Ok, let’s start with a couple of theories – first of all, Pearl and Harper aren’t really dead. Or at least, Harper isn’t dead. There’s no way. First, we didn’t see him die. Second, they’ve surrounded him with too much mystery to just kill him off. And third, because Emily said in this episode that she has a brother and I’m pretty sure it’s Harper. You all know I’ve been trying to track the connection for a while, here and I continue to be convinced that Harper is some sort of witch/vampire hybrid. I’m even more convinced of it after tonight. But on to the story…
We got to watch Stefan saved by the love of a good woman, the inverse of his original damnation. Putting herself in dangerous situation after dangerous situation, Elena proves that love really does conquer all. Kathryn (Moth Chase Kathryn, not Vampire Diaries Katherine) noted last week the oddness of Elena and Damon trying to kick Stefan’s addiction cold turkey given that we learned he needs to be weaned to survive. But apparently it worked. After their big kiss and make up it seems that Stefan is right as rain…addiction gone, suicidal tendencies gone – sadly he’s still got a super-lame giant rose tattoo on his shoulder, but I guess love can’t fix all one’s past errors. Redemption only goes so far. But seriously, the recovery seemed a little speedy and flat to me, but perhaps we’ll see it’s not as full a recovery as indicated tonight.
Finally getting the backstory on why Damon hates Stefan so much was great though. So after dear old dad attempted to kill his own sons (seriously, family shame was a really big deal back then…wtf?!), a noble Stefan ready to fall on his sword ends up feasting on his father instead. Talk about buzz-killing all the fun eroticism that usually accompanies a vampire’s first feed. Whereas a vampire’s stepping into eternity usually entails a significant loss of innocence – symbolized in the sucking of a virginal beauty’s neck – Stefan’s turn to the everlasting future entailed a true break with the past, a literal slaying of the father. Freud would be proud! But in so doing, he got the thirst for blood (and the subsequent ability to compartmentalize guilt), learned how to compel damsels, and delivered an irresistible gift to his brother.
Ok, so I’m a theologian, and I tend to try to avoid too much theological talk on this blog…but it’s too much to resist on all this! Having fallen himself, Stefan can’t resist taking his brother down with him…not because he’s an ass, but simply because he doesn’t want to be alone in his new existence. Just as Adam and Eve faced the punishment of expulsion together, so too Stefan and Damon exit their paradisiacal existence, not into Hell, but into a world that is a shadow of their former lives. Sure they gain power and speed and ability and muscles (like Adam and Even gained a secret knowledge they weren’t supposed to have), but they forfeit communion with their prior reality. Further, like Adam and Eve, their expulsion drops them into a world of ambiguous morality. Having tasted the forbidden fruit/blood, and true to St. Augustine’s interpretation of the Genesis narrative, their desires become disordered. They can justify anything. They no longer know how to will the good. And as Adam and Eve’s sin left their sons, the brothers Cain and Abel in enmity with each other, so too this narrative ends with Damon’s promise to make Stefan’s life an eternity of misery. And then Elena offers some form of atonement – redemption not through blood but through love.
Of course, I’m not saying that Vampire Diaries are self-consciously incorporating these Biblical themes. Narratives of fall, broken community, redemption and salvation are myths common to numerous religious and philosophical, even secular traditions. What’s interesting to note is that the Salvatore yarn puts a new spin on an old tale. In the end what we have here is an argument for the power of individual agency, not communal or universal sin or redemption. Damon tells Stefan that his guilt is his own; Stefan can no longer bear it for him. And Elena convinces Stefan that his kindness outweighs his evils (not that she has any sense of what precisely all his evil amounts to – ah, young love!). Thus while playing with Western, Jewish, Christian and other mythologies, the show also offers some version of good old American, individualistic self-determination.
Speaking of, are you as excited as I am to see Isobel next week!
Despite all this brotherly anger, Damon seems to be finding a new BFF in Alaric, as the two bond over their lost loves or, more accurately, their shared stubborn-headed desire for answers. I love these two – between Lost’s Jack+Miles in Alterna world and Damon+Alaric here, I’m really getting a hankering for some buddy-cop/odd-couple type humour. Thank God for Bradley Whitford’s new upcoming show, The Good Guys, coming soon, because there’s just something in the air around this…perhaps we can trace is all back to Judd Apatow, Paul Rudd and the bromance!
Before we close, we have to mention how cute Anna and Jer are. Seriously, while I don’t want Pearl to be dead, I do want Anna to stay in Mystic Falls…and I think I want Jeremy to turn. Call me crazy, but it just seems like the best path for him right now. Last time a vampire/human war brewed, the Salvatores got screwed (read: turned) while the Gilbert’s came out in power, on top and scot-free. This time I’m wondering if it’s the Gilberts who are going to have to sacrifice their children in the battle for blood (sorry, couldn’t resist that one!). Will Jeremy right the wrong of his ancestor’s spurned love? Or in Anna’s words, will he end up being her weakness?
The babe won out this week and I wasn’t able to write a full on response, but I wanted to add one tiny note to your awesome analysis. The note of good old American self-determination has been with the show from the beginning. Remember all those references to Emerson and self-reliance in the first few episodes? It is going to be interesting to see if there is a real theme emerging…
And yes, I cannot WAIT to see Isobel next week!