Vampire Diaries: Graduation

“I can’t be killed, and you can’t miss graduation.”

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.

Bites:

• 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.”

And Pieces:

• 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?)

9 comments:

Billie Doux said...

Yes, the constant threats from the dead got repetitive, and I wasn't happy about who lived (I wanted Alaric, and if I couldn't have Alaric, I wanted Lexi) and Tyler is coming back (noooooo!) And I was a bit upset that we got such a great Delena moment when we just found out that Ian Somerhalder and Nina Dobrev broke up. But I was impressed with Bonnie's unselfishness, and a lot of this episode was great fun.

I think they realized that they couldn't break up Damon and Elena again or the fans would start making death threats against the producers. And leaving them together, or finally getting them together (whatever) meant Stefan had no plotline. So now he does. I'm okay with that.

I'm glad they rebounded a bit. While I am still enjoying every episode, I'm not oblivious to the fact that this season hasn't been their strongest.

Blood red caps and gowns. I choose to believe that was a Buffy homage. :)

Anonymous said...

This episode made me feel a bit empty...it did feel a little rollercoasterish (hmm is that a word) I,like you Josie and Billie, saw a lot of Buffy homage...and that seemed a repetitive and slightly boring. Bonnie never saw season 6 of Buffy and realized that witches should not use magic to bring back loved ones back? ? It does not end well... Angel on the bottom of the sea, Anyone? and my biggest question of all... Mystic Falls high had a memorial for Jeremy... how the hell does he walk around town when everyone knows he is dead... does he spend the entire Season 5 hiding out from April Young?

Juliette said...

I actually really love Jeremy so I'm glad he's back, and his seeing-dead-people power is a potentially useful they haven't made enough use of so far. Obviously Alaric would have been first choice, but you never know with this show, and at least with Jeremy around there's guest-spot potential for, presumably, any dead character. I think.

ChrisB said...

Our heroes mostly have names in the beginning of the alphabet, eh? LOL I had exactly the same thought as they were all strolling across the stage.

For the first time in a long, long time, I enjoyed an episode of this show. If you had told me a half dozen episodes ago that it would ever again make me tear up, I would have been a tad skeptical. But, the goodbyes got to me, especially Lexi's for some reason. Maybe because poor Stefan has now lost. Like Anonymous, I immediately flashed to Angel during that final scene.

I'm sorry that it is Jeremy coming back and not Alaric, but we can hope that he will be back. Even in this episode, the scenes with Damon and him are always among the best of the series. I echo Billie's wail about Tyler. He adds nothing.

Thank you for the year of reviews, Josie. In no small part, it is because of you I have stuck with the show. I can honestly say I am intrigued to see where next season will take us.

Paul Kelly said...

The pacing was a little bonkers, but I really enjoyed this episode. I've just watched the last three episodes back to back (after losing a bit of interest after 'The Originals' AKA What a load of old s@#te), and found the finale quite moving. I'm not sure how great it was to see the old gang back together, however. It just reminded me of the show's golden age and made me feel all nostalgic for those halcyon days.

I also realised while watching how truly great being able to resurrect people is -- even if just temporarily. It's that second chance we never get in real life. Damn! If only all this supernatural nonsense were real.

Harry said...

I too thought of Angel sinking to the bottom of the sea - Paul Wesley even looks similar and has a similar Hero/Ripper thing going on. I'm not remotely convinced by the ridiculous and very brief explanation of why Silas looks like Stefan, but hey if it gives Paul a chance to show off his acting chops more I can get behind it. Thanks for the great review Josie :)

DebG. said...

What about Jenna??

Deb

Mallena said...

Okay, sad now. Poor Stefan. His hero hair is ruined. Hope he gets out of his watery grave quickly. A character pretending to be someone he's not gets old quickly. I like Stefan and he deserves a good story line away from Elena. Jeremy and Tyler back? Why? Glad Klause is leaving, I don't like his smarmy face. Everyone says the Originals is a good show, but he's the star? Don't know if I can watch it. Katherine as a human should be good as long as she's different than you know who. I'm trying to like Elena, really, but it's hard for me. Too much Buffy adoration, maybe.

Marianna said...

Wow did Bonnie manage to screw things up. I'm not even a little sad that she's dead. She's been my least favorite character from the beginning. Now Jeremy is going to have some back-from-the-dead issues with everyone in town thinking he died in a fire, but maybe his vampire sister can fix them with compulsion? It's hard to keep track of the vervain status in town.

Now that Katherine is human it means her blood can be used to make hybrids. I assume that will come up in Klaus's spin-off.