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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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Amazing episode and the most emotional episode of TVD so far. It's insane how everything went, somehow everyones life has changed one way or another. 1st I want to say that I feel really sorry for Damon, Elena & Jeremy: the phone call scene between Damon & Elena, the idea of Damon dying alone, knowing that he was the first one who saw Elena and not telling her that even when he thought he's gonna die, his reaction when Alaric died ( find out that Elena: the girl that he love and want to protect her by his life is dead ), Jeremy see Alaric's goest and find out that the last member of his family: his sister is dead and Elena drowning remembering her accident with her parents and going to became a vampire which is something she doesn't want, well I think this is the true meaning of TRAGEDY.

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Major disappointment although despite her actions, Elena confessed to feeling passion for Damon (he consumes her) and gratitude to Stefan for saving her once (has she forgotten how often damon saved her??). None of it made sense, but I hope that this means that the tension and depth of emotion between them will grow - especially now that she has become one of "them". Thanks to Stefan she is dead. If Damon had been by her side, this wouldn´t have happened.

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I think that this episode was the best finale for the vampire diaries yet. I'm still in shock at what elena did. I always thought that she would choose damon. I really can't wait for September for Season 4 Premiere

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I loved the look on Damon's face when the implication of what Dr Fell has done suddenly hits him. If memory serves, he attempted to force vampirism upon her at least once, possibly twice, and regretted it when he realized that taking away Elena's free will would have made her hate him. He is beyond shocked that Dr Fell resorted to it.

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I have enjoyed this whole series very much, except that not too far into the series I got very tired of the Elena role. It got to the point that she was nothing but trouble everytime you turned around. Talk about screwing up every time she made a move. Boaring!!!! Somehow this person needs to be phased out....

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- your in war, its not like other people dying doesn't matter because it does- it's just that your family matters more (read Stefan, Elena, for Damon) Elena is number one for Damon and in the midst of all this chaos that is all that matters- just like elena was number one priority for her father.

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@Stefelena(Team Klaus forever)
He cares for Bonnie (because I do things, Bonnie. Like let my friend Ric die with dignity when i should have just killed him instead and feeding you my blood) and when Rebecca wanted to save Klaus Damon pushed her back (despite that fact that Elena had accused Damon of NOT caring for Rebecca when she found out that they'd slept together when he didn't care if she died) Damon cares, he does, he pushed Rebecca back (when it would have been just one more original down if Alaric had killed her and wouldn't that have been a GOOD thing in Damon's POV?) he told her to run when she didn't have the mental space to even consider it and he pushed her away instead of running himself- and attacked and faced Alaric knowing HE could die, giving her time to run. A guy who doesn't care about the human/vampire race doesn't behave that way, if he is purely selfish. Damon has his humanity very much intact.
It's not he doesn't care. Its just that- this is war. And when you fight the battle, its not like you don't care about others dying. It's just that you care about your family more (read Elena, Stefan) and Elena IS number one for Damon. In the midst of all this chaos, that is all that matters.

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@Stefelena(Team Klaus forever)
I agree with everything that you said, even the fact that Damon wanting to make all of Elena's decisions for her is borderline abusive, I do not appreciate caveman Damon. Despite that however, being a Delena fan, I can't help but appreciate the love Damon feels for Elena that drives him to behave the way he does. there is so much that Damon has done that would never have forgiven him for had I been Elena (snapping Jeremy's neck, forcing her his blood) But what I do appreciate is the fact Damon doesn't really mind what decision Elena makes- he only minds when she's not safe. Damon needs to change so much before even *I* who loves the couple can actually accept them being together. But I have to say- it's not that Damon doesn't care about Elena's friends and that it's just her. Elena is number one for Damon but that doesn't mean he doesn't care for her friends.

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I agree the world does NOT revolve around Elena. But Damon and Stefan's personal world supposedly does. So how are we supposed to believe that if they don't choose to save her first when she's dying? Am i honestly supposed to believe that if the situations were reversed Elena would have not saved Stefan and agreed to save someone else because he asked her? somehow I doubt that.
For both of the brothers- there should simply be a balance in the way they protect Elena. She should be given as much control over her life as possible while still making sure her choices aren't completely emotionally swayed. Until then, I don't think either of them is all that perfect for her. And in the case of the accident- Damon would have been a better choice compared to Stefan when it came to brother responsible for saving her.

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@jessieeb
But here's the thing. there shouldn't be two extremes. There should be a medium. Damon feeding Elena his blood? An extreme, a mistake I would not, could not forgive. Stefan listening to Elena in such a situation- knowing the ODDS- the odds being that she would be dead- (what if she hadn't had vampire blood in her system?)- gone forever- and still obediently saving Matt- an Extreme, not a medium. she would have hated Damon for saving her first- but she would have been alive- Damon's exact words. he doesn't care if she hates him as long she's safe. Elena's Damon's number one priority. and i think if you love someone, truly love them, there are times when you HAVE to make decisions for them- and in such a dire circumstance- Damon/ Stefan shouldn't have taken such a terrible risk and not saved Elena's life.
I agree the world does NOT revolve around Elena. But Damon and Stefan's personal world supposedly does. So how are we supposed to believe that if they don't choose to save her first when she's dying? Am i honestly supposed to believe that if the situations were reversed Elena would have not saved Stefan and agreed to save someone else because he asked her? somehow I doubt that.
For both of the brothers- there should simply be a balance in the way they protect Elena. She should be given as much control over her life as possible while still not making sure her choices aren't completely emotionally swayed. Until then, I don't think either of them is all that perfect for her. And in the case of the accident- Damon would have been a better choice than Stefan when it came to brother responsible for saving her.