When last we saw “The Vampire Diaries” (and man, that seemed so long ago, didn’t it?), Elena had lost her brother, burned down her house, and stopped feeling anything (thanks to Damon turning off her emotional switch). Oh, and Catherine stole the vampire cure right out from under everyone’s noses, but we can get to that later. The focus of this episode is really on Elena becoming, well, a petulant teenager who doesn’t care about anyone or anything. Even better? This forces Damon and Stefan (with, to an extent, Caroline) to play the parts of her worried and often powerless parents. It’s not the sexiest of triangles (or, really, sexy at all), but it’s definitely interesting. I’m not sure this is an improvement, but it’s a nice change of pace to see Elena behave like something other than a sad-eyed velvet painting come to life.
Initially, Damon is convinced everything is just fine. Elena’s just having fun (denial, denial)! Hey, if things get too awful, he can just invoke the sire bond and force her to turn her emotional switch right back on (denial, denial)! Stefan thinks that they need to make Elena want to be a loving, caring, human-like vampire again. I’m not sure who’s more delusional in this case, but at least they care — not that Elena does.
Just to make sure everyone realizes just how little Elena cares about anything, she tries to consume some poor good Samaritan who tries to help her after Elena lies down in the middle of the road (Damon has to stop her from bleeding the girl dry). Damon is put in the very strange position of having to order Elena to use some restraint, which gets him a sigh and an eye roll. “I thought this was supposed to be fun,” Elena says, in her best “I’d hate you if I cared enough” voice.
On the one hand, Elena is kind of coolly disaffected at this point, which is actually (at least for us) kind of fun. She could do a walk-on in a Quentin Tarantino movie, easy. On the other hand, Stefan keeps pointing out that under the surface Elena is still Elena — and if she does succeed in being really truly bad (as in, if she kills an innocent person), she’ll fall apart when she does decide to feel something again. And yes, that means Stefan, Caroline and Damon have to babysit. And I did include Damon in that equation, though I’m not sure how good he’ll be at the job.
Elena isn’t above acting out in other ways. She walks around naked and refuses to go to school (Damon talks her into it). She glares. She pouts. She just doesn’t care, people! She asks Caroline if she can rejoin the cheerleading squad — just so that she can feed on some girl from another town who hasn’t been sucking up the vervain-tainted waters of Mystic Falls (courtesy of the new mayor). By the way, is anyone else impressed that Caroline is still the captain of the cheerleading squad? When does she have time to go to practice? I’m not kidding; that takes some time management skills.
Anyway, Caroline yells at Elena for chewing on the competition, and then Elena, oops, just happens to let her drop to the floor during cheerleading practice. It’s a petty, mean-spirited thing to do, but hey, Elena doesn’t care! Stefan, knowing Elena’s train is just about to go off the tracks, lures her out of the gymnasium with the promise to take her to an out-of-the-way spot where they can suck people dry with impunity, then sticks her with vervain so he can get her back home. I’m almost expecting her to end up at some kind of Outward Bound camp for bratty vampires, but no such luck.
Home doesn’t offer much of a respite, unfortunately. Elena wakes up on the wrong side of the bed, so to speak. “So you’re grounding me because I dropped Caroline on her thick head?” she asks, grumpily. As Stefan tries to explain to her why it may be helpful for her not to act like a monster, at least in public, she strips down. Again. All Elena needs at this point is a gang tattoo and a gun, because she is sooo hard. I mean, when she’s not naked.
She suggests Stefan consider turning everything off, because one of the benefits is that, unlike Catherine, (“who’s been “running so long she’s afraid of her own shadow”), she’s not afraid of anything. These days, she doesn’t feel anything. Like, she remembers that she and Stefan had great sex, but whatever. If this hurts, Stefan doesn’t let on. Unlike Elena, who can do the watery-eye wounded thing like nobody’s business, Stefan don’t play that way.
Wow, remember how many times these roles have been reversed? Elena pleading and cajoling while Stefan glared at her like she was a boring insect or a calculus problem? This may not be a nice twist, but it adds an interesting layer to Elena, who (while sympathetic) had become a little one note. Even when she was willing to be bad with Damon, she never seemed utterly cold and heartless. Until now.
Damon and Stefan have realized that the sire bond isn’t working anymore — it turns out that it only played on Elena’s feelings for Damon, and if she’s not feeling anything, she’s not feeling a sire bond, either. So, I’m guessing this particular storyline won’t be wrapped up quickly, which is all kinds of awesome. Given how long Stefan was bad, I’d expect nothing less for Elena.
Stefan frets as Elena texts. And why is she texting? I am expecting her to threaten to take away her phone and tell her no ice cream or TV for the rest of the week. Instead, we find out she was texting everyone to invite them to party at the Salvatores, whoo! Given that she felt “grounded,” the solution was to bring the party to where she was stuck. I swear, some of Elena’s lines could be ripped out of a bad teen movie from the ’80s, which just makes them that much better. In bad teen movies, these were the lines a kid hurled at Mom or Dad. Here, they’re delivered from one vampire to her bloodsucker ex-boyfriend.
Caroline, who wasn’t horribly crippled by Elena’s little cheerleading stunt (thanks, vampirism!) comes over and, though realizing things aren’t great, is happy to see Elena having fun at the party, dancing on tables and chugging booze. She urges Stefan, whose face is going to freeze that way soon, to let loose. They end up on the dance floor together, which somehow manages to tick off Elena (it’s like her parents dancing at prom, yuck! If her parents were still alive, of course). So, she can feel a little — but only petty, childish, jealous emotions. Great!
When Caroline’s mom Sheriff Liz comes by to shut down the party, Elena is not amused. In fact, she threatens to drink Sheriff Liz’s blood and slams her against the wall. Caroline cuts in, really pissed. You can mess with Caroline, but don’t mess with her mom! Before she can work up a really good snit, Elena runs off. When Caroline finally catches up to her in the woods, it’s time for a girl fight. Fight, fight, fight!
Caroline, playing the part of Old Elena, tries to tell New Elena she’s better than this, and she’s not herself, and a lot of the things you tell a teenager that they don’t want to hear when you’ve taken away their car keys. Elena tells Caroline she fights like a girl, and it seems that Elena may actually win the fight (and kill Caroline in the process) when Damon and Stefan show up to break things up. Buzzkills!
Stefan tries to make Caroline feel better about the bad situation, but she’s feeling pretty hopeless. How can they get Elena to turn her emotions back on when her family is dead and her life sucks? I don’t know, really, and I suspect Elena isn’t going to be in a rush to go back to suffering. Still, Stefan isn’t giving up on her — simply because she never gave up on him. Well, I will point out that Elena always thought she and Stefan would get back together… and Stefan says that’s not his agenda. So, he’s just being a really, really selfless and caring vampire. Who may or may not think he can get his ex-girlfriend away from his brother. Just a thought.
Speaking of his ex and his brother, Damon tries to give Elena a pep talk, but it’s only so effective. Elena doesn’t want to go back to being a scared little girl, and she suspects he likes her better switched off. Damon doesn’t answer, though I suspect he’s thinking, “Well, duh, of course I do.”
Though Elena’s descent into bad girl/pouty teenager terrain was really the focus of the episode, other things happened. Caroline leaves more messages for Tyler, which is sad in and of itself, and it’s even more poignant when Tyler sends a package to Matt. He leaves Caroline a letter assuring her he loves her, that he can never see her again, and that he’s left his house to Matt so she will always have a safe place to go. Caroline sobs, realizing what we’ve all known all along — Tyler isn’t coming back, because he just can’t. Poor bunny.
In other news, Klaus saves Hayley from a vampire sent by Catherine to kill her. Oh, that Catherine, so popular these days! Since she snatched the vampire cure, Damon wants to find Catherine, Klaus wants to find Catherine, and Rebekah wants to find Catherine (and I guess they’re all hoping she hasn’t dumped the vampire cure on the ground or anything silly like that). Klaus points Damon toward the vampire he’s bitten (and who, of course, is dying from his hybrid/werewolf slobber), while he takes on Hayley. And very gladly at that.
Apparently, Hayley and Catherine met in New Orleans, where Catherine offered to help Hayley find out about what happened to her biological parents if she helped her, you know, get the vampire cure. Hayley seems to know a bit about Catherine’s network of vampires, and Klaus is determined to find out. Of course, he isn’t into torture (this week), but instead wines and dines Hayley (and, of course, has sex with Hayley, because hey, he’s Klaus) until she promises to help him out. He might be able to help her out, too, as he can protect her from whoever Catherine sends after her. Plus, he notices she has the mark of a rare werewolf clan from (wait for it…) New Orleans. Yes, all roads lead back to New Orleans, at least for anyone who’s going to be in the Originals spin-off.
Meanwhile, Damon (and later, Rebekah) hunt for the wounded vampire, which gives Rebekah ample opportunity to nag Damon about Elena (and about how he’d be an idiot to give her the cure, given that it would just make her run back to Stefan) and gives Damon a chance to remind Rebekah that becoming human would make her (gasp!) ordinary. I’m thinking both Damon and Rebekah are a lot less interested in the cure by the end of this episode, and I’m a little sad that Rebekah seems to be stuck in the role of providing exposition and jabbing emotions out of other characters. Anyway, when they find the vampire, Damon recognizes him as Will — and mercifully kills him before Rebekah can torture him. The fact that Will was in cahoots with Catherine piques Damon’s interest — and raises some questions he apparently can’t answer.
Damon is so interested, in fact, he’s going to take Elena with him on a road trip, not to New Orleans (it turns out not all roads lead there) but to New York. I guess his dead vampire friend left some kind of trail behind there, but more importantly, Damon thinks New York will be a lovely playground for the new, lethal Elena. It’s a city that never sleeps — and one where the missing can go mostly unnoticed. I understand why Damon thinks this will be great fun, but I have a feeling that Elena may be more of a handful than he’s bargained for.
Another question that will surely be addressed soon is the “mystery” of blood banks and hospitals being drained of the red stuff in mass quantities. Who could possibly do that? Not Elena or the Salvatores… but a likely candidate is Silas, who has a 2,000 year thirst to quench. Yeah, this is gonna be interesting.
Do you like bad Elena? Do you think she’ll take over New York? And are you excited to see the Originals spin-off?