Is it too cliche to say from the beginning?
Or well, that wouldn’t be so accurate, but my interest was piqued at the dynamic from the beginning when we see the two of them interact in Rose.
I didn’t really start shipping it for real until By The Light Of The Full Moon. This episode is absolutely perfect for me for them. It sets up everything about them.
First, we see the imbalance between them. Elijah has tricked his way into having free access to the Gilbert home. He’s made himself charming to Jenna, secured himself an invitation in, and blatantly told Elena that he can basically kill everyone in there if he wants to. The scene is set up with Elijah in control, Elijah the dominant one. And then Elena smashes it on its face. She calls him out on his shit and throws it in his face that he doesn’t know where Klaus is, that he’s not as in control or powerful as he thinks he is. It impresses him, if you slow it down and look at the cap, Daniel does this jut of his jaw and a small tick of his mouth. The scene progresses too with Elena getting what she wants.
Second, we get to see the beginning of them bargaining or negotiating. Elijah makes demands. She must do as he says, keep herself alive and out of trouble, make sure that her friends and everyone listens to him. But it’s Elena who wins. She’s not taken away. None of her family is killed. AND, she gets Stefan out of the tomb. Elijah has no reason to let Stefan out. He can easily protect her himself if Caroline or Damon or Bonnie fail. But he does it as a sign of good faith. They both give and take in this moment.
Third, I’m never over the framing of this scene. Elijah does everything in this scene to intimidate and own the space. We see him sitting on her window seat and he is literally too big for it. His shoulders are too wide, his legs are outstretched, his hands too big on the pillows. We see Elena from the mirror she has, small and tiny compared to him.
But all of it culminates in the imbalance being flipped on its head. Which is my favorite thing about this ship and why this scene brought me straight into them. Elena is the queen here. Elena is the one who shines, who flips Elijah on his head just as when she burned his face off in their prior meeting. She owns him here, a stark contrast to what this started out as.