For most other shows, an episode like “The Last Day” would probably have been the penultimate one of the season. Everything about it screamed finale setup, as all of the pieces of Klaus’ plan and Elena and Elijah’s counterattack fell swiftly into place. The Vampire Diaries isn’t a show that settles for being like everyone else, however. Instead of setting up a simple showdown that can be easily wrapped up in one subsequent finale, TVD started its season wrap up with two whole episodes left to go. How else were they going to fit not one, not two, but THREE jaw-dropping moments into the rest of the season?
Before we get to the jaw-droppers, a quick recap of the main plot is in order. For an episode that felt so jam-packed, it was surprisingly light on actual plot machinations. Well, as light on plot as this show can be, I suppose. Basically, Klaus has declared himself ready to begin the sacrifice ritual and begins collecting the things he needs to carry it out. He already has the moonstone and the witch, and the doppelganger is close at hand, but he also needs a vampire and a werewolf. He sneakily lures Tyler back to town, and manages a serendipitous twofer to make both Tyler and Caroline his potential sacrifices. (Aside: how does Klaus know Tyler is a werewolf? How does he even know Tyler exists? Katherine, or perhaps Elijah?) (Second aside: Tyler is different. Subtly, nicely different. Good work from Michael Trevino, there.)
The wrench in Klaus’ plan is Damon and his determination to prevent Klaus from getting the vampire and werewolf he needs to complete the ritual, which is all due to jaw-dropper number one: Damon’s non-consensual blood exchange with Elena. After Elena and Elijah reveal their plan to allow Klaus to completely drain Elena, only keeping her alive by a dodgy resuscitation spell, Damon is livid. He and Elena have a surprisingly moving conversation about her choices, but just when it seems Damon has let it go he corners Elena and forces her to drink his blood. It’s jaw dropping, yes, but also totally in character up to this point. Still, after a bit of reflection it seems he doesn’t really want Elena to actually become a vampire, considering how hard he works to foil Klaus’ plan by taking away his werewolf and vampire.
Damon’s journey to save Elena and rescue Tyler and Caroline leads us directly to jaw-dropper number two: Damon’s werewolf bite! The ritual naturally was occurring during a full moon, and Damon’s rescue took a bit longer than the light would safely allow, so Tyler started changing while they were still escaping. Damon valiantly fought Tyler off so Caroline and Matt could get away (Did I mention Matt was helping save Caroline? And he killed a witch? And that it was awesome?) but in the process, got a wee little werewolf nibble on his arm. Now, listen. This is a jaw dropper, and I admit I was shocked when this happened. But there is literally no way Damon is going to die, so it takes a bit of narrative punch out of the reveal. Still, Damon doesn’t know he’s not going to die, so it will be very fun to see how he deals with his supposedly inevitable death.
Still, although Damon so thoroughly foiled Klaus’ plans for Tyler and Caroline, Klaus is a seasoned evil mastermind and seasoned evil masterminds always have a back-up plan. Klaus’ back-up plan includes another werewolf (Jules) another witch (Greta) and another vampire. That vampire? Is JENNA FREAKING SOMMERS. Jaw-dropper number three, my friends! Listen, this show has a history of pulling magic rabbits out of their jaunty story caps, but this might just be the reveal to end all reveals. Jenna! Is a vampire! Exclamation point! The episode ends with an obviously distraught Elena coming to the conclusion that, yet again, her life truly sucks. Poor Jenna.
On top of all that plot and all of those surprising moments, there was also a nice balance of quiet character moments sprinkled throughout the hour. Caroline and Tyler got a chance to air their grievances from before he left town, and Candice Accola and Michael Trevino got the chance to remind us what nice, easy chemistry they share. Elena and Damon shared a nice moment, before he blood-raped her. The highlight of these moments, though, had to be Stefan and Elena at the top of the waterfall.
One thing that is prevalent in vampire love stories that hasn’t been touched on much here is the logistical difficulty of being a human dating someone who will never age (or procreate). With vampire blood in her system and the possibility of potentially being turned, Elena and Stefan finally had to face those questions and it played out in a moment simultaneously heartwarming and heartbreaking. Elena isn’t some needy Bella Swan who only wants her man – she has plans, she wants to grow up, she wants to have kids, she wants to experience all life has to offer – and she can’t experience those things if she becomes a vampire. When she so clearly makes this choice, and Stefan so clearly allows the choice to be hers, it adds up to one of their best scenes as a couple in the entire series so far. Bravo to Nina Dobrev, Paul Wesley, and the writers for a truly wonderful moment.
What are we in for in the coming two weeks? It’s hard to tell, but if the show can continue on this streak of absolutely terrific episodes, it is going to be one heck of a ride. (Jenna is a VAMPIRE! Did I mention that yet?)
- Klaus is magnificent. He and Elijah are very similar in their calm menace, but Klaus has an extra edge that is truly frightening (where Elijah has snark and hair). Joseph Morgan is a great addition to the cast, and I would like to keep him. Can we?
- I would watch a show that was just Damon, Alaric and Klaus drinking beers at the Grill. I can see it now: Damon and Alaric would just barely tolerate Klaus, but keep him around because his accent helps them with the ladies. Spin-off!
- So, Alaric has to be pretty pissed at Klaus, huh? First he possesses his body and then he turns his girlfriend. That’s just cold.
- What do you think Jeremy and Bonnie were up to during this episode? Knitting? Catching a matinee of Water for Elephants? Watching Gossip Girl? I bet Jeremy is totally a Dair fan.
- “Then I guess I’ll just be dead.”
- “She’ll never forgive you…and never for a vampire, that’s a long time.”
- “Ugh…Klaus, I presume.”
- “You’re going to screw it up, aren’t you?”
- “Imagine how much fun that will be competing with Stefan for Elena’s love for, I don’t know, forever.”
- “I don’t want to be a vampire, Stefan. I never wanted to be one.”