Last week's episode of "The Vampire Diaries"
was so heart-wrenching that I wished it had been the season finale. All of the promotion around this week's actual
season finale has focused on Damon seeking Elena's forgiveness, and frankly, I wasn't particularly interested in seeing the dying wish of a character that we knew
wouldn't die. I thought the stakes going into this episode were low.
As usual, I was wrong, and I underestimated this show. In the end, the character in the most danger in "As I Lay Dying" wasn't Damon -- it was Stefan. After all, we always knew they'd find a cure for the bite. Ian Somerhalder
isn't going anywhere. Now, though, we've watched our most virtuous character - our moral compass - take a long walk off of a short cliff into a downward spiral of addiction and murder and alliance with evil.
Not to mention, there were some gorgeously
romantic moments in this episode that we've all been waiting for. Let's jump in!
Previously on "The Vampire Diaries":
Jenna died, and John died, but Twitter was way too worried about Poor Damon to notice!8:01 -
Look at the photo of Jenna and Elena on Jeremy's nightstand! I'm obsessed with him! Exclamation points! Why are all the really sad moments on this show punctuated by Jeremy looking super hot? I'm developing an inappropriate reaction to tragedy here.
Speaking of tragedy, I can't believe they built Jenna a bedroom just to kill her and turn it into a shrine. If that's the master bedroom, Miranda and Grayson Gilbert probably slept there when they were alive. It's totally cursed.
I was under the impression at the end of last week's episode that Damon was just planning to walk off into the sunset and leave Elena with the impression that he simply skipped town, so I'm surprised to see him so actively seeking out Elena's forgiveness while he's still relatively lucid. I say relatively because he's really not feeling very Damon-like right now. Usually, even his sweeter moments are edged by sarcasm and caustic remarks. It's disconcerting to see him be so plainly gentle.
Oh, poor naive Elena, thinking she's got all the time in the world to tell Damon what we already know -- she forgives him for his flagrant violation of a Doppelganger's right to choose. That was written all over her face at the funeral. Why can't she just spit it out?8:02 -
Even the title card feels different this week, with (soundtrack junkie moment) Ingrid Michaelson's "Turn to Stone" playing over it instead of the usual foreboding score. And off Damon goes to have a pre-death drink -- hope he went for the good stuff.
I have to admit, as melodramatic as the ring removal is, it's a really striking image. I mean, personally, if I was a suicidal vamp I'd fall on a stake, because cooking in the sun just seems like a really unpleasant way to die, but too each his own I suppose.
Of course, Stefan is around to slam Damon against a few walls and then toss him in the panic room a la Winchester. "Just tell me goodbye and get it over with," Damon says. As much as I'd love to see that scene just for the emotional trauma of it all, we all know Stefan won't give up that easily. "There has to be another way" was his mantra when Damon wanted to sacrifice Bonnie, so of course he still believes in that... even though he was totally wrong about the Klaus thing.8:04 -
Klaus looks so young as he's waking up in the woods! Joseph Morgan reminds me of a "Cruel Intentions" era Ryan Phillippe. If full moon came and went and he was able to stay in wolf form, on the prowl, I'd expect that we won't really be seeing him turn on every full moon. After all, Mason proved that a werewolf has all the cool parkour jumpy tricks even when he's in human form, so if Klaus can do all of that while he's a human... there's no real reason for him ever to turn hairy, right?
Unlike the normal werewolves, though, it would appear that in wolf form, Klaus still has control of his actions, since he says "I remember every single kill."
I can't get over how brilliantly cast Elijah and Klaus were. They look like brothers, they move like brothers, and there's an exasperated antagonism between them that reminds me of when my sisters and I are cooped up in a car together for too long on road trips.8:06 -
Oh, poor Alaric. Jenna's death certainly isn't doing his not-so-subtle drinking problem any favors. "I'm sorry, you've reached somebody who's currently not operating." I'm glad that he's pissed about being voodoo-locked into the haunted house while Jenna was in danger - after all, he's supposed to be Scruffy the Vampire Slayer. I'm also glad he's not quite pissed enough to turn his back on Damon in his time of need. Bro code!8:07 -
Ha, Elena has demanded three hours of real world time from Jeremy... but not during school hours, of course. It's time for another town event! Leave it to Caroline, meanwhile, to practically force everyone to put their happy faces on and ignore that whole "everyone is dead" thing.
"We're going to take a page from Scarlett," she says. "We made it through the war. You guys went through hell, and my mom knows I'm a vampire, so basically, it's like Atlanta has burned, and yet, in spite of everything, we persevere."
Am I the only one who thinks they didn't make it through the war at all? They didn't kill Klaus. Has everyone forgotten that he's still on the prowl and that their big plan only succeeded in making him more powerful than ever? I mean, it seems Elena and Jeremy are back to sleeping at their non-vampire-proof house again.
Jeremy is impressively non-emo in this scene, by the way. I figured that Jenna's death would have him raiding her weed stash and painting his nails again, but no.8:09 -
The shot of Emily's face from the promo that The CW released last week was removed, but they still used Bianca Lawson's voice when Emily possesses Bonnie. "Nature ensures a balance to everything," Emily says, but Stefan's onto her and knows how much she hates Damon. Speaking of which - if they were going to awaken a witch, why not Bonnie's grandmother? She seemed a lot more sympathetic to vampires than Emily.
Of course Klaus holds the cure. You weren't expecting it to be something easy, like "Oh, just douse it with bourbon!" or "Make out with a doppelganger!" or "Drink from the vial hidden in the giant bowl of soap!" were you?8:13 -
Oh, look. That vampire hunting council that was established way back in the first season suddenly realized that they're massive failures at vampire hunting. Now is so not the time to start being effective, Carol Lockwood. Go back to arranging bake sales for the historical society.8:13 -
"Look who couldn't resist an epic romance," Elena teases Stefan. Get it? Because their romance is epic?
I'm impressed that Stefan recognized the fact that Elena would probably need to see Damon before he died, and that he had the class and the strength of character to make her aware of it. He's painfully aware of the way that Damon feels about Elena, and here he makes it clear that he knows Elena's feelings for Damon go beyond "that jerk fed me his blood and it was gross."
I also appreciate the way that Stefan made it clear that when Damon got hurt, he was helping Tyler. He was being a hero and he was injured during a relatively selfless act. Stefan also remains hung up on the fact that he played a big part in turning Damon into a vampire, and so he has to save him from the ugly vampire death.8:15 -
Flashback! I love these scenes, especially when they start off like Civil War era po*n, all, "My corset is stuck on me! Help! I'm too dainty to do it myself!" Honestly, I'm not entirely sure what the purpose of this particular fever dream is, though. We didn't get any new information from it and it didn't give us much insight into Damon's mindset, except to show that when his mind wanders, it still goes to Katherine.8:17 -
Good to know that Klaus really wasn't all that hard to find. I thought Stefan was going to have to go out of town to find him, but no, Klaus remains a big fan of Alaric's bachelor pad. I bet it's all those AT&T gadgets that keep him coming back for more.
"I have an obligation to my brother that requires my immediate attention," Klaus says, and then he gets all stabby-stab with Elijah. Honestly? How many times is this man going to have to die? How many perfectly good suits have been ruined now with that stupid dagger?
Then, Klaus turns on Stefan. "Now, what am I going to do with you?" I can't be the only person who just thought "make out?" right? I think we just discovered an unexpected bromance.8:22 -
It's interesting that in the season premiere, Katherine staked Stefan just to prove a point, and now she's defending him as Klaus scrapes a stake against his heart. Things sure change in a year. (Or, in Mystic Falls time, I guess it's been like three hours since "The Return," but who's counting?)
"You're just shy of useless," Klaus quips. That sound you just heard was millions of Delena fans frantically hash-tagging their tweets with #TeamKlaus.8:23 -
Aw, Alaric and Damon, sharing one last drink through the bars of the dungeon. It's almost as if Damon's trying to rile Alaric up, or to kill any remaining affection Alaric might have for him, but Alaric remains loyal to his friend. Even after Damon reaches through the bars and throttles him, Alaric seems sympathetic to him as he consoles with, "Elena's not here, Damon."8:25 -
Ugh, the Sheriff. Usually I don't mind her, but her incompetence is grating on my nerves lately. If she's so sure her daughter is a dangerous monster, why was she having a teenage boy do her reconnaissance work? If she was onto them
, where was she during sacrifice night when suddenly every supernatural creature in town was unaccounted for? Why have two minors gone two days without a guardian, while there are two freshly dug graves in the cemetery, and nobody's come a-knocking?
And now she's marching around letting delusional monsters out of their cages. Good plan.8:29 -
"You left me behind before, and guess what? Jenna still died." I'm thrilled to hear Jeremy stand up for himself when Bonnie wants to leave him behind. His ring makes him just as qualified to save Elena (because that is the goal here, right?) as anybody else is. It's not like the vampires and witches always do the right thing; they're not invincible. It would be one thing for Alaric, as a potential parental figure and a teacher, to boss Jeremy around. Seeing Bonnie do it makes me mad.8:30 -
Oh my god. I love what's going on with Klaus and Stefan here. When Stefan told Elena about his bloodlusty days before Lexi's intervention, it seems he left out the part where he apparently fell off the wagon - "And when he was off, he was magnificent" - and ravaged villages and slaughtered people well into the 20th century.
When we thought he was coming clean, Stefan was hardly lifting the veil at all. I'm so relieved. I thought that the sum total of Stefan's dark side was a few rough weeks immediately after turning, and that was such a massive disappointment. Stefan "the ripper," as Klaus calls him, is so much more intriguing. I want to know everything about that
Unfortunately for Stefan, I'm not alone in that. "That's the vampire I can make a deal with," Klaus says.
Finding out that Klaus's blood cures a werewolf bite is decidedly anticlimactic at this point. I'm more interested in the fact that he can be all, "Werewolf bite yellow-eyes powers activate!" any time. He's a vampire-killing machine now. Also a vampire-curing machine. Hey, witches? You suck at keeping things balanced.8:32 -
Oh, good job, Sheriff. Now you're locking Elena up when she hasn't done anything wrong. Sheriff Forbes and Deputy Dewey should get together and form an Incompetent Law Enforcement Club. 8:33 -
And now she shot Jeremy
? I'm enraged! She will never be forgiven! Down with Sheriff Forbes! I rarely react so viscerally to this show, but my breath caught in that moment. She blew his chest open! She is terrible! What trained police officer shoots before she's threatened and before she's checked the place out? She knows there are kids caught up in this. I hate her.
Feed him, Caroline! She should honestly just keep some of her blood on tap at the Grill.8:38 -
NOOO! It didn't work? I was kidding last week when I said I wanted more of him in funeral attire. I didn't mean like, in a coffin. I refuse to believe that Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec would literally kill off Elena's entire family within a week8:38 -
Meanwhile, Elena is a badass and escapes the courthouse. I'm disappointed that they cut the scene of her jumping out of the window that was in the promo trailer. The more opportunities we get to see Elena as a badass, the better.8:39 -
Back to Klaus and Stefan! "You would've made a hell of a wingman," Klaus says, taunting Stefan with blood. He wants Stefan to go on a decade-long bender
in exchange for his brother's life. This is so twisted and brilliant. Klaus just offed his own brother because he thinks someone else's will make a more effective partner in crime.
Stefan has built up a tolerance to human blood, in some ways. He has been taking tiny sips from Elena all season, as far as we know. Is it possible that he's built up enough of a tolerance that even this kind of consumption might not send him off the rails?
I hope not. I love Stefan best when he's all juiced up. Roid rage Stefan is so compelling.8:42 -
The ghost-witches don't want to help Jeremy, threatening consequences, but Alaric isn't having it. "He's just a kid, tell them to shut up," he snaps. Kat Graham is working it
in this scene.
Oh thank heaven. Good morning Jeremy! It's too bad Bonnie's all bloody and teary and snotty, because this would be a nice moment for a thanks-for-saving-my-life kiss, but there are limits.8:44 -
Finally, Elena finds Damon. Unfortunately, he's got one foot in the now and one foot in 1864, where he was chasing Katherine through the woods and frolicking like a good little human.
Damon's voice is so different when he's young. "Let me chase you forever," he begs -- and this
is a flashback with a legitimate purpose. Katherine didn't feed Damon her blood - she simply made it available to him after he begged. It was his idea. She gave him the choice.
Stefan, on the other hand, never had that choice. The blood was slipped to him without his consent. Hmm.
This scene is difficult to write about, because it's hard to see Damon hurting Elena again
, despite the fact that he doesn't know what he's doing. As she bends down to comfort him, there's a part of me that thinks she should just get out of there and protect herself. That said - it's not like he's on a Chuck Bass bender and lashing out at her in anger. He's genuinely delusional and crazy and 8:48 -
"I thought I killed him," the Sheriff says.
"You did." Caroline doesn't want to lie anymore, but can she at least be a little tougher on her mom for just recklessly shooting a sixteen-year-old
? I mean... really.8:49 -
Meanwhile, back at the Gilbert house of vampire free-for-all, Jeremy is Googling "Back from the dead." (I know, he's not on Google, but only douchebags use "bing" as a verb.)
I'm not sure what Jeremy thinks he's going to find online to soothe his reanimation discomfort. He realizes that this isn't something that actually happens to people, right?
Alaric has never been one of my very favorite characters, since I like my vampire hunters to hunt vampires, but this episode changed all of that. I'm so glad he survived the slaughter, because he's just so lovable. He's a complete disaster case - he drinks too much and he's got the heaviest baggage ever and his entire life is mile after mile of bad road, but when he's warm, he's phenomenal. This scene between him and Jeremy - "And the day after that, and the day after that" - is one of the brightest moments in the episode.
I'm sure this doesn't need to be said, but where exactly was he planning on going
before deciding to sleep at the Gilberts' place? Do they have a cot for him behind the bar at the Grill?8:50 -
Poor Elena. Her brother has died and come to life, again
, and she's completely unaware.
This scene on the bed in Damon's room is incredibly powerful. (Though, Elena is not putting that towel in her hands to good use. Mop him off, girl.) She's clearly completely terrified. "I'm not leaving you," she promises.
And, after so many years of blaming Stefan, Damon kind of lets him off the hook. Damon was as active in his own "turn" as Stefan was, so it's not really fair that he's been letting Stefan shoulder the blame all these years.8:51 -
Wow. When Stefan goes on a bender, Stefan goes on a bender
. His table manners are terrible. How is Alaric going to get all that blood off of his floor? I absolutely can not say enough about how much I love this storyline. Paul is such an underrated actor and Stefan's crazy moments really let him shine. I am so excited to see where this goes. Finally
it seems like we're actually going to spend some significant time with dark side Stefan. Paul must have literally done a jig when he read this script.8:53 -
So many parts of this episode are making me question my abilities as a critic, because I don't want to write about them, I just want to revel in their awesomeness. The Damon/Elena scene we've all been waiting for is one of those moments. It could not be more perfect. Their conversation slays me.
Elena is clinging to hope. When she didn't have hope for herself this season, she still desperately hopes for Damon. Then she tells him that not only does she forgive him, but she knows that he loves her. She doesn't add conditions - she doesn't say that he doesn't know what love is, she just says she knows he loves her. He made her forget when she told him last time, but she'll remember this one.
"You should've met me in 1864," he whispers. "You would've liked me."
This is my favorite thing she's ever said to him: "I like you now, just the way you are." She's not waiting for him to change or expecting anything of him. She doesn't have to love everything he does to love him. She can hate his impulse control issues and his sarcasm and his violent tendencies, but she can still love him.
And then. It happened. She kissed him. First of all, it was a perfect first kiss for them. It was sweet, and chaste, and careful - so different from the kiss that he shared with Katherine (believing her to be Elena) in last season's finale. It's hard to even consider this a betrayal of Stefan, because there was nothing particularly sexual about it. It could've even been written off as a goodbye kiss, except for the fact that we know that Elena still has hope.
Of course Katherine shows up now
. (And yes, I know -- she shouldn't have been able to get into the house. But really, did you want her to ring the doorbell and interrupt that moment even earlier? Let's just... pretend we didn't notice that plot hole, okay?)
Poor Elena looks like she got caught with her hand in the cookie jar. Katherine makes Stefan's sacrifice very clear - he gave up everything
. Including Elena, but more importantly, he abandoned all of the virtue that has defined him for as long as we've known him on the series.
"It's okay to love them both," Katherine tells Elena. "I did." Hardcore fans will remember that this was a sentiment expressed by Rose in a trailer, that was then edited out of the final cut of the episode. I think it's much better suited to Katherine than to Rose, who - let's face it - didn't really know the first thing about Elena's particular predicament.8:57 -
Um, does Klaus have his entire family's tomb shipped around from place to place, the way he shipped his own body to Mystic Falls after possessing Alaric? Because that would be sick, twisted, and super amazing.
At least it appears that he spared no expense on that coffin. I mean, if you've got to R.I.P. in a pine box with a dagger in your heart, at least it's a box that looks comfy? For a box?
I knew the blood Capri Sun juiceboxes were too easy! "A real ripper enjoys the hunt," Klaus says. Oh, crazy sociopath Stefan. I've missed you. (The shaky camera work here kind of ruined the impact of the scene for me, though. I thought we were having an earthquake.)8:58 -
Oh god. Really
? Does the last scene of the episode have to be Jeremy? This can only mean bad things. Is that Katherine creeping in the house? Elena, go home and take care of your brother!
Aw, it's so sad that Alaric crashed on the couch because he couldn't bear to be in Jenna's room.
Oh. My. God. Anna! And Vicki! This is amazing and also terrifying! How incredibly creepy was their walk down the stairs? I have the shivers. I'm never going to recover.
What sort of "consequence" do you think the witches have hit Jeremy with? Is this curse his, or are they trying to hurt Bonnie
by bringing back the dead vampire girlfriend? Can Jeremy see all dead people, or just the ones he's made out with?
I'm thoroughly disturbed. And not just because Jeremy is totally stuck in the plot of a Matthew McConaughey movie.
I know this is a bit of a cop-out, but I'm not picking an MVP tonight. My favorite scenes were the Damon and Elena scenes and the Klaus and Stefan scenes, but Alaric was also brilliant with Jeremy and I loved Bonnie in the reanimation scene. I can't choose!
Next week I'll put up a more in-depth look at Season 2 as a whole, but for now, thanks so much for playing along with me every Thursday night. It's been a fun season and I've loved reading your comments and hearing all of your opinions, and I really appreciate you all taking the time to read mine. What a ride it's been!Your turn now, as always. Weigh in below in the comments. What did you love? What did you hate? Do you wish we'd seen more mourning for Jenna? Was Elena wrong to kiss Damon? Are you looking forward to crazy Stefan? What do you think is in store for Jeremy -- and Matt, for that matter -- now that Vicki and Anna are back? Do you think Sheriff Forbes sucks as much as I do? Discuss!