Enzo just might be the new vampire you love to hate, or actually hate. Either way, he’s proving somewhat of a point to Stefan about not giving up on a brother. Tonight’s episode “Yellow Ledbetter” actually blends a cohesive balance between three equal plots, all compelling enough to create a good episode. There’s a lot going on, but the pacing was actually done rather well. There are some natural moments of heavy cringing, but other than that there’s a lot of forward progress to be made.
Examining plot #1 “LOST…in the 90’s”
We’re treated to a flashback of Bonnie and Damon stuck reliving May 10th, 1994 during a solar eclipse. Mystic Falls is empty and they have no idea why they’re stuck where they are. They return to the Salvatore house and decide to set up shop there. Damon makes a grip-ton of pancakes and Bonnie tries to rationalize what her grandma did to help save her existence. Damon thinks he’s in hell and pretty much offers his usual barrage of insults over Bonnie having no magic to get them out of there. Eventually, Bonnie finds that a crossword puzzle she had been working on has been completed and she believes someone else finished it and is in the vicinity, likely in the house.
This arc has a good vibe to it. There is a clever amount of mystery without saturating it too much with expositional fluff and characters. Damon plays the role he’s meant to and accepts what’s happened to him, but complains on end that Bonnie can’t fix it. It’s typical Damon complete with a sigh of sadness that she recognizes after 4 months of berating each other. No, this doesn’t mean they’re going to make out, far from it actually. I currently have no idea who else is in this empty dimension that reminds me of The Langoliers. Hopefully no menacing mouth-balls make an appearance.
Examining plot #2 “Elena and Alaric play ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’”
Alaric has Elena recount memory after memory of her feelings about Damon but she can’t find the one where her true feelings began. Finally, after some coaching from Caroline, Alaric and Elena discover that she felt love for Damon back when he performed a selfless act and gave Elena the necklace that Stefan gave to her originally back on an earlier birthday. Alaric’s compulsion then works and Elena now thinks Damon was a monster for having once killed Jeremy and doesn’t care that he died.
Is it a cheap way out? Yes. But given the alternative with hearing Elena whine and cry and lose herself to more maniacal panic attacks, I’d say this is the lesser of two evils. Elena will always be a character study in passion gone array. She represents a large piece of the puzzle in how to react when true love can’t be felt with the person they’ve lost. Co-dependency is something TV drama relishes even though in reality, it can be just as destructive as any unstable emotion in a relationship. For Elena, this was her only option. I accept that for the time being, because she’s the main character and the story has to somehow propel forward with her and this love of Damon is holding it back. Will things return to the way they were? I honestly hope not. Elena has dealt with the love of two brothers for six seasons. It’s time to see what she can do on her own as a principle character. I also wouldn’t force-feed her another male character to oggle over, that won’t accomplish anything right now for her.
Examining plot #3 “Stefan’s guide to a two month relationship”
Enzo and Caroline are searching for a group of witches called the Gemini coven, who may have information on communicating with the dead. On the way they stop by Stefan’s place to see what he’s been up to, and likely to get his help. They find that he moved on two months ago and is dating a human named Ivy. Things get sour and Caroline leaves after realizing Stefan truly did give up. Enzo isn’t happy with the situation either and kills Ivy, saying he’ll continue to make Stefan’s life miserable until he agrees to resume helping find his brother.
What I like about this dynamic is everyone’s right. Caroline was hurt that Stefan would A)Give up and B)Never listen to her pleading voicemails. But it doesn’t discount what she’s trying to do and is fed up with Stefan’s lack of caring. Enzo, reluctantly, also has a point. Brothers shouldn’t give up like how Stefan did. He’s using some harsh methods to prove his point, but I think Enzo believes what he’s saying. And Stefan is also not wrong. He tried, he went through the motions and decided it couldn’t be helped. He was done torturing himself and deserved to rest. In hindsight, nobody’s really getting older. Whether Stefan retries later or never gives up, time is endless for vampires and it’s only Caroline and Enzo that feel so compelled to solve the situation at lightning speed. Stefan isn’t ready but has little choice now. I expect this trio to get more volatile and they search for this Gemini coven.
I thought the trip down Elena’s memory lane was actually done very tastefully. It reminded me of the 5th season of Buffy when Buffy realizes in a trance-induced memory the exact moment she lost all hope and thought everyone was doomed against Glory. Slight parallels, but for Elena, I was interested enough to want to know just what scene would be her true moment of love for Damon. It honestly made sense and was figured out in a way that wasn’t too overtly cheesy. I also want to believe that this was a final farewell to the grandiose 5 year journey it took to get those two together and that maybe, likely it won’t happen again. But, Damon is Damon and may try to rekindle what they had as soon as he gets back.
I’m giving the MVP to Caroline this week. Simply put, she called Stefan a dick for what he did which included ignoring her messages and giving up on his search for Damon and Bonnie. Stefan couldn’t even look her in the eyes when she called him out and if he wasn’t such a blockhead he’d understand that all of her tears were because of what she feels for him. It’s not quite “love” in the deep sense, but it’s a compassionate partnership on equal terms which has been severely decimated. For once I wasn’t rolling my eyes at Caroline’s plight. She was hurt emotionally and it was enough to send Enzo back inside and set things horribly straight. I give Caroline props for at least making a point. Her feelings weren’t completely put on the line, but that will come later I’m sure. She did a good job of selling her pain.
LONG TERM THOUGHTS
I still have no sympathy for Jeremy. I know it’s supposed to be touching that he continues leaving voicemails on Bonnie’s phone as if she was able to hear them, but you can’t introduce that “after” all the women that Jeremy has been sleeping with. Don’t make him a pigheaded jerk then show why he’s so vulnerable. It’s all backwards and because of it, I don’t care that he’s in emotional flux.
I do like Trip’s character. He’s another human on a vampire killing crusade, but I think he’s got a bit of a psychotic style that works a little more than what I’ve seen from human hating vampires of the past. How he got a bunch of vampires captured in his van, I’m not sure. Maybe the group he’s works with helped. Maybe he’s acting alone. As a human, he won’t last too long and probably won’t make it out of this first arc. We’ll see.
Ivy died one episode later. Called it.
Bonnie and Damon’s time loop in another dimension is seriously baffling and I think that’s great. Don’t keep us in the dark too long and hopefully it won’t be a far fetched explanation. Also, Damon likely only survived because he held Bonnie’s hand. That dimension was supposed to be meant for her alone.
That Caroline and Stefan kiss scene is probably a long ways off now.
Elena mentions hanging out with Tyler to Caroline when she wants her to come back and party. That’s odd. Why Tyler? Why anyone? Won’t Tyler and Caroline still have at least some issues with what happened? Maybe they’re over it.
I consider Damon and Enzo polar opposite neutral characters, if that makes sense. Damon being neutral-good-like and Enzo being neutral-evil-like.
This ep gets a 7. It didn’t drag on or over-polarize the sad states of everyone on the show. Elena, Caroline, and Jeremy were the biggest emotional jarring characters, but there was enough balance with the rest that I didn’t feel too burdened by it. Pace is good and Elena has once more been rebooted with a new lease on vampire life. Does this mean the slightly strange doctor-in-training guy will be after her soon? Kinda hope not. Elena doesn’t need relationships to move on, she needs good connections with people. The Damon and Bonnie plot is moving in a good direction. Let’s hope they don’t muck it up. I’m indifferent on Stefan’s situation. He does need to get passionate about something. Angst only gets a character so far, most times.
No more words