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The Vampire Diaries “Stand By Me” 

Photo credit: Bob Mahoney/The CW
Photo credit: Bob Mahoney/The CW

So, when I said something last week about burning Jeremy down, I wasn’t being prophetic, but then all of a sudden those words were very prophetic. Jeremy did in fact die, and Elena’s response, when she finally realized it to be true, was factual, final, permanent, and consumed in flames. And yet it took the reaction of the last standing human, Matt, for the tragedy of it to resonate. Zach Roerig is so very, very good.

Aside from that, we learned good old Silas made it out and the bastard is a shifter who can wear anybody. Damn it. So, where to pick up.

Elena finds Jeremy in the caves and freaks out immediately until she sees he had his ring and snaps into “he’s going to be okay” mode. Stefan helps her bring him home. While Elena expects the magical undeading ring to work, everyone around her realizes that at the point Jeremy became a hunter, he was wearing it just for show.

So they watch and worry and speak in hushed tones until Matt is summoned and when he falls apart at the sight of his friend dead under a blanket in a room they both grew up in, it may finally be starting to sink in for Elena that her brother is gone.

Damon, meanwhile is back on the island looking for Bonnie, who disappeared from the cave and is mid mind f-ck with Shane, who magically healed her with Silas’s help and wastes no time in telling her Jeremy is donezo. She, too, collapses at the news.

Damon finds Galen and tortures him a bit to find out that he’s the one who brought Katherine, and that she’d also been working with Hayley. Back in the woods, Shane is telling Bonnie all the things she doesn’t want to know or hear but he spins her up enough into thinking Silas can make everything better and all she has to do is kill 12 people. She gets eerily calm about it and walks out into Damon’s happy arms and he takes her home.

At home, Caroline is melting down. From the moment Stefan walks in the door carrying Jeremy and Elena is matter of fact about taking him upstairs to wait for him to wake up, she knows something is very, very wrong. And she reaches out to Tyler and keeps reaching but he doesn’t call her back.

They summon Dr. Fell and she tells Elena in very plain, graphic terms that Jeremy isn’t Jeremy anymore and she explains the physicality of what happened to him when he died and what will happen to his body now. Downstairs, Stefan and Caroline are horrified they can already smell him starting to decompose.

Matt and Elena have a heart to heart about losing siblings and he takes her to the school to show her the stoner hangout where Vicki and Jeremy were friends. He talks to her about how he feels like in Mystic Falls nobody is really truly gone. He takes her home and Bonnie arrives and explains that once they do the last massacre, the veil drops between purgatory and the land of the living and all of the supernatural beings will walk the earth again.

This starts a pretty heated screaming match across the table that Elena zones out on until the phone rings and she answers it. It’s April, looking for Jeremy, and she starts with “he’s not here” and finishes with “he’s dead.” Then she goes upstairs and Matt leaves to take Bonnie home.

Upstairs, Elena pulls back the blanket and really sees Jeremy for the first time, and she smells him, too. She starts to unravel at the realization that this has happened. She’s alone. All of her family is gone. She gets increasingly amped and wails and Stefan and Damon try to calm her and Caroline starts to weep.

Elena races into the kitchen and tears it up before she finds lighter fluid and starts soaking everything, including Jeremy, who she asked Damon to bring downstairs. She rages that the house isn’t where she wants to live anymore without her parents, Jenna, Alaric, even John, and now Jeremy all gone from it. It’s no longer her home and this will be their cover story for Jeremy. She stands there with a match at the ready but they cut her off before she can light it, and then she collapses on the floor in a mantra of “It hurts.”

Stefan nudges Damon to help her and Damon accepts what he has to do. He kneels down close to her and fixes her gaze and tells her to turn it off. Stefan starts to protest and Damon shushes him and then he repeats it again until her tears dry and her gaze hardens and she does, finally, stop hurting. Stefan and Caroline watch and worry.

Once outside, the Salvatores chat and Stefan thanks Damon and Damon tells him that turning Elena off was the only way for her to deal with losing Jeremy, that loving him wasn’t enough anymore and that without her family she didn’t need her humanity. Stefan doesn’t totally agree but he knows that in that moment Damon did what he felt was necessary to save her. Then they come as close as they can to saying “I love you.” Caroline goes home and calls Tyler again.

Matt drops Bonnie off at home and Shane steps up behind her on the porch and asks if she told everyone. She says yes, and then he then waxes poetic again about how super it’ll all be. Out on the island, Rebekah is making her way back to shore in the dark when she comes upon a body. She rolls him over and it’s Shane.

Matt drives a little while until he finally can’t hold it in anymore. He stops the truck, and completely alone, everything he couldn’t say or feel in front of Elena spills over and he weeps and weeps for his friend and brother.

Back at the Gilberts, Elena is quiet and still but not completely emotionless yet. She takes one last look around, looks at a picture of her and Jeremy together when they were human and happy and gets her match out again. Stefan tries to convince her not to do it, that later she might change her mind and have nothing to go home to and she says she won’t. She drops the match and the brothers walk out the front door with her as the house, and everything in it, and a lifeless Jeremy on the couch, go up in flames.

It was an impressive risk to go down this road and literally turn Elena’s history and humanity to ash, but I think it had to be done to set us up for whoever Elena is really going to become as a vampire. She’s been treading water trying to still be the (human) Elena of old. I wonder, too, now, if we’re done with the high school, because I wouldn’t see Elena returning for her senior year after all this.

Back to what I’ve said about spoilers, I was really glad I knew nothing about what would be coming in this episode, because all of it unfolded in natural, organic, and painful ways and I didn’t call any of it. The biggest surprise was that Silas was Shane because I was sure that Silas was Bonnie and that we’d lost her, too. And I think we may still before the end of it.

In Elena’s unraveling, it was most potent that she had to recount that her family plot was full so there was actually nowhere to put Jeremy. Her entire family is gone within three years and she’s technically just 18. That’s huge. And Damon knew it would finish her. That’s part of what I meant about not really wholly transitioning Elena yet—she was still being treated like a human girl with human frailties.

What we’ll have now is essentially Elena as Katherine, which will make Katherine’s return (a foregone conclusion) that much harder to decipher, unless Katherine decides to “play” Elena again. Will Katherine’s version of Elena be more human than Elena and thus give it away? Nina Dobrev is going to have a ball.

I also liked that Caroline sort of fell apart about Jeremy. She snapped into the hyper mode of who to tell first and how to tell them and what to do for Elena and how to get Bonnie home safe and what the cover story should be, and in the middle of all it she desperately needed but couldn’t have Tyler with her. So Caroline may be lost for a while, too, especially now that Elena’s had her batteries removed.

I loved the quiet moment with Dr. Fell and Stefan on the stairs outside Jeremy’s room as they talked about their predisposition to expect and accept death. We don’t get to see Paul Wesley and Torrey DeVitto together much, so that was a treat.

And I have to hand it to Julie Plec for choosing to infuse the reality and stillness and sometimes deafening silence of death into the episode. Jeremy’s death left a human body—something they rarely discuss or deal with and it was an interesting choice to literally have him out in the open and in the room while they dealt with all of it. I have to wonder if that was easier or harder for Steven R. McQueen to be on set for that.

I liked that it was a fairly lean episode—only Jeremy’s family came into play. We didn’t need the extended company in and out when the loss was so personal. I was really glad Klaus didn’t show up for Caroline. I want her to learn how to be on her own. And it was right to keep Rebekah separate—she was sorry for Elena’s loss when Damon told her, but she didn’t bring her own drama to it because they kept her out on the island. The only reveal there was that Galen looped her to Silas’s ability to be anybody. Hopefully that’s something she’ll share when she gets home.

Really lovely work from all involved, and everything I said last week about McQueen holds. And we’re not done yet, because Silas is still in play and Bonnie may yet do something irreparable. Not nuts about Silas being unidentified. Hope they don’t run that into the ground and we learn who he is sooner than later.

We have a few weeks off to recharge and then we’re back in March. Rest up!

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