Previously on The Vampire Diaries, “What Are You?”
This final season of The Vampire Diaries should have been about six episodes, eight if we’re feeling generous. See, the writers clearly still had good stories left to tell, but they chose to withhold the majority of them until very late in the game. It’s obvious they want these final few episodes to really stick with us. As any series would hope to achieve, they want to go out with a bang; leave us remembering only the good things and feeling sad the show is over. Imagine how much better those memories could be had they been able to provoke these feeling in their audience throughout this entire season. With only six to eight episodes, there wouldn’t have been room for filler, no need to waste so much time on characters and plot that ultimately won’t mean a damn thing. So, if by the series finale TVD winds up making us cheer, weep, or long for more, we must try to remember how it strung us along, whipping hot fiery garbage at us for 10 plus episodes before giving us anything great. But, credit where credit is due: this episode was awesome.
Dorian. For a while there, it seemed like Ric’s intern was only around to wind up as collateral damage, and though that still could be his eventual fate, at least TVD gave his character a greater purpose first. As one of Stefan’s “reawakened” victims, Dorian offered a far more meaningful exploration of this plot point than just watching Caroline sweep her maybe-fiancé’s problems under the rug, again. Dorian forced Stefan to face his past aggressions, one in particular, head-on. He didn’t fall for any of Stefan’s self-pitying bullshit, pointing out that in the real world, mass murderers like him are locked away for life, not given a friendly pat on the back and sent out to seek redemption. Vampire privilege is real, and it’s a key reason the show’s storylines and characters have become increasingly stale. As much as Stefan deserved to die in that literal grave of his own digging, Dorian doesn’t deserve to have death on his conscience. Unfortunately, being an honorable person on TVD usually means you wind up being a savior to the horrible people; it looks as though Dorian is about to help Stefan find his salvation. Sigh. No good deed goes unpunished, I guess.
Caroline. Yes, it was frustrating to see her take care of Stefan’s problems, but we couldn’t reasonably expect her to ignore the issue. So, while many of her scenes should have been left on the cutting room floor, her reaction to Stefan wanting to leave was both perfect and long overdue. Like Dorian, she wasn’t interested in attending Stefan’s self-pity party. The attempt at making his decision to leave seem selfless – that somehow his departure would mean a better life for Caroline – misses a pretty vital point. He didn’t even bother to ask Caroline what she thinks is best for, you know, Caroline. Leaving her now would be an ultimate “screw you” after all she’s done for him, after she’s stayed by his side through the literal worst of it. Forget the June wedding vows; she already knows the meaning of “for better or worse.” It was satisfying as hell to have Caroline finally be up front with Stefan about his severe martyr complex. It’s unfortunate that she may have to reevaluate her plans for the future, but at this point she really would be better off without him.
The Maxwell Bell causing so much chaos. Who knew this silly setup would wind up generating such interesting results? Not only did it bring Kai back to us, which would have been more than enough, it’s also given Ric and Caroline’s kids a purpose again. They’ve largely just been part of the scenery, but they’re on track to really stir some shit up before the series ends.
Bonnie. Though it would have been nice to learn more about her (somewhat) newfound powers last week – before Enzo’s fine body was burned – this explanation is better late than never. Her supernatural reaction to Enzo’s death wasn’t just similar to what Cade produced when he died, it was the exact same thing: a psychic blast that created a new dimension. Talk about true love, Bonnie created an entire realm for Enzo to inhabit in his afterlife, effectively saving him from an eternity in Hell. Her psychic abilities don’t come out of left field, either; Grams told her a long time ago that part of her power was psychic in nature. Though most of us would likely have zero problems with Bonnie manifesting whatever power she wants, whenever she wants, it’s all the more fitting to have this tie-in with season one. While it was a pleasant surprise to see Enzo again so soon – the lighting in the second scene where they kiss was stunningly beautiful – the best part of all this was seeing Bonnie overpower Cade. He tried to dip into her mind and extract Enzo’s whereabouts, but she blocked him. Bonnie blocked the Devil, you guys. She is so badass.
Kai. Within a matter of seconds, this episode rose to a level of greatness we haven’t seen in a long time, purely because of his presence. Chris Wood brings a much-needed vibrancy to the show through his magnetic portrayal of Kai. His comedic timing and dialogue delivery never once misses a beat. Whether he’s embodying the goofier side of Kai – contemplating his attraction to cannibalistic sirens, trying to navigate his way out of the backseat of Damon’s car, and taking selfies for Twitter – or embracing the character’s true, villainous nature – he was never going to bring Elena back that easily – Wood is simply a pleasure to watch. Throughout most of the episode, Kai is playing the “good” guy. His deal with Damon almost positions him on the side of our heroes (if you can even call them that anymore.) Of course, just as we’re getting comfortable with this persona Kai reverts back to his devious self, and Wood makes the transition look effortless. Letting him be evil again is the smarter choice for both his character and the show. There’s been this needless effort to overly humanize most of the Big Bads on TVD, and it’s only ever wound up making them flimsier characters with unclear motives. Once Kai disappeared with Elena’s casket, it was immediately clear what game he’d been playing the entire time. We all know Elena’s return is inevitable, but to even temporarily have her fate lie in Kai’s hands is more than just a cheap thrill. The bottom line here: for two weeks in a row, there’s been good reason to get excited for the next episode, and that’s largely thanks to Kai.
The dialogue. A while back I talked about how this season was lacking the snappy wit that was once so present it was almost a character unto itself. Well, apparently better plot lines weren’t the only thing TVD was withholding up until now. Nearly everything that came out of Kai’s mouth was a highlight, but also deserving acknowledgement is how one of Stefan’s reawakened victims referred to him as having “weird hair.” The rhythm and pacing of delightful banter has finally returned and hopefully it’s here to stay.
The Stefan Problem
Despite both Caroline and Dorian keeping Stefan’s scenes from being a total waste of time, he is the clear weak link in the show. There’s no need to elaborate here – we all know it’s just a case of using the same plot one (or a dozen) too many times. Stefan needs to get over himself or leave Mystic Falls, for good.
- This week’s title is another great use of a season one quote. (That’s two weeks in a row now and I’m cautiously optimistic about this apparent pattern.) To keep the truth of what they are a secret, Stefan locks Damon in the Salvatore basement. Damon warns his brother that as long as he keeps denying his true nature, the lies will catch up to him. This episode sees Stefan’s literal lies catch up to him, nearly causing his death. Here’s hoping next week’s quote is just as apt, but less Stefan-centered than the previous two.
- Bonnie is going to kill/get rid of Cade. She just has to! She’s the only one with any power similar to his, and it would be a fantastic win for her character. While Bonnie being the greatest, most powerful hero in the history of TVD won’t be enough to wipe the sidelining slate clean, it would be a damn good effort.
The Vampire Diaries S8E13
"The Lies Will Catch Up To You"
Starring: Kat Graham, Ian Somerhalder, Paul Wesley, Candice King, Matthew Davis, Michael Malarkey, Zach Roerig