Stefan and Caroline immediately assume that Damon will do… something with the bond to make Elena feel better. They assume that without trying much or anything else. Using magic to stop the pain wasn’t Damon’s first thought at all. His first words to her were “Talk to me. I can help” because he knows exactly the mix of emotions bubbling inside of her.
Damon gets it and isn’t afraid of it or interested in just shutting it down. I really like the point that was made that the entire time Damon was present, he was on high alert and taking his cues from Elena. Where Stefan and Caroline wanted to stop the expression of pain, Damon was, the entire time, standing by and willing to let her do what she needed to do to get it out on her own terms.
After Alaric died, I hated it that Stefan’s immediate response to Elena cleaning out his office was to stop her and make her channel that into something he understood. I said Damon would have cleaned out the office with her because that’s what she needed to do. That’s what he did this episode - he was going to let Elena express her grief however she needed to express it, including burning down the damned house if she needed to. Damon gets that kind of emotion and pain and expression of it via action in a way that Stefan just does not. He and Elena were completely in tune emotionally from the second he walked into that room to the last shot of them walking away from the house as it burned. I went back and rewatched it and it really struck me now Elena keeps coming back around to Damon. Communicating with him because she knows he gets it. So, in that context, I can feel marginally better about Damon telling her to shut it off because they were so in tune that he just knew that is what she needed, even if she did not. I still don’t like it. I don’t understand why there couldn’t have been some acknowledgement from Elena that turning it off is what she wanted. But, I’m not hating it and feeling dirty. So, that’s a start.
And, Elena’s focus on Damon during her breakdown because she knew he got it made me think about how she will be in this next Switched Off Elena arc. We’ve heard that Elena obviously won’t be expressing love and adoration for anyone, Damon included, and that she will be dropping truth bombs on everyone. Obviously I have the real fear that Damon’s just gonna get his heart crushed in all of this. But, putting that aside, I wonder what other truths Elena can dump on Damon. He’s done nothing but be there for her in any capacity she has ever needed, accepting her, encouraging her to accept herself, not judging, not telling her she is wrong or broken or needs to be fixed. She can be pissed that he never believed that she loved him, but I don’t know what else she could drop on him. (Can much top “Maybe that’s the problem” anyway?) Obviously all of our switched off vampires have someone who grounds them to some emotion. After seeing just how strong 4 seasons of undestanding and trust have made the DE connection, I really do think Elena’s grounding point will be Damon. He’s the only constant she has left. There’s an argument for Matt, but even Matt has been kind of in and out of Elena’s life and Matt doesn’t “get” Elena like Damon does.