- Ripper Redux Pt. I: Pivotal Scenes in Stefan’s Ripper Canon
- Ripper Redux Pt. II: More Scenes of Ripper Stefan
- Ripper Redux Pt. III: Ye Olde Bloody Flashbacks
Ripper Redux Pt. IV: “A Real Ripper enjoys the hunt.”
Episode: “As I Lay Dying” 2×22
Setting the Scene: Knowing his brother only had hours to live, Stefan confronted Klaus in hopes that the Evil Original Vampire might possess information regarding the cure for the werewolf bite that was rapidly eating away at Damon’s life. But Klaus wasn’t about to give up that valuable information so easily. First, he shocked and genuinely freaked out Stefan and Katherine (who, at the time, was also confined to the apartment) by brutally murdering his own brother, Elijah right in front of them. Once Klaus had Stefan’s attention, he then showed him the sole cure for what was ailing Damon: the blood of a were-vamp. Of course, there was only one were-vamp living in Mystic Falls at the time . . . and his name is . . . wait for it . . . “Klaus.”
Rather than give Stefan the cure immediately, Klaus demanded that the known bloodaholic, and occasional “Ripper” consume bag, after bag, of human blood, in rapid succession. Not wanting to risk losing Damon, Stefan began to drink. As the younger Salvatore brother continued to chug down those blood bags, his eyes began to cloud over, gradually losing a portion of their inherent humanity and kindness, with every grotesque slurp.
Once Klaus had determined that Stefan had thoroughly fallen off the Blood Wagon, he finally presented the Ripper with his Were Bite Cure. However, rather than handing the cure to Stefan directly, Klaus offered the cure up to Stefan’s former lover, and Klaus’ current captive, Katherine. Katherine dashed off with the cure, before Klaus could instruct her as to how to use it. Because she had drank vervain, and, therefore, was no longer under Klaus’ hypnotic power, there was no telling for sure whether, in fact, Katherine would deliver the cure to the Salvatore Mansion, and save Damon’s life. (But she DID!)
As for Stefan, in exchange for the cure, he had reluctantly pledged fealty to Klaus for a period of ten years, thereby forsaking Elena, his brother, and the town he had grown to love, all with one swift nod of the head. Yet, despite all that, Klaus had more plans in store for Stefan. There were still games to be played, and gifts to be enjoyed . . .
STEFAN: “What is it you really want from me?”
KLAUS: “All will be explained in time, once we leave this tragic little town.”
STEFAN: “Then, are we done here. Can we go?”
KLAUS: “Not quite. You see, I have a gift for you . . . You see I want to make sure that you will honor our deal, that you will be of use to me . . . A real Ripper enjoys the hunt.”
It may have taken over 145 years, but we have finally come full circle. Back in 1864, Then-New Ripper Stefan offered a reluctant Damon the “gift” of Dinner, in order to entice his older brother to complete his transformation into a full-fledged vampire. Now, in 2011, Klaus has given Stefan the gift of NEW Dinner, in order to entice the younger Salvatore to complete his transformation back into the same “Ripper” who murdered an entire village of people, back in 1917.
Amy: I scream a lot when I watch this show. Lots of “HOLY SH*T!!” and “OH NO THEY DIDN’T!!!!” But I don’t think I’ve ever, in 43 preceding episodes – screamed as loud as I did when Klaus “turned” Stefan in a perfect mimic of Stefan’s turning Damon in S1’s Blood Brothers.
That’s some really fine storytelling right there.
Julie: Just from the little we’ve learned about Klaus so far, he seems like a HUGE fan of irony, and poetic justice. I can’t help but wonder whether the Original Were Vamp somehow knows that Stefan’s decision to entice Damon to turn, in this particular way, is the life choice he regrets most . . . the one for which he has spent over a century atoning. After all, Klaus has orchestrated a situation that seems to so perfectly to mirror the aforementioned one that the connection cannot possibly be lost on Stefan. As a result, the minute Stefan bites down on New Dinner, he is directly forced to confront the sins of his past, and consciously accept the nightmare version of himself he is about to become.
Amy: In Blood Brothers we learned that Stefan had no choice about drinking Katherine’s blood on the road to being a vampire, she compelled him to do it. We saw him choose to die with Damon and not complete the transition to vampire. We saw him choose to renege on that decision and drink from his dying father, therefore letting the blood wipe all his guilt and hurt away. We watched him take away his brother’s choice by begging, cajoling and downright tempting a devastated and dying Damon to drink from a compelled girl.
That last choice is the one that is the defining crux of Stefan’s entire vampire existence: Stefan will ALWAYS feel guilt for turning Damon – no “turning off” of emotions, or forgiveness from Damon can change that. He knows he is the one who caused all the pain that followed. Stefan’s tragic flaw is that he will forever be trying to atone for that – to make it up to his brother – even when the consequences for him are absolutely horrific and may cost him the love of his long, pained life:
Whatever Damon’s done, whatever has led him here – I’m the one who made him become a vampire in the first place. So if there’s a chance for a cure I owe it to him to find it
And that “tragic flaw” is what leads him right into the sadistic open arms of Klaus. Klaus, who clearly has historical knowledge of Stefan’s past (knowledge that we do not – that despite how Stefan has portrayed his past to Elena – his BloodLust was not just a result of his initial turning, but a long, violent battle over a century to “stay on the wagon”) Klaus who has a need for Stefan to fulfill some sort of dastardly plans – but not as much as Stefan needs Klaus – to save Damon.
Stefan willingly walks into the lion’s den and utters the words to Klaus that seal his fate: Just cut me a deal. Give me the cure and I’ll do whatever you want. Now Klaus could have made a deal – but what fun is that? When you’re a thousand + year old Original – I’m sure life can get pretty dull, you need to spice it up! By psychologically breaking a man’s spirit and systematically taking away everything that that is important to him in the most ruthless and cruel way possible! Klaus teases, he taunts, he shows Stefan that he could care less if Damon lives or dies (by entrusting the cure to Katherine), he shows Stefan he is expendable – unless he gives him what he wants – and that’s Stefan’s allegiance for the next decade.
Julie: The tragedy of the situation becomes apparent early in the scene, when Stefan receives a text from Elena, informing him that Katherine successfully delivered the cure to Damon, and that he is, in fact, OK. This was all Stefan really wanted from the beginning, to save his brother’s life. And yet, now he cannot return home to see the fruits of all he has sacrificed. In fact, if Klaus has his way, Stefan will NEVER return home. Though Stefan seems fairly cold and stoic, throughout most of his conversation with Klaus, when Elena texts him, there is a flicker of warmth that passes through his eyes, suggesting that, perhaps, “Good” Stefan is not completely lost.
Klaus, who has been intently staring deeply into Stefan’s eyes all day, undoubtedly noticed that flicker of warmth too. And he does NOT approve. After all, what good is a Ripper, who is unwilling to RIP? So, Klaus deals out his final hand, in the game of Bring Stefan to the Darkside, and her name is New Dinner.
What makes New Dinner’s demise so much more painful to watch than Dinner’s, is that, unlike her 1864 predecessor, New Dinner has not been compelled to accept her fate, without fear. She is petrified of Klaus, and tries to fight him off with every ounce of strength she has. New Dinner seems to see some good in Stefan too. (Perhaps, she is a TVD fan?) As a stand-in for the viewing audience, she silently pleads for Stefan to put an end to all this, and reclaim his humanity.
When Klaus first bites New Dinner in front of Stefan, we see none of the pleasurable orgasmic aspects of neck biting we have witnessed in the past. New Dinner’s experience is ALL PAIN, ALL THE TIME. Her screams of anguish echo across the underground warehouse, where Klaus’ family is “stored.”
When Stefan fed on Dinner in front of Damon in 1864, the latter hadn’t eaten in days. He was close to death, his body crying out for blood. Seeing those two small red teeth marks on Dinner’s neck was just too much for his weakened resistance. And so he went in for the kill.
Unlike 1864 Damon, we know that Stefan has been VERY WELL FED, in the past few hours. However, as a bloodaholic, off the wagon, Stefan’s body’s yearning for blood is now constant and unrelenting. And it probably feels to him as if he hasn’t fed at all. Plus, there is just something about drinking warm blood straight from the source, that appeals to Stefan’s darkest desires.
Stefan’s draining of New Dinner is more “ACTIVE” than Damon’s, and, therefore, more horrifying. 1864 Stefan made Damon’s transformative blood drinking almost too easy. Dinner was compelled to be still. She was just inches away from Damon. So, all he had to do, really, was fall forward . . . and there he was with his mouth on her waiting neck.
Conversely, the uncompelled New Dinner gives chase after Klaus bites her, thereby forcing Stefan to use his vampire speed to stop her in her tracks. When he does, he looks her straight in her terrified eyes, and drains her. While it is happening, New Dinner continually screams in pain, fighting Stefan off, until the last breath of life leaves her body.
The snarling smile on Stefan’s face before he bites into New Dinner is truly creepy, as is the careless way he tosses her body to the ground, after he has finished with her. Then, of course, there is that final blood-lusty, euphoric, demon-eyed, and oddly homoerotic look Stefan gives Klaus, in the last few seconds of the finale. That look says one thing, and one thing alone: THE RIPPER HAS RETURNED!
Amy: I watched Blood Brothers and As I Lay Dying together and was struck by how much they mirror each other in crucial ways:
- A Salvatore wracked by pain (Stefan: emotional, Damon: physical) attempts to end his life in a dramatic fashion (Stefan: starving, then the sun, Damon: the sun, then attempted death-by-Alaric)
- The non-suicidal Salvatore puts a stop to that plan by throwing his brother in the basement dungeon of La Casa de Rich and Awesome and involving Elena in the rescue (Stefan: go to him, Damon: don’t go he’s dangerous)
- The Salvatore in torment experiences hallucinatory flashbacks in which he confuses Elena with Katherine (Stefan: Katherine being carted away/Elena checking on him, Damon: Katherine tempting him to drink her blood/Elena trying to get him to safety)
- Elena fights to help each brother in their desperation – and is rebuffed for her efforts because of their fear of what they may do to her (Stefan: …the next time I hurt somebody, it could be you, Damon: I could hurt you)
- The use of this phrase: Give myself over to the blood (Stefan to Elena about his fear of giving in to temptation), He gave himself over to Klaus (Katherine to Elena as she delivers Damon’s cure)
- The concept of Choice: how we make it, how it determines our lives, how we live with the choices we make
Klaus raised the idea of choice again, proving to Stefan that his blood is the only cure for Damon – but to get it, Stefan has to agree to Klaus’ terms: if you want it, take it. It’s your choice to make. Which is a brilliant manipulation because of course all Stefan’s pain and guilt is completely hinged on his taking Damon’s choice away in 1864. Stefan makes a choice – again – this time in reparations to his brother. At the very same time, a dying Damon is having a death bed realization of his own, All those years I blamed Stefan. No one forced me to love her. I made my own choice. Tell Stefan I’m sorry.
Oh the tragedy!!! Just as Damon faces up to the realization of the choices he DID make, and the apology he owes his brother for the decades of torment – at the very same time his brother is sacrificing HIS life for him!! I mean, this is Greek Tragedy stuff here! And oh the angst it will lead to for Damon next season. Because he’ll finally have what he wanted – a clear shot at Elena. But how can he take it knowing that it is only because of his brother’s sacrifice? So that attraction to her, his love for her will still be all right there – but how can he act on that with his OWN guilt at his part in Stefan’s new predicament?
The scenes preceding Stefan’s Return to Ripperdom are disturbing – Stefan at first forcing down blood, then by the end panting and snarling over a pile of empty blood bags like a man out of control – a man reduced to his basest animal instincts that he has worked so very hard to control. It completely echoes his fear to Elena in “Blood Brothers”, every day I think that if i just give myself over to the blood I can make that pain stop…and every day I fight that and I’m so terrified that one day I’m not gonna want to fight that anymore. Stefan set this WHOLE thing in motion by giving in to his vampire urges and then making Damon join him – and now in a hideous twist, to save the life of the one he asked to give up his humanity, he now must give up his OWN hard earned humanity. I mean – that could not be more poetic if you tried.
Earlier in the episode Damon says of Stefan’s quest for his cure, he’s just doing what he always does – righting the ways of the past. So how exactly, will Stefan right the ways he’s about to embark on with Klaus? He’s broken, ashamed and defeated both by Klaus and by the blood – how much he wants it, how much he needs it to make him not feel. And what a lot he’ll not want to be feeling! Losing Elena! Wreaking a path of Klaus-led mayhem and murder! At this crucial moment the Salvatores were at the point of being able to make an absolute new start w/ one another – and they are torn apart. When they reunite – what kind of monstrosity will Stefan have become? And will it finally be enough to heal Stefan’s guilt for what he did to his brother? That’s what they call “a game changer” for sure.