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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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Wow.crazy epi.just wow!How things have changed.I used to love damon and now he is the most annoying and boring character aside from matt and bonnie.lol.An who loves stefan???I mean that guy is amazing!Even without his humanity he still comes through for everyone!Hes the new man on top and frankly he is stealing the show!!An on the subject of s/e..im a stefan and elena fan but right now he deserves better then elena and katherine.If s/e are endgame she has alot to make up to him.I think him and rebecca had more chem anyway.She truly loves him and ONLY HIM!Maybe they should give them a chance...

Laurenrebeccah

Is it just me, or did we really need Jeremy and Alaric? I mean, come on? Where were they? They would of have completed the episode! I was hoping this episode was going to be like the Masquerade in season 2, where they all teamed up to bring Katherine down. That episode was genius, which would of worked great in this one too!

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Klaus" I want to see him , I want to see his rotting body for myself." Um it's Mystic Falls 2011 and both holding cellphones. Click ,Image..
This episode is a 1 * out of 5 *. Comical is me being really nice. I see the bad witch coming,as Klaus will need replacing as the villain. Especially after last night's episode. Who's afraid of this dude now, not the audience. He may need to kill all of Mystic Falls to reclaim the villain status. Stefan the hero once again , who didn't see that coming..chirp... Probably means the return of Elijah ,which will bring intrigue. Hopefully he teams up with Katherina, in search for the bad witch. As for Stefan hopefully he returns to MF to say goodbye to that life,Elena. As he deserves better and so the writers con't to move his character forward. Delena still in slow motion, just lock the door behind them already. Final ?'s Did they fire all of last season writers? This season has been really bad with not much structure. Who still want's Stelena endgame? I believe he deserves better than Elena or Kat. IMO

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For me the writers withholding vital facts from the audience was perfectly in keeping with an episode that saw vital parts of the plan to take down Klaus being withheld from the various participants in order for the plan/episode to be pulled off .

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I loved that final face-off between Mikael and Klaus. Roche and Morgan were awesome. Klaus was a cauldron of boiling emotions and it was brilliantly acted by JM! Kudos! This may yet be my favourite episode of the season.

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I liked this episode but like alot of others i feel stefan has far outshined everyone.An I agree with all the posters who say stefan is way to good for elena!After EVERYTHING he has done for her and given up for her she is going for his brother?!!Just wrong.I think if he were to move on with kat or becca she would realize what she lost and it would serve her right!!Leave her with damon she doesnt deserve the love of stefan.He is to way to good for her!!!!!!!

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Stefan is actually too good for Elena at this point, he has sacrificed so much that their relationship would be weird and one-sided now. Plus Elena is a high school girl supposedly so it's easy for girls to "un-love" guys at that age. I think as she is maturing she is seeing Damon as her match and after all, it would solve a lot of Salvatore problems. Stefan ends up with Katherine which is what should have always been and Damon gets his own girl, that he never loved because she looked like kat. Let remember Stefan said himself that originally he was drawn to Elena cause she looked like kat, but Damon has fallen for Elena as she is. JMO

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Looks like the writers are lacking inspiration! They used old tricks in a lame way in this ep. The "if you kill Klaus, Damon dies too" was deja vu, they did it (better) in "the masquerade" when Stefan and Damon couldn't kill Katherine because Elena felt everything they were doing to her. Seeing Elena stab Rebekah reminded me of when she stabbed Elijah. And making Katherine come out of nowhere to help team Salvatore and pretend to be Elena, AGAIN??
Speaking of Kat, since when does she do speeches like the "no matter how easy it is to turn off your humanity, bla bla bla" refrain? Seriously? So not Katherine!
And pleeeease, stop with the Delena teasing! This storyline seems stuck, are the writers hesitating? Are they saving it for later? While they're wondering if/how/when they should do it, it's getting old.
It's very painful to admit but season 3 doesn't live up to the hype seasons 1 and 2 have generated. But the show is still worthy to watch and I hope it will be back on track in 2012.

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*elena(not elana)

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That was an interesting episode.I do have to say some of the characters fell flat for me though.Like bonnie and damon.Man do I miss bad boy non-caring damon.Ever since he fell for elena hes become so predictable and boring.An elenas character is looking more and more shallow.I mean come on give stefan a chance to explain.The only character that has drawn me in and hooked me is stefan.He has so many layers and complexity.Same with klaus.Those two definitely steal the show this season.An what I absoloutly love about stefan is even being a bad boy without humanity,he still is looking out for everyone but himself.Even his brother who in my opinion doesnt care nearly as much for stefan as stefan does for him.An elena who is to busy chasing damon to care that stefan made a breakthrough and could actually take down the one person their all afraid of.I say let damon have elana!!!Stefan deserves so much better!!!