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Vampire Diaries: Do Not Go Gentle

“Sometimes, the people who love her get caught in the crossfire.”

So are you raging, raging against the dying of the light? On a show that encourages us to never give up without a fight, we’re stuck in a rather awkward situation, as the Alaric story has headed so far downhill it’s practically in Antarctica. (South is downhill, right?)

On the one hand, the long goodbye to everyone’s favorite vampire-hunting history teacher was beautiful. A crowd of gorgeous people waiting outside in homage felt like the practice of an ancient, powerful ritual of community and mourning. Alaric’s decision not go through with the transition showed that he is not the weak failure he thinks he is: he has always the moral force to make the right decision, even if his definition of “right” has shifted a bit recently. He “killed” Esther, the advocate of vampire-genocide. And he was right to do it.

Alaric and Damon sitting together in the crypt, and Damon’s salute with the bourbon bottle, was beautiful. Alaric and Damon are one of the few successful relationships on this show, despite their ups and downs. Their non-sexual relationship was a great portrayal of complicated and mature adult friendship, and an example of how the intense bonds that the high school characters share can be adapted for more adult contexts.

On the other hand, possessed Bonnie/Esther ruined it all. If Alaric has to be written out of the show, which is clearly where this is going, does he have to go out like this? That goodbye was so beautiful, but now we’re stuck with the longer, more painful goodbye of watching a favorite character behave like a psychotic maniac (I assume). And that hurts my heart. Losing Alaric is bad enough. Losing him that way is salt in the wound.

On the third hand... (Well, that’s more a third tentacle. I am an octopus, and I expect you to accept me as I am.) ...this is the sort of dark situation that has been foreshadowed all season, as everyone from Jeremy to Matt to Bonnie has mentioned that all the people in this town die. Elena and Jeremy have lost more guardians than some really well-guarded thing. Alaric’s refusal to transition must have affected Caroline, who so recently dealt with her father’s similar decision (a parallelism that relates back to the subject of the Dylan Thomas poem from which the episode title takes its name).

It must have hurt Bonnie, too. Real Bonnie, that is, not possessed Bonnie. While her character always gets the short end of the plot and development sticks, Alaric’s decision must have reminded her of Abby’s choice and forced vampirization. She told Racially Appropriate Love Interest that taking care of her friends was the most important thing, but she also does not mind speaking her mind. Esther’s decision to use Bonnie’s body feels a bit like the writers attempting to find a way to work her into the plot. And how bad will she feel once she knows that she has (however unwillingly) done to Alaric what was done to Abby?

On the fourth tentacle, Elena and Stefan had a beautiful moment that, for me, got swallowed in the Alaric-grief. Poor Elena, the cause of so much trouble, none of which is her fault.

On the fifth tentacle, Caroline continues to be pulled between Klaus’s devilish offer to show her the riches of the world, and Tyler’s mysterious (to me) appeal. All of this is my way of saying: “Caroline! You are so perfect and have such terrible, terrible taste in men! Get back together with Matt! Or anyone, anyone other than Tyler! Or Klaus!” Okay, I feel better now.

Not really, though. This episode was rather uneven, with many events (Jeremy and Matt getting to the crypt, Bonnie switching from one spell to the next, the dance ending, everyone leaving the crypt) taking place off-screen. That made it feel too fast, even for a show that is most comfortable with a breakneck pace. The beauty of the goodbye to my favorite character made up for it—until that forced vampirization. I just can’t get past how upsetting it is.


• Elena: “I can’t ask him on a date. I just made out with his brother.”

• Stefan: “Given our dangerous dance karma, are you sure you’re up for this?”

• Klaus: “Get the humans ready.”

• Damon: “I offered to snap his neck, put him out of his misery, but he didn’t take me up on it... You’d think a guy so used to dying wouldn’t want to drag it out.”

• Alaric: “So I have to actually die to get a real apology out of you.”

And Pieces:

• Just when I think that Nina Dobrev has reached some sort of pinnacle of prettiness, she gets prettier.

• “Vampire sympathizers.” Tee-hee.

• I loved the clothes in this episode, as well as the fake-bobbed hair on the girls.

• So will Meredith Fell be the next guardian?

My fellow vampire sympathizers, what did you think? I’m having a hard time rating this episode as well made or not, because I’m just so upset that they’ve made this choice. (And I keep thinking of it as a choice, rather than an organic storyline, although obviously the distinction is absurd.) Billie pointed out in her Awake review that if an episode makes her cry, it gets four stars. Normally, I would agree. But how do we rate an episode that makes us cry and then pull the rug out from under us, mid-sob?

How many out of four rainbows and rolling green hills?

Josie Kafka is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)


  1. I'd give this episode two rainbows and half a rolling green hill. Tyler and Bonnie just seem like useless characters and did nothing for me. But then I'm Team Klaus when it comes to Caroline... Something about Joseph Morgan ...

    I'm still not over Jenna and John's deaths (Seriously, you don't kill Sark!) so adding Alaric to the mix just hurts. I feel the need to watch Legally Blonde to make up for all the feelings I'm having.

    All the girls on the show seriously need to eat something.

  2. I'd give it a Four for everything that made me cry and a 'Screw You, Kevin Williamson' for everything that happened after that. I am not happy with this. The goodbye scenes where emotional, especially Damon and Alaric's last drink together, but then Esther had to go and ruin it all. Alaric was one of my favourite characters and I don't like that they've Dark Willowed him.

    I'm starting to think that maybe Caroline and Elena should just hook up with each other and ride off to see the world together. To hell with all these vampires and vamp/wolf hybrids. They are nothing but trouble.

  3. Beautiful review Josie.
    This episode really broke my heart! The goodbye scenes were beautiful and Alaric crying at the end had me choking back the sobs. I have loved his character, the humanity and humility of a man aware of his flaws and his attempt to become a better man were brilliant. His complexity if his bromance with Damon and his fatherly relationship with Elena and Jeremy were also highlights. i want to say he reminds me a lot of Giles from Buffy, but think that cheapens a great character and I am so disappointed the writers chose this route for him. As you mentioned Josie, the adults in this show are what get me as it stops elements of the teen love dramas becoming too cliched and overwhelming.
    Overall I feel very sad, not because we lost Alaric, but because we lost his tribute....
    Thanks again for an insightful and poignant review.

  4. I cant wrap my head around this episode or whatever I'm supposed to feel around this episode. Jeremy is still wearing his ring because he feels he cant be safe around vampires... But he almost kills himself striking out against the woman who wants to destroy them. Bonnie is helping the Salvatores again after what they did to her... Elena says Esther is more evil than her psychopath children or Ripper Stefan and his brother because... Esther cut her? Whatever. I kind of lost all care for Alaric with the Andie Starr thing and the actor is a racist. The heartrending goodbyes were just wasted on me. Unless they wanted me to feel mad and sad when Esther died because that I 'almost' did.

  5. I just wanted to highlight how subtle the writing was. I was never a fan of Alaric. But, every scene he was in, whether with Esther, Elena, Damon, anyone, the dialogue was fantastic. The acting fluctuated but at the end of the episode, Mr Davis proved himself. The single tear he shed when he told Damon "actually i've been thinking about cutting back" and then realizing he'll never have the opportunity to even try to cut back was heartbreaking.
    The entire cast saying goodbye in that incredibly picturesque scene is one for the books. Everything about it clicked. They made me sad about a character i've been indifferent to since season one. That's a feat.

  6. Maybe it's all those seasons of Buffy and Angel, but I'm having a hard time accepting that Alaric is "gone."

    And maybe I'm getting old, but I am so over loud pop music playing over important, emotional scenes.

  7. Parallels between this episode and Angel's The Trial's ending?

  8. Like all of you, I'm divided into loving this epsiode and hating it. I cried so much in the goodbye scenes and then comes possessed Bonnie to ruin it all. I hated it. How could they (the writers)do it to Alaric? I have always loved him as a character and now it seems we've lost him for good. I hope they (the writers again) come up with something else.
    And Joseph Morgan was really awesome in his "I dare you" scene over his dead (again) mom's casket. He's a great actor and a great character too.
    Now what? Will we see Alaric hunt down his best friend? Kill Klaus no matter what?
    And by the way, what the hell happened to Katherine? Isn't it time we have her back?
    Four of four empty bourbon bottles shared between friends.

  9. "I'm starting to think that maybe Caroline and Elena should just hook up with each other..."

    I've been wishing for that since the first episode.

  10. Josie -- another outstanding review. I completely agree with your assessment of the Alaric story. The goodbye with the group, but especially with a tearful Damon, was moving and perfect for such a well loved character. The bit at the end really, really upset me. I would have preferred a more dignified farewell.


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