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Identity, trust and denial; A Klefan Season 4 Meta

Posted on 2013.01.21 at 15:07
Tags: , , , ,

Klaus/Stefan:  4.01 – 4.09

There’s a lot of crazy supposition in this, possibly because the stuff that happens is more subtle, possibly because their relationship is moving into a different place and the show doesn’t want to make that explicitly obvious.


The episode that gave us vampires wearing helmets and the season’s first Klaus/Stefan scene. Klaus mentions to Tyler that he was on the way to Chigago, why? Possibly because it’s the home-land of Klefan and Klaus has a secret shrine he needs to update.

So, Elena is dying from having werewolf venom in her system and Stefan needs Klaus to heal her. This scene is clearly an inversion of the scene where Klaus and Stefan’s journey began in 2x22; Damon had a werewolf bite and Stefan needed Klaus to give him the cure. 3x21 ended that journey, ended that arc with Stefan desiccating Klaus, and this is them beginning again. This is them starting a new journey, from a different place.

I say inversion, not parallel, because even before Klaus enters the scene the contrast is obvious. In 2x22 Stefan goes to seek Klaus out fearing he might not return. Here Stefan phones Klaus, expecting the original to come to him, and willing to nag him until he does. Stefan knows if he calls Klaus will come, he believes this, he’s wondering ‘where the hell are you’, like there’s no question that Klaus would already be there if he was nearby. Even after ‘killing’ Klaus, he still believes Klaus will come, and he’s right because he knows that in a way he still has Klaus wrapped around his little finger. It’s not a big deal, which makes it vastly different from the scene in 2x22, when he was saying goodbye to Elena because he thought Klaus might kill him. Of course everyone’s more familiar with Klaus now, but that doesn’t change the fact that Stefan did just kill him, but he still has no fear.

(Side note: Stefan and Elena are having a scene together, Elena is thinking about Damon and Stefan is thinking about Klaus. That is all. There will be more on these parallels later.)

Klaus enters the room. And thus begins the awesome scene of Stefan/Klaus banter. Stefan says ‘you came’ and it’s not said with any surprise, it’s just stated. These are Stefan’s first words to Klaus after the desiccation incident. Klaus’s reply?

“I did. And for future reference one voicemail is just as effective as nine.”

LOL at Stefan leaving nine voicemails and LOL at Klaus; dysfunctional domesticity wins points. (And another parallel with Damon/Elena’s ‘you call, I come’). Klaus jokes/admits that one call would be enough to get him over, whipped much? I mean Stefan did just kill him. Or perhaps he sat by the phone, telling himself repeatedly that he wouldn’t take Stefan back, his will power eroding with every additional message, and that line was just him covering.

Or possibly Klaus thought Stefan wanted to speak to him after getting his memories back properly (after Klaus died and his compulsion broke), after all Stefan only found out he was still alive and in town recently, and was maybe waiting for a good time, and then heard of Klaus working with Damon and saw that as a green light, so he wants to talk about their relationship. But in fact, it was a booty call of the blood sharing variety. Shall we talk about how Stefan is Klaus’s metaphorical pimp? I have a mental image of Klaus woobie-sadface going ‘he only calls when he wants something from me’.

“What’s wrong love” is Klaus’s next line; this is so directed at Stefan, even if he’s looking at Elena.

Stefan exposition plotcakes with his sad stoic face, he asks please though. Klaus is doing this soft smiling thing that turns into a smirk when he realises the situation. Klaus scolds Stefan, his voice becoming angry as he asks what Stefan would’ve done if they’d succeeded in killing him. Klaus is clearly angry and hurt over it, but, again going back to 2x22, Stefan had tried to kill him then as well (another time someone had their hand literally around Klaus’s heart); why is this different? Because in 3.21 Stefan has his memories, he isn’t supposed to want to do this to Klaus anymore in Klaus’s mind. It hurts more. And notice how he happily decides to work with Damon with no scolding even though Damon also had a hand (no pun intended) to play in his desiccation, it doesn’t matter because Klaus doesn’t care in the same way he does with Stefan, with Stefan he’s hurt and thus shows his anger.

Look at how close their faces are. And we have possibly the most significant lines of the scene;

“Whatever you want from me”

“I don’t want anything from you” 

Both shouting, passion-filled, mirroring tense facial muscles and showing all their strong teeth.

This exchange is in a way an expression of how far these two have come, and yet how it’s all still the same. Stefan makes the same offer to Klaus he made in 2x22, and here, knowing fully everything that happened last time, Stefan offers everything again, because he always will; this shows at the least that he doesn’t regret his decision. He may hate what it resulted in, but he will always make the choice to save his loved ones whatever it means for him. But could it also suggest in part that the consequences aren’t so altering for him anymore? This is the episode where Stefan admits he’s still struggling with the duality within himself or ‘the ripper’ as he puts it (we can talk about Stefan’s separation of different aspects of himself later), maybe a subconscious part of him does just want to let go, go with Klaus and give in.

But Klaus has learned too, what it means to have Stefan unwillingly obey him, and this time he makes a different choice. I don’t think this is about any one thing for Klaus, it’s complicated. It also in a way shows progress. Stefan ‘killed’ him, and this hurt Klaus, that’s what we’re seeing here, though Klaus tries to mask it with anger, he’s clearly hurt with what Stefan did and therefore says he doesn’t want anything from him anymore. His actions belie this though, as Stefan called and he came, even though he seemed not to know that Elena’s life was at stake at the time. He can’t help himself, he’s reached that point in a relationship where he knows he should move on; that’s what he’s learned in addition to it being a proclamation driven by hurt; he’s learned that he doesn’t want to be with Stefan this way, have Stefan pretending and hating him, but he still can’t give him up. Stefan calls and he comes, now we just need to see how long it takes for him to go all brokeback mountain and say ‘I wish I could quit you’. Maybe Klaus has also realised that if he is going to keep trying to have a friendship with Stefan it can’t be based on deals or threats, it has to be earned, he no longer wants a deal with Stefan; he doesn’t want an obligation to be what their friendship is about. And thus he’s willing to do something for Stefan for nothing in return (he didn’t know what he was coming for when he came).

So after telling Stefan off Klaus then gives him what he wants. Stefan looks concerned at Klaus’s renewed interest in Elena, or he dislikes Elena feeding from Klaus (when Stefan only got a bottle). Maybe Klaus hopes the blood sharing will make Stefan jealous.  

So this is where they are, they’ve learned a lot about themselves and each other and the relationship they have. And this episode is the beginning of a new chapter for Klaus and Stefan with new potential for what’s to come.


For me this episode was more about Klaus/Rebekah and Stefan/Rebekah and Klaus/Stefan/Rebekah than it was about Klaus/Stefan, but that’s a meta I might write at some other point. The episode still had plenty of Klaus/Stefan to bite into and that’s what I’m going to focus on here.  

Stefan goes to Klaus to find out more about ‘the five’ and hangs around referencing fifty shades of grey. That is all.

Klaus grins at Stefan. He is of course happy with Stefan’s naughty banter. Then he politely answers Stefan’s question about what he’s found out. And Stefan says he can only tell Klaus things in private. I’m greatly amused by this. They have more of their usual banter, Klaus says he healed Elena because he was feeling benevolent; these vampires always using sarcasm to cover when they’re just plain telling the truth. Because Stefan has a habit of making Klaus feel ‘benevolent’.

Stefan says he has nothing to do today except get answers out of Klaus and then sits down. Stefan just wants to spend the day talking to Klaus and Klaus is happy to oblige; he uses the Rebekah excuse to cover for the fact that he wants to tell Stefan the whole story. These boys they’re becoming so ridiculously dysfunctional-y domestic (as evidenced by this and pretty much the rest of the episode). Okay the willingness to answer all questions is probably partly also because Klaus wants Stefan to get Rebekah. I love that Klaus sends Stefan to fetch Rebekah. Klaus knows Stefan could convince Rebekah to tell all because Klaus knows Stefan and knows how good at manipulating Stefan can be, he also knows enough about Stefan and Rebekah’s relationship that he recognises that Stefan will get her to co-operate.

Stefan asks what’s in it for him and Klaus tells him to trust him, then Stefan goes and does what he’s told. That’s an insinuation of trust or that Stefan believes Klaus isn’t lying, at the very least. Also they clearly want to work together and this is before Stefan knows about the cure. And Klaus still wants to work with Stefan even after Stefan gets him what he wants and frankly isn’t very useful to an extremely powerful Original Hybrid anymore.

Klaus, Stefan and Rebekah sit down for a dinner date. This leaves me firmly in the state of ‘I can now die happy’ :D. Klaus and Rebekah are being hilarious and Stefan covers for how much fun he’s having by saying ‘let me just name the million other people I’d rather be having dinner with right now’, there’s a lot of Klaus and Stefan covering for their feelings this episode, lol, or maybe Stefan’s just trying to move the conversation along so he can find out what he needs to (before things get naughty). Also this is how Stefan mediates; he knows what works with them.  

Rebekah’s about to reveal the cure and Klaus tells her not to get ahead of the story; he wants Stefan to hear the story properly, in order, LOL Klaus why is this so important?

Klaus and Rebekah keep making references to her and Stefan’s relationship in this episode, I feel there’s some significance there. There’s a trace of anger and hurt as well as the obvious sarcasm when he says ‘Cheers, to my sister’s uncanny ability to choose men.’ He’s talking about Alex but he says men, plural, so he’s probably also talking about Stefan. In other words, you find these men, and I’m left tormented by their hatred. This is a big leap of the imagination but there’s potentially an insinuated connection here between how Klaus felt when he was going through the fifty two years of torment that resulted from him killing hunters and how Klaus feels about not being able to have Stefan. I don’t know, I’m just having thoughts.

Klaus is foreshadowing by talking about Rebekah constantly handing her heart over and being hurt. Okay last time I was stretching it a bit but this time it’s definitely about Stefan. Rebekah says that line about Stefan helping even though he hates his guts because she knows how to hit her brother where it hurts. Of course Klaus is playing the long game and still gets Stefan to talk to Rebekah again, he knows how this works and they both seem as upset as each other when daggering her.

Klaus and Stefan are working together as a team because they have a mutual interest in turning Elena human but let’s face it it’s also because they want to. This time they’re in a team of equals (of sorts). This is different to last time.

And some Klefan to end it all ‘it’s just you and me in this Stefan, some secrets are stronger than family’, oh my heart. It’s a secret stronger than family but he’s still keeping it with Stefan; does this mean he’s putting Stefan above his family? Epic Klefan. Stefan agrees not to tell, and Klaus has stopped threatening to kill people, he’s just going to erase all their memories. LOL. And Klaus trusts Stefan; not just with the secrets but with Rebekah; with the sibling he’s closest to, after carrying them around in boxes never letting them out of his sight, after Stefan stole them, he’s still trusting him with Rebekah, I suppose mutual interests and all, but still love it. Also he could just erase it from Stefan like from Jeremy, but he wants Stefan on his team so badly; let’s face it he doesn’t really need him, oh Klaus.

Okay, Elena just said that speech and Stefan still doesn’t tell her; do we need any more evidence for Klefan? Stefan recognises how important it is to keep the secret, so he keeps it. This is Stefan trusting Klaus more than he trusts Elena. And trust, given everything that has come before is an important component this season.  


“No matter what Klaus asks, no matter what lies I have to tell or secrets I have to keep, I’ll do it, no matter what it takes.”

This is framed as being about Elena but it’s also paralleled with Klaus (along with leading into a phone conversation between the two of them) and I think for Stefan it’s about both his relationship with Elena and his relationship with Klaus. Here he’s saying he’s willing to do whatever it takes for Elena but he’s also saying he’ll do whatever Klaus asks of him. He believes that if he does whatever Klaus asks of him that Klaus will keep up his end of the deal and Elena will get the cure; it’s in Klaus’s best interests after all. But there’s in addition to this a link back to their first scene of the season where Stefan says he’ll do whatever Klaus wants, and it really begins to seem like this is not only a bearable outcome for Stefan but also an outcome some part of him genuinely wants, craves; longs for even. I think there’s also the important aspect here of Stefan writing this in his diary and framing it a certain way, framing it so it’s only about Elena and only about the cure because that’s the version of himself that he finds acceptable and if he writes it in his diary that way it’s true and he’s free to do what Klaus asks of him. 

Not only this but Klaus keeps attempting to frame it as them being in a team of equals and Stefan keeps trying to re-frame it as him being subordinate to Klaus to help him stay in denial and hold onto the pretence that they’re not a team here and reassert that what they’re doing is acceptable to Stefan’s view of himself. But these are Stefan’s passive actions and his non-passive actions are contradictory to this, as can be seen in the following phone conversation (and many other conversations he has with Klaus) as he acts as an equal team member and immediately demands to know how Connor escaped. Showing he does actually know better.

Klaus tells Stefan it’s unfortunate that Stefan has no access to his blood and the cure which is an insight into the things Klaus is worrying about. I love how Klaus talks about them having no access to the antidote; because that matters to him now, Klausy has turned into a carebear, also it never occurs to anyone to store it, why? Also I’m pretty sure Klaus could have it delivered via one of the private jets he clearly owns. And Stefan is yet again saying he’ll do whatever Klaus wants. They’re both pretty much using this as an excuse to spend time together, here’s the thing, Stefan doesn’t have to do what Klaus wants; Klaus is going to try to turn Elena human anyway, I suppose Stefan’s just going to co-operate because team-work makes things happen quicker. Or because of the other thing that I mentioned earlier.

Klaus’s threat is intriguing, he threatens to throw the sword away, removing their access to the cure. Rather than risking others finding the cure he’s going to completely destroy his own chances of finding it. Rather than have to add anyone else into team Klaus Stefan, he’ll destroy the reason for the team all together; he either just works with Stefan or throws the quest out the window. It may be typically Klaus in its all or nothing nature but still surprising that this team working with Stefan is so much more important than the hybrids he covets so. It’s also a threat that doesn’t relate to actually hurting anyone, suggesting Klaus doesn’t want to upset the tentative balance of the team by actually threatening Stefan, though it’s also possibly about him knowing how important the cure is to Stefan at this point. It’s also Klaus partially acknowledging that they both know Klaus isn’t going to hurt people Stefan loves and risk losing him forever. 

Stefan’s reaction is also fascinating because he’s aware what the threat means, aware of what’s missing in it and knows that despite everything this team thing is drawing the two of them closer together, united by a common agenda, and he’s running from this, spiralling into denial so much so that he lies to Damon about the threat; transmutes the threat in his own mind, says Klaus threatened to kill  anyone who knows, or Damon in this case, because part of him needs to believe it, needs to believe that Klaus is still staunchly the enemy holding their lives in his hands and Stefan must obey. He spends the whole day running around behind the backs of the people he loves, lying, vervaining, sneakily plotting of his own volition. And yet he still can’t admit to himself that he’s working with Klaus not for him. Maybe after everything, he wants to be on Klaus’s side, wants to spend time with him, wants to do what Klaus wants, but he can’t do this without coping mechanisms in place.

Stefan says he trusts Damon more than he trusts Klaus but he still lies to Damon, possibly because he actually wants to work with Klaus as well as stay in denial. He’s just as much in denial over how much he trusts Klaus as he is in denial over their kinship. He probably also thinks Klaus is more likely to get the cure as he’s got the sword though. Stefan’s evading Elena and Damon by not answering his phone, probably hoping to deal with the whole kidnap situation without them becoming involved. Not only is he working with Klaus but also choosing to actively work against the others just because Klaus wants him to. It’s a mess and Stefan keeps trying to take control of the situation. 

So of course Stefan phones Klaus again, telling him to get his hybrids on board with Stefan’s plan, in case there was any doubt. Stefan tells Klaus to do things and gives him reasons: I swear there are points it actually seems like Stefan is in charge of Klaus here. Stefan tells them about the plan and Damon knows something’s up with Stefan and Klaus because he knows Stefan and Stefan instead of telling the truth Vervains Damon, which is curious; this is an important lie for Stefan and it has nothing to do with worrying about what Damon would do with the cure and also nothing to do with threats that Klaus isn’t going to carry out. It’s possibly about Stefan lying to himself because if anyone can see the truth of who Stefan is it’s Damon and Stefan can’t let his brother see how far he’s ‘fallen’ because then Stefan would have to admit it to himself. It would make a lot more sense for Damon and Elena to know the truth so they wouldn’t kill Connor and help instead of getting in the way.

Side note: Elena wondering who Stefan is talking to on the phone is amusing and adding to the Stefan/Elena and Stefan/Klaus parallel.

Stefan handles the situation like a boss, saves everyone and gets Connor out alive. And then it all goes to Hell. Stefan is continuing to resist telling the truth, even as Damon squeezes his heart (okay no one believes he’s going to rip it out but still that’s got to hurt). And it might be about Stefan’s denial of how he feels/what he wants/who he is, it might be about Stefan not wanting to disappoint or let Klaus down, it might be about Stefan wanting to keep working with Klaus, it might even have something to do with the threat everyone knows Klaus won’t carry out but whatever the reason, it’s all about Stefan and Klaus. And it’s important enough that he’s still trying to hide it from Damon until he can’t anymore.

Here’s the thing, both Stefan and Damon know better when it comes to the threat Klaus poses. There’s a clear contrast between the words they say and the way they act, Stefan has committed two serious trespasses; has let the hunter be killed and told Damon about the cure and yet both brothers banter in a joking manner about Klaus’s punishment. Stefan says Klaus’s on a plane so he gets to live another six hours and Damon says he has Stefan’s back for when Klaus comes to murder him, but they’re sitting around casually, not preparing for war, or to run (they’ve reached the point where they can joke about Klaus murdering them, okay they’d probably joke even if it was a realistic possibility but the point stands). It’s not exactly defcon 1. So Damon and Stefan both know that the reason Stefan gave for lying though partially the truth was still just a justification. And that’s what Stefan really didn’t want Damon to know.   

Stefan’s mind-set is intriguing, he clearly seems to be seeing things differently to how they are and perhaps it’s because he doesn’t want to have to admit he’s beginning to find kinship with Klaus and maybe it’s also that he doesn’t want to have to admit that he’s realising how similar they are. It’s promising that even this is happening but Stefan needs to come to a more self-aware view of his own compartmentalisations here before they can move forward.


This is the glorious Elena Gilbert episode but I’ll leave Elena discussion to the people who are good at analysing Elena.

Okay Stefan and Elena have a lovers spat about Stefan spending too much time with Klaus. Then later Stefan breaks up with Elena. Methinks Klefan is on the horizon ;).

But seriously, this:

“You’ve been working with Klaus, doing God knows what!”

This is what Elena says to Stefan. It’s Elena standing up for herself brilliantly and it’s hilarious for its possible connotations and that it’s Elena, Stefan’s girlfriend, saying it. But it’s also benchmarking a change in a way, Stefan going from Elena to Klaus, maybe not in a literal sense (okay it can be if you want) but more him swaying from the person he wants to make himself be for Elena to wanting to be the person he wants to be for Klaus. It’s as much about Stefan’s identity as a vampire as it is Elena’s identity as one. 

Klaus phones Stefan.

“If he finds out I told you about the cure he’ll kill both of us.” – Stefan to Damon. 

So now Klaus won’t just kill one of them, but both of them. Seriously Stefan, denial much? I made a chart documenting Stefan’s denial a.k.a the way the more harmless Klaus’s threats are becoming the more seriously Stefan takes them. I mentioned this already so I won’t go into it again but it’s worth noting.

Klaus sounds angry when he confronts the hybrids but positively chipper when he tells Stefan he ruined all of Klaus’s plans; methinks he likes Stefan more than his hybrids. Klaus is happily talking about him and Stefan spending centuries looking for another hunter. This isn’t just a temporary fancy for Klaus, this is forever.

I feel I should mention lest I annoy the God’s of tumblr, yes, Stefan knows what Klaus’s calm voice sounds like and that it means Klaus is up to something.

Stefan goes outside to talk alone with Klaus. Klaus quite happily reveals everything to Stefan about the hunter’s curse. It does make sense as Klaus wants to keep Elena safe but then it would’ve also made sense to tell everyone about the cure. Klaus just likes telling Stefan things so they can play together. Klaus tries to convince Stefan it’s for Elena’s own good because he doesn’t want Stefan upset with him, then kidnaps Elena. 

Stefan says he’s more worried about the hunter’s curse that Klaus told him about because he trusts Klaus despite not wanting to and refusing to admit it. Klaus and Elena have both shared the awful trauma of this curse but are just standing there talking about Stefan. Elena wants to know what Stefan knew and Klaus says she should’ve listened to Stefan and let him handle it. Again we have the weird Stefan/Elena - Stefan/Klaus thing.

It’s Stefan going in alone to rescue Elena because everyone and their pets know that Klaus would never hurt him. It’s never made obvious that everyone knows this but it happens with subtlety a lot. And the hybrid who betrayed Klaus gets a speech about how it’s his purpose to serve Klaus while Stefan who also had a strong hand in it gets to help kill said hybrid. It’s to stop the hunter’s curse but it’s also a very stark portrayal of how different Stefan’s status is in Klaus’s life is compared to his hybrids, who Klaus spent one thousand years trying to get.  

Stefan breaks up with Elena and if I was writing an episode discussion I would say it’s entirely about Stefan and Elena (and Damon), but this is a Klaus Stefan discussion so I’m going to dig out the iota of Stefan/Klaus here and talk about it. Stefan talks about before when he was the ripper and says he understood then, but can’t understand now and that he can’t do it anymore and it’s because it doesn’t fit in with Stefan’s world view of himself. It’s about his own identity and his understanding of who he is and the duality that exists in the delusional part of Stefan’s understanding of himself. Because when he wasn’t good then he wasn’t Elena’s Stefan so of course she wouldn’t want him. If Elena’s darker now then who is that person he made himself into for Elena where is that person, who is Stefan now?

Stefan has already admitted to Caroline that he was struggling with his ripper side and maybe that is about Elena being a vampire but also about Klaus and his reaction to having to kill Klaus in 3x21 because part of him also longs to make himself into the person he made himself into before when he was with Klaus, now he has nowhere to go, he’s more likely to remake himself into Klaus’s Stefan. 


Stefan is talking about sublimating urges and then Klaus wraps an arm around Stefan’s throat for giving away secrets. That says it all. Klaus is upset Stefan threw away this special secret that they shared but makes a new secret pact and still trusts Stefan to keep it. Again issues of loyalty and trust are coming into play as Klaus and Stefan continue to work together. That’s the thing though, everyone knows now; it doesn’t have to be just them anymore and we all know why Klaus wants it to be just them but I don’t see Stefan bringing anyone into the fold either (even though they could probably help get the cure quicker). This is also massively about how tactile Klaus is with Stefan and how deranged it is that Klaus uses abuse as affection but that’s kind of how Klaus and Stefan works and it’s also the only affection Klaus believes Stefan will accept, it’s all very twisted.  

Stefan has a long history of moulding himself to people and I think for the majority of the past few seasons it has been about becoming the person Elena wishes him to be. Now they have broken up and Stefan’s habitual chameleon behaviour has to find another person’s desires to mould himself to. It might be my Klefan bias but I already think it has become Klaus. Stefan has been darker and yet still in control this season possibly partly as a reaction to Elena being a vampire but maybe also as a reaction to discovering his regret and remorse after desiccating Klaus, maybe he has been coming towards this for the last few episodes and now that he is free of Elena he’s able to fully embrace his more darker characteristics while still in control.

Stefan is doing what he feels needs to be done by getting Jeremy to kill vampires, but is it also a manifestation of coming closer to the person Klaus desires him to be, even if it is entirely a subconscious choice on Stefan’s part it’s an idea to be considered. In addition Stefan says that Klaus wouldn’t let him stop if he wanted to, this is intriguing. Okay it’s true on some level but there’s nothing actually stopping Stefan he knows Klaus isn’t going to do anything to him, Stefan’s mentality is interesting and also falls in line with the theory that Stefan’s moulding to Klaus; he’s falling back into the mind-set of being the one who had to obey like he did when under Klaus’s control in season three, similar to what Klaus wanted of him. But different because Klaus wanted it to be real, and now they’re both coming from a point of greater understanding after the desiccation so maybe Stefan’s subconscious is pushing for it to become real, because maybe that’s what he really wants. And yes, it’s also about Stefan consciously being in denial, again.


If episode three began a new chapter for Klaus and Stefan then episode nine was definitely a good stopping point to slide in a bookmark. The scenes in this episode form connections and complete circles for many episodes; 3x09, 4x03, 2x22 for example. But more on that later.  

Stefan’s critiquing Klaus’s painting and making comments about how Lincoln freed the slaves. The banter continues with Stefan chastising Klaus for not focusing on their team project which Stefan can do now because they’re in an equal team of equals. Which is brought home again with Klaus’s line;

“Why would I lie to you Stefan? We’re in this together.”

This is much more than just a statement from Klaus, this is him again trying to convince Stefan that they’re part of an important team and that Stefan should trust him. Stefan of course has much reason to distrust Klaus but seems to ignore any instances where Klaus may’ve acted trustworthy. Klaus just freely shows him the sword, which is trusting of him. But it’s also an attempt to gain Stefan’s trust as well as a show of trust. This showcases the theme of trust running through the episode and the import of said trust.

Klaus says he’s the closest thing to a friend Stefan has, in case anyone is somehow still doubting Klaus’s continued affection for Stefan. It’s also drawing attention to Stefan being similarly alone like Klaus feels he himself is, feels they should trust each other and have a friendship because they’re all each other has. But this is just not true for Stefan anymore, Stefan has people now, he has Damon and Elena, even if they may be temporarily lying to him he hasn’t lost them and they’ve all done worse to each other and forgiven worse in the past, and he has Caroline as a close friend. Klaus refuses to see this and that’s why this tact won’t work but it does contribute towards a revelation on Stefan’s part that could be just as pivotal to their relationship. But that comes later.

Klaus tries to show he’s trusting Stefan but betrays this by moving the sword. Though he’s proven right by Stefan’s act of trying to find and steal the sword but that’s not really the point. Stefan does betray Klaus’s trust but can trust that wasn’t accepted be betrayed? Klaus has failed to gain Stefan’s trust but he does trust Klaus enough to know he can just rip apart the safe and not worry about any consequences. Though this is more about Stefan getting around Tyler’s plan to bring down Klaus it’s still important to note that despite him and Klaus having the same agenda he still initially prioritises Tyler and at no point reveals the plan to Klaus (even though Damon suggests this).

‘Klaus is the only shot we have of finding the cure. We need him. Tyler has to call it off.’

Stefan tries to get Tyler to call off the kill Klaus plan because they need him to find the cure, this is true but I think it’s only part of the reason as evidenced by later in the episode Stefan no longer wants Klaus to be killed. In addition to this the line sounds like a qualifier, Stefan uses qualifiers in these situations, for example in 2x22 he doesn’t say ‘Damon’s my brother, I love him, I have to save him’ instead of this he says ‘I forced him to turn, I owe him’ and it’s clear this is a small part of what he actually means. So Stefan doesn’t want Klaus to be killed, not just because of the cure but also because of some level of kinship or care or sympathy. This is what’s called a step forward in the twistedness that is Klefan, though they may’ve taken this step before, last time Stefan was merely calling off his own actions (saying he wasn’t going to try to kill Klaus anymore) and deciding to be passive whereas this time he’s actively trying to stop Klaus from being killed.  

All my shipper goggles see is that the hybrids held Stefan hostage and then Klaus killed them all.

I think it’s fair to assume that Hayley told Klaus what was going on (just look at his face when he spots the hybrid), this means he’s fully aware of the situation and yet deals with Stefan relatively calmly. There’s a strong contrast between this scene and the proceeding scene where Klaus brutally savagely slaughters the hybrids. Here again it’s made obvious the difference between Klaus’s relationship with Stefan and with the Hybrids; with the hybrids it’s all about subservience, loyalty, them always being bound to and unquestioningly following him. If he can’t have them sired then he has no need for them and the price of their betrayal in the form of trying to kill him is him killing them in response. Stefan has similarly betrayed Klaus and takes part (more passively in this case but actively in the past) in the plot to kill him and Klaus deals out seemingly no consequences at all. This is because Klaus doesn’t want their relationship to be about subservience and subjugation but about free will and Stefan genuinely choosing to trust and be loyal to him. Therefore Stefan exerting his free will is far less of an issue for Klaus than the hybrids doing so.  

Klaus is angry at Stefan again because of everything. Stefan’s not worried about telling Klaus about looking for the sword because he knows Klaus won’t hurt him. Stefan explicitly tells Klaus he doesn’t trust him; this is sort of the epitome of it all; Klaus trusts no one and can’t incite others to trust him and this makes him feel alone, but he wants to change this, wants to be not alone with Stefan. Klaus asks what Stefan wants from him again (‘a secret brotherhood handshake’ hee) after he has showed him the sword and its purpose. This is Klaus showing his frustration, not just at Stefan’s betrayal but also in being unable to win back Stefan’s love and trust and loyalty. This time with the painful back drop for Klaus, of having just lost his hybrid’s loyalty, leaving him alone. He’s asking Stefan what he can do, what he needs to do to earn back Stefan’s trust, loyalty and friendship, desperately wanting to know what he has to do to reignite their kinship and not be alone anymore. Stefan distracts Klaus from his anger by mentioning the letters; Klaus smiles, Stefan knows how to distract Klaus and make him smile. Klaus has tears in his eyes when he calls him ripper, trying to connect the twenties with the present day, and I love the parallel with the wall and the letters. But…

‘Loneliness, Stefan, that’s why you and I memorialise our dead. There’s the briefest of moments before we kill where we literally hold their life in our hands, and then we rip it away, and we’re left with nothing. So gathering other peoples’ letters or writing their names on a wall is a reminder; that in the end we’re left infinitely and utterly alone.’

Unpopular opinion time. That line, here’s the thing; I believe Klaus is wrong and that isn’t the reason Stefan wrote his victim’s names on the wall. But that’s the point, Klaus so often shows eerily accurate insight into Stefan’s character but here his judgement is clouded; this is an analogy of sorts; their situations were similar in the twenties (thus the parallel between memorialising their victims with letters and names written on walls) but there were also differences, and the lack of acknowledgement of these similarities (on Stefan’s part) and differences (on Klaus’s part) back then are part of the fissures still seen in their relationship today. This links in strongly with the scene later on when Stefan lets go of his denial and faces the truth.

It’s more than anything a testament to Klaus’s loneliness and need to not feel alone, it has a tragic almost Scheherazade quality to it. He can’t trust anyone so he must kill them before they betray him. But for a short time before that he gets to not be alone. The line also has significance because it’s probably a major part of what drives Stefan’s later revelation.

Klaus is very overt about wanting Stefan’s friendship, so we look to Stefan to see whether they can have a two sided relationship again and this is the most promising scene yet, not only is Stefan letting go of his denial and saying so out loud, he’s actually declaring a similarity to and kinship with Klaus. Stefan even now says he thought he’d be happier (due to denial) but instead felt guilty about Klaus ‘being led away to the slaughter’. This is a significant change in Stefan’s thinking and bodes well for the future of Stefan and Klaus.

‘See that’s the thing, we’ve all done horrible things. And I’m sitting here trying to figure out what makes us any better than him and I think it’s just that we have family we can trust.’

This is such a perfectly carved line. It’s the crux of the matter, if there’s no one you can trust then you’re alone. Also Stefan putting himself on par with Klaus. With this new insight/revelation, Stefan can see Klaus through his own eyes, through Stefan’s own struggles.

It did occur to me that Klaus has been alone for a lower proportion of his life to Stefan, but Stefan has always had people really, and it’s more about Klaus’s perception of aloneness and also how self-destructive he is; he creates his alone-ness. People have criticised this line because Caroline is nowhere near as bad as Stefan, and I sort of agree but I think it’s also about how Caroline had more of a support system as a newbie vampire than anyone. And that’s part of the reason she was able to hold on to so much of her humanity. Adding to the point of how Klaus has become the way he is.

Stefan’s loneliness has significance, in present day at least it isn’t much of an issue but even before I think Stefan has always had people he knew he could turn to if he needed to; Lexi and Damon. See the 1942 flashback where no part of him is worried about Damon rejecting him. Though it probably does have some significance to 1864 and the twenties and his ripper tendencies. And thus Stefan’s feelings here.

Also if anything negates Klaus’s ‘loneliness’ speech about Stefan writing names on the wall for that reason I think it’s Stefan’s response that they have loved ones they can trust and Klaus doesn’t. Though it could also be backing it up, suggesting Stefan was alone at those times when he was a ripper and now he’s not, that’s why he had kinship with Klaus in the 20’s and now that it’s looking like he might lose those family connections there’s a chance for the kinship to rise again, in Klaus’s view.  This whole thing is also about loneliness as a driving force; for trust and relationships and loyalty and identity.

Connecting with the beginning of the arc, in 4x03 ‘I don’t want anything from you’, in 4x09 ‘What do you want from me’. Klaus has let Stefan know what he wants from him (a relationship of equals) and wants to know what Stefan wants in return. The question has been asked before but this is Stefan’s sort of answer. In 4x03 Klaus shows his revelations and here Stefan expresses his own. In 3x21 Stefan kills Klaus and looks upset, in 4x09 after dealing with his issues for half a season Stefan is finally willing to admit to his feelings as Klaus is again led off to be killed.  

The ‘we’ve all done horrible things’ line is the lynch pin of the Klaus/Stefan arc in this half season. For this half season Klaus has been trying to treat Stefan as an equal and encourage an equal relationship between them. Klaus is closer to where he needs to be to be able to have a friendship with Stefan again and this line demonstrates how Stefan too is getting closer to that place. The arc has been about Stefan’s denial, as well as Stefan’s identifying with more of the person he was with Klaus and wanting to mould himself to Klaus but being in denial about how much Klaus wants him lest he have to admit he’s beginning to return some of said feelings of kinship. There’s also a lot about trust. Stefan actually moulding himself to Klaus is in a way the ultimate show of trust; he’s trusting Klaus with his very identity, this time willingly, even if he’s not quite aware of it. Here as well as letting go of denial he’s also acknowledging to himself that he doesn’t need to be the ripper because he has people he trusts. He doesn’t have to necessarily mould himself to human!Elena or Klaus; he doesn’t have to live in extremes. He says this in season three but I think this is the point at which he really understands it; comprehends it in terms of how he sees himself. And this is by far the closest Stefan has gotten to reclaiming his friendship with Klaus.

If you got through all my chaotic ramblings, well done, here’s a cookie J. If you want more here’s a link to my season three Klaus/Stefan meta: http://tvd-meta.livejournal.com/15632.html


bleodswean at 2013-01-21 16:47 (UTC) (Link)
*applauds* Nicely nicely done!

I believe that Stefan is the moral eye of this dysfunctional maelstrom. And his fortitude has been continually battered from all sides and this season is the most relentless because of Elena's vampirism. Really, Damon and Klaus are representatives of the same "side" if you will - sexy dangerous laissez-faire let it all hang out we're supernatural beings let's party side. (I do believe that trope is exactly why we love supernatural stories and their accompanying characters so very much - we WANT to be able to embrace that wildness....But, of course, in this culture we really aren't allowed to sympathize with the destructors despite the buttloads of fun they appear to be having...so in steps "moral center" and that character must take the brutal brunt of the opposing characters (and viewers) frustration at being told that lifestyle is objectionable.)

As an aside here, there was a horror movie in the 70's titled "The Legacy" in which a decision is made that is pretty mind-boggling, culturally speaking.

Stefan's magnetic backbone of morality allows the other characters to be pulled towards him and therein comes the delicious struggle of right and wrong. What is particularly compelling about TVD is the fact that Stefan has pulled himself to this moral high ground out of a sea of blood and that journey allows him to meld with both the dark and the light. The "light" of course in terms of the supernatural characters being illuminated by his machinations into their existences - Caroline, for example.

Klaus is lonely and his choice seems to be about what personal sacrifice he is willing to make to garner companionship. He can let go of immorality for Stefan and become a better monster...or he can move towards concretizing his belief that Caroline could somehow join him as the perfect Frankenstein's bride.

swirlsofblue at 2013-01-21 18:26 (UTC) (Link)
*applauds* Nicely nicely done!

Thank you :)

I agree but I think the greatest challenge to Stefan’s fortitude is probably himself and the reason Elena’s vampirism is so much of a struggle for him is because he hung so much of himself on the ideal of ‘Elena’ and ‘Stefan and Elena’s epic love’.

Yes, the draw is definitely those bad boy characters having fun doing the forbidden, but it’s also about finding characters that can transform their morals so drastically (and the driving forces for said transformations) and be moved to find redemption in a world that’s inherently deterministic; where people rarely change to that degree.

That’s an intriguing idea about Klaus’s choices, I hadn’t thought of his infatuation with Caroline that way but you’re right, it forms an interesting contrast.

By the way, happy you're feeling better :).
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