The Vampire Diaries Season 4 Episode 8 recap

I mean, of course it’s not; the CW exists because there are teen dramas abounding, and ABC Family is there to pick up where they leave off, but that year 2000 movement where anything with a teenager was automatically relevant and made what your show had to say not just a show about coming of age, but a greater treatise on The World and how Learning To Be In It was bittersweet.

It will surprise nobody that I love the genre – but man, The Vampire Diaries could school them all.  I admit it has a lot going for it that other shows don’t: the frequent flashbacks to whenever the hell they feel like helps, the fact that the kids can be teenagers when we need them to care about the prom and warriors when we don’t is a stretch of reality that you don’t come by very often… but still.

Still this show knows how to take the very simplest emotions common to young people and make them relevant to people far older than they are. Partially it’s because of everything life-and-death that surrounds our Mystic Falls family, but partially it’s because they (unlike some characters we know elsewhere on TV) all make mistakes constantly.  Elena chooses “good” even when that would be a stupid move. Damon is selfish, and proud of it.  Stefan is selfish and in denial.  Caroline is judgy.  Bonnie is irrelevant.  They are flawed, and their flaws are what make the people we care about.  They matter.

The things in your life that are true when you’re young are only ever more true when you’re older, unless you consciously try to change them.  Tyler was always going to be influential – it’s just that now he’s influential to a whole new group.  It’s not hard to see that Tyler will be some kind of  king; it’s also not hard to see that power could corrupt him at any time.  But that’s nothing new, right?

It’s also nothing new to see Caroline revert back to her gossipy, meddling self.  She may be a vampire with a heart of gold, but she’s also a high school expert, and nothing trades there like judgment does.  The idea that she might have to become the type of person who bites her tongue at something she doesn’t like has been introduced to her before, but it goes against her nature.  She is going to have to learn that lesson over and over and over for centuries, and she might never get better at it.    She also might never get better at hiding her bitterness – Caroline’s beloved is supposed to be right for her but she’s more and more on the sidelines.  Elena’s is supposed to be So. Wrong …so why is she so happy all of a sudden?  Why is she leaving Caroline behind to be sad on her own?   Those aren’t the rules.  Elena’s supposed to be unhappy.  It upsets the order of things…

It’s why Damon is having such a hard time.

The flashback to wartime New Orleans was supposed to show us about the last time Damon had a sire bond, and what he did to break it.  But as far as I’m concerned, what it really showed us was how Damon has convinced himself he’s bad for women, always and forever.   No wonder he thinks the right, noble, selfless thing to do is to “set Elena free”.  That’s what he’s been told over and over, for years.  He’s not good for people, so being “bad” is being selfish and enjoying them, and being “good” means cutting himself off because he is akin to poison.  Watching his face open up as he tells her how happy he is,  watching how guiltlessly the two of them finally come together, and the wonder in his face as she tells him something that feels so good can’t possibly be wrong – it’s turning his world upside down.

I’ve never had a problem with the supposed age difference between Elena and Damon (or Stefan), but I do think it was poignant that the 18 year old told the centuries-old vampire what he’d never known before – that it’s possible for everything to fall into place the right way, even for the “wrong” people.  Even for those who have been “bad”.  Where Stefan was all about saving Elena, Damon is all about loving her as she is…as equals, both of whom deserve happiness.

The only problem is, with bliss like this, there’s nowhere to go but down.

OH.  And sorry, I know I am boring when I talk about how incessantly boring Bonnie is.  But you’d think a witch, who was into expression, would have some sort of judge of character, wouldn’t you?  It makes a better story for us that she doesn’t, but man is she going to have egg on her face when he turns out to be an utter disaster.  At least she never liked Klaus.

Attached - Nina Dobrev and Ian Somerhalder Christmas tree shopping in Atlanta.