First of all, i have to say that this is my first ever article on Fanpop, not just on this spot... its just my opinion of how I see Damon, i may not think like everyone else does, some people may not agree with my views but please try not to start any bashings of any sort, because there are elements of Delena in this article... and don't be too harsh in the comments!
First of all I have to say that I loved Ian Somerhalder's acting in this episode, not that the others were not good at all, but i'm keeping my focus on Damon. Kudos to Ian! I really respect him a lot and I believe that he is a great actor!!!
Since season 1 we've seen Damon as the evil brother of Stefan who kills people because he is a vampire and that's what vampires do. As the season progressed, we began to notice that Damon stopped killing people simply to cause havoc and enjoy himself; he became involved with the Founder's Council so that he could draw suspicion away from himself but in the end, he really ended up protecting Mystic Falls and not only did he protect and save Elena so many times, he ended up falling for her, a point i'll elaborate on further below... that's just the basics of season 1, I could go on and on and on, explaining in depth of how Damon changed, why I believe he changed, what and whom influenced the change but it'll become like a book (seriously)
What I want to say is that after tonight's episode, The Return, I felt that we really got to see the character of Damon in a more vulnerable state than we have ever seen him in before (correct me if i'm wrong). Look at it from this perspective, Damon Salvatore was a normal 20 something year old boy living his life with his younger brother Stefan and father Giuseppe in the late 1800's when suddenly one day in 1864, a young lady Katherine comes into his life and like any other guy, her beauty and her charm makes him fall in love with her. It is only later does he realize that she is a vampire, but he continued to love her (I'm basing all of this on the fact that Damon has said it was always real for him) and after she was captured and he and Stefan were shot by their father, he thought that she had left him forever and he wished to die too. In episode 20, 'Blood Brothers' we learn that Stefan was the first to complete the process of transitioning into a vampire and then tempted Damon to feed and become a vampire himself; and he went on to embrace his new found eternal immortal life by following the Vampire tradition of feeding of human blood, allowing him to become a powerful vampire. And we all know that Damon told Stefan that he would make his life miserable and ever since they have been at loggerheads, hating and loathing but never killing each other.
After 145 years of waiting, killing, planning to remove Emily's spell from the tomb and in the end releasing all the vampires, Damon learns from Pearl that the woman he has loved for eternity, Katherine was never in the tomb to begin with and knowing that he was in Mystic Falls she did not come to him until 'The Return'. Damon obviously had a part of him that was still human because he reacted to this like any human would; he became depressed, drunk and thought he had no one in this world who loved him, until... Elena and he started to grow closer.
Damon's relationship with Elena developed a lot more after the road trip they took in 'Bloodlines' up to the point where Damon confesses to whom he thought was Elena after the Founder's Day madness that he believes he is not a good person, he does not know how to be good. When he's talking to Elena/Katherine he says,
"You know, I came to this town, wanting to destroy it. Tonight I found myself wanting to protect it... how does that happen?"
He even says the word 'protect' as if it was something he didn't know what it meant; he goes on to tell Elena that he is not a hero, he doesn't do good, its not in him to be like that, like Stefan. Its a foreign thing for him, after all these years something has changed in him and he believes that Elena has a lot to do with this. He kisses her on the cheek and then on the lips. And it isn't until later that he finds out that it was Katherine who he kissed not Elena.
In tonight's episode, when he finds out the truth, he realizes that he's hurt when Elena tells him that she would never do kiss him (i think she says it a couple of times) and he seems to have gotten over Katherine after a long 145 years until she starts to kiss him, breaking his barriers and when he pulls back, he knows what he'll ask Katherine will help him get over his heartbreak, he says that he's willing to forget everything that happened in the past, he just wants to know if she truly loved him; the crushing blow comes when Katherine says that she always loved Stefan (we don't know how true this is, she might have been playing around with him). This is the third time he's been rejected in his long everlasting life by someone he loves, first his father then Stefan (here, it's more of a choice Damon made to hate his brother forever), and finally Katherine. Obviously, he begins to doubt himself again, if he thinks he has some good in him then why does everyone love Stefan?
He goes to Elena's house, drunk again. And in his depression and madness over losing Katherine, he kisses Elena. Whether it was wrong or right can be debated for a long time, but I believed that he wanted to feel like there was someone in his dark and lonely world that loved him, Elena repeats Katherine's words and breaks Damon's already broken heart even more. Two rejections from the two girls he thought might just love him a little, if not as much as he loves them. Elena does say that she cares about him, but for Damon after living such a life, just caring is not simply enough. He wants LOVE, he has feelings for Elena, either its love or its attraction or something, he knows that their relationship is not 'just friendly' and sure, he was foolish to kiss his brother's girlfriend and then go ahead to snap Jeremy's neck, but he does it because at that time, there's so many different emotions built up in him, most of them unknown to him, that he reacts in the way that he knows.
At the end of this episode, he enters the house completely shattered. Katherine has left him once again; Elena does not love him, and says that she hates him for trying to kill Jeremy. It was not entirely done on purpose, Damon does not WANT to make people hate him, he finds it easier to do that rather than making people love or even like him, and mostly he unintentionally ends up doing something that make people hate him because he has never understood what it is to be good, how to love someone and just when he thinks that he might have found someone to help him learn all this, Elena pushes him away, even though she knows Damon's heartbroken again, she has seen him react to Katherine leaving him once and did not even try to do much before he forcibly kisses her.
In the end, I just want to say that Damon Salvatore is still like any person in this world, he wants to love someone and wants someone to love him. He believes it is Elena because even though she knows that he is a vampire who has done so many wrong things in his past, and even tries to hurt people close to her in the present, she does not loathe him, does not see him as a monster, she sees him as he wants to be seen. As someone who is worthy of being loved. In his dark 150+ year old life, all he wants is to be put out of his misery and depression through love. He wants to be as human as he possibly can, no matter if he goes on a killing spree once again or on a drinking spree, ultimately its LOVE that he needs to become whole again.