Season 3, Episode 19 (“Heart of Darkness”)
I have complained multiple times this season that the love triangle is exhausting, over drawn out, etc. At the same time, I am impressed with how long they are able to keep it going to a point that it doesn’t feel decided who Elena is going to be with. From interviews I have read with the creators, they changed their minds themselves a lot and didn’t really have a firm plan for the fate of the brothers for much of the series. This is a strength of the triangle, because there is nothing worse than watching a character go back and forth between two suitors when there is the obvious choice, and the one they are obviously not going to choose (see Other Notes for examples). I don’t know what the divide within The Vampire Diaries fandom is team Stefan versus Damon, but I know both sides have their supporters. Regardless of which brother you think she should be with, or if you are on the other perfectly valid side that she should choose neither, I think you have to admit that this episode is well executed.
Anytime you have two characters that at least a portion of the audience, and some of the characters themselves, have been waiting for several seasons to get together in some way, it has to be done right to be satisfying. Despite the trip to Denver being all a little too convenient (they just have to get a motel room to get away from Kol), it makes sense that getting out of town would help Elena feel more comfortable exploring her feelings for Damon. The writers and actors do an excellent job of making it not come out of nowhere. Elena sees the good side of Damon when she learns what he did to make Rose’s last moments peaceful, making her more comfortable in her decision. She is clearly terrified of what being with Damon means which is one of the reasons she has been so hesitant to allow herself to go there. Throughout the entire scene leading up to their kiss we see her wrestling with herself about whether or not she should do it. But she ultimately allows herself to finally do what it is she wants.
Then there is the fall out, which is also well done. It is pretty clear to her and everyone that she has feelings for Damon, denying it at this point is absurd. The question now moves to whether a relationship with him is even plausible. She has been afraid to consider it for two primary reasons: 1) it feels like a betrayal of Stefan to even think about Damon in that way, and 2) Damon is Damon. He is impulsive and he lashes out when he gets hurt. He is also a vampire that allows himself to enjoy it. Elena is the picture of humanity. It is a valid concern that they could never have a real relationship, so why risk hurting Stefan and losing Damon as a friend? When she brings up this concern, Damon is hurt and rightfully so. She is using her doubts about him to not give him a real chance. If you are looking for a reason to say no, or waiting for someone to confirm your previously held beliefs about them, then you aren’t giving them a real chance.
There are other things happening in this episode, though this is the most complete storyline, and the obvious centerpiece. The rest is setting up for the next few episodes. Alaric and Stefan are waiting for Alaric to turn into his alter ego so they can find the last white oak stake that he hid somewhere. Tyler and Caroline are reunited, though they are concerned about what will happen if the others find out they aren’t sired by Klaus. And finally Esther returns to take over Rebekah’s body as she continues on her quest to kill her kids.
This is a great episode that continues to push the love triangle forward by having Elena at least consider Damon as a potential romantic choice. Now that Stefan is back to himself both brothers are finally in a place where they can be viable love interests for her. Stefan hasn’t been for much of this season, and Damon wasn’t for the first couple of seasons. There are still complications, and she doesn’t seem to be less confused, but she is at least asking herself the right questions.
Episode Grade: A
- Example of love triangles that fail for this reason – Season 2 of The O.C., Summer is torn between Seth and Zach. She is obviously going to end up with Seth, Zach is just a pointless distraction.
- We see Alaric in the detox cellar, it has been a while!
- Elena is not amused by Damon’s Jekyll and Hyde joke, but I certainly was.
- “I like that confidence Stefan, I don’t share it, but I like it”
- “Next time we compel him, remind me to make him better at baseball”
- “Well, didn’t you find it weird that you made a friend so fast? Have you met you?”
- “Any sign of Evilaric?”
- Jeremy interrupting Damon and Elena making out was pretty great. That disapproving stare.
- Kol beats up Damon for breaking his neck and killing his brother. But for a vampire it is not that bad of a beating…
- Rose explaining to Jeremy the difference between Stefan and Damon as suitors for Elena was a bit much.
- Tyler finds the drawing Klaus did for Caroline on her nightstand and is real upset. Does he honestly think that Klaus is competition? Even if he is obsessed with Caroline, Caroline is not going to leave Tyler for Klaus.
- Body Count: None!