Gilbert Gables, Elena's room, 5:15 AM: Elena wakes before her alarm, goes to the mirror and looks at the fang marks on her neck. She makes a half-hearted attempt to cover them with makeup. In the hall, she bids a visibly hungover Alaric a good morning.
Woods: Alaric is training Elena to fight vampires. He demonstrates, on a stuffed dummy, how to use his handy-dandy stake ejecto-bracelet. When you punch hard enough, the force triggers the stake to eject into its target. Elena thinks her ejecto-bracelet is jammed. Alaric says that's not the problem. "You're not strong enough. Better start lifting some weights. Put some meat on your bones." He then pulls the pin on a vervain grenade and tosses it to Elena who has to throw it away before it explodes in their faces. Alaric's point? "The element of surprise is your only advantage when it comes to a vampire." Elena scolds Alaric for making light of her desire to train. Alaric: "You think I'm joking? Vampires will take whatever they want. They will hurt whoever they want, and they will do it without remorse. It's their nature." Elena: "You don't have to use pronouns. You can say Stefan." Honey, he means all of them, even Damon, who is currently your off-white knight.
Alaric knows she's trying to keep from getting hurt again. Elena: "You think I'm crazy -- to believe I can protect myself from a vampire who's flipped the switch on his humanity." Alaric: "I think you found a way to get out of bed this morning, and that makes you the strongest person I know. I think that you can do -- pretty much anything." I love that. He hands her back the stake ejecto-bracelet. When Alaric walks off, Elena contemplates the device and then nods as if to encourage herself. And show, I already soap-boxed all over the viewers, so now I have some suds for you. Watch Buffy season 6, then go back on the TWoP boards from that time and read the complaints about the character Buffy. Even if your heroine has been through the most hellacious things imaginable, you can't have her walking around depressed all the time. She needs to retain her pluck, her spunk, and her smarts. And? Even if she loves brighter than the fire -- you can't have her behaving practically suicidal. Oh, fans may feel bad for her at first, but after a while it is alienating. Did you ever try to connect with a clinically depressed person -- in real life, writers? You work in the biz. Of course you have. You know, right, that it's damned near impossible, because the clinically depressed person cannot connect. The same is true for viewers and fictional characters. Tell whatever stories you want, but if you want us to invite you into our living rooms every week, your characters have to be people who don't shut us out. Title card.