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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 loved this episode, cant wait for next year!!! i really hope elena and stefan will get back together because elena doesnt really love damon like she loves stefan, she finds that stefan's hot vampire brother is the closest connection she has to him and keeps trying to make damon like stefan.

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Celina- a vampire will die from staking an Original vampire. but since Klaus is an Original vampire he can kill another Original without dying. However if Damon had killed Klaus he would have died...

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Melanie- i am wondering the exact same thing! Wouldnt Damon die if he staked Klaus? What im guessing is that no one expected Damon to be the one to kill Klaus, so if it wasnt Damon then anyone else killing Klaus would result in Damon being killed by the hybrids. So i guess Stefan was just concerned by making sure Klaus does not die??? I have no idea...

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Yea, I didn't like the review. I love Forwood but you'd think this was the Forwood Diaries or beyter yet Caroline the Vampire Slayer. Where's the growth of each character, Delena etc? Sometimes I want a good review over "humor" and obvious character bias.

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My question is - if an immortal can't kill an original vampire, wouldn't it have killed Damon when he tried to stake and kill Klaus?? How was that going to work?

Blu

Agree with the review. It was kind of lazy on their part as far as writing goes with how they used Katherine. the biggest characters on this show used as plot devices rather than characters are Katherine, Matt, and Bonnie. one of them still manages to be awesome while being used but the others still need work. Klaus is an amazingly complex villian and it's wonderful. His confrontation with his father was enough to take my breath away and leave me on the edge of my seat. Rebekah is a gem...she's just a girl who wants to be a girl for once. The overall theme of family and loyalty was beautifully interwoven in it all. Shippers be pissed at me if you like but the true love story of this series will always be and has always been between the Salvatore brothers and their strained, complex, but strong bond. It's beautiful. The character growth and instrospective moments involving the hearts of the show were poignant and apparently overlooked... Damon has finally come to grips and embraced his own humanity while keeping his edge, his love for his brother has never been this transparent and honest and true. His sense of loyalty has never been this intense. He's finally left to just be in regards to Elena and once she let go of changing him and he stopped tearing himself apart because of her, what has emerged is a truly beautiful and strong and deep friendship between the two that may or may not lead to something, but is deep nonetheless. I mean the Damon of season one, and season two compared to where he is right now...it's crazy good evolution of a character. His stance on Katherine and how he reached a point where he could actually say to her "take care of yourself" that was true growth. He was sincere. And he's still the Damon that we love despite this growth. Stefan: He's finally free of the self flagellation and it makes him a deeply intriguing character as a result. He's honest and actually real rather than being painfully and unrealistically optimistic. He still has demons and he's still battling them but his complexities are more transparent and his love for his brother is more intense then it's ever appeared. he's finding himself and it's almost magical to watch and think about his transformation. Katherine: finally reaching the point where she does actually consider others ahead of herself, that she admits that she does genuinely care about the brothers and perhaps even Elena. She's proving to be loyal and reasonably trustworthy. She's evolved from the manipulative shrew that she appeared to be initially. her scene with Stefan in the car was so...open and honest and real. elena; her finally reaching a point where she accepts the importance of both brothers. She know she needs, loves, and wants both of them around. She isn't fighting it anymore. She's let go of changing Damon and just let him be and now she has a strong, beautiful, vulnerable friendship with him. She's smarter now, she thinks things through more. She's becoming more independent and powerful in her own right. She's just grown. That is why I loved this midseason finale so much because aside from the twists and turns and plot developments...the characters were stripped and exposed and raw...and as a longterm fan it was an episode where you stopped and thought about just how far the characters have come and how complex they are and how great the writing is overall for this show.

Queenbee94

No offense but that was a weak review. Yes, they used Katherine in a very convenient way and didn't let us know every little detail until the end. But a review shouldn't focus only on one plot hole - what about the rest of the episode? The plan to get Klaus back to town, Caroline and Tyler breaking up, Katherine wanting to save Damon's life even if it means running for the rest of eternity, Stefan's compulsion being broken and the fact that he stole the coffins of the other originals! You can't just let that out! Personally I didn't mind the way Katherine was used, I like her character anyways and I like how she always surprises us. I liked the flashbacks as well, and even the flashbacks within the flashbacks.
Just think about it - had they done everything without flashbacks the episode wouldn't have been as exciting because we would've known what would be next!

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(ITALY)aspettiamo un vero bacio(kiss)tra DAMON e ELENA.cara PLEC sono 3 stagioni che desideriamo vedere ELENA innamorata di DAMON,sono loro la miglior coppia di TVD,sono loro che ci fanno stare svegli fino a tarda notte per seguire la puntata in diretta,dopo questa lunga pausa speriamo di vedere la miglior coppia (damon e elena) finalmente insieme.ciao,LOVE LOVE LOVE DAMON AND ELENA!!!!!!!

Brittany123

What a great episode! I thought Damon and Elena were finally going to kiss by the end of this episode... I guess not... But I can't believe Forwood is really over! Am I the only one that finds that heartbreaking?

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Wait a second, didnt michael mention that if a vampire stakes an original, they will die too? So why didnt Klaus die when he staked michael? :S