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The Vampire Diaries Review: One Wrong Turn

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Let me start by saying this about "The Departed," The Vampire Diaries season three finale that most definitely gave fans plenty to talk about for the next three months:

That was a beautifully shot, very well done concluding few minutes.

From a bloody Damon Hulk Hogan-ing up and fighting back against Dark-laric; to Dark-laric falling dead and Damon realizing why; to Actual Alaric proving, via a pep talk to Jeremy, that not all ghosts on TVD are useless; to Stefan swimming to Matt's rescue; to Elena dying; to... yes, the awakening that ended it all.

Great stuff all around. But a bit of a mess to get there.

Elena in Despair

Indeed, the finale felt a lot like the back half of season three. There was A LOT going on, but without much of a direction.

Elijah popped up and offered the group a deal. Sheriff Forbes and Mayor Lockwood told Tyler and Caroline they had to flee Mystic Falls. We jumped back in time here and there. Dark-laric apparently used the non-corrupt police force to track down Damon.

Rebekah made an appearance. Bonnie cast a spell. Matt drugged his ex. Elena acted far too happy for 6:45 a.m.

It felt like disjointed chaos. It was never clear where everything going, especially as one seemingly big event after another - Elena choosing Stefan, Tyler revealed to be Klaus - took place long before the closing scene. There's nothing wrong with mystery, of course. I'm certainly not advocating that the show telegraph its conclusion.

But there is something wrong when the season finale, the episode to which the past number of weeks should have been building, lacks a flow, like a great many recent storylines were really nothing more than a giant bait and switch to get us to that final moment:

Elena as a vampire.

To me, that's where Julie Plec and company set their sights a long time ago - and everything else was merely a distraction. This is a fascinating development to be sure; I positively cannot wait for the season four premiere, but one terrific payoff doesn't necessarily make up for weeks on end of Elena oscillating between brothers, or the confusing use of Esther, or the back and forth on when or why the Salvatores wanted to kill the Originals.

Again, Elena is a vampire. It doesn't get more intriguing than that. But, man, it took some serious red herrings to get us there.

Dark Side of Alaric

What will it all mean? Will she remember Damon's shocking flashback cameo now that she's turned? Will that influence her choice of Stefan? Will she embrace the change and grow more self-confident, like Caroline?

Or will she fall into a stupor, robbed of her future and made into something she never claimed she wanted to be? Questions, questions and more questions abound.

In other, WTF-did-that-really-just-happen-news from the finale?

  • Alaric was killed.. again! Man, TVD. What did we ever do to you? It wasn't enough to say goodbye to Matt Davis once, in one of the greatest scenes in show history, you had to force us to do it again.

I think this one may stick, however, and while Alaric is simply The Man, he hadn't been featured in any main storyline until he went dark and, once that took place, it was really only a matter of time.

  • Klaus was saved... again! Color me confused on this one. Bonnie chose to save the Original because that meant her loved ones would stay alive. Makes perfect sense. So she body-switched him into Tyler? Where does that put Tyler? Is it just some kind of soul thing? And Klaus is in Tyler's body, but Tyler is still there somewhere, too, and if/when Klaus ever is removed from Tyler, then he'll die... because his body has burned up?

That's how I read it at least. It's far from clear.

Know what else wasn't clear? My TV screen as I tried to watch through tears caused, of course, by Caroline's tears. Candice Accola blubbered away brilliantly here, just moments after cracking us all up with her curling iron line. If Tyler is actually dead, I fear for this beautiful vampire's mental well-being.

  • Elena chose Stefan. This was overshadowed by that whole turning-into-a-vampire thing, but I bought her reasoning. She played it safe, essentially, selecting the guy who made her "glad to be alive," not the one who "consumed" her being. Fair enough. There's fear that goes along with total consumption, while there's safety in mere happiness.

But the love triangle was laid on a little too thick once again. I'm sorry, but Stefan thought he and Damon were dying and one of his first thoughts was how he felt bad Damon wouldn't make it back in time to say goodbye to Elena? Sort of cheesy, sort of hard to believe.

  • The scene where Elena was "forced" to choose because she happened to be in the car was, well, lame. And nonsensical. Was she equally far from each? If so, couldn't the brother have just met her someplace in the middle? And don't vampires run REALLY fast anyway. Quite contrived just to prompt a decision from poor E.

Talk about a great deal to digest, Vampire Diaries fans. We'll go through it all tomorrow again in our TVD Round Table.

My overall take for now: the show stumbled a bit this season, it wobbled a lot on the finale in order to get where it wanted to go, but... Klaus as Tyler; Bonnie harboring (and responsible for) this dark secret; Alaric dead and gone; Elena as a vampire. All shocking moments, all leaving me wanting a lot more Mystic Falls. Is it September yet?

What did you think of the finale?

 

Review

Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 (1037 Votes)

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

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Let's cut to the chase...Steffie is a wuss...safe and boring, just like Elena who chose him. Both of them are seriously in need of personality upgrades.

Allison-berry-barbieri

@Mel, Damon told her to forget the conversation, he didn't compel her to love Stefan...

Allison-berry-barbieri

I think Elena's going to spend a great deal of the beginning of Season 4 being angry. And I don't think Stefan is going to be able to stay with her...not because they are both vampires and it changes their love or anything, but because he will blame himself for aiding in giving her this life she didn’t want (by honoring her choice like always does) and he will not be able to face her. Plus, he had the whole protector thing with her and now that she won't need that. We are so in for self-loathing Stefan…. I actually think that Elena, at some point in Season 4, will gravitate toward Damon now that she is a vampire but he won't be quite so receptive now that she chose Stefan in Damon's dying moments.
As an aside, I wonder if it’s Damon’s blood that Meredith used to heal Elena. It would put her in their bloodline so it would be fitting….. And, the whole Klaus/Tyler thing...they've got to clear up some details because I am sort of confused by how it all went down.
Also, can I just say that Klaus is going to be maaaadddddd when he realizes his Doppelganger blood-bag is gone! Plus, doesn't mean the end of the Petrova bloodline since Elena can't pro-create?

Allison-berry-barbieri

I wasn't happy with Elena’s choice, I ship Delena, but I think it was a good choice from a writing standpoint. Stefan is the boy the teenage girl Elena loves…the one that provides stability, and that was there for her every time she needed him to be there. Damon is a darker choice, a consuming, dangerous and much more risky love.
Now that she is going to be a vampire, it’s likely the writers can have her re-think this decision as she will have the dark edge that comes with being a vampire and can begin to think about who she would want "always" instead of just “right now� . This will keep the triangle front and center which, despite what other fans gripe, is my FAVORITE element of the show. I also think Elena is going to struggle with her choice to be a vampire. I mean, we know she'll do it, but she didn't want it. I wonder if Damon will force feed her blood or something? Though I hope not, as he did that once before the sun/moon curse thing and she almost didn’t forgive him. AND, he knows what it’s like to be forced to turn. Then again, his tendency to put Elena’s survival over how she will feel towards his choice may win out…

Allison-berry-barbieri

There is no doubt in my mind that Elena will complete the change or else, you know, end show. But I am not so sure she'll remain with Stefan. I think she will be confused when she remembers the times she was compelled by Damon...the things he said. I think she will be resentful that she is a vampire, but I am not quite sure she'll blame Stefan for that as it was her request he save Matt....but for sure Stefan will be blaming himself.

Allison-berry-barbieri

As Elena dies so does Alaric….and what is happening registers with Damon. This is when my heart truly breaks. I think this was one of Ian's best episodes, I do. He really just made me FEEL every emotion Damon was feeling...right to my core. Choked up when the ghost of actual Alaric visits Jeremy. Though, usually Jeremy can recognize ghost from human fairly quickly, so maybe it was some denial over what Alaric being a ghost means? BTW, this is the one time that I actually didn't mind the whole ghost thing.... Jeremy’s face when he realizes that Elena is dead…..how is he going to feel when he realizes she is a vampire?!?! In the hospital morgue, Stefan stares tragically at Elena. I really don’t think he knew that she had vampire blood in her system. Meredith said that she didn't let anyone know she used vamp blood to help the brain bleed, as she thought it would put Elena at risk for the OVs to have MORE reason to kill her. The sadness on Paul's face….boy can he emote. The realization of what has occurred because Stefan let Elena make her own choice…instead of just doing what Damon would have done and saving her life regardless of her wishes. Oh, Stefan will never forgive himself for this one...prepare for a lot of self-hatred from Stefan come Season 4. And, bam…Bella Swan-esque awakening. And I didn’t even care because….YAAAYYYY! I predicted this. I WANTED this to happen. I don't care what other fans say...this was the direction I hoped the show would go and it did...IT DID! Thank you, Julie Plec, thank you!

Allison-berry-barbieri

At the car crash, we see the first time Stefan saved Elena. I loved the confusion on his face when he saw Elena and her resemblance to Katherine! It was obvious he knew it wasn't Katherine, as she wouldn't be drowning, but he seems so....bewildered.... I don't like the rest of this scene. I get why it's important to the story that Stefan saves Matt and not Elena. I understand that he is the brother that lets Elena make her own choices, and that he knew Elena would hate him if she was alive and Matt wasn’t. But, Damon would have saved her and lived with her anger over Matt's death. This, ultimately, is why I think Elena needs to choose Damon. Her survival clearly depends on it. And it's sort of self-less for him to put his concern over how Elena will feel about him aside to make sure Elena lives.

Allison-berry-barbieri

Back to the staking of the original, was Tyler was in Klaus's body when he burned up? Was it that moment that Klaus jumped bodies into Tyler's? And, was Tyler in there or are they sort of co-habitating Tyler's body? The one thing that's possible is that Klaus' body didn't really BURN burn. Just that the stake burned up. And...wait...wasn't the stake NOT supposed to burn because of the witchy juju ring thing? Is it weird that Damon, in his flashback, seems a little too nice for Season 1 Damon? And, he seemed pretty accepting that Elena was Katherine but looked like her twin…wasn’t he a LITTLE curious as to why Elena looked EXACTLY like Katherine? I am going to attribute the niceness to the fact that he WAS in love with Katherine at that point and she looked like her... I am also going to say that it why he didn't snack on her.
Regardless, this scene is key to moving the triangle forward in Season 4. Now that Elena is going to be a vampire (yay! yay!), she will remember all the times Damon compelled her..in her bedroom that time, and at their first meeting...

Allison-berry-barbieri

Elena wakes up from her drug induced state a little less angry than I would be after being drugged by a friend..but, hey, not the worst thing that’s even happened to her I guess. I like that the writers put her in a position where she literally can go to only one brother to say a real good-bye.
In the phone, a dying Damon asks “If it was just down to him and me, and you had to make a choice, who got the goodbye, who would it be?"
Oh my heart...this scene broke it into a million little pieces...I felt for Damon...I felt the fear of the answer, the lump in his throat as he waited to hear her response...just...well-done, Ian, well-done.
And then: “I care about you, Damon, which is why I have to let you go. I mean, maybe if you and I had met first."
But they did meet first, as we will see. So again, choice not truly made..she doesn't have all the facts. I am currently in denial about her choice... maybe because it didn't feel like a permanent choice..and it was a little cold to answer as she did when she thought it would be her last conversation with him…

Allison-berry-barbieri

So, now, help me out..is THIS the moment that Klaus leaves his body for Tyler's? Was Bonnie's spell that, SHOULD Klaus get white-oak-staked, he would jump ship..but only if it really did happen? Was Klaus in on this or did Bonnie come up with it on her own? I'm truly having issues with the randomness of the spell... I mean, I get the point, I do.....Bonnie was trying to ensure that, should Klaus get staked, he would not die and her friends would be protected. But, was it pre-arranged? It's fitting that Klaus would go into Tyler (you know, being obsessed with Caroline and all), but who made that choice..Bonnie or Klaus...but, I digress...