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.
Vampire Diaries Recap: Once More, With Feeling
Kat Graham, Julie Plec on Vampire Diaries Finale
Vampire Diaries: Season 3's Biggest Heartbreaks
S3E17: Not every episode of The Vampire Diaries can bowl us over, and “Break on Through” is an example of that. After last week’s episode focused wonderfully on the major issue at hand—Alaric’s murderous turn—with a few delicious twists—like Damon’s brotherly advice for Stefan—this week offered a winded tale. Hopefully, all this madness will set up a few fantastic episodes that deal with the White Oak and the Originals, Stefan and Elena, and it would seem a potentially murderous Jeremy. If not, then we just sat through a messy episode without much payoff.
“Rebekah may be an original, but she’s a girl. Find her weakness and exploit it.” -Sage
As workmen are rebuilding Wickery Bridge, Damon runs into Sage, the vampire who taught him to “enjoy” women in 1912. Rebekah is immediately jealous, apparently miffed over Sage’s relationship with her Original brother, Finn. Damon’s sure she’s up to something, so Sage convinces him to seduce Rebekah and read her mind in her vulnerable state.
At his house, Damon tells Rebekah he doesn’t want Sage, he wants her: boom, the perfect seduction. Sage finds Rebekah and Damon in bed, and reads Rebekah’s mind. Of course, instead of telling Damon, Sage proceeds to make out with him as a means of telekinesis. This scene is an example of why some non-shippers get annoyed with this show: it was hot, but it was just about the most ridiculous way to reveal that Rebekah found out about the second White Oak and that she’s been looking for it. Damon quickly checks the unfiled town records on his shelves (does Mayor Lockwood know about this) and it turns out the Oak was built into Wickery Bridge.
There’s just one issue: Sage is in love with an original and that White Oak kills originals. Damon makes a deal: Damon rids Sage of Rebecca, and he’ll leave Finn alone. But that would be too easy so Sage tells Rebekah about Oak at the bridge and she burns it. Sage knew he was lying about saving Finn because she read his thoughts and learned that the Originals are all linked.
But wait, there’s still another twist! Damon “sold his rage” about Sage telling Rebekah about the bridge, but in reality, he’s got the commemorative sign for Wickery Bridge—which just happens to be made out of some of that White Oak. This means it’s time to kill some Originals. It’s great that we’re finally at that point, but the way in which TVD got us there through a series of sudden sideshow twists and turns was a little too snappy. There’s something to be said for taking one’s time.
“I don’t know how to do this.” -Abby
“Do what? Be a vampire or be a parent?” -Caroline
Abby is still in transition after Damon turned her into a vampire, but she’s distraught because she can’t feel nature anymore. If that wasn’t enough, she’s scared she’ll hurt her family—and her non-son Jamie is afraid of that too. As Caroline helps Abby get stronger and learn to resist her urges, she also convinces Jamie to embrace Abby. Unfortunately, Abby’s not ready to be that close to a human and she bites him. As a result of the incident, she elects to leave and Caroline, fueled by how much she misses her father, begs Abby to stay for Bonnie. But it doesn’t work.
But Jamie and Bonnie probably won’t be hurting for long. After his “The guy who lives out back, you know the one you’re not related to” comment, it seems pretty likely that they’ll seek solace in each other.
“Do you ever feel remorse?” -Alaric
Elena manages to convince Bonnie to help put a spell on Alaric to help keep his evil side at bay, but before she can figure out a way to do it. But Alaric’s evil side is starting to come out even when he’s sober. Meredith is convinced she can help, even forgiving Alaric for killing her cousin, Logan Fell.
Despite her forgiveness, the dark side takes over and he goes after Meredith for being a member of the council who helps/sides with vampires. She escapes without being killed, but she is injured.
“Not everyone can be saved.” -Stefan
“I wasn’t planning on giving up on either of you.” -Elena
But there’s more to the Alaric issue than we previously knew. Stefan helps shed some light on the issue—rather harshly at first. Elena goes to Damon and Stefan’s to get the book about her ancestor who went crazy from the Gilbert ring. It’s palpably awkward and Stefan tells her what happened: Samantha Gilbert killed herself because she went insane. He’s callous about it and Elena storms off.
The tense moment drives Stefan to stress-eat (or drink blood) and it’s pretty clear that as much as he says he can’t be what Elena wants, it kills him that the notion continues to prove true. When Elena goes to Alaric’s to get his wedding ring for Bonnie’s spell, Stefan meets her there because he found out more about Samantha Gilbert: she still murdered people even when the ring was off. So Alaric is still murderous.
But it gets worse. They find pictures of all Alaric’s victims and a roster of council members along with a note to Jeremy about carrying on “the work.” Elena and Stefan get to her house and find Rick there. He attacks Elena, but Stefan stops him just before smelling Meredith’s blood upstairs. Stefan needs Elena’s help to deal with it, but he knows he needs to help Meredith. He feeds her his blood, but only stays long enough to help and then runs out of the room. Even so, it proves one thing: if he can keep his cool in a blood-soaked bathroom, he can keep his cool in other bloodlust situations.
Finally, Bonnie shows up and does the spell to keep Rick’s evil at bay, but she seems standoffish. Elena apologizes with tears in her eyes and Bonnie hugs her and says she forgives her. Their pre-existing relationship carries this scene because Kat Graham seems almost out of it every time she has to try to be mad or at odds with Elena.
Of course, there’s just one loose end: Jeremy. Elena calls him because she’s worried his Gilbert ring is turning him into a secret accidental murderer like Alaric. He says he hasn’t heard from Alaric and that he’s fine, but he’s got that mischievous, bad Jeremy twinkle in his eye. Something tells me this isn’t the end of the Gilbert ring curse.
Did you like “Break on Through”? Or did you think it was just a little all over the place? Were you disappointed that the White Oak issue was solved too easily? Let us know in the comments or get at me on Twitter @KelseaStahler.
S2E12: Just when you think you’ve got The Vampire Diaries all figured out, the show goes and unravels everything. This week delivered a few expected paths, like Stefan continuing on his seemingly heartless mission and Damon being just a little proud of his ballsy smooch from last week. We also knew that there was no way Bonnie was going to make any progress with that coffin – the storyline can't speed along too quickly and Caroline’s birthday and Stefan’s sudden urgent vendetta are just the plotlines to do the job. We need to spend some time being frustrated with this conundrum so that when they inevitably get that coffin open, it will be that much more satisfying. These are the rules of melodrama and The Vampire Diaries plays by those rules oh-so well. It’s the reason we’re all so hopelessly hooked.
“Here lies Caroline Forbes.” –Caroline
Tyler maintains that he can’t control or change his sire bond to Klaus. But he makes a point of telling Caroline how sorry he is that he can’t be that dedicated to her and hands her his birthday gift: a charm bracelet with charms representing all her favorite things about high school. It’s a heartbreaking scene, but it happens first in the episode, so we know that’s not all. If only we could have seen what was coming, but we’ll get to that.
This moment puts Caroline in a terrible mood as does the fact that while it’s technically her 18th birthday, she’s undead and she’ll actually be 17 forever – a year she calls a “filler” year. Elena, Bonnie and Matt surprise her with a cake and everything, but she’s not having it, so they take her to the Falls where they hold a birthday funeral to say goodbye to the pre-vampire Caroline so she can come to terms with being practically immortal. Of course, she’s still not over Tyler, so she’s texting him the entire time, unaware that Klaus commanded him to bite her. (Remember that bit about werewolf bites killing vamps? Hybrid bites work that way too.) Tyler still has some free will, so he tells Klaus he won’t do it, but when he meets with Caroline in the woods, it seems that sire bond is even more powerful than he ever thought. As they begin passionately kissing, he bites her. He looks stunned as if he didn’t know he had done it – and here I was thinking he was returning to his hard-headed Season One ways. He was exaggerating about this whole bond thing.
“I could have a better life there.” –Jeremy
“That’s exactly what Elena said.” –Bonnie Bonnie is just now finding out about Jeremy leaving and that Elena asked Damon to compel Jeremy to do it. She’s not so happy about it, mostly because she thinks it’s wrong that they would make that choice for him – but let’s be real, it’s also because she has some serious unresolved issues with him and no one likes to have a resolution like that taken out from under them. Still, from a storyline standpoint, Jeremy has got to go.
The fact that Bonnie gets so angry really starts to make Elena question her decision, but she decides to go through with it. She’s lost her parents (biological and the ones that raised her); she lost her Aunt Jenna to Klaus’ ritual; and she lost Stefan to his Klaus-induced depravity. She can’t stand to lose anyone else, so she decides to put protecting Jeremy before letting him make his own decisions. But would any of us have done anything differently? Probably not. In the end, Bonnie concedes and tells Jeremy goodbye. It seems she’s still frustrated but understands the need to keep loved ones safe. (And once again, from a storyline point of view, she needs a new man.)
During all of this Alaric is nowhere to be found, but my guess is that it’s because he’s too busy defending Meredith Fell from her ex boyfriend and finding out that she’s a member of the council – who he just happened not to notice for the past year. We hear Meredith talking to her old boyfriend about some experimental procedure, but we’re left there when the mood shifts so she can flirt with Alaric. Oh, except for that bit at the end of the episode when Dr. Fell’s non-vampire ex winds up dead with a stake in his heart. I know this is supposed to be a big deal, but I don’t think it will feel that way until we get more information.
“Crazy or not, that kind of love never dies.” –Klaus
Let me just say, from the getgo, that I’m really happy that Klaus is no longer this seemingly untouchable demon. When he was first introduced, he was without flaws. He bested everyone and every single one of our characters was terrified to be in the same room with him. Now, he’s becoming a real character – even sounding more sane (and at the end of the episode even more tender) at times than Stefan. Then again, Stefan really seems to have gone off the deep end, though thankfully we still see flickers that show he may still have one foot gingerly remaining on the human side of things. Not at first though.
He’s decided to really test Klaus’ hold and he says he doesn’t care who gets hurt in the process. In fact, when he goes to Klaus to tell him to make his hybrids leave, he threatens to dump Elijah in the Arctic to which Klaus replies he’d be happy to let his brother go in exchange for taking Damon’s life. Stefan claims he doesn’t care. Klaus is running out of people to make Stefan feel the pain, which is why he tries to get Tyler to kill Caroline – she and Stefan were close once. But if he’s not stopping for Damon or Elena, he won’t stop for Caroline.
Klaus tries another method: he bribes Carol Lockwood with a hefty check and the promise that he’ll protect Tyler and the town and that the council will leave vampires alone. There’s one big catch: Damon’s got to stop Stefan from killing all Klaus’ hybrids. He doesn’t have to because Stefan has another plan. He kidnaps Elena and tells Klaus he’s going to kill her if he doesn’t call of his hybrids. The old Stefan would have played a trick with Elena in on the whole thing, but this time, it seems that he might actually be serious. Klaus doesn’t believe that Stefan would really do it because he saw how much he loved Elena, but between Damon’s pleas that Stefan has lost his mind and the fact that Klaus didn’t count on Stefan feeding Elena his blood so he could kill her without killing her, Klaus says he’ll get rid of the hybrids.
Stefan stops the car, but Elena is still reeling. He was about to take away her choice – the one they had discussed at length when they were in love – and he was about to do it on the bridge where her parents died, where he saved her life. He explains that he knew Klaus would break or he wouldn’t have done it and that he’s made it his mission to kill Klaus because he has nothing left. She says he had her, but he insists that he lost her when he left town capping off this heartbreaking scene with “I don’t really care what you think of me.” And even though we’re disposed to dismiss the things Stefan says lately, I think there’s a little more weight to these words. As soon as Stefan left town, Elena nursed Damon back to health and they proceeded to spend every waking moment together from that point on. Let’s not also forget that up until Stefan left with Klaus, Damon’s love for Elena had been making Stefan fairly jealous. Now let’s put it all together: could it be that Stefan doesn’t care what Elena thinks because he knows in his heart that she’s falling for his brother? (This is just my theory, feel free to refute it.)
Of course, the principle of delayed gratification dictates that we can’t jump from one Salvatore boyfriend to another, so Elena asks Damon not to kiss her again and he says he understands – it’s not right…now. Damnit, more waiting for these two.
“You can have a thousand more birthdays. All you have to do is ask.” –Klaus
While Elena is coming to terms with her existence as “a girl who falls in love with vampires” and says goodbye to her old self, Caroline isn’t quite ready to part with her human self. Plus, thanks to Tyler’s bite, she’s lying in bed dying. And it’s not Elena’s blood that saves her, but Klaus’. First he switches to being genuinely tender and sweet, sharing his own feelings about first accepting his never-ending life. He tells her of all the wonderful things she can see now that she’s got all the time in the world to do it, convincing her of the beauty of immortality. She takes the bait and drinks his blood, only to wake up to a present from Klaus: an exquisite bracelet that puts Tyler’s to shame. I did not see that coming. In fact, when I heard that Klaus would get a love interest, I thought it must be a ruse to throw us off the scent. It couldn’t possibly be anyone already on the show, right? Wrong. Caroline couldn’t be with a guy sired to Klaus, but now, she’s made a genuine connection with the villain himself. Please, please don’t let this agonizing storyline be solved too quickly. It’s too wickedly strange and potentially messy - two things that spell a whole lot of fun for a series like this.
What did you think of the episode? Did you see the Caroline/Klaus thing coming? Do you think Stefan knows Elena loves Damon? Do you think he believes she loves Damon more than she loves or loved him? Let me know in the comments or find me on Twitter! @KelseaStahler
Salt the propulsive new thriller from Phillip Noyce (Clear and Present Danger Patriot Games) has been dubbed “Bourne with boobs ” but that label isn’t entirely accurate. In the role of Evelyn Salt a CIA staffer hunted by her own agency after a Russian defector fingers her in a plot to murder Russia’s president Angelina Jolie keeps her two most potent weapons holstered hidden under pantsuits and trenchcoats and the various other components of a super-spy wardrobe that proudly emphasizes function over flash.
But flash is one thing Salt never lacks for. Its breathless cat-and-mouse game hits full-throttle almost from the outset when a former KGB officer named Orlov (Daniel Olbrychski) stumbles into a CIA interrogation room and begins spilling details of a vast conspiracy. Back in the ‘70s hardline elements of the Soviet regime launched an ambitious new front in the Cold War flooding the western world with orphans trained to infiltrate the security complexes of their adopted homelands and wait patiently — decades if necessary — for the order to initiate a series of assassinations intended to trigger a devastating nuclear clash between the superpowers from which the treacherous Reds would emerge triumphant.
The Soviet Union may have long ago collapsed (or did it? Hmmm...) but its army of brainwashed killer orphan spies remains in place and if this crazy Orlov fellow is to be believed they stand poised to reignite the Cold War. It’s a preposterous — even idiotic — scheme but no more so than any of our government’s various harebrained proposals to kill Castro back in the ‘60s. As such the CIA treats it with grave seriousness even the part that that pegs Salt who just happens to be a Russian-born orphan herself as a key player in the conspiracy.
Salt bristles at the accusation but suspecting a set-up she opts to flee rather than face interrogation from her bosses Winter (Liev Schreiber) and Peabody (Chiwetel Ejiofor). A former field agent she’s been confined to a desk job since a clandestine operation in North Korea went south leaving her with a nasty shiner and a rather unremarkable German boyfriend (now her unremarkable German husband). She’s clearly kept up her training during while cubicle-bound however and in a blaze of resourceful thinking and devastating Parkour Fu she fends off a dozen or so agents of questionable competence and takes to the streets where she sets about to clear her name and unravel the Commie orphan conspiracy before the authorities can catch up with her. That is if she isn’t a part of the conspiracy.
The premise which aims to resurrect Cold War tensions and graft them onto a modern-day spy thriller is absurdly clever — and cleverly absurd. But Kurt Wimmer’s screenplay isn’t satisfied with the merely clever and absurd — it must be mind-blowing. Salt is one of those thrillers that ladles out its backstory slowly and in tiny portions every once in a while dropping a revelatory bombshell that effectively blows the lid off everything that happened beforehand. No one is who they seem and every action every gesture no matter how seemingly trivial is imbued with some kind of grand significance. The effect of piling on one insane twist after another has the effect of gradually diluting the narrative. When anything is possible nothing really matters.
But spy thrillers by definition trade in the preposterous and the principal function of the summer blockbuster is to entertain. In that regard Salt more than fulfills its charge. Noyce wisely keeps the story moving at pace that allows little time for asking uncomfortable questions or poking holes in the film’s frail plot. And he has an able partner in the infinitely versatile Jolie who having already exhibited formidable action-hero chops in Wanted and the Tomb Raider films proves remarkably adept at the spy game as well.
It’s well-known that Jolie wasn’t the first choice to star in Salt joining the project only after Tom Cruise dropped out citing the story’s growing similarities to the Mission: Impossible films. But she’s more than just a capable replacement; she’s a welcome upgrade over Cruise not least because she’s over a decade younger (and a few inches taller) than her predecessor. Should Brad Bird require a pinch-hitter for Ethan Hunt he knows where to look.