The Vampire Diaries: "As I Lay Dying"
B+

The Vampire Diaries: "As I Lay Dying"

When the writers decided to make the showdown with Klaus the penultimate episode of the season, they were taking a pretty big risk. The epic confrontation had been building for the entirety of season two, and to pay off all of that fan anticipation in the episode before the finale, well, that took some guts, especially considering the emotional wallop the episode delivered. Although not everything in the finale worked, there was a heck of a lot of good. I guess by now I should realize these writers kind of know what they’re doing.

On the whole, this was really Damon’s hour as everything that happens to any character is at least tangentially related to his impending death. A sick Damon is sort of a sad-sack Damon, which is not very surprising because the man does enjoy a nice round of self-pity, even in his most robust of days. His sickness leads to visions of his past with Katherine, through which he realizes he alone is responsible for his lot in life: If he had only refused Katherine, everything would have turned out differently. That this revelation happens while he is in bed being comforted by Elena is of no consequence, I’m sure.

He and Elena share some very tender moments where he admits he loves her and she kisses him goodbye on the lips, which I’m sure made a few sections of the internet explode. It’s all very sweet, but there really is no new information here. We all know Damon loves Elena, including Elena. From Elena’s perspective, the kiss seemed like nothing more than someone saying goodbye to a friend, and it didn’t seem romantic in the least. This is why it was so jarring to immediately hear Katherine (who arrived to administer Damon’s cure) taunt Elena with lines like “It’s okay to love them both, I did.” I likely interpret these events differently because I have no emotional attachment to Elena and Damon as a couple, but it felt like little more than fan service. I’m not saying it couldn’t develop into something more, but that moment didn’t feel like more.

Of course, all of this might change next season due to the little matter of Stefan and his new “friendship” with Klaus. For some reason, Klaus has decided to make Stefan his little pet project and is determined to turn him into the bad-ass killer he used to be way back when he was fueled by human blood. Let’s face it, the only reason we as an audience need for this development is that them as a team is kind of hot. I mean, really. Yowza. Once Stefan figures out Klaus is the key to saving Damon, the die is cast. He’ll do whatever it takes to save his brother, even if it means teaming up with the most evil vampire/werewolf hybrid in the world, binge drinking gallons of human blood and killing an innocent young girl before skipping town on some sort of Natural Born Killers rampage across America. Let’s be honest, this turn of events doesn’t really make much sense right now, but wow is it fun. Stefan has needed a story of his own for quite a while and this has the potential to be a good one. Also, I can’t possibly imagine who Elena is going to turn to for comfort while he’s gone.

The final big doing of the episode (and I do mean BIG) was the fate of young Jeremy Gilbert. Jeremy has been a character adrift for much of the season, stuck as one of the only normals amidst a sea of supernaturals. Many weeks he was reduced to Bonnie’s trusty sidekick, or absent altogether. All of this is about to change, ladies and gentlemen, because Jeremy is normal no longer! After mistakenly being shot and killed by Sheriff Forbes, the only way Bonnie can bring him back to life is to beg a favor from the witches. The first sign something is off with Jeremy is how he confesses to feeling “different,” and we all know feeling different in Mystic Falls is rarely a good sign. Later that night, he awakes to noises which turn out to be the ghosts of Vickie and Anna. YOU GUYS. JEREMY IS HALEY JOEL OSMENT, BUT FOR VAMPIRES INSTEAD OF AGING ACTION STARS. This development is – in a word I tend to overuse but really, really mean this time – awesome. I have no idea what this means for the future but giving Jeremy a purpose was sorely needed. Bravo, writers.

Overall, I think this was a really good episode of The Vampire Diaries, if not quite as powerful as last season’s finale or even last week’s episode. There are two main ways to approach a finale: the wrap up or the set up. This, unquestionably, was a set up episode, which makes perfect sense considering the show thrives on forward momentum. Ending a season on an emotional beat with most story threads tied up is just not in the show’s nature, which is one of the reasons it has so many fans. Despite this episode not having quite the impact of last week's, I doubt many of the fans aren’t rabidly looking forward to the season three premiere. Until then, my friends!

Stray observations:

  • Ellliiiijaaaahhhhh! Noooooooooooooooooooooo!
  • Caroline’s scene with her mother was genuinely touching. Come around to the ways of the vampire, Sheriff Forbes! It’s nice down here.
  • So, is Alaric Elena and Jeremy’s new daddy? That’s fun.
  • All those originals…someone needs to go on a dagger-pulling expedition next season!
  • No Tyler or Matt. It will be interesting to see what their roles are next season, as the love triangle angle is kind of played out.
  • I guess both Elijah and Jeremy can now play Buffy in a Mystic Falls community theater performance of “Once More, With Feeling,” now that they’ve both died twice. I vote Elijah, so we can see him do the “Give Me Something to Sing About” dance.
  •  “OK, give me the glass. Neither one of us is drunk enough for this conversation.”
  • “You know I have big plans for you, when we leave this town.”
  • “I know it will always be Stefan, but I love you. You should know that.”
  • “You should have met me in 1864. You would have liked me.” “I like you now, just the way you are.”
  • “It’s okay to love them both. I did.”

More TV Club