Unable to handle Jeremy’s death, Elena turns off her humanity

The Vampire Diaries season 4, episode 15 (“Stand by me”)
Nina Dobrev, The Vampire Diaries

After two episodes of intense plot, The Vampire Diaries settles down and focuses on the grief of losing Jeremy. While Elena and Bonnie hold out hope that they will find a way to bring him back, the others recognize that he is dead and there is no way around it this time. As a viewer it is difficult to accept that anyone is really dead on this show, there always seems to be some crazy way that they can save people. Elena’s denial is a surrogate for the audience who is also probably also watching it thinking there is no way he is actually dead, of course there will be a loophole. It takes the smell of Jeremy’s body actually beginning to decompose to convince us, and Elena, that he really is dead.

Elena loses the very last family member that she had. It is understandable that she isn’t able to accept it. Also their experiences with magic have taught them that there is always a way. Knowing that Elena will not be able to handle Jeremy’s death, others are barely able to process it for themselves because they have to focus on dealing with Elena. Alaric was the first series regular to die, but Jeremy feels like a more devastating one. By the time Alaric was dead for good, they had already lost him anyway when Esther turned him into an Original vampire hunter. The Alaric they knew and loved was already gone. Jeremy’s death was random and he was just a teenager. It was also in pursuit of a cure that they lost anyway and resulted in the raising of Silas. His death wasn’t meaningful which makes it even more tragic.

Finding ways to cheat death is a recurring theme in this show and there are always consequences. We already saw Bonnie lose her connection to natural magic whens she tried to save Elena from completing her transition to vampire and put Klaus in Tyler’s body. She has also brought Jeremy back before. Bonnie struggles to accept fate, always trying to find a magical loophole. She has these powers to do good, why have them if you won’t use them to help the people you love? Now she wants to complete the expression triangle and bring back every dead supernatural being just to bring back Jeremy and some of their other loved ones. A lot of her abuse of magic has been because others have asked her to, but now no one is asking her to do this except Silas. Even in her state of intense grief, Elena knows she can’t pay the price of bringing back every dead supernatural being just to bring Jeremy or Alaric back.

Stefan believes that the one person who can help Elena is Damon, through the sire bond. But he stays on the island to find Bonnie. She is missing and he knows that Elena won’t be able to bear losing them both. He does eventually find her and they come back, but when he hears what she wants to do to save Jeremy, even he knows it is too crazy. Damon doesn’t seem to know what to do for Elena which is probably why he stays on the island and has Stefan bring her home. He isn’t good at the comforting so he sticks with what he knows he can do. He doesn’t think there is any way he is possibly going to be able to make her feel better, so he uses the sire bond to get her to turn off her humanity. A fair short term solution but then you have to deal with a humanity-less vampire which is a whole different challenge.

This episode isn’t just the end of Jeremy, but the end of Elena’s house. So overcome with the grief of losing everyone she can’t stand to live in it anymore. She burns the house down with Jeremy’s dead body inside of it. It works both as a cover story for his death and to rid her of anything from her old life. Throughout the series Elena slowly loses all of her connections to the human world and her life in it. She loses all of her family, she becomes a vampire, most of her friends become some form of supernatural entity. This house was her final connection to it and she burns it down. She now has lost her humanity too. The house symbolizes her happy, human life and now that it is gone, it feels like the end of an era for the show. How much can Elena take before it is all too much and changes her for good?

Episode Grade: B+

Other Thoughts:

  • At the end we find out that Shane is also dead, so how much of the Shane that Bonnie was seeing was actually Shane and how much was Silas? Shane seems at least to have gotten out of the cave that they all left him in because Rebekah finds him near the beach, but she definitely leaves him there.
  • Also they all just left Rebekah there.
  • Damon: “If there’s one thing that’s a guarantee in this miserable, little world, it’s that Katherine Pierce is gone”
  • Caroline deals with Jeremy’s death by making lists, it is her way.
  • Rebekah: “Aren’t you Elena’s current love? So hard to keep track these days”
  • Elena: “Damon logic”
  • Vaughn the other hunter gives us a brief description of how Katherine was involved. She found him in Colorado but she already knew about the cure from Hayley who she met in New Orleans. I am not sure if this is ever further explained or if we are just supposed to accept that Katherine is resourceful.
  • Qetsiyah created the Other Side to trap Silas in when he died so that he couldn’t die and find peace. I have said it before – pettiest people in history.
  • Stefan tells Damon (in so many words) that even with everything that has happened between them lately, he still cares about him and would be devastated if he lost him – Damon returns the sentiment. They don’t fully say this but you get the gist from knowing looks.
  • Body Count: Jeremy, Shane, and I believe Vaughn was also left to die (3). Jeremy’s death can be pinned on Katherine but Shane and Vaughn were both just sort of abandoned by everyone.

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