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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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Elena is eighteen years old. That does not give her sage wisdom in the midst of war. you do not let a teenager make all the decisions- most of which are emotionally swayed by the way- in times of war. I also agree that Damon taking away Elena's choice is s2- feeding her blood was very wrong- something an emotionally turbulent Damon did- but he recognized his mistake and rushed to fix it the best he could. he STILL kept her alive. The elixir may well not have worked Elena being the doppelganger. Stefan was willing to sit tight AGAIN while Elena might have potentially died. There is one thing in humoring a child in making their decisions to keep them happy. There is another thing about letting a freshly turned adult like Elena to make her own decisions to allow her to learn from her mistakes, grow as a person and learn to choose smartly. But these are life and death decisions. It's a completely different thing- it's irresponsible to just let her do what she WANTS without any logic to it. 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.

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And I want it to last. I do. And I have so many reasons.
First of all, everyone goes on about how "Stefan" let's Elena make her own decisions blah, blah, blah, freewill is love and I agree that Damon's caveman attitude can be demeaning. But here's the thing- Stefan is so obedient to Elena's demands that he let her die. She's dead and it's his fault. Damon was right in one respect- he would have kept her alive.
Elena is eighteen years old. That does not give her sage wisdom in the midst of war. you do not let a teenager make all the decisions- most of which are emotionally swayed by the way- in times of war. I also agree that Damon taking away Elena's choice is s2- feeding her blood was very wrong- something an emotionally turbulent Damon did- but he recognized his mistake and rushed to fix it the best he could. he STILL kept her alive. The elixir may well not have worked Elena being the doppelganger. Stefan was willing to sit tight AGAIN while Elena might have potentially died. There is one thing in humoring a child in making their decisions to keep them happy. There is another thing about letting a freshly turned adult like Elena to make her own decisions to allow her to learn from her mistakes, grow as a person and learn to choose smartly. But these are life and death decisions. It's a completely different thing- it's irresponsible to just let her do what she WANTS without any logic to it. 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?

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I thought it was great! TVD hadn't left me with the need to have more for a long time!
I think the writers are making the path for delena, I mean, elena will now remerber their first encounter, then the "I lve you" that damon told her in season 2, plus she kept saying in this ep that stefan made her glad to be alive.. well she is not anymore!!! she'll let her feelings for damon come to the surface!!!!
I hope the writers know how to handle that!

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@Matt Richenthal
You guys really need to do something about my comments just cutting off.
So what was I saying. Oh yeah. I agree the love triangle was over done by now. So much so that even if she HAD picked Damon i wouldn't have reacted too much. But it was still the Delena scenes that struck me. When she cried as she called- the tone of her voice when she said he consumes me. I agree she did the right thing- she DOES love Stefan. Elena is not the same person she was before the accident- that girl would have loved Damon- this one is more cautious. It's not fair for her to choose him even when she IS still so hung over Stefan, irreversibly so. She has always chosen Stefan over Damon. Until she can successfully do it the other way around at ALL she should not pick damon because how could it last?

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-They were bought more time. That is why I wanted her to choose Stefan even if I'm all about Delena. I knew just yet Delena wouldn't have worked especially after s3 Damon Elena bonding which we had already seen. Vampire Elena was the best move they could have made and they did.
the show lives through excitement and unexpected and adventure and emotion. That is what makes this show. And vampire Elena does the trick. In retrospect I am very glad she'll finally remember everything Damon ever said to her- things that were worth too much. Also it's kind of sad how last season everyone was SO bent on not letting Elena turn into a vampire and ultimately ALL they were doing was buying her a bit of time.

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I love the Vampire diaries. But this season finale? not so much. The only scene that stood out for me at ALL was Damon telling Elena what she wanted- and when he said, "I want you to get everything you're looking for." He was charming and cute and everything season 1 Damon was. It was believable. Elena as a vampire? did NOT see that coming. Do not think she knew. Did not believe it for a good minute. DID believe they might actually....kill her off but i think it was actually a very smart move. S3 proved how the show had REALLY begun to drag so vampire Elena freshens it up when it desperately needed freshening. At this point, either Damon, nor Stefan would have been that refreshing a choice for Elena to make. And i STILL think Elena hasn't let damon in enough to have chosen him. Stefan is still that obsession she has- she can't let go of safety in so much mayhem. That makes sense. Elena needs to feel liberated and strong before she can choose Damon. They need more time. They were bought more time. That is why I wanted her to choose Stefan even if I'm all about Delena. I knew just yet Delena wouldn't have worked especially after s3 Damon Elena bonding which we had already seen. Vampire Elena was the best move they could have made and they did.

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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… I don't think it's weird. The explanation I find for myself is, season 1 Damon was 'bad' because he wanted to make Stefan miserable/he wanted his brother/his aim was to get Katherine out of the tomb, and along the way he fell for Elena. And I think he was shocked instead of accepting, but controlled himself from letting Elena sense anything if you get what I mean.

Amie

So Elena wakes up as a vampire and remembers all that has happened between her and Damon? It does not mean that she will fall into his arms and say she loved him all along since the night they had a 3 min conversation...People, get real. Its JP's way of creating more fuss around this "triangle" because they finally realized the can't keep going in circles with Damon pining for Elena who loves Stefan and has unresolved feelings for Damon. Just because she will remember all that it does not automatically mean she will forget all her feelings for Stefan, it will simply mean that if the triangle will start developing as it should have all along, not 2 seasons later.

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The show lost me on this one. Bored with Stefan, Klaus, and Eloric - disgusted with Elena, there's gotta be something better out there to spend my hour a week on. And I agree with all the other comments about the season finale seeming to be disjointed, nonsensical, and worthless. BTW - what's with it with all these stupid flashbacks anyway? Seems everyone of my favorite shows punted at the end of the season by spending most of the time making up the past instead of coming up with new material. Just plain lazy - and also boring.

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@Mel
I don't mind who Elena ends up with since I'm team Salvatore but all this nonsense where fans let themselves be blinded to fact due to ship preference really grates me. She was not compelled to love Stefan. They shared a connection and she fell in love with him. Plain as that. Damon compelled her to forget the conversation they had (slightly OOC for S1 Damon) and that he hoped and wanted her to get everything she wanted. He didn't say love my brother, find that with my brother nor did his compulsion in any impact the Stefan/Elena meeting. Don't take something away from a couple who saved each other emotionally to bolster the other. Both couples have their own connection.