In Episode 602 of “The Vampire Diaries” titled “Yellow Ledbetter,” having finally admitted to herself that her boyfriend, Damon Salvatore, is dead (but mostly not wanting to be a witch drug-addict anymore), Elena Gilbert decides to reenact “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and erase her relationship with Damon from her memory because she’s come to the conclusion that this is her best option for moving on.
If only we could all just erase our hurts from our memories with the help of an Original Vampire WHO SHOULD KNOW BETTER than to erase an immature 19 year olds’ memories because they asked them nicely and seem distressed. Wouldn’t that make our lives so much better?
While the prospect of erasing our hurtful memories after we have experienced loss does seem intriguing because no one wants to have to deal with the emotional baggage all that sorrow brings, it just isn’t realistic to exist that way. Even if we did have memory-erasing scientific equipment or vampire compulsion, would you really want to wipe away years of your life? Isn’t every life experience important? Especially the ones that cause us so much pain when they no longer work out? Didn’t we learn something from them?
Essentially, I’m pretty disappointed in the character of Elena. It’s Season 6. She’s a college sophomore. She’s had two great loves and had pretty much everyone she’s cared about die at one point or another, and yet when her boyfriend (her “greatest love,” if you will) dies (although we know he’s not exactly “gone”), she resorts to erasing him from her memory because that’s the only way she can think of coping with this particular loss. And this is selfish. It is cowardly. It is immature. It is wrong. If she loves him so deeply, doesn’t he deserve to be grieved and not forgotten? Because she didn’t just wipe her memory of him, she reverted her memory back to what she initially thought of him as—a monster with no remorse. One of the highlights of “The Vampire Diaries” is the growth Damon’s character has undergone through the last five seasons, and I consider it an insult that she would rather just forget him.
Sometimes I wonder if Julie Plec’s and Ian Somerhalder’s intention for Damon Salvatore is to create a character that is so perfectly imperfect and loveable that even the characters on the show don’t deserve him and that it’s some kind of sick torture for the viewers to pine after him, convinced that you could treat him better than Elena. Perhaps…
My real issue though lies in Elena. I like strong female characters. I like character growth (especially female character growth). I like to see people overcome their odds, and trust me, Elena has had the odds stacked against her. If there was ever any fictional character I DIDN’T want to be (even if it got me a sexy vampire boyfriend named Damon Salvatore), it would be Elena Gilbert because she’s pretty much the unluckiest girl on the planet with a side of Fate out to get her. But what puzzles me as a viewer is that even when she comes through all these hardships (her parents dying, her aunt dying, her teacher/pseudo-father dying, her biological parents dying, her brother dying, etc), when she faces a new struggle she reacts in the same way—run and hide—which has been proven over and over again as the WORST strategy.
I mean, she asked to have her humanity turned off after Jeremy died, and she BURNED DOWN HER OWN HOUSE. Yeah…that was definitely the best idea.
What I’d like to see is an Elena that doesn’t run and hide from her pain. First, she drugged herself so she could ignore the pain and then when she realized the drugs were a problem rather than dealing with her addiction and grief head on, she asks for her memory to be erased. This is clearly a girl who has little self-control, and she’s supposed to be our hero! I mean, every hero has his or her weaknesses, but Elena isn’t even looking too good overall.
If you want to look at a strong female character in “The Vampire Diaries,” you’ll have to look at Caroline Forbes. Over the last five seasons, she went from a prissy, envious teacher’s pet to an independent woman who never stops fighting for her loved ones. She also went from my most loathed character to my absolute favorite character on the show. She isn’t perfect, she’s still changing and growing as a character, but she’s not stuck on her original hang-ups like Elena.
I’m a disappointed in you Julie Plec, “The Vampire Diaries,” and Elena. Give us a little more character growth and female strength to work with here!