The Moth Chase

Elevating the Art of Procrastanalysis – Academics wasting time on pop culture

growing into humanity

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Dear Kathryn,

I don’t know about you, but I got pretty excited for a moment at just how many of my friends could have helped with that cryptex…a quick jaunt down to the local seminary certainly would have produced at least one or two folks who could read the map to the cure! Aside from my dork factor, though – I found this episode fascinating for how its characters talked about the relationship between being vampire and being human. The appearance of ‘the cure’ has led to these kids referring to what they are as a disease, ‘vampirism’ – a word that wasn’t really used before. The existence of the cure has turned a designator for a species (vampire) into a temporary state that can befall a human (vampirism). It’s an interesting move given how much our contemporary, North American culture pathologizes and medicalizes every last personality trait at this point (I read the other day an article about a “cure” for “shyness” – which apparently now is a disease too). Queer and trans advocates in particular have been challenging the pathologizing of various sexual practices and gender identities in the DSM now for decades. And so this talk of ‘cure’ has been bothering me a little this whole season. With the cure revealed to be somewhat of an illusion in this episode, the characters were forced to accept who they are and stop dreaming of being something else. In a sense, the path to ‘humanity’ – whatever that idea might evoke – lay in accepting that they aren’t human. A strange sort of growing up but, it seemed to me, a good one nonetheless.

This theme of growing up was bolstered, I thought, by the tension in who gets the cure. It seems utterly ludicrous to me that anyone would even consider giving it to Elena…and yet I find myself wanting it to go to Rebecca or Klaus – first because I think it would be fun to see Rebecca as a human, and second because I sure would like to see Tyler live (and I do love how Caro and Tyler have become the real central couple on this show, revealing a deeper, richer love than anything swirling around Elena). So like our crew, I too am pursuing the desires of those characters to whom I feel closest. I’m not all that different than those trying to ‘cure’ Elena. And yet as the new hunter points out – that’s not what it’s for! What a simple answer – we don’t need to decide how the cure will be used because it has an objective use…to kill Silas!

But back to the question of humanity. If anything, humanity itself became more of a trait in this episode than a species, reversing the way ‘vampire’ has been designated this season. Rebecca, Damon and Klaus all became a little bit more human by demonstrating hope, compassion, and self-sacrifice. Just by searching for humanity, it seemed, they became more human – whether or not they found what they were looking for.

I felt the reveal that the ghosts were never ghosts, but just hallucinations caused by Silas coming – and when it did, I was reminded of the various cosmos created in Joss Whedon’s narratives. The supernatural has so many levels to it in his creations, and the same was true here. I love that there’s a scientific explanation for the supernatural phenomenon (they’re not ghosts; they’re hallucinations), and then that the scientific explanation requires a deeper spiritual one (hallucinations created by a deeper, more powerful evil). We have a constant searching for a source or origin in this show (vampires give way to Originals who give way to Silas…so who created Silas?), and this fits with the teenage yearning so well – where do I come from? Who am I?

We’ve been tracking the patriarchal constructions around Bonnie for a few weeks now, so I have to point out how immediately her power was cut off by the lie of her matriarchal ties, requiring her to be blinded and controlled by Jeremy’s words instead: “listen to my voice and only my voice.” I’m wondering why she couldn’t just deal with the fact that Grams wasn’t real and keep walking on her own??

A few questions in closing: Is Jeremy dead? And is Bonnie about to die? I can’t remember if either has vampire blood in their system…can you? Will Bonnie be forced to bring Jer back to life with Expression. Or is Jer wearing his supernatural protection ring still (I can’t remember??) And if Silas killed Jeremy, and is about to be awoken – will he have the hunter’s curse? Yikes, what a way to come back from the dead after 2000 years (oh, and I do like how we’re resurrecting a contemporary of Jesus!). Is Tyler gone for good? And is Katherine going to take the cure? Where the heck did she come from, and why does she even want it??

Can’t wait to hear what you thought!

My skin is flawless –


Hello N,

After taking last week off, it is great to be back! And yes, I completely geeked out over the Aramaic session! I can think of a few of our friends who would have made great language consultants for those scenes and it was thrilling in the most dorky way possible to see such an un-praised talent seem relevant! But more substantially, the first thing I thought was “what does it mean that Qetsiyah spoke Aramaic?” Since this is the language Jesus would have spoken, and as you point out, Silas is also 2000 years old, just how much of a contemporary of Jesus was he? Did they live in the same place? Are we going to get a strange hybrid mix of biblical story with Mystic Falls mythology? And how the hell did Silas get to an island off the cost of Nova Scotia if he originated in the Middle East?

Aside from these tantalizing historical possibilities, I too, was most struck by how the human/vampire relationship has been reconfigured in this quest for the cure. Really, this started when Elena turned. From that moment on, as we discussed, it became impossible to talk about vampirism as a totally bad, or even just really bad, thing. It was a helpful, but also pathetic reminder that this whole mess with Silas has been caused because poor Elena can’t handle being a vampire. I’m so glad she’s come to her senses about accepting the person she is and living the life she’s been given, but come on, Elena, did it really take dragging all your friends to a dangerous island to realize this? Since Elena continues to annoy and frustrate me at almost every turn, I was at least glad to have her voice how her own petulance has yet again created danger for her friends. I’ve much more enjoyed the way the other vampires have had to think about the cure – and as you point out, what it means to be “cured” of something that is so much a part of your identity. And I wonder what it means that both of us are so much more attracted to Damon and Caroline, the two vampires who don’t want the cure?! Surely there is an important connection between how much more fun and easy going they are and their ability to accept their complex realities without constantly striving for a “purity” that doesn’t exist. As you point out, if humanity is not just a species but a character trait – or really, a virtue – they both embody that virtue more fully in their ability to love to the point of selflessness (Damon willing Elena’s happiness over her own; Caroline letting Tyler go), their genuine moments of compassion, and their honest acceptance of the power they wield, striving to keep it in bounds when needed. These human virtues – love, compassion, self-control – all require real self-knowledge and acceptance of self. When that is lacking – say in Elena and even Stefan most of the time – love feels like control, compassion like pity, and self-control like self-denial. None of which feel much like virtues at all!

I have no idea what will happen to Jeremy and Bonnie, but I do love their awkward attempts back toward romance. Was it just me, or was there something super sexy and subversive about Jeremy’s half-naked body writhing ecstatically under Bonnie’s powerful hands as she draws his power into herself?! Talk about a little gender-bending eroticism! Though, as you point out, it was pretty much all undone once it turned out poor little Bonnie needed a big strong man to keep her from going crazy in the caves. Alas. Patriarchy dies hard, especially when it comes to Bennett witches!

I am even more baffled as to why and how Katherine showed up there (are we supposed to think that she was the ax-thrower in the woods?). But I am willing to bet she is a pawn in a much bigger game and that she didn’t come for that cure to take it herself. I will put money on Tyler coming back, but maybe not before Caroline follows her own advice and ends up “forgetting” him long enough to finally have that fling with Klaus that has been building. And is Silas really awake? Or just dozing?

I’ve seen the DaVinci Code,


Written by themothchase

February 15, 2013 at 9:48 am

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