A Much More Interesting Stefan
I feel like Vampire Diaries really came back last night. After a few weeks of floundering while trying to cover anything and everything within it’s 42minute span, last night got a little more focused and offered a tighter storyline. The writers dropped the training house of vampires, which is totally fine because we all know they’ll be back, and focused all the narrative drive on Stefan’s struggling blood addiction and the unbelievably knowledgeable (and creepy) Uncle John (what is it with adults talking about their sex lives in front of kids on this show in wildly inappropriate ways?!).
It’s not that I suffer from a bad-boy complex, but I actually enjoyed seeing Stefan loosen up a little last night. Or at least, I enjoyed seeing more of an emotional range in his character. Stefan is generally quite boring to me, but last night he became unpredictable and thus interesting. What we ended up with in the end felt a little bit like an Edward/Bella storyline with him insisting he could hurt her and her insisting on her trust of him and refusing to back off. But something a little more complex happened here as Elena actually did experience moments of genuine fear, anger and concern for Stefan throughout the episode as he became less and less himself. Unlike Twilight’s Bella, Elena seems more aware of the risks she’s taking – most likely because she’s witnessed much of the violence and death that comes with these vampire friends.
I am left wondering, though, what’s the deal with vampires and whiskey? We’ve always seen the Salvatore brothers enjoy the occasional imbibing of the brown liquids, but last night it almost seemed like they held a special power for Stefan. At the very least, it seemed that getting drunk could serve as a distraction from his other addiction, or that indulging in irresponsible drinking (blood, booze…) are all of a part. There actually seems to be an interesting little knot to untangle there that leaves me curious to see if Stefan will take up other vices in the next few weeks. I do find myself surprised at the amount of teenage public drunkenness that takes place in Mystic Falls – seriously, isn’t the Founders’ Ball one of the year’s classy events? And all the kids are drinking in less than secretive ways. We’ve asked it before, but what is up with the parents in this town?!
In line with this knot of additions and vices with which Stefan is flirting comes the question that Damon has posed now two weeks running: is Stefan trying to get back to being himself, or is he finally becoming himself? And it’s an important question for us all to consider – is our nature our truest self or is it our nurture and all the ways we curb our deepest cravings for the sake of living in society? We took a turn last night that surprised me with Damon defending blood bank withdrawls and acting as if he rarely went on the hunt. That’s not the Damon I know and love! When he arrived on this scene he killed multiple humans and even a few weeks ago was still feeding off of the ladies. I think this abrupt shift in his feeding habits signals an attempt on the part of the writers to let us feel like there are good options for blood-drinking that don’t involve killing people…and so something else is going on with Stefan’s self-denial. It’s not just about wanting to avoid hurting people. But there actually seems to be some stubborn, almost foolish element of self-control or desire to be something he’s not that is driving his decision not to drink human blood. It’s as if he’s at war with who he really is, refusing to accept himself as himself.
On that note, I’m a little tired of all these vampires who don’t drink blood – it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. I’d love it if they explored this with Stefan and came to the conclusion that strict self-governance is also not the best way to live – that a little play matters in the creation on one’s self too!
Let’s close on the Uncle John reveal – he, it turns out, is the link we need between Elena’s real mother (Isobel) and her adopted parents (the Gilberts), symbolized perfectly in the ring he wears that matches Alaric’s. It turns out both Gilbert brothers had that ring, and John now wears Dr. Gilbert’s having given his to Isobel (who in turn gave it to Alaric). And he’s the one who hooked Isobel up with Damon for her turning. He seems to know everything about everything, including Katherine. And, most interesting to me, he provides a common enemy for Alaric and Damon, further overcoming their enmity and drawing them together into some shared battle against, well, not evil so much as, some foe that they will, at some point, figure out together…but as of yet, it’s not entirely clear what that foe will be. With only 3 episodes left, I can’t wait to find out!
Posted by Natalie