Saturday, October 20, 2012

Ten Things about TVD - "Memorial"

Ok, first things first...I'd originally planned on revamping ye olde recaps in a "five things I liked and five things I didn't" style, but that just won't work for this episode - mainly because I liked more than five things and only have a couple of things I didn't care for.  So, I'm going with "approximately 10 things that I wanted to talk about" as my new recap style.

Second things....I'm on a tight deadline.  I have final edits for a book due on Monday.  My time is in short supply.  While I'd love to expound almost indefinitely on the wonderfulness that made up "Memorial," that's just not happening.  Maybe I'll be able to come back and chat more about it later - that'd be cool because this episode happens to contain my new favorite scene (and no, it didn't happen in a bathroom).  For those of y'all who've known me for a while, you're aware of my love for the hospital scene at the end of The Reckoning.  Yep, this week's favorite scene blew that one out of the water.

Without further needless exposition - let's get moving.  We'll start off with what I didn't like.

Am I suddenly watching Twilight?  Was anyone else bothered by how "shiny" Elena and Stefan were as they were hunting bunnies in the woods?  Just me and my husband?  Ok.... I know they filmed this in July - in Georgia - but, wow, Elena and Stefan were kind of glisten-y here.  

Watching the tears stream down Elena's cheeks after she fed on the deer was just heart-wrenching.  You could see how this was killing her, even if she didn't actually kill the deer.  Less than appealing taste aside - in a lot of ways, Elena feeding from blood bags would have to be a less emotional introduction to vampire life.  For the second time, she's crying as she feeds.  This section of the scene practically killed me.

And then we moved into the bad porn zone.  Really, I mean, I write romance for a living.  (Hmmm...don't often talk about that on this blog - I normally keep it YA around here, but it's true.)  I don't know if it was something about the delivery....or the almost pervy old man hitting on a teenager quality to Stefan's voice here....but I literally had to cover my head with a pillow during this scene.  When he asked her to describe just what she was feeling....well, I was about ready to go find a toilet myself.  Just ew!

And now Elena's vomiting, and not too quietly, I might add.  For all the "super-vampire senses" we see later in the show (especially the amazing sequence of long-distance conversation during the memorial service), I question whether Stefan is really so oblivious as to what's happening here that he decides to...

Pop open some champagne!  We're back at the boardinghouse since, apparently, Jeremy hasn't invited his sister into the house yet.  Elena's trying to sneak in a call to Caroline about her "adjustment issues" but Caroline doesn't pick up.  Elena pockets her phone as Stefan appears in the room with champagne glasses and a bottle from her birth year.  Apparently, they're going to celebrate her first feed.  Not only is he stomping all over her emotions - seriously, dude, did you not see the fact she was crying as she fed, but when she summoned the courage to look him in the eye and tell him that the animal blood made her sick, he totally blows it off.  He's so intent on celebrating that he doesn't hear the fact that she's trying to tell him that things aren't ok.  More on this later.

Loading paper lanterns in a truck - just a typical day in Mystic Falls.  Jeremy and Matt are getting in some community service hours, guess when you miss as much school as these guys do, you can always use some extra credit.  In the course of the conversation, Jeremy's comments imply that he hasn't actually spoken with Elena since she became a vampire.  Even if she's trying to protect him, he comes across as less than sympathetic to his sister's plight.  Little Bro needs to take some lessons from Uncle John - human or vampire, we're still talking about the girl raised as his sister.

Spending some quality time with the abusive boyfriend.  I've never hoped so desperately that Damon wasn't at the boardinghouse than during this scene.  In a recent interview, Ian joked about Damon having to listen as Stefan and Elena are "getting it on" somewhere in the boardinghouse, but I think this scene would have been even more painful for him to overhear.  I've never been so troubled by a scene on TVD as I was watching this one.  I've had more than one discussion with a circle of friends as to how closely Stefan's behavior mirrors abuse, and this scene shows that side of him once again.

Not only does he turn Elena's difficulty feeding into something about him, he accuses her of not telling him she was having trouble - which is an outright lie.  She did tell him.  Earlier that day, she looked him in the eye and said the blood made her sick.  He wasn't listening, and that's not her fault.  Does he not remember that he's talking to Elena?  If you look up selfless martyr in the dictionary, her picture would be there.  Of course she's going to try to keep him from seeing her pain since he was so obviously happy about her first "successful" feed.  Elena's never wanted to cause Stefan pain or guilt - that's her basic MO.

As he continues to berate her, he brings up the fact that he's mad that she went to Damon....and why wouldn't she?  When he was off tearing up people up and down the East coast, who was at Elena's side helping hold her together?  When Stefan was compelled by Klaus to turn into the world's biggest jerk of a former-boyfriend, Damon was the one who taught Elena how to fight back.  Damon and Elena have bonded as a result of Stefan's behavior - and there's nothing that Stefan can do about it.

Elena was frightened and starving.  She needed someone who would listen to her and help - not break out the bubbly.  Watching her beg and plead for Stefan's forgiveness was troubling on a variety of levels.

Let's light 'em up.  After one of the most infuriating scenes I've ever witnessed on TVD, Stefan decides to play the nice guy again by inviting a group of friends to an intimate memorial service since, I guess, the townsfolk decided not to use the lanterns after someone tried to kill the mayor's son at the church.  While I like the spirit behind this scene - and the fact that we were able to reflect back on the losses the characters have faced....we had a few glaring omissions in the "these people died" listings.  Now, I know that listing everyone who's died in Mystic Falls would take up an episode all on its own, but no one mentioned Isobel or Uncle John (although, the case could be made that they were who Elena meant by "my parents"), and Caroline actually died as well.  Most striking to me, though, was the fact that Stefan led with Lexie - never mentioning Elena - and neither did Jeremy.  Elena had to light her candle for herself, which, I guess was kind of symbolic as she gave up her human self.....but still.

Now that the uncomfortable stuff's out of the way, let's talk about what I liked about the episode.  Thankfully, this good stuff far outweighed the bad - in my opinion at least.

That seat's taken.  Whether he's voicing it or not, Damon's having trouble dealing with the loss of Alaric.  Keeping the seat at the bar vacant speaks volumes for his current state of mind.

But he doesn't get to drink in peace for long.  Sheriff Forbes comes by to ask if he knows anything about the explosion that killed the council members.  The fact that she takes him at his word says something for their relationship.  Damon might kill people, but he'll also own up to doing it.

Before he has time to finish his drink, someone else appears - also wanting to know if Damon had anything to do with the explosion, but I strongly suspect her line of questioning was just an excuse to talk with Damon.  Elena's having trouble with the bunny diet.  Damon somewhat jokingly asks her to pick out a "flavor" from among the other patrons at the grill.

Now, a lot has been said about this next scene.  I've heard comments that Elena cheated on Stefan...Damon took advantage of Elena....and the like.  For all the "Stefan respects Elena's choices" chatter that's gone on since the S3 finale, I'd like to take a moment to really point out one of the facts that often goes unmentioned about this scene.

Damon respected Elena's choice not to feed on a living, breathing person.

Had he chosen to go the "Stefan route" of feeding an unwilling party, I'm certain that Elena would not have been able to resist it if Damon had grabbed a random dude and dragged him into the bathroom with them for a vampire-style-threesome.  But he didn't.

Yes, vampire-on-vampire feeding is personal.  But the fact is...Damon's working with what he has on hand - literally.  Elena doesn't want to feed on human blood, and she obviously doesn't want Stefan to know about her problem or she wouldn't be there talking with him.  So he does what he does best, tackles the situation head-on, even if there's some clean-up involved later.

What follows is arguably one of the hottest scenes I've seen on this show.  Damon's face as Elena feeds from him shows just how intensely personal this type of blood exchange is.  (And, yes, I'm a book junkie...I know exactly what this means from a book POV.)  Judging from the amount of Damon's blood that Elena later revisits, they were in the bathroom for more than just a quickie.

And there was so much blood.  Elena learns that vampire blood won't stay down at a very inopportune time.  (Major props to Nina Dobrev for this scene.  That was some VERY realistic vomiting.  If I had trouble keeping my dinner down watching it, I can't imagine how unappetizing it must have been to film.  Standing ovation here.)

After she pretty much coats every bathroom surface in Damon's blood, she's trapped.  Not only is the tiny room crimson, she has blood all over her dress.  So, who does she call when she's desperate?

Damon.  He arrives, fresh dress in hand, just in the nick of time to face off with the newest vampire hunter in town.  Y'all, and when Elena was on the phone - scared of who was on the other side of the door...he ran.  Damon Salvatore ran when he heard the panic in her voice.

Whoa, this is getting long....I'll try to wrap it up.

Now they have super-vampire hearing.  It's been a bit of a nitpick of mine that the vampire senses tend to get a little overlooked on this show.  Can anyone say Klaus in Chicago?  I'm going to say they were reserving those super-senses to make this scene all the more spectacular.


Has there ever been a cooler demonstration of team work than when the blood begins to drip from the ceiling and attracts all the vampires' attention?  Watching and listening as Damon takes charge of the situation and issues warnings to all the vampires without raising his voice was all kinds of awesome.  Later, he refers to himself as the babysitter.  Based on his actions in this scene, I can see why.

And Tyler....  You know, I really don't like Tyler, and I think that's a carryover from the books.  But I loved watching him respond to what was happening around him too.  I tend to forget that he's also part vampire, so watching him be included in "the team" was really pretty cool.  However, the standout moment in the memorial sequence has to go to -

Matt.  He was so amazing here that he gets a header all of his own.  Last week he'd been warned that he needed to show he was worthy of saving, and during the service he definitely proved it.  After searching for a way to help Elena, or at least show his gratitude, he stepped in when she was most desperate.

In a moment that was a nice nod to the books, Matt offers to let Elena feed from him so she won't expose herself - or the others to the vampire hunter.  Between her hair and his jacket, no one will realize he's not a former boyfriend trying to comfort the girl he grew up with.  In a rare act of heroism for a character typically relegated to "set dressing" territory, he stepped in and provided Elena with something she desperately needed.

(And please excuse my short trip into "book junkie" land.  I know that there's been question about why Elena would be rejecting all blood short of human blood - straight from the vein when we've seen Katherine...also a doppleganger...drink from a bottle and pull out a "Capri-sun."  In my own little TVD world, it's to give a further nod to the books.  When Elena is initially transitioning, she didn't consume enough of either brothers' blood to fully make the change.  And honestly, back in TV-world, did it seem like Elena really consumed much deputy blood?  Damon realizes Elena's weak, possibly dying, unless she gets enough HUMAN blood to make her strong enough to complete the change.  So, Stefan and Damon take her to Matt - someone they know would be willing to do anything to keep her alive.  I like to think that this has been Elena's problem.  She drank enough to keep her alive - but not really enough to allow her to fully transition.  Now, my theory may be totally blown out of the water by next week's episode, but it lets the blood consumption issue make more sense to me.)

I miss you too, Buddy.  This scene is almost too painful to revisit.  Damon is lonely.  He's lost both his best friend as well as the girl he loves, although he'll never turn his back on her if she needs him.  The lone "adult" left to supervise a group of "children," he confesses to Alaric that he should just leave.  But he can't.  While I don't think he'd ever doubt Stefan's love for Elena (even when it's twisted and cruel), Damon also doesn't trust Stefan to make the best decisions as he's trying to help Elena through this transition.  So he's stuck - without anyone who really understands him, and watching him voice his grief to Alaric's gravestone is painful, made even more so when the camera angle widens and we see Alaric sitting alongside him.  While I've seen people say they wish Jeremy had been there to tell Damon that Alaric hadn't left him - this moment was too personal for anyone else to witness.  I'm glad it was kept just between Alaric and Damon.

What is it with trees?  In somewhat of a mirror of the opening sequence, the "in front of the church" scene has bumped the hospital scene from The Reckoning as my favorite Damon and Elena scene in the series.  Whether the writers were intentional or not - this scene shows how differently the two brothers interact with Elena.

Each scene involves a Salvatore, an attempt at feeding Elena, and vomit.

Stefan attempted to keep Elena on the straight and narrow bunny diet, and he just stood there in shock as she ran away and got sick.  Honestly, they were in the heat of a "passionate" moment, what exactly did he think she was doing when she sped away?  I don't know how she explained her need to run - but the fact that Stefan didn't know she'd gotten sick shows just how willing he is to blindly pretend that everything's ok.

Damon has just come to Elena's rescue.  It's easy to see how desperate she's gotten.  Once convinced that she had to follow Stefan's guidance, she's obviously talked with Damon about the blood bag - since she practically announces that Damon brought it to the entirety of Mystic Falls.  Unable to deny her hunger any longer, she tears into the "juice box" and swallows - only to have the blood immediately come back up.  Let's take a moment to really appreciate Damon's actions here.

When Elena can't even hold the bagged blood down, there is an instant of real fear on his face.  I don't think Damon realized just how bad things had gotten for Elena.  She's starving - not because she's trying to keep an unnatural diet - but because she literally can't eat.  He instantly pulls it together, though.  As he wipes the bloody vomit off her chin with his bare hands (and really, y'all, I'm a mom, and I've never done that for my own kids), he reassures her that she's going to be fine.  She looks back at him with the most vulnerability that I've ever seen on Elena's face and says that maybe it would be better off if she were dead.  As he clings onto her, he's practically hypnotizing her with the intensity of his next statement.  No, it would not be better if she died, and he doesn't want her to even think about dying.  He gently pushes her hair behind her ear, and his unwavering love for her is seeping from every one of his pores.  He is focused on calming her down - reassuring her that she will be alright.  Yes, she's having trouble transitioning. Why?  He can only guess at the reasons, but he's intent that she will not die...not if he has anything to do with it.  Damon speculates that she'll be alright if she drinks from a vein, but she hesitates again, and he doesn't force the issue.  Elena's state of mind is in a precarious place right now, and he's not going to do anything to upset her further.

The church bells chime as Damon and Elena's eyes are locked on each other.  I'm not sure what would have happened without their intrusion, but I'm pretty sure Stefan wouldn't have been happy to see it as he arrived.

One last parting thought.  I have another point to discuss, and that's about control - or lack of control as it relates to Stefan in particular.  I'll have to save it for a later time because I've already spent far too long on this "short" recap.

If you've read it, I'd appreciate a short comment or two.  Since I've taken the time to chat with y'all,  I'd love to hear what y'all have to say.  Thanks!


  1. I really appreciated this recap, after having written one of my own. I 'love' the book references, and have made note of them myself, although none too loudly since we book purists seem to be in the minority, but I keep seeing things in Season 4 that remind me of the books! Great recap--I'm glad you spent this time with us! :)

    1. Sometimes I think I'm stretching a bit to find book parallels, but I really saw a lot of them during this transition phase with Elena - especially the "rejecting the transition" part. I really liked the fact that she was kind of in a weakened state for a bit, because that was so much like the original version.

      I agree w/your comment on Twitter, too, though. Now that Elena's fully a vamp after her feeding, I'll be interested to see how she changes when she's no longer our damsel in distress.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  2. Thanks for taking time out of your very busy schedule for this recap. Your spot-on with so many of your observations, and I couldn't agree with you more re how this episode really highlighted the brothers' different approaches in dealing with Elena's transition. While I'm DE'er, I'll admit that, before this episode, I never really "hated" Stefan. He was annoying, cheesy, delusional and definitely crazy but his (un)righteous indignation in this episode really pushed me over the edge for exactly the reasons you point out in this post. What else did he expect Elena to do - who else did he expect her to turn to - if he was just going to sweep it all under the rug?! You, Price and other recappers have really driven this point home well. And I'm totally with you on that DE scene out in front of the church being the best. Think I've actually re-watched that one more than the bathroom scene ;) Thanks again for you time and insights. Always much appreciated.

    1. You're very welcome. I don't ever feel that I've "finished" with an episode until I do a review of it. I agree that the way each brother is "helping" Elena through the transition really highlights the difference between Stefan and Damon. One is viewing everything as to how it relates back to himself while the other is only focused on her. I'm not certain if the two tree scenes were intentionally there to highlight that difference, but I really thought they cast an interesting light on each brother.

      I've never truly disliked Stefan, while I feel his "ripper arc" was badly mangled...I didn't really blame Stefan for that. I started my journey with this show as an ardent SE supporter. However, the longer the show goes on, the more emotionally abusive he becomes to Elena. That does trouble me.

      It's going to take a lot to knock the DE "tree in front of the church scene" out of my top spot for DE scenes...I look forward to seeing if they can do it at some point.

      Thanks for commenting and reading!

  3. Thanks for keeping the promise and have the review up even you are deep in editing.

    Love all your thought especially the one on the bloodsharing scene. Indeed Damon is respect her choice while finding a way to help her.

    Great recap.

    1. You're welcome. I was almost ready to pass out there at the end. ;-)

      I've seen Damon taking too much blame for his actions in that scene. I doubt he was sitting at the bar trying to figure out a way to get Elena to feed on him for his own personal benefit. He knew she was struggling. He also probably knew that if Elena were told EXACTLY how intimate the bloodsharing was that she wouldn't do it. So, he just did what needed to be done at the time.

      Thanks for commenting!

  4. A+ review!!! There's not a single thing I disagree with in your review.I loved the Damon and Elena scene outside the church too, the way Damon calmed her down was such a contrast to Stefan opening champagne bottle oblivious to anything wrong and then giving her a totally unjustified guilt trip at the end of the epi!And I can't believe some people saying things like Damon took advantage of Elena and even worse about that blood sharing scene when all he was doing is just trying to help her survive because she has the most useless boyfriend ever who let her die and is now starving her to death once again!

    1. Yes, watching him wipe bloody vomit off her chin with his HANDS was a testament to his compassion to her. Stefan even used a cloth (I'm thinking handkerchief...but do people really carry those anymore?) to wipe the animal blood off her face - and he didn't even finish that.

      I'd like to say I'm surprised at the response to Damon feeding Elena his blood, but I really can't. Many fans will go to extreme lengths to find fault with both Damon and Elena.

      The only positive I've seen come of Stefan's scenes with Elena in this episode is even some of the strongest Stefan supporters that I know also found fault with his behavior here.

      Thanks for visiting and reading!

  5. We've talked about Stefan's behaviot, and I totally agree with how you've worded it here. Elena is a tool to him, she is the means for his own happiness and he totally disregards all her feelings and concerns. I am really curious to see how this will evolve on the show.

    That scene under that tree was one of the most beautiful DE scenes of the entire show.

    Great review and good luck with finishing those edits!


    1. Thanks - down to the final stretch now...just one more chapter left.

      I loved the DE under the tree scene. It's just more amazing each time you watch it.

      I'll admit that Stefan's behavior totally and utterly leaves me confused. I can't figure out if they're trying to paint him as abusive or if that's just how he's coming across. In any case, I'm not a fan of the SE dynamic, particularly in the two post-vomiting-in-the-woods scenes. I've actually been interested to discover that I can't find anyone who's supporting Stefan - particularly in the final scene, so I'm curious to see how later episodes play out.

      Thanks for commenting!

  6. Thank you for posting a very on target review. I'd really like to comment on you section about SE and the abusives tones that are all over their relationship. I was very disturbed by what I viewed as abusive behavior last season from Stefan and the lack of acknowledgment and I don't count Elena covering her bruises with makeup & a scarf acknowledging the damage Stefan caused because nothing came of it. Now with S4 she's apparently jumped not only back into a full relationship with Stefan but in my head less than a week has past since he was S3 horrible to her and she's already sleeping with him again and he's back to railing at her about his disappointment. I'm curious if the writers are aware of how dangerously they are treading here glamorizing a relationship with abusive overtones. Sorry I rambled but I appreciated you touching on it in your review.

    1. You make a really good point. Stefan never answered for his behavior in season 3 (I think Price Peterson made a similar comment.) I'm not talking about when Klaus forced him to feed on Elena, but when Stefan willfully fed her his blood before threatening to drive her off the bridge....that was never discussed later on the show - really disappointing considering the number of teens in the audience. (And yes...I know I'm talking about a vampire show, but the way relationships are handled still troubles me here with Stefan and Elena.)

      Elena does seem to be playing the "nothing happened" game here. I'm just frustrated that she doesn't see the way Stefan's treating her.

      Thanks for commenting!

  7. Bravo D'Ann!! Perfectly said. And a what a great thing for me to read as a break from grading papers. :) Can't wait to hear about next week's epi!

    1. So glad you enjoyed it! (And happy that I could provide a distraction from grading papers - shudder...I remember those days.)

      I'll admit that I'm not overly excited about next week's episode. It'll likely be a very short review.

      Thanks for reading!