A weekly feature in which we spotlight a shining star
THE PERFORMER | Nina Dobrev
THE SHOW | The Vampire Diaries (The CW)
THE EPISODE | “Stand By Me”
THE AIRDATE | Feb. 21, 2013
THE PERFORMANCE | Dobrev was fantastic from the start of the episode, but when a trembling Elena lifted the blanket covering her dead brother’s face, she went for broke, rolling out what would be a tour de force display of acting. Just like that, you could see the tiny cracks in Elena’s facade give way to the emotions she’d been trying to keep out.
“He’s dead! And he’s been dead this entire time, and I…. How long has he smelled like that?!” she cried, covering her face at the horrifying and shameful realization that she’d been so in denial, she had let Jeremy decay.
With nothing left to lose, Elena presented her shocking plan to burn down the house with Jer’s body in it, as a cover story. Without abandon, Dobrev took her character to the edge as Elena swept through the rooms, ready to destroy her childhood home and the memories of those she’s loved and lost, in a manner so reckless and wild, Caroline yelled that she was scaring her.
What followed was gut-wrenching. Unable to cope with her magnified grief, Elena collapsed to her knees. “It hurts. It hurts. Just make it stop. Please make it stop. It hurts,” she pleaded. The pain behind Dobrev’s sobs was so palpable, it felt like they were coming from the innermost part of her soul.
Then, the scene that was so captivating it made us temporarily forget to breathe: When Damon told Elena to turn off her humanity, Dobrev’s eyes ever-so-subtly, but powerfully, went blank. To see the actress go from feeling everything (and too much of it) to not feeling at all was impressive. Yet by going void of emotion, Dobrev made us feel oh so many things, including empathy, despair for all that’s been lost and, most of all, awe at her ability.
What performance knocked your socks off this week?
Note: Full spoilers for the episode follow.
Part of the fun of The Vampire Diaries is the fact that so much changes so quickly and that characters can be killed off left and right. But if you actually lived in this world, that wouldn’t be very fun, would it?
“Stand By Me” impressively tackled this, as Elena had to process the fact that Jeremy was dead and that as much as she hoped for it to be otherwise, he wasn’t coming back. It was a very well done episode, with some strong performances from Nina Dobrev and Zach Roerig, as Elena and Matt both had some rather raw, emotional moments dealing with the latest in a long line of deaths in Mystic Falls.
The scenes with Matt were surprisingly powerful. Once more, Matt’s status as the Last Human Standing on this show is notable and I find myself hoping he can actually make it to the end of the series without dying himself. The fact that some people have come back to life in this crazy world can’t be ignored, and isn’t – but it also makes it all the sadder when Matt tells Elena, “I would tell you it’s okay to have hope, because sometimes that’s all that keeps me going.” They’ve seen enough things to give them hope, sure… but sometimes it won’t pay off. Man, look at The Vampire Diaries being all poignant!
The following interview contains spoilers from Thursday’s episode of The Vampire Diaries. If you have yet to watch, avert your eyes now.
On Thursday’s Vampire Diaries, Elena found a shocking way to deal with the harsh reality that her brother was dead: As instructed by Damon, she shut off her humanity, then later burned down her house with Jeremy’s body in it. Goodbye home, goodbye brother, goodbye old Elena!
Meanwhile, Bonnie bought into Shane’s crazy plane to bring back her dead loved ones — but it was actually Silas guiding her!
Below, executive producer Julie Plec answers our burning questions about Elena’s new humanity-free state, Jeremy’s death, Bonnie’s dangerous encounter and much more.
TVLINE | I imagine killing off Jeremy was not an easy choice. Why did you feel it was necessary to kill him?
This whole year has been about the evolution of Elena as a vampire, starting from a girl who expressly claimed it was the last thing she wanted. And then just as she was finally getting a handle on it, the sire bond problem reared its ugly head. We knew we wanted to get her to the darkest place possible, so that Elena, the most compassionate character, would become dis-compassionate and turn her humanity off. So we knew we had to tear someone extremely important out of her life. Everybody is equally important to her, but when you really think about it, it’s her protectiveness of her brother that kept her together. Tearing her brother away from her would be the thing that would make her fall apart.
TVLINE | Obviously, the death of her brother is not something Elena can get over quickly, so is it safe to say she’ll be humanity-free for a sizable chunk of the season?
It’s safe to say that it’s going to be very difficult to bring her back from this place that she finds [herself in], which ironically, in spite of it being relatively emotionless, is actually her new happy place because it is a place with no pain, no guilt, no suffering and no extremes other than just an appreciation for life as a vampire and a desire to feed.
TVLINE | How is humanity-free Elena different from Katherine?
Everything Katherine does is a sexual manipulation, is in her own best interest, for her own survival. She will plead and flirt and tease and lie and mindf—, excuse my language, anyone and everyone in order to fill her own best interest. Elena is more blunt and honest and, “It is what it is, and I am what I am and want what I want. And right now I would like to feed on that girl over there. And I resent you for trying to stop me.” Elena is just more direct about getting exactly what it is that she wants. She doesn’t need to rely on the tricks that Katherine has to pull out of her bag.
TVLINE | Will we also see a more reckless, fun side of her now that she doesn’t have this human responsibility on her?
Yes, without a doubt. Elena has not had the easiest time of it, becoming a vampire. We didn’t want her to just jump right into the wish fulfillment side of vampirism, although I’m sure there’s plenty in the audience who would have enjoyed that. But that felt counter-intuitive to this character that we had defended so strongly as a human. Now, suddenly, we get to experience those things of what it’s like to be a vampire, party all night, never grow old, never die.
TVLINE | How is her new state going to affect her relationship and her feelings for Damon?
That is the big question. What is the truth of what she feels? How does the sire bond play into all this. What is their dynamic going to be moving forward when she’s not driven by a love for him necessarily. A lot of questions come up and get answered in the next couple episodes.
TVLINE | Are they still in a relationship?
We’ll have to find out.
TVLINE | Will the fact that he was the one who told her to do this cause trouble for them later? Or between him and Stefan?
When all is said and done, everybody recognized that in the worst possible scenario, which is what they were in, it truly was the only viable solution. It doesn’t make it good. It doesn’t make it happy. But it really was the thing that needed to happen to release her from her pain. So I don’t think anyone’s going to hold a grudge.
TVLINE | Meanwhile, all of Elena’s supernatural friends have their humanity, so how are they dealing with this new aspect of her?
It’s difficult for all of them. As we’ll see in the next episode, it becomes most difficult for Caroline, who as a fixer and a people [person], is trying to get her friend back on track. But Elena’s not really having it so much.
TVLINE | Is there any significance to the fact that she gave the Gilbert ring to Damon? Why not give it to Matt? He could use it.
She, in her moment, was like, “OK, this doesn’t work anymore. So here, have it.” I can say this may not be the last we see of that Gilbert ring in the series. But right now, it’s just out of play.
TVLINE | Was Bonnie seeing a vision of Silas? Or was he actually physically taking on the form of Shane?
That is another question we’ll have to be asking ourselves. What we’ve seen about Silas in the caves is that he can appear as a hallucination…. So the question is, is that what’s happening here? Or is he physically standing before her? Does he look like Shane? Is he taking on Shane’s form? What is going on? What is this guy capable of?
TVLINE | How dark will Bonnie’s path get? Will she continue to try to carry out this plan and kill 12 people?
Bonnie is being extremely controlled and manipulated right now by this Shane/Silas figure. We’ll see that escalate over the next several episodes to its breaking point.
TVLINE | Will Shane on the island survive?
As far as we know, Shane on the island has met his terrible demise, although we did not see him take his last breath. You never know on this show.
TVLINE | Now that Katherine has the cure, will she play a bigger role this season?
That was definitely not the last we’ll see of Katherine.
Well, that was unexpected in. In ‘Stand by Me’, The Vampire Diaries took things to a whole new level: Not only is Elena still a vampire, she’s now turned her emotions off; Jeremy is thoroughly dead; Silas is running around in the guise of Professor Shane; Bonnie has been convinced that she wants to take [...]
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