and Katherine, but it becomes absolutely mindblowing when you realize that this is Elena talking to her own brain.

More often than not it's very hard to look at Elena's POV, to see her thought process. Elena Gilbert deals with life by trying to beat herself into shape. It's not dishonesty, and it's not self-deception: she simply decides who she wants to be, and then she goes out of her way to become this person, no matter what. Elena thinks she's a terrible person, and if she doesn't keep herself under complete control, she'll destroy everyone around her. So some things are off-limits, she can't think about them and she sure as hell can't talk about them - because doing that would make her work even harder. There's a reason why Elena never talks about Katherine.

Except that one time she was hallucinating, and all her fears came out to play.

Elena isn't jealous of Katherine, and she doesn't hate Katherine. She doesn't really believe that she's her polar opposite. It goes deeper: Elena is afraid that she is Katherine, she's nothing but a copy. It has nothing to do with being evil. Elena fears that there's nothing real about her, that everything she is, Katherine was before her, and Elena becoming a vampire and killing someone only confirms that. Every time she discovers she shares something with Katherine, she loses a piece of herself, an element of her identity she thought unique.

There's also fear of alienation, fear of losing even more people (“When Stefan knew the real me, he hated me”). There's exhaustion with her own grief, annoyance, wish to finally be well (“Don't you ever stop crying?”). But most of all, Elena fears anihilation. If Katherine was her before she even existed... then who is she?

2. I don't want to be a vampire.

Elena: Didn't stop Damon.
Stefan: He shouldn't have done what he did. He did it because he loves you.
Elena: But he did this to me, Stefan, which means he doesn't really know what love is. And to be honest, I don't know if I do. I'm 17 years old. How am I supposed to know any of this yet? I know that I love you, Stefan. I know that. But my future? Our lives together? Those were things I was supposed to deal with as they came along. I was supposed to grow up. Decide if I want to have kids and start a family. Grow old. I was supposed to have a lifetime of those choices, and... now? That's all gone.
Stefan: Elena, say it. Please.
Elena: I don't want to be a vampire, Stefan.

TVD 2x20, The Last Day

This is actually the scene that turned me into an Elena stan.

Because you need to be incredibly brave, strong and honest to tell your boyfriend: “I love you, but I don't know if I want to be with you forever. I'm 17 years old, and I don't want my life to be set in stone just yet. I want to reserve myself the right to change my mind, and it doesn't mean that I don't love you.”

This is amazing, because Elena understands that love takes all shapes and forms. It's not either-or, you love someone so much that you'd sacrifice everything for them, or you don't love them at all. Elena understands that she's a person, and that her personhood is important. It's not something to be sacrificed in the name of love. She thinks about herself, allows herself to take care of herself first, her romantic relationship later.

This scene never meant that Elena didn't truly love Stefan, or that she didn't love him enough. It didn't say anything about her relationship with Stefan at all, neither good nor bad. It simply meant that Elena Gilbert, even in one of her lowest moments, also loved herself.

1. I don't want to be saved

Damon: You do not get to make decisions anymore.
Elena: When have I ever made a decision? You and Stefan do that for me. Now this, this is my decision.
Damon: Who's going to save your life while you're out making decisions?
Elena: You're not listening to me, Damon. I don't want to be saved. Not if it means that Klaus is going to kill every single person that I love.

TVD 2x10, The Sacrifice

Elena's relationship with death is freakishly complicated, and I'm not sure if I can do it justice.

She is full of contradictions: she fights for her life, she thinks she doesn't deserve to live, she would never kill herself, she'll gladly sacrifice herself, she fears death, she's ready to die. All those things coexist in her head, and they're a mess, but they boil down to one thing. She doesn't want to be saved.

Death, for Elena, is the ultimate human experience, and at the same it's a source of power. She quickly learns that her life is a bargaining chip, and she uses it to win. Until 3x22, she is a human surrounded by supernatural forces, ridiculously weak and powerless, and the only control she has is to choose her own death. To give it meaning. Elena is obsessed with making her death have meaning. She fears it, but she believes that she will die - what's more, she believes that she should die, that she lives on borrowed time and doesn't deserve it. So she tries to sacrifice herself, because if she chooses her own death, maybe it will be at least a bit less scary. Helplessness and lack of control are the only things she fears more than death, so she makes a twisted attempt to win control over death.

To say she has a death wish is true, but also inaccurate. Elena wants to die because she thinks she will die anyway, and she wants to do it her way. She wants to die because she thinks that her life is worth so much less than the lives of people around her. She wants to die because she believes she doesn't have the right to take care of herself. She wants to die because it doesn't matter that she's afraid to die. She doesn't want to be saved - because the people who try to save her end up dead.

Because she is a monster, and she deserves to die.

meta, fandom: the vampire diaries, elena gilbert is amazing

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