Right off the bat, you should know that this is not a recap of “Heart of Darkness”. Only one thing happened in this episode as far as I am concerned, and I will get to that momentarily.
In this episode, the following things also happened:
- Klaus “killed” Alaric and when he woke up, he convinced Stefan to beat him to a pulp in hopes that his alter-ego would appear and divulge the location of the stake. It worked! (And the arrival of evil Alaric was chilling!)
- Tyler returns, makes wild love with Caroline, and then has a jealousy attack when he suspects something between Caroline and Klaus.
- Esther reappears, “dies” and transfers her life force to Rebekah.
- We still don’t know which bloodline Rose came from – Mary Porter turned her and Mary’s dead – thanks to Kol. And we don’t know who turned Mary.
The only other thing that happened is the ONLY thing that happened for me. And for all the “Delena shippers” out there in the TVD “fanverse”.
Damon and Elena make a road trip to Colorado to visit Jeremy, hoping to contact Rose so they can ask her who turned her – to discover the bloodline. Jeremy has never seen Rose, and doesn’t know a thing about her, so Damon is the conduit through which they are hoping contact will be made. To facilitate that process, Jeremy asks Damon what Rose was like.
Damon gets a wistful look on his face and says Rose spent her last day in paradise, soaking up the sun and reminiscing about what it means to be human. This is not insignificant. Damon gave her that vision of paradise in “The Descent”. Damon and Rose understood each other, and that is precisely why he gave her the gift of her humanity on her last day. This is a bond they shared – they both missed being human. Elena didn’t realize that, but Jeremy knows it’s true because he’s communicating with Rose.
I do not pretend to understand why so many fans did not like Rose – in fact, there was some downright Rose hatred during her tenure on TVD, but I loved her. And I loved her precisely because she was great for Damon. She was never afraid to challenge him, especially in Damon’s emotional life. She tells Jeremy to tell him “He’s still dripping with sex” because she knows that under all that bravado, Damon is vulnerable. But she also tells Jeremy that she is rooting for Damon and Elena. She will explain this later.
The highlight of this episode is the long scene between Elena and Damon right in the middle. It has moments of tenderness and vulnerability and incredible sexual tension. Elena watches Damon, and then Damon lies down on the bed next to her. Elena asks him why he never told her what he did for Rose. Damon says – interestingly enough – “It wasn’t about you.” Elena asks, “Why don’t you let people see the good in you?” and his answer is revealing. Damon tells her, “When people see good, they expect good, and I don’t want to have to live up to anyone’s expectations.”
There is pain in that statement because Damon has a long, painful history of not living up to the expectations of people he loves – people he doesn’t want to disappoint. This particular issue goes back all the way to Damon’s childhood. Remember his father, Giuseppe Salvatore, and more importantly, his expectations? Giuseppe expected his son to go off and fight for the South, but Damon ultimately did not believe in “the cause” and his father never let him forget his disappointment. Imagine going through life knowing your father is disappointed in you?
Now imagine falling in love, and showing you vulnerable you are – and being used?
This is part of who Damon Salvatore is. Damon spends a lot of time not showing his vulnerability, and not behaving in a way that will make people who care for him be disappointed in him, and that includes Elena.
Elena senses the depth of Damon’s feelings, and she is drawn to him but she turns away. Knowing that there is a soul under that bravado is making it harder and harder for her to resist the pull of her attraction to Damon Salvatore.
And now – before we continue with “the best scene all season” – a bit of a diversion. What is that pull that Elena is experiencing? Well, it’s simple. It’s the desire to take a risk. It’s a desire to feel Damon’s passion and match it with her own.
This is important. We do not know what kind of girl Elena Gilbert was before she lost her parents. Oh sure, we know that she was sweet, and kind, and she loved her family. We know she was popular at school. But who was she at her core? All we know is who she’s been since she lost her parents. She hasn’t stopped being sweet, loving, and popular, and she is still deeply attached to family. But since she lost her parents, Elena has played it safe. She’s continued to experience loss, and she’s continued to play it safe.
This is the basis of her attraction to Stefan. Stefan is safe.
Damon is dangerous.
The Salvatore Brothers are two sides of a coin, and they represent two aspects of life. One side is safe and familiar, predictable and stable – what you see is what you get. It feels good but it’s not terribly exciting.
The other side is risky and dangerous. Step outside your comfort zone and who knows what will happen. It could be terrible or it could be wonderful, but you just don’t know until you take that step.
You can’t steal second if you never take your foot off first base!
Into her world comes Stefan Salvatore. He saves her life, and unlike her parents, he can never die. He is safe. Interestingly enough, he brings all kinds of danger into her life, including Damon – but Elena sticks with Stefan. But I think that Elena has slowly started to realize that being safe has not stopped any of the bad things that are happening to her or her family and friends. I think she may be re-discovering the young woman she was on her way to becoming before the horrible accident that took her parents and nearly cost her and her brother their lives.
I think Elena is slowly realizing she has “the Petrova Fire”. Elena is strong. Elena is a risk taker. Elena has a passion of her own.
Stefan is a nice guy to snuggle up with if all you want to do is sit by the fire and read the classics. His love is sweet. And that’s fine, if that is what you want. But if you want to have a life worth living – a life rich in experiences, filled fire and passion – give me Damon Salvatore. Unlike Stefan, who has spent most of his life as a vampire fighting his nature, Damon (thanks to Sage) learned to embrace it. He still has to deal with “feelings magnified” but he sure takes a big bite out of life … so to speak.
And now, back to “the scene”.
Lost in the confusion of her conflicted emotions, Elena feels herself losing control, and she gets up and leaves the room. Damon won’t let her off that easily. When he follows her outside, she says, “Don’t” and again, Damon presses. “Why not … Elena?”
And BOOM! Elena takes a risk. She goes with the emotion of the moment, and you can’t tell me she didn’t enjoy every bit of the consequences! When passion joins with passion – well, let me tell you that it just doesn’t get any better than that!
And the music was perfection (thank you Chris Mollere).
“And it’s over, And I’m going under, But I’m not giving up! I’m just giving in.”
But then they are interrupted by Jeremy – you know, her brother, the one Damon killed in the first episode of Season 2 – that guy? Yeah, Jeremy and Elena are both remembering that, and you can see that Elena is wondering, “What the hell am I doing?”
And later, Damon asks her this very question. After Kol has attacked them again and Elena is bleeding, Damon asks her if she’s OK and she says she’ll be fine. But then he asks “What are you doing?” Feigning ignorance, she responds “What do you mean?”
D: This trip, you kissing me. What the hell is this?
E: Stefan thinks that I have feelings for you?
D: Well, do you?
And Elena plays the “I don’t know” card. Geez. (Interesting that Caroline played that same card with Tyler regarding Klaus.)
But Damon, to his credit, calls her on it. Maybe she’s hoping he will screw it up and make the decision for her. Elena tells him yes, that’s the behavior she’s kind of counting on because it’s what he does. He sabotages things.
E: Every time there’s a bump in the road, you lash out.
D. What if I didn’t? What if there was no bump?
In other words, what if Elena just has to make a choice? Damon tells her this time he’s not going to make it so easy for her. This time she’s going to have to figure it out for herself.
As Elena, Damon and Jeremy drive back to Mystic Falls, Rose, sitting next to Jeremy in the car, tells him that she knows Jeremy wants to protect his sister, but he’s young and doesn’t see what she sees. And that is important – Rose brings 500 years of perspective into the situation. She tells Jeremy, “It’s not that she makes him a better person – she does – but he changes her too. Damon challenges her. Surprises her. He makes her question her life, her beliefs. Stefan is different. His love is pure and he will always be good for her. Damon is either the best thing for her, or the worst.”
What does that mean exactly? Whether or not he is the best or worst thing for her depends entirely on Elena! In Rose’s eyes, if Elena chooses Damon, she will have the best life. If she chooses Stefan, it will just be a good life, and Rose doesn’t think Elena will be satisfied with just a good life!
If you can watch the episode again, check out Jeremy’s face – he’s weighing Rose’s words, and he’s weighing them against the sister he’s known all his life. Yes, Jeremy knows who Elena was before the accident that killed their parents. Is he thinking that Stefan is the best man for Elena, or is he considering Damon in a new light and remembering who his sister used to be?
Our lives reflect out choices. Will Elena ultimately choose the safety and security of life with Stefan, or will she take a chance and choose a life of adventure, spontaneity and “bumps in the road” with Damon?
“A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.” – William Shedd
Photo Courtesy of The CW