Vampire Diaries Season 4 Episode 2 recap

I mean, if you don’t think that Ian Somerhalder smirking as he crosses himself with holy water is one of the best scenes of the fall 2012 TV season, I don’t know if I can help you.  

This show is so strong because it is quite literally a melodrama – people are dying and bleeding all episode long, most episodes – and yet it manages to have so many layers in the way it addresses the feelings these characters have, allowing them complex and changing emotions. It’s rare, to say the least, but then there’s so much humor and lightness and levity and yes, hot vampire sex, that these feel ever more like real people.

It is ironic that one of my favourite parts of the episode was continued de-normalisation? My notes from early in the episode refer to Jeremy and Matt as “the last two humans standing”, and I’ve never been able to shake the sense of true sadness I had about Jeremy, in particular, being a human who just stood and watched the maelstrom around him. He seemed so…separate from it. Matt, too. It takes me back to the days of Dawn wanting to be a potential slayer…or Xander.    Now Jeremy spotting Connor Jordan’s tattoo ( I know his name because of how often he repeated it) tells me he, too, has something. Yes, previews indicate it might pull him away from the others but at least there’s a specialness there, you know?   Something he can call his own. Because it’s all very well to say Damon and Elena and Stefan et al will protect him – and they will – but he won’t be part of their world.   This gives Jeremy agency to be his own person, not just a grown-up babysitting charge – no matter what Damon thinks.

Similarly, I thought Matt’s offer to let Elena feed on him – in front of the whole town – was not just an act of his own redemption, since he’d been so anxious to pay Elena back, but an admission in a way, from Damon and Stefan, that he’s a man who can make his own choices. I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say they know they can’t protect everyone forever; their main target died, even if they’re secretly both kind of happy she’s a vampire but this is one of those realities of growing up that is told much more easily in this slightly fantastic form. All for one and one for all is a great overarching modus opperandi, but when push comes to shove, you have to be motivated to save your own ass and live by your own code. Matt’s always been willing to help, but this is one of the first times he’s struck out on his own. I thought it meant more, too, since the lantern ceremony (early on I thought Jeremy said “lanyards”, which seemed dangerous.  Enunciate!) at the end of the episode was, let’s be honest, about the fallen humans among them. Matt, like Jeremy, must know it’s a matter of time.   Either he’ll die, like so many others they loved, or he’ll find some way to make the strangeness of Mystic Falls something central in his life. I guess we’ll see.

And I’m not suggesting it’s easy to do that, of course. Just look at Bonnie. She’s been trying to do her best to become the kind of witch who can honor the past and save her friends, and look what happened? I don’t think this is just about powers being thwarted; I wonder if Bonnie has burnt herself out, doing so much so often, and reversing what nature intended over and over? I have to say that, though Kat Graham’s acting sometimes makes me raise an eyebrow (and that may be due to Bonnie’s brittle behavior or the other way around), this scene was understated and nice. Kind of just enough. I think this is how I like Bonnie best…in doses. Whereas Caroline and Tyler I can watch for days. There’s not much to say about their straightforward storyline this week but  they are just so sexy and endearing! Sexy-endearing! I didn’t used to like Tyler at all, but the combination of these two makes them kind of unquittable. They’re both good friends to Elena, too, but of course, their storyline is kind of secondary. Which is fine -

It gives more room for the meat of the episode – Stefan and Damon, at odds now and forever. The previouslies this week are almost an intro to the series. But it’s all new.  “And then there’s Elena. She’s one of us now. A vampire. And I’ll do anything to help her survive.”

This is most notable because this episode is continuing the story forward – Elena is a new vampire and all the history between the three of them hoped it would never come to this… but at the same time, it starts the series from scratch again, which is brilliant. Elena, caught between two brothers who want the best for her in very different ways. It’s so smart. But with all the loving affection I had for Stefan and Elena in the beginning, when they were slamming each other up against trees, I will never be on his team. Because he is a pouty bitch.

F*ck you and your passive aggressive sh!t, Stefan. You’re the world’s best boyfriend until someone shows dimension beyond being your faithful little woman, looking to you for wisdom. “It may not mean a lot to you that you fed from him, Elena, but it means something to me!” Well maybe, douche, she doesn’t have the wisdom of hundreds of years like you do and you could give her a break? I know Damon can whine with the best of them but at least he has a glass in his hand while he does it so you know what’s coming at you. Stefan wants what’s best for Elena as he sees her.   Damon (at least in my view) wants what’s best for the real Elena, the one who’s changing before their eyes. Isn’t that always the truer, clearer love?

Two final thoughts:

We had two occurrences of Vampire Coitus Interrupted this episode. I would like us to revisit these episodes next week and see if we can’t, um, complete them a little better.   Also…

Alaric…I didn’t know how much I missed you until you were there, watching yourself be missed.