Before we get to the recap proper, thank you all for your emails, especially last week when we were in withdrawal. Brooke writes a lot but wanted me to know about Matthew Davis’ (Alaric) Twitter this week. Did you guys see this?
Apparently the man himself has been asked why Alaric and Elena have such, um…chemistry. And whether that’s creepy given that they now live alone in her house. His response fanned the flames and then he wrote himself a fanfic, in Twitter form, involving Stefan, Elena, Alaric, Damon, and drugstore purchases, that you have to read to believe. I guess you could see it as creepy, but I’m heading straight for hysterical. Go to https://twitter.com/#!/@ErnestoRiley, note his pseudo-pseudonym, and enjoy.
Now on to our show…
When Buffy was in its prime, Joss Whedon acknowledged that dads on the show were kind of not there – either emotionally or actually. This was echoed in short order on Dawson’s Creek – other than Dawson’s dad dying of a case of terminal stupidity, there were no male role models there either. In fact, there’s a philosophy that says this is a more or less traditional TV attitude to take. If the first cut is the deepest then the one who’s supposed to love you the most - who leaves – is the easiest emotional distress.
Vampire Diaries seems to have, consciously or not, turned that well-worn TV cliché slightly on its ear, instead deciding to take to task the mothers who are there but-not-there, who do the bare minimum by continuing to exist, but who haven’t been there for their children. It’s actually amazing how many there are. Sheriff Forbes appears in the episode, but doesn’t even glance in on her daughter’s pain as she loses her father. Bonnie’s mother wants simultaneously to be her daughter’s number one hero savior forever (and spare me the idea that Bonnie didn’t know the spell was a generational knot, or whatever) and not to have any responsibility for not being there for her daughter lo these past 18 years. And Klaus’ mother – well, we’ll get there.
The best fantasy shows work because, at their root, they explore something that’s incredibly human. Buffy’s ‘High School Is Hell’ was the simplest literal interpretation of why that show worked. On The Vampire Diaries, a show that involves ancient generations’ decisions being revisited on their descendants, it’s closer to “People you love leave” (or, if you’re cynical like me, ‘Family is Hell’).
Nobody’s more aware of this than Elena, although she’s transferring her feelings onto Alaric this week (shut it!). Is it kind of weird that an 18 year old girl is so worried about her guardian’s love life? Somewhat, sure. It’s disconcerting to hear her say he should feel free to invite creepy Meredith over (and I love this name too, guys, but it’s officially worn out its TV welcome now, OK? Enough). I mean, it’s one thing to want him happy. It’s another entirely to want him to be getting some.
Except that Elena knows what can happen when people’s love – or lack thereof – drives them mad. Isn’t that what happened to Stefan? To Klaus? Isn’t it happening to Damon right now? (I found the denouement of Stefan and Damon acknowledging they both love Elena to be a little underwhelming. We know this – not that I believed Stefan particularly). When love is the one thing you can’t have, everything else – killing, rampaging, destruction – seems completely justified. Is this Elena’s odd, sisterly way of making sure Alaric, whose fondness for the bottle we’ve seen, doesn’t go the same way?
I mean, it’s worth noting that you can’t save your parent(al figures). It was a really nice revelation for Caroline, the little vampire who doesn’t want to grow up, that she can’t make her dad’s choices for him, even though she has the physical capacity to save him. Since her mom is still AWOL emotionally and Dad (who, let’s face it, was manipulative at best) is now gone, will she finally grow up?
I don’t know. I don’t know what to think. All these girls, who’ve been so independent – who have had to be, given the events of the last 18 months – immediately turn back into little girls when presented with a parental figure. I know you’re telling me no, Bonnie was mad at her mom, not happy, but she still wanted answers about why she was abandoned. She still wanted her to explain all the reasons she hadn’t been there, as though that could change anything. As though that could fix all the the hurt that had happened. And she was so…childish about it! “Dad never mentioned you” might be interpreted as suspicion that the woman or her story aren’t who she says they are… but it just sounded like teenage brattiness to me: “He didn’t love you, you know.”
Is this our curse? Do we forever turn back into children when we’re in front of our parents? (Lainey: yes. And ask them to do our laundry, true story.) Are we programmed to want to be the younger, no matter what – if only because it might mean being able to shrug off some responsibility?
The answer, of course, lies in Klaus (or ‘Nick’) who immediately turns into a child when confronted by his mother (I know they will remind us of all the names of the Originals next week, but since Klaus’ mother resembles nobody so much as Cersei from Game of Thrones, she shall be known as CWCersei until then).
He’s a ripper, a demon, he’s done terrible things, but he cowers in front of his mother. He got what none of our girls got tonight – a promise that they could all start over. Be a family again. That Mommy Dearest would take care of them all.
Of course, this being Mystic Falls, that’s nothing good.
Also, I can’t wait for the return of Michael. They keep reminding us for a reason. And where Michael is, Katherine can’t be far behind…