Is there such thing as a good vampire?

The Vampire Diaries Season 6, episode 18 (“I Could Never Love Like That”)
Michael Trevino and Zach Roerig, The Vampire Diaries

One of the things that surprised me the most about this show is the complex questions it continuously asks. And I actually love that it doesn’t always answer them. Two of those big questions that run throughout the series were a big part of this episode. The first is the question of whether or not there is such thing as a good vampire. This has been a question from the very beginning as Stefan’s character is built up as the model vampire and then destroyed and built back up again. The other interesting question is what it means to be a human versus a vampire. Outside of the obvious, what makes someone a human and is that necessarily lost as a vampire? The series never gives either of these questions a definitive answer. The answers are constantly evolving and differ for each character.

Caroline and Stefan are generally thought of being two of the best vampires on the show. Caroline has always had great control over her bloodlust and has mostly been improved by being a vampire. Stefan has to work hard to be in control but he usually tries to do what is right. But now they are both humanity-less and the humans of their friend group, Matt and Tyler, are the ones that suffer. If even the best vampires can turn on their friends then are they actually good? All season we have seen Matt begin to grow tired of the pain that vampires cause. Especially when it comes from his friends. Right now Matt would probably categorize them all as bad, even his friends. But as Enzo points out, it isn’t that easy. Sometimes the good brother is bad and the bad brother is actually kind of good. At the beginning of the series, Stefan was set up as the good brother and Damon the bad, but ever since that dichotomy has been turned on its head over and over again.

The return of the cure has Elena once again lamenting all that she is missing out on as a vampire. She doesn’t know about the cure yet but Damon is feeling her out to see if she would be interested in it now. She has come a long way with being comfortable as a vampire since the last time the cure was a possibility, but it is still not what she would want if she had the choice. What was most interesting about the cure the first time around was seeing who would take it and why. None of these characters asked to become vampires, but who would continue to be one if they had the choice? Some like Caroline and Damon have really found themselves as vampires, though that manifests very differently for each of them. Caroline has found strength and confidence but has held onto her control, until now at least. Damon too gained strength and confidence, but also a mean streak. He has always allowed himself to give into the bloodlust and not to feel guilty about it. Where Damon and Caroline see gain in becoming a vampire, Stefan and Elena only see loss. They lost their humanity. The bloodlust makes them only feel guilt. In this episode Elena is mourning the human experiences she will never have.

Another theme that has run throughout the show but is only really just starting to be explored is the idea of biological versus found families. The introduction of Lily’s character allows this to be brought to the forefront. Most of these characters have lost their biological family and they have sort of made a new family with each other. Lily felt freed from her husband when she turned, even if it meant she also had to leave her sons behind. But her bloodlust kept her from ever being near them again. Overtime she created a new family and replaced her sons with her new family in her heart. She tells Damon that she does not feel love for him and Stefan anymore. In her case, her found family is stronger than her real one. Damon is clearly hurt by this but is pretending he doesn’t. Now that Stefan has his humanity back it will be interesting to see how each of them handle her return. Will they fight to get her back? Or will they accept that she is no longer a part of their family?

This episode was really interesting for some of these larger questions even if Elena’s storyline feels a bit forced. Since Elena lost the cure at the end of Season 4, the show had mostly moved on from her wanting to be human again. But now it is being brought back as a way of writing Nina Dobrev off the show. I understand it is a tough position to be in and I think this is probably the best route they could have gone. It has her ending her story on who her character has always been and giving her the happy ending she would want. I am also enjoying the introduction of Lily as it gives a new dimension to the characters of both Salvatores which is difficult to do this far into a series. She is able to fake her love for her sons long enough to get Stefan’s humanity back and he immediately sets off to get Caroline’s back. Something else I really like about the introduction of Lily is that she is also kind of a villain. Her companions are evil vampire/witch hybrids called the Heretics and she will stop at nothing to get them back. There is a lot to look forward to in these last few episodes of Season 6!

Episode Grade: 7/10

Other Thoughts:

  • Part of Caroline’s torture involves singing karaoke at Scull Bar. She sings “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” while people are studying.
  • The Sarah Salvatore storyline is basically brought to a very anti-climatic end. Enzo was going to dump her on the Salvatores but flees when he sees Lily there. We get his backstory through 1903 flashbacks. Lily is the one who turned him. They were on the ship to New York that led to Lily’s capture. Enzo was dying of consumption and she saved him by turning him, against his will of course. She turned him and then left him to deal with the bloodlust on his own. He tells all of this to Sarah and then just lets her go. I think the show never knew what they were actually going to have him do with her and just gave up on the storyline when they had more interesting things happening. But it only adds to the frustration of that story this season that it never amounts to anything.
  • “She’s the most dreadful person I’ve ever met”
  • The writers also seem to be rewriting some of Damon and Elena’s history as they prepare to write Elena off. First Damon says that she is the one woman who has never abandoned him. No mention of the fact she forgot their entire relationship at the beginning of the season. Second Elena tells Damon that she has always wanted a life with him – again except for when she forgot about him and like the entire time she was with Stefan.
  • Body Count: This was a bloody episode! 5 people were killed + an entire ship. 3 during the Scull Bar terrorizing, 2 by Caroline, 1 by Stefan. Then in the flashbacks to 1903 we see Enzo kill the ship doctor and Lily kills one of the ship workers to get Enzo on it, plus everyone on the ship.

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