Previously on The Vampire Diaries, “Requiem for a Dream”
Remember The Vampire Diaries finale for season five? When Damon and Bonnie were stuck on the Other Side as it collapsed all around them and they were sucked into oblivion? Do you remember how surprising, exciting, and heartbreaking that was? I do. That summer, I re-watched the entire series, trying to get my fix of Bonnie and Damon out of fear that I may not see them again. That finale reinvigorated my love for the show and left me wanting so much more. This year’s finale, however, did no such thing. In fact, it left with very little eagerness for next season, and a strong desire for the early days of TVD.
“Gods and Monsters” wasn’t a complete disaster; there were indeed a handful of both suspenseful and touching moments. Matt’s hallucination of Penny, and his plea to just end it all and be with her, worked remarkably well. The true highlight of the episode, though, was a scene between Bonnie and Enzo. To keep her distracted from what was happening at The Armory, Enzo cleverly coaxed Bonnie into chasing after him and led her to their cabin. There was so much love wrapped into the gesture of trying to help her fight the vampire-killing instinct, but unfortunately it didn’t work.
Though it brought her to tears as she desperately tried not to kill Enzo, Bonnie wound up with the upper hand. As she drove a stake through his heart, all the while begging him to fight back, he stayed as positive as possible and delivered a tender goodbye. The moment they realized Damon had been successful in killing the final Everlasting, their relief was palpable – as was their passion a moment later. The sheer pleasure of watching these two interact is largely to thank for saving the episode from being a complete failure. Damon’s decision to take the selfless path this time around was admirable, and it does feel like something the show had been leading to for quite some time. So, there’s that to be positive about, too.
Unfortunately, that’s about all the constructive criticism I can muster. For a finale, the stakes felt incredibly low. Yes, saving Bonnie from her current existence was definitely important. It was an outcome, however, that was inevitable and therefore predictable – with the exception of one scene, it was hard not to expect Bonnie would be human again by the end of the episode. The quick resolution of most everything else at hand made this feel more akin to a halfway mark in a season, as opposed to the end of one. There was so much anxiety over getting Ric and Caroline’s kids involved, and rightly so, but the risk proved to be rather harmless in the end. The three-year-olds put their hands on a door for 60 seconds and it was all over. Big whoop. Similarly, there was a chance that killing the final Everlasting would result in the death of all vampires who had been marked, and yet, the body goes up in flames and everything is totally fine.
The biggest offender on the list of plots wrapped up in much too quick a fashion, was the ending of the love triangle between Stefan, Caroline, and Ric. It turns out, pairing Stefan with Valerie, and Caroline with Ric in the flash-forwards, amounted to nothing more than just a petty way to mess with the audience. If Caroline and Stefan had been given some type of epic, emotional, and God forbid, earned reunion, then maybe I could get down with this conclusion. As it stands, they basically just fall onto each other’s lips and all is back to the way it was. The only enjoyable aspect of this was Ric’s goodbye to Caroline. Even though it breaks his heart, he wants her to be happy with or without him. The idea that they’ll always be a family was really sweet, and it was exactly what Caroline needed to hear in order to move on. Ric’s love for her seems truly genuine and it’s a damn shame it went unrequited.
It’s even more irritating that by the end of the episode, Caroline and Stefan are the only two people who get to be, relatively, happy. Matt has decided to leave his friends and Mystic Falls behind, Bonnie has lost both her best friend and her boyfriend to some ancient evil spirit from the vault, and we’re subjected to more journal entries for Elena. While I appreciate the structure TVD was going for – this season started and finished with the characters writing to their not-quite-dead friend – I seriously just never want to hear that woman’s name ever again. The constant use of her absent character as plot movement and the excessive reminders of her in damn near every episode was irritating, to say the least. Her exit from the show could have been the opportunity for a bright new start; instead it resulted in a dark, annoying shadow being cast over the entire season. This is partly why it’s hard to care about Damon’s fate at the end of the episode. He’s smart enough to know that she-who-must-not-be-named couldn’t really be in the vault, but he fell for it so easily anyways.
For now, it looks as though Damon and Enzo will be the first round of antagonists for season eight. While I think those former cellmates are always fun to watch, I hope it doesn’t last too long. Considering both Ian Somerhalder and Kat Graham have announced they’ll be leaving after next season, it would be nice to get in some quality time between Bonnie and Enzo, and Bonnie and Damon, when none of them are on opposing sides. There’s a lot up in the air for next season – will we see Matt or Ric again? – not least of which is the possibility that it may be the final one. Only time will tell and this year, regrettably, I’m okay with waiting.
The Vampire Diaries S7E22 = 7.3/10