Missing pieces in Salvatore brothers backstory filled in

Season 1, Episode 20 (“Blood Brothers”)
Paul Wesley (Image: The CW)

“You brood too much. Everything on this planet is not your fault. My actions what I do, it’s not your fault. I own them. They belong to me. You are not allowed to feel my guilt” “Do you feel guilt?” “If I wanted to. It’s there.”

I have been waiting to get to this episode since starting the rewatch. Some very crucial information is revealed in this episode that forces the viewer to reexamine a lot of what they knew about the Salvatores. All season the narrative has been Stefan is a good vampire, Damon is a bad one. Stefan hates being a vampire and keeping his humanity is extremely important. Damon likes being a vampire, he revels in it. He has shows little remorse for the things he has done. We have known since the first episode that Damon had promised Stefan an eternity of misery but we have yet to really know why. It’s heavily implied that it is about Katherine or Stefan’s role in Katherine getting captured. But despite Damon’s protests at the end of the episode, it really isn’t about her.

In 1864, the Salvatores were trying to save Katherine from getting captured and killed by the town’s founders. But when they go to save her, they are both shot and killed by their father for being vampire sympathizers. He didn’t know that they had been drinking Katherine’s blood and thus when killed they begin their transition to vampires. However, with Katherine presumed dead they don’t want to go through with it. If they don’t feed, they will just die. This is the plan. Until Stefan gives into temptation when he goes to see his father. The transition makes him feel euphoric and he wants to share that with Damon. So he forces Damon to turn, even when he protests. After his transition, Damon tells Stefan that they will be together for eternity, but it will be an eternity of misery.

Stefan blames himself for everything Damon has done. But Damon rightfully tells him that none of that is on him. Stefan may have made Damon a vampire, but Damon’s choices since then are his own. Just as it was Stefan’s choice to stop feeding on humans and live his life as a good vampire. Now at the end of the episode, Damon tells Stefan that he doesn’t hate him for turning him but that he hates him because Katherine wanted to turn Stefan as well. I cannot tell if this is a continuity error or if Damon is lying. Damon will continue to struggle to admit that he resents Stefan for making him a vampire. I don’t really buy that Damon has hated Stefan for 150 years because of Katherine’s actions. But it is clear later on that Damon certainly does still resent Stefan for not only making him a vampire, but then judging him for being one.

The scene with Damon and Alaric talking about how they both have chased a girl who doesn’t really want them. Alaric has been chasing answers about Isobel even after he has learned the truth. He admits no answer will ever be good enough and at this point they will probably only hurt him more. Similarly, Damon cannot let Katherine go. After 145 years of waiting for her, he finds out that she wasn’t waiting for him. He needs more answers, but he is not likely to get one that will make him happy.

In current day Stefan spends a lot of this episode in self pity. He is trying to convince Elena that this is who he is. He may try to be good, but he is a vampire and he will always have the urge to kill and feed. He could hurt her. She doesn’t believe it, she thinks the blood makes him this way. He rightfully points out that the blood brings out what is already inside him – further alcoholism metaphor. He thinks he should never have transitioned and wants to die. Elena brings him back reminding him that though he made the choice to transition and bring Damon along with him, it was also his choice to be good. What happens next is also his choice.

At the end of the episode, Stefan almost gives up. He regrets transitioning and wants to just end it. He cannot handle being what he is, a vampire. Emily told him that his humanity would be his curse as a vampire. She’s right. He cares deeply about people and cannot stand to be the one hurting them. But it’s in his nature to hurt. He has to fight what is inside of him every day. He could give in, turn off his emotions, and allow himself to enjoy it. But, he can’t because it’s not who he is. I believe this is also the first episode where we learn that vampires can turn their emotions off. This is basically the mode Damon has been in all season but until this episode I don’t think it is presented as a choice that a vampire can make.

This was probably the best episode of the season so far and will likely end up being the best for the whole season. It provides so much crucial back story that really helps to understand the relationship between the Salvatore brothers and how complicated it is. Sure Katherine has caused some tension between them, but since then Damon has been full of resentment towards Stefan for turning him. Stefan has resented Damon for who he has become but he also feels responsible for it. Though at this point the brothers are probably the closest they have been since they became vampires, they still have a long way to go.

Episode Grade: A-

Other Thoughts:

  • Emily made the Salvatores their daylight rings. This explains why they are so much, those kinds of rings were more common at the time. But could they not have upgraded since then?
  • “I’m not going with you, you tried to kill me” “Yeah, well you did kill me”. Damon and Alaric are my favorite duo.
  • Damon explains to Alaric that hotels and short-term rentals are a grey area in the “getting invited in” thing. Someone really needs to make a vampire handbook.
  • Body Count: 5, assuming the girl Damon fed on to transition died (1), Stefan kills his father (1), John kills Pearl and Harper (2), Alaric kills the tomb vampire that was keeping a look out for John (1)

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