The Vampire Diaries SEason 4, Episode 16 (“Bring it on”)
The humanity switch is a device that the show returns to many times throughout the series. Ever since Elena turned Stefan has been afraid that she would turn it off at some point and they would lose her. They call it a switch but it also seems that the humanity spectrum for vampires is large and they can slide around it depending on what they do and don’t want to feel. So far Stefan is the only one we have seen who has completely turned it off. Klaus may have very little humanity left in him but he can still feel strong emotions, specifically hurt, betrayal, and anger. If he didn’t have any humanity he wouldn’t care when his siblings were not loyal to him or that Caroline can’t return his feelings for her. When the show started Damon seemed to have his emotions on fairly low but they were still there, he was motivated by his love and hope of being reunited with Katherine. If there is a switch that can turn your humanity and emotions off, what would ever make you want to turn it back on?
After Jeremy’s death Elena has turned her humanity off and is freely feeding on people, partying, and basically doing anything to show the others that they can’t control her. Her version of turning off her humanity is quite different than Stefan’s. Turning off your emotions allow you to give in to the darkest parts of yourself without feeling guilt. Stefan always wanted to rip people’s heads off but his humanity made him feel guilty for it so when he turned off his humanity he killed a lot of people. Elena is enjoying feeding on people without feeling the guilt, but she isn’t as interested in killing them as Stefan was. She also doesn’t have to feel the pain of losing everyone so she can just exist and have fun. She often feels controlled by the Salvatores, they try to call the shots in her life, but now she doesn’t have to care about what they want.
At first, Damon thinks that having Elena turn off her emotions will be fine, they can use the sire bond to keep her in line. However, since she no longer cares what he wants, the sire bond doesn’t work anymore. This seemed like a fairly reasonable way to get rid of it and I am very happy to be done with it. They didn’t need the cure or to sacrifice a bunch of people to get break it. They are still on the hunt for the cure, but there is competition for it. Klaus wants to make sure that it isn’t used on him, the Salvatores still want it for Elena, and Rebekah still wants it for herself. While Damon is searching for Katherine, Stefan and Caroline are concerned with keeping Elena in line. If she causes too much damage she will regret it when she does get her humanity back. It also threatens their ability to live peacefully in Mystic Falls which is growing increasingly difficult now that Silas is in town.
The weirder part of this episode was the stuff with Klaus and Hayley. It was clearly done as a set-up for The Originals spin-off but it felt very out of place. Klaus is protecting Hayley from Katherine who will want to kill her now that she has the cure. Why exactly Katherine would need her dead is not clear though, what threat does she pose? It feels like a contrivance to get Klaus and Hayley to spend some time together. Hayley has pretty much hated Klaus up to this point. He ran Tyler out of town, who I don’t think she ever had any real interest in romantically, but they were friends. We don’t know much about Hayley other than she wants to find her family and has been searching in Louisiana. But why she all of a sudden wants to sleep with Klaus made no sense. I have recently started watching The Originals so I know that it was all as a set up to make that show happen but that didn’t make it feel less weird here.
This episode was much more light hearted than the previous. Having Elena turn her humanity off allowed for the show to kind of skip over the grief of losing Jeremy and move on to the next supernatural problem. It also reminded us that this is a show about teenagers who are still in high school, dealing with all of this. We see them in school for the first time since I think the beginning of the season. The show operates best when it balances between all of the supernatural drama and the everyday lives of the teenagers (like Elena using the cheerleading competition to find vervain free people to feed on) , which is something this season has been lacking.
Episode Grade: B+
- The road trick makes a reappearance! This time it is Elena with Damon standing over her shoulder to stop her when she has gone too far.
- Damon: “When being undead gets you down, voila, vampire Prozac”
- Damon: “Oh yeah the mayor put vervain in the water supply… so many people to kill”
- Elena: “What? It’s nothing you guys haven’t seen before”
- Caroline is still calling Tyler and leaving him messages to fill him in on what is happening. Until he gives his house over to Matt so that he and Caroline can be protected. It makes her realize he isn’t coming back.
- Caroline is still captain of the cheerleading squad but how has she had the time??
- Damon: “I just came up with a list, it’s called things you suck at. Number one, finding Katherine… ever”
- Damon: “Guess you won’t turn into a real girl after all”
- Rare sighting – Stefan and Caroline actually having fun at the party. These people really don’t get to have fun very often.
- Body Count: 1, Damon kills the guy dying of Klaus’s bite, someone he used to know named Will.