The Vampire Diaries Season 4 – RE-Vamped: Part 1 – Elena Gilbert – From Virgin to Vixen to Vampire and Back Again

wake up elena

Funny thing about recaps . . . they pass their “Sell By” date pretty quickly.  If you’re a day or two late . . . no problem.

stefan shrug

But by about the fourth day after the episode aired, your detailed play-by-play is starting to smell a bit like sour milk.

smell something

This is particularly true during May Sweeps, when every night heralds a new season finale to discuss and dissect over the proverbial water cooler.

watch tv all day

For this reason, I’ve decided that, instead of offering up your garden variety recap, this blog series is going to be more of a TVD Season 4 Retrospective, with a few Season 5 predictions / wishes thrown in for good measure.

thinking damon bitemesomerhalder

Don’t get me wrong, I still ABSOLUTELY plan on talking about all the CRAZY that went down during “Graduation,” (How could I not?  I’m a Delena fan, after all.)  I’m just going to do organize things a bit differently . . .

dry cleaning

What follows is a brief look at each Scooby Gang character’s arc this season.  We’ll talk about the Good . . . the Bad . . . and, of course, THE SILAS of each . . .

silas big fat problem

This first installment will feature everybody’s favorite Brunette Baby Vamp . . .

happy elena

Elena Gilbert

Season 4 of TVD was definitely the Season of Elena . . .

dancing elena

Yes, yes, I know.  Every season of TVD is technically the Season of Elena.  She’s the Special Snowflake, after all . . . the character everyone loves . . .

soul as compassionate

. . . wants to befriend . . .

girly dance

.  . . hates . . .

focus on hate

. . . wishes to enslave . . .

3 5 eleklaus

. . . wants to kill.

just kill her

But this season, for the first time, plotlines had less to do with how other characters interacted with Elena, and more to do with how she reacted to them.  Perhaps, even more than that, Season 5 was about how Elena reacted to herself, and the Changes she was undergoing.

dont feel anything

in my head

Turning Elena into a vampire was arguably one of the show’s most polarizing decisions.  On one hand, from a feminist perspective, it was nice to see an empowered, dangerous, Elena, as opposed to her damsel in distress incarnation from previous seasons.

elena drinks

On the other hand, on a show where so many of the main characters were vampires, it was difficult for fans to extensively sympathize with Elena’s struggles with transformation.  Yes, anger issues, blood lust, hunger, fangs popping out at inopportune times . . . these are all frustrating.

freaking hungry

But the writers struggled to convince viewers that they were somehow MORE frustrating and painful for Elena, than they were for Stefan, Damon, Caroline, or any of the other vamps in Mystic Falls.

killer headline

So, in order to make Elena’s transformation story uniquely compelling, the writers had to raise the stakes.  They made her incapable of drinking blood from anywhere other than the vein . . .

bigger blood share first

They made her first impulse kill a vampire hunter, and saddled her with a crazy-making Hunter’s Curse . . .

bloody elena

They gave her . . . the dreaded SIRE BOND . . .

no no no its delena love

smash 2

Talk about polarizing!

soap dish smash

I suspect if you ask TVD writers, many were surprised by how violently fans responded to this particular plotline.  After all, from a purely mythological standpoint, the strong bond of loyalty and obedience between Maker and Made is nothing new.  We’ve seen it on other vampire series, like True Blood and Twilight.

a maker

TVD itself even explored such a relationship previously between Klaus and Tyler.

act not feel

The difference here was that, in this case, the Sire Bond wasn’t used as a plot device to bring characters together.  It was meant to break them apart.  Delena fans were frustrated by the implication that Elena’s being turned by Damon’s blood somehow cheapened the romantic relationship the pair had been gradually building with one another over the course of three seasons.

love you damon

love bathtub

Furthermore, they were infuriated by the fact that the first time Damon and Elena FINALLY got to do the deed, it was interrupted by scary music, and an ANNOYING conversation, during which Caroline and Stefan explained the nature of the sire bond.

delena sex big

2 16 caroline j baker

2 16 damon says stop talking

Damon fans were frustrated by the writers seeming refusal to let the Elder Salvatore Brother ever “get the girl,” under genuine circumstances.

sad damon

dont care

They felt that the sire bond cast a dark pall over Damon’s actions toward Elena.  His rescue of her from the hunters curse, his solution to her “blood problem,” his acceptance of her new vampire form, when all her friends seemed to shun her, these should have been seen as gallant and romantic.  But, under the shadow of the sire bond, they seemed somehow manipulative and controlling.

im not enough

Stelena fans, devastated by the couple’s break up, early on in Elena’s vampire transformation process, latched on to the sire bond as evidence that the Damon and Elena relationship wasn’t “real.”  But that didn’t make the coupling any easier for them to watch.

sex y delena 1

stefan crying gif

Vampire mythology gurus complained that the show’s explanation for the sire bond was inconsistent and nonsensical, not only in comparison to other series’ sire bond explanations, but to the rules the show previously created for itself.  They wondered, for example, how, if the sire bond was so rare, how Damon managed to have two women develop this bond to him, while all the other non-hybrid vampires of the world had none.

damon eternal stud

They asserted that if the sire bond developed as a result of preexisting feelings of love between Maker and Made than why did neither Stefan nor Damon develop such a bond with Katherine Pierce.

the kat thank me brought cure

And finally they complained about how Elena, who seemed perfectly capable of disobeying Damon during the first week’s of her vampirism, suddenly seemed completely incapable of ignoring his plans, the moment the bond was revealed.

ready to fight

turn it off

Come to think of it, perhaps, the Sire Bond wasn’t all that polarizing.  Pretty much, everyone hated it . . .

could have turned it off

Fortunately for fans, the sire bond plotline only lasted a few weeks.  After that, Elena had another Unique Vampire Problem, with which to cope . . .  her newfound lack of Humanity.

like ribbon 2

Humanity Free Elena stemmed from what was, in my opinion, one of the most powerful, and well executed plot twists of the season . . . Jeremy Gilbert’s death.  “Stand By Me” was a heartbreakingly beautiful and powerful TVD episode, during which Elena literally lost everything she cared about . . . her brother .  . . her home . . . her will to live . . . and finally, her ability to love.

the walk out

Given the careful and clever way in which Humanity Free Elena was introduced, I think many fans, initially, were on board with this new version of an old character.  They wondered how she would distinguish herself from Katherine . . . the other “Bad” version of a character played by Nina Dobrev.

never pass elena

They gleefully, if a bit concernedly, contemplated how Elena’s newfound evilness would impact her usually all-consuming love life.  They tried to guess what type of “villain” Evilena would be . . .

big bitch crazy

The fans response to Humanity Free Elena was a bit of a mixed bag.  Some fans enjoyed just how different she was than regular Elena.  To the writer’s credit, unlike with their development of Ripper Stefan, back in early Season 3, the TVD crew pulled no punches here.  As far as “moral compass” characters go, Humanity Free Elena was pretty terrible.  She insulted EVERYONE . . .

ploppy

She tried to eat most of her friends . . .

dont eat the prom queen love-isover

She broke the neck of random waitress . . .

dead waitress 1

She stole clothing and cars . . .

stole prom dress

She dyed her hair pink .  . .

i dont care

time to experiment

And yet, as a villain, Elena wasn’t quite as much fun as others of her ilk.  She wasn’t a master of wry one liners like Damon . . .

big bad vampire out here

. . . or a sex kitten like Katherine . . .

the kat kiss me or kill me

She lacked the dignity of Elijah . . .

brothertobrother elijah honor in revenge

.  . . and the unexpected charm of Klaus.

klaus cheers

Even Ripper Stefan, at his worst, had a sort of so- frightening-you-can’t-look-away ravenous menace to his character that Evilena lacked . . .

2 15 dark stefan flashback blood

As for the show’s EPIC love triangle, Elena’s lack of Humanity, for all intents and purposes, placed it entirely on hold, frustrating fans on both sites of the Stefan versus Damon debate . . .

elena free stefan

But, eventually, like her Inability to consume blood bags, her Hunters Curse, and her Sire Bond, Elena’s lack of humanity came to an end.  The plotline concluded with a touching reaction on Elena’s part to the almost-death of her first boyfriend Matt.

oldest friend

thats humanity

At this point, the storyline shifted away from Elena, and on to Silas, his Apocalypse, and of course the Cure . . .

cure one more time

Having made quite a few missteps with Elena’s characterization this season, I think the writers ultimately got it right at the end.  Giving the cure to Elena’s nemesis Katherine was an inspired move, for a few reasons (most of which, I plan to discuss in the Katherine section of this series).

living dream

Source

For one, it showed that the cast and crew were committed to Elena’s continued vampirism.  They didn’t take the easy way out, by “undoing” it at the last moment.

take cure with me

Another thing the writers did right was having a humanity full, vampiric, non-sire bonded or hunters cursed Elena choose Damon during the season  4 finale, just as she chose Stefan at the end of Season 3.  For starters, this choice will enable the writers to truly explore the Delena relationship under genuine circumstances, something they never got a chance to do in Season 4.

dancing delena

Source

got the girl

Now, I may be in the minority here, but I adored Elena’s declaration of love to Damon in “Graduation.”  Her insult-laced monologue was more romantic to me than any goopy poem about roses and hearts ever could be.  For me, it perfectly summarized what captivated me about this relationship, when it was first introduced, back in the middle of Season 1.

kissing delena

3 11 delena not right now asheleyelizabeth1020

That Damon loved Elena when she was a human was a foregone conclusion.   After all, Human Elena was easy to love . . . kind, generous, sweet, and damn near perfect.

delena cuddle

But the true test of Damon’s love for Elena came when she became a vampire . . . Flawed, and, at times, savage.

vampire elena

Vampire Elena was not quite as easy to love, as her human counterpart.  This is evidenced by the way other members of her Scooby Crew, began to treat Elena, shortly after her transformation.

keep cut 3

And yet, when everyone turned against Vampire Elena, Damon stuck by her.  He told her that he loved her unconditionally, for exactly who she was . .  . human or vampire . . . wild and impulsive or restrained . .  . tough or vulnerable.  Those were just the details.  None of them mattered to Damon.  She was still the girl of his dreams.

fine with her either way

Up until this point, Damon’s insecurity regarding his relationship with Elena had to do with the fact that he was never sure that she felt the same way about him, as he did about her.  Back in the earlier seasons, Damon always felt like Elena was trying to turn him into Stefan.  She seemed to be constantly judging his actions, urging him to DO better, and BE better.  Then, the Sire Bond came around.  And even though, during that time, Elena seemed altogether accepting of Damon, he could never be sure whether her acceptance was real.

slept with damon because i love him

damon soulful crying

However, in the finale, Elena stands before him and confirms, vehemently, that yes, Damon can be impulsive, aggressive, short-sighted and foolhardy.  She knows this all too well about him.  Yet, Elena loves Damon, not just in spite of his worst attributes, but because of them.  And isn’t that really what all of us want in a true love?  Someone who can not only appreciate and embrace our beauty, but our ugliness as well?

damon-s-dance-o

Presumably, next season will feature a brighter, shinier Elena than this Season incarnation.  Her brother is alive again.  Her humanity is on.  She’s got a new hot boyfriend to whom she isn’t sire bonded.  All is right in the world . . . at least until about five minutes into the Season 6 premiere . . .

3 finale happy ponytail elena

And there you have it … Season 4 Elena in a nutshell.  Next up, the eternal stud of the Salvatore Household . . . Damon!

the show

waves

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10 Comments

Filed under The Vampire Diaries

10 responses to “The Vampire Diaries Season 4 – RE-Vamped: Part 1 – Elena Gilbert – From Virgin to Vixen to Vampire and Back Again

  1. East Coast Captain

    I believe she will still be a damsel in distress vampire or not. Don´t get me wrong I think she´s grown as a character in other aspects but someone needs saving and who but Elena is always needing saving?
    Though I think Katherine will out do her next season.

    • Good point, East Coast Captain. Sometimes being a Damsel in Distress is just part of your DNA. 🙂

      As for Katherine, I suspect she will spend the first few episodes, begging every vampire with whom she’s ever come in contact to turn her again, and being brutally rebuffed. Not to mention the fact that Klaus once again has a human doppelganger to use for his hybrids, if he chooses. One who has a lot less bodyguards than Elena. 🙂

  2. Karen

    Jewels, I always love your recaps! thank you for reminding me why I love this show and why I love Damon and Elena. I had almost forgotten due to all the craziness that was this past season. You’ve always understood Damon so well and I am looking forward to Damon’s recap. I am finally able to appreciate that we finally will have Delena.

    • Thanks so much, Karen. That’s so sweet of you to say! I feel like the Season Finale was a big reward for the patience of Delena fans. Hopefully, we will get at least two or three episodes of genuine coupled happiness for this pair, before the Big Bads (like Stilas) start coming out of the woodwork to muck things up. 🙂

  3. katoributa

    Love your recaps as usual. Just thought I should tell you that it’s season 4 that just finished, not season 5. Season 5 premieres this fall.

  4. Love your recaps. It’s like you reach into my mind and make sense of my thoughts and draw them into a nice conclusion. Ditto on the anticipation for Damon’s analysis.
    Ciao!

    • Thanks Sarah Jane. 🙂 I love talking TVD with fans that are as passionate about the show as I am. As for Damon, I hope I did Damon justice ;).

  5. Truer words were never spoken (speaking from personal experience)–“But by about the fourth day after the episode aired, your detailed play-by-play is starting to smell a bit like sour milk.” Ugh–the bane of my existence! Oh, well, on to the comments. I’m playing Devil’s Advocate (again). Judging from the ‘hate’ I saw spewing forth on social media, I think all sides (Delena, Stelena, etc.) would do well to remember no plotline like this ‘choice’ seems to last for long. *cough cough we got Delena for actually less than half an episode*, so I would like people to temper their hate and raspberries with a touch of shoe on the other foot. That being said, I am a touch saddened by the fact that we’re STILL saddled with Silas as the Big Bad next season–was hoping for a fresh start. Hey, if you’re going to to this character analysis on each one of them, you’ve set yourself up for the entire hiatus! lol I am hoping (but not expecting) a new and improved version of Elena over all the last iterations–not a whiner, not a bitch, capable of making decisions that include her own welfare as well as everyone else’s. I have other thoughts about Katherine–I’ll hold that until you get to her section. I do wish people would go back, like you are, and remind themselves why they started watching TVD in the beginning, before all the haters and ships. It’s just plain a good story, and if they’re always gonna hate what the writers do with the twists, I gently suggest they stop watching! *for the sake of our ears* Elena has been through a lot of ch-ch-changes this season, and I’m hoping she comes out on the other side (oh, God, did I just say The Other Side?) a fully realized character. She’s set up for disaster, with a ‘howdoyouexplaintotheneighbors’ ressurected brother, an alias ex-boyfriend (I personally think she will be the first one to figure out there’s something rotten in Stenmark), a potentially (?) dead witch-friend, and a fiery romance to explore. Damon said he was ‘selfish’? More like ‘selfless’ when it came to Elena, and I LOVED their Season 1 Damon meets Season 4 Elena standoff before she hit him with the I Love You. Perfection! Looking forward to your future installments, as ALWAYS! xoxo

    • Hey mak. You are right. Elena’s going to have a lot of compulsion work to do, as far as Not Dead Jeremy is concerned. Plus, the poor kid is homeless! I imagine he will end up moving in with Matt and Tyler. What a frat house that mansion is going to become!

      I agree with you about Silas 2.0. I didn’t really love him as a big bad, this year. So, I am not all that looking forward to seeing him next year. On the other hand, I guess the writers can get away with doing this, because, in all this time, we never really “met” Silas. His face, personality and mannerisms were always merely an offshoot, of whatever character he was impersonating. In that sense, even though Season 5’s villain will technically be named “Silas,” he’s a completely different villain, than the one we met this past season.

      That said, if I had spent the last 1,000 years in a coffin, you can bet the last place I’d want to hang out would be Mystic Falls, Virginia. Why not go to an Island, or take a world tour . . . And yet all these villains flock to that town like its Disneyland for Bad People . . .

      Maybe Silas doesn’t know he has the option to travel . . He did come from a time before they invented the wheel . . .

      I love your point about Damon’s final speech to Elena being very Season 1 Damon . . . the spunk, the anger, the passion . . . I missed that part of Damon a lot, in recent episodes. It reminded me what first drew me to this relationship in the first place. As for Damon’s decision not to take the cure, you are right, I don’t think it was selfish, in the traditional sense. After all, offering the cure up to Elena, when he truly believed it would mean losing her to Stefan, just to keep her happy, was about as selfless as it gets.

      As for Damon’s refusing the cure for himself, I guess it could be construed as selfish, in the way that some consider suicide selfish. Damon was willing to let Elena and Stefan live without him for all eternity, because he couldn’t cope with the notion of his getting old and frail, while they stayed young and beautiful. (I have that Lana del Ray song in my head right now, for the record.)

      From a plot standpoint, it’s probably best they didn’t go down the Human Damon route. Because we all know Damon would ask Elena to turn him back. And when SHE refused, even though she knew that was what HE wanted, SHE would be the selfish one.

      Whatever the reason, I’m glad it ended up the way that it did. Damon has certainly earned his happiness. And now that he finally has the girl, perhaps, he can get a storyline of his own next Season. I’d really enjoy that.

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