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'The Vampire Diaries' recap: Why Elena is greater than all you other girls

April 29, 2011 |  8:00 am


During this week's “The Vampire Diaries,” my main thought was, “Thank goodness for Elena.” It's not very often that you get a heroine like Elena (Nina Dobrev) in the vampire genre. (“Buffy” is a very special exception since she also killed the creatures she sometimes loved.) From the beginning of the show, Elena has been more than the girl you want to be because she's in the enviable position of being caught between so many good-looking guys. She commands respect. She fights back to the best of her abilities. She demands to be heard. She cares strongly for her girlfriends and doesn't let herself be defined by boys. She makes up her own mind.

It's because of those things that what Damon (Ian Somerhalder) did in “The Last Day” is truly horrible. Fearing that Elijah's (Daniel Gillies) elixir would not work and that he'd lose Elena, he fed her his blood so she'd come back as a vampire. And he did it against her will. Rightfully, Elena was horrified and upset. He took away her ability to choose. Making things even more disturbing, the imagery of Damon forcing his blood down her throat was dangerously close to the idea of someone forcing themselves upon another person. It was a violation and a breach of one's personal space and ability to feel safe and secure in their own skin. I'm sure the show will eventually find a way to overcome what Damon did, but right now, it's looking pretty unforgivable.

To get her mind off things, Stefan (Paul Wesley) took Elena on a hike to the top of a mountain. Along the way, he laid out the good and the bad things about being a vampire. Good: You feel like you can do anything, you love more passionately. Bad: Blood, obviously, the bad emotions are amplified, forcing some vamps to turn them off so they don't crumble. It was very matter-of-fact and honest. Stefan also admitted to Elena that he's thought about her as a vampire and would love to spend forever with her, but could never ask something like that of her. It has to be her choice. Bless you, Stefan. Elena finally confesses that she doesn't want to be a vampire, she never has. She's supposed to grow up, she tells him through tears. She's supposed to have the option to start a family and grow old. I have never loved Elena more than in this scene because this was a choice she was making for herself and not because of some romanticized idea of eternity. She chose not give up her life, literally, for a guy. Unfortunately, the sacrifice is still going down and Elena still has Damon's blood in her system.

Damon spends most of the rest of the episode trying to postpone the sacrifice. Seems someone is feeling a bit guilty. He gets Katherine (Dobrev) to tell him where Klaus (Joseph Morgan) is keeping his werewolf Tyler, who has returned home to check on his mom (she looked pretty amazing for being thrown off a staircase, no?), but he gets more than he bargained for when he goes to free him. Klaus' lackey attacks him, throwing him around like a doll, until Matt (Zach Roerig) shoots him with wooden bullets. Go, Matt! Naturally, poor Matt's hero moment doesn't last. Damon knocks him out with his own gun. Meanwhile, in the tomb, a locked up Tyler and Caroline (Candice Accola) are sharing a moment. Caroline, breaking my heart into a million pieces, wants to know why he left her. Tyler says she hated him, but Caroline responds that she was angry and upset, but she could never hate him. Tyler gives her a quiet, loaded half-smile. Caroline, your boyfriend's right outside unconscious! Damon interrupts the moment, freeing the two of them, but the full moon is already rising. Tyler starts starting to turn. It looks every bit as painful as the first time. Caroline and Matt lock themselves in the cellar while Damon stays behind with Tyler. How Damon didn't notice that Tyler bite him until the end of the episode, I don't know. Despite the deadly bite, I'm willing to bet money Damon's not going anywhere. Maybe Bonnie can cook up an anti-wolf bite potion?

More worrisome was the fact that Damon's bite was for nothing. Klaus has a backup wolf in Jules (Michaela McManus) and a backup vampire in –- drum roll –- Jenna (Sara Canning)! In fewer than two episodes, Jenna has gone from learning the truth about vampires to becoming one herself! This does not bode well for her longevity.

Other brief thoughts:
–- Some great acting in this episode by Dobrev and Wesley, especially. It can't be easy playing the least flashy vampire on the show, but Wesley brings wonderful gravitas and decency to Stefan.
-- Close your eyes and think of Buffy and Angel circa the Season 2 finale, Stefan.
-- Damon to Katherine: “What if I tell you Elena has vampire blood in her system. Imagine how much fun that would be competing with Elena for Stefan's love for, I don't know, forever.” Speaking of love... Elena's got to know Damon's in love with her without Stefan having to tell her, right?
-- Present-day Klaus proved to be cool, collected and calculating. The scene between Damon and Klaus in Mystic Grill was a treat, especially Damon's of-course-this-is-my-life-like response to Klaus' unexpected and pretty casual entrance. By the way, how nice was it of Damon's boyfriend Alaric (Matt Davis) to check on him?
-- Sadly, no Klaus and Elijah present-day meeting in this episode. I'm really looking forward to that.
-- Greta (Lisa Tucker) tells Elena that her bother and father shouldn't have been looking for her because she was never lost, but that's all the characterization we got about the witch and why she'd abandon her family. Could Klaus be compelling her to stay?
-- I'm very nervous and scared about what Sheriff Forbes (Marguerite MacIntyre) is planning to do to Caroline. Thank goodness Matt finally came to his senses and disbanded from her, but now we don't have an inside source.

Show Trackers, what do you think of Jenna as a vampire? Is what Damon did unforgivable? Did Elena make you as proud as she made me? Are you happy about Tyler's return? He seemed a bit more mature and composed, yes?

Complete "The Vampire Diaries" coverage on Show Tracker

-- Vlada Gelman (follow my TV musings on Twitter at @stayingin)

Photo: Elena (Nina Dobrev) makes a confession to Stefan (Paul Wesley). Credit: Bob Mahoney / The CW.