So long, TVD. My Thoughts on the Vampire Diaries Finale

I Was Feeling Epic

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.

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The Vampire Diaries: The More You Ignore Me, the Closer I Get

The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get

THE VAMPIRE DIARIES: 6.06 “The More You Ignore Me, the Closer I Get”

What an…interesting episode. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen once Damon returned. We got to see him reunite with Stefan last week, and I’m a little disappointed that we didn’t get to see more reactions from folks about his reappearance. I mean, we got to see Caroline tell Elena, but we didn’t really see Caroline react — which would have probably involved some rather wide eyes and big exclamations, knowing Caroline. We saw Damon and Enzo see each other in the truck, but Enzo had been watching Damon passed out for a while before he woke up. Geez, we didn’t even get to see a reaction from Alaric. And Jeremy… Well, we might not have seen Jeremy’s initial reaction, but at least we got to see them have a short frustrated conversation about it.

To be honest, I wish we could have seen more Jeremy in this episode. I thought it was so sweet of Damon to lie to Jeremy, to tell him that Bonnie found peace instead of telling him that she sacrificed herself (not that I really think Bonnie’s dead — if Kai can’t die, who’s to say Bonnie can). But Jeremy’s reaction at the end of the episode — the brutal reaction to really discovering that she was gone — was just heartbreaking. That real emotion was missing in this episode. He’s the only one who got a real reaction.

And part of that is because most of the episode was devoted to Elena and her trying to avoid Damon. While the moments they were close to each other were tangible, like when they were on either side of her door (man, Damon plays unrequited love so well), because they were apart instead of even just dealing with the fact that she doesn’t remember, it felt empty, and possibly not in a good way. Honestly, I got rather annoyed at Elena’s inner turmoil (which came across more as confused).

That being said, I give the writers of TVD props for coming up with a creative way to prevent her from getting her memories back. It’s much too easy to just un-compel her. We needed something. Sure, I doubt that Jo could really fix and save Alaric from, what, a ripped aortic valve or aorta? in the middle of the road. But it made for a good story device.

So now we’re left with Damon having to make Elena fall in love with him again. Which should be rather frustrating but fun to watch. Damon can be very convincing — at least for this viewer. I just hope Elena stops looking confused — and stops wearing that awful golf shirt.

*Photo by Tina Rowden/The CW

The Vampire Diaries: Yellow Ledbetter

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THE VAMPIRE DIARIES: 6.02 “Yellow Ledbetter”

Let’s be honest. All we really care about in this episode is Damon and Bonnie. So…I’m going to wait until the end of the post because I probably have the most to say about it.

We’ll start with Jeremy’s new gal pal Sarah. I have little interest in her, but clearly her father must be someone huge — maybe our new volunteer cop/vampire killer — because otherwise, why would she bring it up? So really, that’s about all there is to say about her and Matt’s new boss…so I’ll move on.

Caroline and Enzo’s trip to see Stefan was a wee bit boring, but there was one great thing that came out of it: Enzo. I loved Enzo in this, and I loved his declaration at the end of the episode, that he planned to make Stefan’s life hell if he didn’t do everything in his power to bring Damon back. Stefan, to me, is still dull as wood. Somehow forcing him to interact with Enzo, who he originally killed, is fantastic. I’m excited to see how this progresses.

I was sad they killed off his little girlfriend, though. This show could use some new folks who don’t know the ins and outs of the supernatural. She was cute. I suppose she did cause a roadblock, though, with Stefan and Caroline. But hey, they’ve got to drag that out anyway, don’t they?

Then there was Elena and Ric. I was personally surprised he was so eager to jump in and help her forget her love for Damon. Considering that he was Damon’s best friend and seems to be rather responsible, I would have thought he’d try to convince her otherwise — at least take an episode before trying. But there we were, reliving all the wonderful moments between Elena and Damon. While usually flashbacks bore me — either they don’t have the same effect the second time around or they’re just time-wasters — I thought the writers did a great job with this. By flipping back to these huge moments, we got to remember every moment the ‘shippers salivated over — and what a big deal it will be when Elena forgets him. We were left just as sad.

Now, it will only be a matter of time before Damon comes back and Elena hates him because she doesn’t remember she loved him. And we all know that will have to happen.

We just don’t know how. Damon and Bonnie are stuck on May 10, 1994, the same day as a solar eclipse. They’re in an empty town with no magic. Or at least it appears. Bonnie thinks she can relearn her magic. And after the final scene where a crossword puzzle was mysteriously completed, the town may not be so empty.

Of course, I’m desperately trying to figure out how they’re going to get out. It must have something to do with the eclipse — when day meets night (I’ve watched way too many series and movies with riddles and prophesies that include references to eclipses). But what else they’ll need to do — or who else they’ll need involved — is up in the air. Plus, according to Bonnie, this place was made for one. Would two people even get out?

There are more questions than answers at this point, but in the meantime, I’m loving seeing Bonnie and Damon interact, and I just adore the 1990 callbacks. The music. The clothes. It’s great. And Damon making pancakes, that’s just hilarious.

So good episode, but where are we going from here? There’s a lot to do but not much going on at this point — at least for those in the present day. What do they have to do while Bonnie and Damon have their hidden timewarp hideaway? Let’s get to Thursday already and find out.

*Photo by The CW/Richard Ducree

The Vampire Diaries: I’ll Remember

THE VAMPIRE DIARIES: 6.01 “I’ll Remember”

TVD was probably the most series I was most anticipating returning this year. After all, the season finale was HUGE — so momentous that I wrote not one but two reaction posts to it.

I mean, what happened to Bonnie and Damon? There were enough articles out there over the summer (and this fantastic video) to tell me that they’d be back in some capacity.

So here we are, a brand-new season. Jeremy is…wallowing and hooking up with random girls. Matt is fighting off his emotions by fighting real people — by becoming a cop. And the two are still in Mystic Falls, which is still shielded from magic.

Caroline is trying to change that, having now quit school. She’s spending every waking minute with her mom on the Mystic Falls border and reading book by the bucket, making sure that she finds out everything she can to get the shield brought down.

Tyler, meanwhile, is outside Mystic Falls and human. He’s struggling without his superpowers — and not awakening the werewolf gene inside him. Unfortunately, we’re back to angry Tyler, the same Tyler I didn’t like in the first season. If I had one complaint, it would be that Tyler was back playing a larger role in TVD. I actually didn’t mind his absence last year.

Then we have Stefan who is nowhere near Mystic Falls. He’s coping with the loss of Lexi and Damon by denying that part of his life altogether, living in Savannah after giving up finding a mystic way to bring him back.

Finally, Elena. I must say, I wasn’t too into her story. We found out a little too quickly that she was taking these herbs, so I suspected pretty early on that Damon wasn’t the real Damon. I suppose it’s a big deal that she was biting humans, but… Is it heartless of me to say that I was hoping to see some real grief and reactions from her? I actually wanted to see her in this place of distraught hopelessness — I suppose an extension of what we saw at the end of last season. Then, maybe she would gradually get into the herbs, I don’t know. But I just wasn’t all that invested (though I suppose seeing her get Alaric to erase Damon from her memory would be interesting).

But the absolute best part of the episode was clearly the ending. Where are Damon and Bonnie! At first, I thought they were just reincarnated into new people — perhaps not magical people. The vampire reference seemed cutesy and not in reference to their past or current state. They just seemed like a little married couple in their own apartment. My immediate thought was that they were new people, and at some point, their friends would find them and have to convince them of who they really were.

But then I started thinking in another direction (in part because of the promo for next week and by suggestion of JC): perhaps they were in the past. ’90s music. Plaid shirt. Reading the newspaper?! Looks like our favorite friends just may be in another time entirely — and what do we do with that?! (Want more clues? Check out the extended trailer. But I don’t want to potentially spoil anything here.)

I’m very interested. I’d love to see how they get it out of it (I’m sure they will at some point…right?). And tacking that one scene at the end of this episode to completely throw us off? Absolute brilliance.

The Vampire Diaries: Home

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THE VAMPIRE DIARIES: 5.22 “Home”

I felt it only fair to come back here and share some more lucid thoughts on the heartbreaking season five finale of The Vampire Diaries. If you haven’t already, you can hop over to the post I wrote last night, which was very reactionary, very emotional, and very OMGOMGOMGWHATJUSTHAPPENED.

But now that it’s been 24 hours, I wanted to come back and share some comments that I’ve actually processed. Did Damon die? Is he coming back? Did Bonnie die? Is she gone forever? I don’t have the answers to these questions. But I do have some thoughts.

Let’s start with Bonnie. The struggle with Bonnie is that there’s really nothing left for her. And it’s been like this for a couple seasons now. There’s a reason that we’ve tried killing her off before. Bonnie is one badass witch — but we’ve sort-of run out of stories for her. I love Bonnie. I love seeing her and Jeremy together especially. There’s just not much left to do with her. So when the Other Side collapsed, taking her with it, there really was nothing left for her. I don’t see what could bring her back, other than loyalty to her friends. And while I would love to see the character again, it almost feels like an abuse. She really shouldn’t come back. She’s gone full circle, and I don’t know what they’d do with her.

And I think the writers might just know that. She said it herself: she’s been on borrowed time. And so has the character. So I think she might just be dead. And that’s it. Elena just lost her best friend. And Jeremy her love. (And by the way, the way that everyone realized Bonnie’s loss was just fantastic. Jeremy’s desperate screams of her name, while everyone overhears it — you can almost see the lightbulbs go off in their heads. They know what’s about to happen. It made for a highly intense and emotional scene.)

Now for more intense emotion: Damon. First of all, his good-bye to Elena was just unbelievable — and I must commend both actors on that scene. Elena was pleading with him not to leave her, while Damon just accepted what was about to happen: “Please…please come back to me.” “I love you. Good-bye.” (If you want to remember exactly what Damon said in his speech — and break your heart again — just read it all here.)

Here’s my problem with this scene. It was a good-bye speech. Damon himself said that he peaked. And when you peak…what’s left? Damon said his good-bye. He explained how his life was complete. And when that happens…what’s left for you?

Now, as a TVD fan, I naturally want to argue that, of course, Damon still has stuff to do. He’s not with Elena yet. He’s still got an opportunity for redemption. He still adds a lot to the show! But as someone who has watched a lot of series that kill characters off, particularly shows that understand when a character has, well, peaked — that might not make sense. As I said in my reactionary post, supernatural shows hate happy characters. Damon did find the love of his life and ended up with her in the end. Elena and Damon, in their own way, got back together. We got to see them tell each other what they mean to each other and prove it to each other. Damon made peace with his brother a long time ago — and again after he got together with Elena. And in blowing up the Travelers and Sheriff Forbes, he’s redeemed himself as a good person. He sacrificed himself for his brother and for the town. He really did go full circle. What’s really left for him?

Logically, I’m trying to understand how this show would continue without Damon, if that were to in fact happen. It seems impossible. Somerhalder has an amazing fanbase (not including eyes that pop off a promotional poster). But we just added two new series regulars: Alaric and Enzo. Could we have just traded one guy for two others?

Ultimately, I hypothesize that Damon will somehow make his way back, but Bonnie won’t. We may see Bonnie again, briefly, somehow, long enough to explain why she’s gone for good. But I do think that she’s gone. There’s just nothing left for her, and as someone who’s more in tune with the ways of life, death, and nature, I can see her accepting her fate more than Damon, who does have that love of Elena to cling on to. How we’d get Damon back? I don’t know. But I just feel like somehow that’s going to happen.

Either way, I have to admit that they did an amazing job with that finale. Just seeing that screen turn white with the TVD logo dripping (almost like a tear this time, not blood) while the two said that they were happy to be going into the next stage of the afterlife (or oblivion) together — the fear they had and the unexpected cutoff of Damon’s final line — it all just hit close to home with our own fears of what’s going to happen next. And generally not knowing. Plus, in cutting them off, we didn’t even get the solace of taking a breath and accepting what was happening. It just happened.

To read more, with comments based on an EW interview with EP Julie Plec, read after the jump below. Potential hints and/or spoilers included.

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The Vampire Diaries: Did That Really Happen?

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Season 5 for The Vampire Diaries was a bit of a whirlwind. In case you haven’t been keeping track, let’s look at all the major things that happened: Silas threw Stefan into a watery grave and took over his identity, causing a killing spree around town. Damon and Elena has a fun summer of love. Bonnie dies. The girls go to college. The team tracks down Silas’ long lost love. Stefan is found and loses his memory. Bonnie comes back to life and becomes the anchor. Katherine becomes human, finds her daughter (or her daughter finds her), and grows old. Travelers are explained. Katherine takes over Elena’s body. Katherine dies. Damon is kidnapped, and his history of torture in the 1950s is revealed. Damon and Elena both get a disease where they want to kill other vampires. Damon and Elena break up. Major baddie traveler escapes the Other Side. Travelers take over Mystic Falls. Caroline sleeps with Klaus. Tyler comes back. Tyler become Julian. The Other Side starts to unravel and sucks people into oblivion. Witch baddies get involved. A lot of people died. And some people were brought back to life.

Of course, that’s in no particular order. And if you need visuals, this can help you out. But that’s a lot, is it not?

But who really cares, at this point, what happened earlier this season. Because the season finale was just…killer.

I have to admit, I was handling this episode pretty well. I’ve watched enough supernatural story arcs to discover when someone seems just a little too happy or might’ve gone full circle. Because supernatural TV hates happiness. Happiness must die, and those who are happy must die, too.

So it crossed my mind that TVD might do something ballsy like kill off one of the major characters. In fact, I had heard from a little bird that three people were going to die for good by the end of the season. So basically, I was watching, desperately trying to figure out which three people that would be. Sadly, it wasn’t Tyler (boo). And really, we saw more than three people kick the bucket, supposedly for good. Besides the many travelers, we’ve said good-bye to Silas and Markos as baddies, and supposedly Grams and Lexie, too.

And then, there’s Bonnie and Damon. Bonnie, we’ve been leading up to for a while. Damon, well, he was more of a surprise. But like I said, the supernatural stories hate happy characters, and Damon seemed to have come full circle, finally becoming a good guy and finding his love in Elena. See, I was handling this remarkably well.

But I did start to get anxious, knowing something bad was going to happen. Damon didn’t make it out, and Elena had that horribly heartbreaking scene, sobbing and ugly crying while Damon professed his final good-byes and loving messages to her, while stroking her hair. We can see his studying expressions and broke looks, while Elena is blind and unseeing to the ghost in front of her.

And then we have Jeremy, running, desperately calling out Bonnie’s name before her final moments.

Ok, it was getting rougher. I don’t know what I thought we’d see next. Them being sucked into oblivion? The group just standing in front of Bonnie and watch her disappear?

Nope, we saw something that launched me over the edge. Just…white. We had at least 10 minutes of the episode to realize what was happening and to really say good-bye to both of these characters. But then, what happens? “Do you think it’ll hurt?” “I don’t kno—”

They get cut off. We didn’t even get to see them finish. It was just…white.

Well done, TVD. Sure, I’m wrecked. Having just seen that and saying good-bye to two of my favorite characters from the show. And while I thought it was a neat little spoiler to know that three characters would be gone for good at the end of the episode, I’m now left at the end of the season wondering if these two people are now gone for good or if there will be some magical loophole that brings the two back to us next season. And are we going to see where that white light takes them? And what did Grams mean about helping Bonnie find her peace? Does that mean that they both found peace, and they’re going to a good place? But if it’s a good place, they probably are gone! Does this mean I really want them to be in oblivion for the small chance that they’ll come back?!

Ok, I might still be a bit emotional from this episode. And I might not me making too much sense. Perhaps I need a little more distance. So for now, I’m clinging to whatever good might be in store for next season: Alaric is back (and his real life doppelganger is officially a season regular next season). Tyler isn’t a hybrid anymore, so hopefully he’ll be less obnoxious. And I guess there’s a chance for a Stefan/Caroline story, as if you didn’t see that one coming a mile away. So there is something ahead, I suppose.

But I’m still stuck on a blank white screen, waiting to hear Damon’s final syllable. Did that happen? Did we just say good-bye? Jesus, TVD, you do this to us every year — killer finales that break us to pieces and leave us hanging. When will we ever learn?

To read more of my thoughts about the episode — with comments based on an EW interview with EP Julie Plec — go here.

The Vampire Diaries: For Whom the Bell Tolls

THE VAMPIRE DIARIES: 5.04 “For Whom the Bell Tolls”

Man, if TVD charged for every bucket of tears I cry for this series, they’d have a million dollars. Except that I don’t have a million dollars, so they’d just bankrupt me.

I have no idea how, but this show does such a fantastic job with pulling every possible emotion out of you. I just spent ten minutes crying over Bonnie, a fictional character — who isn’t even leaving the show! (At least, not to my knowledge.) I mean, think about it. She’s still around. She’s still interacting with everyone else. And yet, I just mourned her. Heck, I started crying harder when Tyler showed up. I don’t even like Tyler.

Somehow, TVD can pull it off. It’s like the time I spent half an episode crying over Alaric because he was going to die…only to not die. And then, I cried when he died later. And then I cried again when he came back as a ghost to listen to Damon’s lament! Three episodes of crying; one man. Seriously, how do they do it?

I really, truly enjoyed this episode. And I’m going to say it: I even enjoyed Stefan (well, for the most part). While I was skeptical of Stefan’s amnesia when they introduced it, I was so happy to see a brand-new Stefan in this episode. He wasn’t the boring, lame Stefan that I can only assume some fans must like. And he wasn’t the trying-too-hard Ripper Stefan that never impressed me. He was just a new dude. And I liked where it was going.

And yeah yeah, it got a little ruined when the whole Elena love triangle got in the way (I was hoping they’d stretch that out so it wouldn’t get in the way quite yet, and you had to wonder whether Elena was starting to fall for this new Stefan — oh well). But overall, it was interesting.

Also interesting — Matt. I find the gypsy storyline a little confusing, true. But I think Zach Roerig is doing a brilliant job playing the traveler. He truly is coming across as a brand-new person. Voice. Facial expressions. Mannerisms. I was rather creeped out by the guy on the video, and yet it’s the same actor we all know and love. Kudos!

Also top notch? Damon. Ian Somerhalder did a fantastic job in this episode, particularly in his scene with Steven McQueen, when Jeremy confesses that Bonnie is dead. The range of emotions that went across Damon’s face was so great, and ending it in the comforting embrace was just so unexpected yet powerful. I just think it was well done.

No clue what’s going to happen next, and at this point, I’m fine with dwelling on what we just saw in this episode for a while. As for Jesse and Professor Vampire-Maker, well, I’m not quite invested in that yet. Why would I be? All my favorite characters just showed me why they’re my favorites again (and even dud Stefan impressed). But hey, I’ll get there.

In the meantime, can someone please hand me a tissue?