THE VAMPIRE DIARIES: 8.16 “I Was Feeling Epic”
It’s been a long time since I’ve written an episode review here on Raked (it’s been a long time since I’ve written anything, for that matter), but as I was watching and thinking about the final episode if The Vampire Diaries, I kept having thoughts I wanted to share. I spent five years writing about TVD off and on in its eight-season run. It only seems right to return here to write about its series finale.
A little bit of a disclaimer before I go into the details: I didn’t watch this entire season. I watched the first half, got behind, and a few episodes back, just jumped back in without watching a few episodes. I missed how the team got the cure again. I missed Enzo’s death (that’s for the better — I’m not sure I could’ve handled that. It looked brutal). And I missed the whole thing with the bell. But I was able to catch up rather quickly, popping back in right as Stefan becomes human again. So if you see anything here that seems to have missed a beat, well, it could be because I missed it.
I thought this was a great finale. As we approached the start of the episode, I really had no idea how they’d close up the show with so much left to cover. After all, Bonnie was dead or dying. Elena had to wake up (I assumed). Katherine had to come back. They had to deal with Hell on Earth now that Vicki was ringing the bell. And dammit, they needed some sort of happy ending — ok, maybe I just selfishly wanted that. But overall, there was a lot to cover in a mere hour.
And if I’m being honest, sure, there were parts I feel were a little rushed. It seemed a little convenient that Bonnie was able to take down the Hellfire and that she could wake Elena. I wish we had more of Katherine’s antics (though I loved her banter). And Damon — well, I’ll get to Damon in a bit.
But the hour we did get was very well done. My emotions were all over the place (which you could tell by a few of my tweets). There were emotional good-byes, even sadder last messages, and, hey, even some moments of peace.
Let’s start with Bonnie.
Bonnie was fantastic in this episode, and I haven’t really seen her get her due in recaps, given everything else that happened. The way she rediscovered her power was great, but more so, I couldn’t help but feel the power of the Bennett women as they stood around her, helping her push back the Hellfire. (I mean, come on, if you saw Grams and didn’t feel a prickle of tears in your eyes, you must have no soul.) It was a powerful moment. Sure, the idea of the witch with a superspell helping to save the day did remind me a bit of Buffy‘s finale, but it also wasn’t a surprise. Bonnie was always the person who would be ready to risk herself to save everyone else, yet strong enough to push through it. It seemed a fitting fight for her, and I’m happy to see that she was able to continue her life — and truly live it.
But let’s take a step back. Bonnie wouldn’t have had any fight to face if it weren’t for Katherine. While I knew Katherine was back in this episode, I was fooled, just like Damon and Stefan, when she first appeared in front of the empty coffin. Bonnie’s heart had stopped. Maybe that truly counted to wake Elena up. Clearly, it’s not that easy (though they did trick us by showing Bonnie and Elena reunited in her dream), but what a fantastic way to bring Katherine into the fold. And it’s definitely something Katherine would do.
Now, as I mentioned above, I would’ve liked to see Katherine do a little more than quip, get stabbed, and reappear. But hey, what can you do?
It did give the Salvatore brothers one last problem to solve and one last push for redemption. One of them had to stay with Katherine, while the other could be saved. Of course, we discovered that Stefan ended up being the sacrifice (though, will someone tell me how human Stefan was able to hold Katherine to the point where she was unable to get away? Asking for a friend).
Now, I’ve never been the biggest fan of Stefan, but even I got emotional the end of this episode. And I give major props to the writers for one thing. The emotional scene with Caroline and Stefan saying good-bye was incredibly crafted. I don’t think anyone who was a TVD fan will ever hear “Family first” again without flashing back to their conversation. But somehow, I was left unbelieving. Certainly, Caroline and Stefan aren’t saying their final good-byes here — they’ll be reunited one way or another. And on some level, it’s clear that Caroline was feeling the same way. The fact that she raced out of the car to leave that heartbreaking, heart-wrenching voicemail truly showed that she never really believed Stefan wasn’t going to return to her. And she was terrified that with Stefan, like her mom, she wouldn’t get to say good-bye. It was an incredible add-on — for Caroline and all of us — to really understand the gravity of what was happening.
And we do find out that, yes, Stefan heard that voicemail. Caroline got to say good-bye, even if Stefan wasn’t on the other end of the phone.
I suppose what happens after Stefan’s death is what leaves me a little sad. Damon lost his brother, and we saw some of that pain as he and Caroline stood outside his memorial plaque (by the way, after last episode and this episode, it’s truly unfortunate that we won’t get any more scenes between Ian Somerhalder and Candice King; those scenes were amazing). But we didn’t get to see much of his reaction to being human. Stefan gave him the cure. He and Elena went to live a human life together. But we didn’t really get to see what that meant for Damon himself. We saw no reaction, we saw no future. We got to see him with Elena and finally at peace, but what was there for him in between?
That’s one piece I wish we had seen. And while I’m thrilled that we see that he finds his peace with his brother — and a life with Elena — it seems unfair that we get to see what everyone else does with the rest of their lives but him. Perhaps that adjustment wouldn’t create a future as nice as everyone else’s: starting a school, being sheriff and possibly mayor of Mystic Falls, being a doctor. But I still wonder what a human life really meant for him. (By the way, the way they included Klaus’ letter: Brilliant. The perfect way to nod back to Caroline and Klaus without diminishing her love for Stefan.)
Nonetheless, the ending was wonderful. I wiped away tears watching Stefan reunite with Lexi. I gave a wistful grin at seeing Tyler, Vicki, and Josie. I started sobbing all over again seeing Liz Forbes. And those tears became a torrent after seeing Elena finally get the happiness of reuniting with her mom, dad, Aunt Jenna, and even Uncle John.
And of course, one final greeting: “Hello, Brother.”
So good-bye from Mystic Falls. It’s been on Hell of a ride — but I’m glad it ended on a emotional but high note.
*Photo by Annette Brown/The CW