That's right — last night's Vampire Diaries episode packed several years worth of psychotherapy into a tight 42 minutes. I learned so much about myself, and about healthy relationships with others. It's amazing. Here are just a few of the things I learned...
Torturing others is cathartic.
The main stab of the episode has to do with Rebekah returning once again, after having been daggered by her brother Klaus for the umpteenth time. Rebekah holds a gaggle of our main characters hostage in the high school library and forces Stefan and Elena to process their feelings — which is convenient, since that's what the show needs them to do anyway, at this point. But mostly Rebekah is just trying to torture the gang emotionally, before Kol go off to torture Professor Shane physically. And eventually, we get the point of all this — Rebekah feels like she's suffered 900 years of non-stop betrayal at the hands of the people she loves, and so she wants Stefan and Elena to feel the same way. And Rebekah does seem to get some catharsis out of all this — plus it's healthy on some level for Stefan and Elena. I guess.
Trying to "fix" the ones you love never works.
All of the people who are pissed that Elena is sired to Damon should be happy now. Elena finally gives a rationale for why she's in love with Damon and not Stefan: Stefan sees her as "broken" and a problem, in need of being fixed. Ever since she became a vampire, he's been trying to fix her. Whereas Damon just accepts Elena — when he's not mind-controlling her using his sire powers — and Damon is unpredictable and fun, instead of the staid, sensitive Muppet Angel.
You need to remember your past to get over it
At the end of the episode, Rebekah offers to erase Stefan's memories of Elena — and Muppet Angel is like, "Yup. Sign me up. Scrub my brain." And it turns out she was just kidding, and she wants Stefan to suffer instead. She won't erase Elena from Stefan's memory the way Klaus erased Stefan's memories of his sister back in the 1920s. (That was a really complicated sentence.) So Stefan instead just has to cope with the memories and move on — which he does by teaming up with Rebekah, who just tried to murder him a little while ago, via werewolf attack.
Turning into a murderous beast is the best way to confront your grief
Speaking of which, Tyler can't deal with his grief over his mom's "accidental" death, until he is forced to turn into a werewolf and nearly murder his friends. And then he's finally able to look at her memorial display and have a good cry. There's something sort of profound about that, actually.
Nearly helping to kill all your high school classmates is a great way to deal with anxiety
Seriously, I'm glad April is no longer being a mind-wiped chew toy for everyone in town. She's starting to show some spine, even if she chooses to do it by teaming up with Rebekah and nearly killing Elena, Stefan and Caroline in the process. And then, of course, she nearly dies herself due to Bonnie's careless magicking. Oops. In any case, I really like April's move towards confronting the truth instead of turning away from it. I hope she can convince the new Cylon Mayor to make some moves towards transparency in Mystic Falls.
Being evil doesn't mean you have to tell people your entire plan — it just feels good
I love how Professor Shane happily spills everything about arranging dozens (exactly dozens) of sacrifices and doing all the other arcane crap to wake Silas, the first ever immortal and someone who will apparently wipe out the Originals without a second thought. Shane enjoys being evil so much — or is such a wacky fanatic — that he just can't help sharing. And I really really wanted to see how the rest of his conversation with Bonnie went at the end of the episode, where he starts to tell her that she's vitally important to everything. How does she not immediately ask exactly what it is that she's vitally important to?
Don't take on your loved ones' sense of guilt, when you can show you care about them in other ways
Damon's main conflict in the episode is that he wants to turn Jeremy into a vampire hunter the right way — by having him kill actual vampires. But Jeremy's nowhere near ready to take on real vampires (despite having arms like three normal people's legs glued together) and the clock is ticking. And there's not a "training montage" in sight. Klaus is putting pressure on Damon to just take the easy option, turning random people into vampires for Jeremy to kill en masse. But Damon resists, because he knows Jeremy will feel bad about murdering a slew of innocent recently-ex-people. And he knows Elena will feel sad if he turns Jeremy into a mass murderer. Until Elena tells Damon she loves him and she really doesn't think it's just the sire bond — and suddenly, Damon is motivated to do whatever it takes to get the cure for Elena, while he's going back on his promise to Muppet Angel and boinking her some more. Cue a great bluesy sequence where Damon helps Klaus cue up a bar full of newbie vampires for Jeremy to slaughter.
Because, you know, sharing is cathartic — but worrying about other people's guilt is just going to make everything suck. So to speak.