I finally found my missing piece for season 3.
This isn’t an essay focusing on Elena’s feelings for Stefan versus her feelings for Damon because frankly, too much of that “Elena was just oh so terrified of her feelings for Damon” drama soap opera stuff makes me grimace and leaves me more dissatisfied than ever.
That isn’t to say that none of those other factors were involved, only that what I’m going to write about is the missing aspect that I personally needed to focus on. I’m sure that Elena’s fear of her feelings for Damon, or the guilt that she had for having those feelings, or the fact that she still had some feelings for Stefan, or the expectations that were placed on her, or that she knew Damon would never leave her, all played a role into the conclusion of season 3.
But for me? I needed to look at it from a completely different perspective, one that might have been touched a little upon in the past by others.
So first let’s back up and talk about Stefan and Elena.
Their relationship was doomed from the very beginning no matter how you look at it. It’s rather ironic that Elena told Damon in 1x02 that he talked “as if every relationship was doomed to end” because what was her situation? She was dating Stefan who was an immortal even though she didn’t know it at the time. She and Stefan would have never lasted for that very reason. Ever since Elena discovered that Stefan would never grow old, she was drawn to the idea that he would never die on her like her parents have, but that was going to be the very thing that would have ended their relationship in a few years. The moment Elena discovered that Stefan was a vampire and would never grow old, while she would, yet still decided to pursue a relationship with him anyway was the first nail on the coffin of their relationship. They would have dated, and if their internal problems wouldn’t have eventually soaked through their extreme cases of denial, then the fact that she was human and he was not would have caused them to eventually break up.
The second nail on their coffin? The fact that Elena never wanted to be a vampire. She pursued a relationship with Stefan and spent the first two or so seasons being in complete denial about the inevitable ending of their relationship and still wanted to remain human. Her love for Stefan in season 2 wasn’t even enough to even get her to consider wanting to become a vampire to stay with him.
The third nail (among others)? The fact that Stefan never wanted Elena to be a vampire either. Stefan pursued and fell for Elena because of her humanity, because she was the opposite of everything Katherine was, and because Elena made Stefan forget who he was and everything he hated about himself. Should Elena ever become a vampire, she and Stefan would have had this enormous obstacle to overcome and season 4 was basically the confirmation that they would have never worked, but I’ll get to that later.
The fact of the matter is that Damon and Elena would have been just as doomed as a couple if they had pursued a romantic relationship with each other while Elena was a human.
Damon has always been the character who would accept whatever he was given by Elena; she could take his breath away by saying that she didn’t know what she would do if he wasn’t there, or when she’d tearfully ask him where he was when she needed him, or simply by taking his hand and holding it on her bed whilst technically she was still dating Stefan. And we all know that if Elena had chosen Damon and never turned into a vampire, Damon would have dived head-first into it without taking into account the fact that they would have eventually had to break it off. This is our Damon- Damon who has been hopelessly devoted to Katherine for 145 years, Damon who would have forgotten the fact that Katherine used him and abandoned him and would start all over with her if she had simply said that she loved him. He would have taken whatever Elena would give him because he loves her more than life itself. And I pray to god that the way he loves recklessly with all that he is will never change.
All that being said, if Elena had chosen Damon in 3x22, he would have been in a relationship with her and they would have eventually broken up too. And Damon would have been completely devastated as would Elena. If Elena was to ever have a permanent relationship with either of the Salvatore brothers, she would have needed to become a vampire.
When Elena chose Stefan, she was going back to a relationship that she knew was going to eventually end. And I think season 3 helped her see this. In season 2, she was up on the vista with Stefan telling him that she never wanted to be a vampire. Even in the peak of their relationship, when faced with the inescapable fact that she was going to become a vampire, she was in tears. She never wanted to be one, and no amount of love she had for Stefan caused her to even consider the possibility of it.
By the end of season 3, she chose Stefan, but the big difference is that this time she knew that she and Stefan would have eventually broken up and she didn’t want to be unfair to Damon by choosing him when she didn’t have eternity to offer him. It was so clear from the finale that not choosing Damon tore Elena apart, a stark contrast to how calmly she faced letting Stefan go both in 3x09 and then again in 4x06. And no one will be able to ever convince me that Elena was NOT in love with Damon as a human or that she wanted to desperately to be with him. Even when Stefan was in her room, she didn’t jump all over him and it was clear that her heart was not entirely in it. Yet, why didn’t she choose Damon? One of the reasons, I think, is because she couldn’t bring herself to pursue a relationship with Damon when there would be no future for them (yet she was fine with going back to Stefan as only a temporary boyfriend, mind you):
Damon: “I get it- it’s always going to be… Stefan.”
Elena: “I can’t think about always, all I can think about is right now and I care about you, Damon, which is why I have to let you go.”
For Elena, Stefan has always been her “right now”. She made sure of that when she pursued him despite him being immortal, she made it clear again when she told Stefan that she loved him but that she never wanted to be a vampire, and then spelled it out once and for all in 3x22 when she still chose to be in a relationship with Stefan despite the fact that their situation has not changed. Despite the fact that they were never going to last. Elena saying that she couldn’t think about always may not have been entirely about her maybe-not-so-strong feelings for Stefan, but also the fact that there was the extreme likelihood that she and Stefan were going to eventually break up.
And Elena couldn’t do that with Damon. She couldn’t do that to Damon.
Does that show some growth in Elena? In a way, I think it does. Yes it was disappointing that she chose Stefan, yes it was disappointing that she chose to go back into a relationship that was doomed to end, but for Elena to have the presence of mind in the midst of the chaos in 3x22 to know that she couldn’t be “always” for Damon and that she and Stefan were more than likely only temporary showed a huge character growth since her naive, “It’s always going to be Stefan!” and her “It’s you and me Stefan, always” in season 2. Elena couldn’t commit to Damon for some other reasons, sure, but I think the big part of it was the fact that Elena understood the consuming love that Damon had for her, but also saw that pursuing a relationship with him would have ultimately ended in probably worse heartbreak for her and for Damon. Of course there were other factors involved, like Elena’s unresolved feelings for Stefan… but I think that if Elena had chosen to commit to Damon, her feelings for Stefan would have disappeared entirely. But I digress.
Do I think Elena did right by Damon or Stefan? No, but Stefan is partially to blame too for being in the “here and now” mindset too, and we all know Damon would have been perfectly happy in a temporary relationship with Elena even though he should be loved by someone who could love him for the rest of his immortal life. I don’t think Elena’s actions were the greatest at all post 3x14, but I think now I can admire Elena more than I ever used to because at the end of the day, she needed to turn into a vampire in order to be with Damon (or Stefan). It wouldn’t have been fair to choose Damon when she couldn’t love him with the 145 years of devotion that Damon showed Katherine, or with the kind of eternal devotion that he would have lavished on Elena had she used him as a temporary boyfriend. In the end it would have been devastating to Damon, and to Elena because she was consumed by him as well. Yet Stefan was the familiar, non committed relationship. And Damon deserved more than that.
In season 4 she woke up devastated that she was in transition, she was ready to die, and even when Stefan and Elena were alone in her house, she didn’t jump all over Stefan and her Epic Love for him. When she told him that she loved him and that he was the best decision she has ever made, she was dying and now I think she said it more for Stefan’s benefit than for hers after she died. And of course after Elena completed the transition, she was pretty much roped into a relationship with Stefan. She couldn’t tell Stefan that choosing him was the best choice she ever made, complete the transition and then ditch him LOL. And that comment she made to Stefan was immediately taken back by the end of the episode with her, “If I want”. Elena was suddenly facing eternity, something she couldn’t offer Damon before then, and if she still thought that choosing Stefan was the bestest decision ever, she would not have added the “if I want” at the end of her weak and half-hearted, “then you can I can be together forever”. Technically Elena could have had “forever” with Stefan now, but they had too many issues that could no longer be avoided.
Season 4 was all about Stelena coming undone, of Stefan not being able to love Elena the same way, about Damon loving her whether she was a human or a vampire and Elena realizing it. It’s about Elena shedding her guilt in 4x06, of coming out of the river under Wickery Bridge a new woman and going after what she has wanted all along. Only this time she has an eternity to offer Damon. She’s able to love him with all that she is and in the way Damon needs to be loved and deserves to be loved. For Always.
Then, of course, the sire bond it. And the cure came up. When Elena was faced with the prospect of the cure, she suddenly found herself in the position of facing turning back into a human and losing Damon for the life she wanted to have (and this season Damon has finally let himself realize that he and Elena would have never lasted if she remained human), or staying a vampire. Ideally, Elena wanted to become human WITH Damon which further confirms that her choice in 3x22 was literally made in the moment because she chose to go back to a relationship that was going to eventually end rather than pursuing a relationship with Damon when she didn’t have an eternity to offer him. Now the cure revealed that there was the chance that she could spend forever with Damon, only now forever as a human with him. When Damon said he didn’t want it, her struggle was whether or not she would go back to being human and just before the shit hit with Jeremy, the conclusion she was reaching was that perhaps she should just accept the vampire life because even being human wouldn’t cause things to go back to the way they were.
In light of all of this, I think it’s kind of beautiful how it all played out. How Elena’s death saved Damon, how Damon’s blood saved Elena, how Elena died going back to a temporary relationship with Stefan, and how Stefan’s failing made Elena into a vampire which was the catalyst that brought her and Damon together. Still, the number one on my wishlist is still for Damon and Elena to talk… but I guess I’m not as dependent on it happening as I used to be. And I think that Damon realizing this season that he and Elena would have never worked had she remained a human has helped.
Yeah sorry. This was long. :)
You feeling that weight lifting off your chest? That’s joy. Because your friend isn’t dead. That’s emotion, Elena. That’s humanity.
I promise you.
delena meme: six episodes
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“You know what? If I’m going to feel guilty about something, I’m going to feel guilty for this.”