Gimme Some VD: “Stand by Me”

Previously on Vampire Diaries: Katherine finally showed up, Silas finally woke up, and the littlest Gilbert bit the dust.

Everyone ready for another super uplifting episode of The Vampire Diaries? We open on Elena at Chez Gilbert, looking at a picture of her and a younger Jeremy. This scene will get revisited and re-contextualized at the end, but for now, let’s just enjoy how adorably goofy looking young Steven R. McQueen was:

Young Jeremy and Elena

SO MANY EYEBROWS

Cut to Elena screaming Jeremy’s name back on the island a few seconds after the last episode left off. She’s frantic until she realizes he’s wearing his magic immortality ring, then just sits rocking his corpse, promising him he’ll be fine. Oh, boy. But, as Stefan reminds Damon a moment later, Jeremy was one of The Five and therefore a supernatural being. The ring won’t work.

Damon immediately proclaims that Elena “won’t survive this,” which I think is a bullshit self-fulfilling prophecy. But more on that later.

(Hey, now that Cute!Matt is the last human standing on this show, can we give him the magic immortality ring? I WORRY ABOUT HIM, GUYS.)

Damon has pretty eyes

Apparently Bonnie and Silas are both gone — which should have been my first clue about the other reveal coming at the end — so Damon volunteers to stay behind to look for her while Stefan spirits Elena and the body off the island. While not telling her the truth about Jeremy, of course, because apparently Elena is a child who can’t handle reality. Whatever, Salvatores.

Caroline is still trying to clean up charred bits of Kol off the Gilbert kitchen floor when Elena and Stefan come home, carting Jeremy’s body. I spent an amusing few minutes imagining the different ways they could have gotten the corpse through airport security (stuffed in a carpet bag? Weekend at Bernie’s-style?) before I realized they probably just had a private plane chartered. Damn. That’s less fun.

Caroline in shock

Caroline is stricken to see Jeremy, but Elena assures her he’ll wake up soon; it’s clear from her face that Caroline immediately knows that’s not true. But Stefan’s subtle head shake keeps her quiet.

Damon, meanwhile, has run into Rebekah while searching the island for Bonnie. To her credit, she actually seems to have a sincere moment of compassion when he tells her about Jeremy. And luckily for Damon, she also joins the Bonnie search party, because he’s able to use her as a human vampire shield when Vaughn tries to ambush them. They easily subdue him for some fun interrogation time.

Elsewhere on the island, Bonnie wakes up back in the woods next to Professor Creeps — looking much healthier than when we last saw him. He claims Silas healed him and can also bring everyone back to life now with her help.

Bonnie and Silas

He also gives her the bad news about Jeremy. She… does not take it well. Creeps is only barely able to calm her down by promising that she’s going to resurrect him with Silas’ help.

Elena holds vigil with Jeremy’s body while Stefan and Caroline confab downstairs about exactly how crazy she is right now. Stefan thinks Elena “feels grief more powerfully than anyone else” which Caroline just accepts without question, because apparently when her father died slowly and painfully right in front of her, it was all cool — she just didn’t feel it as strongly.

(Like, seriously, how insulting is that to every other person on this show who’s suffered terribly losses and somehow soldiered on? WHATEVER, STEFAN.)

Shut up, Stefan

I feel like this is one of those times when the show really wants have its cake and eat it too. I mean, the writers are obviously in love with the idea of Elena as this special snowflake with EMOTION POWERS or whatever. But they also clearly realize that actually having her demonstrate that in practice would make her insufferable. So they just have other characters constantly talk about her emotional fragility, but actually show her acting with strength and maturity.

But when has Elena ever really lost it? She gets sad some times, but when your entire family gets killed in the space of a year, being sad sometimes is called not being a sociopath. She also deals with stress and disappointment way better than I would. Like last week when she found out the cure was basically a pipe dream — did she freak out and lose her mind? No, she took a moment to process and then got right back to business. Elena is an emotional rock, y’all.

Elena in denial

ANYWAY. Elena catches Stefan and Caroline and helpfully explains that she’s not in denial — she’s just denying the reality that Jeremy is dead. Duh. (For some reason, Stefan and Caroline don’t find this comforting.)

Caroline leaves Tyler a message, begging him to call her back. Stefan reminds her that Katherine managed to evade Klaus for 500 years. He also speculates that she mostly likely took the cure as leverage for her freedom. Which would make more sense if we’d had any indication in the last year that Klaus still gave a crap about Katherine. But I assume we’ll find out more about that later.

Caroline, proving once again why she’s my favorite, jumps into crisis management mode (at this point, do these kids have any other mode? They’re all going to have PTSD if they manage to survive high school) and makes a to do list of: 1) organize a funeral, 2) call mom for cover story, 3) get Cute!Matt over here because, duh, he is awesome, and 4) CASSEROLE. As you do.

Doctor Fell's cute new 'do

As she leaves, she suddenly notices the smell of the body decomposing. Not good. Speaking of which, Elena finds Doctor Fell — complete with a cute new haircut! — upstairs examining Jeremy’s body. She tries to explain the reality of the situation in medical terms. Shockingly, Elena does not react well to hearing that rigor mortis has already set in and bloating will soon follow. Um, yeah. Gross, Dr. Bedside Manner.

Their confrontation quickly becomes physical, but is interrupted by Stefan and the arrival of Cute!Matt. And… oh, Matt. His face on seeing Jeremy’s body can only be described as “destroyed.” I forget sometimes that Jeremy was not only his ex-girlfriend’s brother but pretty much his best friend. I mean, when was the last time we even saw him and Tyler together?

Both actors do some really fine work here, I have to say — you can see Elena watching his reaction and almost physically fighting to keep her comforting veil of denial going. She hugs him, somewhat desperately repeating her mantra that Bonnie will fix it and everything’s going to be fine, and all the while, Matt’s face is just… yeah. Destroyed.

Matt destroyed

A little while later, they’re both downstairs having some (coffee? tea? whiskey?) and Matt makes a cute joke about that time he poisoned her last season. (Matt Donovan, you guys! World’s most awesome human.) He’s surprised that Damon would care about finding Bonnie, since they kind of hate each other’s guts. Elena points out that in Damon-logic, kind of hating someone is basically a declaration of love. And I quote:

ELENA: He doesn’t… hate her. I think he actually kind of loves her. You’re mean to the people that you care about.
MATT: That’s some messed up logic. [Ed. note: This is why we call you “cute!Matt” and not “tear-my-panties-off-Matt.”]
ELENA: Damon logic.

He concedes the point while I flap my arms hysterically. (Okay, seriously, show? I haven’t been loving this season as much as the earlier ones, but a LOT would be forgiven if Bonnie/Damon actually happens.)

Rebekah and Damon

Speaking of — back on the island, the interrogation continues. Damon’s not having that much luck, but Rebekah turns her scariness up to eleven and gets Vaughn to spill his guts. (Don’t worry, not literally.)

It turns out he’s been working with Katherine all along! She explained the hunter’s mark to him and recruited him to help kill Silas. And how did Katherine know all this? Why, good old shady Hayley told her all of Professor Creeps’ secrets when they we both down in New Orleans — a detail that only seems significant because I know that’s where the spin-off will take place and I know Hayley will be a part of that.

Elsewhere in the woods, it’s time for more story time with Professor Creeps! Oh, good. You know how much I enjoy that. He explains that Silas was a witch before he became an immortal. But because you can either be a witch or a vampire, not both, he now needs her help to complete the spell.

Jeremy hallucination

(And okay, WHAT. So Silas is a vampire now? Because I specifically remember them explaining before that he was something different. And if he can no longer do magic, then how is he creating all those visions all the time? This effing show’s effing mythology is such a hot mess, you guys. I swear.)

Anyway! The catch is they need to complete a third sacrifice of twelve people before the dead raising good times can begin. Bonnie is not really down with that plan, but all bets seem to be off once she conveniently hallucinates a vision of Little J bleeding and begging for her help. Poor Bonnie.

Damon — still wandering the woods — calls to check in at home. Stefan thinks he should come back ASAP, as Jeremy is literally stinking the up joint and they need his sire control to keep Elena from going off the deep end. Damon doesn’t want to leave without Bonnie, but just as he’s about to give up, she comes wandering out of the woods looking like she’s almost in a trance. Damon’s so relieved, he says he could hug her. And then — THEN! — there is actual hugging!

Damon and Bonnie hug

Damon and Bonnie hug2

It’s weird and awesome, and if they’re just teasing me with this Bonnie/Damon stuff, I may have to throw something at my television.

Bonnie tells him that she knows how to bring Jeremy back, and if the creepy smile on her face wasn’t enough to tell you no good can come of this, then… you’ve clearly never watched television before.

Back in Mystic, Cute!Matt (world’s best human) takes Elena out to the stoner pit where Jeremy used to hang out with Vicki back in season one. There’s graffiti on the wall of his and Vicki’s names, reminding both Elena and me that she is not the only person who’s lost a sibling and been left with nothing on this show. Matt explains that even after his sister died, she wasn’t really gone. (Although she did get kind of murderous, so maybe not the most inspirational tale, Matty.) Anyway, his point is that anything is possible in this crazy town, so don’t give up hope. And just in time — Stefan calls with the good news about Bonnie being found.

Matt and Elena graffiti

Island time! While Damon was off hugging it out with Bonnie, Rebekah’s been busy leaving Vaughn tied up at the bottom of the well to starve to death. Um, would that really let them escape the hunter’s curse? Seems like a cop out. The magic should know they’re still basically responsible for his death.

Well, Vaughn doesn’t seem that concerned about it one way or another. But that’s because he’s sure Silas is loose and about to destroy the world anyway. He manages to freak Rebekah out with talk of how Silas could look like anyone — implying this is because desiccated mummy Silas was wearing a creepy death mask so no one knows what his real face looks like. But since it’s clear Silas can create visions to change his appearance, would that really matter? Oh, whatever. I’m so ready for a villain who’s not Klaus, guys. I hope he turns out to be worth all this build up.

Vaughn

Bonnie and Damon arrive back at Chez Gilbert, and wow — they better have not only a private jet at their disposal, but the fastest boats in the world, given how quickly everyone is managing to jaunt back and forth between Virginia and an island freaking 20o miles from the land where that plane is supposedly waiting. Caroline is relieved to greet them, but Damon is looking decidedly freaked out.

The reasons for Damon’s unease become clear as Bonnie explains her super awesome, fool-proof plan to bring Jeremy back to life. See, all they have to do is kill twelve people and then bring down the walls of the supernatural underworld, aka The Other Side, which Qetsiyah apparently created just to keep Silas away from the non-supernatural love of his life. What could go possibly wrong with this plan, I ask you?

Caroline and Cute!Matt try to point out the varying levels of crazy involved in freeing every unnatural being who has ever died, while Elena just stares off into space, a buzzing sound almost overpowering the argument going on around her.

Bonnie be crazy

She snaps out of it to answer the phone — which turns to be April, looking for Jeremy. Elena starts to lie that he’s not available, then abruptly stops herself, calmly says he’s dead, and hangs up without giving poor April a chance to even react. (Is it mean I kind of laughed picturing April’s face there?)

Elena goes back upstairs, where someone has helpfully covered the body with a blanket. She slowly pulls the blanket off his face and appears to really see the corpse in front of her for the first time. Nina Dobrev does some more fine work in this scene, by the way, really showing Elena’s shock and horror in the moment where she realizes she can smell him.

I have to say: one of the downsides of a show where people are killed so frequently with so little follow through is that it’s a little like narratively crying wolf. Basically, Jeremy’s died so many times before that the impact of his neck snapping in the last episode was really ruined for me. So I think I needed this scene as much as Elena did for it to really sink in that he’s gone.

Elena realizes the truth

Digression: it was hard for me to watch this episode and not reflexively compare it to Buffy‘s “The Body.” Which isn’t really fair, because although both shows are about vampires, Buffy in general — and “The Body” in particular,  a masterful exploration of the surreality of grief in the immediate aftermath of a death — had ambitions that just far eclipse what The Vampire Diaries is trying to do. And that’s fine.

But the parts of this episode that I thought were most effective were the ones that touched on similar themes from “The Body” — particularly the physicality of death. Every time the camera returns to Jeremy’s body throughout the episode, it’s a stark reminder that this is real this time. And in the same way Buffy needs to say out loud that her mother is now a body, and Dawn needs to go to the morgue at the end to see it for herself, it’s only when Elena actually smells the physical reality of the decomposition that she’s able to accept she’s looking at an “it” and not a “him” anymore.

Jeremy's body

After her revelation, Elena goes downstairs and starts pouring lighter fluid everywhere because they need a cover for Jeremy’s death and also, she is now manic and crazy with grief. Um, Elena? Honey? You have both the medical examiner and the town Sheriff in your back pocket, and everyone who’s not a main character in this town is deeply, deeply stupid. Like, I’m pretty sure you could put out a cover story that Jeremy died from a rare disease that only attacks people with chin dimples and no one in this town would even question it.

There’s something extra heartbreaking about her declaration that she doesn’t want to live in this house anymore or keep any of the possessions that remind her of all the people she’s lost. (But WHOAH THERE, Elena. Let’s not be too hasty with the bourbon. You don’t waste good booze on a bad cover up. At least drink that shit and THEN torch the house.)

Everyone else is freaking out, of course, and while arson might be a little on the extreme side, I don’t really think any part of her hysterical reaction here is that out of control or over the top, considering the circumstances. But when she physically collapses in tears, complaining about how much it hurts, Stefan tells Damon to “help her.” And Damon, well…

Damon comforts Elena

And here’s where it gets hinky. Because instead of just offering her some simple human comfort or using the sire bond to make her to calm down and believe everything will be all right, he orders her to turn her emotion switch off. (Which is at least a nice kind of parallel to Klaus ordering Stefan to “Turn. It. Off.” last season, I guess?)

But, um… isn’t the entire reason why they wanted Damon there in the first place so that he could use the sire bond to keep her from losing it and turning her emotions off? That’s what I assumed everyone was worried might happen if she lost control and killed someone or lost another person she loved. And Stefan’s shocked reaction when Damon says it makes me think that he, at least, was still on my same wavelength, so maybe this is just Damon going off the reservation.

Anyway, either way, I pretty much hate this. It would be one thing if Elena did it to herself, but now we have her losing even more agency after a whole season of it. And all because GOD FORBID she just be allowed to mourn and be sad like a normal person. Dear Stefan and Damon: it’s supposed to hurt when you lose someone you love. And just because neither of you could process an unpleasant emotion to save your lives doesn’t mean you should go projecting you neuroses on Elena.

Elena emotions off

This effing show.

Anyway, Damon thinks it’s cool, because they’ll just keep an eyes on her and then at some later point, he’ll just use the sire bond to order to her to turn her emotions back on and she won’t still have to go through the grieving process all over again then because… reasons? THIS EFFING SHOW, YOU GUYS.

The boys do manage to work in a nice brotherly love moment, which we haven’t had in a while. Don’t think that makes me less annoyed, you two! But still: d’awww.

Meanwhile, Cute!Matt drops Bonnie off at home, and she assures him in that super creepy pod-Bonnie way that everything’s going to be fine just as soon as they commit a little mass murder and then storm the underworld. Matt smiles and nods before driving off to find a nice spot for a good cry. Oh, Matty.

Matt cries

Rarely have I wanted to hug a tv character more.

Back at Bonnie’s, “Professor Creeps” is waiting for her in the shadows… or is he? Dun! Because, yup. Back on the island, we see a freaked out Rebekah stumbling through the woods in the dark and coming across the real Creeps, leg still broken and everything — just in case there was any doubt about who Bonnie’s been talking to this entire episode. Silas is in Mystic, y’all, and he’s got a massacre to plan.

With one more tiny caveat — the people on the counsel who already died? Not supernatural. So they’re not actually going to be resurrected at all. Oops. Bonnie’s figured this out and STILL seems okay with it, so I think it’s safe to say she’s definitely not herself.

Throughout this whole episode, by the way, Caroline has continued leaving messages for Tyler, asking him to call her back. Finally, she leaves one telling him about Jeremy. I sure hope they’re not planning on killing Tyler off after all this. I will cut someone, I SWEAR.

Elena burns that mother down

And finally, we’re back at the beginning — Elena looks at the broken picture of her and her brother in happier times. And now, of course, we know why her face is so impassive. She lights another match, much more calmly and coldly this time. Stefan tries to convince her that she might regret losing the house in the future. Elena, dead-eyed, says that she won’t, and then lights that mother up.

(I had to laugh at her saying this is the best cover story because no one would ask questions — pretty sure arson usually involves some questions, Elena. Or does Mystic just not have a fire department?)

We close on a montage of the house burning along with Jeremy, his sketches, Elena’s shoes, and her diary. Goodbye, Chez Gilbert, house of sadness! And goodbye, Little J. Maybe we’ll see you again in ghost form some time.

Next time: Elena eats a cheerleader and possibly invites the Salvatores to have a threesome. (I don’t know. my DVR cut off so I’ll just assume that’s what that scene means.)

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7 thoughts on “Gimme Some VD: “Stand by Me”

  1. Next time: Elena eats a cheerleader and possibly invites the Salvatores to have a threesome. (I don’t know. My DVR cut off so I’ll just assume that’s what that scene means.)
    Mwahahahaha. I laughed out loud at this. My DVR cut off too. I will chose to believe this.

    You hit all the points about why I am still hating Elena’s arc. I like that ND has had to do many different versions of Elena this season, but at what cost? I want Elena to turn her own emotions back on and have her go kick everyone’s asses. Seriously. And you are completely right, Elena is the strongest one of all of them. She has gone through the most loss and manages it well. All the Salvatores’ worries about Elena are THEIR worries and ultimately all the things they do are about them. I just don’t know if the show agrees since the other characters go along with it. But this might just be all of them trying to control a situation in a world where they all have very little control? Somehow I don’t believe the writers are going for that.

    • I could stomach it a lot better if I was more sure the show wasn’t endorsing the “Elena is a fragile emotional flower” party line. I guess we’ll see how this plays out.

      • I think that’s exactly what the show is doing and it makes it hard for me to watch the show since I once loved the Elena character. I now tolerate her because I like the actress. I mean if Katherine can survive her whole families death, on the run for over 500 yrs alone Elena can handle it with all these people around her.

  2. I dont get how Silas is a 2000 yeat old vampire when, wasnt it just last season that we found out how Papa Original (the lovely Sebastion Roche) had his original witch wife Esther, make their children vampires only 1000 years ago? Hence the name “the Originals”?
    And as for April, I can just picture the next sentence out of her mouth being “Has anyone seen Rebekkah?”
    I hate the way the Salvatore brothers keep telling Elena what to do, how to feel, and how to act. Neither one of them are even in a relationship with her. What gives them the right to even have an opinion, never mind control.UGH!
    I look forward to non-humanity Elena. I want to see her eating cheerleaders and generally not giving any f***ks about anyone. The headwriter said already she isnt gonna be Katherine 2.0 so this will be a whole new ballgame.
    And Matt..poor poor Matt. I just cant with the way he broke down. I cried right along with him.

    • I’m 99.9% sure that when they originally explained Silas, they made it clear he wasn’t a vampire; just immortal. Now they seem to be blending the two and I can’t tell if it’s just sloppiness or an actual retcon.

  3. I don’t get why everyone’s blaming Stefan for what Damon did. I’m pretty sure Stefan meant calm her down but Damon does what Damon wants to do. This episode was really good mostly for the acting because Julie Plec is obviously a terrible writer and couldn’t come up with her own way of writing an episode of Jeremy’s death so she rips off of Joss Whedon.

    I’ve been watching Nina’s career since Degrassi and she was really awful on that show so I was skeptic of her playing Elena and Katherine but the first 2 seasons she was very entertaining. Since late S3 I’ve forgotten that she can act so it was nice to see her act her ass off again. I’m just sad that they used Damon to turn her humanity off just so when she does crappy things they can all blame Damon for it and not have Elena take responsibility.

    I do wonder what they will do with Katherine. I hope they don’t kill her off because she is fun to watch. I just get this feeling that Elena will end up killing her. The show has had Elena kill 3 Originals (I wished she’d kill Klaus as well) her killing her doppelganger would turn me off completely from the show.

    • I don’t blame Stefan for the emotion switch thing. It was pretty clear he didn’t intend for that. But I do blame him for contributing to the overall mindset that Elena’s too weak to handle her feels. He’s just as guilty of that as Damon, and it bugs big time.

      If they kill off Katherine after killing Alarci and spiriting Elijah away to the spin-off, I’ll be unbelievably pissed. My three favorite characters gone? Ugh.

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