“The Vampire Diaries” is often a dark show, but this week’s episode, “Stand By Me,” was the “Sophie’s Choice” of teen vampire series. It was really, really depressing. The show said goodbye to a core character in a way that seemed pretty damn permanent. It also said goodbye to the Elena (Nina Dobrev) we have all known and loved for the past four seasons, though I suspect she may not be gone forever. Grab a box off tissues before reading the highlights.
The Five Stages of Grief: The ending of last week’s episode was not a mislead. Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen) really, truly is dead. Silas drained all his blood. Becoming a member of the Five turned him into a supernatural being, which means that his ring no longer will revive him. Damon and Stefan discuss the situation, but decide that Elena can’t know yet because she can’t handle anymore loss. So Stefan and Elena bring an “unconscious” Jeremy home to Mystic Falls. Elena still seems convinced that Jeremy will wake up. She thinks that Jeremy’s disappearing tattoo maybe means that he’s no longer supernatural. But when Stefan and Caroline attempt to have a conversation about Elena’s denial — which they attempt to keep private by turning on the water in the kitchen, as if that would thwart Elena’s vampire hearing. She says she is well aware of Jeremy’s situation. She just won’t give up on her brother.
Jeremy’s death becomes far more real than any other death on this show when Stefan and Caroline start to smell him decomposing. It’s gross and heartbreaking because it means that we have reached the point of no return. This is exactly what would happen to a corpse left in a house. Presumably all of the people — and creatures — that have died on the show decomposed if they weren’t buried soon enough. But it’s not something that’s every discussed. Watching Jeremy, who is still the most innocent character on the show become just a body going through a series of biological processes is heartbreaking.
Catch Up on Last Week’s Episode of “The Vampire Diaries”:
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Stefan gets Meredith (Torrey DeVitto, sporting the same short haircut she had on this week’s “Pretty Little Liars”) to persuade Elena to release Jeremy’s body to a funeral home. Meredith goes into even more graphic clinical detail about rigor mortis. Elena thinks Bonnie can fix Jeremy by using magic. Nobody seems to be considering the possibility of tracking down Katherine, stealing the cure from her and seeing if it can restore a dead human just like it can a vampire. Matt takes Elena to come with him to the stoner pit at the high school and shows her the Vicki graffiti that Jeremy drew. He shares that Vicki wasn’t completely gone. Maybe Jeremy isn’t either. I’m not sure telling Elena she may occasionally have visions of her dead brother is the way to comfort her, but nothing else seems to be working, so it’s worth a shot.
The Search For Silas: Meanwhile, on the island, Damon (Ian Somerhalder) searches for Bonnie (Kat Graham), and warns Rebekah (Claire Holt) that Silas is awake. Bonnie wakes up in the woods. Shane (David Alpay) tells her not to treat her stab wound. Bonnie asks how he is healed from all of his injuries. He tells her Silas did it. He insists Silas is going to turn the world into a rainbow and unicorn filled utopia. Bonnie is reluctant to foll with mother nature by using Expression to raise the dead until Shane tells her about Jeremy. Shane claims that she has all of Silas’s power since Silas can no longer do magic because he is immortal. Apparently, it’s a separation of powers thing. Of course, since Shane is the only one who knows anything about Silas, he could be making it all up. Shane says all she has to do to get Jeremy back is kill 12 humans, which is not a particularly appealing offer. She isn’t considering it until she has a vision of Jeremy. This should have been the moment I realized she was actually talking to Silas. Bonnie falls for it, and is now willing to destroy the world to revive her ex-boyfriend.
In fact, Shane mysteriously appears in Mystic Falls at the end of the episode to further encourage Bonnie to go ahead with the plot even after her friends have vetoed it. But back on the island, Rebekah encounters a seemingly dead Shane. Silas has to be using his powers to masquerade as Shane.
An Ethical Dilemma: Bonnie having located Damon due to Silas’s mystical mojo, heads back to Mystic Falls with Damon. Not surprisingly nobody is in to her plan to murder 12 people and hope for the best, particularly since the mythology has now changed. The humans will stay dead, but every supernatural creature ever, icluding the most violent, terrible ones, will return as the barrier between earth and the “other side” disappears. Even if it worked, it seems like it will lead to a giant monkey’s paw of unintended consequences.
When April calls looking for Jeremy, Elena hits the acceptance phase of the grieving process, telling her that he is dead. She asks Damon to carry him downstairs, then she pours flammable liquid all over the living room, saying that burning the house down with Jeremy will be a good cover story to explain how he died. She doesn’t want to live there anymore, in a house full of memories of the people that she lost. She points out that there are no more spaces in the Gilbert family plot, which is messed up. As much as she wants Jeremy back, she can’t let Bonnie become a serial killer, pssibly unleashing an unimaginable horror on the world.
Damon, realizing she is about to have a nervous breakdown, looks at her and tells her to turn her humanity, so all her pain will go away. Taking advantage of their sire bond, he compels her. Nina Dobrev does a good job of showing both the hurt and the compassion melting out of Elena with only her facial expression.
Unfortunately, not giving a damn makes Elena more determined than ever to burn her house down. Damon tells her not to do it. Stefan asks her what if one day she wants to come home again. Elena says she won’t. She lights the house on fire. The three of them walk out. We go inside and watch Jeremy’s body being engulfed by flames along with the house.