The Vampire Diaries season finale was a whole lotta episode. Almost too much episode. So much episode that I’m not really sure how to navigate the next few TVD-less months. But, luckily for myself and my fellow mildly obsessed vampire lovers, the series has conditioned us to deal with this particular brand of sensory overload. It also prepared us (albeit subtly and over three seasons) for the evening’s most shocking conclusion.
First of all, of course Elena is okay because we cannot have a series without her. She is, however, in the hospital, but not for long because Damon and Stefan shame Jeremy into sneaking her out so no vampires can kill her in order to kill Alaric the Vampire Hunter. They run just in time because Alaric arrives, revokes Meredith’s medical license for her use of vampire blood, and demands Elena be released into his custody. Luckily, she scampered home where Caroline is trying to adorably pressure her into drinking a little vodka to help blur the ridiculous supernatural mess that is her life.
And cue the intermittent flashbacks that will now inform Elena's life decisions. Her first relevant memory is of herself as a cheerleader and Matt’s reluctant girlfriend, and her parents are still alive. It makes her realize the same thing she realized last week: She can’t string the Salvatores along and she needs to just make a decision already. However, calling this decision difficult is like saying the Ian Somerhalder smolder is "cute." It's a major understatement. She’s not really going to make a decision until a life-altering circumstance forces her to pout her way into a conclusion.
Stefan comes back to help protect her, but before she can allow any of those reunion feelings to mean anything, Elijah arrives with a proposal to help them get rid of Alaric: If he helps, they hand over Klaus’ desiccated body and he swears Elena stays safe. Stefan, who brings up the element of choice a conspicuous number of times in this episode (foreshadowing!), says it needs to be Elena’s call. She chooses to take the deal. With Jeremy’s help, they set up Alaric by lying about the location of Klaus’ body.
Stefan and Elijah head out, but before they do Stefan has a little talk with Elena. And by little talk, I mean she looked worried and almost said something to Stefan and he planted the kiss we’ve been waiting for all season “in case there is no later.” In that moment, it was fairly clear that Elena would choose the younger Salvatore. When she has another conversation with Matt about it, she confirms it by saying that loving Stefan makes her happy to be alive and that loving Damon consumes her. As delicious as the notion of Elena and Damon is, Stefan and Elena simply makes more sense. Add to that evidence her flashback about wanting to break up with Matt without losing him. Elena’s mother says “ You’re not going to lose him, honey. You’re setting him free.” If there’s one Salvatore who wears total freedom better, it’s Damon.
Alaric isn’t as trusting as Jeremy had hoped and while Stefan and Elijah are waiting in the woods, he’s ambushing Damon and Rebekah at the storage locker where they’re keeping Klaus. It doesn’t take him long to find the coffin and stab Klaus, terminating him in a fiery mess. Stefan and Damon think they’re dying because Klaus told them he was the originator of their bloodline, and they’re both more worried about being able to say goodbye to Elena than the fact that they’re about to become veiny, gray piles of mush. And they should be worried, because thanks to Matt’s plan to kidnap Elena and whisk her away from all things supernatural, the writers cleverly place Elena in a position in which she has to definitively choose one vampire. The brothers are in opposite locations and she has to decide that second to keep driving towards Damon or turn back and go to Stefan. And in a highly predictable (but also satisfying) outcome, she chooses Stefan, spouting the language her mom once used about setting Damon free. As heartbreaking as the scene is, it didn’t hurt nearly as much as it did the first time Stefan turned off his humanity and fed on Elena. But don't cry, Delena fans. There’s always time for the Damon and Elena bond to grow in Season 4, and — with the flashback in which Damon first meets Elena and predicts that she wants a love that consumes her — Team Damon got the glimmer of hope they needed. He may have compelled her to forget that first meeting, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true.
Next: What's wrong with Tyler?
Meanwhile, our other beloved couple, Caroline and Tyler, run into one hell of a brick wall. Alaric not only had Meredith disbarred, he also had Mayor Lockwood and Sheriff Forbes fired because of their vampire sympathies. But they’re parents and their professional troubles aren’t of our concern... except the council not only fired them, but opened up the gauntlet on all things supernatural (a.k.a. their kids). Carol and Sheriff Forbes beg Caroline and Tyler to leave town and they finally agree, kissing and embracing like a couple in the moment before a monumental death. And that’s for good reason. When Klaus dies, Caroline finds Tyler and he doubles over in pain, causing Caroline to assume he’s dying. He makes her leave so she doesn’t see him dying, but he’s completely fine. He’s more than fine. He’s just not Tyler. Bonnie did some spell to protect her friends and mother from being killed should Klaus die, and apparently it entails Klaus inhabiting Tyler’s body. But does that mean Tyler is dead? Are they sharing? Does this mean Caroline and Klaus will actually happen? (Even if it is via a disconcerting conceit.)
Rebekah, distraught over her brother’s death and restless after barely escaping from Alaric’s clutches, decides she’s going to end this madness by killing Alaric’s lifeline: Elena. In a matter of seconds, she forces Matt’s truck off Wickery Bridge, just like the accident the night her parents died. We're exposed to a haunting water-logged scene flashing back and forth between Elena’s memory of being rescued from the water by Stefan while saying goodbye to her father and her present-day situation in which she and Matt are trapped underwater in his truck. After she flashes back to the night her parents died, she seems to have made her decision. She’s made peace with death; she can join her parents. But Stefan arrives to rescue them just in time and she forces him to take Matt first.
When Alaric dies while fighting Damon and shows up as a ghost to promise Jeremy he’ll watch over him, both Damon and Jeremy realize Elena must have died. And while the series does a good job of making us feel their shock and Stefan’s pain as he cries over her lifeless body, we knew what was coming. Like I said last week, Alaric needs to die and the only way to kill him is by killing Elena. And, TVD without Elena isn’t TVD. And they've been dropping hints about this eventual conclusion since Season 2. By the time Meredith tells Damon she slipped Elena vampire blood because she had an incurable brain hemorrage when Jeremy brought her in earlier, we were simply waiting for it to happen. The only problem is that turning Elena into a vampire is such an exciting notion that waiting all summer to find out how this will change our sweet Doppelgänger’s life is almost too much to bear.
Did you see this coming? What do you think is the deal with Klaus and Tyler? Didn’t Bonnie seem a little sinister when she was talking to Klaus/Tyler? What are we going to do for the next four months?
Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler.
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For a few years in the '60s and '70s producer Gerry Anderson made "supermarionation" all the rage in the world of British children's television. His stop-motion puppets starred in a number of sci-fi adventure series most memorably Thunderbirds which followed the exploits of International Rescue -- a team comprised of ex-astronaut Jeff Tracy and his sons. Based out of their secret fortress on Treasure Island the Tracys (aided by lovely secret agent Lady Penelope) used their amazing rocket-powered vehicles to prevent disasters and save lives around the world. Now 40 years after Thunderbirds' TV debut Star Trek vet Jonathan Frakes has brought Anderson's characters to life on the big screen. Front and center is youngest son Alan Tracy (Brady Corbet) who dreams of the day he too can pilot one of his family's fab ships and lead missions. But first he has to prove himself to his father Jeff (Bill Paxton). That opportunity comes sooner than either expects when mysterious villain The Hood (Ben Kingsley) strands Jeff and the older Tracy boys in space and attacks Treasure Island. With only his friends Tintin (Vanessa Anne Hudgens) and Fermat (Soren Fulton) to help him Alan has to grow up quickly if he wants to save his family ... and the world!
It would be easy to mock several of the performances in Thunderbirds-- to chide Paxton for his earnest seriousness as Tracy patriarch Jeff to dismiss Corbet's angst-tinged eagerness as Alan to roll your eyes at Kingsley's over-the-top mystical fierceness as The Hood and to wince at Fulton and Anthony Edwards' nerdy stuttering as science whizzes Fermat and his dad Brains. But actors are only as good as their script and the one Frakes has given his cast (courtesy of screenwriters William Osborne and Michael McCullers) is weak and clichéd at best filled with after-school-special-worthy lessons for Alan to learn. "You can't save everyone " Jeff tells his son somberly and even Tintin has a moral for her crush when he's feeling selfish and indulging in self-pity: "This is hard on all of us Alan." Talk about insight! What makes it even more frustrating is knowing that the actors are capable of much more even the kids: Both Corbet and Hudgens did well with supporting roles in Thirteen. Thunderbirds' only real bright spot is Sophia Myles as Lady Penelope. A cross between Reese Witherspoon's Elle in Legally Blonde and Jennifer Garner's Sydney on Alias Myles' Lady P doesn't let her pink couture wardrobe prevent her from coolly kicking ass when the situation demands it. Attended by her droll driver/man-of-all-trades Parker (Ron Cook) Lady Penelope is a fresh feisty heroine with all of the film's best lines -- and the coolest car to boot.
Frakes cut his directorial teeth on episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation and his first feature film was Star Trek: First Contact so he would seem like a natural choice to bring a cult sci-fi TV show to the big screen. Unfortunately while he does an admirable job re-creating (and improving on) the original Thunderbirds' mod sets cool ships and special effects (which are fine if a bit more TV-sized than summer blockbustery) Frakes can't seem to decide who his audience is. If he was aiming at grown-ups who remember the show fondly from their own childhood he should have embraced the source material's campiness (à la Starsky and Hutch) rather than restricting it to the Tracys' plastic Barbie-like furniture and Lady P's bouffant hairdo. If on the other hand Frakes was hoping to entertain today's kids he should have really reinvented the show for a 21st-century world (à la Stephen Hopkins'1998 Lost in Space) rather than clinging to the '60s references As it is he's stuck somewhere in the middle leaving adults bored during the kids-on-an-adventure bits and children mystified by the handful of jokes aimed at their parents.