It seems as though the closer VD gets to its season finale, the more it successfully atones for its sins and the more it makes up for those less than fantastic elements of Season 4 (we wouldn’t even know where to start with a list of them). “The Walking Dead” was exceptionally well written and the major plot twists, for the most part, steered well clear of VD’s almost patented over-complication of plots. It was relatively stripped back and focused on relationships as much as on plot development. It swept Delena/Stelena mostly under the rug, and delved into friendships and blossoming feelings rather than that old well-worn ground.
What it most reminded us of was the stellar Buffy episode, “Conversations with Dead People”. An aberration from the usual teen drama and handwringing in favor of a more grown-up and serious conversation. It lacked some of what made that Buffy episode great – Joss Whedon’s sharp writing, for one – but we can’t help but feel that it was a deliberate nod to it nonetheless. And its timing was impeccable. Coming a week before the finale, it gave the show a human element that can sometimes be lost amid all of the supernatural stakes. It reminded us of the emotions behind what each of the characters does, with a subtly that has been lacking. We were shown the emotions rather than told that they exist, and that was a refreshing change.
Aside from the (presumably temporary) shift in tone, the episode did give us a couple of monumental leaps in plot. (Spoilers!) Chief among these has to be Bonnie’s death. Not because we’re going to hugely miss her or anything. Kat Graham has been a background player in this season, and it’s hard to miss what hasn’t been there. Plus, we’re still expecting her to be around next season. Even if she finds a way to fix things and return the natural order, there is always the possibility of having her on board as a ghost, moving and influencing things from the other side. But the real, immediate effect of her death is far more pressing for Mystic Falls – with her dead, how can they bring the veil back up? And, with the town now full of former hunters and formerly dead Originals, how long do its (many) vampire residents have before they’re all dead, too? We don’t see her death lasting, though. The noble (if misguided and stupid) nature of her sacrifice (trying to bring Jeremy back for Elena) may gain her some leniency on the other side, and they might send her back.
Also incredibly significant is the end of the Silas saga. Perhaps a little underwhelming, though, given how very prominent the threat of Silas has been throughout the latter half of the season. Bonnie successfully turned him back into concrete before she croaked. And yet we’re not entirely sold on it. Here begin the conspiracy theories – Silas has been in Bonnie’s head the whole time. What if he just wants her to think he’s been dealt with? What if he’s still alive? What if she’s still alive? Could he convince her she’s dead? What if Alaric (welcome back, Matthew Davis) is really Silas? Or should we trust that Silas is out of the way and accept that the writers just did a bad job of killing him off?
We want to believe that last one. As the episode ended, Ric handed Damon the cure. Said he found it in Silas’ pocket (which is what tipped us off to the suspiciously easy death in the first place – Silas’ pockets are now stone, so how did Ric find anything in there). This raises the potential of a once-more-human Elena, if not for the entirety of the finale episode then, at least, for the next season. She’s a fairly irritating vampire, so it might be nice to have the slightly less irritating human back.
In the meantime, though, we have one more episode to get through. One during which the veil will remain down. Yes, that means that all of the vampires’ lives are in danger – particularly Rebekah’s, it would appear – but it also means another episode of Jeremy and Ric. Lexi’s back, too, but we can cope with that for a few more scenes with our favorites. It may be a while before we see them again, so we’ll take all we can get.
In some ways, this episode could have more than ably acted as the season finale – major cliffhangers, twists and turns, resolutions – but it could never have sufficed for viewers. This has been the season of growing up, in which the characters came to know themselves that little bit more. They experienced new levels of grief, learned what it was to be alone, made bad choices and good ones, and, despite it all, came out the other side. Is there a more perfect allegory for the high school experience? To cheat us of Graduation would be grossly unfair. To watch the characters we’ve grown to slightly more than tolerate cross that stage and graduate into new lives which we can’t yet foresee (but can guess at) is the next logical step. We can’t imagine what next week’s episode will bring (grief over Bonnie, perhaps, and a ceremony, and maybe a Delena/Stelena decision), but at least we don’t have to wait long to find out. – K
“What am I supposed to do with this?”
“Get the girl.” – Damon and Ric on the cure