Damon has a difficult decision to make

The Vampire Diaries Season 4, Episode 8 (“We’ll Always Have Bourbon Street”)
Arielle Kebbel and Ian Somerhalder (Image: The CW)

This is a jam packed episode! It has multiple important story lines that are all connected by sire bonds and a new kind of dark magic called “expression”. We learn a lot of new information about the sire bond and what Professor Shane might be up to. We also get more background on Stefan and Damon’s relationship with another flashback episode. The episode also starts to explore what the sire bond means for our main characters.

I am going to start with my favorite part of the episode which is the flashbacks to New Orleans in 1942 showing the Salvatores first attempt to repair their relationship after Stefan became a ripper in 1912. Lexi is there helping Stefan in his recovery. She wants him to bury the hatchet with Damon and stop blaming him for his becoming a ripper. They seem to be getting along pretty well, but Lexi fears that Damon is not a good influence on Stefan. The scene where Lexi stops him from joining Stefan in the war is probably the best of the episode, and a great one for the Salvatore relationship in general. Damon needs Stefan in his life to keep him in line. Without him he is lonely and gets more reckless. A major reason that Damon has become more stable than he was when the series started is Stefan’s consistent presence in his life. In 1942 however, Stefan was struggling to stay on the wagon and he needed to be around people who weren’t going to influence him to feed on humans. The brothers being together was what was best for Damon, but not for Stefan. Knowing this Damon decides to let Stefan go to war without him and it was likely a long time before they saw each other again after that. I don’t agree that in general it is best for Stefan to be without Damon, but at that time it may have been best. Stefan needs boundaries to stay on the wagon, and Damon needs to respect them. In 1942 he probably would not have, but in present day he is learning to.

Damon uses the story of him letting Stefan go in 1942 to show Stefan that he can make selfless decisions when it is what is right for the people he loves. Which of course is important for what he needs to do with Elena. The Salvatores take a trip to New Orleans to find a witch that will be able to tell them how to break the sire bond between Damon and Elena. Through Charlotte, an old flame of Damon’s that was also sired to him, they find out exactly how problematic this bond can be. They also find out that the only way to break it is for Damon to let Elena go, tell her that it will make him happy if she forgets about him and moves on. Of course this will not be easy for Damon to do and the episode ends with him struggling to go through with it.

This part is where the sire bond gets somewhat interesting – the effect it has on everyone. It forces Damon to have to do the right thing by Elena even if it means that he will lose her. Damon is generally characterized by selfishness but the flashback to New Orleans shows that when he has to, he can do the right thing. Elena on the other hand is now having to be the one fighting for Damon. She is convinced that her feelings for him are real and not just because of the sire bond. But no one really believes her. The sire bond ends up being much more interesting for Damon than for Elena because it makes her the passive one, when she should be active in choosing her romantic partner.

Also through the trip to New Orleans we get some insight into what Professor Shane is up to. He wants to un-sire 12 hybrids so that he can sacrifice them. It is part of a dark magic called “expression” that channels power from human sacrifices. This is the magic he is teaching Bonnie, though he has left out the sacrifices part. What exactly he needs this power for we still don’t know, but he tells Hayley the same thing that Pastor Young said before blowing up the Council, they will see the sacrificed hybrids again and, “we are the beginning”. He just gets shadier and shadier. Meanwhile, Tyler is having trouble with some of his hybrids wanting to usurp his position as the alpha of their pack, but Hayley helps him to demand that they submit to him and he ends up becoming alpha. We find out that she is in this because Professor Shane has information on her family. She is willing to sacrifice the 12 hybrids for it, but she wants Tyler safe which is why she is pushing for one more hybrid.

Overall this episode is decent and does some work to make the sire bond not absolutely terrible. The witch in New Orleans explains that the sire bond occurs when a vampire is turned using the blood of someone they have feelings for when they were human. This helps to show that Elena’s feelings for Damon are not completely born out of the sire bond and had to have existed before. Also Tyler tells Elena that the sire bond doesn’t affect the way you feel about someone, just how you act. The sire bond is still problematic in what it does for Elena, but it is the story they have chosen to go with so for now we will just have to deal with it.

Episode Grade: B

Other Thoughts:

  • I was very unhappy that the episode started the same way the other ended, Caroline and Stefan discussing the sire bond while intercutting with a scene of Elena and Damon having sex.
  • Caroline: “Clearly they don’t have a flat iron at hotel Salvatore”
  • With everything happening in this episode I didn’t really get to touch on the girls’ night and Caroline’s sassiness but I did love it.
  • Apparently a vampire being sired to another vampire is a rare thing but it has happened to Damon twice in the last 100 years? Also why is it rare? If it happens when you turn someone with the blood of a vampire they are in love with wouldn’t it be more common? That is a common reason people turn. Wouldn’t Damon be sired to Katherine?
  • At girls’ night each of them get their own bottle of champagne – Bonnie is a human teenager that doesn’t seem to drink a lot, there is no way she can drink a bottle of champagne on her own.
  • Caroline: “So where is my least favorite Salvatore?”
  • Stefan: “That’s a really long time stuck listening to the same song” I really enjoy Paul Wesley’s delivery of that line he does deadpan humor very well but it is showcased very little in the show.
  • Seeing the girls just hanging out and having fun was a nice relief. They almost never get to just be friends, they are generally too busy fighting evil.
  • Elena: “So what was it exactly about him that made you jump right into bed with him as soon as you met him?” This is like the first time the show has brought this up – they tend to forget it. Also he was manipulating her.
  • Caroline/Elena:“I didn’t know what a sociopathic narcissist he was” “He’s always been there for me when I needed him” “Yeah because he’s hoping you’ll sleep with him” “Well, maybe I did” Damn so much sass!
  • Elena calls Damon’s track record “kind of spotty” which is maybe underselling it a bit
  • Stefan: “Selflessness isn’t exactly one of your most obvious character traits Damon”
  • Damon: “One of these days you are going to realize you don’t know me half as well as you think”
  • Body Count: None!

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