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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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Honestly... Very confusing and disappointing. I hate when they do that!
Alaric was such a nice guy... No reason for him to become evil... I thought there would be a way to bring the "good one" back. Not to kill him. What now? is he going to show up as a ghost? VERY bad.
Bonie: What the hell? It seems that she is constantly making the "wrong" decisions nowadays.
Elena: Why did she have to become a vampire? And now what? All the three seasons were about protecting her and suddenly the DOCTOR gives her vampire blood? Oh, no...
Elena choosing Stefan OVER THE PHONE: Horrible. And Matt pushing her to make the decison? Why??? Not even Stefan knew that... Poor Damon. And, for Elena to "chose" Damon in season 4, did they have to show him in her life before Stefan??? Why? Cant she chose simply because she is totally in love with him? Sorry but it doesnt make any sense. It seemed that he kind of "fell" for her there, when they first met. But what was the purpose of, in all season 1, keeping him crazy after Katerine? Hum? I hope the writers wont mess up more... It will be the end of the series...
It is starting to be confusing and nonsense.
Very disappointing.

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I think it was very fitting and quite authentic that Elana chose Stephan. For her to pick Damon would have been a huge departure from the character established over the years and we can't kid ourselves by believing she doesn't love Stephan. If Damon wasn't such a slime that subtly insinuated himself into his brother's girlfriends life, and if Elana wasn't so weak, this triangle wouldn't exist. Then again, if she liked humans instead of vampires then we really wouldn't have a problem. The writer's seemed to have solved everything by turning her because I believe vampire Elana will become bad Elena. Stephan won't be able to identify with her, whereas Damin will. In the end, Damon and Elena will become an item. So the big choice at finale wasn't a choice. It was a goodbye to Stephan and Elana.

Stefelena

and i completely understand why you said Stefan should have saved Elena first coz you know that is what Damon will definitely do even if Elena asked him to do otherwise but you know why coz Damon doesn't give a damn about other people even if those people are Elena's family and friends,so if he was the one there to save them he will save Elena first make sure she is okay before he will even glance at Matt, and about the decision making yeah Stefan let Elena make her own decisions coz he respect and trust her not cos he is afraid of losing her but Damon doesn't trust her enough to make her own decision,he is over protective of her and always making a decision for her and do you know that is abusive for a guy to always be a making a decision for his GF like he is incharge of the relationship so he call the shots

Stefelena

@Heather:how is it Stefan's fault that Elena died? Just coz she insisted that he save matt first? I'm sorry but i have to disagree with you,here Stefan is not letting Elena make her own decision he wanted to save her but she insist he save matt firs why coz matt is unconscious may be even dead and he needed help the most while elena is still concious she did what any sane person would have done and isn't that the same thing her father did when Stefan came to save them,elena was unconscious and her father insisted that Stefan should save Elena first even though that is what any father would have to see his daughter safe and in return that is what a true friend should have done so i don't see Stefan's fault here but knowing Stefan he would probably feel guilty about it.

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Why Elena?! Why stephan?! :S loooove the season finale

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Also, if Elena truly loves Stefan, she would not have hated him for saving her first. She would have gotten over it, like she did when he was ripper. Bad writing is to blame for Stefan's actions.

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Well said, Heather. Not so long ago, Stefan went off on his own and became the ripper with Klaus, despite all the hurt that it brought Elena. In the end, he did it because it was for the greater good. Now they have switched gears by letting Stefan save Matt before Elena all because Elena told him to and he's "respecting her decision." So in essence, he's afraid of losing her affections again and would rather let her die instead. Whaaat? It makes no sense that he would risk her dying like this. This IS war...not a kiddie playground. Seems like the writers are changing Stefan so it suits them and not because it's best for his character, which has grown inconsistent beyond belief.

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@Heather I totally get where your coming from. Damon would have said screw you Elena im not saving Matt im saving your ass, but then Matt would have died and Elena would have hated Damon for not listening to her. Stefan believes that Elena has the right to make every decision in her life because it is HER life and he took that from his brother. To be honest if I was Stefan and I knew that Elena felt responsible for every person in her life dying and she was able to risk it and have matt saved before her he loves her enough to respect the decision that she has made to not be saved. It's just like her dad made that decision for her, she was doing the same. Many people probably cant understand why he would let her make that decision but you trust them and love them enough you will do that for them, knowing that another life would hang over her head and on her heart forever and that would be worse then dying.

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I'm sorry but why was everyone so surprised about Elena turning? It was the only thing that made sense especially after watching all the promos. I was more surprised that they appeared to kill Klaus. My biggest question is if Elena knew she had vampire blood in her system or not i mean stefan opened the door Why would she not swim after him? With Davis moving to a new show, Elena loosing like all her blood and slamming her head, and her and Matt taking a dive into the lake, it seemed like the most obvious conclusion. Also I think that is how she is turned in the books. They couldn't kill Elena as she's a lead and I don't see how they could keep her human that much longer. Still a good episode. Made up for kind of an uneven season!

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Stefan should have saved Elena before Matt. What he did- was bizarre. Was he really prepared to let her die just because he is so AFRAID of her hating him? I don't appreciate caveman Damon. But if it were Damon out there it would have never come to this. Stefan can be called truly weak for NEVER saying no to Elena. Like, at all. Doesn't he have his own personality or does he just mold it to fit into hers? Damon has no business hurting Elena or forcing her choices for her but this is war. And in war, tough decisions have to made and it seems like Damon is the only one who keeps his head through most of it all. Matt and Jeremy (and usually, i find the both of them decent enough)and their attempt at illogical heroism today was truly laughable. Yes, that was dumb.