God Bless Elena, but She Does Not Understand the Word Fabulous
I couldn’t resist this picture of Caroline from a first season staff-party as it seemed so perfectly prescient. I loved watching C’s process and slow move to realization (aided by the return of memories from her early abuse by Damon). The confusing hunger for blood, the pain of sunlight, the heat of silver…it all made me wonder what I would think if I woke up in a hospital with such compulsions. Would I assume I had some weird disease, or would I too start to wonder if something supernatural was happening. For all our rational ways of approaching the world, I can’t 100% say I wouldn’t at least wonder at the latter. But what intrigued me most about C’s transformation was the balance she played between instinct and control. Instincts not only hungered blood, but they also enhanced her natural abilities to convince people to do what she wants by slipping effortlessly into the skill of compelling someone. “I don’t know how that works but I love it” – she might be a vampire, but she’s still Caroline! And so I was kinda bummed when Stefan taught her to – ok, I gotta get the quote here, because the ways he said it made it sound so much like a teenage boy fighting an embarrassing erection at a school dance with pseudo-Freudian techniques I laughed out loud – he said, “when you feel the blood rushing, not matter how good it feels to give yourself over to it, you fight it. You bury it”. I guess I had hoped we’d get a little more of the Vicki side of Caroline to play with, so when she slowed her pulse while kissing Matt, I was a little disappointed. But maybe Mystic Falls needs its Caroline back, because God bless Elena, but it’s true – that girl does not understand the meaning of the world fabulous!
Which is why I was happy to see her and boring Stefan fade into the background a little this week. Their self-aware, ‘this is what my adolescence needs – a kiss atop a ferris wheel’ crap wears me out! That level of awareness of one’s own teen-ness wrecks the magic of being a teen. When did kids become so cynical. Boo on cynics, I say – let’s get some more kids discovering their supernatural powers so we can at least see some of the wonder a young person should feel for life.
Which leads me to Tyler – thank God we had some real movement on his story this week! Between the Salvatores meeting a real foe at the fair’s arm wrestling competition (love the hopped up masculinity of it all!) and that poor, poor kid who got compelled, beaten up and then eaten, we at least had some real revelations. Mason’s wolf-jump-move thing was pretty cool – and I wouldn’t mind if these wolves didn’t actually look like wolves…just a little wolfy enhancement of their natural features would be a cool way to go. So I’m thinking about Tyler in contrast to Tommy, Sam’s kid were-bro on True Blood, and the weres from Twilight. Tommy plays puppy so well, following around his abusers with fear but the desire for more love. And I love it! Jacob and his posse have the alpha male hierarchy going on – it’s all aggressive (and playful), but with a strong structure of respect for one’s elders. And now I’m intrigued to see this version with a young, lonely were who is willing to forge his own path against the path of a potential (but sneaky) mentor. Sure, under the floorboards in the safe was probably a safer spot for that stone, but at least we know Tyler’s working things out for himself.
Random thoughts – um, can Stefan fly? Was that supposed to be a revelation or just a big jump? I’m curious to see if Bonnie’s guilt over C’s predicament will continue to heighten or start to assuage her hatred of Damon. And speaking of Damon, is he about to forge a dad-abandonment relationship with Jer? And what is it that compels Damon to do the right thing, even in the midst of all his dickishness? Again, for me Damon had the best line – “It was 1864. People knew how to whittle”. So dry. So perfect. But Jer had the best move – vervaining the bourbon…gets ’em every time!
ps: my friend Kate watched the episode with me last night – and I learned two things from watching it with a first timer. First, this show is more complex than I typically give it credit for – a lot has happened over the course of 1.2 seasons! And second, she asked me “why would a guy who looks 17 but is in fact 100+ want to be with a girl who is actually 17? Isn’t that boring for him? Doesn’t she seem childish?” It’s a thought I’ve had a hundred times, but which fades away while watching – but the shared immaturity of Stefan, Ed Cullen and Bill makes me wonder what it is about masculinity and an eternal narrative that nevertheless leaves us with glorified children.
I love the picture and the fun, flighty, flirty Caroline it represents. I also love, love, love Caroline the vampire. Really, as confusing as it must be for her, I think it is the best thing to happen to her character and one of the best things that has happened on the show so far. As a teenager she is a little too whiny, a little too insecure, just a little too stereotypically blond. But as a teenage vampire all of these minor flaws become fodder for humor, camp, and drama. It also really drives home the analogies between vampire lust and just regular teenage hormones. The strange urges you don’t fully understand, the desire to bend everyone to your will, the oscillation between anger, regret, and euphoria.
You are so right that the talky, self-aware irony of Elena and Stefan only emphasizes how un-teenagery they really are (though, to your postscript, even our hundred+ year old vamps have a lot of immaturity to work through). Or rather, perhaps it emphasizes how stuck they are in a post-adolescent self-reflective irony that can’t really grow up. This has something to do with the perpetual self-restraint of both of them. I half-suspect they would seem more grown-up if they realized that maturity is not necessarily about mastery, but about striking a balance between desire and restraint. Which might explain why Damon, for all his dickishness (as you say) seems more grown-up. And why he is capable of taking on the father/mentor role in a way that seems a little less 12-step sponsorish than Stefan with Caroline.
The other two things that vampire Caroline open up are 1) Bonnie’s relationship to the undead. I think you are absolutely right that she is going to have to face her “all vampires are evil fiends who deserve to burn to death” prejudice now that her best friend is one. It was a nice detail from the end of last season that Bonnie began to prioritize her relationship with C over E; that won’t be the easy out she was hoping for anymore. My guess is that she is going to come round to a lose alliance with the “good” vamps of Mystic Falls for some other purpose – um, like fighting Katherine, who started this whole brouhaha. 2) The future of poor Matt. Right now, he is the only one in the inner circle of friends who has no idea what the hell is going down in his home town with all his best friends. That can’t last for long. If Katherine is on a vampire making mission, my money is on Matt being next. But if that doesn’t happen he at least is going to learn that his girlfriend is an immortal bloodsucker right? How much bad luck can one guy have?
And I also loved the werewolf plot this week. It felt clunky and draggy last week and I have worried that they would drag it out to no end. But finally it looks like we are getting traction with the Lockwood men and I can’t wait to learn more about the mythology. Though, did you find it just a little implausible that after 140+ years neither Salvatore brother has ever run across a supe like Mason? Really, the vampires have NO idea werewolves exist? Sounds like a weak plot device to me… Though I am not sure the Lockwood men really know what they are either. And I am very curious to know more about the moon stone. Does it keep the wolfy transformations at bay, or bring them on? Is Mason looking for the final piece in his practice of self-control (you know, when surfing doesn’t bring the mellow) or is he looking to jack up his inner wild and see where it can go? I am kind of hoping for the latter, partially because now that Tyler has the stone in his pocket the full moon might bring more than a nasty head rush or a blackout.
Mystic Falls feels like an exciting, dangerous, unexpected place to live again, and that definitely makes me want to spend more time there. Interestingly, I have cajoled my husband into procrastinating his grading and watching with me the past two weeks. He was full of eye-rolls and mild self-loathing for getting sucked in last week, but more interested than he wanted to admit this week round. I can see why.
One final thought to pick up on our conversation last season: where the hell are the adults in this town? Do they do anything except have flirty drinks with hot young vampires posing as vampire slayers? Really, C’s mom was no where to be seen at the hospital for over 24 hours? Got to love the utter suspension of disbelief!