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The Vampire Diaries Review: Raging Against Death

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The Vampire Diaries told us this week, in one of a number of emotional scenes, it's okay to feel. That's what makes us human, right?

So allow me to let my humanity shine through and say this about "Do Not Go Gentle:" I feel... torn.

It was mostly a terrific episode. Seriously, I can't think of another show that can pull of such conflict - both emotional and physical - in the course of one hour, causing my eyes to both well up and pop out of their socket. It ended on a shocking note and it set up a clear direction for the final two episodes of the season.

Decade Dance Dates

But it was the best scene of the episode, heck maybe even the best scene in series history, that has left me feeling a bit empty. I'm talking Alaric. Outside of that cave. Torches lit. His loved ones all around. Set to "Be Still" by The Fray.

It was beautiful shot and beautifully acted. It was a fitting farewell to one of my favorite characters. I didn't want him to die, but it's clearly been a possibility for weeks now - both in terms of the storyline and Matt Davis signing on for Cult - and if one half of the best bromance on television has to go, there simply couldn't have been a better way for it happen, right?

Except it didn't happen.

Alaric lives, or at least a far more evil, far more blood-hungry version of Alaric. Was the concluding shot awesomely frightening? Yes. But do I feel a bit like Damon with Elena now, like TVD is just messing with my emotions and jerking me around? Sort of, yeah. And I didn't even get to ferociously make out with a hottie in exchange for this confused heart!

I just got my sofa cushions went with tears.

Another problem I have with Alaric's revival? Esther is just too powerful at this point. Can she ever die? Can she just inhabit whatever body she chooses? Feels like a bit of a storytelling crutch. Death has to stick more on The Vampire Diaries. I don't wanna see any more ghosts (I guess Rose is simply gone now, following her random commentary last Thursday night?). I don't wanna see Esther come and go as she pleases, no matter what happens to her on This Side.

And I don't and this to be the end of Ric and The Dick. Come back, good Alaric!

Everything prior to the final scene - which, to be clear, I am quite intrigued by in terms of where we go from here - was simply marvelous. The idea that Alaric visited Esther on The Other Side every time he died, and that she nurtured this supposed vampire hunter to remember what his mission is meant to be, was fascinating and believable.

The scenes between Stefan and Elena? Sorry, Delena lovers, but also very well done. After everything I put you through, I'm just honored to be your date tonight. Who didn't swoon at that line? Can Damon compete with the history between these two? Stefan may be the safe choice for Elena... but there's something to be said for safety when you're surrounded by supernatural beings.

The guilt Elena is feeling, the bitterness from Jeremy over losing another guardian, the desperate gratitude from Damon. I bought it all this week. It was very much earned all around.

And unlike last episode, the love triangle here didn't feel forced down our throat. It was integrated well within the action all around the Salvatores and their shared love.

Tyler, Caroline Pic

And then of course there was the fun scene above, followed later by the only words Tyler needed to hear:

It doesn't matter how many times I dance with him. I love you. | permalink

There's no love triangle here, folks. Forwood forever.

Other worthwhile moments/scenes:

  • Klaus blowing up at his mother. He's angry, he's brave, but he's really just an unloved son. This is one lonely, sad Original.
  • A white oak stake is the "ultimate weapon" for Alaric, "the ultimate hunter?" Don't tell that to an arrow, a bow and Katniss Everdeen!
  • Gotta give props to Jamie the gentlemen. The guy was invited to spend the night with Bonnie and all clothing remained on. Gotta give him props or mock the heck out of him, that is.
  • The title of the episode "Do Not Go Gentle," was taken, of course, from the iconic Dylan Thomas poem. Rather appropriate, I'd say. Alaric most definitely raged against the dying of his light. Will one of his loved one be stuck sending him to eternal darkness before the season is over?

Get an idea of what's to come via the official TVD promo for next Thursday's "Before Sunset" and then sound off: What did you think of all the twists, turns and tears this week?

Review

Editor Rating: 4.6 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.6 / 5.0 (342 Votes)

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

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Allison-berry-barbieri

This is another that answers one of the things that annoys me about that show right now...the lowered stakes of death due to returning dead characters. I still think that dead should be mostly dead on the show..maybe there in a flashback, but NO ghosts. But, as least it's addressed:
HitFix: Excellent. Now back to the real questions! When you approach a "big" finale, obviously viewers will be waiting for some characters to live, some characters to die, etc. How hard is it for you guys to create stakes -- pun, unfortunately intended, I guess -- for characters on show where anyone who's dead can return if the circumstances are right? Julie Plec: It's a question that we debate a lot in the writers' room. There's the argument to be made of, "Seal up the other side, never go back to ghosts, never have flashbacks with older characters," because you want the stakes of death to be that powerful. But then there's something so emotional and profound about revisiting a character that you love and I think that there's something so bittersweet about seeing them again, knowing that they're never gonna be part of the day-to-day life of our heros, but that they're still out there somewhere. Certainly there will be stakes attached to the end of this season wherein there are characters that we might not see again when all is said and done. That will always be true.

Allison-berry-barbieri

Well, according to the interview, Julie Plec didn't say anything as stupid as "Elena doesn't need to go to school because she has an IQ of 150"...she said: Julie Plec: She's actually got an IQ of 140 and she doesn't need to study. I mean, obviously, that sounds like something she pulled out of her a** for the interview (seriously, when was THAT established?), but at least it's not as dumb as the misquoted comment.

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I thought this episode was the best of the season so far. The Elena and Stefan scenes were so amazing, I was crying and feeling for Elena so much. This is exactly what the show has been missing all year. Their love is just so undeniable and so great. Elena is finally realizing that she needs Stefan more than anything, as his love is so pure and right for her.
The Alaric scenes were great as well and so shocking and cannot wait for the next 2 episodes now.

Amie

Continued Elena loved and accepted both brothers for who they are, she did not need to change them, she only worked on helping them rebuild their relationship. My main disappointment rather than frustration with the show's triangle is that I see a girl, with a very weak character, who loves on brother and is trying to make a good guy out of his brother, getting too attached to him. I see no love triangle except for the one that the fanbases are trying to sell me, and the show giving into those demands, forcing me to accept that the triangle exists.

Amie

@Allison Berry Barbieri, Julie mentioned it in an interview, you can have a look at it here: http://www.hitfix.com/blogs/th... About the frustration with the love triangle, look, they are basing the triangle on the books, right? Now there was a reason as to why the triangle existed and worked in the books, it was because Elena was that sort of girl, who enjoyed a simple light life and at the same time she could not resist being attracted by something dark and she enjoyed it too. That's why when the Salvatores came into her life, she was REALLY caught between two completely different brothers, which both saw in Elena, what they needed in life. For Stefan, Elena was the light, a girl he wanted to protect; for Damon - Elena was his princess of darkness, a girl he knew ppl should be protected from. Elena loved and accepted both brothers for who they are, she did not need to change them, she only worked on helping them rebuild their relationship. My main disappointment rather than frustration with the show's triangle is that I see a girl, with a very weak character, who loves on brother and is trying to make a good guy out of his brother, getting too attached to him. I see no love triangle except for the one that the fanbases are trying to sell me, and the show giving into those demands, forcing me to accept that the triangle exists.

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As much as the show has taken a nose dive, I was wondering if this site will allow me to block other posters? Certain AHEM users are ruining this site and blatantly annoying. I've never seen one poster beat a dead horse so hard! Perhaps the 'enlightened one' should beat his main horse or perhaps that's an imaginary pony? As to the reason for my post, Stelena is death to this show. Absolutely boring and passionless despite vein thrown together at every (awkward) turn. I've never seen a tv couple more tragically vanilla, yet so painfully front and center. It's absolutely shocking that so many people hate what's going on right now. Hmm, seems to be a theme....SE must not be endgame

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I'm so torn with this love traingle thing!! I've always been for Stelena just because that's how this whole thing started with Stefans love for Elena, he helped her get out of her funk of her parents passing away and he let's her be who she wants to be and make mistakes. He went through alot to protect her and their love is pure & simple but romantic and passioniate. And then there is Damon!! I have always loved his character and I've seen the chemistry between Damon and Elena but for some reason it doesn't work for me. I just can't see it, maybe it's because of all the terrible things he's done to elena and everyone else, maybe it's because she's his brothers girlfriend, or maybe it's because i just fell inlove with the Stefan and Elena relationship because it was so emotional and romantic and I gravitate towards that more then the Damon & Elena love. I do however believe he deserves his chance in the spotlight to see how they would be in a relationship would be interesting, to see how he handles it. I just think like he said he doesn't want to change and he won't and Elena can either accept that and be with him or not and be with Stefan who she knows she will never have to change and will look out for not only her but her family and friends.

Allison-berry-barbieri

@BoredNow..when did Julie Plec say that Elena has an IQ of 150 and does not need to go to school?? Also, I have to put this out there for all the fans or critics that are "sick of the triangle". Julie Plec told a fan on her Twitter recently that the show is about a girl caught between to very different brothers. It is the main vein of the show. I'd say to get over your frustration with the triangle because it is the premise of the show and likely not going anywhere.

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Personally, I feel like the last Stelena scene in the gym was ill-placed. Elena was losing her last parental figure, shouldn't she either be with him or comforting Jeremy? And don't get me wrong, I would've been angry if they'd focused instead on Delena at that time as well. It needed to be about Alaric and his family. And Stefan kind of made Elena's grief about him - he took her when she was emotionally vulnerable and tried to make a move between the two of them as a step toward going back to normal in their relationship. Again, I don't think that was the right time, not at all. I don't any ship should have been focused on in this episode. WE LOST ALARIC, for christ's sakes. We've had him, and the Dalaric bromance, since the second half of season one, and it's going to be incredibly hard to let go.

Kitanishi-h-mcdonald

I just wonder: Don't they ever go to school anymore?! All they ever use school for is partying According to Julie Plec, Elena has an iq of over 150 so she does not need to go to school....which is just....lol right, we so surely are going to believe that.