Before Sunset & By Request

So, I was asked to have a look at the Elena/Damon/Stefan porch scene and the Damon/Stefan car scene from the end of the last episode to see if there was anything particularly interesting or revealing that caught my eye. As it happens, there was quite a lot.

So Elena is the star of this scene to me. She is its driving force. Both Stefan and Damon were ready to be on their way and she is the one who opens up seemingly at random (or maybe it seems random since I haven’t seen the whole episode and don’t know if this came up) about how she’s feeling and how torn she is.

The fact that she starts the conversation demonstrates that this is weighing on her and she’s not comfortable with it. She feels the need to get it off her chest, to make sure they both know that she doesn’t want to hurt or mislead them.

What I find really intriguing about her speech here is the line : “If I choose one of you then I lose the other.” To my knowledge – and I checked with friends who’ve been watching every week – Damon has never, not once, given any indication that Elena would “lose” him, under any circumstances really. Quite the opposite, he promised never to leave her again. So I’m not convinced that Elena truly fears losing him. I’m more inclined to believe that she fears hurting him any more than she already has, quite possibly because she knows perfectly well that he wouldn’t leave her even if she chose Stefan.

Their past history is too full of opportunities that they’ve both passed up to sever ties with each other, and too full of promises that they won’t lose each other for me to buy into the idea that Elena is worried about Damon disappearing from her life altogether. Which brings us to Stefan – disappearing if he doesn’t get his way is right up his alley and so is walking away from Elena in general.

He’s turned away from her a whole host of times for a whole host of reasons; to protect her, because he felt guilty, because he had to save his brother. And entirely aside from all of that, Stefan’s “love” as we all know is completely conditional. Frankly, it’s a miracle that he hasn’t walked away yet in an outrage that Elena could dare have feelings for Damon as well. And here, is where I think part of this isn’t even about Elena for Stefan. It’s about his constant struggle and competition with Damon. Stefan is incapable of bowing out gracefully. He’s incapable of even suggesting it without ulterior motive as we’ll see in the car scene later.

His reactions on the porch to Elena’s words are indicative, in my eyes, of the fact that Stefan is more interested in Elena making a choice than in what that choice actually means to her. I sensed no concern for her emotional well being from him. I see a flash of surprise that Elena is as scared of losing Damon as losing him. I see him glancing at Damon to see what he makes of it. I see him considering what it all means but only what it means for him. Somehow in Stefan’s whole thought process, Elena’s feelings aren’t registering. And when Damon indicates that Stefan should respond (more on that in a sec) all Stefan has to say is that it’s been a long day, effectively dismissing everything Elena has just said and implying at the same time that she’s too tired to think clearly.

Elena says that she is being selfish but she, at least, has the presence of mind to consider who might be hurt as a result of her actions. Stefan doesn’t seem to care that Elena is scared of being hurt and we all know he doesn’t give a damn about Damon’s emotional pain. All Stefan had to do here to give his supposed feelings for Elena some credibility was tell her that he understood or that she should take as much time as she needed to make the right choice for herself. But he didn’t because his feelings for her are not about her and in my view they never have been.

Right, now enough about Stefan. Let’s talk about Damon. I found him to be most intriguing in both of these scenes. I wasn’t surprised that he didn’t say much on the porch. There are very few people in whose presence Damon is willing to be open and vulnerable and while Elena is one of them, Stefan is not. So I didn’t expect him to say anything particularly meaningful and I don’t think Elena did either. I think that as usual with these two, the looks they shared were enough. It speaks to their now legendary “understanding” that words are often superfluous. It’s also noteworthy that the last close up of Elena’s face before the brothers walk away, she’s looking at Damon rather than Stefan.

Back on point, Elena’s words clearly had an impact on Damon. But unlike his brother, Damon’s reactions are primarily about Elena. When she talks about having lost people, I  got the sense that it resonated with Damon. He knows what that feels like and I think it pains him that Elena knows what it feels like too. Simply put, Damon hates to see Elena hurt. When he talks about calling her from the road after they dump Klaus’ body, his tone and facial expression indicate an attempt, however fleeting or failed, to reassure and inject levity into the situation.

In short, this scene sums up to me not just how different the brothers’ approach to and definitions of love are but also the different motives behind their wanting to be with Elena. Damon wants to love and be loved with all the mutual feelings and responsibilities and joys and frustrations that that implies. Stefan wants to possess and control Elena and he wants her so that Damon can’t have her.

The irony of this whole thing is that both Damon and Elena genuinely hold love for Stefan and he doesn’t love either one of them the way that they deserve.

This scene as I’m sure you can all imagine had me reaching for the gasoline and the blow torch. I am so fed up of Stefan and his emotional blackmail. Having said that, again, I sort of loved Damon in this scene and I think it contrasted very well with the car scene between these two in 2×08. On that occasion, Damon was nervous and having a fairly hard time holding his emotions in check. Stefan was trying to get under his skin and although Damon tried not to show it, he was succeeding just a bit.

Here it is the opposite. Stefan kicks off with this whole spiel about if Elena picks you I’ll leave town blah blah Ripper bullshit blah. The only reason he says ANY of this is because he is angling for Damon to give the same guarantee. Damon sees right through him but he humors Stefan because it’s not worth getting into an argument over, certainly not when they’ve managed to kill Klaus (assuming the bastard is actually dead). I don’t for one second believe Damon meant a word of it when he agreed to leave if Elena chose Stefan. If Damon were to leave town it would be for his own reasons and not out of commitment to some half assed promise.

I think that the balance of power between these to has finally, truly, shifted. Stefan doesn’t have the power to wound Damon that he once did because Damon has a clear sense of who he is now and who he wants to be. He fought hard like hell to attain that and I am proud beyond words that he’s not letting his brother mess with that anymore.

Between that and the porch scene, Stefan just ends up looking quite weak and pathetic. He’s like a puppet master (read manipulator) realizing that the puppets have cut all their strings. He no longer holds the power he used to over Damon and frankly he doesn’t hold it over Elena either. If he did, she’d love him as much as she did in S1 and never have developed these deep and powerful feelings for Damon.

Having said all this, the writers are perfectly capable of screwing this up ten ways from Sunday and turning it into a clusterf**k of grandiose proportions. Until that happens though, I’d say that the signs are heavily pointing to Elena choosing Damon in the finale.

Another random thought is about the episode title. Before Sunset is the name of a movie with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. The two main characters have a pretty unique emotional connection that has that same intangibility to it that Damon and Elena’s understanding has always had. It might have nothing to do with anything but I like the parallel.

I’m A Work In Progress – D. Salvatore, 2×04 Memory Lane

This is a fly by post with my thoughts on the D/E motel scene and the final D/E scene in episode 3×19. I haven’t watched the whole episode nor do I plan to at the moment. I also haven’t watched any of the episodes since 3×13. With that frame of reference established, I’m going to start with the last scene first.

It’s possibly one of the most flawless moments in TVD history, certainly between these two. In this and the motel scene that famous “understanding” was back and for once it was verbalized. They’re finally telling each other the things that they’ve learned or noticed about each other and giving each other a chance to fill in the blanks or confirm what they always suspected to be true about each other.

I titled this post with one of Damon’s lines from Memory Lane. It always stuck out in my mind because he said the words to Jenna but he was looking right at Elena. In one of the drabbles from my Coming Home series, I wrote that the words and the look were almost a warning or a statement of intent, Damon’s way of telling Elena that one day, he was going to be the kind of man that she could love at which point, she’d have no place left to hide. Well, that day appears to have come.

Damon’s response to Elena’s fear of her own feelings was the perfect one. We’ve seen Elena push Damon to accept responsibility and consequences so many times. Now he’s pushing her to do the same when it comes to her emotions. He’s not going to make it easy for her to run from what she feels, nor should he. He finally feels worthy of her. He might still struggle with his Stefan issues or be scared that Elena won’t choose him over his brother but he doesn’t seem to doubt that he’s good enough anymore and that is a massive step forward for him character wise.

As for Elena, I adore her. Sometimes, I think Damon himself doesn’t quite realize how many times he wrong footed her, how many times he went out of his way to damage her fledgling faith in him. The miracle of all it is that despite his (and Stefan’s) best efforts, Elena has fought long and hard to keep sight of who she believes Damon to be, at his core. That’s the man she’s fallen (or falling depending on how you want to look at it) in love with. But she’s scared to commit to him. She’s scared to tell the world that she loves him because he is scared to let the world see the man that she fell in love with. He only shows that side to her and for a long time, it allowed her to question and grapple with whether or not what she saw was even real. Now that she knows or has decided that it is, she’s questioning whether or not it’s enough.

When you love Damon, you spend a lot of time defending him. We all know that and we all know that it ain’t always easy. More than her feelings, I think Elena is wondering if she can stand by him through thick and thin. The AMAZING thing about that struggle though is that she inherently understands that Damon will accept nothing less than everything and more to the point, she believes that he deserves nothing less. The whole not doing things in half measures? She and Damon have that in common.

Damon is right to stand his ground and put the choice on her shoulders. But Elena is right not to commit before she is ready. But I think (I hope) people are finally seeing that Elena has never taken pleasure in hurting Damon. She’s not trying to lead him on or break his heart – all the opposite. It’s as hard for her as it is for him and has been for a long time but I don’t think that’s been obvious until now.

Moving onto the motel scene. I particularly loved the conversation about why Damon doesn’t let other people see the good in him. Because as I said above, this is actually quite a large part of Elena’s problem. It was raised in the episode where they fought after he tried to kill Caroline’s father as well. She said something along the line of not wanting him to be what other people think, implying she wants him to be the man she sees in him instead.

And here Damon explains that he is loathe to deal with people’s expectations. I’ve been saying this for years so I felt kind of vindicated 😆 Believe the worst of Damon and he’ll go out of his way to deliver – at least that’s how it used to be. Now and with Elena, it’s different. I think one of the reasons she was so overwhelmed is because the enormity of it finally hit her. For centuries, Damon has lived down to expectations and only for her and with her has he tried to do the opposite. It is a hell of a thing to realize that you’ve had that kind of impact on someone, never mind on someone like Damon.

And as for the kiss, it’s never been a secret that she’s attracted to him or that she wants him. But that kiss was fueled by a lot more than just lust. She wanted – and still wants – to be close to him. But wanting something and knowing how to have it are two different things. It’s Elena’s turn to be a work in progress and eventually she’ll get to the point where she’s looking for ways to be with him rather than reasons to run.

Returning To The Scene Of The Crime

So I was bored and pretty cranky and I figured that re-watching and recapping 3×01 couldn’t actually worsen my mood any. I’ve even gone so far as to re-cap 3×02  but I can’t (and won’t) make any promises beyond that. So consider this random until and unless, I actually do catch up. 😆

You can read my recap of 3×01 here and my recap of 3×02 here

ETA: I’ve added recaps from 3×03 to 3×06. That’s as far as I go with them though. I’ve watched all the other episodes (3×07 was REALLY awful) and while it was a good way to deal with my insomnia, not enough has changed to truly suck me back in. But D/E have been gorgeous and seeing Damon punch Stefan out in 3×08 was so worth it.  The writing for Stefan on the other hand gets worse and worse. He has a lot of nerve being jealous over the D/E kiss after everything he’s done to Elena lately. Worse, I know the writers aren’t going to let it go. Eventually Stefan is going to “return to normal” and ruin everything, like he always does.

I basically live in fear the fact that Damon will have his time with Elena and then he’ll lose her. And I don’t think he would recover from that. Sigh. I really hope I’m wrong.

3×03 here, 3×04 here, 3×05 here (that one is on the short side and mostly just me ranting. Didn’t like the episode all that much, it turns out ), and 3×06 here.

Because At The End of The Day…They’re Family

So this is really just a fly by post. TVD and I are still on a break  and I am still head over heels for ASkars but as I promised, I have been watching the occasional D/E scene on YouTube and after last night, I had a couple of observations to make. 😛

I only watched the last scene so I’m not really analyzing it in the context of anything else that’s happened in S3, only what I know about these two characters from S1 &2. What struck me the most, aside from the intimacy – seriously, this has ALWAYS been my favorite word to describe Damon and Elena’s relationship – was the moment where Elena says that Stefan will be saved not because he loves her, but because he loves Damon. Damon’s reaction to that is what got me to actually write this post. I think he was genuinely surprised by what she said and immediately you see him disappear inside himself but not in a negative way, rather in a reflective one.

I think that Damon honestly doubts that Stefan loves him. I think that over many years (probably since the whole Katherine getting taken by Giuseppe debacle in 1864) Damon has consistently chalked up any remotely nice thing Stefan does for him to Stefan’s inability to handle guilt; guilt over things he did, things he didn’t do, the sky being blue etc. Even the devil’s bargain with Klaus, I can see Damon perceiving as something from Stefan not wanting to feel guilty because he didn’t life a finger to save his brother. Mind you, I’m not saying that this is Stefan’s ACTUAL motivation, just that I can see Damon looking at it that way.

Now, all of a sudden he has Elena – who is basically the person he trusts most in the world at this point – telling him that Stefan loves him more than he loves her. Because it’s Elena, he can’t dismiss it out of hand and I think that’s important. Regardless of my personal feelings for Stefan (and honestly, none of them are pleasant) his approval and his affection is something that Damon has longed for for a long time. Yes, Damon still has to travel the path of being a better man for himself first and foremost, but I’ve always said that he deserves to have people support him in that. Truly believing that his brother does love him is going to help rather than hinder his development.

And as for Miss Gilbert. I was smiling at my computer screen as she described Rebekah and literally saying out loud, “Wow, remind you of anyone?” She talked about the most important bond being between family and she’s right. But family isn’t just about blood. It’s about who you love and how you love them. It’s about being ready and willing to do anything you can to protect them, it’s about wanting the best for them and always being there no matter what. Damon and Elena have been that to each other for so long now that I don’t see how anyone could argue that these two aren’t each others family.

The connection they have exists on so many levels. It’s friendship, it’s love, it’s family, eventually it’ll be lovers. But all those things are manifestations of the fact that they fit together in every way that it’s possible for two people to fit and this entire scene managed to encapsulate all of those nuances which is no small feat. Part of what makes Damon and Elena’s realtionship real is how complicated and three dimensional it is. That’s also what makes it so damn beautiful.

There’s a One Shot In It For You

So I (and D’Ann) entered this contest for original fiction at http://www.romanceisnotdead.com and to have even more fun with it, we thought we’d bring you guys into it.

First person to find each of our stories wins a one shot – subject of their choice. DM me on Twitter if you think you know which story  is mine and which is D’Ann’s.

Read, review, request. It’s that simple. Happy hunting!

Almost Isn’t Good Enough

The season 3 premiere came so close to sucking me in again but then it fell short and you know what they say, almost isn’t good enough. I couldn’t think of a better way to say my (prolonged but still hopefully temporary) goodbye to these two than writing them letters. And I know there are people out there who loved the episode and who are feeling optimistic. I’m glad for them and I don’t want to taint that. This is just where I’m at personally. So disclaimer : DO NOT READ IF YOU WERE HAPPY WITH THE EPISODE AND LOVING DELENA AND NOT GIVING A CRAP ABOUT THE TWO MINUTES OF STELENA AT THE END.

*****************************************************************************************************************************

A drop in the ocean,
A change in the weather,
I was praying that you and me might end up together.
It’s like wishing for rain as I stand in the desert,
But I’m holding you closer than most,
‘Cause you are my heaven.

Dear Elena,

It’s funny how things work out. When I first met you, I had no idea I’d grow to love you so much. Damon and I have that in common. I’ve discovered so many things about you; admired your strength, cursed your stubbornness but mostly just fallen in love with the way you fight for who and what you believe in. Damon’s reaped the benefits of that and Stefan probably will eventually too.

It’s no secret, I’m not a fan of your relationship with Stefan and honestly if I had my way, you’d never give him the time of day again. But that’s out of my hands and I know it probably won’t go down like that. I still hope though, that one day you’ll realize, the other Salvatore brother is the one that’s meant for you.

You’ve looked into Damon in ways that you’ve never looked into Stefan. And he’s let you. I know that somewhere inside you, you understand what that means. I hope you treasure it.

I’m not writing this letter to shoot the breeze. I’m writing it because my dear, you’re on your own. 18 years old and mostly grown. It’s time for me to take a step back from this journey that you’re on.

Be careful with Damon. He’s more breakable than even you know – even more now that he’s trying recapture the man inside him that’s spent all those centuries hidden. Try not to hurt him anymore than you can help.

You and Damon mean a lot to me. I want you to find your way to each other. I want you to be brave and give him a chance. But I can’t make you do it and I can’t watch his heart keep breaking over you, over Stefan, over you & Stefan.

So I’m out, at least for now. But that’s no excuse for you not to be the woman I know you are. Fight for yourself first, Elena. I think that’s all I can really ask of you.

***************************************************************************************************

Dear Damon,

You know you gutted me tonight, right? It’s becoming a nasty habit of yours. I’m not even sure I know what to tell you – there aren’t words for the frustration and rage and pain I felt from you tonight. I know you feel as if you’ve failed but that’s not the case. You know better than anyone that you can’t save someone who doesn’t want to be saved. He’s your brother, you love him. Doesn’t matter whether I think he deserves it or not.

But you also love her and she’s the one who’s here and who needs you. You’re doing well so far; protecting her but not sugar coating the truth. She needs to understand what Stefan is – all of what he is – before she can make a real choice about being with him or not.

Here’s the part that worries me and I know that you’re probably not letting yourself think about it because you’re you. When Stefan does come back, she won’t just walk away from him. That’s not who she is and you wouldn’t love her as much as you do if it was.

Now I know you, Damon. I know who you’ve been, who you are and who you’re trying to be. I don’t doubt for a minute that you love them both enough to turn your back if that’s what they need. But god help me, I can’t be there to see it happen and I can’t spend the next nine months waiting to see if it will, hoping against hope that it won’t.

I know that Elena belongs with you. I know how much you love her. I hope she’ll come to love you back just as much. You deserve that and so does she. You two are part of me now and I’ll always be out there hoping that you find your way.

**************************************************************************************************************************

I feel like I should also point out that my reaction here has very little to do with Damon and Elena or their realtionship directly. It’s really about the writers and the fact I’m tired of making excuses or defending details. That S/E scene at the end really bugged me because I feel like it’s pandering and that makes me in turn feel as if my emotions are being exploited. I’m too invested in D/E for my own good probably but the relationship I have with this show has gotten abusive. TV is not supposed to be this painful to watch.

That’s the real reason I’m taking a break. I’ll catch up in a hiatus or next summer.

The Third Time/Season Is (Supposedly) The Charm

Well hello there! Assuming anyone is still interested in reading my random ramblings on the subject of the Vampire Diaries, I thought this would be a good time for it, given that tonight is the Season 3 premiere.

But I have to be honest. For most of the summer hiatus, I have been totally disconnected from the TVD fanbase. There’s a couple reasons for that – divisions within the fandom, the hysteria over Ian/Nina and most of all, a twisted and delayed reaction to the events of season 2.

Oh and also this man took over my life.

Yes, I am addicted and will seize on any excuse for an ASkars pic spam.  But back on topic. You wouldn’t know it by reading my recap of the last two episodes of Season 2 – you know, those ones where I was all gooey and optimistic about where Damon and Elena are headed? – but I was actually deeply wounded and traumatized by a lot of what happened last season.

My faith in JP/KW which was really strong in season one and even in the beginning of S2 has been shaken to its core.  I’m not sure I trust them the way that I used to. The main reason for that is that as much as I wish it was, TVD is not the Damon & Elena show. If it was, I wouldn’t ever have to worry about justice not being done to their characters. As it is, for better or worse, Damon and Elena’s relationship, such as it is, can’t be separated – plot wise – from Stefan.

And the thing is that I used to be one of those D/E fans that thought Stefan had layers and really wished that the show would explore them. I consistently argued that a more dimensional Stefan would make for better storytelling all around including for Damon and Elena.

That’s still true. I think it will. Problem is, I no longer care. I no longer care because Stefan crossed lines for me in S2 that he can’t ever uncross. I recognize that he “sacrificed” himself for Damon (though I wonder if a small part of him wasn’t relieved to have a really good excuse to stop fighting his nature so damn hard) but it’s not enough.

I can’t stress enough that this is personal. It’s not about Stefan being justified in his treatment of Damon or vice versa. Fans of each brother can argue their case and make legitmate points. It’s just that I, personally, reached my limit and I no longer care whether what he feels  is justified or not or whether he has reasons for why the way he is.

In true and primal mama bear fashion, all I know is that he has – repeatedly – hurt someone that I care about. He has undermined and disparaged Damon time and again. He’s been self righteous and condescending and on occasion, cruel.

Damon’s no saint. I’m not arguing that and I’m not claiming to be rational. All I’m saying is, when it’s about taking sides, I choose Damon. That simple.

Given that, you can imagine my nerves about this upcoming Ripper story line. The show has consistently shied away from following through on the many, many, MANY teases about Stefan’s dark side. We won’t know until we see it, whether this time will be any different.

But that’s a concern for a little bit later down the line. What’s really worrying me right now is how much damage they can or will inflict on Elena’s character development as the Ripper stuff progresses.

I already find it suspect that Elena can grit her teeth and get on with life after losing Jenna and John but Stefan leaves and she starts falling apart and “letting life pass her by” to quote Caroline. There’s the whole accumulation argument but it doesn’t wash with me. I would have needed to see Elena in a different head space after the Sacrifice to be able to accept that.

I don’t want Elena to be the girl who loses the plot entirely because her boyfriend is gone. More to the point, I distinctly recall Season 1 Elena saying that she didn’t want to be that girl either.

I want to see fierce, independent Elena stage a come back.

My other concern is obviously how Damon and Elena’s relationship progresses. The clip released the other day was reassuring but I’m not getting carried away. Ultimately, I don’t doubt that they’ll get closer but I think it’s what happens after that that has me tied up in knots.

I saw this on True Blood with Eric and Sookie. Ultimately, Damon and Elena’s idyll here is temporary because Stefan will eventually come back to his so called senses. Now, personally, I think Stefan’s dark side is WAY worse than Damon’s. But Elena being Elena it’s plausible (if not palatable) that she could find a way to work through that and give Stefan a second chance.

And me…I’m not sure if I would survive that. To say nothing of what Damon might do. It would be one thing if it was a really far fetched scenario but it’s actually not.

I want desperately to be able to enjoy the moments Damon & Elena will share this season but I am scared to.  The words “Stefan, it’s always going to be Stefan” haunt me and  literally make my skin crawl and my blood run cold at this point.

The weird thing is, I don’t actually think Elena will choose Stefan in the end. If she does decide to be with one of the two brothers, I’m positive it’ll be Damon.

And yet, the idea of watching Damon have his heart shattered all over again in the meanwhile – and believe you me, if Elena goes back to Stefan, even if it’s just for a while, Damon will be devastated in ways that he can’t even imagine – holds no appeal.

I’ve never been so invested in a fictional character. Writing him a lot and often probably hasn’t helped because I really do feel like Damon and Elena are part of me now.

I kept saying over summer that maybe I’d be excited when the show started back but I’m not. Maybe I’ll get over my fear/dread as the season goes on.

And if not at least I’ll have this :