Friday, May 11, 2012

One Shipper's Perspective

Part two of my Season 3 Finale comments.....

An Open Letter to Julie Plec, Kevin Williamson, and the TVD Writing Staff –

I know that you’re likely besieged by comments about the season 3 finale right now.  I truly doubt if you’ll ever actually see this, but I feel I’d be doing my fellow fans a disservice if I didn’t at least take a moment to try to put my feelings into words.

Before I’m dismissed as a na├»ve teenager please allow me to take a moment to introduce myself.  I’m just shy of 40 years old.  I’m a happily married mom of two.  I’m a graduate of a well-known university, and I have a degree in education with advanced training in the craft of teaching writing. 

I’m also a shipper.  I make no apologies.  Just like the men in my neck of the woods live and die by if the Cowboys win the playoffs, I’ve found myself cheering for a “team” in this show.  That’s a first for me.  I’ve never been drawn to a show where the “winner” of the relationship was unclear.  I’m a Delena fan, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

When I first watched the show, I assumed it would follow the pattern of the books.  But with each passing interview, I heard the message that y’all were choosing your own path – and not to assume if we read it on the page that we’d see it on the screen.

As time went on, I could see that was true in the relationship aspects of the show as well.  While I initially felt Stefan was the better fit for Elena, the more I watched…the more I questioned my judgment. 

By the time the middle of the second season rolled around, I was fully converted.  Watching the friendship, trust, and respect build as the third season continued on, I could see your team was laying the foundation for a beautiful and meaningful relationship between Damon and Elena.

“Then we’ll let him go”.  – Elena to Damon, Homecoming
“I don’t know what I’d do if you weren’t here.” – Elena to Damon, Our Town
“We always survive.” – Elena to Damon, Homecoming

I loved analyzing the depth an nuances you were building into this incredible pairing as it so delicately unfolded on the screen.

Until suddenly you weren’t.

Time and time again, we watched as Stefan’s behavior had no consequences while none of Damon’s good deeds went unpunished.  When Elena stood on her porch and begged Stefan to feel again – I watched all the growth and development in Elena’s character we’d seen this season crumble away.

Also gone was the rapport we’d seen between Damon and Elena – only to be pulled out as a “tease” to fans to show what incredible chemistry Damon and Elena could have.  But the minute Caroline uttered the words “it’s Stefan’s turn,” I realized the potential of Damon and Elena having a relationship on the show was a very cruel joke you’ve played on many of your most invested fans.

Like many of my TVD family members, I feel used and betrayed by the teases of this season.  I would have been content to let “the triangle” continue on, but by forcing Elena’s choice at this point in the series…you’ve made it abundantly clear that we’re important for ratings – but you don’t truly respect your audience members.

Thank you for your time.  Your cast and crew has my utmost respect.  I wish you all success, but I’m afraid that your choices in this finale may have cost you a great number of your most devoted fans. 

So, About that Finale...

This is the first of two posts I'll likely make about the finale. I've been asked to explain how I could have enjoyed the last half, and for that...I'm going to need far more than 140 characters. First, and this is the personal reason for me - I'm just too emotionally exhausted to properly summon rage for the lack of proper closure between Elena and Damon. I have quite a few "real life" issues going right now - not the least of which is the coming loss of two immediate family members. No matter how much I love the show, at the end of the day, it is a SHOW, and real life for me is taking priority. Second, and this is the part that is most difficult to admit. I saw this coming. Totally.

The moment Caroline uttered the phrase, "It's Stefan's turn," I realized that this whole season of friendship, loyalty, and trust between Damon and Elena was simply there to fill time - and keep the fans happy...some of them anyway. Stefan had his "turn" for two years. Damon had one night. As that episode came to a close, I realized I was going to have to say goodbye to any hope I had for a relationship (more than friendship) between Damon and Elena.

I may have signed on to watch a triangle show, but I'm not certain if the writers are prepared to write one. Now, we're looking at a whole new "book" in front of us. Elena's going to remember some things she didn't know she'd even forgotten. She's going to have to examine her choices. (If she'd gone to say goodbye to Damon, she'd still be alive right now - no bridge to cross.)

All that being said, I did enjoy the end of the episode. I've long made the point that I ship the show as a whole - probably more than I do a relationship on it. I was also a fan of the books before the show aired. I LOVED the vampire-Elena phase of the story. While the first half of the episode felt really, really slow and drawn out - MOST of the interaction in the last half seemed very authentic (except for one part...but we'll get to that). I enjoyed watching Matt and Jeremy finally taking action to protect Elena from a very real threat. I enjoyed Bonnie disappearing (I'd really been afraid we were going to see a lot of her). Lately, I've been hard on Stefan, but listening to him say that he was sorry there wasn't time to get Damon back to Mystic Falls to say goodbye to Elena just broke my heart. There have been a lot of times when I doubted if Stefan cared for Damon, and that still proves true, but he does understand his brother - and he knew what would be on his mind. Elena choosing to go back to Mystic Falls - not just to say goodbye to Stefan - but to see Caroline and Tyler again felt very genuine given the reflective theme of the night. And, poor Elena, finally had a chance to offer her life in exchange for someone else's. She would never have forgiven herself if Matt had died, given that he drowned because he'd been trying to protect her.

Damon's scenes in the last few moments of the show warrant a paragraph all of their own. As angry as we as viewers are about Elena's choice of words, I think he understands her...or he loves her enough it doesn't matter. Watching him cradling Alaric as he died...seeing the comprehension dawn on his face that what that meant for Elena. Really, I think that'll go down as one of the most powerful moments I've ever seen on this show. Then, when he arrives at the hospital. She's dead, but it doesn't matter. He NEEDS to see her one last time. He'd been prepared for his own death - but not for hers. His level of panic and agony was palpable, and it was clear that his love for her hasn't wavered.

And then there's that one pesky detail. Elena's conversation with Damon. Really, writers? We've watched the two of them build such a genuine relationship this season, having Elena say "no matter what I feel about you" wasn't what Damon deserved to hear as he was dying. Elena had confessed her conflict to Matt just and hour or so before - she knows she loves Damon. Even if she's going to be choosing Stefan simply because he was with her first, Damon deserved to hear those words come from her ... just once.

So, overall, I liked the end of the episode - even if it had one major flaw. It'll be interesting to see where they elect to go from here. Both Damon and Stefan know that Elena's now on a path that she never wanted; and they both likely know that if her decisions on that night had been different, she'd still be breathing right now. This finale sets up the possibility of a VERY different show next season, and I think that's what I'm looking forward to most of all. So much of season three has been muddled with writing that backtracks and too many characters - a large part, I think, to just delay the inevitable conclusion of the finale's episode.

 I hope this clears up a few things. I'm still working in pre-coffee mode. Hope that all makes sense. Thanks for reading.