Now, I think they might be purposely doing this to make it so that Caroline is repressing like crazy and emotionally fragile in the last few episodes. But the fact is she still should have Liz in her corner, even if her big emotional touchstone is Tyler. So I’ve examined their relationship through the seasons to give me something constructive to do instead of rage at the show. You can’t just forget a parent’s role, not when it was such an important part of Caroline’s character arc. (Screencaps from homeofthenutty)
They start out with a bad relationship- just look at the way Caroline treats Liz in their first conversation in 1x04. Look at their body language- she doesn’t even look at her mom as she snipes, but Liz remains calm and even warm despite the acid comments.
(Caroline goes to talk to her mother.)
CAROLINE: Really, you couldn't even change out of the badge for this?
SHERIFF FORBES: I'm working, honey. Who's the date you just tried to sneak past me?
CAROLINE: Just some guy.
SHERIFF FORBES: He's a little old for you, don't you think?
CAROLINE: Oh, 'cause otherwise you'd approve. Yeah, I doubt that.
SHERIFF FORBES: Where's your dad?
SHERIFF FORBES: Good.
CAROLINE: With Steven.
(She leaves, smirking, while Liz looks bewildered.)
It doesn’t get any better as the season continues- Caroline continues to act like a spoiled brat towards her mom, who just accepts the poor treatment with sadness. Liz is socially transparent- she doesn’t play games; she’s always honest in her approaches and reactions. So you can see that she’s worried about her daughter, she keeps reaching out- but she’s just as insecure in their relationship as Caroline is with her friendships and her “romance” with Damon. Given the recent divorce, this makes sense- Liz later confides to Damon that the ending of her marriage "ripped her heart out" (1x15). Also like Caroline, she keeps getting rebuffed and insulted but she doesn’t have the confidence to demand better treatment- you only see how resigned she is before she accepts the status quo.
MRS FORBES: I didn't see you at the car wash.
CAROLINE: Left early.
MRS FORBES: Honey, are you ok? Anything you want to talk about? Is it a boy thing?
CAROLINE: Mom, if I want to talk boys, I'll call dad. At least he's successfully dating one.
(Liz looks hurt and leaves.)
[Matt is carrying a drunk Caroline. Outside he runs into Sheriff Forbes.]
Sheriff Forbes: What happened? Is she okay?
Caroline: Like you care.
Sheriff Forbes: She's drunk?
Caroline: As a skunk.
Sheriff Forbes: Are they serving you in there?
Matt: I'll take her home. It's on my way. I haven't been drinking.
Sheriff Forbes: I would appreciate that, Matt, thank you. [to Caroline] You and I will discuss this later.
Caroline: Can't wait. [leaves with Matt]
GIF by vdgif
To be fair, 1x10 gives Liz the chance to get Caroline to talk about something- but she fumbles it. Liz just can’t help calling it like she sees it, even if feigned enthusiasm would bring them closer. She isn’t rude or disrespectful when she points out the oddity of Caroline’s career choice ("Broadcast journalism?" ... "You don't even read the paper."), but Caroline takes offense and walks off in a snit.
Everything finally changes once Caroline becomes a vampire- but not at first. Fandom often attributes Caroline's vampirism with "fixing" her somehow, but it didn't change who she was or her personality- it was the catalyst to changing how people who knew (Bonnie, Elena, Damon, Stefan) saw her and therefore interacted with her, and it also forced a change to her interactions with those who didn't know, like Matt and Liz.
With Liz, their typical pattern still holds in 2x05 while Caroline's transformation is still secret- look at her body language in their first conversation of the season. We also see some self awareness of her behaviour for the first time- she tells Elena that her usual reaction to her mom being mom-like is to be a "bitch" in return.
Liz also confides in Damon in 2x05, so for the first time someone calls Caroline out on this. Caroline also states why she feels this way: Liz is always working. And while Liz also blames herself for their bad relationship ("horrible parental skills"), it’s not a change in her work schedule that finally turns around their relationship.
(Liz is taking some boxes. Caroline arrives)
Caroline: Are you off today?
Liz: The historical society volunteer picnic is today. You’re the one who signed me up.
Caroline: I know. I just assumed you’d bail.
Liz: No. I’m gonna spend the whole day with my daughter.
Caroline: You’re gonna pretend to be a mother?
Liz: I’ll bring my gun if it gets rough. Come on, give me one day. I’ve been buried in work mode, I’ve barely seen you.
Caroline: Well be warned, I’m in a mood.
Liz: Goody for me. … Is everything okay with you?
Caroline: I’m fine.
Liz: It’s just lately you seem different.
Caroline: I’m not different, I’m fine.
Liz: I know you think I don’t notice these things but I do. What’s going on with you?
Caroline: You know there’s pretending to be a mother and then there’s reality. Let’s not push our luck, okay?
(Elena and Caroline are talking, while painting a veranda.)
Caroline: So suddenly, she’s in the running for mother of the year just when I’m trying to avoid her the most. I’m babbling, you don’t want to hear all this.
Elena: Oh, no, sorry. Then what happened?
Caroline: Well, I was a bitch which is par for the course with us. So, how are things with you and Stefan? Anything?
Damon: Are you okay, Liz? You seem really upset.
Liz: It’s Caroline. We had a moment.
Damon: Is there anything I can do?
Liz: No, Damon. Thank you. It’s just horrible parental skills paying off in spades.
Damon: Why are you being such a bitch to your mom?
Caroline: Don’t worry about it.
(Liz is on the phone)
Liz: Look, I can’t talk here. Just get Jesse and meet me down the hill at the entrance. And bring a… yes we need it.
Caroline: What’s wrong?
Liz: Nothing. I just have something…
Caroline: You mean work? You’ve surprised me. You lasted longer than 5 minutes.
Liz: It’s important
Caroline: It always is
Liz: I’m sorry.
(She leaves. Elena rejoins Caroline)
Liz: Who else is with you?
(Caroline is here. She bites one of the deputies and then uses him as a shield when the other deputy shoots. She then punches out the other one)
Caroline: Hi Mom.
Caroline: You won’t tell anyone, will you? Mom? Mom? Please. Look, I know that we don’t get along and that you hate me but I’m your daughter and you’ll do this for me, right? Mom, please. He will kill you.
Liz: Then kill me.
Liz: I can’t take this. Kill me now.
Liz: Can you keep Caroline far away from me please? I don’t want to see her.
Damon: She’s your daughter, Liz.
Liz: Not anymore. My daughter’s gone.
Damon: You have no idea how wrong you are about that.
(He looks at Caroline. She leaves, Elena follows her.)
By the end of 2x05 their relationship has hit rock bottom. But change, not in Liz but in Caroline, occurs in 2x06. Once she can no longer take her mom for granted and actually talks to her, she finally sees that her mom wants to know her, wants to be there for her despite her transformation. And Caroline realizes that she was being a “selfish little daughter” who ignores her mother. It’s this adjustment in her perceptions and their interactions that changes their relationship. By the end of this episode, Caroline knows that her mom accepts her no matter what- but she doesn’t think Liz will be okay with the Salvatores so she tearfully compels her.
Caroline: You didn’t eat much. (Awkward silence) Good news: Doctor Damon said the vervain is almost out of your system. So with any luck, you'll be freshly compelled and back in your own bed by tonight.
(Liz doesn’t answer or look at Caroline.)
Caroline: Are you really just gonna pretend like I don’t exist?
Liz: Yes. So please, go.
Caroline: (takes the tray and starts to walk away.) As usual, you don’t care. Got it. Just like before I was a vampire. It’s not like I died or anything.
(Caroline opens the door and is about to walk out.)
Liz: Are you… Are you really dead?
Caroline: Yes and no.
Liz: How is it possible?
(Caroline walks back into the room and shuts the door.)
(Caroline and Liz are sitting on the cot together, still in the cell.)
Caroline: So I pulled Stefan out of this well and he’s all vervained and just rotted, but Bonnie wasn’t mean to me once and I just - I really think it’s progress, you know? I just… what? I’m freaking you out.
Liz: It’s just that you’ve become this person….
Caroline: Don’t. Don't. We...We're just starting to get along...
Liz: This strong, this confident person.
Caroline: Oh. Thank you.
Liz: You don’t have to take my memories away. I’ll keep your secret. Look, if you’re worried about them, just say you compelled me. I won’t tell. (In tears.) I’ll never do anything to hurt you.
Caroline: We never talk like this. Ever. And today meant so much to me.
Liz: Me too.
Caroline: I know.
(Caroline grabs Liz's hands in her own.)
Caroline: I know I can trust you, but you’re never going to trust them.
(She cries and compels her)
Caroline: I’m going to take you home. You’re going to forget that I’m a vampire.
Liz: I’m going to forget that you’re a vampire.
Caroline: You’ll remember you got sick with the flu. You had a fever, chills and ickiness, but I made you soup and it was really salty. We bickered. You got better and then your selfish little daughter, who loves you no matter what, went right back to ignoring you and all is right in the world.
Liz re-discovers the truth in 2x17 from Matt. But at this point, they've mended their relationship (we have to assume this from their interaction in 2x18) so her reaction is not the same as it was in 2x05. (“I can’t take this. Kill me now.”) She’s heartbroken and torn between what shes been taught (vampires must be killed) and how much she loves her daughter.
Matt: I did it. I drank that vervain stuff. I went over there, and I got her to tell me everything. Then I asked her to take it away.
Sheriff Forbes: Thank you, Matt. I know this isn't easy, but... I'm glad you told me what happened last night. I want you to tell me everything she said.
Matt: I feel like she died.
Sheriff Forbes: She did.
Liz continues to struggle with the knowledge in 2x18- she just can’t reconcile that her daughter is a vampire (soulless monsters she has been taught to fear and kill her entire life) and yet completely herself (feeding off bloodbags exclusively and therefore no soulless killer, loving high school life). You can also tell by the way Caroline talks to her mom that their relationship has turned around- she is thrilled that Liz is home early enough to see her costume. Liz is still working just as hard- but Caroline no longer holds it against her. At the start of the season, she would have just breezed by her with some flippant comment- you can see how much she's matured. But look at how wistful Liz is:
(Caroline is all dressed up. Liz arrives)
Caroline: There you are! You almost missed me. How do I look?
Liz: Jackie O?
Liz: You look good.
Caroline: Thanks. Is everything ok?
Liz: Uhh, just some work stress.
Caroline: Well, you work too much.
(Matt knocks on the door. Caroline laughs and opens the door)
Liz is still undecided in 2x20. She just doesn’t know what action to take, and when she finally acts she ends up doing the wrong thing.
What’s really interesting about this is that this is exactly what happens to Tyler on his season 2 arc- and given Carol and Caroline’s similarities, I wonder if these similarities are deliberate. (Their personalities are similar too- the social transparency, the inability to play the social manipulation games despite being able to see them clearly- look at what Liz says to Klaus in 3x11, what Tyler says to Stefan in 2x13 and 4x09.)
(Matt joins Sheriff Forbes at a table)
Sheriff Forbes: Does she suspect anything?
Matt: No, but... I can't do this anymore. I've been with her the past few days, and I'm putting on the best show of my life. But either she is too, or she's still the same Caroline.
Sheriff Forbes: She's not the same. She's a vampire.
Matt: At this point, I don't even know what that means.
Sheriff Forbes: Look, I know this is hard to understand, but my family, we were raised with this. They're monsters, Matt. They have no soul, no humanity.
Matt: There's nothing about her that makes me believe that.
Sheriff Forbes: It's an act. I believed Damon Salvatore was my closest ally in this town. Instead, he's a killer. They killed your sister. What other proof do you need?
Matt: I could ask you the same question, Sheriff. Why haven't you done anything? Why are you hesitating?
Sheriff Forbes: Because I need more information. And because, in spite of everything I just said, I still look at her and I... I see my daughter.
Matt: Damon is the problem, not Caroline. You should focus on him.
Sheriff Forbes: I shouldn't have involved you, Matt. Thank you for all of your help, but I'll take it from here.
In 2x22, Liz gets an ultimatum from Carol about the vampire problem- handle it or get replaced. Since she’s hiding Caroline’s secret, she’s feeling doubly conflicted. But Caroline decides to out herself to try to save Jeremy (who Liz shoots by accident trying to shoot Damon), and they both realize that they no longer need to fear each other. Their last scene never fails to make me cry- look at how relieved both of them are:
(Caroline hangs up her phone. Her mother is still here)
Caroline: That was Bonnie. Jeremy's alive.
Sheriff Forbes: I thought I killed him.
Caroline: You did.
Sheriff Forbes: I don't understand.
Caroline: I explained it to you once. I... I had to make you forget because I was so scared of what you might do. But now... I don't wanna lie. I'm not gonna be afraid of you anymore. I don't want you to be afraid of me anymore. I'm still your little girl.
(She embraces her)
Caroline: It's me. It's me, mom.
(The sheriff cries and embraces her too)
They continue to grow closer- in 3x01 Caroline talks about how they've been tracking down possible Klaus/Stefan leads all summer. And in 3x03 we see Liz really take a stand for her, charging to the rescue, calmly accepting an empty bloodbag from her and telling her that “you taught me to look at [our beliefs] in a different way.”
(Caroline is in her bed and Liz is here. Caroline finishes her blood bag and gives it to Liz)
Caroline: Thank you.
Liz: Honey, your dad... All our families, we have beliefs that have been passed on through generations. And we were taught never to stray from them.
Caroline: You did.
Liz: You taught me to look at things in a different way.
Caroline: I just thought that he was the one who got me.
Liz: He did. He will again.
(Tyler arrives. Liz gets up and is about to leave)
Caroline: Hey, mom? Thanks for believing in me.
(Liz leaves. Tyler enters)
And this pretty much concludes their arc, with Liz showing that she backs Caroline 100%, and with Caroline able to confide her unhappiness in her mom. And while I understand that there are other stories to tell, there have literally been three Team Forbes scenes since this one (and a deleted scene in 3x11), and those are with other characters (3x22, 4x16) or wordless (3x13). Caroline continues to refer to her mom (3x13, 3x19, 4x03, 4x15) and talk to her on the phone (4x01) as if they are close, but they seem to have dropped the development of this whole relationship now that it has been established. And I find that particularly jarring this season because Caroline is acting completely isolated now- she really shouldn’t be. :/
ETA: Meta rant and you shall receive, I guess. LOL