Episode 2.21 TVD – “The Sun Also Rises” or “Love, Revenge and Family” (05/10/2011)

I was touched on so many levels by this past week’s episode that it is difficult to know where to start.  As with all the episodes of this show, there were many excellent lines in the script, but four in particular stood out for me.

John Gilbert: “It’s no easy task being an ordinary parent to an extraordinary child.”

The opening line of John Gilbert’s letter to Elena struck me at a deeply personal level because I am the mother of an extraordinary child myself.  Not in the way that Elena Gilbert is extraordinary, but extraordinary nonetheless.

So when John Gilbert’s voice read what he’d put on the page, his words resonated with me in a powerfully personal way.  As parents, we always want to do our best for our children.  But we are human and we often come up short.  I am sure that any parent would make the sacrifice that John Gilbert did for their child, whether that child were extraordinary or not.

As much as I have disliked the character of John Gilbert in his appearances on the show, it was really nice to see that he had a noble side after all.  A life or death challenge often brings out the best one has to offer.  It certainly did in John Gilbert’s case.

Rest in peace, John.

Katherine Pierce: “I didn’t let love get in the way.” 

Contrasting with the ultimate expression of love – sacrificing your life to save another – was the completely selfish act of Katherine, who betrayed Jenna in order to save herself.   Katherine Pierce is one of the most totally selfish beings I’ve ever encountered.  And Damon is right – she will spend eternity alone.

Because even when you are surrounded by others, if you don’t have love in your heart, you are utterly alone.

Contrasting sharply with Katherine’s selfishness was Jenna’s unselfishness in her final hours. Admitting to Elena that when the call came for her to be guardian, she had wished it had gone out to someone else, she showed up despite her personal desires.

And despite her feelings of inadequacy, she tried to do the best she could in a role for which she was ill-prepared and perhaps ill-suited.  In her final act, she made a desperate attempt to save Elena by taking a bite out of Greta.  Unfortunately, Klaus had his way.

Rest in peace, Jenna.

Elijah:  “Sometimes there’s honor in revenge.”

No, Elijah, I think what you really wanted to say is “blood is thicker than water”.

After all his assurances to Stefan, Bonnie, and the rest of the gang, Elijah sacrificed his integrity at the altar of family ties.

Elijah is so totally devoted to his family that he allowed himself to be swayed by Klaus, who told him that he did not destroy the bodies of the Original family members, and he can take Elijah to them.  Ah, Klaus, a master at knowing everyone’s weakness and exploiting it fully.

Damon was right – they should not have trusted Elijah.  Everyone has a weakness – even a 1000 year old Original Vampire!

Andy why was Damon right?  Because Damon and Elijah are reflections of each other.  I mentioned in a previous post that I believe Damon (and Elijah) lead with their hearts – whereas Stefan leads with his head.

And people who lead with their heart – while almost always well-intended – often make a bad situation worse (Damon and Elena in “The Last Day” comes to mind.)  Whatever else you can say about Damon, he is not stupid.  In real life, we don’t always see our own failings, but have no trouble seeing them when manifested in someone else.  That’s what makes them stand out to us – they are familiar in some way – a way we are, perhaps, not ready to admit to ourselves.

Damon was right because he knew instinctively that leading with the heart can lead to that nasty thing we call “unintended consequences”.

We also learned that Elijah is Klaus’ older brother, something that Damon and the rest have known all along.   As Stefan’s older brother, who is in a better position than Damon to know just how far family ties extend and what Elijah might do in the clinches?

Yes, Damon was right, but who among us would have made a different choice than Elijah did?  Blood really is thicker than water.

Jeremy Gilbert:  “I still have you.”

At the end of this episode, we see the essence of family – not in the traditional sense, but family is not always about blood ties.  The mourners are a unique group.  The situation is informed by who is present as much as it is who is absent.

Elena and Jeremy have lost everyone – they are truly orphans now.  But to paraphrase Jeremy, they still have each other.

And so do the Salvatore brothers.  Despite everything, Stefan wasted no time in declaring that they will find a way to cure Damon’s werewolf bite.

Caroline is the child of an absentee father and a mother who hates what Caroline has become.  Bonnie was essentially raised by her grandmother, who is gone.  We never see her parents at all.  And Alaric, the lone adult in the group, has lost both of the women he loved.

And who is not there?  Tyler, of course, but whether or not this is due to his wounds or for another reason is not clear.  Until he tells Stefan, Damon is the only one who knows Tyler inflicted a bite on him.  Perhaps Tyler, knowing Damon, Stefan and Caroline were attending the funeral, just doesn’t feel comfortable among so many vamps.  No way to know at this point.

But the most telling absence in this group is Matt.  Matt, who is as alone as Katherine Pierce.  Matt, who just can’t handle “all this”.  Matt, with no Father, an absentee Mother, a dead sister, and a lot of responsibility – school, a job, and bills to pay.  His personal life is in such a mess, he can’t handle all the drama of the supernaturals in his intimate circle.

Poor Matt – this group of intimate friends is exactly what he does need, but he can’t see it.  He’s on overload.

These friends at the Mystic Falls cemetery are a family.   And I believe that as we approach the end of Season 2 of The Vampire Diaries, we close the chapter on the saga of “The Curse” and open a chapter on “Family” in all its many forms.  As Julie Plec herself said “The show, at its core, is about family. It’s about the love of family.”

I believe we will continue to see each of the remaining regular characters continue to develop in ways we can only imagine.

And we will not lose Damon to a werewolf bite.  As I said in my prior post, the Elixir may save him.  A witch and a spell may save him.  Or something completely unexpected may save him.

Ultimately, I’m betting love will save him.

Stefan is right – whatever it takes, they will find a way.  Stefan is not going to lose his older brother – not now.

I can hardly believe there is only one episode remaining in Season 2.  I am already wondering how to get through the summer without my weekly fix of this wonderful show.  Thankfully, I have Season 1 on DVD, and Season 2 on my DVR.

But the creativity of the story lines on this show reminds of those wonderful books that you can’t put down because you want to know what’s on the next page! I have stayed up for hours plowing through books like that many times.

In this case, there is no book, and the wait is beyond our control!  We are forced to wait until the fall to learn what happens next!!  The wait is already killing me!

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