One of the overarching themes of The Vampire Diaries is transformation. Whether it is a normal teenage girl embracing the supernatural world around her and ultimately becoming a strong force within that world or a vampire purposely rejecting his murderous nature in order to be more human, the show has always been interested in telling stories of conversion.
Much of the season thus far has been devoted to Tyler’s transformation from regular teenager to burgeoning werewolf and all of the uncertainties revolving around this change. The absolute high point of this story has been his first agonizing transformation and Caroline’s rock-solid support of him throughout this time. Since then, however, the story’s consistency has gotten a bit rocky, as his character struggled to make sense of his new place in the world. After alienating his friends and destroying his relationship with Caroline, tonight, it seemed like he was siding with his werewolf brethren for good until a last-minute change of heart when finding out that all of their goals will only be achieved upon Elena’s death threw him into turmoil yet again.
What does this mean for his character, though? Tyler may or may not be a bad guy, but throughout his ordeal, he has consistently been quite willfully ignorant about the other werewolves’ goals and the methods they’re willing to take to achieve them. His motivation is sympathetic: If he can break the curse, he can control when he changes and therefore never change again, which is the one thing he wants most of all. Knowing this would cause a friend’s death finally seems to culminate in a bit of a crisis of conscience and his leaving town with the only available werewolf left, Jules.
The werewolf aspect of the sun and moon story seems to be a bit played out for now (especially since Elijah so thoroughly kicked their ass in this episode without even breaking a sweat), so it makes sense that they would fade back into the woodwork a bit, and thus, it is logical for Tyler to fade away with them. It’s obvious he will return at some point, but as I must admit I am not a huge fan of off-screen character growth, I am a bit leery about this development. As we leave him now, he is confused and scared but resigned to figuring out how to accept his werewolf fate. When he returns, though, who will he be? And will we feel cheated for not seeing him become this person? Ultimately, his apologies to Elena and Matt show that he is good at heart, at least for now. Here’s hoping that no matter who he is when he returns, we still recognize his character.
Speaking of Elijah, can I get an amen on how incredibly fun every Elijah appearance has been throughout the season? Tonight was no exception, with him owning Damon in their first meeting and then showing up later to rescue Damon and dispatch all of the werewolves by casually ripping out their hearts, before calmly strolling out of the room (but not before rubbing it in to Damon, of course). He is a big ball of badassery, so badass that it is going to be extremely difficult to find an actor that can out-badass him as Klaus. I look forward to them proving me wrong, however, because I am ready to meet Klaus.
Elijah brings us to Elena and the big reveal of the week. This entire series everyone has been fighting to keep Elena alive, but tonight, we learn she doesn’t really care about being alive at all. Her deal with Elijah means she will surely end up dead at his hands in order to break the sun and moon curse, but even though Elena knew this, she accepted the deal in order to protect her friends and family. Stefan gets a lovely moment of calling her out on being a total idiot, succinctly explaining her martyr complex as “not heroic, that’s tragic.” Stefan so rarely gets to be genuinely displeased with her, and it’s a nice note for Paul Wesley to play and an important note for his character to be allowed to play. Otherwise, their relationship is just puppies and bunnies and him making dinner for her while she drinks wine during their romantic vacation in a cabin in the woods. (Yes, Elena is in high school. Yes, they act like she’s 30. Just go with it.)
For someone with the noble desire to sacrifice herself in order to keep her friends alive, however, Elena does manage to have quite the strong preservation instinct. Her mastery at fighting off Brady in the cabin by force, luck, and intelligent misdirection was a beautiful sight to behold, especially from a genre that often relies on its heroines being very, very stupid. This show itself has even fallen into that trap when Elena was being pursued by werewolf-poisoned Rose, so it was nice to see them give her some agency again and allow her to defend herself. Granted, in the end it was Stefan who delivered the final blow, but 100 pound Elena would have a bit of trouble ripping Brady’s heart out of his chest, so we should probably give them a pass on that one. Overall, it was a very strong sequence for the characters and featured some tight and suspenseful direction. Good stuff, all around.
One final sorta spoiler-y note: I don’t normally like to talk about the promos, but next week’s evil Stefan flashback extravaganza must be mentioned. EVIL. STEFAN. FLASHBACK. EXTRAVAGANZA. Oh yeah.
- T-minus how many episodes until John Gilbert dies a horrible, torturous death? I’m going with five, and I’m going to cheer when it happens.
- Jenna is getting closer and closer to figuring out the truth about Alaric and all of the strange happenings in Mystic Falls. It’s about time.
- Speaking of Alaric, it is nice to see the Alaric/Damon friendship alive and well.
- Damon’s precious rug got ruined after all. Poor, poor Damon.
- Loved the Gilbert secret room of vampire death. I wonder what Elena’s grandparents would think about her shacking up with the undead and potentially sacrificing her life for theirs?
- Bonnie and Jeremy are an official item now. I’m not sure what was happening last week, when they appeared to already be an item. Aggressive flirting, maybe? Admittedly, their kiss was kind of hot.
- “Tell me you’re not going to kill him at the tea party.”
- “That Elijah is one scary dude, but… with nice hair.”
- “Do you realize this is the third time I’ve saved your life now?”