Indeed, TVD's characters struggled to balance their feelings with need. For example, Stefan's been anhedonic since the end of season two, when he made the deal with Klaus in exchange for Damon's life. Stefan hit rock bottom when Klaus took his humanity away. Stefan's stated that the only thing he cares about is Klaus' death; he sacrificed a future with Elena in pursuit of that death, and he nearly alienated everyone. The Original family held a formal ball in Mystic Falls to celebrate their reunion as a family. Elena received an invitation to the party, as well as an opportunity to converse with Esther; however, the Salvatore brothers were reluctant to let Elena out of their sights re the trust issues with the entire Original family. Time and time again, though, Elena's done what she wanted, because she's a strong and independent young woman. The role reversal between Stefan and Damon continued. Elena went to Stefan for help in keeping Damon away from her. In the past, Damon's been the one playing distraction duty on his little bro, as Elena went into some dangerous situation. Stefan's the anhedonic one now whereas Damon feels too much, which means he's a liability.
Entertainment Weekly released their rather risqué photographs of Nina Dobrev, Ian Somerhalder and Paul Wesley. The Vampire Diaries earned the cover story in this week's edition. It makes sense that the episode prior to the magazine's publication would focus a good chunk of time on the triangle. Whether the producers and EW planned this, or whether it is coincidence, I do not know, but just work with me here. The love triangle didn't dramatically change. Elena loves both vampires. Stefan loves her but refuses to allow himself to feel anything. Damon loves her and is all too eager to tell her which makes him a liability. Stefan broke his brother's neck to buy Elena time with Esther. Following the meeting, Damon told Elena that he's mad at her because he loves her. Elena responds, "Maybe that's the problem." Damon did not react well. Elena said she didn't mean it, but Damon has the emotional maturity of a Dawson Leery. I wonder if the brains of vampires stop developing when they die their human death; it would make sense because these old, old vampires never cease acting like dumb teenagers. Anyway, Damon lashed out and snapped Kol's neck, marking a return to his self-destructive ways. Damon's a much better character when he's not written as a self-destructive psychopath. The vampire lashed out though because he made himself vulnerable, and felt the sting of rejection. Damon's evolution from unfeeling monster to romantic hero's been gradual. The writers have too much fun with unwieldy Damon; it's not surprising that Damon hit a hurdle in his evolution into the kind of man Elena deserves.
Klaus' words still echo in my head, from "Bringing Out the Dead," in which he told her, in his opinion, that both Salvatores are wrong for her. Stefan dismembered humans, and then reassembled them in a fit of guilt and remorse. Damon once snapped the neck of her brother because she hurt his feelings. Elena could find a much better match than the Salvatore brothers, but she won't. The love triangle's part of the heart of the series. Stefan took her home. Elena looked at him with desperation. Stefan stood in her foyer, blank and anhedonic. Stefan bid her goodnight, but she grabbed his shoulder and attempted to crack through his cold surface. Elena couldn't accept that the only thing he cares about is Klaus' death. Stefan admitted that he lied to her about caring for only one thing. Elena's hand was literally extended towards him in the scene, physically reaching out to him, but he pushed her away, stating that he refuses to feel anything, because he'll only feel pain. Did Stefan go home and listen to The Cure afterwards? Only Julie Plec, Williamson, and the writers know.
The Original family needed to prevent their emotions from dictating their behaviors. Rebekah wants to kill Elena, but can't. Kol just wants to kill. Elijah wants to trust his mother, but can't. Klaus has too many emotional issues to single out just one, but he can't act on the many things he wants to do. Rebekah planned on killing Matt to hurt Elena. Matt, though, offered her his letterman's jacket. Rebekah swooned and quickly changed her plan. Kol tried to kill Matt later in the evening, but failed. Both received a scalding from mother Esther. Elijah placed his trust in Elena to tell him the truth about their conversation. Elena did not tell Elijah the truth about Esther's plan to magically link her five children in order to kill Klaus. Elijah's behavior hinged on what Elena told him, and she lied, and that poor bastard is none the wiser. Elena felt conflicted about her deception as per usual. Stefan reminded her that the four others are collateral damage, that the death of Klaus will simplify Elena's life in so many ways. She nodded.
If each character behaved according to their feelings, Mystic Falls would be more chaotic than ever. The lesson seems to be that rational thought trumps following's one thought, which we've already seen in the elaborate plans hatched by Elena, Stefan, Damon, etc. Anyway, character dynamics shifted slightly tonight. Klaus unsuccessfully courted Caroline. Their two minute conversation, as Caroline was dying, produced a rather sentimental side of Niklaus. Indeed, he told her about the time Mikael killed his favorite horse, and then he drew a picture of a horse for her. Matt and Rebekah may or not become an item, depending on how much Matt's harmed as her date. And, actually, I don't really care about these secondary character relationships.
Overall, the episode was about two things: Esther's plan, and the triangle. "Dangerous Liaisons" isn't the best episode nor is it the worst. I'd describe it as nice and average. Nina Dobrev looked smashing in her gown. Candice Accola looked sublime in her blue dress. I've questions about the logistics of the ball, but someone once reminded me that it's silly to ask logistical questions in any series about vampires, werewolves, etc.
Caroline Dries wrote the episode. The director isn't listed on IMDB.
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