In M.T. Anderson’s dystopian YA novel Feed, there is a fictional streaming TV show called Oh? Wow! Thing!. The joke, of course, is the pure inarticulateness of that title and what it implies about the media-induced dumbing down of America. And yet Oh? Wow! Thing! pretty much sums up my reaction to this finale. Or maybe it is Wow! Thing! Oh?
Last week’s ambivalent cliffhanger—Stefan’s death—was little more than a new wrinkle in Bonnie’s bizarre plan to turn the Travelers’ trick against them: killing all the Travelers, overloading Bonnie as they went to the Other Side so that Liv, doing the Travelers’ spell, could allow Bonnie to bring back a long list of people, including Enzo, Lexi, Stefan, Elena, Damon, Tyler (de-Julienned), Luke the twin, and Alaric. Because why not? Thing!
Oh? Of course, it didn’t work perfectly. Lexi sacrificed herself to save Stefan, and may have ascended to a higher plane, if the white-lightiness is any indication. Damon didn’t make it back before Luke put the kibosh on Liv’s spell. Bonnie was, as we all suspected, lying about the possibility of her surviving the destruction of the Other Side.
Or was she? (Thiiiiing?) Grams was so cryptic that I suspect she has a plan to save Bonnie. I suspect that, since Bonnie and Damon were holding hands, Bonnie will accidentally bring Damon back to life. Maybe he’ll be a human, or something twisty like that. I’m so convinced the show can’t live without either Damon or Bonnie that, like last week, I’m having a hard time believing my eyes, even though it was a beautiful shot, and even though I like the idea of Damon, Bonnie, and Lexi kickin’ it in heaven. Or, maybe not. Perhaps this is the re-set that that TVD needs.
Then again, an injection of Alaric is all this show has needed since Season Three. But Alaric without Damon? Wow. That’s hard to believe. And is Alaric still a vampire? They reminded us that he was envamped when he died. Tyler’s not a hybrid anymore. Is he just a werewolf? Is Elena still a vampire? I can’t wait to see how this all shakes out next season. Thing!
But it’s not just about how this episode ended. Getting there was more than half the fun. There were many excellent conversations, especially Damon’s speech to Elena that she couldn’t hear (so reminiscent of “Rose,” when he confessed his love, then compelled her to forget. How far they’ve come!) Damon risking a half-sacrifice was impressive, but I was most touched by his willingness to stick around to help Sheriff Forbes, who has always been a friend to him.
Let’s take a second to admire the symmetry: Damon got stuck on the Other Side because he, without much thought, did the right thing. Stefan accidentally slipped from the Other Side to Over Here because he, without much thought, helped Bonnie. They both wound up where they didn’t want to be because of their own altruism.
But my favorite moment in the whole show, more than the beautiful final shot, is this:
• Matt: “Can we talk about the irony of blowing up the only place dumb enough to hire us?”
• Jeremy: “I’m sure the Salvatores will make a generous contribution to help fix it.”
• Matt: “Yeah, if they can come home. No one said killing the Travelers would get rid of this anti-magic thing. Although Mystic Falls might be a half-decent place to live again. No more vampire attacks, half-crazy blood rituals, you know? Safe. Like it used to be.”
• Jeremy: “Yeah, except I wouldn’t be able to invite my girlfriend over.”
• Matt: “There are worse things than having to visit your girlfriend in college over the weekends. It’s called normal.”
Unlike the fade-to-black that has ended every other episode of TVD, this episode ended on a mid-sentence fade-to-white just like the finale of Lost’s fifth season. For those of you who still haven’t watched Lost—well, just go do that over the summer—but know that it was a really iconic moment that signaled a huge, mysterious reset. For that matter, there was also a major reset in the final of Angel's fourth season, also called "Home." There’s no way TVD would be willing to take risks as big as the risks taken by Lost or even Angel, but the visual allusion indicates the potential for some radical, and welcome, changes that might offset the unevenness of this season and give the show a chance to create the normal/insane balance that made the first three seasons so appealing.
Bites and Pieces:
• Jeremy: “Whenever I hated you less, there was no magic.”
• Silas: “I feel like I’m teaching calculus to an infant.”
• Bonnie: “Bygones.” Bonnie is awesomest when she’s kick-ass.
• Winner of the Unintentionally Hilarious Dialogue Award: Lexi saying “This is killing you, isn’t it?...Every person that passes through takes you one step closer to death. What kind of a best friend would I be if you died before Stefan got his brother back?” Or, y’know, what kind of person would Lexi be if she put her own life—already long and well-lived—ahead of the life of a nineteen year-old woman?
• Lexi implied that she ships Stefan and Caroline. Wow!
• Here’s a casting spoiler for next season.
Four out of four all-you-can-eat potato skins. Thing?
Josie Kafka reviews The Vampire Diaries, True Detective, Game of Thrones, and various other things that take her fancy. She is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)
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