One of the great strengths of The Vampire Diaries has always been its pacing, so it’s odd that this episode was so messy. It took us on a roller-coaster ride of emotional switchbacks, moving between death, destruction, and touching goodbyes to old friends.
Take Alaric: one minute chowing down on salty carbohydrates with his ersatz family, the next making Connor the Hunter explode. In fact, the first two-thirds of the episode followed a similar pattern: touching emotional scene, (temporary) death of a threat, touching emotional scene, return of the threat…
The result is an emphasis on the meaningful parts of life being constantly interrupted by supernatural threats. Caroline worried she’d be graduating in the middle of an expression triangle—and that might affect the most important day in her life. That’s a very Caroline perspective, but one that everyone seemed to share. Damon getting en-werewolfed took about 4 minutes of screen time and was solved off-screen. Even Elena, who usually is hyper-aware of supernatural peril and despair, wanted to have a heart-to-heart with Damon shortly after partly-dead Alaric had exploded Connor.
Perhaps Elena, Caroline, and everyone else were clearer on the rules of the veil being down than I was. Luckily, Lexi explained it for the stupider viewers (including me): the veil is down, the dead can re-die, and then they come back eventually. Until the veil goes back up, and they disappear, again, forever.
Those goodbyes were the most touching part of the episode: Stefan getting consoled, however briefly, by Lexi. Alaric looking so happy that Damon “got the girl.” Bonnie and Jeremy saying goodbye—with a twist. The writers have stated that one of the resurrections would stick: I was hoping for Alaric, but I supposed he is less necessary as our heroes get older. Instead, little Gilbert is back to stay, and the only one who can see Bonnie.
Bonnie’s decision to spare everyone the pain of her death is sure to have ramifications: if she let everyone know right now, there might be a push to revivify her. But she wants Jeremy to keep the secret until the end of summer, which makes her resurrection less likely. I felt horrible for her father: I hope she took a moment off-screen to say a better goodbye to him than just a “thanks” on the graduation stage.
Indeed, the focus on graduation—however fast—felt really weird given how little time the main characters have spent at school, talking about college, or mourning their SAT math scores. I’m doubly biased, though: my own high school graduation wasn’t particularly moving (I went to three high schools and graduated the last one a semester early), and I love the Buffy episode “Graduation Day.”
But TVD did add one awesome bit to the vampire-show-graduation lore: Klaus using a mortarboard to behead someone was epically awesome, and a great final moment for the character’s relationship with the people of Mystic Falls. Except Caroline, of course, destined (according to Klaus) to be his “last love,” as opposed to Tyler, who is just her “first love” (and on his way back to Mystic Falls.
Stefan ruminated with Lexi on the nature of love—true love, first loves, and whether there’s just one “the one” out there in the world. Hopefully for Stefan, there’s the possibility of another one, since Elena finally chose Damon. That’s good, given that by episode’s end, Stefan was trapped in a safe at the bottom of a water-filled quarry, and Silas is walking around wearing his shadow-self’s face, which is his face, because nature needs a balance. Confused? Yeah. At least we got an answer as to why we were supposed to care about seeing Silas’s true face for the past few episodes: Stefan is his doppelganger.
Ironic—or maybe not, I’m too confused to tell—because Elena’s doppelganger is now human. Elena did wind up using the cure to save herself: only she chose to save her vampire self by weakening Katherine, rather than restoring her own humanity earlier in the episode. And now, with the cure used up, there’s no way to kill Silas.
That’s a great way to set up next season: a Big Bad that we know is a threat, but acted by Paul Wesley, who we know can handle it. Elena back to her (vampire) factory settings, and Katherine vulnerable (and likely to want to be re-vamped). The Originals gone, which make me happy. The messiness of this episode was worth it, and I’m very excited to see where Season Five takes us.
• Stefan: “I should be sacrificing my own happiness for the good of others. I should be upstairs grooming my hero hair.”
• Stefan: “Maybe I will move to Australia. I will live in a yurt.”
• Klaus: “I received your graduation announcement. Very subtle. I assume you are expecting cash?”
Caroline: “That, or a mini-fridge.”
• Our heroes mostly have names in the beginning of the alphabet, eh?
• Except Stefan Salvatore, who just got his 17th high school diploma. Put it like that, and it sounds pathetic.
• Matt is going to travel the world with Rebekah. That sounds fun!
Three out of four hero hairs.
Josie Kafka is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)
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