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Elena's Choice: Stefan or Damon
You don’t have to join in with all the vampire craze to get into one of the best vampire shows of all time. Yes, I am a throwback vamp fan--one that loved Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, but I fell in love with a new show that some sticklers for the oldies might shun me for: The Vampire Diaries.
How did I start watching it? I wanted to write a vampire novel of my own, but I didn’t quite understand how to make it romantic, hence my tuning in to TVD on Netflix to catch up with the first and second seasons.
First of all, I should say, I didn’t expect to like it. It was a bit of research, plain and simple, but this show has one of the most compelling story lines that I’ve come across since the first six seasons of the show Supernatural. All the episodes are linked in a way that’s like putting together a puzzle that’s intricately beautiful. But then again, at least half of the shows on television follow this particular plotline now, a specific outline that launches its characters from one week to the next, one year to the next, one adventure and beyond. In other words, miss an episode, miss a lot. But the most compelling thing of the first and second seasons was the unfolding of the low triangle between the two Salvatore brothers, Stefan and Damon, and our protagonist, Elena Gilbert.
This show does not work in “insta-love”, and that’s one of the reasons I love it so much. Insta-love is the factor seen in most young adult novels (and some of the movies based on those novels) that usually propels the female character in a rollercoaster of emotions almost instantly (teetering precariously on strong feelings of like or love) for a guy she’s only just met during the first few pages of the book, and for no real reasons known by the reader or viewer. Instead of following that particular pattern, the show’s creators took some characters in a book and breathed life into them that comes across as extraordinary. You feel what Elena feels and the most important thing is, you understand her and the way she feels about both brothers.
I also think this is the show with the most “shipping”: Stelena, Delena, Klonnie, Klaroline, and Cyler--trust me, it goes on, but the most splendid job has been done (in my opinion, anyway) with establishing the relationship and love between the characters Elena and Stefan. It goes beyond the cliché of ‘he saved her life and they fell in love’ that also seems to dominate the YA genre. The writers moved slowly and deliberately, from the very first episode until now, establishing these characters’ personas and backgrounds, layering them, making their experiences ones that their fans can experience right along with them. So forgive me when I sound annoyed that there are some teenybopper fair-weather fans that think Elena should be with the character Damon solely because he’s a cute guy. I despise that, especially after all the effort that’s been made on part of the show’s writers and producers to build a foundation and well rounded love for Elena and Stefan.
Let me break it down for Delena shippers that are only seeing it from the shallow side of things since you seemed to have skipped the first two seasons: Damon has not only disrespected Elena’s decisions more than a few times, but oh there was that one time he killed her brother in the heat of the moment when she said she’s always choose Stefan that I’m sure sticks in the back of her mind when faced with the choice between the two men. Hmm…maybe those could be a couple of reasons why she’s not running into Damon’s arms with her own wide open. Stefan not only respected her, but he’s proven that he’d rather die than hurt her. One of the first times he actually did was when he was compelled to against his will in a scene so moving it’ll bring tears to your eyes.
Season three is where a lot of the twists came into play. Stefan was no longer the peacemaker, the buffer between Damon’s sometimes outrageous behavior, and he was also no longer the “good guy” of the bunch. He didn’t just kill, he was torturing. He was back to a lot of his old ways as The Ripper. On one episode he awakened some of Elena’s greatest fears in only a few moments only to leave her stranded on the side of a dark road at night underneath a spooky canopy of trees--nearly beyond a lot of what Damon had done to her in the past.
Don’t get me wrong, I do understand Damon’s appeal. He’s the “bad boy” type, the brother that’s always doing the things that makes us gasp, and at times hate him, while Stefan was usually always the good guy that most of the time you felt sorry for. And on the last episode of season three it was revealed that she met Damon first (in a flashback segment that showed after she had a brief conversation with Damon he compelled her to forget it), bringing to light a comment she’d during the same episode that Damon would’ve actually had a shot at her affections if she’d met him first. Fans ran rampant with this information. With the new season, the show’s fourth, underway Delena shippers have been obsessively chatting with the notion that she is definitely going to choose Damon; it’s as if the sheer knowledge that she’d had a three minute chat with him, in which he said some really nice things to her, any feelings she’s ever had with Stefan would be absolved, that her love for him would be evicted from her head and heart, and she’d then launch herself right into Damon’s arms with no thought to any feelings she’d ever had for Stefan in the past--all after remembering that she spoke with Damon for a few minutes before meeting Stefan. For those Delena shippers that think this way, and I mean this from the bottom of my heart…you’re idiots.
And for the rest of the Delena shippers who are holding out for an honest relationship for the two to unfurl, then I hope you know that the above wasn’t directed to you.
I’ve gotten into plenty of cyber “arguments” with fans and former fans of the show who don’t understand where I’m coming from at all when I say all this and it’s even gotten as petty as, “So you like Stefan more than Damon…” or “It doesn’t matter if you like Stefan more than Damon, what’ll happen in the show is going to happen. You don’t write it!” The truth is, I don’t like Stefan more than Damon or vice versa--I LOVE both brothers/characters equally. I think Paul Wesley plays Stefan brilliantly and I don’t think there’s another actor that could fill Ian Somerhalder’s shoes as Damon. There’s an evolution and a depth to both characters to keeps us tried-and-true fans going reeling and wanting more. As a person who plays at the idea of writing, to see the work of the writers of TVD come alive on the small screen in these actors is nothing short of exhilarating. I wouldn’t want to write this show because these writers are absolutely phenomenal. I admire their work and the way they add layers upon layers to these characters, fleshing them out and making them real in a way that real people are. We all have our stories and so these characters; even if we are stepping into a world of vampires, werewolves, ghosts, and doppelgangers.
The point is this: I can’t see Damon with Elena because their personalities clash. Where Damon is rash and impulsive, at times utterly destructive and downright selfish, Elena is caring and thoughtful, selfless and dare I say it…warm. But I also see their similarities. Both are sensitive and can be beautiful when they’re vulnerable, moving almost to tears. I’m the first to admit that I actually like the sexual tension and the banter that is played out between the two, and has been since almost the first episode. But the two as a couple? I don’t see how that would mesh. I believe the writers did an exceptional job of building the wall between them over the past three seasons that fans like me can’t see past. However, just as we’ve seen layers of Damon peel away and how I’ve fallen for him in a certain way, it’s time for Elena to evolve and for her to peel back some layers as well. She’s grown up over the past couple years, but there’s more to her and more to the story than anything we’ve seen, and I know that. So maybe I will end up rooting for them in the upcoming season, only time, along with the writing and acting, will tell.
Bottom line? She may have met Damon first, but she loved Stefan first, and it’s the kind of love that won’t just dissolve over an episode or two or even a half season. I expect more from our TVD writers than that. They’ve never half-assed anything in the past and I really don’t expect them to start right now.
I’m intrigued by it, by them, and I have faith that Julie Plec and Kevin Williamson will bring us another season of what their show is known for--it’s EPICness.