A developing theme of the fourth season is the effect of a bond, not only a sire bond but a bond to one's nature, one's purpose. Tyler and Haley work with their hybrid buddies to break each individual hybrid's bond with Klaus. A broken sire bond is about empowerment, a return to self. The early episodes of the episode were about the importance of Elena giving into her new nature, of accepting the necessity of feeding. The other vampires are independent of sire bonds. They exist alone and are responsible for their own actions, unless Klaus gets a hold of Stefan and compels him to be the Ripper for a few bloody months. Damon did some awful things to people because he wanted to; ditto for Klaus.
The exploration of the bonds, sire or no sire, is really interesting and relatively subtle. The Vampire Diaries love the macro stuff. In season two, it was all about the sun and the moon curse; in season three, it was all about the originals; in season four thus far, it's been about the cure, the hunter's map, whatever Silas is up to, etc. It's not until Caroline has her 'OH MY GOD!' moment that the sire bonds theme of the season, of this thoughtful exploration of what it means to be a vampire, a wolf, a hybrid, and a human being. What separates the monsters, i.e. the werewolves and vampires, from the humans? Werewolves and vampires are like humans. They are some good wolves and vamps and they are some bad, just like human beings. Dostoevsky observed that man is the most monstrous of all in his last novel, The Brothers Karamazov.
Jeremy's losing his humanity slowly. The first kill opened his subconscious to the hunter in him. He's haunted by nightmares that end with his sister's death; he wakes up to weapons around him, including freshly cut stakes. Stefan's rabid in completing the map. Elena needs to be human so that she returns to him, so that she's fixed. Stefan forces Jeremy to kill another vampire. The second kill seriously changes Jeremy. He stabs Stefan in the gut and almost kills Elena, right after he stabbed her in the neck. Elena pleads with her brother as he hovers over her with a stake, ready to drive it into her chest. "I'm still your sister," she tries to remind him. Jeremy just wants the kill. He's like Elena at the college party, totally out of control and dangerous. He would've killed her. Stefan stopped him. It was Stefan's dumbass plan that created the whole mess.
Later, Elena explains why she'd prefer not having the cure to Stefan. Jeremy shouldn't lose his humanity to save hers. Stefan listens quietly. Elena's mature and articulate in her feelings that encapsulate the theme of the season. She's bound to her vampiric life, but she's not bound to bad behavior. Jeremy will never be harmed by her, because she loves him. Elena changed, though. The old Elena died after the crash off the Wickery Bridge. The new Elena cannot love Stefan like the old, because she's changed. Of course, we learn Elena is bound to Damon; he's her sire.
The reveal ties into another important idea of the idea: our ideas are not our own. Tyler's working to break hybrid sire bonds to Klaus not knowing Haley's going behind his back with Silas for an specified plan. Elena's attraction to Damon is intensified by her vampire nature and because she's sired to him. Silas provides Damon with what seems to be important information about hunters, the maps, and the cure. The completed map leads to an object that only a Bennett witch can hold; but Silas is working with the hybrids, and he talked Pastor Young into murdering himself and the council. What really separates him, in his own mind, from the vampires he wants dead?
TVD's fourth season is a bit more intriguing now that it's not all about the quest for the cure.
-There were other plot points worth discussing, like the Klaus/Caroline date, but Caroline was more awesome during her Damon rants. Damon used Caroline early in season one, before Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec figured out the show's identity, and the characters. Elena's annoyance with Caroline's obviously explained through the 'she's sired to Damon' reveal.
-Matt's going to live with Jeremy while Jeremy tries to stop wanting to kill vampires so much. April's tangentially involved with the two human boys. April won Miss Mystic Falls. I'm waiting for something to happen with her. There's a twist coming for the character, right? Some badass moment that reminds you why TVD's the most insane show on TV.
-Phoebe Tonkin wears short, tight dresses incredibly well.
-Stefan was near-Ripper in his scene with Jeremy in the Lockwood basement. Elena suggested he let her go, though it's all muddled now because of Damon. Stefan was desperate to find the cure. Paul Wesley's awesome whenever he's asked to play a darker version of Stefan.
-Nina Dobrev was excellent yet again. The girl is killing it this season.
-Caroline Dries & Elisabeth R. Finch wrote the episode. Jeffrey Hunt directed it.
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