[personal profile] sumeria
So, I haven't been posting much about this season of the vampire diaries, largely because it hasn't been leaving me with a lot I want to say. I can see the way the plot arcs have to flow, but this show is really really good about taking unexpected routes, so almost all my reactions have incorporated too much, "well, I guess I'll have to wait and see if I understand what they're doing with this" for it to seem worth talking about it much.

However! After last nights brou-ha-ha, there are a couple of things I want to comment on, most specifically: my feelings about the general emotional landscape this season.

I got into Vampire Diaries about halfway through season 2; I picked up the box set of season 1 at a Target because it was on sale and I'd heard it was good, and I blew through it very quickly, and then through what there was of season 2 (I actually think it might have been in the hiatus at the time.) This is by way of being a disclaimer; the experience of consuming a narrative as a whole in a short time is (for me) very different from that of watching it unfold in tiny chunklets over the course of a year, and that's almost certainly had *some* kind of effect on my perception of things. But with that said:

Season 1 is filed in my mind as the "happy" season. New friendships, new connections, new romances; the character's relationships were strong, though largely untested. In season 2, we see them under more strain. The stakes are raised, and things like Caroline's transition start to lead to some conflicts between her, Bonnie and Elena that aren't as easy to get past as the necklace issue of season 1, but nonetheless, we see them over and over coming together to support each other. At several points in the season, we see all of our guys coming together as a unit (or, dare I say it, a family) to protect each other, to stand by each other, to work together. Really, the driving theme of season 2 appears, to me, to be love overcoming. And I stress that I don't really mean romantic love specifically here, but this is a season about people forgiving each other, and working together, because they love each other.

And then we have season 3. And the thing that's been striking me, again and again this season is how *disconnected* everyone seems. When Elena tries to talk to (anyone) about her confusion in re: Damon, the conversation gets shut down. Alaric is getting possessed, and so he pulls away from vampires and vampire-sympathizers (ie: everyone he knows) Stefan's off being evil, then he's back, but he's sulking; Damon spends his time first trying to keep her from realizing how bad Stefan's gotten (and have we ever seen him trying to keep secrets from her before? Because I don't think we have) and then pushing her away because he thinks it's what she wants, and Tyler's untrustworthy, and then entirely absent.

And whilst all of this is going on, families are turning on themselves. This show has always been at least partly about the bonds of family (and, by implication, how they're more important/stronger than the bonds of Who You Happen To Be Dating Just Now) but this season... We have Klaus, trying so hard to put his family back together only to find them hating him, trying to kill each other, and then all going off in separate directions. Elena has Damon mind-control her brother into leaving. Bonnie finds the mother who she had lost-- only to be abandoned by her again two episodes later. Caroline's father tortures her and tries to starve her to death (because really, where was he going with that aversion-to-blood thing?). And a fair amount of that, let's note, is done under the guise of love, or "what's best" or some such nonsense.

Elena doesn't violate Jeremy's mind because she's sick of having him around; she wants to protect him. Bonnie's mother persuades herself that she's too dangerous, that she's leaving her children for their own good. As noted above, not sure what Caroline's dad is thinking, but he certainly claims to be trying to help her. What's key in all these cases isn't lack of love, it's lack of *trust*. Trust in people to know what they want for themselves, to choose what risks they're willing to accept, to make their own decisions. (Which is Klaus' problem as well, in a way; he wouldn't accept his family on the terms they offered, he had to have them on *his* terms, the relationships had to be as *he* dictated.)

And with that general lack of trust comes a lack of communication. Which leads to further mistrust. Which leads to where we are at the end of the season: no one is talking honestly to anyone about anything, and everyone seems isolated and hurting. If they're doing this on purpose, and I think/hope they are, I am optimistic that the pressure cooker they've put these characters into will have to explode. TVD likes big finales, and I think this one will be especially cathartic.

(And, on a brief D/E note because I can't say *nothing* about them, this makes me optimistic for them as well. With the gauntlet Damon threw down at the end of 3.19 in re: not self-sabotaging his relationship with Elena any more, and the general drawing-of-a-line-in-the-sand that he did, he appears to be restablishing a groundwork of honest communication between the two of them.)
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