Tuesday, December 11, 2012

All I want for Christmas is agency for Elena.

The Vampire Diaries has always revolved to a certain extent around people doing things to and for and because of Elena, but the show is at its best when it lets her make her own decisions (for better or worse), when it lets her be an actor instead of merely the object acted upon. Therefore, I'm not thrilled with the way the other characters are treating her sire bond with Damon. They are fixated on removing his influence at any cost rather than respecting her own wishes or feelings.

If the sire bond had given Elena new, false feelings that were not her own, that would be one thing. But the show made it very clear that that was not how it worked. The bond merely amplified her feelings, and it would not have existed in the first place had Elena not loved Damon. Again, the feelings are real. But it seems obvious to Damon, Stefan, and practically everyone else that the "right" thing for Damon to do would be to order her to leave him behind - even though that is the opposite of what Elena herself would choose, with or without the sire bond.

Look: There are no good options here. But deliberately going against Elena's wishes and choices is not the better option, just because other people in her life think it might be better for her. The better option would be for everyone to continue to treat Elena as an individual with agency, rather than reinforcing the bad aspects of the sire bond by expecting Damon to make decisions for her (even if those decisions are supposedly against his own self-interest). But Damon has a fair amount of self-control; this should be obvious to the audience even if not to some of the characters. And he wants - he has always wanted - for things with Elena to be real. He could have compelled her to sleep with him many times in the past, but he didn't. There's no reason to think he would start acting that way now.

Therefore, by far the preferable plan here would be for him to continue the relationship they both clearly want at this point, while being very careful not to (accidentally or intentionally) direct Elena's actions. Will this work perfectly? No, assuredly not. It will take a lot of thought and consideration and trial and error. But is it more respectful of Elena's individual identity and agency to try that rather than immediately jumping to the point of forcing her to act against her own wishes? Absolutely.

(An aside: This is all closely related to issues of consent in this show, which is probably a post for another day. But related to this episode, since it's been much discussed: as far as I'm concerned, Caroline never, ever has to give Damon a break. But I also find it completely believable that Elena doesn't want to [or can't] see that, and she is absolutely allowed to be angry with her friends for trying to tell her what to do, regardless of their reasons.)

1 comment:

  1. We need Elijah. Because I think that Elena- it has to be Elena because she's making the decision- should ask Elijah to compel her to no longer be sired to Damon. Hell, Klaus might even do it if Caroline asked really nicely (on behalf of an Elena who has requested that Caroline do so) but the show needs more Elijah.