We’re not entirely sure if we can remember when the last time an episode of The Vampire Diaries made us openly sob on my couch — Alaric’s death, perhaps? — but Season 3, Episode 15, “Stand By Me” did just that. Put a stake in us; we’re emotionally done.
But in all seriousness, while Jeremy Gilbert’s (Steven R. McQueen) death affected everyone, no one took the news worse than Elena (Nina Dobrev), who turned off her humanity to cope with the loss. Good for you, Elena. If only we could all turn off our humanity to stop shedding tears over Little Gilbert.
Sure, there have been many deaths on The Vampire Diaries, but losing Jeremy was a particularly hard blow to the fandom. But if there is a silver lining to Jer’s untimely end — sorry TVD fans, we know you’re going to think we’re crazy — it’s that the series’ tame protagonist Elena is now a cold-hard bitch, and frankly, this is a very good thing. She’s been stuck in the middle of a seemingly never-ending love triangle for the past four seasons. It’s time for a major change! This is a storyline Nina Dobrev can actually sink her teeth into (no pun intended).
Don’t get us wrong, We love Jeremy. And no, our adoration of the character didn’t start when he started bulking up and mysteriously losing his shirts. We’ve loved Jer since he was a whiny little emo punk who couldn’t stop pining after Vicki Donovan (Kayla Ewell). However, Jeremy’s death will cause one epic emotional ripple effect for the Scooby Gang — and everyone else too.
But we digress. Let’s analyze what went down in this game-changing episode. Starting with the number one question on everyone’s mind: Why the heck didn’t Jeremy’s ring work?!
In a cruel twist of TVD fate, there was a catch. The ring won’t work anymore because Jeremy was one of The Five, and the Gilbert ring doesn’t work on supernatural beings. Thanks for that bit of info, Stefan (Paul Wesley). Way to ruin lives. But he’s not going to let Elena know that... just yet. Why? Because he needs Damon (Ian Somerhalder) to use the sire bond to calm her down — and Elena just “feels grief more powerfully than anybody else.” (It seems the foreshadowing was in full effect this week.)
While Elena is wallowing in a pit of denial, Damon is on the hunt to find Bonnie (Kat Graham), who mysteriously went missing from the cave. But he’s not alone.Rebekah (Claire Holt) also shows up to help him search. She may not be Elena’s No. 1 fan, but that doesn’t mean the lonely Original doesn’t feel badly for her, especially because she just lost a brother, too. The two ultimately find Galen Vaughn (aka hot Hunter No. 2), and needless to say, the Scot doesn’t get a warm welcome. After some payback torture, and a few heated threats from Rebekah, Galen tells them how he knew so much about their quest for the cure. One word:Katherine (Nina Dobrev)!
Katherine teamed up with the hunter, leading him to the island to help her get the cure. She most likely wants to use the cure to bargain with Klaus (Joseph Morgan) for her freedom. Turns out they had a little help from Shane’s former BFF Hayley (Phoebe Tonkin), who just so happens to be in New Orleans, most likely hiding out from Klaus. (Note: Don’t think the New Orleans reference slipped our minds. Julie Plec is doing a brilliant job subtly setting up this Originals spinoff.)
Elsewhere on the island, Bonnie’s savior is none other than Professor Shane (David Alpay), whose broken leg has miraculously healed itself. He fills Bonnie in on Jeremy’s death. Obviously, this doesn’t bode well for Bonnie’s sanity. Take her heightened emotions and add in some witchy dark magic, and you’ve got one heck of a ticking time bomb. But Shane offers her a way to bring Jeremy back — at a cost, naturally.
Back in Mystic Falls, Elena is still hoping for Jeremy’s recovery. After all, this is town in which supernatural things happen on the daily, so is it completely unlikely that Bonnie could find a way to bring Jer back? Unfortunately, science isn’t on their side, as Dr. Fell (Torrey DeVitto) so conveniently reminds her. “He’s starting to decompose.” Yikes. TMI.
Hoping to get Elena away from the house for a bit of fresh air, Stefan calls on Matt (Zach Roerig). But when a very confused Donovan enters the scene, he wasn’t prepared for what he saw.
And then Matt starts to cry, and when Zach Roerig starts to cry, we all cry. Seriously. As if Elena’s denial wasn’t heartbreaking enough, Matt “The Human Band-Aid” Donovan breaks down at the sight of Jeremy’s (very dead) body. And then it suddenly hits us: We’re going to miss Matt and Jer’s bromance. Although, not nearly as much Matt’s going to miss it. Homeboy is the only human left in the Scooby Gang.
Matt takes Elena to the stoner pit, and they reminisce over Jer’s “I <3 Vicki” graffiti art. He also tells her it’s OK to have hope because sometimes, that’s all you left in this world. Oh Matt. If only every girl had such a sensitive and strangely optimistic ex-boyfriend to pick her up when she’s feeling down. But their sweet conversation is interrupted by a phone call from Stefan: Damon found Bonnie and she’s got a plan to bring Jeremy back.
If only that plan was absolutely crazy! Shane tells Bonnie that if she wants to see Jeremy again, not only does she have to kill 12 people to complete the Expression triangle for Silas, but she also has to lift the veil to “The Other Side.” This means every supernatural being on “The Other Side” would come back and wreak havoc on the real world. Basically, Bonnie wants to open the Hellmouth. Yeah, not gonna happen. Even Elena thinks this plan is cray-town.
Side note: If “The Other Side” really does exist, does this mean Jeremy and Anna are hooking up in some supernatural limbo world? (Sorry Vicki fans, we’re Team Anna.)
And then April (Grace Phipps) calls — ugh, not now, April! — and asks to talk to Jeremy. For the first time since returning from the island, Elena comes to terms with Jer’s death. “He’s dead,” she says. Drop mic. End call. Poor April; she always comes in at just the worst times.
With the sudden realization that her baby bro is actually dead and there’s no way to bring him back without awakening every single supernatural baddie, Elena finally breaks down. “Every inch of this house... it’s filled with memories of the people I love who are dead,” she cries as she dowses the Gilbert family home (and Jer’s body) with lighter fluid. But before she can light the entire house on fire, Damon steps in and uses their sire bond to shut off her humanity. Bye-bye confused, conflicted, emotional Elena Gilbert and hello Elena the Ripper!
Meanwhile, back with Bonnie, Matt drives her home — Matt, why are you leaving Bonnie alone right now?! You know she’s going to kill 12 people — and who else but Shane is waiting for her at the door. He really needs Bonnie to use her Expression skills to open the veil because Shane isn’t who he says he is. Well, at least not anymore.
After Rebekah, who’s still on the hunt for Katherine, comes across Shane’s near-lifeless body on the island, it becomes painfully clear Silas is using Shane’s body. Now, he’s brainwashing Bonnie to open up the veil to “The Other Side” to try and raise his undead army of very unhappy supernatural beings. Eek! This isn’t going to end well. No wonder Klaus runs off to New Orleans. After all, the only baddie more powerful than Klaus is Silas.
Once he drops Bonnie off, Matt finds a quiet, deserted place to pull over his truck and cry. And we’ll say it again: When Matt cries, we all cry. Poor Donovan. He really has no one left. Jeremy’s dead, Tyler skipped town, Elena’s a Ripper, Bonnie’s a brainwashed psycho — and unlike Elena, he can’t turn off his humanity. So basically, he feels all of the feelings.
Kudos to Zach for such a brilliant, albeit heartbreaking, scene. After being MIA for a few weeks, his return was a welcomed comfort. It was like a warm hug on a sad, cold day. However, the true MVP of tonight’s episode was Nina Dobrev, who did a phenomenal job handling Elena’s breakdown. Every tear was like a knife to the heart, and honestly, pain has never felt so good. And Elena’s descent into darkness with only showcase more of Nina’s talents.
Despite turning off her humanity, the Gilbert home still ended up in flames after Elena made the decision to burn it — and memories inside — down for an alibi. Something tells us TVD fans aren’t going to forget the image of Jeremy’s burning body anytime soon. Elena’s humanity and any connection she once had to her human life is now gone. Now starts the next chapter.