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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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David-and-sabrina-2014

People may feel sorry for Alaric leaving for good but turns out he wasn't dead when Bonnie was controlled by Esther to complete his transformation. Now that he's on the enemy list, Alaric will mess things up with Esther (possibly with Klaus)to curse Mystic Falls. I wonder what'll happen in next week's episode. =O

Allison-berry-barbieri

And that's my synopsis of that interview, lol! Sometimes I wish I could just talk to Julie Plec myself and tell her to chill with all the plotlines, keep the mythos/family trees/talismans in order and remember to have continuity, and try to make the least amount of illogical choices (as much as possible for a supernatural show). Also, I want to tell her that, just because they love an actor that plays a character, it's not worth sabotaging a story line to allow them to return (hello, ghost episodes). The story being told is more important than a love for the actors or a desire to allow a guest start to stay longer. Personally, I prefer organic stories that make sense and show continuity, emotion, developed plots and that don't defy all logic.

Allison-berry-barbieri

Weird...the first five episodes are what hooked me. I liked the mystery and tension and character...
HitFix: Do you ever look back at those first handful episodes and do you ever miss the crows and the fog and the vampire football? Julie Plec: [Laughter.] No, we don't miss the crows and the fog, for sure. It's funny, because in hindsight, Kevin and I have both read a lot of people in the press and bloggers and fans alike who say that the show didn't really click in for them til about episode six. Yet for us and the actors, we always look back at the first five episodes of the series and say, "Gosh, that was a time when things were simple and clean and very, very based in tension and mystery and character and didn't have to rely so much on frills and action and stunts and visual effects and witch craft." We get very sentimental, as storytellers, for those early episodes. But then I remind everybody that nobody actually liked them very much, so it's OK that we've moved on.

Allison-berry-barbieri

No, Julie Plec, we don't need to be shocked and awed at every turn. Sometimes, confusing mythos and underdeveloped stories are not a good thing. Let's remember that, k?
Julie Plec: When Kevin [Williamson] and I first started the show, we didn't have any time to think globally about the series. We just dove in and started. When you have six act breaks and a teaser -- which amount to seven act breaks over 41 minutes -- you've gotta burn through story, because you've got impress and you've gotta wow and you've gotta shock the audience with twists and turns every four-and-a-half minutes.

Allison-berry-barbieri

And don't worry shippers, Julie says this seasons choice isn't endgame..but she does confirm the triangle is alive and well for many more seasons:
This show can, and probably will, go on for many more years. This show is a journey of a teenage girl finding her way back to life through the love of one vampire and discovering maybe other elements of life through the love of another vampire, growing up, graduating high school, moving on. There's a whole road for her still to travel and our brothers are in the middle of their journey as well. For us to say that this is the one and only choice and no other choice will ever be made would be premature. We're just in the middle of our journey and I hope ultimately that people who ship one way or the other can understand. In the same way that we had to convince Ian Somerhalder that Damon being a good guy was part of a long road that he was traveling and that it was OK, you want to convince the fans that this is the midpoint of the story.

Allison-berry-barbieri

it's where she is right now in her life and it's where we've been leading to all year for her. So we shall see, but it is not going to be pretty, I'll tell you that.

Allison-berry-barbieri

Aaaannd, cementing my belief that she chooses herself and caring for Jeremy:
HitFix: You've talked about how there's a big choice that Elena has to make in the finale. How totally are you guys bracing yourselves for what's going to come from certain circles when we get to May? Julie Plec: I might have to leave the country. [She laughs.] No, the choice that Elena has to make and the choice that she does make, for us it's really, really important that we took a good, strong look at Elena, at her character, at her wants and her needs, where she is in her life and that the way that she makes the decision after everything she's been through and the way that she expresses that decision to others, that it's honest and pure and real. Hopefully people who are fans of the show and fans of Elena and fans of real human behavior will understand and respect the choice that she makes, in spite of a percentage being very sad and another percentage being happy, it's where she is right now in her life and it's where we've been leading to all year for her. So we shall see, but it is not going to be pretty, I'll tell you that.

Allison-berry-barbieri

So it makes us think more. It makes us really dig deeper into character more, which is a good thing. And then when we make decisions that we know are not going to be popular, we just sit in the writers' room and stare at each other in horror knowing what's in store, knowing that certain things are not going to go over very well with certain people and that we just might need to stay off Twitter and avoid the death threats for a while.

Allison-berry-barbieri

Amie, this one answers what you are saying about being influenced by the fans:
HitFix: OK, so I desperately don't want to ask you to insult the shippers here, but how overly cautious have you had to get about the central love triangle? And has it become sorta a more delicate creature over three seasons than you might have originally planned or hoped for it to be? Julie Plec: You know, it's funny. I think the answer is "Yes and No," weirdly. I can't lie and say that we aren't completely embedded in the shipper culture, just by nature of being on social media and being Twitter whores ourselves and not being able to tear ourselves away. So there's an influence and a passion that gets directed at us very, very aggressively that you can't ignore. But in a way it makes our jobs a little bit harder because we have to try to separate: Are these our creative instincts? Are these the instincts that are right for these characters? Or are we being influenced without even realizing it? So it makes us think more. It makes us really dig deeper into character more, which is a good thing. And then when we make decisions that we know are not going to be popular, we just sit in the writers' room and stare at each other in horror knowing what's in store, knowing that certain things are not going to go over very well with certain people and that we just might need to stay off Twitter and avoid the death threats for a while.

Allison-berry-barbieri

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.

The Vampire Diaries Season 3 Episode 20 Quotes

Elena: I didn't tell you that so you could torture me about it.
Caroline: What are friends for?

Damon is too arrogant to think his only friend would betray him.

Alaric
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