I’m re-watching Season 1 of TVD and I’ve gotten to episode 19, the Miss Mystic Falls pageant. And I’m starting to notice just how much, even from the beginning, they kind of failed with Elena’s character.
- Scene 1: In the dressing room getting ready for the pageant. So, you have Aunt Jenna fixing Elena’s hair and Elena is obviously not all that enthused about the pageant. She is telling Jenna how her mom made it seem like so much fun and Jenna counters that Elena was very excited herself when they had signed up for it before her parents died. And Elena says that indeed she was, but she would be happier if her mom were there to share it with her.
- Scene 2: Early on in the episode we see that Elena had completely forgotten about the pageant, only being reminded when Caroline brings it up. It is made to seem that Elena is going to do the pageant because it was something very important to her and her mother before she died.
- Scene 3: Then we have the whole monologue of all the girls competing, pleading their case to the judges of the pageant. Why they should be chosen etc. One girl talks about community service that she did…community service done because she got a DUI…L O L. Not gonna be her, apparently. Another mentions that she has already won Miss Mystic before…she’s probably off the table. And another seems to be a very kind, sweet girl…who isn’t from a Founding Family. She is just there to make it seem as if the competition isn’t a special Founders event. It is. So that leaves Caroline and Elena. Caroline lists off her accomplishments. It is a pretty astounding list. No way are any of these girls going to have gotten involved with and done more for this town than Caroline Forbes. Seriously. Elena sweetly gives a speech mentioning that she hasn’t been as involved lately (obviously due to her parents death) where she again puts emphasis on her mother and the values and legacy she thus instilled upon Elena.
The point? To empathize with Elena right? Cheer for Elena, she deserves it, she’s our girl! Rah, rah, rah!!!
So, I’m gonna go back to my first point. Jenna and Elena talking about her mother. The whole little scene was intended to make us root for Elena, not necessarily just to win the pageant but as a character all together. The whole time it was like there was a neon sign flashing above her head sympathy, sympathy, sympathy. * Applause, applause, applause* Love her! Pick this one! She’s special!
Then Elena gets up to go put on her dress, and the scene cuts to Caroline. Caroline Forbes, bubbly Caroline, in her bright hot pink robe, her make-up table & hair station over-flowing with products. Shallow, superficial Caroline Forbes. The back-up, she tries so hard but she’s never the one, she’s a kiddie pool. Right….right? No. Fuck you. She was never a kiddie pool.
A literal maybe 8 second cut-to-scene of her all alone looking in the mirror and Caroline Forbes suddenly has ALL of my sympathy.
Earlier in the day it seemed as if she was hoping that Elena would drop out of the pageant because she wants this sooooo bad but she could never beat golden girl Elena. But Caroline has heard this whole conversation, and this used to mean something to Elena too and she has lost her parents and minutes later when Elena wants to drop out Caroline says no, this was important to you once, this IS important. She pushes her fear of always being second to this girl aside, she crushes it to be a good friend to her.
That little glimpse we get of Caroline’s face in the mirror is meant to show us that she sees it, she understands what Elena is going through. She is not blind to it. Christ, even Caroline who wants to win so badly sympathizes with Elena. And it was meant to show that there is more to her, which, !yay! character growth, that’s fantastic! But that is not why Caroline got my sympathy and love in that instant. It wasn’t the look on her face that showed that even she loved Elena, even though she has been competing with her since they were children.
Caroline was alone. All alone. Both of her parents are still alive but neither are there for her. On this special day that means so much to her, she sits alone. No mother primping her hair, no father wishing her good luck. And Liz is there at the pageant. In uniform as security perhaps, but she never comes to say you look beautiful or I’m proud of you, after she wins. At this point the only champion of Caroline Forbes is Caroline herself. And goddamn it, rip my still beating heart out why don’t you, because it pumps for this girl.
And then you realize that even though Elena’s parents are dead, she still has people there for her always. The line of Elena worshipers stretches around the block. You kill her parents but Aunt Jenna is here for her, and the Salvatore’s too. Let’s kill Jenna. Oh, but Alaric will step in. Let’s kill him now. But Jeremy is still here and all of her friends and the Salvatore’s who will do anything for her too. Time for her to lose Jeremy as well. But oh wait, we can’t let that stand because her best friend who will die for her a thousand times can fix it. She is a vampire now. But no, she never wanted that. Let’s all risk Apocalypse Now to fix that for her too.
You made everyone love her and you killed everyone she loves. To show worthiness, and growth, and strength I suppose. She loses everyone and still goes on. Every one in the show will do anything it takes to keep her safe. So she must be someone worth rooting for. Right? No. Because fuck you.
It took a 10 second scene for me to fall in love with Caroline Forbes and I will love her forever. But damn did you fail hard with Elena Gilbert.
I don’t know what this is. A jumbled, sticky mess of my Caroline Forbes feels mostly. As soon as this scene happened, and I got the full impact of it again, I had to pause my shit and get all my feels out. I thought I was going to explode. For the record, I never disliked Elena until probably toward the end of Season 3. ….Until I started this re-watch. Now I’m really starting to see why some people hated her from the jump or like me just never cared much about her or got that special ‘oomph’ from her character.