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The Vampire Diaries Review: When Humanity Happens...

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The Vampire Diaries delivered an outstanding midseason finale, an extraordinarily tight, tense episode that kept viewers guessing into each commercial break, building the suspense until a climatic daggering that pitted brother against brother and planted the seeds for a vengeful 2012.

But there was a rather big problem with "Homecoming:" It cheated.

Dastardly Duo

First, there was the use of Katherine, as we've talked about for weeks in our Round Table. She's the epitome of a plot device at this point. Here, after last being seen as a snack for Mikael, she simply showed up and jumped right into Damon's grand plan. How did she get back to Mystic Falls? How did she possess any strength following her loss of blood? How much time has gone by since Mikael approached Damon and Stefan at the bar, and then Katherine returned, and they all formulated this scheme?

The show skipped right past all these key questions and just inserted Katherine where it was most convenient to move the story along.

Second, this was an example of manipulative storytelling. Writers can't purposely keep information from viewers and then fill us in later via flashback. That's cheating, that's a lazy way to pull off a big surprise, especially when you consider the most vital line of dialogue in the episode: when Klaus informed Katherine (posing as Elena) that his Hybrids would take out Damon if he were killed.

Look, we all know there are writers penning these stories. But strong storytelling hides the strings being pulled by these puppet masters. To depict the conversation above only partially, later filling in a vital blank, is a form of lying. We were shown an incomplete scene, based our assumptions on it, and then were told we actually lacked all the pieces of the puzzle. That's just bad writing.

Which irritates me to no end, as you can tell, because I absolutely loved everything else about "Homecoming!" I was on the edge throughout the hour, as one swerve followed another. Rebekah was bonding with Elena... then she was staked. Tyler was an evil, sired Hybrid... then he was actually a caring, complicated boyfriend. Klaus had finally aligned his army... then Mikael proved he could compel them.

I loved every twist and turn and legitimately had no idea where it was going - and I even loved where it went, with Stefan shocking us all by saving Klaus' life; Damon reacting with rage; Elena comforting him, actually seeming okay for once with the idea of letting Stefan go (!!!!!); and an emphasized focus on family, via the layered Salvatore brother relationship and the fact that, as his core, Klaus just wanted his back.

Due to Katherine and the misleading way the plots came together, though, I just didn't like how we arrived at those places.

Other highlights:

  • How can Caroline even make the term "evil blood slut?" sound adorable?
  • Remind me never to invite Damon to a party. I'm scared of how he'd RSVP.
  • The Mikael vs. Klaus showdown, with the former pulling every Bad Daddy card in the deck and the latter reduced to tears? Beautifully done.
  • How is it possible that no student would have asked Rebekah to the homecoming dance?!? Didn't all the football players see her cheers, flips and - gulp - splits?!?
  • When did Tyler start hanging out with Dexter Morgan? That was some fine injecting, kid.

So that's all for 2011, Vampire Diaries fans. We now have a few weeks to debate all the possibilities going forward and for me to move past my issues with this finale. It shouldn't be too difficult, not with such an intriguing, revenge-based conclusion hanging over us.

And you know what they say about revenge, right? It's a dish best served... by hot, blood-thirsty vampires, as teased in this preview for 2012. I can't wait.

Review

Editor Rating: 4.2 / 5.0
  • 4.2 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 (608 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.

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I agree 100% with Manty.....I can't believe Elena would even let the thought of giving up on Stefan cross her mind! They have got to get back together...it is a MUST! Even with Stefan's humanity being shut off it is still very clear that he loves Elena! I hope Elena and Damon find out very quickly the reason for Stefan interfering with their plan of killing Mikael.

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I'm a Delena's fan i want them to happend but seriously i hate it when she said '' then we'll let him go " oki i understand that they r bcoming hopeless but Stefan would never give up on them never he proves it sooo many times already and still is he stop damon from killing klaus to save damon from going down too !!

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"nice injecting, kid". hahaaaaa laughed hard at that one, didn't even notice Tyler's great vervaine-injection skills. hahaa too funny great review

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How the writer made all our mind go crazy is just epic! All the next episodes will surely blow our minds. I totally agree with @Sean. Can't wait to see how Stefan's gonna take down Klaus. :)

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I completely agree with Sean. I love all the details and twists and flashbacks. I was 'wowed' with each turn and can't wait to see how it will all play out in January. GREAT WRITING -- LOVE THIS SHOW!

Interuppted

okay elena,step 1 is thinking of letting stefan go..when will delena happen,they've basicly been teasing us since season 1 about them kissing,and the whole idea of them getting together was unspeakable then,but now..now, circumstances have changed, next step is actually letting him go, not saying that she might have to, she does does have to, otherwise how are damon and elena going to get together. xo

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I LOVE STEFAN CHARACTER..I READ THE VAMPIRE DIARIES BOOK THIS T.V SHOW REALLY FREAK ME OUT I REALLY LOVE THE TWIST OF THE STORY...KEEP IT UP CANT WAIT FOR THE NEXT EPISODE...LOVE YOU STEFAN

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When is episode 10 coming??

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First Katharine. Damon says to Mikael before Mikael feeds on Stefan that Katharine TOLD him that Mikael feeds on vampires. This is pretty much a dead giveaway that she's still alive. So they actually didn't skip that step. You just missed it. Elena telling Damon that they have to let Stefan go is not her being a hyprocrite, it's her growing up and going through character development, in episode 2 she was in denial of how bad it was, now she's starting to realize that maybe it's not a problem you can fix. Mikael's Death is a fantastic twist because it subverts audience expections and works as a shocker because it isn't what we THOUGHT would happen. Damon was big. Then Katharine came up and made him look pathetic, then Elijah showed up and made her look pathetic, then Klaus showed up and made Elijah look pathetic, and then when Mikael came, ALL OF US expected him to become the big bad, the writers killed him off to subvert audience expectations and spin the story in a new direction. It wasn't too fast, it was SMART because it breathed new life into the show. Klaus did compel Stefan this episode. In Reckoning Klaus compelled Stefan do to as he says exactly, and then to turn off his humanity. In this episode Klaus compelled stefan to no longer do as he says. Lastly the flashback was good. It happens in shows all the time. They withhold a piece of information to up the ante and the suspense, and then something happens which makes no sense, so they go back and explain it THROUGH flashback. Call it lying or whatever you want, it's GOOD writing. It happens ALL THE TIME. Lost, Alias, Fringe, Ringer many, MANY other shows have used that technique. I thought the episode was fantastic. 10/10

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Glad Elena gave up on Stef, those two bore men to tears. They both need fire and together they're chicken soup. He is hawt when not shackled to her and Kat is his fire, hell Becca is too. The originals are awesome especially Becca and Elijah. Klaus is kool but getting tired of him hogging the limelight.