Good is a hard word to live up to
Well vervain is out of the Mystic Falls water supply and the best the vampires can think to do is compel a shopkeeper to steal a prom dress. Then again, we are talking about the highlight of senior year, so maybe I need to keep my priorities straight. My favorite part of last night’s episode was the hope of the gang that high school nostalgia – “friendship and memories” as Caroline says to a trying-her-best-to-be-giddy Bonnie – would be the thing to switch Elena’s humanity back on. I was a bit confused that this was a new tactic (haven’t Damon and Stefan constantly been trying to get Elena to turn back on her humanity? Why was this suddenly presented as a new plan?), but loved that it let the show play with the “what makes us human” question all over again.
The episode focused, for me, around Elena, who is trying to avoid her humanity at all costs and Rebekah, who is desperately trying to prove that she is human. In the end, for both of these impulsive, emotional and at times morally questionable ladies, humanity was proven in death and fear, not happy memories. Rebekah asks Elena to name one thing more human than prom, to which Elena quips, “death.” And how right she proves to be. The final test of Rebekah’s “no vampire powers” day comes with the possible death of April (poor April! Soon there won’t be a vampire in town who hasn’t fed off of her or fed her their blood). Matt convinces Rebekah that the most human thing she can do is to save April life, even if it means losing her chance at the cure. We’ve seen this throughout the series – the idea that “being good” (usually meaning selfless, compassionate) is what makes us human. But Klaus isn’t wrong either (digression: that wasn’t really Klaus, right? It was Silas pretending to be Klaus to distract Rebekah while he could pretend to be her to Elijah at the same time): the actual human response in that situation would be to watch helplessly as April died and to try to figure out what it meant or means or doesn’t mean after. When you are talking about a world populated by supernatural creatures, all of whom have the capacity to be “good” to some degree (and certainly as much as any of the humans), humanity does boil down to that blunt fact: the ability to die once and for all. Which leads me to worry that Matt and April, as the very few solely humans left in the gang, are losing their humanity too – in that they expect supernatural interventions into all their problems. Does being supernatural really mean not having to face the consequences of your actions, not because your emotions are “turned off,” but because you can almost always reverse them with vampire blood, magic, or immortality? If so, are there any real humans left, at least of the characters we’ve come to care about?
Or maybe the answer to the human puzzle is fear. When push comes to shove Elena doesn’t budge an emotional inch to hazy high school memories or semi-seductive dance moves. But her near-death take down at the hands of out of control Bonnie awakens one of those “pesky human emotion” and Damon and Stefan decide to capitalize on it by locking her in their cellar (thank god for all those basement prison cells) and, what? Starting to concoct ways to scare her to death? Though if you don’t actually fear for your vulnerability or mortality, what kind of fear will this take?
Even though the Elena tries to kill Bonnie, Bonnie tries to kill Elena sequence felt a little heavy handed for a night loaded with high school melodrama, I am so glad that Bonnie seems to be coming into her own. I am pretty sick of the “you can’t control yourself” mantra directed to the only powerful black woman on the show and very much hope that what we are seeing is that this has all been a lie meant to cow and control her. Please let it be the actual case that she can control herself – and always could. Maybe then she can finally be the powerful character she has almost been for so long.
I’ve been looking for a Princess Grace dress my whole life,
I was drawn to the same distinction as you were – does humanity equal doing good, or standing idly, and impotently by when tragedy strikes? And I agree, it’s the very power the vampire has to deal life or death, and the freedom they have to choose between the two – to choose good or evil – that makes them anything but human. Indeed, these are the qualities that best define God according to the opening stories of the Bible. Humanity falls when it grasps at that divinity for itself. So I’m intrigued at a narrative in which the divine grasps at humanity (perhaps the first story of the second testament…are the vampires giving us a new spin here on incarnation?).
So I see that you’re still loving this humanity question…I have to say, I’m a little bored of it. If I have to hear one more line about Elena’s emotions, or see Elena be an asshole to Caroline, or see Bonnie get in a state about the immensity of her power, or see Rebecca pontificate on what it is to be human, I think I’m going to scream.
Something needs to break in this story – I don’t know what, but at the moment it feels really stalled to me.
Of all the places I see a glimmer of something interesting surfacing, it’s actually in the impending showdown between the Salvatore brothers for Elena’s love. Perhaps it’s because I’m bored of seeing Damon playing nice, but their teamwork in Elena’s best interest feels at the heart of what is making this show kind of suck for me right now. Using Silas to move along everyone’s narratives in a duplicitous way felt a little cheap – but at least it opened things up a bit there.
And on that note – no it didn’t occur to me that Silas was the one harassing Rebecca. I’d taken Klaus at face value in that scene but, yes, I think you’re right – I did wonder why Klaus was not going to waste his breath…so that makes sense it was Silas. The thing this leaves me worried of, though, is that Caroline is the only one to whom Silas did not appear (except Elena) – unless he did. Is there any chance Tyler was Silas, and we’re to find out later that Tyler has died? A stretch, I know – but unless that actor had one more appearance in his contract or something, I can’t see what his appearance brought to the story…unless it’s to help continue stalling the inevitable hook up between Caro and Stefan (another possibility for busting open this story!).
Hoping next week’s shift to New Orleans can liven things up a little!