Fall on your knees
Well, Merry Christmas to you too! Was it just me, or was the choice to play the highly incongruous chorus from “Oh Holy Night” – fall on your knees, oh hear the angels’ voices – during Klaus’ slaughter of the 11 hybrids a sly reference to the very scene you discussed last week when Tyler makes those same hybrids kneel before him? Or maybe a really overt reference! Either way, I couldn’t help giggling as that epic Christmas carol hit its high pitch and Klaus’ stood bloodied and weary surveying the corpses in his wake. It is nice to be reminded of the fine line between snark and histrionics on this show!
The slaughter of the hybrids who thought they were on their way to freedom when they were really just pawns in a larger plot (which we still don’t understand!) tied in nicely to the themes of freedom, compulsion, choice, and bondage of the will we were discussing last week. As Caroline and Tyler argue about whether or not his alpha status demands that he offer himself up to be buried in concrete for a few months, I was reminded of another whole dimension of the supernatural world in which these kids live – the importance of sacrifice for magic. At every turn, we are reminded that you don’t get something for nothing and each magical turn demands a counter-turn. Doesn’t this itself demonstrate the ways in which no one or thing is completely free from anyone/thing else? Sacrifices only work in magic if there is a bond between the things being substituted, so that the more entangled our lives are, the more “free” we are to sacrifice ourselves for something greater.
But the real place we saw questions of freedom and choice playing out was in Jeremy’s hypnotism. I was fascinated by Prof. Shane’s psychoanalysis 101 – it is Jeremy’s subconscious that is dictating his behavior and he needs to be hypnotized (another version of being compelled, right?) so that he can be free to do the right thing! But our subconscious is also part of who we are – the “place” where desires and fears and instincts that we’ve been repressing come bubbling back to the surface. I suppose the details of this are a bit different in supernatural cases, where Jeremy’s subconscious has been taken over somehow by his hunter instincts. But this means, strangely, that Jeremy is really a hunter in some deep down way and it is that primal part of him that has to be retrained into freedom. I have absolutely no idea why learning to channel warm and fuzzy feelings toward Bonnie allowed him not to want to kill Elena and Damon, but I loved how this whole story suggests that these characters are not free in any easy way. And whatever freedom of choice they might have or think they have comes through losing freedom in another way (hynosis, compelling, sire bonds, etc.).
Which, of course, brings us to the strange choice/not choice that Elena and Damon face. You were so right to wonder what it even means for Damon to “revoke the sire bond”? Isn’t telling Elena to go away because it will make him happy just exercising the sire bond? And when Elena admits that everything in her body is telling her to get in the car, it sounded pretty similar to how she’s been describing her relationship with Damon all along (“every fiber of my being tells me this is real/feels right”). So to some degree it seems clear that the sire bond has been dictating her feelings for Damon. But then there is that lingering goodbye kiss! I’m still going to put money on Damon and Elena getting another shot at true love, but I wonder how they are going to narrate the lingering feelings Elena has for Damon even when she stays away from him. And how long it is going to take her to revoke the sire bond on her own by choosing not to stay away from him.
That is one prediction for the new year. But the real mystery remains around Shane and his end game. He seemed so earnest and helpful in that cabin – what is this plan all about?! So you know Shane’s been telling the story of Silas and his dear friend who then betrayed Silas and locked him in a tomb? What if Shane is that friend, having taken the immortal spell himself, lingering around all these centuries for some reason? Or what if he is Silas and has been changing the story around? Either way I am not sure if he’d be seeking vengeance or some kind of reconciliation, but I’d bet on the former since he has no problem sacrificing life and is teaching Bonnie dark magic.
I’ll let you discuss Mrs. Lockwood’s demise. But I will say that I’ve never heard of a town that has such frequent luxurious parties for the whole town (or at least the upper crust who seem to pretty much be the whole town). I grew up in the south and I can attest to a love of fancy parties in certain social circles, but come on, champagne and snow machines in the town square?! Sign me up.
I prefer to think of it as an expression of postmodernism,
I’m a little relieved for you to point out all the things we don’t know, as I ended this episode more confused than anything else and wondered why I was so dumb that I wasn’t understanding a teenage drama! So yes, why does it have to be Klaus killing the hybrids, and how did Shane and Haley know for certain that he would? Why does Prof. Shane not even need to be there for the sacrifice, and what does the sacrifice get us? Was he killing them on already sacred/cursed ground? Is there something significant about where it all took place? And just what is Shane’s endgame? I had the same thought, that he must somehow be one of the characters in his own story (the dead wife and child seemed to bolster this, although there’s no good reason why). And why, oh why, as you note, does this town have so many fancy parties with underage drinking?! More to the point, why does Caroline – a high school student! – seem to play a pivotal role in all of their planning?! Finally, how does Bonnie create a detour for Jer – that one made the least sense of all and seemed to happen just so we could hook those two back up again.
Indeed, much of what happened in this episode seemed to be less significant for the story, and more significant for what character development it enables…
Mrs. Lockwood’s death offers a case in point as it matters mostly because: 1) now every parent is dead or gone except Caroline’s mum and 2) it obviously heightens the unfolding duel between Tyler and Klaus which, I’m thinking, is going to spread into an all-out vampire vs. werewolf mess that Caro and Tyler find themselves on either side of.
What’s intriguing here is that it puts Caro at the centre of all the action as it moves forward – something that to me is much more interesting than having Elena at the centre of it all. Caro loves Tyler, sure, but once a war breaks out between vamps, weres and hybrids (and…?), she’s primed to make a switch either to Klaus or – and I’m certain this is going to happen, and was surprised it didn’t happen in this episode – Stefan. The heat between these two is subtly growing, and I actually think they could pull off those sex scenes much better than some of the other pairings we’re currently witnessing.
For example: Damon and Elena! Ok, I want these two kids together, but they need to turn up the heat! Those opening scenes would have been much better if I believed that Elena felt any desire whatsoever…but she always just sounds bored when she’s talking. About anything. Be it sex, her own potential death or her most painful experiences. She always sounds bored! I’m struck that it doesn’t matter what storyline she gets, I don’t think Dobrev is going to be able to pull it off. Yes, everything in her body was telling her to go, and yes she still kissed Damon longingly…but even if the story twists its way into her choosing him now from her fraught position of pseudo-freedom, I have to say I’m losing interest in seeing it happen.
Sidebar: here’s what I would like to see, though…a same-sex couple! Does it strike you as strange that there are no gay or lesbian or bi- or queer teens in Mystic Falls in this day and age?? I’m thinking about this show in comparison to Teen Wolf, which deals with themes of same-sex desire all the time. How is it that everyone in MF is straight?? I find it utterly unbelievable and I’m finding myself more and more irked by it!
But I digress…in the end, I think the reason we had to see Klaus kill everyone might have had less to do with Shane’s endgame, and more to do with us needing to see a big explosion of proof of just how lonely he is. Strangely enough, the killing rampage (when preceded by his little speech to Stefan, and then Caro and Stef’s realization that Klaus has no one to trust) made him more interesting, perhaps more human – in a sad way – than any of the other characters. When I look around at them all, I can’t help wonder how right Klaus might be: in the end, are we all just “intimately and utterly alone”?
Jeremy’s subconscious rising also intrigued – I totally agree with you on this, that the subconscious is nevertheless a part of him, something that creates and makes genuine impulses that perhaps have nothing to do with the hunter’s drive. I was struck at how true Jeremy’s hateful statement was: Elena really has caused the death of everyone he’s loved. He wasn’t wrong about that. And it left me wondering, does the hunter’s curse (?) fabricate the hatred, or does it, like the vampire curse (?), heighten emotions that are already there? What if it takes all the sibling anger Jer has at his sister (much of it warranted!) and uses that for its purposes? Let’s note, he wants to kill her more than any other vampire. There’s no good reason for that unless the curse is using his real feelings in an amplified way.
Oh, poor April – I laughed out loud at the fact that she kept her tiara and sash on through it all…a true Miss Mystic Falls! It seems we’ll have Rebecca back next episode…I have to admit, I haven’t missed her at all!
Just what do you have in your sock drawer?