Vampire Diaries Season 3 Episode 7 recap

Oh, Vampire Diaries.   Did you all watch this thing? Did you?

Okay, so, when the portal is opened and all our old vampire ghost friends return, we have a thorough smorgasboard comprising everyone from Grandma Whitley (I know, but don’t you still think of her that way too?) to Anna’s mother.

But of course, you’re not interested in her.   You’re interested mainly in Lexi,  right?   I mean, I get it.  She is tough beans and really devoted to what she does, i.e. slapping Stefan back into shape.    I know she’s devoted to him and kind of pragmatic.   I love that she essentially ignored Elena while she did it.   And yet – you do have to wonder about Stefan’s question.   What does she have to do, over there on the Other Side, besides wait around for him to need her to detox him?

There’s something really interesting here about addiction, the people who slide back into it, and the people who take care of them.   After watching Lexi, utterly unaffected by Stefan’s bratty behavior (and I know Arielle Kebbel has her own look and is cute, but all I could think of, the way she was styled, was Jennifer Lawrence in X Men: First Class),  does Elena actually have a prayer at being the badass she pretends to be?    

Because, you see, this was the fascinating and not-altogether-subtle message of this episode.  When you broke into tears in the last minutes before the commercial break, it wasn’t just because Anna and Pearl found one another (although more on that later) – it was because they were playing “This Woman’s Work”, which is pretty much genetically engineered to get you to weep.    

And it’s a fascinating idea.   While Damon and Mason go on what turns out to be a glorified treasure hunt (and I got great entertainment from thinking of it as kind of a grown-up, sulky Goonies), and Alaric (I’m sorry, but) stands around and pouts, while Stefan brats like a nine year old who has been denied a trip to the toy store –

It’s left to the girls to tidy things up.  Bonnie (with the help of her grandma) has to send all the ghost vampires back to the Other Side.   Caroline takes a break from being a good friend (as always) to kick some vampire ass and defend a woman who would have had her die.   Lexi takes care of Stefan.   And Elena?

Elena has to make a decision about who she’s going to be.   She’s seen the virtues of being tough – of being Lexi, or Bonnie, or someone who takes care of their own business.  Elena, on the other hand, seems like the kind who would value ‘not being hard’ and ‘keeping an open heart’.   

The thing is, in Mystic Falls, that’s pure folly, and everyone knows it but her.   Even though worst-guardian-ever Alaric doesn’t have the words to tell her, and even though Damon is too soft with her, because he loves her enough not to make her confront reality – maybe now, after a year and a birthday, maybe now Elena is waking up to knowing that no matter how much Stefan loved her once, it’s not enough for her not to protect her heart now.   It was one of those lessons Buffy learned hard, and early…

And while Elena has all the reasons in the world to be waiting for this shoe to drop, and while I shouldn’t create a double-standard, I just can’t care about Bonnie’s betrayal via Jeremy.  I’m sorry, I can’t.   First of all, he’s kissing a ghost, and an overwrought one at that.  And secondly, he never seemed like a bastion of maturity in the first place, did he?   Elena and Caroline wisely did away with human boyfriends early on during their adventures in Mystic Falls and Bonnie’s still wasting her time with a guy who was never a brain trust to begin with – but why?  What is it about her that makes her think he’s the only one who understands her?  Besides, you know, height?  (On a shallower note, is Kat Graham’s face different, or am I just unaccustomed to seeing her so much since she was so absent earlier in the year?)

Ultimately, I’m of two minds about the fact that it’s ‘women’s work’.   It makes it really cool in this town that the women are the ones who have the power, that they call the shots – and it makes me interested for the return of Klaus and Rebecca.   

But at the same time it indicates – and not for the first time, the song was only an usher – that the men in this situation are largely useless.   They can go look in tombs and bring weapons, but when it comes to the true emotional strength it takes to get through any given day, the real weight falls on the shoulders of three young girls.

Three, that is, if Elena is strong enough to stand up with them.  Here’s hoping.