We have seen the end of Mason Lockwood. To some, it seems that Damon Salvatore killed Mason in order to protect Elena, or out of jealousy, revenge, or because of the natural antipathy between vampires and werewolves. As Damon says to Jeremy “It’s kill or be killed.”
Consider, however, that while one or all of these may have been Damon’s initial motives, ultimately, Damon killed Mason as an act of mercy.
Vampires and werewolves are natural adversaries – a werewolf bite is fatal to a vampire. Damon and Mason have already taken shots at each other. Now Damon’s mission is to find Katherine, learn why she has returned to Mystic Falls, and what she wants with the moonstone. Once he has the information, Mason is history.
He captures and binds Mason, demonstrates that lack of cooperation will be unpleasant, and then begins the inquiry.
There is not much emotion behind the torture and inquisition – he’s just fact-finding.
He wants to know where Katherine is, what she’s up to and what she wants with the moonstone. Despite the prodding with a red-hot poker, Mason is not forthcoming with any information.
Enter Jeremy with wolfsbane – a new torture tool. A light application on Mason’s cheek demonstrates that this is a potent plant.
Again, Damon asks – “Where is Katherine? What does she want with the moonstone? What is she up to? She can’t compel you because you’re supernatural– what is Katherine doing in Mystic Falls?”
Then Mason touches a nerve – “She’s with me – Jealous?”
We see this remark touches a nerve with Damon, and into Mason’s offensive mouth goes the wolfsbane.
And as he spits and coughs up the inside of his mouth and throat, Mason finally explains – Katherine wants the moonstone in order to lift Mason’s curse. Damon is skeptical (naturally) – why would a vampire help a werewolf?
Mason – “Because she loves me.”
And with that revelation, everything changes.
Damon’s gut reaction reveals itself in his eyes. Damon pities Mason – because he knows exactly how Mason feels – because Damon felt the same way once, about the very same woman.
He sees himself in Mason – a young man in love, and totally unaware that the woman he has fallen for is merely using him for her own selfish purposes. Not only is she using him, she has no feelings for him at all.
Under the cynical, sarcastic personality of Damon Salvatore, there is the memory of a hopeful, innocent heart – a young man who was so enthralled with his first love that he let her turn him into a vampire. He loved her so much he believed it when she told him she wanted to be with him forever.
The sting of Katherine’s betrayal and rejection are recent. All those years of waiting for her – longing for her – are the basis for Damon’s cynicism and sarcasm. He’s endured over one hundred and seventy years of emotional pain and longing, and damaged his relationship with his brother – only to be told it was all for nothing. Katherine didn’t care – she could have come for him at any time, and she didn’t – because she didn’t care.
When Damon says to Mason “you’re stupid”, he is reflecting on himself as well (as in “How could I have been so stupid?”) and we know he’s been beating himself up over it since he learned the truth about Katherine.
Mason begs Jeremy not to let his curse happen to Tyler. And we see the pain of the curse in Mason’s eyes and hear it in his voice. And Damon tells Jeremy “He wants me to kill him – to release the curse”. And we know it’s true.
But what curse does Mason now want to be released from? The curse of the werewolf? Or the curse of loving a woman so seductive but so evil?
Then Damon reveals what we already know – that he sees himself in Mason. Sure, he says it through the veil of his ever-present sarcasm, but he speaks the truth. Then…
Mason – “I love her”.
Damon – “I know”.
And he really does know. Katherine was Damon’s first love – she is probably Mason’s first love too.
And Mason now knows that Katherine betrayed him and never intended to remove his curse – and Mason just can’t live with the curse.
In the end, Damon does what is merciful. He puts an end to Mason’s pain. The pain of the curse of the werewolf, and the pain of love’s betrayal.
And after he rips out Mason’s heart, Damon’s face does not reflect the look of one who has just vanquished a mortal enemy. We see the resignation of having done what had to be done – and perhaps the wish that someone had been as merciful to him.